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Thread: Handgun caliber limitations

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    Member AKdutch's Avatar
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    Default Handgun caliber limitations

    Hope I can get some helpful insight here. I bought a .41 Magnum Redhawk and mounted a 2x scope on it this year. I have been working up cast bullet loads for the gun over the last few months and have decided on the Cast Performance 250 WFN LBT. My loads on the chrono are averaging 1300fps. This gun is a tack driver with this load.

    Here is my question. How does a person figure out the limitations of a round. I can hit a pie plate at over 150 yards 9 out of 10 times, but there's not alot of energy or velocity left at that distance. If you can reliably hit farther than the round is capable of humanely killing an animal, how do you decide the max distance to shoot. The muzzle energy is 938, but drops to 650 at 100 yards and 1087fps. What would the minimum energy an/or velocity be to shoot a moose, or deer, or bou? I need to have this distances decided before the hunt so I know how close I HAVE to be before I can ethically shoot. John

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    That is my load for the 41 mag and I envy you and your Redhawk. That 1300 must be form a 5 1/2" barrel. That is the Redhawk I want. That is a great hunting buillet and I have a supply of them for my old style Blackhawk.

    The bullet will do exactly the same at impact velocities from 1100 to 1400 fps or therabouts. Nothing magical happens at 1099 or 1401 fps but that is a general range for full penetration. Energy levels have little to do with the way a hard cast works at handgun velocities. I generally load for 100 fps at 100yards and that is where you are. Sub sonic velocities generally penetrate less and loose accuracy too.

    Depending on sighting equipment, a revolver is about a 100 yard gun. With a scope it can be extended and if you're hitting a pie plate at 150 you are doing well. But in any case that is good shooting and more than enough for a hunting handgun. You would want to get closer for heavy stuff like moose and of course for grizzlys and brownies you'll want to be close enough to smell their breath. (Kind of a mixture of dead animals, old fish and kerosene.) I have yet to met an animal that could tell the difference between the 41 and the 44 magnums.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    The bullet will do exactly the same at impact velocities from 1100 to 1400 fps or therabouts. Nothing magical happens at 1099 or 1401 fps but that is a general range for full penetration. Energy levels have little to do with the way a hard cast works at handgun velocities. I generally load for 100 fps at 100yards and that is where you are. Sub sonic velocities generally penetrate less and loose accuracy too.
    I couldn't agree with you more. We should all stop looking at energy as a measure of killing ability -- it's meaningless. That .41 mag with your load should be a good killer!

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKdutch View Post
    Hope I can get some helpful insight here. I bought a .41 Magnum Redhawk and mounted a 2x scope on it this year. I have been working up cast bullet loads for the gun over the last few months and have decided on the Cast Performance 250 WFN LBT. My loads on the chrono are averaging 1300fps. This gun is a tack driver with this load.

    Here is my question. How does a person figure out the limitations of a round. I can hit a pie plate at over 150 yards 9 out of 10 times, but there's not alot of energy or velocity left at that distance. If you can reliably hit farther than the round is capable of humanely killing an animal, how do you decide the max distance to shoot. The muzzle energy is 938, but drops to 650 at 100 yards and 1087fps. What would the minimum energy an/or velocity be to shoot a moose, or deer, or bou? I need to have this distances decided before the hunt so I know how close I HAVE to be before I can ethically shoot. John
    I agree with the others. I don't think there's a credible way to attach numbers to killing power, but my field experience lines up pretty closely with Murphy and Whitworth. Based on game whacking experience only, I'd probably draw the lines at 100-125 yards for deer and 50-75 yards for elk, and 40-50 yards for moose. Nothing scientific about those numbers unless you call predjudice science. With deer it's more a sighting limitation, while the shorter range with larger game it's a nod to need for more power and penetration. In fact, I'd probably never take an open sighted shot past about 75 yards, but your scope stretches things. Your pie plate groups are a little large for my tastes for game shooting, so for me at least I wouldn't be taking those shots on game. Only a guess, but I bet you have to get back to 100 or 125 to get all your shots inside 6", my personal performance limit.

    I haven't used a scoped revolver on game, but have whacked lots with open sights, mostly with 44 mag. I've shot just enough with 41 Mag to concur with Murphy that the game won't know the difference and you can use them interchangeably, even if keyboard ballisticians with something to sell or shakey egos disagree.

    My longest shot on deer was from a rest at a measured 77 yards, and due to the open sights and field conditions that felt like a long, long, long ways. I wouldn't have taken the shot if conditions hadn't been absolutely perfect and if friends handn't been there egging on the shot. Full broadside penetration, though the deer took a few seconds longer to die than with the same shot at closer ranges.

    Three elk have fallen to my 44, all within 50 yards. The one moose that I've dropped was at a paced off 21 yards. All were one shot kills and all fell within three or four seconds. Long enough that I had the revollver recocked and was aiming for a followup, but soon enough that they didn't get out of sight. I'm not sure how much more you can ask for.

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    Default Thanks for the replies

    That does answer my question fairly well. I bought the gun last year cause it was already tapped for a scope, but wasn't too happy with my shooting with the scope on shooting offhand. I've always shot with open sights on handguns, but wanted to give it a try.

    My daughter has been shooting my .44 Trapper and I'm planning on taking her on her first hunt this fall. I loaded up a bunch of CP rounds and took it out with us for some friendly competition. I was very shocked when I shot a 1" group at 75yards, just a ragged hole. So I put a target at 100 and it shot a 6 shot 1.5" group. The range up by hilltop is exactly 200 yards. I was just playing around and found that if I held the part of the reticle where it got thick on at 200 yards it would hit POA. I found a huge piece of cardboard with a white circle 6" painted on it. Four of six shots were in the circle and two were about 10" to the right. I'm sure I pulled the two. I just got to thinking about how far this gun could kill something if I practiced alot more. I was thinking that 100 yards would be close enough, but wasn't sure how much penetration I would get out there. BTW, all my shots were off a sandbag rest. Thanks again. I love my .44 Redhawk, but this Redhawk 5.5" gun is rapidly gaining favor. John

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    I like optics for finding out what the gun can do, and it's best load. I just can't see a scope on a hunting wheelgun. It's amazing how accurate a good sixgun can be.

    Energy doesn't kill animals, look at bows. It's placing a fatal wound through the vitals that does the trick. A hardcast load is as John Linebaugh stated, a long range punch press. Even at 700 fps that bullet will go clean through the lungs and out the offside of most soft game critters on a broadside shot, but at lower velocity the wound channel will be smaller in dia.

    My way of thinking is the bigger issue at extended ranges isn't the lack of killing power, it's misjudging the distance and hence the drop of the bullet. So long as you can accurately place the shot, the gun will do the job.

  7. #7

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    Not trying to hijack this post but does Ruger still make the Redhawk in 41. I can't find one on their webpage and I have never seen one but would love to have one.
    Thanks

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    I'm not trying to hijack the post either, but I just picked up a used Blackhawk in 41 mag that had been cut from 7.5' to 4.75" & ported & that thing is a sweetheart!!!
    I've been shooting some loads that are about 1200fps with 265gr hardcast & it's a pleasure to shoot along with busting clay birds at 15 yds about as fast as I can pull the hammer back (I'm looking for bear defense, as I already have an 8&3/8 mod 29 for hunting).
    This is the 1st time I've fallen in love with a gun in a long time.....
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by deerhunter View Post
    Not trying to hijack this post but does Ruger still make the Redhawk in 41. I can't find one on their webpage and I have never seen one but would love to have one.
    Thanks
    I seem to recall that they quit making them some time back, though now they're highly sought after. Several years back a friend picked up a 5 1/2" in 41 mag, of all thing in blue rather than stainless. He wasn't even looking for a gun, but liked the feel of it and bought it. It's still NIB, cuzz he's never got around to shooting it. And no, he's not willing to part with it--- trust me. I've tried!

    That 4.75" ported Blackhawk has to be really sweet, Vance. I've got an original flattop in 357 and a later model in 45 LC and both simply want to shoot well. Though I've whacked a fair number of deer with each, the guns always felt like something in between would be even better. Like a 41 mag......

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    I like optics for finding out what the gun can do, and it's best load. I just can't see a scope on a hunting wheelgun. It's amazing how accurate a good sixgun can be.

    Energy doesn't kill animals, look at bows. It's placing a fatal wound through the vitals that does the trick. A hardcast load is as John Linebaugh stated, a long range punch press. Even at 700 fps that bullet will go clean through the lungs and out the offside of most soft game critters on a broadside shot, but at lower velocity the wound channel will be smaller in dia.

    My way of thinking is the bigger issue at extended ranges isn't the lack of killing power, it's misjudging the distance and hence the drop of the bullet. So long as you can accurately place the shot, the gun will do the job.


    Spot on IMHO


    Exit in the rib cage of a 6X7 Bull Elk with a Muzzle velocity of 950 FPS and only 882 FPE at the muzzle Flat point hard cast

    I am holding a 300 Win for size comparison



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