Handguns can provide just the right mix of portability, stopping power and range. It’s hard to dispute the fact a .44 magnum revolver is much easier to carry than even the lightest rifle but can take deer just as cleanly.
The closest most guys will ever get to a high noon duel is hunting with a revolver. Now a days though, semi autos have really come forward and take a good share of the glory. After all, in 2017, there’s literally tons of great guns. Here are the best five.
Ruger Mark IV Hunter
Photo credit: http://rugerforum.net/ruger-rimfires/195513-my-new-ruger-mk-iv-hunter.html
This is one of the best .22lr pistols ever made. Certainly, one of the most iconic and anyone who has ever owned one knows exactly why. It shares many of the same controls as a 1911 with the safety and grip angle, as well as the overall fit, balance, and feel of the gun.
However, it’s a blowback design that is about as reliable and high quality as a .22lr pistol is going to get. The long barrel gives you a little extra pop out of the .22lr but really helps with aiming. The long sight radius helps hold on small game like ground hogs and squirrels, though it does take longer to line up.
Stainless body and barrel, hardwood handles come together to make a beautiful pistol that is easier to break down than ever before. A huge step up because these pistols are known for two things; a great internal suppressor host, and a nightmare to “field strip” anywhere but a work bench.
Perfect for a hunter who loves to plink or a small game hunter who wants to tune up on squirrels before opening day. This is also excellent on a trap line as a dispatch gun and is much easier to carry than a rifle
Photo Credit: https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/opinions-on-the-s-w-model-60-pro.551134/
This might throw a few hunters. No, it’s not for deer or hogs but loaded up with .38 special ammunition you have about as good as it gets for night time raccoon hunting and larger small game like jack rabbits.
The extra inch of barrel length gives you a step up in ballistics but isn’t as big a help as it does for sight radius. One of the worst thigs about J-frame pistols is that they don’t have good sights, this model includes adjustable sights with a longer sight radius.
The Pro Series designation means it falls just in between the standard production models and the performance center models. Perfect for a hunter who wants a refined action but doesn’t want to fork over the money for a performance center model for a working gun.
You could, in theory, hunt medium sized game like deer or hogs with a very stout .357 magnum though it wouldn’t be legal in many states and shouldn’t be attempted. The reason this is a great pistol is that you get a full .357 magnum pistol with a decent barrel length that is equally at home in the woods and on the streets as a CCW gun.
Photo credit: http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/02/06/kimber-super-jagare/
Lauded as beautiful, yet utilitarian from its manufacturer. This is a new gun for 2017 from Kimber, the world’s largest 1911 manufacturer. The twist is, it’s chambered in 10mm and bred specifically for handgun hunting.
The gun doesn’t include sights, instead, you get a Leupold Delta Point Pro a micro red dot. It is also ported to control the muzzle flip from stout 10mm rounds. The barrel is 6 inches long and holds standard 8 rounds.
The ported barrel and factory milled slide spelled out the death warrant for many hogs and deerin the coming seasons. The gun is a familiar and easy to carry full size 1911 that brings new technologies with legacy designs.
If you CCW 1911, enjoy very high quality firearms and have the budget. You simply cannot find a better pistol for you to hunt medium size game with.
Photo Credit: http://www.gunblast.com/SW-69.htm
While this is two years old it is still one of the best you can use formedium sized game like deer, elk, hogs, and smaller bears. Basically, anything that won’t actively try and kill you can be reliably killed with this weapon.
Why this gun and not the purpose made .44 magnum “hunting” pistols? Simple. Weight!
Anyone who carries one of those contraptions makes an odd choice. One of the best reasons to take up handgun hunting is the portability and light weight. Strapping an optic and a weighted and ported barrel kills that benefit.
The wizards at Smith and Wesson figured out a way to shoehorn a .44 magnum cartridge into an L-frame. You lose a round, making it 5-shots. You give up a little bit of gripping surface, and you lose weight.
This is really a fantastic gun. It won the NRA Bullseye Award in 2015 but is still underrated. If you need a frame of reference, this gun is virtually a 686+ with a lot more horsepower. Remember the 686+ is often carried as a CCW, this is a dream to hunt with. Including elk and bear in the mountains!
Photo credit: http://smith-wessonforum.com/s-w-revolvers-1980-present/377426-performance-center-460-xvr-m460-carry.html
S&W wanted to make a gun to make long range handgun hunting possible. They did it several years ago but have finally gotten around to perfecting it. S&W has offered almost a dozen pistols in the excellent .460 S&W.
It’s actually a .45 caliber cartridge that can be explained as an extended .454 Casull. Or a super stretched .45 colt. Either way you want to look at it, this is the .45 caliber you want when you want to hunt elephants from a distance. It’s high velocity and extremely effective.
This pistol is new for 2017, it has a nice long barrel, heavy weight in the right places, as well as some premium options like a muzzle brake and scope base integrated into the top strap.
This gun is freaking massive! At a barrel length of 10.5″ and just a hair over 84oz in weight this gun is huge. It is a gorgeous firearm, it doesn’t look like a looney toon gun with its excellent slab sided barrel. Which is a fantastic idea simply because the heft of this gun mandates a bipod which is easier to hold steady because of the barrel geometry.
You can kill literally anything short of an airliner with this pistol. If you have a need to hunt antelope at 300 yards with a handgun, well, this is your pistol!
Handgun hunting is one of those sorts that just begs to be tried. It’s easier than you think and you owe it to yourself to at least chase squirrels with a .22 pistol at some point. Not only is it much easier to tote around a pistol, getting closer to your game will make you a better hunter and the pistol training a better marksman.
Get your hands on a good weapon and get into the field! No matter what, you’re bound to have a good time.
Brandon Cox loves everything hunting and regularly posts on his blog stay hunting where he shares his experiences in hunting giving you the latest hunting information. You can find more from Brandon on Twitter.