Re: .44cal Cap and Ball Pistol
Whether a spear with a tempered nail tip would penetrate the steel, has little bearing on whether the shock value of the hole made will kill the deer. If all we went on was ft lbs of energy, there never would have been an archery season. The archers are required to use broad heads to assist in the creation of blood loss and shock.
According to Lyman's tests a Ruger old Army loaded with a 457 round ball and 41 grains of 4fg Goex, produced 1036 ft per sec and a muzzle energy of 340 ft pounds. (BTW, a Ruger is probably the only cap and ball revolver strong enough to handle a load of 4fg.) Adding a conical to the mix, reduces the amount of powder that can be loaded into the chamber and then reduces both velocity and muzzle energy. But the muzzle energy is on par with the factory loads for 9mm Luger. On par with the hotter of the 38 S$W Spec factory loads. Also about the same as the factory loads for the 44 S&W Spec. and only slightly (about 12%) less than the energy of the 45 Colt factory loads.
TC's max load for a 45 cal Patriot pistol is 35 grains, which produces similar velocity, but slightly less energy because the round ball is lighter.
But ft pounds of energy does not account for the size of the hole and accompanying blood loss and shock. A small high speed bullet that passes through a few inches rear of the heart & lungs and that deer can run for 100's of yards even miles before stopping. So a pass though is not all that determinative of humanely killing a deer.
That same humane kill argument has been put forth to try to outlaw the use of round-[censored] in muzzleloader pistols and rifles. (Oddly the most vociferous voice was a guy whose sponsor was the in-line and substitute powder folks. )
As for muzzleloading pistols, not all are equal. A TC Scout pistol in 50 caliber, shooting a round ball, according to TC, with 70 grains of fffg results in 1479 ft per second and muzzle energy of 850 ft pounds. Boosting the powder to 80 grains increases the velocity to 1624 ft/sec and 1063 ft/lbs muzzle energy. That is about double the energy of the 357 Mag. and just over some factory loads for the 44 Mag. That is a huge increase in power by just increasing the powder from 70 grains to 80 grains, in a pistol yet. So contrary to your statement, not all the extra is just blown out the muzzle. It depends on the design of the breech, barrel length and the caliber.
And for years those hunters who tried to humanely kill a deer, used such cartridges as 44-40, 38-40, etc. Guns that were no more powerful.
I'll agree that a cap and ball revolver is on the low side of the spectrum. But when they are more powerful than many pistols that are legally used and carried during deer season, you have to wonder. (My dad got a deer with a 38 snubby.)
I read a statistic many years ago, that the average shot at a deer in PA is something like 35 yds. With the advent of more open territory, super mags and big scopes that may have changed. But I have no trouble staying in the black at that distance with either the cap and ball or the muzzle loader. I also have a Hawkeye scoped muzzle loader pistol which I would have no problem using to 100 yds. I have no ballistic tables for it, but with a 12 inch barrel and direct ignition it would have no problem beating the Scout's ballistics.
According to Barnes Cartridges of the world the 22 Mag only surpasses 300 ft/lbs of muzzle energy in a rifle. (210 ft lbs in a 6.75 inch barrel pistol)even so it is more powerful than a 38S&W Spec., which is legal. But the authorities outlawed the use of all rim fires even though rim fires over 25cal were legal for deer into the 1970's. The 41 Swiss rim fire is as powerful as the 30-30. the 22 Win Auto rim fire gave over 1,000 ft lbs of muzzle energy. So to use the rational that the 22 mag rim fire is illegal because of muzzle energy is only partially correct. At the time it was developed, lower powered rim fires over 25 cal were legal. Also, the 22 mag was never made illegal, it was developed AFTER the rules for 25 and up rim fires went into effect. So the assumption that the 22 Mag is illegal because of it's power is fallacious. The 25 Stevens RF was legal for deer through all those years of intending to kill deer humanely with it's mere 208 ft lbs of ME. The 22 mag simply came along too late.
If I can legally use a 38 S&W or 357 Mag, there is no reason to bar use of a 44 or 45 cap and ball revolver.