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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello all, I’ve recently been wondering what the max distance of the 44 mag for deer. From what I understand Elmer Keith killed a mule deer at 600 yards with a 4” S&W moving 1400 FPS. He let the hard cast bullet do the work, not velocity. If that’s the case, why couldn’t a 44 mag rifle be used out to 200 yards with a 240 grain hard cast bullet doing 1700 at the muzzle? At the moment I don’t have a chronograph. So I’m assuming my velocities based on the books.

What has your experience been? I understand it’ll be a rainbow trajectory and practice is necessary. However, ain’t it usable for midrange hunting?
 
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I have used the 44 in a 6 inch handgun and marlin 1894 to take deer on several hunts. Longest shot 90 yards, shortest 15 feet. I have never used hardcast but the hornady 265 or the 240 grain xtp. I don't think 200 or 250 yards would be too far for it to be effective as a cartridge. My concern is shot placement at that distance. I am not a good enough shot to place a perfect shot at 250 yards with an open sighted rifle or handgun taking into account wind drift, bullet drop, field shooting positions and the need to shoot quickly.
 

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Check with your State Game Department. See if hard cast bullets are legal for deer. My State specifies "soft nose expanding bullet" so I hunt deer with a 240 grain Hornady XTP, Sierra JHC, Winchester JSP or a Nosler JSP. I don't want to meet the Game Warden on the County Road at the game check and test his knowledge of ballistics. Easier just to load jacketed slugs. If cast bullets are legal where you hunt, they will kill at 150 yards or more. Make sure you hit the heart/lung area and you'll be OK.
 

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I would agree that shot placement is critical, especially when getting out to 200 yards with pistol caliber rounds. Range practice at those distances needed with the load in question and sight/scope system to get a good feel for its accuracy and how confident you can be with making a good hit. I like a peep sight on my 1894, but most of my deer hunting is in fairly heavy woods so 70-90 yards is a fairly long shot for me.
Another consideration if you have a microgroove barrel in the 1894 is how well the cast bullets shoot in it. I have not used them in mine, but have read that some have had good results and others not so.
 

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The gun writers gave us the terms 150 yard cartridge or X yard cartridge. Basically what they referred to was the ability to sight in a rifle for a dead on hold over those distances without being to high at normal ranges. The old buffalo runners would shoot at 200 yard or so because they would not spook the herd at those distances. They were using cartridges that were very low velocity by todays standards, but they pretty much got to judge the ranges they were shooting at. Buffalo are big targets also. I have a range finder and have marked various landmarks around my deer stands so I know pretty close how far a deer will be. As to Elmer Keith's 600 yard shot, that was more pure luck than skill. But he claimed it and people keep quoting it as if he could do it again.

So like others state, if you have a good scope, and ideally time to use a range finder, you can make longer shots with a cartridge like the 44 mag. However, if those longer shots are more common, then you are better off getting something a little more ideal. Those pumpkin slingers really start arching at longer ranges as compared to even a 30-30.

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I personally keep rifle shots with a 44 mag rifle under 150 yards. Pistol 75 yards. I have yet to shoot a deer past 100 yards with a hard cast or XTP. I'm sure if you practice at that range and you use a telescopic sight you could kill one. I have other tools for long range hunting. I some times take a pistol or carbine and a bolt or lever gun. My favorite tree stand gun or walk around gun is a Ruger Carbine.
 

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Keith's shot was both skill and luck like most hunters admit to. But we are told the hit was not the first shot at the deer and I think he walked shots up to the target. Spotting his bullet hits would have been easier in the dry and dusty West than the greener pastures where most of us hunt.

We used to try that on jack rabbits in Idaho as boys with our .22s, and we could see our dusty hits, or misses, but we seldom hit the jacks.

The value of the Keith story to me is that a cast bullet can be lethal at long range with a good hit.
 

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I never felt confident with the 44mag Marlin I had, past 100yds,... which is why it is a rifle,... I HAD!


jmo
 

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with all my real respect for Elmer Keith, or for Billy Dixon, or for more recent modern snipers, it is logical and right that their exceptional performances are remembered,
but the misses are never reported.
it is as if, playing pro gambling, I only remembered my winnings.
Cooper's pragmatism was in the simplicity of these words: the purpose of shooting is hitting, therefore if you can get closer, get closer_
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So far my experience with hard cast has been an 80 yard kill on a doe last year. First deer taken with my 1894 after moving to Missouri. It currently has a skinner sight because my scope has been moved to my 444. As far as practice goes, I’m a member at a club about 30 minutes away with a 200 yard range. 90% of my shots will be in the woods. However, if the opportunity were to arise, I’m just curious if the load would do it.

As to the legality of hard cast. I’ve spoken with my local conservation officer. He told me as long as the projectile is expandable. I’ve never seen a hard cast bullet that won’t deform after hitting bone. I also confirmed with him about the bullets I use.

All things considered I’d more than likely have my 444 or 45-70 with me if I was hunting on the wood-line. But you never know.

Here’s the picture of my first Missouri deer.
 

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If you have to use a bullet designed to expand, there are cast bullets available with a hollow point. Check out GT Bullets.

Your max range will be as far as you can hit in a vital area. With iron sights, mine is 100 yards. With a good scope, I might go to 150 yards after learning the trajectory of the load. If you push a 240 gr bullet with a BC of .16 at 1700 fps with a zero at 100 yards, you will be about 1 inch high at 50 yards and 6 inches low at 150. You will have to confirm this by shooting at these ranges with your rifle.
 

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One thing to look at on the use of semi wadcutters is that they are one of the poorest bullets for longer down range use you can probably use as far as trajectory. There is also some debate as to whether they offer the damage they are claimed to. In pistols, where expansion of soft points ahs been iffy, they do have a certain value. I cast my 45 Colt pistols bullets out of hard cast alloy, but I only load it to about 900 fps. At those speeds, I feel the semi wadcutter does offer advantages as expansion from a soft point might be minimal or at least lower penetration. A 44 mag rifle is capable of delivering enough velocity to offer decent expansion and some even claim pistol bullets may be a bit too fragile. Most rifles will deliver a 100 yard velocity equivalent or exceeding a revolver of the same caliber at the muzzle. I would consider using a good j bullet.

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If you cast to hard a bullet and it is being shot very fast it will fragment also. This is where a punch bullet of solid copper is just the ticket or a heavy jacketed bullet.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
If I decide to use my 44 beyond the woods I’ll be purchasing another scope to put on it. That way I can reliably hit the vitals beyond 100. Currently my skinner is good for woods distances.

I do not load SWC, I use truncated cone bullets from Penn Bullets. That doe I harvested last year was taken with that bullet doing 1700 fps. The exit hole was almost twice as large as the entrance hole. She dropped on site.

Also I use the same bullet in my 444 with good results as far as accuracy. Last weekend I was getting 1” groups at 100 yards.
 

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I load a 180 grain hardcast .357 round that’s taken 4 deer, furthest 88 yards. I’m in mountainous country, heavy forests, so that’s as far as I’m likely to get one. The same round also dropped a black bear boar that I interupted on a fresh kill in the same terrain, at 20 yards. The bear was a mouth shot, but full penetration into the cranial vault, and a good bit of bouncing around, he dropped instantly. Hardcast are very effective as a large game round from my experience with it
 

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There is an interesting you tube video by Paul Harrell were he compares a .44 magnum to a 30-30. Concerning drop at differnet ranges and other issues. About 9 minutes into this video, he decides to shot at 200 yards and the results more or less speak for themselves.
 

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90 yards was the longest deer kill for me with a 44 magnum, Ruger 77/44, using my 275 gr. WFNGC cast bullet. I know it works that far with my load. It's quite accurate in the Ruger 77/44 and also quite accurate in my Henry Big Boy Steel.
 
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