Who uses a scope on their hunting handguns???


Dave Bulla
September 27, 2011, 02:20 AM

I've got a Ruger Super Blackhawk, Bisley Hunter in 44 mag that is a real good shooter. A coworker offered to sell me a Leupold M8 4X scope for $100 that has never been installed on a gun. He let me take it home and give it a try so I put it on the pistol yesterday. I hope to get it out to the range Tuesday to see what I can do with it. I had to buy a set of Ruger rings and they are the lows. Ruger told me that the gun originally came with medium rings but they wanted $49 per ring for a set and I got the low set used for $25 shipped so went that route. Clearance is pretty minimal but I think it is enough. I'd call it a strong 1/16" at the rear sight area. Think that is enough? Here's a picture.

I've never shot a handgun with a scope on it and I'm wondering if there are any things to take into consideration? I have noticed a couple things already like it certainly adds quite a bit of weight and it also amplifies "movement" a good bit. My plan is to shoot it from the bench with my wrists supported on a rest but should I also try it with the barrel on the rest? I think that would be steadier but don't know if that is a "no-no" or not. I'm trying to picture some of the tv footage I've seen when guys are hunting with scoped revolvers and using shooting sticks and I can't for the life of me recall if they rest the barrel in the sticks, if they rest the frame/trigger guard or their wrists.

I want to shoot multiple distances when I go to the range so I will probably start at 25 yards and then try 50 and 100 just to see what I can do. Sort of a "learn my limitations" test but I'd like to have an idea of realistic expectations.

Last week I shot it at the range with open sights at the usual 15 and 20 yards but then I put a target out at 50 and shot 5 rounds. I didn't have my glasses so had a bit of trouble with the sights but what I ended up with was two of the five missed paper but the other three were in a 1 3/4" group. The two that missed were the first two and I adjusted my sight picture for the last three. I was pretty shocked at the small group and have no idea if I could do that again or not. I'll hopefully find out tomorrow.

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September 27, 2011, 02:21 AM
Only on my TC Contender with it's .223 barrel on it.

September 27, 2011, 03:11 AM
1.5-4X Burris on my .357 Maximum SuperMag. 4X is only used at the range. I rest the barrel on the bags with a smaller bag under the grip. Squeezing the bag with the fingers of my non-shooting hand moves the grip (and the crosshairs) vertically more precisely than doing it without support.

September 27, 2011, 05:16 AM
4X power is nice at the target range but serves no purpose on a 44 hunting revolver.

I've got both 4X and a 2X Lepold pistol scopes. Only the 2X's are mounted on hunting handguns.

1.75X is nuetral magnification to the naked eye for me. In the Woods, you don't want much more for target acquisition. On a varmit rig a 4X may be used.

September 27, 2011, 06:47 AM
Good morning
Last corn cruncher I popped with a revolver was a DW 375 Supermag with a simmons 2.5 power. Sure alot easier to put a cross hair on the ribs than try to lign up sights.
Mike in Peru

September 27, 2011, 07:05 AM
I have and hunt with several scoped handguns. You have already found the big problem with them-apparent movement of the corsshairs on target. Practice will help that.

Some sort of rest is a BIG help-wrists rested or FRAME rested is pretty much ok but NOT the barrel. That will often cause shots to be scattered, usually up/down. Best NOT to rest the gun against something hard and unyielding. Pad it with something.

I use 4X and find it works just great in hunting. I have one on a Ruger Bisley Hunter in .44 mag and another on a TC Contender super 14" in 30-30.

I sight mine in at around 100 yds and shoot UP TO that distance hunting and it works out just fine.

Handgun hunting with a scope will usually help in shot placement location but will be a bit slower in lining up your shot UNTIL you have quite a bit of practice. I also do not take shots at moving game-I need the time to place my shots well.

Good luck as handgun hunting is really a lot of fun. Just do it right and shoot carefully placed shots. PRACTICE A LOT-also a lot of fun.

September 27, 2011, 07:39 AM
That "strong 1/16" of clearance seems awfully small for something like a 44 Mag.

You would be really surprised how much things flex at the shot. I would think that the extra $$ for the medium rings would be well invested. It would suck to smash the bell on the scope and possibly damage the lens.

On my SBH BH while it wears a red dot, I went with the Weigand base and rings. They gave me more positional options than the standard Ruger rings and sit higher.


September 27, 2011, 07:53 AM
you would do well to never allow the barrel touch anything when shooting the revolver. you can support the piece on the frame. from a steady rest, you should be able to shoot more accurately with a scope.

September 27, 2011, 09:54 AM
I have a 2-7X scope on my 218 Bee Contender for varmint shooting. On the 357 Herrett tube I had a 2X Leupold but now have a (discontinued) Bushnell Holosight on it. I found it easier to line up the Holosight than the scope. I may try a reflex-style sight next.

September 27, 2011, 10:41 AM
For the handguns i "hunt" with... NEVER! I tried them long ago and it just makes a handgun too "unhandy" and heavy to carry comfortable. I decided long ago that i want my handguns to be "hand guns", not short rifles. I just learned to shoot long range with open sights... It's worked out pretty well, as i've taken plenty of big game from moose on down with my M-29/factory sights.

If i need a scope on my handgun, then i'll just carry a light weight rifle, it actually ends up being a much better choise for me.


September 27, 2011, 10:52 AM
I have Burris variable on my custom Contender 6X47 Int. Match Super 14" and a 3X Burris on a 10" Contender in 221 F.B. Have had others but traded them away.

September 27, 2011, 10:54 AM
Nope. :)

September 27, 2011, 11:23 AM
Yep, I generally will wait for shots as close as I can get them but I have made shots as far as 338 yds.


September 27, 2011, 11:46 AM
That's plenty of clearance and you got the scope for a steal ($400 worth) but IMHO a 4x is way too much for a hunting revolver. I strongly prefer a 2x and no more.

For bench work, nestle the sixgun into leather sandbags at the crook where the barrel meets the frame. Rest your forearms on the bench or on more bags for padding. Do not let the butt touch anything.

Dave Bulla
September 27, 2011, 12:28 PM
Thanks for the input so far guys.

I'm thinking I'll give this a try and see how it shoots then make up my mind about actually hunting with it. Might be one of those deals where I like the idea but not the 4X power and I can post online about maybe swapping with someone for a 2X. I go on Marlinowners a lot and the big fad lately is guys buying stainless Marlins and putting XS rails on them with scout scopes. This scope would be perfect for that.

I'm hoping a side benefit will be simply finding out just what the gun is capable of, well, maybe I saying "what I'M capable of with the gun" would be more correct.

As for the ideas of keeping a "handgun handy" and if you need a scope, use a rifle.... Those exact thoughts have crossed my mind so I'm with you to a point. That point is that I know I've never tried it and I want to make up my own mind in the end. It's like watching somebody pick up something hot and dropping it because they got burned... sometimes I just gotta pick it up myself to be convinced that "yup, it's HOT".

I figure it will also open up a whole 'nuther an o' worms when trying to tote the thing in the woods. Won't fit in a holster other than some of them behemoth nylon padded contraptions I've seen that go from armpit to belt. My lever gun cradles nicely in one hand but toting a heavy revolver just doesn't seem to have any natural feeling option for me. Holding it around the cylinder might work but it goes against my grain to hold a gun by other than the wood parts even if it is stainless steel.

September 27, 2011, 12:31 PM
All my Contenders and a Ruger mark III Hunter wear scopes. None of my wheelguns though.

September 27, 2011, 07:56 PM
My scope mounts too far to the back.


Dave Bulla
September 27, 2011, 08:04 PM

I did make it to the range toady and got to shoot several targets. Amazingly, first target I shot was at 25 yards and I had 3 holes almost touching. Two went through more or less one hole and the third was close enough to tear out the tiny bit of paper that would have actually separated the holes. Maybe 3/4" center to center. I never bore sighted or anything, just got lucky. The group was centered about 2 inches high and 1.5 inches left. Load was 6 grains of unique with a 240 gr cast bullet and hornady brass. A pussycat load but fun. I adjusted to the right and shot another 3 shot group that was not as good but showed about the right amount of movement to center things.

I shot the same scope settings at 50 yards and my elevation was good but I had horizontal spreading of about 4 inches. My heartbeat would account for at least two inches of that based on the amount of wobble I was seeing through the scope. I guess the rest was just my lack of ability to hold on target.

One thing I noticed was that squeezing the trigger really felt awkward when trying to maintain sight picture on the scoped handgun. Totally different feel than when shooting a rifle with the stock to my shoulder. Much harder to maintain sight picture and squeeze. Well....maybe just different?

I'll try to post a picture or two soon.

September 28, 2011, 08:11 AM
Shooting a sixgun accurately from the bench takes a lot of practice. Especially with the heaviest loads. Shooting one with a scope is a completely different experience altogether.

September 28, 2011, 09:26 AM
You really need to hold a firm grip when shooting a single action.

If you use too light of a grip, the sight will have a tendency to rise as you begin to apply trigger pressure.

September 28, 2011, 09:49 AM
Firm but don't white-knuckle it. No different than anything else.

Dave Bulla
September 28, 2011, 04:55 PM
CraigC said:
Firm but don't white-knuckle it. No different than anything else.

That's pretty much what I always figured. I let another guy shoot it and told him to "hold it like you mean it but not like a death grip"

Here's my first three shots fired out of this after mounting the scope. Distance 25 yards. The fourth hole to the low right was one the other guy shot when aiming at the other target. It was the first time he'd eve shot a center fire handgun and he was a bit nervous.

Load was only 6 grains of unique with a 240 gr cast.

LTR shooter
September 28, 2011, 07:48 PM
I'd get the scope for now , at $100 that is a steal for 4X Leupold , I think I paid more than that for a used one and that was some years ago. You should be able to get more than your money back and apply to a 2X scope if that is the way you decide later.

I have a 4X Burris on a Smith 44 and don't feel it is too much scope for off hand shooting in regards to the "image movement". Although I've fired scoped handguns for a number of years. A 2x like the others mentioned is probably a better choice for the first time scoped hunting revolver shot off hand.

September 29, 2011, 12:04 AM
No firmer than you would grasp your lady's hand.

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