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Discussion Starter #1
Hello Friends- I have a bit of a conundrum here. Visiting with my bride this evening, she expressed wanting to hunt deer this year with her 357 mag rifle. The rifle in question is the 1873 Winchester rifle- 24" barrel. Not that I have a lot of concerns- she is an excellent shot- but has only been hunting a handful of years with me. A bad shot or injured animal could spell disaster for her hunting in the future. My very difficult question has multiple parts.

1. has/have you harvested a deer (doe in this case) with the 357?
2. What is a good factory load?
3. If shooting cast at a deer, it would be the Lyman 358429. How fast should they be going?
4. What is the limit for an ethical kill with this round? Assuming it will be the distance she can hit a pie plate offhand. Many of the deer don't stick around too long.

Thank you one and all!
 

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Hello,

1. Yes, clean kill at 60 yards. About our limit of visibility here in the mountains. 2. Her rifle will determine a good factory round, accuracy. 3. Cast, accuracy counts, doesn't have to be "hot"! 4. Shot placement and accuracy again. We don't have long range shots like you probably do and I am sure someone else will chime in.
Best of luck on her hunt.
 

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I've taken 4 deer with my 1894 357mag. All within 50 yards, all DRT. Two were with Rem factory loads, two with my hand loads.

I would recommend using a jacketed lead flat point rather than a hollow point. Many of the factory hollow points are intended for defense and may expand more aggressively than you want,--you may not get the penetration you want. And I would suggest using 158gr bullets. Don't use the 125s, they're definitely intended for defense.

I am comfortable using my .357 1894 out to 100 yards, but so far, I haven't needed to.

As far as your wife is concerned, it's a matter how far out she can reliably keep a group inside a 9" paper plate. I would not take such a shot outside 75 yards with iron sights. However, her eyes are probably much better than mine. As I said above, I trust the .357 out to 100 yards. My 1894 wears a scope, but I understand why you wouldn't want to mount a scope on your 1873.

On the other hand, you could let her take your rifle...
 

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I would think that 100yds would be the limit unless the shooter knows the range. After that the .357 really starts to drop. I agree with Ojai that the rifle you know is the one to go with.
 

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Most people don't realize it, or really think about it, but a good .357 load in a long barrel can come very close to equalling the .35 Remington from a carbine. A .357 rifle is an ethical deer -killing implement.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I've taken 4 deer with my 1894 357mag. All within 50 yards, all DRT. Two were with Rem factory loads, two with my hand loads.

I would recommend using a jacketed lead flat point rather than a hollow point. Many of the factory hollow points are intended for defense and may expand more aggressively than you want,--you may not get the penetration you want. And I would suggest using 158gr bullets. Don't use the 125s, they're definitely intended for defense.

I am comfortable using my .357 1894 out to 100 yards, but so far, I haven't needed to.

As far as your wife is concerned, it's a matter how far out she can reliably keep a group inside a 9" paper plate. I would not take such a shot outside 75 yards with iron sights. However, her eyes are probably much better than mine. As I said above, I trust the .357 out to 100 yards. My 1894 wears a scope, but I understand why you wouldn't want to mount a scope on your 1873.

On the other hand, you could let her take your rifle...
Awesome Answer- Thank you!! The rifle was a gift from me when we got her eyes done, Lasic(?!?) put her eyes at mine, plus. Her regular rifle is a Tikka 6.5x55 or a Winchester 70 in 30-06. She favors the Swede a bit more. But I digress. She would like to do the "stalk and shoot". I will begin my search for 158 grain soft points. She did have a 30-30 but it wasn't her style, and the steel buttplate was a little harsh on her shoulder. Any go-to powder or special Feet per second thoughts?
Thanks for the insight HiKayaker!
 

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Hey Zingger - try the 158-grain Hornady XTP Flat Point (not Hollow Point). I push these with 16.4 grains of H110. The MV is 1,785 fps out of a 18.5" barrel. With that same load her velocity would be even higher due to her 24" barrel.
 

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Wow! That's more info on the .357 than I've seen in one place before. It's well written and quite extensive in scope.

My reloads have used H110 and 2400. Vihtavuori powder, N110 also has a good reputation. It's possible to find loads pushing 158gr jacketed bullets close to 2000 fps on my chrono. I've seen some loads from reputable sites saying that 2000 fps can be reached, but let me caution here. My experience is that I've had frequent complete head separations with the 2nd reload. I wouldn't want to use those for hunting, as you would need to dig the cylinder of the case out of the chamber if you need a second shot. So I'd say don't load past 1900 fps and more than two reloadings if you're going to hunt with them.

What the author has to say about the various bullets is important. Take special note of what he says comparing performance between rifles and handguns.

Basically, various bullets are designed to expand at certain velocities. This has to do with how strong the bullet jacket is built. If a bullet intended for 1200-1500 fps is pushed to 1900 fps, the bullet may expand too fast and not have sufficient penetration. (Remember, most .357 mag bullets are intended for defensive situations out of revolvers with no more than a 6" barrel length. This situation was often seen with .444 Magnum reloads in the early days, when only handgun bullets were available for reloading. The .444 magnum was able to push 240 gr bullets 800 fps faster than a .44 magnum handgun would.

If a bullet is designed for a faster velocity, it likely won't expand sufficiently at a 500 fps slower velocity. It sounds as if the author of the article above has made his/her recommendations for bullet selection with this in mind. Unless you are going to do your own research, I would go with his recommendations.

OTOH, I took my first two deer with factory Remington .357 mag hollow points at 30-50 yards. That wouldn't be my top choice today, but it did the job for me.

The .357 magnum is a capable cartridge, especially from a rifle barrel, but it goes without saying that bullet placement is important, just as it is with any caliber.
 
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I have killed a number of deer with a Ruger M77/357. I use the Hornady 158 grain XTP hollow point over a lot of H110. I used one shot per deer and all shots have been pass throughs getting both lungs. All shots were pretty close, usually less than 60 yards. There was a useful blood trail but none of the deer went very far. A .357 rifle is NOT a .270 but does a pretty good job. I have shot deer with a .223 rifle and think the .357 rifle to be somewhat more effective. I think that I will hunt with my .357 1894 CSBL this fall.

If my wife decided to deer hunt, I suspect I would equip her with the M77/357 because it would allow her to practice without dealing with a lot of recoil. Also my wife is deliberate and precise. If she fired, it would be a good shot. I think its more about the Indian than about the arrow.
 

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I am going to open up a can of worms on this one but here it goes. I do not like the idea of a .357 Magnum as a deer cartridge. You are at the absolute lowest minimum energy needed to cleanly kill a deer at the closest ranges with the hottest .357 loads at the muzzle producing about 1000 ft-lbs out of a rifle. I hunted years ago with a gentleman who killed as a younger man a sinful number of deer up on the Tug Hill area of NYS with a .351 Winchester Self Loading which was a bit more powerful than any .357 load. Even he gave up on the .351 because he lost deer with it and found that you could not reliably break a deer's shoulder with it. He switched to a .35 Remington for years, found it was a much better deer killer, and happily killed big north country bucks. Is the .357 a deer killer? Yes, in the right hands a close range under perfect circumstances, which essentially means perfect shot placement. If that is OK with you, fine. Even with a hot .357 load out of a rifle with 1000 ft-lbs at the muzzle, at 100 yards you are looking at about 500 ft-lbs. A .357 Magnum is not a .35 Remington. A .35 Remington at the muzzle is about 1900-2000 ft-lbs and at 100 yards about 1100-1200 ft-lbs of energy. You might be better off getting your wife a real deer rifle; a nice used Marlin .30-30 (NOT a Remlin), shoot 150 grain bullets, and head for the woods. Best of luck to you and your wife in the deer woods. And let us know how you and your wife do this season.
 

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Trigger time. Let her get a good feel for the rifle, start at 50 yards and move her out to 100 or even go as far as 150. Yeah people may argue the point that's to far,not me I have been with my dad when he killed his deer over 100 out with his 357 marlin. I know with her getting the feel for the rifle she will do fine.Here is one more thing about ladys shooting weapons for sure they have in my opion way more sensation in there hands than men do. My wife can out shoot me yes I admit it she is better shot than me. But she never hunted until we got togather and watching her take her first deer was worth it all.Take your bride out and turn her loose with the 357. She will do fine. Well give her range and trigger time then turn her loose and enjoy them deer sticks and jerky.
 

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if I had a 30-30 and reloaded I would use it with a reduced load, kinda like the old 32-40, 150 gr bullet at 1700-1800 fps. the weight and short ness are pretty close between them.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you fellow Marlinowner's members! I appreciate the insights that you all have offered. I agree, the toggle on the '73 is the Achille's heel of sorts for the rifle. Couple that with a very hot load it gives cause to worry. Worse yet, what if the load made its way into her 66-1? I am very careful with my loads, they would be marked with a blackened primer or the like. Was it an ethical deer caliber for a novice ++ hunter? Many of you folks have been hunting for years (decades for some) and can instinctively put the round where it needs to go. I myself grew up with the training that unless you know with a certainty that the round is going to do it's job, you don't pull the trigger.

With all of that in mind last night as I went to bed I had the thought of getting her into another 30-30. I had found her a vintage 1968 Winchester that just beat her up with the steel buttplate, and I didn't want to go down that road again. This morning I am loading up some 25-20 and across the local online is an ad for a 30-30 Marlin for a very reasonable price. I sent a quick text asking if it was a JM or later RP- It was a JM the gentleman was wanting to sell. He had taken it into a gunshop and had a very lowball offer from the owner. As the rifle had some freckles we reached a price agreeable to the both of us and I brought it home. Using some Ed's Red, I ran some patches down the bore, stripped off the forend and using 4-aught steel wool, buffed 100% of the rust off while retaining that gorgeous deep blue. Original sights are back on it. It is a 30AW, with an 02 start to the SN. Marlin guardian angel to the rescue!
 

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None of the published loads for .357 magnum rifle is unsafe for .357 mag handguns. The pressures for the published rifle data is within the published SAAMI specs for handgun as well. That is not to say that all loads intended for rifle are optimum for handgun. They may have excessive muzzle flash, leave unburned powder, or produce velocities lower than other loads designed for a handgun length barrel.

But you are entirely correct. It is dangerous and irresponsible to develop rifle loads which would be unsafe for handguns. There is just too much risk that a cartridge intended for rifle would end up in a handgun, producing a catastrophic failure, injury, or worse.

That is why my previous posts all refer to published loads, and not just load development.

Herman E raises a good point, but the original question was whether anyone had used a .357 mag rifle for deer and their experiences with it, not whether it was optimum. There are folks who use .357 mag revolvers for deer successfully. Shooting the same cartridge in an 18"+ rifle will add another 400 fps and a little over 2x the energy over what is produced from a handgun. Still, the total energy is less than that of many other cartridges used for deer, although the energy is greater than that produced by many muzzle loaders. We don't hear much criticism of hunting with .45 or .50 caliber black powder round ball as being under powered, but they are, compared with nearly all modern cartridges.

The OP's situation is that he has a .357 mag rifle. Handiness and recoil is a consideration for him (his wife). Not everyone can buy another rifle for perhaps just one hunt. Maybe later. In the mean time, his 1873 can satisfy his wife's criteria.

Still... Shot selection, shot selection, shot selection...
 

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I have all sorts of friends who hunt deer with archery tackle. They seem to bring home the venison with regularity and don't lose many deer. How many foot pounds of energy does an arrow out of hunting bow have? I venture to say a bit less than a 158 grain .357 bullet at 1800 FPS. IMHO a .357 isn't the best deer rifle in the world but it is a long way from totally inadequate. As pointed out above, shot selection and skill with one's rifle is the prime determinate of success.
 

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Zingger, Have you thought about getting a PAST strap on recoil shield for your wife when she shoots the 30-30 or a slip on recoil; pad or both ?
 
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