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Discussion Starter #1
You guys are great as usual. I have read all the posts. I have pondered all the pros and cons. I have looked at all the options. I have even made a decision or two, just to have them change after a new thought or more recently experience with bullet performance guestions. Here is my delima.

I want a light gun that is accurate enough to take precise shots on small deer at up to 100yds in brush with open sights(probably a ghost ring). I want to drop the animal, right there. Our eastern pine deserts are too thick and trailing deer at night through briars on hands and knees in eastern diamondback country is not fun or smart. Now the delimma gets even more interesting. The only man I know that does this with unbelievable skill is a trained Marine marksman. He takes these small deer in the neck with a TAC round from Hornady in his .308 A-bolt. This is a 110 gr. ballistic tip round. Now of coarse he does this out to 200 yds and further over bait, which is legal in his area. He does not want an exit or just doesn't care about one because he wants all energy left in the neck. It works and he only loses the neck not both shoulders. I like that.

That was (achievable) Utopia. Now my REAL WORLD. I want a lever gun. This fits my requirement for light, repeater, and ghost ring sight availability. I am going to buy a new in the box gun probably because when I get ready to get it I will lay it away at the local shop and he may not have something used available in the make and model and caliber of my choice. Also he lets me pay alittle at a time as long as I want so it helps cash flow. So , WHAT CALIBER, WHAT MAKE, WHAT MODEL, WHAT BULLET????

I know everyone has an opinion but please stick to the above requirements and your own personal hunting experience. Remember, think back to actual events. You guys have a lot of experience and that is what I want. Bench rest and manual B.C. data don't cut it here.

Since starting gun hunting two years ago for these deer I have been very disappointed with terminal performance. Don't give me the shot placement argument. We all know what shot placement means. I am a seasoned bowhunter for these animals and right now a broadhead at a blistering 160 fps in the goody bow is a clear winner over any 30 cal round I have shot. And I mean by a long shot. The advantage is range and deer shot angle for the gun.

Now. I want a lever gun but don't limit to that. If a pump or auto is the option, so be it. I just think the lever may be the clear choice.

Good luck.     To me.
 

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Chief- A 444 Marlin or modern 45-70 is one #### of a whitetail anchor. They make my 30.06 look weak by compairison. Also, less meat is damaged by the bullet, another plus. Try 300 to 325 grain cast bullets with a broad meplat in either caliber. See, I didn't mention shot placement either!!
 

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I had trouble choosing a lever gun also. So first I decided on a caliber. I wanted a lever gun for hunting in tight brush or woods. I have a few rifles that are flat, fast and suitable for the open plains. So I picked up a whole bunch for fit and feel. Wound up going with a winchester timber carbine in 444. It was compact, thin stock, foreend and receiver and the 444 packs a good punch. Since then, quite a few people have told me it is a piece of crap. That has not been my experience. It has taken four deer with no problem. All in all it has about 1500 rounds through it. IMHO
 

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Chief,

My recomendation for deer sized game at 100 yards or less would be a .44 mag or .45 colt in a nice little lever gun.

When I lived in deer country I shot deer using .44's both with a blackhawk and ruger's little semi carbine, and they dropped like rocks. At short ranges they dropped faster than those hit with .243's .30-06's and even .300 mags.

The obvious limitation is range of less than 100 yards, My longest shot was probably 70 yards.

Ruger, Marlin and Winchester all make nice little carbines so check them all out.

I used flat nose jacketed bullets and always had 2 holes, with an exit you could usually put your fist through. I think wide nosed hard cast will work as well or better.

Good luck.

Eric
 

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ChiefRID,
     I would go for a .44 or .45 carbine, they are so much lighter than most .444's and .45-70's. I have shot a Ruger 96 (the lever action that looks like the old .44 auto) and a Marlin 1894. They both shot quite well with open sights (2" or so at 100 yds). For deer at the ranges you mention I think they would be hard to beat.
     Honestly, the only reason I generally hunt with a 30-06 or .308 is that I sometimes shoot at longer ranges. My old Rem 870 with Brenneke slugs usually put down deer faster than a centerfire rifle ( I grew up in Delaware where you can't use a rifle).  You also might consider a .35 Rem. I haven't shot deer with one but it has a great reputation for quick killing power.
  Whatever you choose, enjoy!         IDShooter
 

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From another Marine marskman...don't sell the bottleneck cartridges short.  I only have 6 deer and one Caribou to me name but all with one shot from a .30-06 and none did more then two lungs jumps for a total of 10 yards.  All shot with expanding bullets.   Yes, a .44 or .45 .444 etc. will kill a deer. So will any of the bottleneck cartridges, PLUS they offer a flat trajectory.  Remington offers some short light handy Autos and Pumps. Browning has the BLR. Savage 99.  All available in bottleneck rounds.There is a lot of magic attributed to these big calibers here.  Their right.  What you rarely hear, here, is The bottlenecks are pretty magical too.
 

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As far as quick kills with the big bores that shame the bottlenecks, maybe, but 4 of my six kills just fell over. Didn't even jump. Can't get much quicker then that fellas.
 

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The 5 I've killed so far this season with my .444P have been dead when they fell. No runs, no kicks, no wiggles. That 310 gr. cast bullet just line bores a hole right on through And they fall stone dead in their tracks.
 

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Well, I'm casting my lot with the .45-70 camp.  Just picked up a Marlin 1895SS this evening.  Maybe one of these days I'll go back to using rifles to hunt with.  

However, for right now, the revolvers are doing just fine.  First week of our season and I've got three in the freezer.
 

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Lets not forget the humble 30/30.  Light, low recoil, inexpensive to shoot, easy to reload.   With 170gr. pills, I've never had one got more than 20yds., even with a not so well placed  chest shot.  You don't quite have the bullet choice of a 429, or 308, but for deer at no more than 100 yds, the selection is adequate.  :biggrin:
 

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Chief, I wish I had gtten on this thread in the beginnig. You have asked several questions that I think are interesting and deseve debate.

You said you want to drop your deer right in its tracks. We all want that!
The most reliable shot I have seen for dropping a deer right in his tracks, when iron sights and middle age eyes are involved, is the cross chest shot from a frontal angle.
From a rear angle, shooting for the off shoulder they do not fall quite as fast, in my experiance. This shot gets both lungs and generaly a shoulder.

I use a number of lever actions for deer hunting and in my experiance, the .307 Winchester with 170 gr. flat nose bullets designed for the .30-30, Speer, Sierra or Hornady have produced the highest number of "dropped in its tracks" kills.
This may be because I have mainly used the .307 for still hunting and have used the .356, .45-70 and most recently the .444 for jump shooting.

Long range neck shots with iron sights in poor light, the deep woods etc., are an invitation for dissapointment.

The American Rifleman ran a Hunter survey back in the late forties that someone should repeat. I am not at home or I would give the month.  Anyway, they asked for caliber, distance, wind, light etc  and had a drawing of a deer from side and overhead for you to place dotted lines showing bullet path. The printed results were very interesting. My father gave me copies of this page years ago and I have been recording my deer kills ever since.
From my experiance, the x across the chest is the way to go.
One thing I will say for the .356 and .444, they sure leave a blood trail!
 

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Also a fan of the shooting at the off side shoulder, and have had good results with it myself. It does lots of damage where it needs to be done, and sure puts them on their back.

The lever guns that provided for me the elusive immediatte stop,  are the 444 marlin with a 265 grain hornady, and the 300 savage, with a 150 grain roundnose sierra, but conditions where just right.

The caliber i swear by as "the" stopper, is the 350 Rem Mag, as it has not failed me yet, stopping wise,  but it doesn;t qualify in the scope of this discussion because its not a lever.  Am hopeful that my brand new 358 levergun will equal its performance, in a much lighter and handier platform.  Can;t wait to find out, but i expect that it will, based on the  track record of its slightly quicker cousin.

Good luck chief.

SR
 

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By the way- since I'm feeling my oats today, I must add that all animals, regardless of how hard they're hit end up stopping in their tracks. No matter how long it takes. JUST KIDDING!!!
 

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Aint that the truth....

Did you ever hear the one about Ben Lilly?

He grabed his rifle and shooting bag one day, told his wife that a hawk was after the chickens and left.
He stepped back into the house months later, stood his rifle in the coner, hung his bag on a peg and simply said: "that hawk flew a fer piece"

good story anyway!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I wish I could say you made up my mind for me but the truth is  I STILL DON'T KNOW. Sure was a good informative discussion as usual.

I'm going to shoulder them all and get a feel for them. Then I'm going to make a decision. I'll keep you informed.
 

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Chief,
     You're on the right track there! Pick the rifle that feels best and you'll have a winner. Whatever cartridge it's chambered in will be deer-capable, so the fit of the rifle is really the important part!  So Long,  ID
 

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Chief,

Just a few thoughts on your question.  At this time I have to agree with IDShooter, pick what you like the best and go with it as long as the cartridge is one usually considered adequate for deer.

These have worked for me several times and only one deer did anything but collapse where he stood.

.45-70, Duplex BP load under Lyman 457122HP in H&R Trapdoor replica Officers rifle.

.35 Remington, 200 gr. Win factory Silvertip, in Rem. Model 141 slide action.

.44 Magnum, Speer 240 SP in Marlin 94. 21.0 2400. This revealed a problem which may occur to you, that Marlin would not take a load that a Ruger SBH would take.  The problem was extraction, it wouldn't!  That is why I didn't use the old standard 22.0/2400/240 bullet.

I currently have a Marlin CowboyII .45-70 (the Cowboy II isn't checkered, otherwise identical to the Limited Edition), Cowboy Limited Edition .45 Colt., Cowboy .38-55.  I'm still working on getting these to really shoot with cast bulets at more than BP velocities!  The .45-70 will shoot under 1" with the Speer 400 SP, but I want to shoot lead!

The .45-Colt is being shot with 300 Speer/23.5 H-110 and does around 1750 FPS!  That, son, is a .45-70 in a small package!  It kicks like one too.

Just wanted to make you drool a little.  These Marlins should be available if your dealer orders them.  All were bought from open stock.  If your local shop has trouble finding what you want, check the Davidsons web site, they can find one for you.

In short, whatever you like is best, the chamberings are available.  Any of these are plenty capable of doing what you describe.
 
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