Handgun for hunting


September 23, 2007, 08:24 PM
Help me pick a good handgun for deer hunting. Shots would be 50 yards or less with a slight chance at a 50-80 yard shot. Here are my needs:
-easy to scope or red-dot
-economical caliber (.357, .44 etc) Yes I reload, but still
-Multi-shot (no Contenders)
-resonalby svelt and easy top pack
-6-7 1/2 inch barrel

On the top of my list right now is the Ruger Superblackhawk Hunter .44 or a D/A Smith .357

Pictures of your rig always apreciated

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September 23, 2007, 08:34 PM
Having shot both DA S&W's and SA Rugers in .4- magnum calibers, I find I like the SA's better by a good deal, for this application. Particularly Bisley-gripped ones. So, that'd be my vote. Something like this:


Except, my particular choice is a 5.5" .41 mag version in Stainless. But for a dedicated huntin' gun, the extra length would be worthwhile, I believe.

Jimmy Newman
September 23, 2007, 08:36 PM
I am now an official handgun hunter, having taken a deer last season with this S&W Model 57-1 .41 magnum revolver (It's pretty scuffed up in this picture, mechanically it's in good shape but I bought it used and there was a fair bit of finish wear. It just got done at the beauty parlor and should look a lot better when I go pick it up):


I sure like the .41 - shoots flat, lots of energy. Ammo is a little more expensive than .44, though. I just personally wanted a little more than a .357 for deer hunting.

I'm not sure how easy it is to scope/red dot a S&W, but I know people do it.

I suspect any modern revolver in good shape from a decent manufacturer (S&W and Ruger both qualify) will be plenty accurate for you to hunt with... the limitation with handguns is usually the shooter. I know it is for me :).

I really like this revolver, except for the grips, which I find uncomfortable to shoot with because they get so fat towards the bottom (I know I'll get ridiculed for saying that :)). I'm planning on getting some Ahrends or Badger fingergroove grips for it.

September 23, 2007, 08:37 PM
Well I use a Ruger Super Black Hawk 7 1/2in charrel .44magnum. I use the weapon for Javelina hunting. My friend and I use some of Elmer Keiths loads. Unfortunetly we have not loaded in a while.


I use a galco cross draw holster (basically a shoulder rig) Works great except I never got to use it on the last hunt cause it took them 10 weeks to get it to me.

BTW it came with the scope rings. I intend to get the leupold pistol scope. just do not have the money for it yet.

September 23, 2007, 08:55 PM
I'd say go with the bigger bore stuff, if you can shoot them well. .357 will take deer, but the .44 and .45's will do it much easier.

If you reload, .45 Colt is also worth a look. Reloading .45 Colt costs the same as reloading .44 mag, but you can get the same performance with significantly less pressure. I've both a .45 Colt Ruger Bisley, and the 7.5'' Super Redhawk in .454. Either will fit the bill for your needs well. The Bisleys are cheaper, but the Super Reds are far easier to scope. Frame is pre milled for the rings, and comes with a good set of stainless rings. I'd make the same suggestions for .44 mag. Blackhawk or a Super Redhawk.

I should also add, if you can, try out a couple of models. As always, grips, felt recoil, etc. are very subjective. Most favor Bisley over Blackhawk in the SA's for recoil control, but both of those will buck more than the Super Redhawk.

September 23, 2007, 09:54 PM
I have a Ruger SRH in .44mag that I intend to take out this year. Got it last year and took it out a few times but with no joy. I got the 9 1/2 barrel :uhoh: but I really wanted the least recoil (arthritis in my hands). It still is a handful, but it's also got good accuracy at reasonable ranges (I'd not take a shot over about 35 yards, I don't think...but then, in east Texas scrub, that's a long shot anyway).

You can get one in 7 1/2 or less. Great gun. Hopefully it'll bring home Bambi this year.


Deer Hunter
September 23, 2007, 10:01 PM
Don't forget to look into an S&W 629. Easily scopped, plenty of power.

September 23, 2007, 10:18 PM

Any of these should fit your criteria.

I use a Blackhawk in .41 mag with a 4 5/8" bbl. I also bought a 4" Redhawk earlier this year I intend to try out in the woods. I like the way the short barrels carry. Most of my shots are within 35 yards. I feel confident enough taking those shots with either of my handguns.

I started out handgun hunting with a 10 1/2" bbl SBH. I then switched to a T/C Contender with a 14" bbl. Both of those guns were very accurate, but for their size, it was almost the same as packing a shotgun or muzzleloader.

I really like the .41 mag cartridge. I'm not too fond of the .357 mag as a deer round. Lots of people kill deer with it, but it's a little less than I want to hunt with.

Unless you reload, .44 mag is probably the best choice as far as ammo variety and availability.

September 23, 2007, 10:27 PM
I vote for a 7 1/2 ruger super redhawk in 44 mag for the following reasons:

1. It is the easiest revolver to scope with the included rings.

2. It has the ability to remove and replace the scope with minimal lose of zero
with nothing more than a 50 cent piece.

3. It is built stronger than other double action revolvers, and has the ability to
handle heavy loads from Garrett, Buffalo Bore, and others.

4. The sight blades are easily replaced with minimal effort.

5. Quality gun leather for the redhawk is easy to find.

6. 44 magnum is easily obtainable and has all the power you will need for deer out to
100 yards.

7. The 7 1/2 barrel is easy to pack in a crossdraw or shoulder holster, but provides good velocity.

September 24, 2007, 12:41 AM
I have a S&W 686 .357 mag & 629 .44 mag. I'd use either. .44 mag more effective for larger game.

Deer Hunter
September 24, 2007, 12:42 AM
The S&W 629 can handle stouter loads. Don't get caught up in the old tale that Rugers are indestructable. Yes, comparing old rugers to old smiths, the rugers were a tad bit stronger. But with modern practices in production, the smiths will last just as long. I doubt the shooter will have the money to put enough super-blaster rounds through a smith until it breaks. S&W revolvers come pre-tapped for a weaver-style base, as well.

September 24, 2007, 12:55 AM
Here is my rig. Ruger Redhawk have a scope base in place of factory rings for use of a red dot at times.

May be selling soon for a new gun for IPSC


September 24, 2007, 01:02 AM
I have taken a half dozen deer with one of two .44 magnums:
My favorite "Fair Weather" revolver is an S&W Model 29 83/8" barreled with a Burris Handgun scope with a large dot. It has a custom mount requiring drillling and tapping the barrel. This is a most happy arrangement as the scope is between the sights giving me perfect balance. It is really a good set up. The newer Smiths are already drilled and tapped. I recently installed a B-Square base on my new S&W 625 JM and it is another VERY nice setup using Weaver Style Rings. The mount is inexpensive, good looking and quite sturdy. Today, I would definitely get a stainless Smith for this work.

My "Foul Weather" revolver is a Ruger Red Hawk with the Ruger bases milled into the barrel using Ruger Rings. This is a very satisfactory set up (also has the scope between the sights).

Both revolvers are equally accurate (3-4" at 100 yards off a rest). The Smith has a much better trigger but the Ruger can be tuned to be "as good as need be". I can do about equally well standing two handed with either.

I have no interest in having a handgun with less power for big game (including deer) than a .44 magnum. On the other hand, you really don't need anything more powerful than .44 magnum for deer or elk. It will just flat do the job. My loads have always been my personally cast bullets (all but the last one have been Keith style bullets with an appropriate charge of H110 or WC 820). The last one (ten point buck) was killed with a Lee C430-310 RF bullet.


September 24, 2007, 01:47 AM
Yes, comparing old rugers to old smiths, the rugers were a tad bit stronger. But with modern practices in production, the smiths will last just as long.

There's lots of happy 629 owners out there, but this is just not true. The fundamental design of the N frame has been pretty static, and was/is not as strong a design as the Redhawks and Super Redhawks.

September 24, 2007, 02:33 AM



September 24, 2007, 08:16 AM
I own (and have owned/used) Smith's, Redhawks, etc. and have settled on the "one" for me. It is a Ruger Bisley Blackhawk Hunter in stainless with the 7.5" barrel in .44 mag. PLENTY of power, SUPER accurate, easy enough to carry, handles recoil of heavy loads really well, plenty of ammo choices easily available, and I have a 4X scope on mine.

Last year, I took a whitetail buck at 65 yards with it. Hit it exactly where I had the crosshairs and got a one-shot stop. It was a double lung shot and it ran a small distance but left a fine blood trail.

Good luck with finding something you like. Handgun hunting is really a lot of fun, challenging and rewarding.

September 24, 2007, 09:46 AM
What I use is a 629 8 3/8" barrell with a 2X Leupold scope. It has dropped many whitetails out to 100 yards.

September 24, 2007, 10:03 AM
In revolvers, I'd definitely go with a Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter. You don't need DA and an SA gun is simpler and stronger. Some say the DA's SA is better, but they're just so full of it. :D A DA has the theoretical advantage of a few nanoseconds quicker lock time, but that never messed ME up.

Me? I hunt with a Contender, usually, at least when I use a scope. They ain't made the revolver yet that can challenge the Contender's combination of power and accuracy for hunting. And, it only takes one well placed shot.

Deer Hunter
September 24, 2007, 10:10 AM

The N frame design is not as strong as the Ruger SB design, that's a given. However, I find it hard to believe that going by straight number of rounds put downrange that the difference is so great that a handgun hunter could tell the difference. If a Ruger fails after 8000 hot rounds and an S&W fails after 7700 rounds (pulled the numbers out of the air for a simple visual, don't jump me), I don't see it as much of a difference at all.

Plainly stated, it should not be the defining factor when purchasing a handgun for this purpose. User fit and ease of handling should, and that depends soley on the individual.

September 24, 2007, 10:27 AM
Plainly stated, it should not be the defining factor when purchasing a handgun for this purpose. User fit and ease of handling should, and that depends soley on the individual.

I've hunted with DA's, SAs, contenders, never worried about "fit". If they didn't "fit", I went grip shopping. I have a Pachmayr Presentation on the TC, an odd zebra wood finger grove grip on one of my blackhawks (feels real good for shooting, though it doesn't look traditional), a set of Ajax stags on my .45 Blackhawk, and usually Hogue monogrips in rubber on my DA guns or a Pachmayr Gripper. They are all different, but I shoot 'em all well enough. I adapt to the platform. Be a dull life if all I owned were Smith N frames. I really like SA guns for the way they handle recoil. A hot .454 Casull out of a SA gun is easier for me to shoot than a .44 mag out of an N frame. The gun just rolls in the hand on recoil.

That gun fit thing, I could never figure out why people were so set on "fit". It ain't like a shotgun. You can change your grip. I can shoot glocks, 1911s, revolvers of all types, even P08 Lugers. Ain't dropped one in the mud, yet, because I couldn't grip it properly. A gun should point naturally for self defense, but for hunting, you're not point shooting, you're AIMING and usually through a SCOPE! Being used to the grip of a self defense handgun is important for quick draw and sight acquisition, but on a hunting handgun, I care more about how the grip handles the recoil of powerful loads than how it "fits" my hand.:rolleyes: Contender grips can be awful in this regard, but my .30-30 12" hunter barrel is compensated. While it's loud, it kicks about like a .38 +P in a K frame.

Deer Hunter
September 24, 2007, 10:40 AM
Well you and I are different, MC. For me, the N frame doesn't seem to kick as much as a blackhawk or any of the various flavors of single actions. Maybe because I started shooting revolvers with an N frame 625, I don't know. But that's what I meant by fit.

September 24, 2007, 10:59 AM
With a single action, I loop my little finger under the grip. When fired, the gun rolls back in the hand and my little finger flips it back down as I cock the hammer for the second shot.

I think a lot of it is what you started with as to what you get used to. I started with a Hawes .22/.22mag single action convertible, but did shoot my uncles K22 masterpiece a lot. My first centerfire was a Security Six which I later traded for my .357 Blackhawk. :D

I think most would concur with me that a SA absorbs recoil better with that plow handle grip. But, you'll never get 100 percent consensus on anything, even whether the earth is round or flat. :D Me, when I get rich, I'm getting a Freedom Arms in .454. :D

Since you're from College Station, I'll relate this. I belonged to the gun club there when I was a student in the early 70s. I was out at the range one day (out at the old annex where they crashed the cars, old air force base) and a guy was there with a blackhawk and a TC both in .44 mag. .44 was all the rage, was just after Dirty Harry came out. That TC had the old masochistic DA revolver profile grip. It HURT the palm of my hand while the blackhawk just rolled with the punch. Right then and there, I was a SA fan with heavy calibers. Thank God Ruger got rid of that squared off trigger guard, though.

September 24, 2007, 04:11 PM
MCgunner: Sir; that squared off trigger guard:)

Carbon_15: Sir; the Redhawk, Blackhawk, Super Blackhawk, Super Redhawk
Sir; .357-.41-44 Bambi beware:)

MCgunner: Sir; I must confess; I seek out the Square.:eek:

Kinda like the way they look.

Carbon_15; good luck=good shooting.

September 24, 2007, 04:45 PM
I used a 6" .357 blackhawk for everything for 30+ years. .38 wadcutters provide a mild small game/plinking round that actually will do less tissue damage to a rabbit or squirrel than a .22 hollowpoint, and full boogie magnum rounds will do the job on deer and black bear. It's cheap enough to practice a lot with, and though I can shoot accurately with the .44mag SBH, I didn't ENJOY shooting it like I did the .357. Also, I found that that squared-off triggerguard will sometimes give a painful knock to the middle finger knuckle with heavy loads, though that can be remedied by the application of a standard blackhawk grip frame.

September 24, 2007, 08:35 PM
I enjoy shooting the SA Rugers, but I'm not that big a fan of them...I much prefer DA wheelguns. If I were to choose a wheelgun for hunting, I would get a Ruger Super Redhawk in 454 casull. As I understand it, I can practice & get use to the trigger using 45 colt & use the bigger ammo for hunting.

September 24, 2007, 09:02 PM
Me thinks that among current production handguns, it would be very hard to beat a 7.5" Ruger Redhawk in .44Mag for hunting.


September 24, 2007, 09:24 PM
Agree with Clipper on the .357. Mine's a 6.5" with iron sights. Very accurate and a pleasure to shoot. It's plenty with 180 grain hot loads for about anything I'll hunt with a handgun. The square trigger guard and my middle finger never got along at all. ROFL!

September 24, 2007, 11:13 PM

I've hunted with several fine .44 magnum handguns.

First, I used an original 3-screw Ruger Super Blackhawk. Very accurate single action, of course.

Then, I transitioned to a first-year Thomson Center Contender in .44mag. with the shorter octagon barrel. The damned thing hurt the hand real bad . . . the only gun I've ever had hurt during stout recoil. Naturally, it was very accurate too.

Finally, I went to my current revolver many years ago now, the 6" S&W Model 29-5 (made in late '89 or early '90). The -5 series Model 29 Smiths were the first entire series that had the extra strength enhancements and it is a stout revolver indeed. Sleek, but plenty strong . . . sort of like a beautiful woman.

It is the most accurate .44 mag I've ever shot, plus the double action trigger can come in handy at times. I love the way the gun handles recoil too better than the single action guns and a Smith single action revolver trigger is second to none.

A great trigger is SO important to off-the-bench, real world hunting accuracy and the 29-5 has IT!

I'd NEVER go back to either a SBH or TC. The SRH has a poorer trigger plus, IMHO, I think the Super Redhawk is overkill in the weight department. I get tired of lugging extra weight around in the woods during deer season!!! There's no need to.

Here's my rig and, as you can see, I shoot the very stout and HOT Federal 300 grain "Castcore" hunting ammo. I've downed so many deer with this rig through the years that I've lost count.

BTW, the revolver is NOT ported. The dovetailed gap in front is from the factory adjustable front sight that I removed to keep it quieter coming out of the holster. Yes, a 6 or 6 1/2" wheelgun can be easily holstered on the belt, another plus!

I doubt I'll ever be able to shoot it loose before I die and . . . if I do . . . I'll just buy another just like it. Heck, compared to hunting leases, equipment, ammo, licenses, etc. . . . the wheelguns are CHEAP!

TWICE I've downed THREE deer in a matter of mere seconds with the M29. You can't do that with the TC or the SBH. The third deer in the first group of three was running in a clearcut at full speed when I downed it broadside at SIXTY FIVE yards with the wonderful Bushnell Holosight! I mean . . . that deer went straight down and was on the ground before the barrel came down from the recoil.

The gun ALWAYS benches UNDER 2" 3-shot groups at 50 yards too!

There's not one thing I would change about my whitetail handgun rig . . . except eventually get a custom holster to replace my servicable Uncle Mike's model that I modified to securely hold my Holosighted M29! Yep, as you can see, I'm a lefty too.


PS: Although it always shoots under 2" @ 50 yds. from the bench, I'm particularly proud of this recent five shot group, shot at a 5" black square. I shot it STANDING, unsupported at 50 yards and the group was only 2 3/4." Ironically, I called the two flyers out to my wife as I was shooting. The trigger is THAT good.

I keep the wheelgun sighted at 75 yards.

September 25, 2007, 12:22 AM
I use a Ruger Blackhawk .357 mag with a 6 1/2" barrel and a NcStar 4x32 scope, on a clamp-on mount. With ammo like Fiocchi's 148 gr SJHP rated at 1500 fps ($14.99 per 50), or Buffalo Bore's 158 gr JHP rated at 1475 fps ($21.99 per 20), or 170 gr JHP rated at 1400 fps (also $21.99 per 20), all with energy levels above 650lbs at 100 yds, you should be able to bring down a large deer or hog easily. Here is my hunting partner. Good hunting and good shooting!BTW those price quotes were from MidwayUSA.

September 27, 2007, 08:52 PM
After going through most of this thread I am surprized with
the 'Hunting" requirement that no one mentioned afaik

Thompson Center G2 Contender - it comes in whatever
caliber is appropriate for the game being hunted

I have a 14" Bbl, Fixed SIghts in 7-30 Waters the only
factory ammo offered is the:
Federal FP-BT 120 grain @ 2,400 FPS
because there are a few WInchester Lever action
side eject with the tubular magazine that can only
use the FP bullets - The 7-30 Waters is a
necked down to 7MM bullets 30-30 rimmed cartridge.
It dellivers more Ft Lbs at 150 yards than a 41 Mag.
at the muzzle is the comparison I read of in a gun test.

Single shot - yeah well make the first shot count in hunting

Speaking of the .41 Mag.

S & W current offering Model 657 in .41 Mag with
a 7.5 inch full underlug barrel is 53 oz. I don't think
recoil is an issue. Beautiful cannon

September 27, 2007, 09:16 PM
Thompson Center G2 Contender - it comes in whatever
caliber is appropriate for the game being hunted

Yep, I mentioned my .30-30 12" Hunter. It don't get more accurate than that in hunting handguns, 1.5 MOA with a 2x scope. There ain't a revolver I've ever fired that could match it. It shoots 3" high at 100, dead on at 200. That's FLAT! I've taken 5 deer with it, furtherest at 90 yards. Swap over to my .22LR barrel and I have a handgun that's so accurate, it can make most off the shelf .22 rifles cry in embarrassment. :D With the shooting stix, head shots on 50 yard squirrels are simple. You can cover a 50 yard 10 shot group with a nickel.

Handgun hunting just don't get any better'n with a Contender platform. I don't use revolvers much anymore.

September 27, 2007, 10:32 PM
Ruger Super Redhawk .44 Mag 7 1/2 inch or 9 1/2 barrel, whatever suits your liking.

Suggested toys:
B-Square Rail
Aimpoint Red-Dot or Leupold X4 Handgun Scope

September 28, 2007, 07:11 AM
Well, I have kinda changed my origonal needs and I think I'm going to go with the Contender, Probly in 30-30 since I already reload that caliber. I like the versatility and accuracy.

Thanks everyone

now another decision, 10" or 12"...blued or stainless

September 28, 2007, 10:00 AM
a 14" .30-30 T/C is a great rig....esp. with spire bullets (though, make sure youdon't load them in your lever-action if that's your other .30-30.).

September 28, 2007, 03:39 PM
I'll be doing my first handgun hunting for deer in November. In addition to one or both of my Savages for rifle, I'll be taking my 6" S&W Model 29-2.

I'm going to be using the Winchester white box 240gr. JSPs. That's the hottest handgun ammunition I've ever fired. I can't imagine there's anything smaller than a BMP that it won't kill.

The Bushmaster
September 28, 2007, 03:57 PM
L O L...And I put down deer sized game and deer with a single action Colt with fixed iron sights...Colt SAA in .357 magnum 4 3/4" barrel...Ya hafta be close though...

September 29, 2007, 11:04 PM
I've got the perfect pistol, easy to scope, cheap to shoot (lots of surplus ammo around), multiple shots, super accurate, and at least a 7 inch barrel. Okay, so not the easiest thing to carry, but 5 outa 6 ain't bad.

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