Q: A Ruger Model 77/44 Carbine has been offered to me as a deer rifle, and I am considering its purchase since it is very handy and fast to operate. The calibre is .44 Remington Magnum, which I understand to be more powerful than the .44-40. Would this be a good choice for the purpose? If so, can you suggest a good handload with a bullet suitable for pigs, goats and fallow deer.
The Ruger comes with a 4×32 scope. Can you tell me the best distance to zero this rifle and its likely trajectory?
A: The .44 Magnum is not my idea of a deer rifle, but having said that, I remember seeing Peter Schubert drop a 12-point red stag in his tracks with one at a distance of 125 metres with a neck shot. The lever-action .44 Magnum sees widespread use as pig gun, being short and handy to carry in a scabbard on a 4-wheeler or trail bike. My best handload for the game you hunt is the Hornady 225gn FTX and 21gn of Lil’ Gun for about 1775fps. This is a pointed-soft-point bullet that holds up better than the blunt-nosed bullets normally used in leverguns and will shoot a bit flatter and extend the effective range to 150 metres. If you sight in 48mm high at 50 metres, the bullet will zero at 100 metres, drop 195mm at 150 metres and be 589mm low at 200 metres. By using a bit of Arkansas elevation you should be able to hit medium sized animals out to 150 metres.