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Discussion Starter #1
OK. I just can't shoot my SBH 5.5 inch accurately with what I considered a hunting load. Then I thought, at close range,25 yds or less, what is a hunting load for thin skinned game and what bullet could I use. Follow my thinking here.

I shoot only lead in my SBH. The barrel is smooth and leads very little, usually not at all. It would lead with a hard bullet at say 600 to 800 fps due to the gasses getting out front due to the bullet not ob...... If I shoot a soft bullet at those speeds would it still penetrate a deer? I do want a pass through but I want to be accurate also and I have come to the realization that I am not very accurate with a hunting load.

Here is the other option. Since the hunting shot will be only one shot and it takes at least a second shot for my accuracy on the range to erode, should I just practice light and shoot one full house for point of aim and use the one shot to hunt with? All my lead 240 gr loads, hot or not, seem to be close on point of aim.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Chief, I rarely shoot full power loads except when shooting at critters. The gun's zero has been verified, and my practice loads have the same point of impact at 25 yards as the boomers. Dozens if not hundreds of practice loads go downrange for each full power load.

I think you are on the right track. No sense in beating yourself up with recoil when it is not fun. First shot on fur is the one that counts. Deer won't stand around for a second shot. Shoot a lot of light practice ammo to build your confidence and when the time comes to thump Bambi, you'll be able to do it with any load.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It still is hard to believe how slow I am. The years just go by so fast and I waste so much time between hunting seasons. Thanks for the assistance Mike. I guess next off season I will be ready to hunrt with this thing. Naah! I know I will carry it this year and if one gets inside my comfort zone I will have to give her a try.
 

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Chief RID
I've been shooting 45 Colts for more years then I can remember. I've used everything from mild to wild.
My normal 'load them up by the pick up truck full' is 8.5 to 9.5 grains of Unique behind a 255 grain cast bullet. This load works in all of my 45 Colts for day to day shooting..
I bought a Colt Anaconda in 45 Colt with the idea that this revolver would go with me shoot a pig in South Carolina. I worked a load that I consider to be a 3/4 power load. This load has 20 grains of H-110 behind a 300 grain Saeco cast bullet. This load is powerful yet manageable.
You want to try the same idea in your 44, something between your every day load and the barn burners.
Jim
 

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I'm afarid that I will be in the minority here, but I feel that you should practice with what you hunt with. I've been doing it that way for over 35 years and it works for me. Now the hard part. If you cannot handle the "hunting" loads, then you indeed need to do something. IMO, that something is to develope a load you can handle, learn to shoot it well without flinching, then make the load a little hotter. Continue doing this until you CAN handle the full hunting loads. Yes, it will take time and a LOT of shooting, but you are taking the life of a wonderful creature, you owe it to the deer, or whatever, to take its life as humainly as possible. If that means not hunting with a handgun this year, or even next, so be it. Hunt with something you can handle and shoot accurately, but to hunt with relatively mild loads is not the solution IMO. Sometimes, a deer DOES stick around for a second shot. Over two dozen deer have fallen to my handguns, and some did get a second shot, or third shot even when they just refused to go down. Sometimes a deer will seemingly not be affected by a shot, othertimes, same shot placement, they drop like a rock. It may have something to do with the deer's state of mind when shot, relaxed vs. jumpy vs. spooked??, but IMO, you need your second and any following shots to be just as accurate as your first. We owe the deer that much.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I guess I should explain a little further. Obviously, you need to be able to control the load - don't want the front sight in your forehead when the gun goes off. Definitely want to put the 'hurt' on the deer not the hunter.

Chief, I think that you are able to control the .44 just fine with full-power loads. Obviously it hasn't hurt you. What you are needing to do is work on your trigger control, sight picture, etc. When you are so focused on those things that recoil doesn't matter, then you have suceeded.

So, when you draw back the hammer, the front sight is in crisp focus, and the deer shoulder starts to blur out a little, the only thing left is the trigger control. The end of your finger interacting with the trigger is the only thing that will send the bullet to the right spot. THAT is what you need practice on, first and foremost.

Truthfully, you will not feel the recoil or hardly even notice it in the field. I never have, even with the most heavily-recoiling guns that I own, stuff that is borderline painful to shoot from the bench. When the .338 feels like a .22, you know you were concentrating on the sight picture and the animal you were shooting at. I've drawn blood with the square triggerguard on a Super Blackhawk and barely notice it till later, when deer hunting.

So, in order to train yourself, you need to shoot a lot. Shoot with anything, start with a .22, and work your way up. Trigger control and focus don't change (much). Obviously you want to put in some time with the heavier loads as you work your way up, and be familiar with the gun you will hunt with.

Shoot your 'light' .44 loads (which still have a fair amount of recoil) until you have achieved a high level of consistency with that gun. At that point a few full-power loads should not induce a flinch. Use a glove if it helps, just make sure the point of impact doesn't change or keep the glove on in the field.

Once you have practiced a LOT, then I feel confident you will be able to use the full-power loads effectively in the field. Train your mind first.

Hey, if you get to the point that you can shoot the full-power loads all day, more power to you. The silhouette shooters do it, you can too with enough practice.

So, at the end of every practice session, put a couple of full-power loads in the gun and make sure it is still hitting where you aim. I'll bet it doesn't take long before you are hitting with the same consistency as the light(er) loads.

You might also look around for some 'intermediate' .44 loads. There are some, like the PMC cheapies, that feel noticably less powerful that a full-throttle .44 (at least they do to me).

I do agree w/Big Bore that hunting with the light loads is not the way to go. However, I don't agree that you can't go hunting until you can shoot a lot of powerful rounds at one time from the bench. If that was the case then I'd still be practicing instead of shooting deer and hogs with handguns.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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By the way, you can easily prove to yourself that most of shooting proficency is in your head, not in your hands. Next time you are at the range, shoot a few rounds (light stuff please) with your 'weak' hand. Chances are that the groups won't be quite as good as your strong hand groups. But..... consider for a minute how many rounds you put downrange with your strong hand, and how few you have with your weak hand (if you're a typical shooter). Now... is it any wonder you can hit the target AT ALL weak-handed???? Yet you've probably had next to no practice with that hand. That's why dry-firing helps, just to train your brain. Food for thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks guys. I think we are all on the same page. I do not experience any pain in shooting, it is just the flinches that slip in after shooting a few rounds that are what I consider medium loads. As I have said before this is really just bench accuracy that suffers, as in opening groups. I seem to hit what I aim at with these moderate rounds when plinking offhand or practice using the "charging dangerous game" game.

I think the 1100 fps round at 240 gr XTP is probably enough for any deer out to 25 or 35 yds, but I don't have the experience so time will tell. I don't think many folks hunt with 5.5 inch barrels and open sights for deer because of the effective range issue, but I am an old bowhunter and that is the type of hunting that I am most accustomed to.

You know I will keep practicing and getting better and one day I will be able to let that H-110 load fly. What is the shelf life of that stuff? Ha, Ha. Just kiding.
 

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Chief,
I agree with what has been said here. If you're only shooting to 25-35 yards, where many have killed deer with a .357 and good bullet placement, why not try a good cast bullet load in the 255-280gr area at about 1000 fps? That load will likely get it done from any angle, and there is no need to use H110/WW296 or any other powder that will throw a HUGE fireball from your short revolver. I would bet you can shoot that velocity level with ease. You can get that velocity level from the .44 with 340gr bullets with almost any quick burning powder. You'll use much less powder and have much less muzzle blast than any load with the slow powders. The slow powders, in my testing, don't work very well when the reduced much from maximum anyway. 2400 would be the exception here, but you can get the power you need to cleanly take game from most "shotgun" powders using half the amount of powder. I think this route is probably ideally suited to your revolver and beating your problems. The muzzle blast and the lapse of concentration it can cause, not recoil, is usually what will cause your problems.

Good luck
 

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Hey Chief,

Sometime in the late 'sixties I was watching a weekly TV show called 'Larry Jones Presents'. It was the only hunting series of the time, in my area. Larry Jones was a pistol hunter. He was also as crazy as your Aunt Sadie's pet duck.

The .44 Mag was just getting good notoriety. Larry helped it by taking it to Africa,...Elephant hunting. As I remember, his loads consisted of; as much 2400 as could be poured in the case under a tungsten(or some such) bullet

The area he hunted in contained two bulls that had turned 'rogue'. He had special permission to 'put them down'.
His weapon of choice was a Super Blackhawk/7 1/2" with the aforementioned load.

He moved on both animals (individually) in the same manner. He crept upwind to about five (5) YARDS from the elephant and, while they were pulling leaves off of a tree he shot them in the base of the spine. The fun then commenced.

The elephant would spin, front legs pulling only, and trumpeting wildly, would try to b**ch-slap Larry with its trunk. Larry would duck under, then rise up to fire into the elephants head. This was real. The camera was showing it from the side. It took twelve shots but the man killed two bull elephants with a pistol. I simply had to have one.

Enter reality: My new Super Blackhawk kicked like the Devil. The only factory loads available were full house Keith loads. I, flat out, couldn't deal with this kind of recoil. Remember (if you are old enough), this was the 'most powerful handgun on the planet'. Everyone told me so. Brainwashed? You bet! Time passed.

Enter a man named Lee Jurras: Lee made, among other things, SuperVel bullets. He made a 180gr in either flat nose or hollow point with a bonded core. The recoil was tremendously less than with a 240gr cast.

The search was on... More time passed. I found that Sierra also made a new 180 gr Hollow Cavity. Low recoil, here we come....I wonder what would happen if I loaded some of these 180s to .44 Special velocities?

I've streched this out to make a final point. My wife, two sons, and daughter all shoot .44mag pistols. They never knew that they were shooting a gun with MAJOR recoil. I did not tell them. All introduction and practice were with low powered loads. It's been a simple deal to work up to max loads before the season. I guarantee that you don't want any one of them shooting at you inside 100 yds.

Be advised that the SuperVel is no more. Also, The 180 gr Sierra will spit the jacket on the entrance hole. BUT,...there's the 200gr Nosler XPB, and the 180gr Hornady XTP. Stack some H110 under them and watch them electrocute deer, with considerably less recoil than 240, 265, 300 gr 'hole punchers'. Remember to use mag primers with a good, tight crimp and most of the powder will burn in the cylinder and barrel(7 1/2").

I think I'll just, 'Drop ,roll, and cover' at this point. Please don't hurt me, Fellas.

Bud
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Hey Bud, tell us how the deer hunting went with any of those bullets, if you had the chance to use them. Always up for a good post-mortem report.

Yeah the 280-300gr bullets are a handful to shoot. If we didn't have big nasty tough hogs around here I would probably shoot something lighter. Actually I might shoot something lighter except have other projects and no time to work up anything else. I think I have shot 6 or 7 out of a batch of 100 and it'll be a while before I need any more.

Not interested in trying elephant hunting, at least not that way! Maybe with the .458.....
 

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Hey Mike,

I am sitting here under two mounted blacktail racks. One a 4x5 with huge bases. The othet is a 4x3 that the 4x5 will fit inside of. Both have the mushroomed bullet that brought them down attached to a little piece of wood under the mount.
One is a 180 gr Super Vel. The other is a 180 gr Sierra. Both fired out of a pistol

The first ten, or so, years after we moved here(1973), one could draw a tag, then apply for another, then buy one over the counter. In 1973 Oregon was second to only Texas in deer population. We called it "grocery shopping". We were never skunked. Most(probably 95%) of our deer were killed with 180 and 200 gr .44MAG bullets in Marlin rifles. Most bullets stayed in, against the far hide.

I gave Sierra 180s a bad rap but I've had a couple shed jackets on impact. I don't like that. To be truthful, I have killed, or seen killed, more than 25 deer with the Sierra 180HC. They almost never exit and they double their diameter. The light bullets must expand to transfer energy.

When Oregon, finally, made it legal to hunt big game with a pistol I was in Heaven. I've taken numerous smaller bucks plus the two on the wall and one 4x4 at 9(Nine) paces, another(4x3) at fourteen paces. Blackberry thickets and VineMaple make for close shooting.

One thing, I've killed a couple elk with my .44 pistol. Never again. Three years ago I had three cows and a spike feeding in a clearcut(logging) at about 75 yards. I tried to get closer but couldn't. They would move, I would move. Finally, I took a two hand 'Cooper' hold and centered(Leupold 2x) on the spike, behind the shoulder. Bang. Nothing happened. All four animals stood looking around. I eased forward to a stump for a steady rest. My adrenalin was squirting. Bang, again. Nothing happened.

I lowered the pistol in disgust, thinking that I was going to gut shoot an elk. They started walking into the brush, the spike, one cow, and another. The last one was almost out of site when she spun and ran back into the clearcut followed by the other cows.

Highly interested, I walked to the trail where they had almost disappeared. There he lay, kicking. The bullet holes were less than two inches apart, behind the shoulder. The cleaning and autopsy ran concurrently. Holes through the lungs looked as if a stick had been pushed through them. There was little blood-shotting. Both bullets had gone between ribs on entrance. They were laying between hide and ribs on the far side.

One had impacted a rib and deflected. The bullet that hit the rib had a barely mashed hollow point. The other, except for rifling marks, could have been reloaded. They were Hornady 200gr HP, loaded as hot as the Ruger would take. Too darned hard, you think? Zero expansion means zero energy transfer(it says here).

Heavier bullets would have meant more penetration but with the same hits the reaction would, I think, be the same. No more elk...or elephants with the .44Mag, for me.

This sucker does electrocute deer, inside 75yds, with a 180 or 200gr expanding bullet. Now...I don't know about that 'gristle barrier' on a hog's ribs. I've hunted them in the Bay Area (California). That's the darndest bit of protective evolution I've seen. Glad blacktails don't have it.

Bud
 

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bullet chose

Bud , what were you thinking a 200 grain bullet on a elk ? I have heard of bullets this size being used in high velocity rifles that would cause expansion from the HP but when shooting at an elk or any large bodied game use a heavy cast lead bullet that will drag lots of meat with it A hand gun doesnt have the velocity to cause the HP to expand right. the 200 grainers once they hit the target were slowed way down this is why they didnt exit and next the Hp is nothing but a cup if you will to grab the outside if the deer or elk causing lack of penetration. The bigger the meplat of the bullet the greater chance one has of dropping the animal in its tracks because it is going to have more capability to pass through and grabbing meat while it is at it and also making a greater permanant wound channel. Go out again and this time use a 300 or 310 hard cast lead bullet and see the effect it has on that old elk. I just read a story about a guy that put down a bull moose with a 360 grain bullet from a 454 at 70 yrds and the moose was dead as soon as he shot it even though it did take a dead run.
 

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Chief RID said:
Man!! Y'all really brought this one out of the old treasure chest from back in 03.
Since this one's been brough back from almost a year ago, tell us, are you better prepared for hunting season this year? What have you been doing to get ready using that .44 this season?

God bless,
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for asking. I got side tracked with the 1894 Marlin and the 44 SBH has been sitting at home. It probably will not see much action unless the deer activity on our lease picks up considerable. I have an everyday load that I will clock next time I have access to a chrony that is very accurate. The projectile is a swagged 240 gr SWC that does not lead at all over Universal or Green Dot.

I am working now on a gallary load that Marshall has been helping me with for the 30.06. As soon as work will allow I will test these things and then begin a serious intimate relationship with the 760 Slide Gun and these inexpensive light recoiling rounds. I plan to shoot a lot from hunting positions and come season this super accurate firearm will have someone behind it that won't let it down.

The 1894 has the Ashley ghost ring back on it but the cast loads will have to wait another year. I am convinced a lap job is needed and that will wait for next off season.

That's my plan and my story and I am sticking to it. Have fun getting ready guys. I am.
 
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