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Discussion Starter #1
This past week I took a deer with a .45 colt Single Action at 25yrds while stalking, and have been wanting to get a .357 since I sold one 12 years ago. Has anyone taken a deer with a 4" .357? What distance and what bullet?

I know there are other calibers that might be preferred and even a longer barrel, but I've had my eye on a 4" S&W 686 and would like it to have more of a purpose than target shooting. Knowing shot placement is key, who's had experience with this? (I know I've sparked a long standing argument based on my internet searches, I'm looking for people who have first-hand experience with it.) For context, I'm hunting white tail in Virginia, not the largest deer.
 

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Wish I could help you. My experience has been with a Ruger .44 BH Hunter. I was a meat hunter so I never took shoulder shots but always double lungs hits. My handloads were with light 180gr Hornady XTPs slightly backed off from max when pressure signs developed. They acted much like slugs did from a shotgun on the deer and with the same hits. One time I let a friend use it on the farm I hunted and he missed his shot - actually shots. So we bought some of those alum case 240 gr hps in town for him to practice with. They are loaded down, heavier and slower. Maybe close to what you might get with a hot .45 Colt. I later hunted a few seasons with them and noticed they seemed much less effective on the deer than my handloads. What I'm getting at is the .357, esp with a 4" barrel is going to be giving ground. Not that it won't kill, it will. But I have to wonder if you won't experience what I did.

Good luck deciding. I've also read some of what you may have about how effective the .357 is on deer. Some love it and some put it down. I had a 4" 19 years ago but traded it long before Illinois allowed them to be used for deer. Later, I had one of the early new production Ruger .357 max single actions on lay away when they were first introduced. I thought, now that ought to work. But a deal came up for a nearly new Colt Series 70 and so I cancelled the Max and put that money towards the .45 acp. Have fun out there and enjoy your handgun hunting. I always loved that weekend when Illinois first opened it up.

If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have gone with a TC Contender in .41 or .44 mag for the increase in power and range. That also may give you an idea of how I feel about a 4" .357, although I would hunt with one myself if the opportunity presented itself and with good shot placement, not too far out, know the deer would go down after a short run. Those lungs can't really survive a round passing through both of them. Now, 125 or 158? I'd probably go 158 if I couldn't find something in between for the penetration.
 

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Several years back my nephew took a nice buck with my 6" model 686,,,
If I recall correctly he made the shot at 35 yards from a tree stand,
The ammo was 158 grain semi-jacketed flat nose,,,
That's what I handed him with the revolver.

Aarond

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I've been re-reading "Hoglegs, Hipshots and Jalapeno's" by the late, great Skeeter Skelton. He was of the opinion the 357 with good, cast bullets was adequate for the average whitetail inside 50 yards. I expect he had more experience than most of us are likely to accrue.
 

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Recent advixe I received from someone who's FORGOTTEN more about this kind of hunting than I'LL ever KNOW is:
1.) Find a hardcast lead SWC (NOT hollow point) or Truncated cone that weighs 168 - 180 gr. and groups well under heavy loads.
2.) Use whatever load(s) will launch this projectile at no less than 1200 f/s from the muzzle.
3.) Limit your range to no more than 50 yards, and half that distance is better.

I was asking questions about how to employ my S&W 6" M28 in a fashion similar to what you are describing. A 4" barrel IS something of an attenuation to good .357 Mag performance. For dispatching deer that are inconveniently near (or right beneath) a deer blind, though, it can be wielded easily enough to not send the animal galloping away from the "thud-clunk-thud" of a rifle being brough to bear on it from an ungainly angle.
You'll need to chronograph whatever load you plan to use, to be certain you have the velocity. Using Aliiant 2400 and IMR-4227, I found two loads that broke 1325 f/s with a locally cast 173(4) gr. SWC. My M28 has a cylinder gap that is on the "generous" side, so if your revolver isn't so hobbled, you might JUST make the minimum velocity.
Anyway, that's the way I'LL plan to approach a problem similar to yours, should it come my way.
I'VE never been in the position that you describe in your opening post, but I know someone who SORTA was. He had a wounded doe wander into his field of fire, 50 measured paces from the bottom of his blind.
He used a 4" S&W M57 with handloads giving 215 gr. a chronographed 1000 f/s. He hit the doe in the spine, and broke it to immobilize it, then dispatched it close up. He later said that he probably could have had the same result with his factory-loaded ,357s from his 5" S&W M27, but was just as happy that he didn't have to.
If you don't already have a 4" K or L frame that you want to use, I'D advise trying to find one with at least one inch more barrel, and more than that, if it can be had. For purposes of durability under very heavy loads, I'd ALSO rather have the L-frame over the K-frame, but that's a personal choice.

Okay, end of "Master's Thesis"....
 

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I've been re-reading "Hoglegs, Hipshots and Jalapeno's" by the late, great Skeeter Skelton. He was of the opinion the 357 with good, cast bullets was adequate for the average whitetail inside 50 yards. I expect he had more experience than most of us are likely to accrue.
Because shooters like Mr, Skelton, Jeff Cooper, and Elmer Keith CAN, on occasion, make miraculous shots under adverse conditions with firearms only marginally up to the task, it gives ME hope that we "mere mortals" might ALSO make similar shots under FAR MORE IDEAL conditions. Such situations are, to me, much like an armed confrontation. I'll optimize my sidearm for it, practice assiduously to successfully pull it off, and hope FERVENTLY that I'll NEVER have to prove myself actually capable.
 

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Wish I could help you. My experience has been with a Ruger .44 BH Hunter. I was a meat hunter so I never took shoulder shots but always double lungs hits. My handloads were with light 180gr Hornady XTPs slightly backed off from max when pressure signs developed. They acted much like slugs did from a shotgun on the deer and with the same hits. One time I let a friend use it on the farm I hunted and he missed his shot - actually shots. So we bought some of those alum case 240 gr hps in town for him to practice with. They are loaded down, heavier and slower. Maybe close to what you might get with a hot .45 Colt. I later hunted a few seasons with them and noticed they seemed much less effective on the deer than my handloads. What I'm getting at is the .357, esp with a 4" barrel is going to be giving ground. Not that it won't kill, it will. But I have to wonder if you won't experience what I did.

Good luck deciding. I've also read some of what you may have about how effective the .357 is on deer. Some love it and some put it down. I had a 4" 19 years ago but traded it long before Illinois allowed them to be used for deer. Later, I had one of the early new production Ruger .357 man single actions on lay away when they were first introduced. I thought, now that ought to work. But a deal came up for a nearly new Colt Series 70 and so I cancelled the Max and put that money towards the .45 acp. Have fun out there and enjoy your handgun hunting. I always loved that weekend when Illinois first opened it up.

If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have gone with a TC Contender in .41 or .44 mag for the increase in power and range. That also may give you an idea of how I feel about a 4" .357, although I would hunt with one myself if the opportunity presented itself and with good shot placement, not too far out, know the deer would go down after a short run. Those lungs can't really survive a round passing through both of them. Now, 125 or 158? I'd probably go 158 if I couldn't find something in between for the penetration.
A "loaded down" aluminum cased 240 gr. 44 mag. is like a "Hot .45 Colt"? I take it that you've never shot a hot .45 Colt load. I've taken deer antelope and cow elk with mine. Anyway, the .357 mag. is perfectly capable of taking deer sized game. Shot placement and distance need to be figured in. I'd say any deer within 75 yards would be fair game if you have a clear shot at the chest and if you can make the shot. Practice with your handgun and go kill a Virginia whitetail.
 

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Probably not as hot as yours. :D

Maybe I should have said warm .45 Colt load in my 4 5/8 Ruger. iirr it was probably all the Unique the manual would allow. I'm sure the slow burners do better. Then again, I seem to remember using some Blue Dot.
 

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IMR-4227 and Win. 296 or H-110 in my Freedom Arms Mod. 97, 45 Colt gave me a lot more than I want these days.

Last deer I killed with a revolver was about 40 yards out and the 45 Colt with the 260 gr., RCBS, KTSWC, (my mold and alloy, I think straight wheelweight back then), at near 1300 fps was as effective as any expanding bullet from a rifle I ever killed a deer with. First one was with a Ruger SBH and the results were, for all intents and purposes, identical. IMO, to call one cartridge better than the other is splitting hairs...as fine as a frogs hair split 4 ways. How much real, effective difference can there be, between a 250 gr. bullet and a 260 gr. bullet launched at the same velocity and a diameter difference of .022? On paper it can be made to look like a lot but in reality, any difference is so tiny as to be insignificant.

Personally, I wouldn't use a .357. Nor would I discourage anyone from using it within its range limitations....which all open sighted revolvers have. I wouldn't scope a revolver for all the tea in China and enough sugar and lemon to make it palatable.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
@Kosh75287, thanks for submitting your "master's thesis". A lot of good insights there. The S&W 686 is an L-Frame. I've held the 6" and it's just a little unbalanced in my hand, the 4" was a lot more natural with point of aim.

@Grizzly2, @sharps4590, I can't wait to start reloading. I've read up on it, started pricing things out and bought a few die at a good price then Covid hit and components were gone.

A little more info...since I don't reload I used Double Tap ammo, 255gr Keith Hardcast SWC (900fps - 459 ft./lbs.). I inherited a Taurus Gaucho with 5.5" barrel and usually carry it as a back up to the rifle. It won't take ruger-only or hot loads. Apart from bullet diameter/weight, .357 seems to beat what I can fire out of this particular .45. Please help me on ballistics if I'm off on my understanding. (I already have .38 ammo and some .357 so a bonus there). I don't think I'd take any shots more than 30 yards.

I took the doe with the .45 last week because the opportunity presented itself. I don't use stands, but prefer to still hunt or use natural ground cover. I had still hunted into thick brush with only 30 yards of visibility, the doe came up on my right and I couldn't swing my body around enough with a rifle to get a shot but with a revolver it was doable. I was sitting on a log at eye-level, making movements as she we behind trees but there's not much room for error with sound. It was a small doe and if it weren't for wanting to see what the .45 had, I would have let her pass. Past two years, I've take deer at 30 yards or less including an 8pt at 20 yards with bow from the ground--leaned up against a dead tree stump.

I've always wanted to take a deer with a revolver, especially this one since it was my dad's, and now I like the idea of pursing it a bit more. But I'd like to keep the sport of it, close range and when the circumstances align.

239349
 

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What, pray tell, is anemic about a 255 gr. KTSWC at 900 fps? That's the original ballistics with 40 grs. of black. It obviously worked for you!

I mentioned those higher velocities and they were many years ago. Except for my old bear loads I resorted to 900 to 1000 fps loads for all my revolvers. The higher velocities do make hitting out to100 yds. easier but at half that they're no more effective than the same bullet at 900 to 1000 fps. In many ways velocity is way overrated.

When my oldest son was at home, (he went into the Marines in1991 so it's soon 30 years), he and I fired literally thousands of revolver rounds out to 500 yards and learned how to make hits on a target about 2 ft. by 18 inches. 300 yards was our favorite range because we could nail it about every shot. We shot two revolvers mostly, a Ruger Blackhawck with a 7 1/2 in. barrel in 45 Colt and a Colt New Frontier with 7 1/2 barrel in 44 Spl. One was as accurate as the others. Back then we both kept all our shots on an 8 X 10 tie plate at 100 yards, offhand. Today, I MIGHT do that at 25 yards...once in a while. Being a good handgun shot is definitely a perishable skill. Mine perished about 20 years ago.
 
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I don't see why a .357 Mag 158 gr JSP coming out of a 4 to 6 " barrel wouldn't kill a whitetail deer. Killing deer is all about shot placement anyway. If you can hit the vitals at 50 yards consistently, go for it!

I killed a nice 8 pt buck with my Uberti SAA 7 1/2" 45 Colt. 230 gr LRN.
I have killed 4 or 5 deer with my .357 Magnum Rossi Puma Carbine too.
 

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Shot placement is the key. I killed a hog dead in his track at 60 yards shooting a Model 29 44 Mag with a 6 inch barrel. I was using a factory hunting bullet from a company that I cannot recall now.
 

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I don't see why a .357 Mag 158 gr JSP coming out of a 4 to 6 " barrel wouldn't kill a whitetail deer. Killing deer is all about shot placement anyway. If you can hit the vitals at 50 yards consistently, go for it!
I think you're exactly right, though I think it depends on the shape and construction of the JSP. If the 158 gr. slug isn't very very well constructed, it could disrupt excessively, before penetrating deeply enough to disrupt vital organs. Frankly, I think if I could find a hard-cast 165+ gr. in the "truncated cone" shape of the Sierra 158 gr. JSP, I'd use THAT. I suspect that people who really REALLY know this stuff advocate projectiles in the 170 - 180 gr. weight range is that the more moderate velocities to which the heavier slugs are launched enable them to traverse bone or other tissues which might disrupt a faster-moving pistol projectile.
I haven't bagged enough whitetail to know what the minimum satisfactory bullet weight for use in .357 is, but I'm inclined to trust the advice of those who have. I suspect that 158 gr. is right on the edge of "too light", unless the projectile is very, very toughly made.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well, I'm an advocate of confirmation bias. You all confirmed what I hoped you would confirm, you didn't let me down. And you gave me a little more reason to purchase that 686. I'll be picking up a like-new one on Friday from a local guy.

I've have to find some ammo for practice (not much luck with that given the huge backlog, but I'm find some local guys willing to trade). I've scoped out the 180gr Buffalo Bore Outdoorsman as a potential deer round once I'm comfortable with the revolver and determined my effective range. The Outdoorsman runs at about 1375 fps out of a 4" with about 700 ft/lbs. Should do the job if I do mine.
 

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I'm sure you will enjoy that revolver. I'm surprised I don't own a 686. I always thought I would but when I was trading away a used Thompson Center in 30-30 that the lgs knew had some problems, they had a nice S&W 6" model 14, so I traded even. I was hoping he had a 686/586 but alas, he didn't. The gunsmith ran a rod down the barrel and used his lead babitt (I think that's what they call the tool) to perfectly align the cylinder. Boy, was that revolver accurate. I'm sure you will enjoy yours and hope you also enjoy hunting with it.
 
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