Okay, this story about the hunter shooting a woman at 200 yards with a pistol makes me wonder: what is your ethical limit on the distance of a deer hunting handgun shot - specifically what was the longest handgun shot you took to harvest a deer?
My Contender, in 6.8spc I'm comfortable to 100yds rested nice An stable rest required.
My .44mag is good to 75yds smith revolver, 2x scope if I had a custom gun with practice I would stretch it. But currently my sidearms co witness deer rifles. So if I'm uncomfortable or game too Farm I'm bringing up the Rifle.
I plan to shoot a legal kill deer after the kill, at 100 yds through the rib cage to see if it passes through. You know me, I'll report back. Two factors, accuracy and knetic energy. The accuracy with a prop, no problem. The knetic energy is to be determined
The range depends on the gun and the cartridge.
Some, like my G40 with red dot, I limit to 50 yds. Others, like my 14" Contender in 30-30, I feel comfortable to 100 yds +.
First you have to be able to hit the target then the cartridge has to be able to make a clean kill at the range.
I would love to see some real world data on handgun performance on game. Otherwise we are all just guessing.
I have killed a buck at 110 yards with a 40S&W. It was wounded and headed to a thick ravine so I tried to stop it. I probably would not shoot at a deer over 50 yards right now with open sights. 100+ yards with a scoped 44/45/454.
I try to make all my pistol shots between 50-60 yards. My 7-30 waters is sighted in dead on at 100 yards but I try not to have to shoot that far.
Several years ago I dropped a doe at 106 lasered yards using a 7.5" .41 magnum shooting from a forked stick rest. That was unusual but I had a wide open shot from a steady rest.
My 7mm-08 handloads in my 15" encore is just under 1000 ft*lbs at 400 yards. I wouldn't shoot that far, but if I had a good rest and time to wait for a good shot, I would consider a 300 yard shot. 200 yards would be a chip shot with the encore with a good rest of course. It still beats a .243 at the same ranges.
However, I have only had 2 kills and both were 357 magnum at around 30-40 yards. One with a contender(12" bbl) the other a Taurus 607 (6.5" bbl)
I plan to handload hotter loads for my 10mm once I can get a barrel with more case support. The gun is capable in accuracy, however, recently shooting a piece of metal at 100yds, I could hear a delay between shot and impact. This told me that it's really slowing down out there. It needs more speed to be a 100yd gun
I've never hunted deer with my handguns.
But in my prime, I (and my brother, and our dad) could regularly pop balloons at 100 yards with open sighted 1911A1 pistols and 6" barreled .38 revolvers.
My cousin used to hunt deer in New York State with both a model 1911 in .45 and a .357 mag revolver with an 8" barrel.
He tried them with iron sights, but ended up putting a red dot optic on each of them for hunting.
He'd limit his shots to that distance that he could keep a 6" group. For him, that was about 30 or 40 yards.
It worked great. They never ran more than 50-75 yards. They died quickly. The bullets penetrated deep into their vitals.
As for myself, I had a T/C Contender that, with its 1.5X scope, was plenty accurate to over 100 yards. At anything past 50 yards, though, I'd want to consider how much ballistic energy my bullet still had. I think I'd still be good for deer with either my .30-30 Win barrel or the .44 Rem Mag barrel all the way out to 100 yards, if I had a good rest and a nice broadside shot.
The only way I'd consider a 200-yard shot on a deer to be ethical would be if the pistol were a big single-shot thing with a 12" or longer barrel, chambered for a bottle-necked rifle cartridge, and fitted with a good scope that goes up to at least 4X magnification.
I've never owned such a handgun and scope combo, and I don't think my .30-30 would have had the killing power out at 200 yards anyway.
On second thought, I suppose a T/C Contender in .30-30 would have the oomph to down a deer at 2000 yards.
Assuming the short (10" or 14" ) barrel would reduce the velocity of a 150 gr. soft point bullet to only 2250 at the muzzle, that bullet would still have:
1850 fps velocity and 1,100 foot/pounds energy at 100 yards.
1670 fps velocity and 925 ft/ lbs at 150 yards.
1500 f.p.s. velocity and 750 ft. / lbs. energy at 200 yds.
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I never shot my T/C over a chronograph. I see now that somebody who did, with a variety of handloads, and whose gun has a 14" barrel, reports that the fastest loads he could develop with 150 gr. bullets were turning in about 1950-2000 f.p.s. at the muzzle (or ten feet, or whatever distance his screens were set).
So, I'll run the distance numbers again for a 150 gr. flat-base soft-point bullet with a starting velocity of 2000 at the muzzle.
At 100 yds, it's down to 1630 f.p.s., and 830 foot / pounds energy.
At 150 yds, its 1470 f.p.s. and 720 ft. / pounds.
At 200 yds, you've got 1320 f.p.s. and 580 foot/ lbs.
Now, 580 foot pounds is still more than most .45 ACP pistols with normal-weight bullets will produce at the muzzle, so the .30-30 handgun should still be acceptable. I know the .45 worked for my cousin, despite his loads producing only around 400 ft. / lbs. energy.
So, if my big single-shot hunting pistol would give me 8" groups reliably under field conditions at 200 yards, I'd feel OK using it for deer that far out.
What 150 grain 30-30 bullet will expand reliably at 1300 FPS? The Nosler ballistic tip only expands down to about 1500 FPS. In a 45 it wouldn’t be a big deal but in a .30 caliber boat tail bullet you need expansion or tumbling to deliver the energy. It would probably still be a lethal hit but not ideal.