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Thread: .40 S&W Usability for Hunting??

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy

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    .40 S&W Usability for Hunting??

    Hey Guys!

    How feasible is it to hunt deer with a .40 S&W?

    I figured with close broadside shots and good defensive rounds, it wouldn't be too difficult.

    Has anyone done it? How well does it work?

    Happy Hunting!
    Chris



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  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy scattershot's Avatar
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    Deer have been killed with a .22. I have a friend who killed one with a .380. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
    "Experience is a series of non-fatal mistakes"


    Disarming is a mistake free people only get to make once...

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    Never done it personally but tons are killed with 10mm auto. Shorten the distance and it should be essentially the same. Strict broadside heart lung shot should be fine. Treat it like hunting with a bow.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    "Deer have been killed with a .22. I have a friend who killed one with a .380. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should."

    Quoted for importance.

    I'm a Hunter Safety Instructor. As part of my classes,, I teach Ethics. To be an ethical hunter,, one should strive for a clean, quick kill. I shoot a .40 cal in a revolver in competition. I also own a few 10mm guns,, all in revolvers. I also have a semi-auto in .40 cal. I also handgun hunt almost exclusively. As such,, I match the caliber, gun, AND ammo to the animal I'm planning on hunting. Animals can present difficult shots, and they can be harder to kill.
    So,, I ask people in my classes,,, if you are hunting,,, say whitetail deer,,, and you are not SURE you have the best gun, caliber & ammo to do a clean, quick kill,,, what will you do if a monster, record book buck walks out on you? ESPECIALLY if the angle, distance or whatever is marginal,,, will you be able to NOT shoot because of the limitations you may have?
    I follow that with a simple comment. Make sure you have enough gun to allow for human mistakes.

    Yes,, deer, bear & all kinds of critters have been killed with guns or calibers not NORMALLY used. There was a case of a well known outdoorsman who was guiding some folks fishing in Ak. that had to kill a grizzly with his 9mm handgun. Even he said it was a poor decision to be carrying that gun & caliber that time. He had become complacent towards bear encounters. He was also an experienced shooter. But even he said it wouldn't happen again,, that he'd always carry a better choice after that one very close encounter that COULD have been very bad.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    The .40 S&W is every bit as good as the .38-40 black powder round its ballistics duplicate.

    Actually it is probably much better thanks to modern bullet construction.

    With lead flatnosed bullets it is an excellent penetrator.

    Half oz. of lead at 900 fps killed lots of bad guys and game back in the day.

    "Real handguns" are of a caliber which starts with a "4".
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    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Depends on the gun, a carbine barrel and your exceeding 10mm pistol ballistics. And accuracy will depend, I have seen 40 pistols that were more like shotguns and others that were pretty accurate.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    I see no reason why it couldn't be done as long as you can place the boolit where it needs to go. Likely the biggest problem is, most .40 pistols don't come with target sights.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, .30 WCF, .45-70 Gov't.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
    lefty o's Avatar
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    keep the range modest, and accurate bullet placement, and it will do the job. certainly not the best choice in the world, but it'll work.

  9. #9
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    Pistol or carbine in 40 cal? That would be a big difference maker. The 40 in a 16 inch barreled carbine is a totally different animal.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    It’ll probably just bounce off of the deer.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy

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    Pistol is a Glock 23. I’d get a Lone Wolf Harrell with more length to get a little extra velocity out of it.

    Range wouldn’t be more than 30-40yards at the most.

    What’s the likelihood of breaking a shoulder at that range? Say a quartering away shot with an offside shoulder impact??

    And I agree, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. However, it is legal in VA, and I would like to use the gun I have instead of having to go buy a 10mm or something different.


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  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    10mm is a fine deer cartridge. The load my grandpa used to use was a 180 grain bullet with blue dot, velocity was about 1300 fps from his EAA hunter. Load data shows you can get 1150 FPS without much problem with a 40 S&W. Plenty to go through whitetail at any reasonable angle. I don't know what you mean by defensive ammo, I wouldn't choose light bullets. A 180 grain XTP is a good choice.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arisaka99 View Post
    Pistol is a Glock 23. I’d get a Lone Wolf Harrell with more length to get a little extra velocity out of it.

    Range wouldn’t be more than 30-40yards at the most.

    What’s the likelihood of breaking a shoulder at that range? Say a quartering away shot with an offside shoulder impact??

    And I agree, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. However, it is legal in VA, and I would like to use the gun I have instead of having to go buy a 10mm or something different.


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    i would not be shooting for the shoulder, in the heart, or in the brain.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Double lung, under fifty yards is the ideal scenario.

    Here in Nebraska 400 ft lbs at fifty yards is required for handguns. Having shot deer with ballistics that approximate or exceed that somewhat one should expect a fifty to 80 yard death run after the shot. Holes through the lungs approximate a channel that can admit two to three fingers depending upon depth.

    When using Hornady 185 grain XTP bullets in a 5” 625-3 Auto Rim 45 revolver, +P loads were used approximating those published in a past Sierra manual. Through and through of the rib cage on each shot, 5 deer shot with that combo total. Most of the shots happened to hit ribs both on entry and exit. MV just over 1200 fps. Not too much more power than what you are contemplating.

    Pick your shot angles carefully and it will work. I would also suggest 180 grains in the 40 driven as fast as prudence permits. Likely Power Pistol or some similar powder will get you there.

    This is a great way to fill your bonus doe tags, adding challenge to what would ordinarily be a boring chip shot with a .270. But two of the five were decent sized bucks. Shots were close.

    As of late I have been gravitating toward the hard cast 452423 from NOE (about 246 grains as I cast it) driven in the 950 fps range with 2400. That powder works poorly with anything lighter and if the bullets are not about a half thou larger than the cylinder throats to help the powder work properly. One deer shot with that bullet near the base of the neck had the bullet come out the right flank near the tailbone.

    While the hollowpoints will not penetrate anywhere near that much and in my opinion have more limited shot angles (which is why I am using this bullet now) if you pick your shot with the HP’s they will also work.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy

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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    10mm is a fine deer cartridge. The load my grandpa used to use was a 180 grain bullet with blue dot, velocity was about 1300 fps from his EAA hunter. Load data shows you can get 1150 FPS without much problem with a 40 S&W. Plenty to go through whitetail at any reasonable angle. I don't know what you mean by defensive ammo, I wouldn't choose light bullets. A 180 grain XTP is a good choice.
    I carry 180gn Critical Duty and 180gn Hydra Shok’s alternated in the magazine. I figured any of these would work for deer since they’re designed for men.


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  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Of those two I would prefer the Critical Duty as they are somewhat more penetrative. This is of some advantage given possible shot angles.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    I'd agree, Hydra shok's are designed to stop inside a body. Critical duty (not critical defense) is designed to go through barriers, and doesn't expand nearly as much. I still think you could load you own better ammo for hunting, although I've never hunted with critical duty bullets.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy

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    If hand loading, what would you recommend?

    I saw mention of Hornady XTP up in earlier comments.


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  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    Yes, I've seen 180 grain XTP's used on big deer from 10mm auto. They work good. I've loaded 10mm, but not 40 s&w. Bluedot is the perfect 10mm powder, but may take up too much space in 40. Load data shows decent speed with Bluedot, but it looks like Longshot may be better. Straight out of Hogdon load data, a max of 8 grains Longshot with a 180 grain XTP (1.125" OAL) is listed as 1159 FPS from a 4" barrel.
    Last edited by megasupermagnum; 10-09-2018 at 02:06 PM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arisaka99 View Post
    If hand loading, what would you recommend?

    I saw mention of Hornady XTP up in earlier comments.










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    180 -200 grain solid flat point cast 16:1 or a bit softer at 1000 fps muzzle. Good for 50 yards. Point of shoulder shot break the neck and/or shoulders.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check