Protection While Bowhunting


PDA






Bobson
September 13, 2011, 10:41 PM
I need a handgun to keep with me while bowhunting. Mostly have 4-legged predators in mind, but I figure if I plan it for them, it should be plenty effective on 2-legged predators, too.

I thought maybe an autoloader in .45 ACP? I'm not going to be running into anything bigger than black bears and/or cougars (but I'd like to account for everything up to brown bears so I don't need a new sidearm when hunting out of state). Is .45 ACP even necessary? Or would 9mm be big enough? I'm not a fan of .40 S&W, so don't really want to consider it.

Also, I'm not opposed to revolvers, just never owned or fired one, and don't know what to look for. Thanks for the help.

If you enjoyed reading about "Protection While Bowhunting" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
dmazur
September 13, 2011, 11:05 PM
Do a search for "bear gun" for hours of reading...here are a couple -

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=605893&highlight=bear+gun

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=597923&highlight=bear+gun

I'm familiar with a 1911, so I carry a 1911 in .45ACP. 4-legged, 2-legged, they all get the same thing.

Except in eastern Washington, where I recognize that I might need the biggest handgun I can accurately fire. Grizzly bears just aren't black bears.

For eastern Washington, I have a Ruger SBH in .44Magnum. I know it isn't as good as a shotgun, but it's what I will have with me as it is compact enough to carry, including river float trips. Yes, it's a single action, and I've been practicing. I'm comfortable with cocking and firing it one-handed (but I'd still prefer two.)

I've worked up some rather slow (1000fps) 310gr WNFP's for bear. I understand the very last thing you want is a JHP or JSP bullet if you're trying for penetration.

Judging from the number of threads on this topic, there is no answer to the question. However, there are lots and lots of opinions... :)

WTBguns10kOK
September 13, 2011, 11:10 PM
It doesn't really matter what you choose, but reliability is the most important part of your woods carry gun. Revolvers are often chosen since it is easy to continue pulling the trigger if a round does not fire, whereas semi-autos can become more problematic with jams.

Jeff F
September 13, 2011, 11:18 PM
We can not carry any firearm during the bow only season.

Sgt_R
September 13, 2011, 11:46 PM
Jeff - your comment seems to be at odds with the contents of your sig block. ;)

R

Bobson
September 13, 2011, 11:56 PM
Weird... seems counter-intuitive, Jeff. Watch your back and carry anti-bear spray, I guess. I don't think I'd bowhunt at all if I couldn't bring a handgun with me. Also thanks for the suggestions. I'll spend some time reading those "bear gun" threads.

I grew up in western Washington, dmazur, and went camping in EW every summer. :D I miss living up there, no other place I've ever been compares to it; and I've been all over the world.

Maple_City_Woodsman
September 14, 2011, 12:13 AM
Many states allow it.

OP - I don't know what you have against 40S&W, but if you won't even consider that round, then I don't know why 9mm is even in the picture. 9mm will certainly scare away a frisky or curious black bear, but the way I see it actually relying on a 9mm for defense from them is like using a .22LR or 32acp for defense against people - it is only excusable in certain situations where you shouldn't or cant wisely carry something bigger.

A solid 45acp load would be fine for black bears and cougars, especially with a hard cast bullet... but a 10mm would be better than that, and a mild 44mag load would be at least as good as that.

For bow hunting though, You want something that:
A) Doesn't slow you down too much, since your not hunting with it.
B) Can easily be explained away as a DEFENSIVE gun to any curious DNR officials.
C) You can shoot quickly and accurately, more than once.

Those things make the large hunting revolver impractical for your purpose, so beefy 45LC, 44mag, and such revolvers that weighs 3+ pounds are less than idea. A standard service automatic, or a snub type revolver are more fitting of the role.

Even a hulking 45 automatic like the S&W 4506 weighs slightly less loaded than a 4" S&W 629 weights empty... but a gun like the S&W 325 Night Guard weighs under 2 pounds loaded with 6 of your favorite 45acp rounds, and the Glock 36 weighs less yet, at only 1.7 pounds loaded.

There are of course other options as well, but that is definitely the route I would be looking for a defensive side arm for bow hunting.

Bobson
September 14, 2011, 12:30 AM
I wasn't considering a 9mm, per se. I just figured I'd see what opinions I could gather on it.

I mainly had 9mm, .357 Magnum, .45 ACP, and .44 Magnum in mind. Obviously a huge difference in energy between the four, but I also didn't want to carry a cannon if it'd just be overkill anyway. As far as weight that might slow me down, I could carry an extra couple of rifles slung across my back, and the extra weight wouldn't bother me at all. I made a habit of jogging several miles in full combat gear (rifle, ammo, combat boots, and kevlar helmet/vest) in the military, and I've maintained my fitness level since separating.

Thanks a lot for all the input.

Maple_City_Woodsman
September 14, 2011, 12:35 AM
Then yes, a cannon is overkill. Cary your 45.

dmazur
September 14, 2011, 01:42 AM
It was only a couple of years ago that Washington State "saw reason" and removed the restriction on carrying a pistol for self-defense while archery hunting or muzzleloader hunting. Up until that time, possession of a pistol while not hunting during modern firearm season was assumed to be a game violation.

...but I'd like to account for everything up to brown bears so I don't need a new sidearm when hunting out of state

Right up until that point I was going to suggest a .45ACP. Without getting into "caliber wars", I think it makes a fine defensive round. Provided the critter isn't charging you and the size of a horse...

However, if you really want something versatile enough to work with big bears, you're probably looking for something like a Ruger Alaskan in .44Mag or larger. Possibly .454 Casull.

Something you might consider, if you don't mind a little tinkering, is a .460 Rowland conversion for a 1911. This round is roughly equal to a low-end .44Magnum. The conversion is only available for 5" barrel models. See

http://www.clarkcustomguns.com/rowland.htm

The 1911 can be easily converted back if you only venture into large animal country infrequently. And, if you reload, the .460 Rowland uses the same dies as the .45ACP (just different, stronger cases.)

I almost got a .460 Rowland for my Commander-length 1911, but Clark Custom discontinued the shorter version. I believe they abandoned compact 1911's rather than risk reliability and short frame life.

snooperman
September 14, 2011, 09:09 AM
I would want at least a 44 magnum in a well made revolver. A single or double action will do fine.

Super Sneaky Steve
September 14, 2011, 04:40 PM
An SP101 with a 3" barrel would take care of any black bear and wouldn't be too burdensom.

I saw a hog get shot 8 times with a .45 ACP point blank before it died. The first round was right in the skull and it just flattened out and didn't penetrate.

Moral of the story is .357 or better in the woods.

OregonJohnny
September 14, 2011, 05:53 PM
Here are a few calibers that, when using heavy, hardcast lead or FMJ flat nose bullets at the absolute peak of their power range, in smaller firearms, are a decent compromise between being packable, and offering protection from 2-legged predators, and possible protection from 4-legged threats up to and including small to medium sized black bears (not brown):

• .357 Magnum
• 10mm
• .45 ACP

These 3 calibers can be found in many different guns weighing less than 40 oz., (which includes an all-steel full-size 1911). The heavier, more effective wildlife defense calibers such as .41 Magnum, .45 Colt, .44 Magnum, .454 Casull, etc. usually come in much larger and heavier firearms, and are usually considered "overkill" for self defense against human targets.

I have a 2.25" Ruger SP101, and the hottest ammo I can find for it is the Buffalo Bore 180-grain hardcast flat nose .357 that I have chrono'd from the 2.25" barrel at around 1,250 fps. I have no doubt in this round's lethality, but trying to quickly and accurately get 2 or 3 shots off from a snubby .357 with a very long and heavy double-action trigger pull is not very confidence-inspiring.

I also have an all-steel full-size S&W 1911 that I shoot very well, and the nastiest round I can find for it is the Buffalo Bore 255-grain hardcast flat nose that I've chrono'd at about 960 fps. from my 5" barrel. However, for some reason, Buffalo Bore seats this bullet very deeply in the case, and it causes it to nose dive and give feeding problems in my gun. I do want to try Buffalo Bore's 230-grain 45 ACP+P FMJ flat nose that they advertise at 981 fps. It looks like it would feed much better in a 1911.

The options in a 10mm are much more limited these days. If Glocks fit your hand well, then the 20 or 29 are excellent choices, with the 29 being much more packable, but losing a lot of the 10mm's potential due to a shorter barrel. Properly loaded to it's maximum potential, the 10mm can even top the .357, in a semi-auto with much higher capacity and faster follow up shots.

A concealed carry woods gun idea I've been considering lately is the Ruger SP101 loaded with 2 rounds of Buffalo Bore 180-grain hardcast flat nose .357, followed by 3 rounds of Speer 135-grain short-barrel .38 Special+P hollow points. This way, you have 2 potent rounds up first in case you meet a black bear that poses a definite threat, followed by 3 easily-controllable rounds for 2-legged threats.

If you want a handgun that would also be effective against brown bears, I wouldn't consider any of the above. If it were me, I'd want at least a heavy, all-steel .44 Magnum revolver with at least a 4" barrel. But now we're talking about guns that when loaded, weigh 3 pounds or more.

Hunt480
September 14, 2011, 08:26 PM
The Glock 20 is my bow hunting companion. Its powerful enough and has high capacity in a light wieght package. Its a fine woods gun.

grubbylabs
September 15, 2011, 12:42 AM
I carry a Smith and Wesson 329PD it is an air weight 44 mag. I started out hand loading a 270 grain JSP for it with the minimum charge of 296 and now I am loading a 270 grain bullet that I cast my self and it is straight wheel weights, again over 296 but just over minimum. While factory 240 grainers are pretty stiff in the gun I find that my load is quite manageable and it scoots along at about 1,100 FPS.

The best part is that it is so light I hardly know it is there.

Scipio Africanus
September 15, 2011, 12:52 AM
I had a run in with a curious bruin once while bow hunting for dear. I had a bear tag but no shot with a bow (bushes and branches in the way). He exhibited no signs of fear and sniffed me--loudly! He was not particularly aggressive, but he was CLOSE and very big. Eventually, he ambled off. In the few minutes that he was checking me out, my perspective changed on my position in the food chain and I swore I would never be bow hunting without a healthy handgun again.
Now I carry a Ruger SRA in .454 Casull while pursuing game with a bow. It is comforting.

ArchAngelCD
September 15, 2011, 04:28 AM
When I'm in the woods for any reason I carry a .357 Magnum. It will work quite well on 2 and 4 legged varmints... :D

Dr.Rob
September 15, 2011, 04:41 AM
Can't you carry anything you want in AZ open carry?

4 inch 357 revolver will do anything you need a handgun to do. Check local wildlife office about the legality of carrying a firearm while bow hunting, but I am pretty certain in AZ you're good to go.

Just don't point your handgun at a deer, ever.

Bobson
September 16, 2011, 02:26 AM
An acquaintance of mine told me today that during archery-only hunting seasons, bowhunters can't carry sidearms with barrels longer than 6". I hadn't read that in the AZ hunting regulations for 2011 (and I thought I had studied it thoroughly), but I'm going to double-check it and see for myself.

Either way, I think I've made my decision: The Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum with a 5.5" barrel. Spent some time with it today, and that gun is amazing.

wgp
September 16, 2011, 11:35 AM
Kansas recently changed the rules to allow a concealed-carry permit holder to have a handgun in possesion while bowhunting and hunting other big game. Previously bowhunters could have no firearm in possession and big-game hunters could not have in possession any firearm that was not legal for taking the game they were hunting (that prohibited 9mm, .45 ACP and others).

bergmen
September 16, 2011, 01:26 PM
An acquaintance of mine told me today that during archery-only hunting seasons, bowhunters can't carry sidearms with barrels longer than 6". I hadn't read that in the AZ hunting regulations for 2011 (and I thought I had studied it thoroughly), but I'm going to double-check it and see for myself.

Either way, I think I've made my decision: The Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum with a 5.5" barrel. Spent some time with it today, and that gun is amazing.

That is an outstanding choice (whether as bow hunting companion or just to have and shoot for fun).

I have had Ruger Single Actions for decades (one type or another) and they are just about the most fun wheel guns I own (among many).

Dan

dmazur
September 16, 2011, 03:15 PM
It's on page 121 of the 2011-12 Arizona regulations -

2. An individual participating in an “archery-only”
season may only use or possess a bow and arrow
as prescribed under R12-4-304 and shall not use or
possess any other weapons, including crossbows or
bows with a device that holds the bow in a drawn
position except as authorized under R12-4-216. Individuals
participating in an “archery-only” season
may possess a non-hunting handgun for personal
protection. It is unlawful to take any wildlife with this
handgun while participating in an “archery-only”
season. For the purposes of this Section, a nonhunting
handgun is defined as a handgun with a
barrel length of six inches or less that does not have
a scope or any type of electronic sight.

If you are ever unhappy with the factory sights, Bowen Classic Arms makes an adjustable replacement sight for Ruger SBH revolvers -

http://www.bowenclassicarms.com/parts_store/ruger_rough_country_adjustable_rear_sights.html

I installed one of these and I like it. The only other thing I did was change the base pin latch spring for a heavier one. With the factory-weight spring, the base pin may move on you under recoil.

ATLDave
September 16, 2011, 03:38 PM
It's my understanding that the police in Greenland are issued 10mm handguns in large part because they may have to deal with polar bears, and it should do better in the anti-bear capacity than the service caliber weapons. There are a few options in 10mm autos these days. They are also obviously very effective for "social" defense as well, and, in the proper gun and with a little practice, very controllable for rapid shooting.

I confess, I'm a fan of the caliber.

Bobson
September 16, 2011, 11:02 PM
It's on page 121 of the 2011-12 Arizona regulations -
Thanks a lot, dmazur. Appreciate you taking the time to find that. :)

And thanks for the link, I'll bookmark it in case I decide to find a replacement.

EVIL
September 17, 2011, 06:57 PM
You just can't beat a GLOCK 30 or 29 for versitile, reliable, lightweight, firepower. I would lean towards a 30 because .45ACP is more widely available, but 10mm would be my choice if I were a re-loader. They also can use the G21 or G20 mags for a reload. The shortgrip will not interfere with your hiking, climbing, etc whilst bow hunting.

gbran
September 17, 2011, 08:59 PM
Here in CA, we can't carry a firearm whilst bow hunting. We can carry a handgun when hunting in firearm season. One quirk in my hunting area is our lead ban. You can't go hunting with your rifle with lead and your handgun must also carry non-lead bullets, even if you're not using it for hunting.

ArchAngelCD
September 18, 2011, 02:15 AM
Here in CA, we can't carry a firearm whilst bow hunting. We can carry a handgun when hunting in firearm season. One quirk in my hunting area is our lead ban. You can't go hunting with your rifle with lead and your handgun must also carry non-lead bullets, even if you're not using it for hunting.
When are you people in California going to vote for reasonable representatives who will do away with all those silly laws?

bestseller92
September 18, 2011, 02:22 AM
Glock 30SF

whetrock
September 18, 2011, 05:11 PM
I think a Ruger SP101 would fit your criteria nicely.

Bobson
September 18, 2011, 07:44 PM
Ah, not to be rude to anyone, and I certainly appreciate all the advice. However, decision has been made. It's a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 magnum with a 5.5" barrel.

Only thing left to decide is stainless or black metal, but I'm leaning toward stainless. Thanks again for all the advice. May be a few weeks, but I'll post pics when I have it in hand.

pekosROB
September 19, 2011, 03:38 PM
From the posts I've read, I'd go with the Ruger Alaskan in either .44 Mag or .454 Casull. Short, easy to maneuver, and there is even a vest with a holster on your chest for easy access.

Edit: and of course I just saw your selection. Very nice!

303tom
September 20, 2011, 09:00 AM
I need a handgun to keep with me while bowhunting. Mostly have 4-legged predators in mind, but I figure if I plan it for them, it should be plenty effective on 2-legged predators, too.

I thought maybe an autoloader in .45 ACP? I'm not going to be running into anything bigger than black bears and/or cougars (but I'd like to account for everything up to brown bears so I don't need a new sidearm when hunting out of state). Is .45 ACP even necessary? Or would 9mm be big enough? I'm not a fan of .40 S&W, so don't really want to consider it.

Also, I'm not opposed to revolvers, just never owned or fired one, and don't know what to look for. Thanks for the help.
You are Bow hunting, do you not already have a weapon to kill with.

montgomery381
September 20, 2011, 12:52 PM
If you are thinking of an semi-auto pistol I would go with the Glock 20. It is a 10mm, 15 + 1 rounds, weight will be on par with a full size 1911 but if it is heavier it is because you have twice as many rounds. If you need more knock down power the .44 would be a good choice as would the .500 S&W. The .44 would be more readily available and cheaper as would the pistols chambered in it. But for what you described it would be the Glock.

WTBguns10kOK
September 20, 2011, 05:44 PM
Enjoy the Super Blackhawk, they're a beast of a gun and fun to shoot!

Scipio Africanus
September 20, 2011, 07:29 PM
I would definitely recommend stainless. I just spent to days out in the rain hunting bear. My blued rifle needs much TLC and my stainless Ruger SRA only needs a little touch up. Good luck with your Blackhawk, you will be pleased.

If you enjoyed reading about "Protection While Bowhunting" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!