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Pistol Hunting for Big Game

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So, I recently traded into a Super Blackhawk "Hunter" model chambered for .44Mag and with 7.5" barrel. I am hoping to get it out into the field this year for a little big game hunting. Deer and bear overlap for a few days where I hunt so either one could be on the menu. I do have a new Henry 30-30 I need to use this year also, so I'll need to split some time between these two firearms (and hopefully still have some tags after archery). Anyway, does anyone else pistol hunt and have any tips or tricks for me?

I researched 44 Mag loads to use for hunting and the answers run the gambit of "you need to reload to have an effective hunting load" to "any factory .44 mag load with a soft point will work", so for now I picked up approximately 4 different kinds of factory ammo since I don't reload yet. I got some jacketed soft points, jacketed soft hollows, etc. Mostly 240 Gr.

I am considering scoping it with a Simmons ProHunter 2-6x and getting the Bianchi HuSH holster for scoped Blackhawks (it came with shoulder holster and belt holster but won't handle it scoped). I am going to shoot at least 100 rounds open sights to see if I really need to or not. If I can get competent out to 50 yards open site, I may leave it open. Otherwise I will scope it and still only take 50-75 yard shots.

Here she is before Pachmayr grips:


I have added some Pach's with finger grooves and a little more rubbery feel, the rubber also covers the steel backstrap which is exposed with the OE wood grips. If I scope it I'll update with some new pics.

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I have used the exact same handgun for deer hunting use Hornady 240 Gr Custom XTP ammo and you will do fine keep your shots under 50 yards.  As for a scope a red dot works better then a scope in my opinion it gives you a larger field of view then a scope will and at 50 yards is just as accurate.  The SBH is made to roll in you hand when fired it is very comfortable to shoot the Pachmayrs to me made me grip the gun and instead of rolling in your hand it makes your whole arm recoil up and away.

When I had mine I was shooting constantly at 100 yards and off the bench I could keep everything in a paper plate the reason I was shooting at that range was I knew my limit and if I could keep them grouped at 100 I would have no problem at 50.

The Hornady 240 XTP gave me a one shot kill on a nice buck a few years back range was 20 yards and it was a pass through shot.  I put several hundred rounds through mine over the course of a summer and was reloading for it with 310Gr hard lead bullets.  Do your part and it is very accurate

One other thing to remember is that it will be very LOUD when you pull the trigger I highly recommend a digital hearing protector

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Thanks for the great input! A few thoughts:

I heard the same thing about the rubber grips but thought I would at least try them out. I saw an innovative idea where someone kept the OE wood grips, but put a limbsaver bow insulator on the backstrap to absorb some recoil and make a little less slippy. I'll play around and see what works best for me.

What red-dot would you recommend? Do you have one or do you use open sites?

I have 2 boxes of the Hornady, so that was a good choice I guess!

Also, I got some walker muffs I plan to use when I pistol hunt.

Oh yeah, shooting sticks are another thing I heard are a necessity?

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I hunt out of ground blinds so I do use sticks on all my guns makes it easy sitting in my chair but practice with them like you would be hunting.  If you are still hunting it is easy to find a tree to rest against or shoot kneeling.

Red dots are simple so use one you like I like TruGlo or Bushnell both work good but they are also 30mm so you will need rings for them I was also looking at a Burris Fastfire set up it is a lot easier to line up a single dot then front and rear sights.

If you wear gloves when hunting wear them when shooting they will soak up a lot of recoil

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Dakota Dogman

What works good for a deer may not be ideal for your bear.  If I was hunting both, I would plan for the bigger because it will work in the lighter.

I would look for something with a solid, wide / flat front, and not a hollow point for bear personally.  The Ruger can handle the big boys, heavier than 240 for sure... but make sure you can as well... them buggers kick.

My hunting handgun was a Ruger .41 mag.  Was... :down:

God Bless,

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If you do not reload Buffalo Bore or Garrett Cartridges have some very serious hunting rounds for this gun.  You can buy the bullets also and load your own.  If you load make sure you do not exceed the OAL for the round
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I have done a bunch of handgun hunting with 357, 41 mag and 44 mag.

The one constant in the 44 mag I have found was using Remington 240 grain SJHP. Works like it should whether the shot was 10 yards or 110 yards. I have tried just about ever bullet out there from home cast SWC and Federal CastCore to super heavy weights for the caliber. While I have found these Rem SJSP's the best there are others  like Hornady, Speer and Sierra that work well but none worked as consistent as the Remington for deer and black bear.

If you have never handgun hunted with a scope your in for a learning curve on how to line up or sometimes even see the cross hairs when under pressure for a quick shot. If you are going to limit your shots to under 100 yards I would go with Gizmo's suggestion and use a red dot. They are much easier to use and don't "black out" if the scope and your eye are not perfectly lined up.  My red dot of choice are Ultra Dot. Life time warranty, have taken all the recoil without failing and can be found new for ~ $130. And above all like Gizmo said, use a rest, I usually just find a small branch that has a Y in it and use that for my rest.

There is so much information that can be passed on about handgun hunting  but only so much room to write. As you start the process and run into problems don't be afraid to ask questions.

Here's the 9 pointer I took last year with my S&W Mod 66, Lyman 358429 173 grain cast out of range scrap going ~ 1200 fps. Open sights and a little over a 40 yard shot. Got double lung with first shot and while deer was running I shot again and lead a bit to far and hit it in the neck. That second shot was unnecessary because the deer only ran about 40-50 yards and dropped


The gun you have in 44 mag is a great combo that will do everything you would want a handgun to do for hunting from varmints to really big game like elk and moose. The two most important things are accuracy and the bullet working like it should. The most miserable failures I have had on deer were the Federal CastCore in both 41 and 44 mag. Deer and black bear are built to light for these hard bullets. They have their place in bigger game but the only deer I have lost were shot with these hard bullets. Perfect tracking conditions with new snow overnight and all I got for over a mile was some hair at the impact sight and a few drops of blood. One deer was shot at ~ 100 yards and the other deer at under 6 feet as it walked under my tree stand. After these deer got on the same trail as some other deer I lost them. I learned my lesson and stopped using these on deer.


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For 44 mag recoil I'd think a burris fastfire III would be a safe entry level unit. At about $220 not too expensive but I would also get the mount that has "ears" to protect it (about another 75 bucks).

The fastfire iii claims to be completely waterproof and you can change the battery without removing it from the weapon.

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I will have to investigate these red dots- I am not too familiar with them. I even have a "normal" 1-7x optic on my AR-15. The thing I am having trouble picturing is how I would mount the red dot with the Ruger Scope rings and the scope rings have to go on this flat-top "Hunter" at a very certain spot.

I also found a 2x20 EER scope I used to have on an Ithaca deerslayer laying in my cabinet, so I may at least try to shoot it with a scope before I spend money on a better scope or reddot.

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If the Ruger rings are still in the original package you can send them back for 30mm rings most tube style red dots are 30mm.

When you get a Burris Fastfire you also need to buy the base for it they have a base that fits the Ruger slots.

These style sights need battery's to operate there is one other option and that would be to get a Trijicon Reflex which requires no battery's but they are not cheap.

With a red dot your eye does not need to be centered like a scope and what the dot is on is what you will hit you shoot with both eyes open and have a unlimited field of view.  With a scope if you are not inline with your eye and the scope you see a black hole.  The red dot is the better choice but if you have the scope try it and see if it works for you

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Some like UltraDot are made in 1 inch and 30mm.


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The Burris is a "reflex" sight.

I played around with a Walmart red dot on a pellet gun & decided to go with a reflex as a secondary sight for close opportunities.

Right now the Burris is mounted with a "scope ring mount" on my 22 250 coyote gun.

I bought it mostly for a secondary sight on my black powder rifle.

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2 cents on red dots.

Pay attention to the "MOA" dot size.  MOA dot size is the number of inches that the red dot covers at 100 yards.  

I like the smaller 2 MOA dots, most are 5 or more, some are adjustable.  In low light a 5 MOA dot seems to cover more like 10 inches if you don't have the brightness setting adjusted just right, which is a sort of a pain in the neck because the last half hour of shooting light the light changes so quick.  

If you forget and leave your brightness adjusted for light an hour before last light, and then you raise the gun at last light without readjusting it, you may not even be able to see the target because the dot will be so bright.  I wear contact lenses so I'm more susceptible to that sort of glare.

The original Burris Fast Fire is junk and didn't hold up to any sort of use.  I don't know if subsequent models are any better.

I use an older Bushnell Trophy Red Dot 1x 28mm with 2 MOA dot on my 12 gauge deer and turkey gun.  It has proven to be rugged and waterproof.  They are on eBay for $60 and is probably one of the best values in a red dot.  But the battery life is not great and batteries are expensive.  More expensive red dots get much better battery life.  

I like thinner tubes vs the 30mm+ tubes because red dots are designed to shoot with both eyes open.  The larger tube obscures more of the target from the non-aiming eye which is the one that's receiving the most light because its not looking through lenses.  With the red dot, your non-aiming eye should be picking up the sight picture, your aiming eye is just picking up the dot, and your brain magically putts the two together.  

The 30mm tubes work fine too, but it defeats the purpose of larger sight pictures and more light of shooting both eyes open because it forces your aiming eye to do double duty of picking up the dot and viewing the target through light reducing lenses.  If you're going to shoot with one eye open, then the larger tube is the way to go.

Red dots are like a drink from the fountain of youth for guys with aging and failing eyesight.  If I was going to buy one today I'd look at a Bushnell TRS 1x25mm.

Those grey wood grips and smooth cylinder on your gun look awesome. I'd try shooting with the factory grips just to see how it goes.  I've been looking for a S&W in .44 but if I was to go Ruger it would be one like that.

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Ok, so some of the reddots I am looking at don't even look like you can put them in scope rings (the Bushnell TRS-25 is one example) - unlike the Ultradot or the Bushnell Trophy 1x28. If I want to use one that you can't put scope rings around, but is meant to mount on a pic or weaver rail, I assume I need something like this?


Would the Super Redhawk have the same "grooves" that the SBH Hunter has or would I need one of these specific to a SBH Hunter?

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I don't know for sure, but I think any Ruger to Weaver adapter, like the one you linked to, should work on your gun.  

If you are going to use a TRS I think they only use one grove on a weaver rail.  If that's the case you might want to use a two piece Ruger to Weaver mount adapter and just use one piece to keep things less bulky?  http://swfa.com/Burris-Ruger-to-Weaver-Base-Adapters-C630.aspx

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