Hunting whitetail deer with a handgun can be fun but more challenging than a rifle. Using a handgun for hunting takes more practice, patience and a steady hand. When hunting deer you will want to consider using a good rest or shooting sticks to be steady and keep the firearm stable to make a good clean ethical shot.
There are many handguns out there to choose from along with several calibers. If you are looking to start hunting with a handgun you will want to shop around and get a idea what you would feel comfortable with in size, caliber, using sights or scope.
I have taken several doe with a handgun using a .44 Remington Magnum, 7-30 Waters and the .357 Remington Maximum. The .357 Remington Max is my personal choice in a Thompson Center Contender with a 14 inch barrel.
The .357 Remington Max was introduced by Remington and Ruger in 1983. Ruger chambered the cartridge in the Blackhawk model. Soon after Dan Wesson and Thompson Center Arms introduced firearms in the .357 Max cartridge. Although the .357 Max failed to draw interest from silhouette shooters in a revolver do to high pressure and velocity of the cartridge caused flame cutting of the top straps due to the lighter weight bullets [110 and 125 grain]. After that the cartridge was dropped by all revolver manufactures that chambered the Max. Today you can still get barrels for a Thompson Centers and the .357 Max is popular among handloaders. It is great for hunting because it delivers great killing energy and is amazingly accurate.
I can remember the first time that I had taken this cartridge hunting. It was the last weekend of the Missouri firearms season. Already filling a buck tag on the first weekend I was hunting for doe to make some summer sausage. After climbing in the stand on a cold November morning about a hour after daylight here come the does. The deer was passing my stand at 30 yards I put the cross hairs on the last deer to pass right behind the front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The doe ran about 15 yards and fell over. The old T/C and the 357 Max had done its job. After that hunt I was hooked on handgun hunting.
If you are leaning to look at getting a .357 Max you might want to consider purchasing some reloading dies. Factory Remington ammo is hard to come by since it is no longer made. You can still get brass to reload Remington produces it periodically.
Ballistic Performance example with a 14 inch barrel
Bullet weight and type - 158gr. JHP
10.2 g Accurate Powder
Velocity – 1,998 ft/s
Energy – 1,404 ft-lb
Bullet weight and type - 180gr. SSP
12g Accurate Powder
Velocity – 1,968 ft/s
Energy – 1,548 ft-lb