Handgun Hunting-Big Bullets Punch Big Holes
Dr. John Woods 07.03.18
Why is do you think that all those big thumb buster magnum handgun cartridges were developed to start with? Certainly it had a lot to do with basement and garage tinkerers playing around with new loads, wildcats, and other engineering trials to create new, ever more powerful handgun loads.
Rifle cases were trimmed down to make new handgun cartridges, new bullets were designed, and loads were fashioned to generate more velocity and killing effectiveness on game targets. Ultimately many new firearms were created as these proprietary cartridges became popular enough to reach manufacturing interest. So, why was all this done? And what rounds are we talking about?
If you want a relatively complete list of these big bore handgun cartridges, then the entire list would be pretty long. Most handgun enthusiasts would include these: .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, .454 Casull, .460 Smith and Wesson, .475 Linebaugh, .480 Ruger, .500 Smith and Wesson, .500 Linebaugh, .500 JRH and the .500 Wyoming Express. Some of these are fairly common right now, but some are not.
Primarily these huge big bore cartridges were developed and continue to be developed, honed, and enhanced for hunting big game and other reasons. From the smallest of these like the .41 and .44 Magnums were designed for white-tailed deer sized game. The really big numbers were engineered to tackle the really big and dangerous game like deadly bears, African game like Cape buffalo and such.
As powerful as these handgun hunting cartridges are, remember they are still not rifle cartridges. Even so, they have all proven themselves capable of taking these big game animals so long as the hunter-shooters can stand their ground long enough to deliver a well-placed round.
These rounds were also designed to deliver big, heavy, bone crusher bullets that hold together to retain maximum weight, often with minimal expansion. These bullets are for penetration through thick, tough hides, heavy bones and muscles in order to strike primary killing zones for quick, humane kills. When facing a dangerous animal with a handgun, you certainly want an effective game stopper.
Bullet weights, types and ammo includes for example the 440 grain WFN (Wide Flat Nose) in the .500 JRH (Jack R. Huntington) or the .500 S&W Short. The .500 Linebaugh uses a 500 grain LFN (Long Flat Nose) bullet loaded by Grizzly Cartridge Company. The .480 Ruger uses a Hornady 325 grain XTP bullet and so forth.
Big bullets do punch big holes. And that is what you want when using a handgun for hunting big game.