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iceman05

.357 round for deer

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I bought a .357 to bring in the woods with me a few times a year. My question is what’s the best round for deer? it seems split between 180gr and 158gr. So what’s better heavy and slower or lighter and faster. Any input would be great.
 
 
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My hunch is that this question will generate more questions than answers. A whole lot of variables involved. To begin with barrel length can be a major consideration in how the particular cartridge functions in it and not all brands of factory loads fire the same. The distance of the shot is another important consideration. The particular projectile (bullet type) is another both in terms of bullet weight and foot pounds delivered at the distance you'll be expecting to shoot.. Accuracy is high on the list too and not all cartridges of the same  number of grain bullet fire the same in terms of it from a given handgun, and the best advice I can think of is to buy a few boxes of different weights from say Federal or Hornady which usually fire pretty consistently. My thought is that you will want expansion of the projectile but not fragmentation. The heavier you go with the bullet the more kick you'll experience generally too which can be important for second shots. In terms of foot pounds delivered the 130 gr.Federal Hydrashok JHP and the 140 gr. Barnes Expander deliver about 600 fp with good expansion. The downside with lighter bullets is that with distance they wander more than heavier bullets which also relates to gun barrel length. The heavier 158 and 180 gr. bullets will tend to be more accurate down range but they may have less knock down power at your shooting distance. The most extreme differences in the way any of the factory loads function is between handguns with short barrels (less than 4 inches) vs. longer barrels (e..g. 4 inches and longer). Shorter barreled  tend to be more sensitive to particular ammo. The solid point bullets don't expand or mushroom as the specially designed jacketed hollow points do (e.g. personal defense ammo) and they may travel right through your target without the damage you want (depending on area hit). The firearm in the above pic looks to have a barrel length at least 6 inches (hard to tell from a pic and I think they come in 7 and 8 as well) so that should deliver a relatively accurate shot with pretty good knockdown power with the right ammo. I think you may be ahead of the game if you test out a few different loads in that particular firearm rather than just going based on general considerations examining the accuracy of it and how well it expands in an appropriate target done at a distance range you expect to be shooting. Each firearm may shoot somewhat different even the same brand handgun with the same brand ammo.

Edited by Sk8man

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Sk8man, thanks for the info. The gun has a 6.5in barrel and I plan to keep shots 50 yards and under. I’m headed to the range today to put a few boxes through the gun. I don’t plan to use the gun this season as I want to figure out the best round before I hunt with it. I’m also on the fence if I want to scope it just yet. I bought the gun as more of a dual purpose, target shooting and then bring occasionally in the deer woods.


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There used to be a ballistics chart on the Federal ammo website that gave a lot of specs on the different rounds both handgun and rifle info that can give a general idea regarding the particular rounds and distance drop off rates at different distances etc. Might want to check and see if it is still there.....gives a good idea of things but the real world firing of different rounds is still the best bet.

Edited by Sk8man
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The Remington 158 gr SJHP is worth considering. I've used this bullet in both my .357mag and .44mag for hunting deer. This bullet is a vary good in deer size game. Quick expansion, bullet weight retention and holds together pretty good going through bone.

 

The link will take you to a ballistic test to get some idea of performance.

You'll get better muzzle velocity/energy in your 6" barrel than the 3" barrel in the video test 

 

 

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Stinger makes good points. It probably wouldn't be highly recommended by the experts and I don't hunt anymore but if I were doing it I would put one of the Barnes Expander 140's or the 130 Federal JHP in the cylinder lined up with the barrel and the heavier 158's in the remaining cylinder holes and if I had a close shot i'd shoot the chamber round for the energy transfer and if the shot was further out I'd just spin the cylinder to a heavier load....but that is me (the kick or recoil effect will be different too):smile: P.S. Nice grip on that 357 to help kill the shock to the hand.

Edited by Sk8man

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Thanks stinger. The more I’m reading, it seems 180gr takes the guesswork out of it. But we will see what results I get. Thanks for the video also. I found a good site ballistics by the inch. They do a range of calibers in a wide range of guns and barrel lengths.


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