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Handgun Hunting Basics Part 2 by Larry Weishuhn

Handgun Hunting Basics Part 2

by Larry Weishuhn

Are you prepared and ready to step up to a big game hunting handgun?  In my opinion, based on well over 50 years of hunting with a handgun your minimum consideration for deer-sized and larger game starts at .357 Magnum.  Actually, I am convinced that round is an expert’s caliber.  A .357 Magnum should only be used by someone who can precisely place a well-constructed bullet designed for hunting into an animal’s vitals, knowing the caliber’s and shooter’s limitations.

A friend of mine swears by his 10mm semi-auto.  He has used it to take a wide variety of big and dangerous game here in North America, Africa and elsewhere.  He is an excellent and proficient handgun shot and knows animal anatomy.  Two very important factors when hunting big game with a “short gun”.

My preferred handgun hunting rounds for most big game amounts to two rounds; the .44 Mag, and the .454 Casull.   There are definitely other rounds which also work extremely well.  The powerful and versatile .454 Casull also shoots .45 Colt which has less recoil and muzzle blast than the Casull.  It is a great round to use when practicing with the .454 Casull.

Over the years I have shot a fair amount of game with my Ruger.44 Mag revolvers, from small game to many whitetails weighing upwards of 300-pounds on the hoof, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and elk. Same with the .454 Casull which I used to take my first Alaskan brown bear. 

My Ruger Blackhawk and Redhawk revolvers chambered in .44 Mag shoot Hornady’s 240-grain XTP commercial ammo extremely accurately!  With that load I can consistently shoot 2-inch or less groups at 100 yards from a solid rest.  My .454 Casull Ruger revolvers love Hornady’s 300-grain Hornady XTP.

Shooting my .44 Mag and .454 Casull revolvers I normally limit shots at big game to 100 yards or less, even though on occasion I have taken longer shots.   One of those longer shots was at a huge bodied, monstrous antlered Colorado 6 x 6 bull elk.  I shot him three times through the chest, in rapid single-action succession, placing my shots about 6-inches apart to create separate wound channels.  He moved six steps from first shot thru third before going down.

Down range energy starts dropping off considerably on these two much past 100 yards. Again why I limit my shots to that distance and less.

Appropriate sights when hunting with a handgun?  For years I shot a variety of long-eye relief scopes on my revolvers and single-shot handguns, in the 1.25-5X and 2.5-7X range.  I very seldom cranked the magnification beyond 5X.  These days I use Trijicon RMR and SRO sights, similar to red dot style sights.  While they have no magnification they allow for quick target acquisition and for me work extremely well out to 100 yards and even beyond if you are shooting a steel or paper target.

Using Trijicon’s RMR or SRO sights, from a solid rest I can keep six shots within about 4 inches at 100 yards.  Firing from a shooting stick rest, which I always carry while hunting, I can keep my shots in a 6-inch circle, easily within the vitals of most big game species.

I am not a good offhand shot, therefore I only take shots at big game shooting from a solid rest, which includes tripod crossed shooting sticks, as well as limbs, rocks, trees and whatever else is handy and will work to give me a “rested” advantage!

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