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Lindenwood 03-23-2011 05:14 PM

44Mag: 240gr XTP Minimum hunting velocity (deer)?
I would like to load up my own hunting ammo using the XTP bullets (they seem to be the most consistent and highly-praised performers). It sounds like 240gr is a good weight as it allows high enough velocities for expansion without punishing recoil and is heavy enough for reliable penetration. However, for shots inside 100 yards, could I load with a MV of 1200fps or even 1100fps and still get good results? I would like to keep recoil moderate (this is in a handgun).

An 1150fps MV would keep the bullet over 1000fps to 100 yards. The relatively mellow velocity would be pleasant to shoot so I could get lots of practice in and not worry about any flinching on longer sessions. Would this be enough for reliable expansion with this bullet while maintaining good penetration? The Hornady webpage says the bullet is good between 700 and 1500fps MV, but what are your experiences?


Found some discussions with people reporting reliable expansion out of .44 Specials down to about 850fps. Still, however, would I get reliable penetration? I'd imagine at least 18" or so of penetration would be desired (And it seems a well-expanded 240gr HP will penetrate about 25" at about 1350fps, according to Brass Fetcher Ballistic Testing). Does that sound likely?

The other option is hardcast bullets, but for every few people who swear by them, there is another who reports having to track for hundreds of yards due to the mere caliber-sized hole strait through. It seems like a non-expanding bullet would work (obviously), but might be a little less forgiving in regards to shot placement.

JonM 03-23-2011 07:53 PM

the bullet SHOULD expand just fine. i would go for the highest speed you can handle. you should also chrono your loading as posted loads will be higher/lower than real world results due to the nature of revolvers or differences in barrel length and condition of your individual firearm.

ive had good success with that bullet on yotes wild hog and abandoned feral dogs in the past when used in my desert eagle.

Lindenwood 03-23-2011 09:27 PM

I have shot factory ammo that was advertised at 240gr at 1200fps and it was quite comfortable after even 100 rounds. I have shot and reloaded about 100 rounds of 200gr bullets at around 1450fps and they are significantly snappier. I am not sure how comfortable I could handle a 240gr load closer to 1400fps, at least without a lot more time to get used to the heavier loads.

My other option is those 200gr loads at around 1450 fps, but I worry if 200gr is too light for reliable penetration, especially with an expanding bullet.

My main concern is that I want something that is mild enough I could easily shoot 100 rounds of at the range. Before I go hunting I want to make sure the load as accurate and make sure I get the trajectory and zero down.

JonM 03-23-2011 11:26 PM

only real way to tell for your particular shootin iron is to get a box and load to different levels and do some range time :) i would say the 200 is too light for a handgun hunting round. your liekly to end up shedding the jacket and the core at that point will be very light.

you can also ge a padded shooting glove and some hogue rubber grips. that really helps with magnum revolvers. i used to shoot VERY hot heavy 45LC out of a ruger blackhawk and had to get a glove to help the recoil.

Lindenwood 03-24-2011 02:45 AM

Hmm I might consider that. I want to make as humane a kill as possible which is why I want to make sure I can practice enough to make a good shot, but I do like the idea of being able to load load either a standard 240gr bullet at like 1300-1400fps, or even something like a 270 or 300gr bullet at 1100-1200fps.

I also think my grip is part of, if not most all of the problem. It doesn't hurt my wrist or my palm or anything, and I've even shot it one handed without pain. But basically the back of the trigger guard hits the bone at the middle knuckle of my left index finger when I go with my natural two-handed grip. My grip puts that joint right at the base of the guard, just behind where the guard curves back upward toward the grip. I have been able to play with the grip to get my finger out of that spot and that mostly eliminates any pain, but then my grip usually feels weak and unstable. Perhaps once I get some more trigger time in and can find an alternative grip, this won't be a problem and I'll be able to shoot more appropriate loads. Still, I can shoot it pretty well (can consistently knock 6" targets at 75 yards offhand, and at 50 yards I can take down three in maybe 5 seconds, again offhand) and have put about 300 rounds through it plus at least a few thousand dry fires and at least a few hundred pactice reloads (I CC this firearm sometimes as well). But, this is my first revolver, and I have spent lots and lots of time with auto pistols, even doing the occasional IPSC match. So, it has been hard to break the habit of indexing my weak hand against the bottom of the trigger guard for a consistent grip. Unfortunately, gripping the revolver in the same way results in notable discomfort and this has caused flinching when I haven't corrected it quickly enough.

I guess long story short, at least until I can get used to shooting it with a new grip, I'd still like a load that I could use, and it seems like a 240gr@1150fps would be a pretty good start. Going up from there (to maybe 1300-1400fps)) might really just be icing on the cake for a little more expansion and penetration.

JonM 03-24-2011 03:31 AM

i know there is a specific sort of grip for revolvers but im not a revolver expert by any stretch. you might try the revolver section there are quite a few real experts in how to grip a big one and shoot it correctly.

Lindenwood 03-24-2011 04:29 AM

I think I will just have to play with it, because even Jerry Miculek teaches a similar grip to the one I've been using (weak hand index finger against the trigger guard). I might experiment with keeping softer parts of my index finger against the trigger guard (rotating my weak hand some around the grip--right now the trigger guard is right against the widest joint of my bony fingers... ouch!), and with lowering my weak hand slightly.

I also found a Hornady chart on velocities that someone posted in a discussion about bullet expansion in .44 specials. Seems like 900fpr is about the minimum, but like I said an 1150fps MV would keep it above 1000fps to 100 yards, so it is indeed sounding like I might be just fine even with that relatively light load. Does that sound like it would work OK? a 240gr XTP at 1150fps? I could also test out some at 1200fps to see how I can handle it.

And of course this is all barring I don't find a new grip that will allow me to shoot hotter loads more comfortably.

spittinfire 03-24-2011 12:26 PM

I personally wouldn't be as worried about expansion as I would penetration. I realize deer aren't the hardest animal to kill but you still need to get in there and I prefer coming out the other side if possible. My hunting loads push the 240gr bullet around 1475fps.

I would also recommend a pair of shooting gloves. Since I added them to the mix I can shoot hot loads all day with no issue.

Lindenwood 03-24-2011 03:32 PM

I might look into wearing my motorcycle gloves. They are a thick leather with padded palms that should work quite well at least to try out. But this is also a defensive firearm so I don't want to get too used to always shooting with the gloves.

When you say you are worried more about penetration than expansion, would you go to the degree that a simple hard-cast SWC would be adequate?

spittinfire 03-24-2011 04:38 PM

In a 44 mag I think a Hardcast bullet would more then do the job on whitetail and what is typically recommended for tougher skinned animals such as bears. Don't get me wrong, some expansion is great in a hunting bullet but you've got to get into the boiler room to make a clean kill.

I personally use Speer Deep Curl bullets for my deer hunting loads. IMO, they offer some expansion but too much where penetration becomes a question. I've got some of the Hornady's you're asking about. I could do a test on them both if you'd like.

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