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First deer with my 460 S&W

Old 03-24-2019, 08:36 PM
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Default First deer with my 460 S&W

Hey guys, it's been a while. I'm alive, just had a lot to deal with lately. I wanted to share the story of my first deer taken with a revolver. This happened on the very last day of deer season. . .

As rays of sun began to break over the eastern horizon that morning, I set out for my last hunt of the regular deer season. This season has been one of the worst we've had in years. Deer sightings were few and far between, and most of the bucks that roamed the area vanished well before season. There are a variety of reasons, I think - multiple delays in harvesting soybeans left large swaths of food for the deer to eat elsewhere, a very unusual rut had the bucks running does early and often, and multiple coyotes in the area scared the remaining deer off.

All I wanted was a doe. I had a few opportunities early on, but passed on them since they weren't ideal shots, or else the "does" turned out to be buck fawns. I didn't get it done during muzzleloader season, despite it usually being a guarantee. During gun season, three of my hunts were interrupted by a coyote. One of them fell to my 460, while another had the scare of a lifetime when my sister's 270 bullet rustled the fur on his chest. But still, no does.

I'd been busy at work, too, covering multiple shifts for several coworkers throughout December, which severely limited my hunting opportunities.

As I slowly ascended the creek crossing into a 14 acre hay field, a loud sound startled me. A doe in the woods to my left blew out in alarm, and she and her fawn bolted away into a neighboring field out of sight. Fearing I may have blown my opportunity for the morning, I carefully trekked up the hill near the field entrance into the hay bale blind overlooking the rest of the field. It was almost 30 minutes before I saw anything of note - a doe in the left corner some 300+ yards away. It was a doable shot for my 300 Win Mag Encore handgun, but incredibly risky, not in the least because she was near the property line and facing the neighbor's field. Pass.

Nothing else showed up, and I began considering heading in. As I raised my head to get a better look around, I was taken aback by a deer in front of me and to my right. A quick glance through my binoculars revealed a doe, walking alone into the field. She hadn't noticed me, and she was relatively close. I pulled my earmuffs on and ranged her at exactly 100 yards - an easy shot for my 460.

I set the mighty 14" S&W Model 460 on a small sandbag atop the hay bale and found the doe in my scope. However, she looked kind of small in it, and I wondered whether I had a bad reading from my rangefinder. It was pretty chilly this morning, after all, and cold temperatures can mess with electronics. I quickly ranged the doe again as she continued her determined walk across the field. Again, I got a reading of 100 yards.

The cylinder rotated a cartridge into position as I pulled the hammer back. My hands clasped around the cold rubber grip as I held it firmly. I shouted at the doe to stop her, and she stood broadside eyeing me. I took a breath, exhaled, steadied the crosshairs on her, and quickly squeezed the trigger.

A brief gout of flame melted all the frost on the hay bale on either side of the cylinder gap. Recoil broke my view through the scope, but I managed to catch a glimpse of a cloud of debris flung up from the bullet impacting the grassy ground behind the doe. She quickly spun 180 degrees and trotted back towards the woods she came from with a slight stagger, her tail up and waving.

I waited for the inevitable collapse, followed by perhaps a moment's thrashing. But, it never came. As she approached the woods, the doe turned left and travelled along the edge of the trees. I became increasingly concerned. The potent 460 should have put her on the ground well before now. I pulled the hammer back again, but she was already approaching 200 yards. Before I could attempt to send another round her way, she finally turned and darted into the woods.

My mind was racing. What in the world had just happened? The shot felt pretty good, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt I'd rushed the shot. And why did she appear so small? Was she further away than I thought? Had I shot one of her legs out from under her, or else wounded her? That might explain the staggering trot. One answer became apparent: I had left the scope on 2.5x power, so it was no wonder she appeared so small.

I decided to wait for 30 minutes, and to possibly to call my sister to help me look and bring some compact rifles for the follow up. But, 5 minutes later, I couldn't stand the thought of doing nothing any longer. Pistol in hand, I impulsively set out to look for signs of blood. Unfortunately, in the middle of an open field, it's hard to find the exact trail the deer took. I couldn't find any blood near the trees, either. She wasn't in the woods, nor was she in the creek. If she was wounded, there was no way she could cross it. I continued further up the treeline. Still no blood. I kept looking.

There she was, scarcely 20 feet into the woods, somewhat hidden by some brush. I raised my pistol, but I holstered it when I saw the massive bullet wound right in the center of her chest.

She wasn't huge, but wasn't exactly a little doe either. Plenty of good venison on her.

My sister's husky has a terrible predatory instinct. He kept wanting to take a bite out of her, but he knows who's alpha.

The 200 grain XPB bullet impacted at slightly under 2,000 fps according to my calculations and passed completely through the chest cavity perfectly intact, leaving no fragments behind. The hole through both lungs and the exit wound were impressive.

Thus ends my deer season. Can't say I'm disappointed with how it ended. I finally got a deer with my 460, which has been my goal since I started handgun hunting in 2012. Not only that, I also managed to get my first coyote kill with a handgun on the first day of season. Despite the setbacks and struggles, I can't be all that disappointed.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:53 PM
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Good read, thanks for sharing.

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Old 03-25-2019, 12:19 AM
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congrats on a successful hunt
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Old 03-25-2019, 02:46 AM
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nice hunt & nice doe . love the 460 i've got one in the t/c encore both in rifle & hand cannon & congrat's
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Old 03-25-2019, 11:06 PM
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Thanks guys.

Originally Posted by t.shaffer
nice hunt & nice doe . love the 460 i've got one in the t/c encore both in rifle & hand cannon & congrat's
Yep, no matter the configuration, the 460 is one heck of a cartridge.
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Old 03-26-2019, 06:19 AM
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just as a point of discussion, why not discuss why you select the 460 over the 500?
theres no right or wrong, just a different outlook.
now obviously either cartridge has significantly more than the power required,TO DEVASTATE GAME.
how you intend to use the revolver and how long a barrel your willing to select has an effect on most peoples choices,
and theres no question that the 460 has a bit flatter trajectory,especially if you select a 10" or longer barrel.
and while theres zero question to either caliber revolver choices, lethality in skilled hands,....
if your willing to select a barrel over about 8.375" long many guys feel its almost like carrying a carbine , not a pistol.
I've had that discussion several dozen times and I've got several friends who own one or both.caliber revolvers
it seems that the guys that want to use iron sights or red dot sights and under a 9" BARREL,AND USE A CHEST OR SHOULDER HOLSTER.
and don,t intend to hunt,at ranges over about 120 yards almost always go the 500 route.
those that want that longer reach go the 460 route, USE A SCOPE AND A SHOULDER SLING
Ive used both caliber revolvers and shot enough targets to, find I prefer a 500.
yes you can, get a flatter potential trajectory with the 460,


but I PERSONALLY would not hand-load either cartridge to near its full power potential
I do a good deal of hand-loading for both caliber revolvers, and I don,t even own either one yet
I load a lee 440 grain in the 500
https://www.midwayusa.com/s?targetLocation=%2F_%2FN-0%2B4294943870%3FNp%3D2%26Nr%3DAND%2528p_visible%2 53A1%252Ccustomertypeid%253A1%2529%26Nrpp%3D48%26N tpc%3D1%26Ntpr%3D1%26Ntt%3Dlee%2Bbullet%2Bmolds&us erItemsPerPage=48&persistedItemsPerPage=0
and a lyman 325 grain in the 460
around here on deer and hogs either has worked very well.

Last edited by hardcastonly; 03-26-2019 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 03-26-2019, 01:28 PM
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That's a pretty good question. Why did I choose the 460?

I've been enamored with the idea of handgun hunting since I learned about it during my hunter safety course, but due to Tennessee state law I couldn't try it until I turned 18. Being the inquisitive type, I would look up hunting handguns and calibers online, read forum posts about them, that kind of thing. That's how I learned about the 460. I learned that people had been using this revolver to hunt at relatively long range for a revolver, 100 to 200 yards. I figured such a gun would kick, but then I learned that you could easily load 45 Colt and 454 Casull rounds for lesser recoil practice. To young me, that sounded like the coolest hunting handgun. I also felt that it would be the jack-of-all-trades hunting pistol, one with the power and range to take game out to 200 yards like a specialty pistol, but with the multiple rounds and packability of a revolver. So when I finally saved up enough, I bought one, an 8 3/8" Model 460 XVR.

Well, reality was . . . somewhat different. The gun's recoil and blast was intense, and due to developing a flinch I couldn't shoot it accurately past about 50 yards. As it turns out, those super short 45 and 454 rounds are quite inaccurate due to the bullets having to jump quite a ways into the forcing cone, so that option was out. It was also much heavier and more cumbersome than I thought, especially when scoped.

After a few seasons with no handgun kills under my belt, I decided to reevaluate what I was doing. I'd had many deer just outside of my comfortable shooting range that I had to pass on. Our most successful location is a 14 acre hay field we dub "the killing field" because of how many deer have fallen in it, let alone the dozens more we see there in a given season. The biggest drawback is there's no way to predict where the deer will be in the field, making the act of trying to set up a blind for a close shot a crapshoot. If you want to kill a deer there, you'd better be ready for a 200 yard, maybe even 300 yard shot. I decided to try a new type of hunting handgun, the Thompson/Center Encore. I built a 243 Winchester pistol on my dad's Encore muzzleloader frame. It was much easier to shoot than the 460, and soon I was making 1.5" groups at 100 yards. I bought my 300 Win Mag barrel that summer, and quickly got proficient enough that I would take a 200 yard shot off a good rest. Having put the 460's scope on my 300 barrel, I decided to just use the 460 with its open sights in case a close shot presented itself. I finally began taking deer with the Encore, but never had an opportunity with the 460. Despite the trouble I had with it, I really grew to love the 460 cartridge. It was what got me into reloading, and it was clear the round had a lot of potential if I had it in a platform I was more comfortable with.

One day, I went to my local gun store just to browse, when I heard two of the guys calling my name. They had someone trade in a 14" Performance Center Model 460, arguably the ultimate model. After mulling it over for a few days, I traded in my 460 and my long unused 12 gauge, and bought the PC version. I had a few teething issues with it, but soon got it shooting pretty well. How well? It can shoot as well as my Encore - sub-MOA. More importantly than that, I can shoot it much better than the XVR. The extra weight, especially towards the barrel, helps soak up recoil, and having an extra 5+ inches of barrel really improved the performance, on the order of 400 fps increase with the 200 grain bullets.

In short, I guess the reason I prefer the 460 is because I bought it having built it up in my mind as being capable of so much, when the reality turned out to be different, but through a lot of practice and changing some things up, I managed to reach the point where I can utilize the cartridge to its full potential. I'm 100% confident that I could take a deer at 200 yards should the need arise. As for having a belt gun, I've got far more appropriate revolvers for that now.

To address some of your other points. Yes, the 14" 460 is big, heavy, and bulky - but not nearly as big, heavy, or bulky as the 24" barreled, 10 pound Weatherby Vanguard I used to haul everywhere. I don't have to trek very far to my hunting locations, so weight just isn't a problem regardless. I'm trying to get better with open sights so I can finally take a deer with an iron-sighted revolver. However, there are very few places on the farm where I would pack just my 41 Mag. I've been frustrated with having deer, including decent bucks, meander around just outside my comfortable shooting ranges, only to later wind up killed by a family member or neighbor, so it's always a comfort knowing that while I'm challenging myself to connect with a new type of weapon, I still have a handgun I can fall back on for those longer shots, whether that handgun is the 460 or my Encore.
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Old 03-26-2019, 01:58 PM
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thank you for posting a great answer,
its nice to hear about other peoples reasoning,for choices they made,
as it gets people too think through their potential choices
and yeah I have had lots of guys tell and show me that the reason they purchased a 460 S&W,
was the theoretical ability to shoot 45 colt and 454 cassul cartridges in the 460 S&W..
with the same dismal results , due in part to the much longer jump into the forcing cone,
hand loading milder loads in the 460 case, (AND the 500 S&W for that mater) is the way to go for accuracy
a 350 grain hard cast gas check bullet at 1000-1500 fps will kill damn near anything within reasonable ranges
and at far lower noise and recoil level than the full power factory loads,
after having killed an elk with a 44 mag years ago with a hard cast 310 grain gas check bullet,
and having that bullet exit,after passing through the elks vitals
it became rather obvious to me that hand gun power levels that greatly exceeded the 44 mag were not ,
going to provide a huge improvement in lethality.
now thats not in any way suggesting a 480 ruger, 454 cassul, 460 or 500 S&W are not very useful,
but as always shot placement and a knowledge of the games anatomy,
and the shooters ability to accurately place shots is critical.



Last edited by hardcastonly; 03-26-2019 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 03-26-2019, 09:20 PM
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Congratulations on your deer. I've also been looking at the 460 but like you I just may go the Encore route and the .243 Win. I have no doubt that combo will kill deer farther than I would shoot at one with it. Its not that I'm concerned with recoil. I had a Magnum Research BFR in .45-70 that I shot fairly proficiently and carried it on several hunts. I never got anything with it though (I believe all the critters were afraid of it)! I owned a Contender in 7x30Waters and killed several deer with it. I just have the urge to take up handgun hunting again and I like the looks of the Encore. That doesn't mean I will be trading in my S&W 29 8 3/8" barrel. I'll likely keep that revolver forever. But with open sights I won't shoot beyond 75 yards with it.
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:17 AM
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congrats on the deer.. the husky looks good as well
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