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Discussion Starter #1
On Leverguns.com there is a discussion about the suitability of the 357mag for deer hunting. One poster, gglass, listed some velocity and muzzle energy data comparing the 38spl and 357mag with the the older calibers popular in the 1800s; namely the 25-20, 32-20, 38-40, and 44-40. No one would dispute that the 44-40 (original caliber that the '92 Winchester was built for) was perfectly adequate for hunting deer at the time. However, these days we tend to think one needs a much more powerful round to hunt anything.

I'm not saying that the older calibers were adequate for long range deer hunting or larger game (even though elk and bear were hunted with the 44-40) but I'm in the camp that thinks shot placement and hunting skills are what's needed instead of the ever more powerful rifle. So, I thought I'd share part of my response showing some data I pulled together using Handloads.com demonstrating that the 357mag round is perfectly adequate for short to mid range deer hunting.


Performance at the muzzle is one thing but it seems to me that velocity and muzzle energy at say, 100yds would be a better comparison for field use. Therefore, I used Handloads.coms ballistic calculator with both your and my data and generated the following information.

Caliber ...... Grns ...... MV ...... ME ... 100yd MV . 100yd ME
25-20 ......... 79 ....... 1645 .... 475 ..... 1252 ........ 275
32-20 ........ 107 ....... 1860 .... 822 ..... 1378 ........ 451
38-40 ........ 168 ....... 1574 .... 924 ..... 1165 ........ 506
44-40 ........ 205 ....... 1375 .... 861 ..... 1078 ........ 529
38sl+P *..... 158 ....... 1421 .... 708 ..... 1122 ........ 422
38sl **....... 158 ....... 1300 .... 675 ..... 1079 ........ 465
357mag * . 158 ....... 1822 .. 1165 ..... 1397 ........ 685
357mag **.. 180 ....... 1574 .... 990 ..... 1254 ........ 629

Hypothetical 357mag 2000fps and 2100fps performance.
357mag ..... 158 ....... 2000 ... 1403 ..... 1538 ........ 830
357mag ..... 158 ....... 2100 ... 1547 ..... 1621 ........ 922

This data clearly shows that the both the 158grn and 180grn .357mag loads deliver significantly more energy on target at 100yds than any of the other calibers listed. Also, if one believes that a 2000fps or 2100fps 158grn round is possible, the energy on target for the 357mag runs in the neighborhood of 60% higher than any other caliber listed.

But, energy on target is no use at all if you don't hit what you're aiming at so let's also compare trajectory information for 50yds, 100yds, and 150yds assuming a 100yd zero to see which is the flatter shooting round.

Caliber ...... Grns ...... MV ..... 50yd ... 100yd . 150yd
25-20 ......... 79 ....... 1645 ... 1.90" ...... 0" .. -10.39"
32-20 ........ 107 ....... 1860 ... 1.50" ...... 0" .... -6.26"
38-40 ........ 168 ....... 1574 ... 2.18" ...... 0" .... -8.60"
44-40 ........ 205 ....... 1375 ... 2.78" ...... 0" .. -10.28"
38sl+P *..... 158 ....... 1421 ... 2.54" ...... 0" .... -9.45"
38sl **....... 158 ....... 1300 ... 3.01" ...... 0" .. -10.79"
357mag * . 158 ....... 1822 ... 1.47" ..... 0" .... -5.96"
357mag **.. 180 ....... 1574 ... 2.92" ...... 0" .. -10.39"

Hypothetical 357mag 2000fps and 2100fps performance.
357mag ..... 158 ....... 2000 ... 1.17" ...... 0" .... -4.87"
357mag ..... 158 ....... 2100 ... 1.03" ...... 0" .... -4.37"

Again, my 158grn 357mag load demonstrates the flattest trajectory through 150yds of any other round listed (except the hypothetical 2000fps and 2100fps rounds). Therefore, I make the unabashed claim that the .357mag. is absolutely the best performing caliber of the lot for deer hunting at any range out to 150yds. No one should feel under gunned when using their 357mag levergun hunting deer out to 150yds which I believe is the practical and humane limit for an open sighted levergun in these caliber ranges.

* My chrono data generated averaging 2ea 10rd strings under the following local conditions; Jefferson County, CO, 9/13/09 - Sunny, 54°, 6,100ft asl
** gglass revised data.
 

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Steve, I own a Rossi Puma Lever Action in .44-40 WCF, and wouldn't feel "undergunned" using it at ranges under 100 yards on Deer.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
My point exactly! Lots of shooters are badmouthing these calibers because of today's infatuation with the more powerful ones forgetting that they are perfectly acceptable. However, I think that many users are actually over gunned for what they're after.

The skill of hunting (the tracking, stalking, and shooting) is being lost because too many people rely on ultra long range rifles with huge optics rather than their skills. Sitting on a rock in the open and popping a deer at 400yds with a 56x scope isn't hunting, it's target shooting.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I would still go with 180gr. cast bullets as a better all-around bullet. Sometimes you gie up a little trajectory for a little more 'smack' on the receiving end....

But I do agree that the .357 is underrated. It does need the correct bullet for the job.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Yes,I just heard about Buffalo Bore's claims myself and checked it out on their web page. I'm surprised at the level of performance they reach with a 357 round. Based on that information, I'm updating my charts.

Caliber ...... Grns .... MV ..... ME . 100yd MV . 100yd ME
25-20 ......... 79 ... 1645 .... 475 ... 1252 ........ 275
32-20 ........ 107 .. 1860 .... 822 ... 1378 ........ 451
38-40 ........ 168 .. 1574 .... 924 ... 1165 ........ 506
44-40 ........ 205 .. 1375 .... 861 ... 1078 ........ 529
38sl+P *..... 158 .. 1421 .... 708 ... 1122 ........ 422
38sl **....... 158 .. 1300 .... 675 ... 1079 ........ 465
357mag * ... 158 .. 1822 .. 1165 ... 1397 ........ 685
357mag **.. 180 .. 1574 .... 990 ... 1254 ........ 629
Buffalo Bore Ammo from an 18.5" Marlin
357mag .... 158 . 2153 .. 1626 ... 1665 ........ 973

357mag .... 180 . 1851 .. 1369 ... 1468 ........ 861

This new data clearly shows that BB's .357mag loads deliver significantly more energy on target at 100yds than any of the other calibers listed. In fact, it shows that BB's 158grn load delivers more ME at 100yds than any other caliber produces at the muzzle!! Also, their 180grn hardcast ammo has the same ME at 100yds that the 44-40 has at the muzzle.

Not surprisingly, the trajectory information for 50yds, 100yds, and 150yds assuming a 100yd zero is also great.

Caliber ...... Grns ...... MV ..... 50yd ... 100yd . 150yd
25-20 ......... 79 ..... 1645 ... 1.90" ...... 0" .. -10.39"
32-20 ........ 107 ..... 1860 ... 1.50" ...... 0" ... -6.26"
38-40 ........ 168 ..... 1574 ... 2.18" ...... 0" ... -8.60"
44-40 ........ 205 ..... 1375 ... 2.78" ...... 0" .. -10.28"
38sl+P *..... 158 ..... 1421 ... 2.54" ...... 0" .... -9.45"
38sl **....... 158 ..... 1300 ... 3.01" ...... 0" .. -10.79"
357mag * ... 158 ..... 1822 ... 1.47" ...... 0" ... -5.96"
357mag **.. 180 ..... 1574 ... 2.92" ...... 0" .. -10.39"
Buffalo Bore Ammo from an 18.5" Marlin
357mag .... 158 .... 2153 ... 0.97" ...... 0" ... -4.13"

357mag .... 180 .... 1851 ... 1.37" ...... 0" ... -5.42"

* My chrono data generated averaging 2ea 10rd strings under the following local conditions; Jefferson County, CO, 9/13/09 - Sunny, 54°, 6,100ft asl
** gglass revised data.
 

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Just about anything Buffalo Bore produces makes sense - just costs more $$$ like most any good thing.. The 180 grain round takes the .357 to a whole new level.
 

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Hello COSTEVE good to see another colo person here. Have to share some insights I have on the subject at hand. I was a guide for 9 years and have seen leterally hundreds of animals taken. I myself have shot well over 100 head of big game. I have always been a terminal ballistics student so I have used many odd cartridges and have studied recovered bullets with over 100 in my collection. All this is not bragging but showing my credentials. I have taken 3 head of big game with a 357 using Remington 158 grn hp ammo. Two mule deer does and an antelope buck. I had bad luck with both deer. Antelope lung shot at 50 yards died after a short run. One mule deer was perfectlyshot broadside shot at 35 yards. Fifteen minutes later she was still on her feet though weak. Other doe was hit 6 times all less than perfect shot placement on my part. While the 44WCF aka 44-40 has taken its fair share of game it has also let many wounded animals escape. I shot an antelope and mule deer with the 32-20 in a rifle. The antelope was spine hit so instant down, the deer was lung shot and took entirely too long to expire. While we are on the subject I shot an antelope with a 45 acp using Win silvertip hp ammo, it took seven hard hits with little effect, it finally layed down and died. I have always thought that the 357 should have preformed better and believe it will with better bullets now. It is still the handgun I carry the everyday in my car. Just some casual observations, does anyone else have any experences to share if so please post. One last 357 story I shot a @4 lb woodchuck with a hot loaded 357 using 110 grn Hornaday hp bullets. Shot was @ 10 yards, bullet failed to exit that small of an animal and was beautifully mushroomed, definately not a game bullet for anything over 10 lbs in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Interesting. Take a look at This Post on Leverguns.com. He's getting some pretty good performance out of his 357 Rossi. Maybe the newer bullets have changed the game.
 

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I too have seen the imressive ballistics of the 357 in a rifle. With newer bullets and higher velocities I feel in both handgun and rifle the 357 might be equal to the task of cleanly and humanely taking a deer. All my limited experences were with a handgun so the extra 4oo fps that most rifles give should be a desciding factor.
 

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Bullets... bullets.... bullets.... did I mention that bullets are important?!?!?! In all seriousness the .357 is one cartridge where bullets can be either great performers, or disasters. Hollowpoints can open up quickly, or not at all. If they work, great, but if not - big problem.

My biggest concern with expanding bullets in a .357 is that expansion is going to greatly rob you of penetration.

You can get a cast bullet with the same meplat as Elmer Keith's famous .44 mag bullets, and that is what does the work. 0.280" or so flat across the nose and you get good wound channels, from revolver velocities up to what the .35 cal rifles will run them at.
 

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I'm glad to hear that information on the meplat. I measured my Zero 158grn JSP and the average meplat is .268" flat across the nose. Not quite .280" but certainly no spitzer point either. Here's a picture of it from their website.



I get good accuracy with it and now I'm convienced that it would provide decent hunting potential.
If you do use it on deer, i would be very interested in the resulting performance.
 

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Yeah I think that would work fine. If you get one, let us know!
 

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Going to mention this, then let it pass.

For a few years, hunted with a .351WSL which is one of the rifle cartridges generally considered "too little" for deer. 180gr. bullets at 1750-1800fps. It works like a charm at short range.

The .357 from a rifle can get about that kind of speed, weight, diameter...and generally will run right with better game-shaped bullets.

The main complaint for a .357 (or any 35 in this speed range) is distance...don't shoot them far away and they'll work fine.
 

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First hunt I used a hp and it was the only deer I ever had to shoot twice. Switched to 158 gr sp or 158 gr semi wad Kieth style bullets for the next 25 years until I switched to a 44 mag using the same bullet choices. Old dinosaur here and I always believed in penetration and these bullets gave it to me. Also believe in shot placement and a lot of years I went home deerless because if I cannot take a good shot I won't take it. Nothing wrong with the 357 in my book.
 

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i love the 357 for deer i use either the 158grain jsp or a 125 grain jhp have had no problems with either at 100 yards all one shot kills.
 

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Hello COSTEVE good to see another colo person here. Have to share some insights I have on the subject at hand. I was a guide for 9 years and have seen leterally hundreds of animals taken. I myself have shot well over 100 head of big game. I have always been a terminal ballistics student so I have used many odd cartridges and have studied recovered bullets with over 100 in my collection. All this is not bragging but showing my credentials. I have taken 3 head of big game with a 357 using Remington 158 grn hp ammo. Two mule deer does and an antelope buck. I had bad luck with both deer. Antelope lung shot at 50 yards died after a short run. One mule deer was perfectlyshot broadside shot at 35 yards. Fifteen minutes later she was still on her feet though weak. Other doe was hit 6 times all less than perfect shot placement on my part. While the 44WCF aka 44-40 has taken its fair share of game it has also let many wounded animals escape. I shot an antelope and mule deer with the 32-20 in a rifle. The antelope was spine hit so instant down, the deer was lung shot and took entirely too long to expire. While we are on the subject I shot an antelope with a 45 acp using Win silvertip hp ammo, it took seven hard hits with little effect, it finally layed down and died. I have always thought that the 357 should have preformed better and believe it will with better bullets now. It is still the handgun I carry the everyday in my car. Just some casual observations, does anyone else have any experences to share if so please post. One last 357 story I shot a @4 lb woodchuck with a hot loaded 357 using 110 grn Hornaday hp bullets. Shot was @ 10 yards, bullet failed to exit that small of an animal and was beautifully mushroomed, definately not a game bullet for anything over 10 lbs in my opinion.
G'day,

I used to hunt with a 94 winchester in .357. For the majority of my pig hunting out here, it was adequate, as long as shots were kept to reasonable ranges. Penetration with 158gr projectiles at 1650fps or so MV was very good, but I never got a lot of expansion unless they struck bone, so animals shot behind the shoulder tended to run a long way without dropping. Shoulder shots on smaller pigs anchored them in their tracks.
There is a huge difference in the stopping power needed to anchor a smaller sow and a big, mud encrusted boar with his adrenalin up. I wasn't confident that the ,357 had enough grunt to do the job with a snap shot in heavy cover, I felt there wasn't enough margn for error. If a pig can run twenty yards in some of the country I hunt, you either won't find it or it'll be on top of you! Traded up to a .44 Magnum and the difference was emphatic.
As an aside, I've killed 5 brumbies, (feral horses) with the .357. I shot two with the carbine using 158gn cast bullets, no GC at about 1600fps. Both shots were from memory just behind the shoulder, or maybe on it, and both of them dropped on the spot. I was very surprised, because I've had trouble dropping these with much bigger cartridges. I feel there was a big element of luck involved, and I think if I did it again the results could be very different.
Also shot 3 with my .357 magnum Blackhawk, 6.5" barrel. The first one I shot from a prone position, with the barrel resting against a tree, at a range of about forty yards with a 158gn Hornady XTP. Shot hit it in the front of the chest, it took about five steps and came crashing down. I was stoked. The second one, some months later, took a couple of hits to drop it, and needed a finisher. The third didn't respond much to the shot, and I had to follow up for about two kilometres, and while I won't go into detail it was an unpleasant experience. I won't delibrately hunt big game with a handgun anymore. When things go awry, it can be hard to get close enough to resolve the situation quickly.
 

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This brings to mind an incident that happened back in the middle 60's. My Uncle's next door neighbor was a Conservation Officer for the greater Detroit / Wayne County area. He got a report that there was a deer inside a high school in Downtown Detroit. The CO was a terrible shot and knew it so he picked up my Uncle and I and we headed down to the school. My uncle was to be the shooter. He used a Colt Police Positive in .38 Special with the FBI 200 grain load. At about 30' my Uncle shot the deer in the chest and the deer expired on the spot. Cute little buck. Deer had swum the river over from Belle Isle Ammusement Park. We ate that deer. Nice and tender, as I remember.
 
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