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Old November 18th, 2011, 04:26 AM
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Default Is the 357 magnum permitted for big game in PA???

My brother has a Ruger GP-100 357 mag with a 4" barrel and wanted to know if he could use it in PA for whitetail. I searched the web and can't find anything on allowable handgun calibers for big game in PA.
Thanks for any and all help.

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Old November 18th, 2011, 04:32 AM
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Default Re: Is the 357 magnum permitted for big game in PA???

IIRC .357 is acceptable however I think you need at least a 6" barrel.

Someone who actually hunts might be able to expand on this or correct me.

Edit: According to page 45 of the 2011-12 Hunting/Trapping digest it actually didn't specify caliber, just manually operated centerfire rifles, handguns, and shotguns. The only calibers mentioned were for muzzleloaders, unless I didn't read correctly.

Goto the PA Game Commission website and look for the Hunter and Trapper Digest to read for yourself or pick one up from your local licensing agent.

Last edited by spartakis252; November 18th, 2011 at 04:48 AM.
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Old November 18th, 2011, 05:04 AM
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Default Re: Is the 357 magnum permitted for big game in PA???

Thanks for the reply. I thought I heard about barrel length be 6". I'll check into it more.

Tmygun
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Old November 18th, 2011, 10:31 AM
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Default Re: Is the 357 magnum permitted for big game in PA???

Deer and Bear: Regular Seasons - 1) Manually operated (pump,
lever, bolt actions, single-shot) centerfire rifles, shotguns and handguns
(revolvers or single-shots) with all lead bullet or ball, or bullet
designed to expand on impact; 2) muzzleloading long guns of any
type, 44 caliber or larger, or a muzzleloading handgun 50 caliber or
larger; and 3) long, recurve, compound bows or crossbows with
broadheads of cutting edge design. The use of buckshot is not
legal, except in the Southeast Special Regulations Area.


No mention of handgun length. 4" should be fine.
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Old November 18th, 2011, 11:03 AM
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Default Re: Is the 357 magnum permitted for big game in PA???

PA doesn't have a barrel length requirement.

As long as the handgun is centerfire and manually operated it is legal.
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Old November 18th, 2011, 11:29 AM
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Default Re: Is the 357 magnum permitted for big game in PA???

I agree with prior posts, I'm sure it's legal.

BUT - hunting with a pistol is a very different ball game than hunting with a long gun. Please be sure to advise your friend that LOTS practice is ESSENTIAL before taking a handgun afield.

Additionally, the .357 is a great choice for PA whitetail, but it still isn't nearly as powerful as a rifle

.357 Mag. Federal 125gr JHP MV (fps) = 1442 ME (ft. lbs.) = 580 (numbers from a 6" barrel)
.308 Win. Federal 165gr BTSP MV (fps) = 2870 ME (ft. lbs.) = 3019 (numbers from a 22" barrel)

These are two typical hunting loads in each caliber. The 308 has over 5 times the energy of the .357

This isn't intended to scare anyone off, but just be aware that shot placement and proficiency with the weapon becomes more critical to achieve a clean and responsible kill.

I recommend the "pie plate" game. In whatever condition that one might intend to take a shot at game; including stance (sitting, prone, kneeling, offhand, on rest, on tree, etc..) and distance; make sure you can place 3 shots of 3 in a pie plate (or paper plate) in that situation. This will be a test of the confidence needed to take that smoke wagon afield!

I'll get off my soap box now.. have fun and good luck!
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Old November 18th, 2011, 12:02 PM
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Default Re: Is the 357 magnum permitted for big game in PA???

.357magnum is a fine round for deer, but personally I wouldn't hunt with anything less. He should be good as long as your friend remembers to keep in mind the limitations of the round, handgun and his shooting skill. I was hunting one day and I watched some guy shoot all six rounds at a running deer as fast as he could pull the trigger. The deer was 100 + yards away and at a full run in a field. I thought What an idiot. Spray and pray much? where are your rounds winding up? what if you gut shot that deer and will never find it? I feel It is your responsibility as a hunter to take all game as cleanly and humanely as you can every time.
In my opinion a handgun should have at least a 6" barrel, and the shooter should be able to put all 6 bullets into a regular dinner size paper plate at 40 yards. If they cant do that with reasonable consistency then leave the revolver at home.. I feel that in handgun hunting for beginners they should limit themselves to the same maximum effective range as a bow. If a deer is further than the hunter can shoot accurately then they should switch to a rifle.
I like to expend the least amount of ammo on a deer. If I can't get a perfect one shot kill I do not pull the trigger. When I was learning to hunt I gut shot a doe in archery. I never found it and it really bothered me the rest of the season, I felt that I should have been perfect as the deer had been perfect.
BTW That is a Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter with a 7 1/2 " barrel in .44 mag and a 2X6 Bushnell pistol scope in my avatar, I carry that for hunting in thick cover where most shots would be under 30yds.
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Last edited by bigandy1966; November 18th, 2011 at 12:16 PM.
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Old November 18th, 2011, 12:58 PM
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Default Re: Is the 357 magnum permitted for big game in PA???

Thanks very much for all of the replies, it is appreciated. Yes, we understand the limitations of the 357 mag., and we do practice the paper plate drill. I don't think my brother would chance a shot beyond 75yds. Most likely 50yds or closer if possible.
Thanks again!!!!

Tmygun:-)
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Old November 18th, 2011, 11:33 PM
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Default Re: Is the 357 magnum permitted for big game in PA???

You didn't say where in Pa you will be hunting but also read the Special Regulations Areas in the Hunting Digest.


http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal...=726681&mode=2
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Old November 19th, 2011, 08:53 AM
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Default Re: Is the 357 magnum permitted for big game in PA???

I carry my Dan Wesson with 180gr +p loads, but only for close encounters.
Or when I'm scouting and don't feel like taking the rilfe out of the truck.
As long as it's not a shotgun only area you are ok to use it.
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