Handgun Hunting Barrel Length


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quatin
March 12, 2007, 02:45 AM
Out of curiosity. How many of you use a handgun to hunt and what barrel length do you use? How common/useful is it to mount a scope? I'm trying to decide between a 4'' and a 6'' .357. The 4'' is much handier and lighter while the 6'' option seems to be quite bulky.

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ArchAngelCD
March 12, 2007, 03:18 AM
Most hunters have at least a 6" barrel and usually hunt with more than a .357 Magnum. Of course it depends upon what you are hunting, the .357 Magnum might be heavy enough. The .44 Magnum is probably the most common hunting round besides the .454 Casull. With the release of the S&W .460 Magnum and .500 Magnum very large bore hunting revolvers are being seen more.

It is common to see 7.5" and 8.375" barrels with a scope mounted in use for hunting.

Scotticus
March 12, 2007, 12:29 PM
"Shooting" is all about how far away you can get from your target and still hit it.

"Hunting" is all about how close you can get to your prey without detection.

Both are valid.

If you happen to be a "shooter," then get a longer barrel. If you are a "hunter" and set some guidelines on how far you will take a shot, you could use the 4."

Medium to small whitetail deer WITH the right cartridge--.357 should be okay (again, within a given range depending on your accuracy and passing on bad angle shots). Shots you can take with your slug gun are not always the shots you should take with your .357. I have taken a 4" .357 into the field for deer, BUT I also have taken a T/C Contender 14" .44 mag with Corbon 260gr BCSP and red dot scope out for deer too. Depends on my mood, I guess.

quatin
March 12, 2007, 12:32 PM
I did consider the cartridge and it seems like in Texas a .357 will go along ways. I'm hesitant to get anything larger for now unless otherwise deemed necessary. I know it's common to see 6''+ barrels for hunters, but is the reason for this mainly that you can mount a scope on it? I tried out a 4'' .357 yesterday and being not that good of a pistol shooter in the first place I have a hard time picturing a shot at a deer sized target from 100 yards with iron sights.

rantingredneck
March 12, 2007, 12:40 PM
Be sure to check your state's game laws closely. Some mandate minimum caliber and barrel length. Some mandate minimum muzzle energy. NC (where I live) used to mandate minimum .357 Mag with 5.5 inch barrel. They've since lifted that restriction and now it simply must be a minimum .24 caliber (to excluce .223 contenders and .22LR's/WMR's I suppose).

My weapon of choice depends on the type of hunting I'm doing. I hunt a mixed area of big fields, big woods, and thick brush. When I'm hunting the thick country is when I use a handgun as my primary. I have been using a .454 Casull SRH, but for the ranges I'm hunting it is definite overkill, which is why I'm selling it.

For this deer season I'll be taking the .45 ACP for a go for NC Whitetails (which aren't much bigger than the Texas variety). Shots with this will be within bow range (30 yds and less) and I'll be using heavy Doubletap +P loads.

LHB1
March 12, 2007, 01:53 PM
Since suffering a detached retina I have avoided firing high power rifles and have hunted exclusively with pistols for several years. As posted previously, I use a pair of S&W M629 Classic pistols, 6.5" barrels, .44 Mag, with 2X Leupold EER (extended eye relief) scopes. One gun is sighted in at 50 yds for 210 grain bullet at 1100 fps. The other gun is sighted in at 75 yds for 250 grain bullet at 1425 fps. Each gun has taken one deer and one wild hog. IMO the .44 Mag is THE pistol hunting cartridge for deer/hog size game. I recommend 6-6.5" barrels as optimum length for hunting pistols based on two year shooting tests I did 15 years ago.

Good shooting and be safe.
LB

MCgunner
March 12, 2007, 02:10 PM
I hunt with a 12 inched scoped contender, mostly. Bulky only counts in CCW to me. For hunting, I don't mind the bulk, ain't trying to conceal it. I just slip it in its Uncle Mike's shoulder holster and go.

I hunt with .30-30 mostly for deer and my handgun. With a minimal magnum caliber like the .357, the longer the barrel, the more effective it will be. Compare the 1200 ft lbs I get out of my 20" carbine in the caliber to the 600 ft lbs I get ouf of a 4" gun or the 760 ft lbs for the same load out of a 6 1/2" gun. Longer the better for hunting purposes.

ArchAngelCD
March 12, 2007, 02:30 PM
I know it's common to see 6''+ barrels for hunters, but is the reason for this mainly that you can mount a scope on it?
quatin,
The 6" barrel isn't there just to accommodate a scope. Two of the reasons are bullet velocity and sight radius. The longer barrel allows the Magnum round to achieve it's full potential and the longer barrel, besides helping to steady the gun allows for a longer sight radius, especially if you are hunting with iron sights.

I don't know what your budget is and if you are set on hunting with a .357 Magnum, there are many fine choices available to you. S&W has a newer model out which has a 5" barrel and accessory rails for mounting a scope and a light. It's not being marketed as a hunting revolver but as a M&P revolver. The M327 also has a 8 round cylinder too. I'm just mentioning this gun, not that it's right for you to us hunting. Ruger makes several hunting revolvers both in SAO and DA but they are .44 Magnum revolvers. For a revolver that's easier on the pocket than the M327 S&W's 6" M686 or M686 Plus will probably fit your needs.

MCgunner
March 12, 2007, 02:51 PM
Is the gun purely for hunting? You're not planning on using it for home defense or something? I don't think there's a finer handgun hunting system than the TC Contender, myself. I have four barrels for mine, two I hunt with much. One's a .45/.410 that's a fun barrel, but not reallly that useful for hunting, though I've taken 2 squirrel with it. My small game barrel is a .22LR with a 2X scope and the thing is more accurate than 90 percent of the rifles out there. My deer/hog barrel is a 12" TC hunter barrel (integral compensator) in .30-30 Winchester. That gun, loaded with handloads using 150 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips, carries right at 1000 ft lbs at 200 yards! Longest I've shot a deer so far was a spike I killed this season at 90 yards, but if I can do it, the gun won't let me down, put it that way. The shooter is the limiting factor. The thing is quite deadly on medium game. Haven't taken a hog with it, yet, just for lack of opportunity. I have it topped with a 2X fixed power scope and it'll put five rounds into 1.5" at 100 yards. Might shrink that by a half inch with a more powerful scope, but that's good nuf in my book for handgun hunting. The thing outshoots a lot of rifles at the gun range as it is.

You can get Contender barrels in all sorts of calibers from rifle to straight wall magnum. Then there's the Encore which is a bulkier gun, but strong enough even for stuff like 7mm Remington Magnum. I like the Contender, though, and .30-30 for my needs and the ability to shoot rimfire. If I really wanted to hammer something, I could get a .45-70 barrel for it and toss 400 grain cast slugs at something short of 1800 fps, I think, maybe closer to 1600, would have to look it up to be sure, but some unreal ballistics for a handgun.:what: As a gun article I read once about the .45-70 contender option, it's a 150 yard sledge hammer. Revolvers of any brand or caliber just don't compare to Contender/Encore systems for hunting.

As a pure hunting handgun, I have settled on mine. I know some folks don't think the Contender is a "real handgun". :rolleyes: I sort of understand as I used to think that and still raise an eyebrow to those Savage short rifles whatever they are, look like the XP100. But, my definition of a hunting handgun is it's compact enough and light enough to carry in a shoulder holster. Most of those short rifles have slings for carry. Might as well saw the butt off a carbine and call it a handgun.

Too, they make a contender rifle, but it looks like a pistol converted to a rifle. Those XP100s and their ilk look like rifles converted to a handgun. I guess that's just how I see it. Deal is, you're still limited to how steady you can get and accurate your are with a handgun. The gun will not let you down, though. If you could get steady enough, this thing is deadly at 200 yards, but I find my limit even with a good field rest is about 100 yards. I have to get bench rest steady to shoot 3" 200 yard groups and I ain't got a bench rest in my stand.

I guess if you're a firepower guy, think it's going to take 6 to kill a deer or you're into chasing dangerous game, you might want a big X frame gun for the "firepower", but I wear 9 rounds on my wrist in one of those butt stock ammo carriers and can make a reload pretty quick in the Contender, not that I ever need to. So far, all it's taken is one.

quatin
March 12, 2007, 03:38 PM
I'm getting a revolver just because I'd like a revolver :). I don't really have any plans for it aside from just shooting at targets, but I'd like it to be accomodating if I want to hunt with it.

SoCalShooter
March 12, 2007, 05:39 PM
I use a Ruger SBH .44mag hunter 7 1/2in I intend to mount a Leupold scope to it, I go hunting with this revolver I also hunt with my USP.

Confederate
March 12, 2007, 07:09 PM
You might try a 6-inch Ruger Security-Six (below) with a nice set of Pachmayr grips.

They were a very popular hunting gun. Not too heavy. A 6-inch Smith 66 also works well.

http://www.fototime.com/A5036C51A3AB7DE/orig.jpg

VonFatman
March 13, 2007, 02:51 AM
I hunt with handguns and have found that since I shoot open sights and keep my range down to no more than 50 yards, a 4" or a 6" would do the job...but for me, I like a longer barrel so I can better sight on the target. I like clean kills. Thus, I'd recommend you consider the longer barrel. You don't need a short barrel to hunt and a 6" barrel will work just fine at the range.

I have killed deer with my S&W M25-5 6" (.45 Colt) and Ruger SBH 7.5" (.44 Magnum) and with my 10" Contender in .357...this season, both my deer were killed with a .357 Maximum 10" barrel on my Contender.

None of these deer were dropped further than 35 yards.

If you decide on the shorter barrel, please, keep your maximum range in close.

Bob

Confederate
March 13, 2007, 05:42 PM
Does the velocity increase of a 6-inch give you any advantage in hunting? Just curious.

lawboy
March 13, 2007, 05:53 PM
A 4-inch barrel will kill anything a six-inch barrel will kill. A 4-inch barrel will hit anything a six-inch barrel will hit. For an iron sighted gun there is no advantage to the six-inch barrel. People will say the longer tube is easier to hit with due to longer sight radius. If you have the sights lined up right, the length of the radius means NOTHING. Do it right and a 2-inch barrel will work just fine. Don't buy barrel inches as a hedge against failure to be proficient. It sounds harsh but people do it all the time. Learn to shoot the gun and forget about barrel length as it pertains to accuracy -- IT DOES NOT. Ballistics of a 4 and 6 are close enough to be moot, particularly with heavy cast lead bullets, which I KNOW you are going to use, right? Have fun.

nicholst55
March 13, 2007, 10:00 PM
I was all set to use one of my 4 5/8" Blackhawks - either the .45 Colt or the .44 Mag, for deer. Until I read the laws; a 6" minimum is specified. :mad:

Oh well, it was the perfect excuse... er, I mean REASON to buy a 7 1/2" Bisley Super Blackhawk! So, all was not lost. ;)

ArchAngelCD
March 13, 2007, 11:06 PM
WELL, if the law says you need a new gun then you will just have to buy a new gun. What a shame, right?? :D

Ala Dan
March 13, 2007, 11:37 PM
If I were to ever hunt with a .357 caliber handgun, I would opt for my 6" six-shot Smith & Wesson 686-5~! ;) :D

foghornl
March 14, 2007, 11:14 AM
Some of the question/answer depends on Your states "Game-And-Fish" laws.

F'rinstance, Ohio G-N-F law requires a minimum of .357 bore diameter, and barrel length of 5". So, your ultra-compact 3.5" 9MM is out.

My choice would be a 5.5" (or longer) Blackhawk in .44 or .45 Your Mileage Will Vary.

dvnv
March 14, 2007, 01:06 PM
Lawboy: "For an iron sighted gun there is no advantage to the six-inch barrel. People will say the longer tube is easier to hit with due to longer sight radius. If you have the sights lined up right, the length of the radius means NOTHING. Do it right and a 2-inch barrel will work just fine."

Saying there is no advantage to a longer sight radius is just not true. I'll agree that if the sights are in perfect alignment, sight radius will not make a difference. Most of us are not perfect and the effect of our imperfections is reduced by a longer sight radius (good eyesight being assumed). dvnv

wad
March 14, 2007, 03:24 PM
You might consider a Dan Wesson model 15. You would then have the option of several barrel lengths.

The attached picture has 2 Dan Wesson model 15-2 revolvers. One has a 15" barrel and 4x scope. The other has a 10" barrel and 2x scope. I have most of the other barrel lengths for both revolvers.

54857

phantomak47
June 21, 2007, 11:16 PM
Since suffering a detached retina I have avoided firing high power rifles and have hunted exclusively with pistols for several years. As posted previously, I use a pair of S&W M629 Classic pistols, 6.5" barrels, .44 Mag, with 2X Leupold EER (extended eye relief) scopes. One gun is sighted in at 50 yds for 210 grain bullet at 1100 fps. The other gun is sighted in at 75 yds for 250 grain bullet at 1425 fps. Each gun has taken one deer and one wild hog. IMO the .44 Mag is THE pistol hunting cartridge for deer/hog size game. I recommend 6-6.5" barrels as optimum length for hunting pistols based on two year shooting tests I did 15 years ago.

Good shooting and be safe.
LB


What caliber did that????!!!!

LHB1
June 28, 2007, 04:46 PM
Phantom,
The detached retina was not caused directly by firing a high power rifle. Think it came from riding a four wheeler over very rough, bumpy ground where pine trees had been harvested. I was cautioned by the opthalmologist to avoid shooting rifles/shotguns with heavy recoil that might aggravate the injury. In previous years I had fired .338 Mag and .458 Mag rifles but don't know if these contributed to the retina problem. May have just been another benefit of age (now 68) along with cataracts, astigmatism, etc.

Good shooting and be safe.
LB

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