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This may sound totally ignorant to most of you rifle hunters, but until recent changes in Ohio's law we were relegated to shotguns, black powder and handguns to hunt deer. My brother-in-law had a conversation with me this last weekend about buying a straight walled caliber Marlin, but I haven't had any experience actually using the different calibers on game. I've read a lot in some of the forums about the .357, but we thought that might be the minimum caliber to use, but perhaps not the best? That leaves a few of the standards: .44 mag, 45 Colt and 45/70.

I'd appreciate some sage advice from those who have been lucky enough to actually use their rifles in the field.

Thanks
 

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You could do waaay worse than a .44 Mag from a carbine... I know there are some die-hard .45 Colt fans here that would lobby for that as well. As for the .357... Well, it just ain't a .44 Magnum, know what I mean? :biggrin:

Like T-Roy mentioned, a 240 grain (jacketed or hard, cast gas-checked) bullet from a .44 Magnum at carbine velocities is absolute poison on a deer at appropriate ranges. The appropriate range will depend on the shooter as much as anything else.
 

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Another way to look at it, based on shotgun sabots which you are familiar with. Performance wise... bullet weight, diameter and speed, the 44 Mag rifle is almost identical to certain 20 gauge sabot loads, and the 444 Marlin certain 12 gauge sabot loads. Generally speaking the rifle loads can be handloaded to greater accuracy. I do have one TC Custom Shop 20 inch 20 gauge rifled Encore barrel, that will put Barnes sabots inside two inches at 100yds, that is for use in shotgun only areas, and has taken deer cleanly out to almost 200yds. It shows rifles are not always a substantial upgrade.

There is also the 375 Win and 38-55, and a number of obsolete rounds, but don't know if that is legal in Ohio.

Choosing one straight walled lever rifle for deer, the choice here would be 444.
 

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GK, I mostly use the 44 Mag. here in the woods of Pennsylvania. I also use the 41 Mag. and the 45 Colt in both the Marlin 1894 rifles (of course) and Ruger Black & Super Black Hawk revolvers. I also have the same in .357 Mag. but don't use them for Deer hunting because I have, what I consider, the much better previous mentioned calibers for the task. If I only had a 357 Mag., I would use it with a heavy bullet. If I was going to Deer hunt in open landscape, over 150 yards, I would use the 45-70 Gov. or 444 Marlin which I consider to be excellent cartridges.
For my type of hunting, the pistol calibers serve me well and are cheaper to practice with. Everyone has there favorite calibers, which you can tell by the amount of 44 Mag's I have below in my signature, but I have killed Deer just as dead and efficiently with the 41 Mag and the 45 Colt.
My suggestion to you is to first determine the shot distance you will be hunting and then pick one of the calibers above that you "have a secret love for" above. If you are not and are not going to be hand loading, another factor to help you decide which caliber to buy is to go shopping for ammo to see what variety is available (and pricing) in your area. There is no sense in buying a caliber that you are restricted in the amount and type of ammo that is available.
I hope this helps you.
Jack
 

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The 44mag is probably the optimum choice unless you want a bit more distance, then it's big brother with more 4's should get the nod. Since you are used to using shotguns and muzzleloaders 300-400yd shots across bean fields probably aren't in your mindset anyway. That said, if you are always within 100yds of your target then the 45LC and 357mag will do but both are eclipsed in effectiveness by the 44mag.

If they are all available in your area for a reasonable price, the choice based on proficiency in the field would be 444, 45-70, 44mag, 45LC, 357mag. I believe all straight wall cartridges are legal in OH but you should check. That adds to the upper part of the list the 38-55, 375, and 450M (ouch). The 450M belted cartridge may not be on the list. The 375/38-55 might be harder to find if you are looking for them but they might fall into your lap while you are searching for a 444 or 44.
 

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I would have to say it all depends on two things. One do you reload? And two do you want a rifle or pistol cartridge. If you reload and want a pistol cartridge45 lc can be loaded pretty hot. Rifle and reload would be 444 or 45-70. If you ddon't reload and want a pistol cartridge a 44. For rifle it would be 45-70. That would be my preference though.
 

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This may sound totally ignorant to most of you rifle hunters, but until recent changes in Ohio's law we were relegated to shotguns, black powder and handguns to hunt deer. My brother-in-law had a conversation with me this last weekend about buying a straight walled caliber Marlin, but I haven't had any experience actually using the different calibers on game. I've read a lot in some of the forums about the .357, but we thought that might be the minimum caliber to use, but perhaps not the best? That leaves a few of the standards: .44 mag, 45 Colt and 45/70.

I'd appreciate some sage advice from those who have been lucky enough to actually use their rifles in the field.

Thanks
444 Marlin®
 

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I would go with the 444 "if you can find one never mind two" and not worry about the price of ammo. It is for hunting purposes one bullet one deer right. But the 44 mag. carbine will do whatever a 30 30 will do within its affected range and is cheaper to shoot than a 30 30 is. Rossi make lever rifle in some of the calibers Ohio now allows.
T:hmmmm: NY
 
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No one has mentioned the .38-55 or .375. I have found the .38-55 to be a very pleasant shooting cartridge with a punch out the front way out of proportion to the kick on the rear. Brass is much more available than .444.
 

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I would have to say it all depends on two things. One do you reload? And two do you want a rifle or pistol cartridge. If you reload and want a pistol cartridge45 lc can be loaded pretty hot. Rifle and reload would be 444 or 45-70. If you ddon't reload and want a pistol cartridge a 44. For rifle it would be 45-70. That would be my preference though.
^ Pretty much this.

Also, another option that hasn't been mentioned is 454 Casul, which should allow you to shoot 45 LC as well but someone may need to verify that.


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I'm torn between 44 Magnum and 444Marlin...

But I think, drawing from my experiences I would lean to the 444.
While I feel it is a little bit overkill...It is quite effective and has decent
reach out to 200yds with little holdover. I would use either 265 or240gr.
Never been a fan of the 45/70.
 

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Being in Ohio I did "buy both". Actually I had a 44 and 45/70, just had to get a few more:biggrin: as was stated we aren't used to long shots dealing with our primitive shotguns so figuring drop on 150 yard shots is standard practice. I do hunt in WVA so was used to rifle hunting. Many guys around here aren't so this will be a fun learning curve. Ohio is a funny place to hunt, some days a 50 yard shot would be long and other days if driving the wood lots and corn fields a 200 yard shot at a bruiser is likely. I have been caught up in the 44mag is fine but 45-70 with 300 gr bullets can go farther dilemma for a while now and have decided that I will set up guns for each. I'm just jacked that I can use the same gun for 2 states now.
 

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If you want a pistol caliber, i'd say go with the 44 Mag. If you want a rifle caliber I say Marlin 444. And if you reload then 44 mag bullets can be loaded in the 444 cases. Win, Win. Heres my 44 & his big brother the 444.
 

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There is another great round that qualifies in ohio and beats the 44 mag for distance and drop. The semi wildcat 357 max.

I have a contender pistol barrel that rocked several whitetail in the day. Have friends with 16 to 20 inch contender barrels that go 200 yards easy on deer. 35 remmpower in a straight wall case. Brass and dies available and barrels from MGM available with a contender frame easy enough to come by. I can reload one quick. I know this is a marlin lever sight and I use a marlin 1894 for Indian deer.

The Great .357 Remington Maximum Revival
 

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My first reaction would be to go for the .44 mag, as the ammo is available and comes in boxes of 50, so it affords the most practice. If you think you might have a trip up north in your future, for moose, elk or bear, I would opt for the 45-70. It is far more versatile than the .444, and ammo is also more available.
 
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