Handgun hunting

BassFlats&Beyond

Amateur
Network Support I
#1
As I sit here in a deer blind freezing my ass off, all kinds of thoughts run through my mind. The thought of handgun hunting came up. Mainly, is a 9mm enough gun to ethicaly take deer? Is it enough for bear protection? What type of loads work best? If hollow points don’t penetrate enough, would fmj or cast bullets do?

I know the typical woods calibers are .357 .44 mag and 10mm. With the data we have on handgun wounding in humans showing that there isn’t much difference between a hit from a 9 and a 357 mag, does that apply to 4 legged critters as well? The defensive community has accepted that knockdown power isn’t a thing in handguns, but the hunting community is slow to accept that change.
 
#3
As I sit in a tree stand I feel compelled to share an article I read. I can't seem to paste it here but there is a story on american hunter about an Alaskan guide who killed a charging grizzly with a smith and wesson 3953 9mm. It was loaded with 147+p hard cast bullets.
 
#4
There is a video floating around YouTube where Kyle Lamb kills a big hog with one shot of 9mm. It went a few feet then died.

He shot it at really close range (like 5 yards) and hit it in the heart.

I think you would have to be pretty close and very confident of your shot placement.
 
#5
Did a little quick googling/Youtubing and found some interesting results. Compare the following two videos from the same gentleman, first showing a deer shot with a G19 in 9mm;


Note how many shots the deer takes while writhing on the ground. This is not exactly what I'd describe as a "clean" kill.

Now, compare to this video from the same guy, using his G20 (presumably in 10mm)(Jump to the 4:00 mark to see the shot);


Much, much more definitive.

Another important point to make here is, depending on the laws where you live, it may not be legal to hunt deer with a 9mm cartridge. Many states have minimum energy laws for hunting game of different sizes, and often 9mm doesn't meet the requirement. For example, here in Colorado for handgun hunting you must choose a caliber of at least .24" in bore diameter (9mm is fine there) AND it must produce at least 550ft/lbs of energy at 50 yards. For reference, Corbon 124gr +P JHP produces about 435ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle. So unless someone is handloading 9mm to Major PF levels of pressure, it's not legal to use on deer-sized game in Colorado.

If you're really interested in handgun hunting, it would be best both legally and ethically to look at some of the larger calibers that are already popular for hunting use. Plus, if you don't have a pistol in one of those calibers yet, it just gives you another excuse to buy a new gun - And at the end of the day, isn't that what we're all looking for?
 

MrMurphy

Regular Member
#6
Shot quite a few deer at work with a .45acp putting them down. It works at close range picking the shot. 9mm does also. I've known guys who have used .45 successfully from ground blinds at 20 yards. I would not use a 9mm at that range by choice.

.357, using a heavy hunting load like a Keith bullet will easily take most deer used intelligently, same with .41, .45 colt, .44 etc. With "real" 10mm loads, i don't have a problem with 10mm under say 40 yards.
 
#7
I think it might also be worth noting there is almost certainly a difference in consideration when choosing a caliber/ammunition to "stop the threat" as opposed to "make an ethical kill," though I'm admittedly not sure I'd be able to properly expound on the differences without thinking on it for a while
 

Sunshine_Shooter

Regular Member
Network Support I
#8
"Stopping the threat" - we make ammo choices with the knowledge that we will most likely be behind the initiative curve, and *may* have to make a lot of shots to overcome that disadvantage. Excess recoil makes this even harder.

"Make an Ethical kill" - we make ammo choices with the knowledge that we will most likely be the ones taking the initiative, and having to take a follow-up shot at all is frowned upon. Recoil is a moot point.

@rudukai13
 
#9
My granddaddy used to take white tails with a pump action 22lr he would hide in the corn patch and shoot them off his apple orchard.

I ran into an old boy in the central Idaho mountains elk hunting a couple years ago that was running a 22 hornet. Both of them would have considered themselves ethical meat getters.

Legality aside, the question of an ethical minimum for a hunting round is fairly subjective.

My personal minimum was 308 fam for rifle (6.5cm .243 win 300 Savage etc.)

.357 or 10mm for pistols.

Then with 300 blackout and 6.5 Grendal I had to reevaluate my opinion.

There may be a significant difference of opinion on maximum ethical distance, and minimum caliber from one "ethical" hunter to the next.

I will say if you're hunting with any handgun a heavy hard bullet with a wide meplat and a sharp shoulder seems to be the most effective choice.
 
#10
My granddaddy used to take white tails with a pump action 22lr he would hide in the corn patch and shoot them off his apple orchard.

I ran into an old boy in the central Idaho mountains elk hunting a couple years ago that was running a 22 hornet. Both of them would have considered themselves ethical meat getters.

Legality aside, the question of an ethical minimum for a hunting round is fairly subjective.

My personal minimum was 308 fam for rifle (6.5cm .243 win 300 Savage etc.)

.357 or 10mm for pistols.

Then with 300 blackout and 6.5 Grendal I had to reevaluate my opinion.

There may be a significant difference of opinion on maximum ethical distance, and minimum caliber from one "ethical" hunter to the next.

I will say if you're hunting with any handgun a heavy hard bullet with a wide meplat and a sharp shoulder seems to be the most effective choice.
Subsonic or HV 300 Blackout?
 
#12
My granddaddy used to take white tails with a pump action 22lr he would hide in the corn patch and shoot them off his apple orchard.

I ran into an old boy in the central Idaho mountains elk hunting a couple years ago that was running a 22 hornet. Both of them would have considered themselves ethical meat getters.

Legality aside, the question of an ethical minimum for a hunting round is fairly subjective.

My personal minimum was 308 fam for rifle (6.5cm .243 win 300 Savage etc.)

.357 or 10mm for pistols.

Then with 300 blackout and 6.5 Grendal I had to reevaluate my opinion.

There may be a significant difference of opinion on maximum ethical distance, and minimum caliber from one "ethical" hunter to the next.

I will say if you're hunting with any handgun a heavy hard bullet with a wide meplat and a sharp shoulder seems to be the most effective choice.
.22 has almost surely killed more deer than any other cartridge, if just because people who shoot deer with .22 tend to shoot a lot of them.

I think range and a really honest assessment of ones shooting ability would be huge for a 9mm. Seems more like a 5-10 yard from the tree thing and that’s if you are very consistent at that range.
 

BassFlats&Beyond

Amateur
Network Support I
#13
So I’ve done some more thinking (while hunting). 9mm isn’t good at killing people or deer. People can suffer “psychological stops” while deer only suffer “physical stops.” So on people 9 works just as well.

However if all pistol equally suck at killing, why is 10mm, 45, 357 etc, so much better for animals? Is stopping power a thing in pistols or is it not?
I would love to hear docGKRs thoughts.

If we apply the same lodgic used in self defense, 9 should have adequate terminal ballistics while being easier to shoot accurately, and shot placement mos important. I personally can hit a 3x5 at 40 yards most of the time with my Glock, but can barely keep em on a USPSA target at 10 yards with my 44 mag slow fire. Recoil anticipation is a big thing for me anyway.