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Calling all mountain men: Best Sidearm for remote hiking or backpacking

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by trueblue1776, Dec 17, 2005.

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  1. trueblue1776

    trueblue1776 Member

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    OK guys, on a remote backpacking trip in the mountains what is your sidearm of choice? I personally have no sidearm for backpacking and I want one. My Walther P22 or maybe my Sig 229 (in .40 or .357) are the only packable pistols I have. I have considered taking a custom lightweight Ruger 10/22, but I would still have bear issues. Anyhow I'll stick to pistols.

    P22 is light and very reliable, plus if survivability comes into play it is a fairly acurate little gun that wont spoil meat.

    P229 is much heavier (too heavy for backpacking?) but in a bear situation it would totally save my bacon, with the right load. I also have 100% confidence in the durability and function with this gun.

    My first choice, if I was to puchase a mountain gun, would be the Smith 329 in .44 mag. I believe its a bit lighter than the 229 and reliability is not an issue. Small game would be very difficult though.

    What are your thoughts?
     
  2. Lupinus

    Lupinus Member

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    Depends on what you have to worry about in the area, how far you are going, and how much you are packing. I'd personally rather have an extra few pounds of gun if it ment I'd be able to walk out. But then there is overkill, if the most you have to worry about are bunny rabbits who found a drug stash you don't need the big huge gun.

    Also don't worry about spoiling meat. The idea of a sidearm is protection, not hunting. Unless I am misunderstanding anyway.
     
  3. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    For hiking in bear country

    I'd vote for a .44 mag any day. Insurance. If you got it you'll not need it, if you don't got it, you'll wish desperately you had it.
     
  4. trueblue1776

    trueblue1776 Member

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    Thus is the riddle. You never know what might happen when you are in remote wilderness, you could get lost and loose your food, you could run into a weed farm with BG's, you could get attacked by a bear.

    For hypothetical purpose lets say its a 4 day hike in 60 miles from your car. Two week trip total. And you went solo.

    Don't disect my topic, take it as stated.
     
  5. adaman04

    adaman04 Member

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    Let me be the first to say if you shoot a bear with most anything you can carry on your belt, you're just going to piss it off. Now, I'm sure someone is going to come in and say "What about the revolver they made 600 NE?" :) In all seriousness, a revolver is the way you want to go IMHO. If you come in to contact with a bear, the best thing you can do is leave. Even 6 hits from the .44 Mag (if by some miracle you got them all off and hit something) still wouldn't stop a charging bear.

    So, in closing a .44 Mag would be a great gun, but personally I would take a 4" Ruger GP100 in .357. Is the .44 Mag more power? Yes. Is that power going to save my a$$ from a charging bear? Prolly not.

    Carry whatever you feel comfortable with and IF it should happen, can hit something with.
     
  6. fisherman66

    fisherman66 Member

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    +1 GP100 4"
     
  7. trueblue1776

    trueblue1776 Member

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    I will counter that with:

    Bears have big heads.

    If a bear is charging you his head is the biggest target on him.

    Bears have thick skulls.

    .44 mag hits so hard he would die of a brain aneurysm even IF (and thats a large if) it didn't penetrate.

    PLUS you have atleast 5 shots in a every 44mag I've ever seen. One is bound to enter an eyeball.

    I do not accept a 5 rounds from a .44mag to a bears dome would just piss him off. Most bears I have seen are in the 175-375 lb range, like a large person.

    .357 is a good choice,
     
  8. V4Vendetta

    V4Vendetta member

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    "P229 is much heavier (too heavy for backpacking?) but in a bear situation it would totally save my bacon, with the right load. I also have 100% confidence in the durability and function with this gun."


    Sounds good to me.
     
  9. Lone Star

    Lone Star Member

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    fFsherman 66 has the best answer here.

    For backpacking, you might want the lighter S&W M-66, maybe with six-inch bbl. if open carry is okay.

    Use .38 Specials for meat, carry with .357's for protection.

    I know of a case where a Montana game warden killed a grizzly that attacked him with an M-66 and 158 grain service ammo, type not stated. There were several witnesses. Bear was heart -shot with one round. The rest, fired in panic, did not strike a vital area. Study bear anatomy and shoot for vital zones.

    Kodiak and polar bear have even been killed with .22's, usually by Eskimos. I wouldn't like to have to do that, but it has happened.

    I also know of a number of cases where knives killed bears, and in one instance, an African lion succumbed to a knife thrust by a man he was dragging off.

    Lone Star
     
  10. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I can only tell you what I would do in your place. I would use what I have unless the caliber is so undergunned to make a bear or wild pig defense impracticable. My choice would be a 357 Mag or 41 Mag revolver with a 4" barrel. In Alaska where the chance of a grizzly encounter increases, I would go with 480 Ruger, 454 Casull, or 500 S&W, again in in 4" revolver. The Ruger Alaskan would be high on my list for consideration. I'd wear all of these on a belt holster.
     
  11. Highland Ranger

    Highland Ranger Member

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    44 mag - look up S&W 329PD . . . . meant for this.

    Also available in all stainless if the unobtanium scares you . . . .
     
  12. TallPine

    TallPine Member

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    You need to specify what mountains: Appalachia, Southern Rockies, Northern Rockies, or Alaska...?

    Any basic 4" inch 357 mag should be fine anywhere that's not grizzly country. Otherwise choose a 44 mag or better/equivalent. It may not save you from the remote chance of a bear attack, but it's better than stern words, positive thinking, and magic charms.

    If you want to live off the land (small game) and can handle the extra weight, I'd suggest a 22 rimfire rifle. Any one will do - even a single shot.

    Carry whatever pleases you, basically. For me, that would mean revolver and lever action rifle - for you it might be semi-autos.
     
  13. pax

    pax Member

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    Glock 10mm, loaded with hot handloads.

    Carries more rounds than a revolver, weighs about the same as the others discussed above.

    pax
     
  14. glockamolee

    glockamolee Member

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    One gun, different loads

    I would take a 5.5" Ruger Redhawk in .45 colt. I would have 300 grain hardcast bullets for bear; lightweight hollowpoints for the drug grower that wants to "get you."

    I would keep the cylinder loaded with the hardcast. the HP in a few speed loaders.

    If no bear in the area, a 10 mm Glock.
     
  15. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    +3

    Ruger GP100 4 inch, .357 mag.
     
  16. trueblue1776

    trueblue1776 Member

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    a few things I haven't considered, sweet. Another usefull thing I have seen is crossa draw holster for verticle pack straps, this would be a must for a heavy gun like a redhawk or a stainless 629. I couldn't handle 20 miles a day with a heavy gun digging into my hip.
     
  17. Devonai

    Devonai Member

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    S&W 1006 with 175-grain Winchester Silvertip JHPs.
     
  18. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Phil Shoemaker, who lives in bear country in Alaska, is a licensed guide for bear, and who has killed on been in on the kill of quite a few girzzlies and brownies recommends a .357 with a 180 grain hard cast load. He cites controllability and the chance of a second shot as his reasons -- and points out that such a load will penetrate the skull, which is really the only way to stop a charging grizzley with a handgun.

    Since about all my hiking is in areas where grizzlies are not likely to be found, I carry either a .22 pistol, or a .357 -- often with .38 special wadcutters for small game.

    When I walk the county road near my house, where a neighbor has two pit bulls, I carry a Kimber Classic loaded with 230-grain Hydra shocks.
     
  19. trueblue1776

    trueblue1776 Member

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    so far .357 leads the pack....
     
  20. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    Trueblue;

    Like Tallpine, I too live in Montana. I hike & hunt the mountains frequently. For years, I've just used my normal carry gun, an H&K USPc in .40. Never really felt too much of an urge to up-gun.

    Howcome? Because if you keep your wits about you while backpacking, there's very little chance you're going to meet a bear. And if you do meet a bear, there's an even remoter chance that you're going to have to use a firearm to resolve the situation. The watchwords are avoidance & non-confrontation.

    The idea that any bear seen is going to come a-runnin' just to eat you is pure B.S. No flames, but the idea that one shot is going to find an eye is in the same category. You literally don't know what you're talking about. I've met Mr. Grizz at bad-breath range outside the zoo. No shots fired, no claw marks on me either. But a real incentive to learn how to avoid a repeat.

    900F
     
  21. grizz5675

    grizz5675 Member

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    Im not suggesting for anyone to not carry a gun but while in alaska for 3 years with most of my time in the woods and mountains ,I carried nothing.I have been close enough to a grizz to be able to reach out and touch it and am here to tell you about it,however if i were to carry a gun it would either be a 6 1/2 in raging bull in 480 ruger or any 44 mag. Personally id be more worried about moose charging me,I have had a couple of instances of this happening to me.
     
  22. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I've got two faves:

    1) Rossi M511 Sportsman J frame size four inch stainless .22 rimfire with adjustable sight.

    2) Rossi M68 blued 3" J frame size .38 special.

    Both guns are very accurate, enough to hunt small game with. I don't live in bear country and the only bears I've ever hiked around were black bears. My thoughts are self defense against humans at worst, perhaps a cat, and plinking entertainment around the camp or shooting rabbits or other small game for camp meat. If I know I'm not going to do any plinking, it's the .38. I don't want to haul too much .38 ammo. I can take several boxes of .22 no sweat.

    If I'm in a national park, I'll carry a .380 in a pocket concealed since I'm not supposed to be armed at all, or I'll go IWB 9mm just like when I'm at home. I've hiked the mountains in big bend a lot. There are cats and black bears galore up there, so a 9 is nice to have, but last time I was up there, all I had was a .380. I've never hiked into McKitrick Canyon in Guadelupe NP, but I've been all over the Lincoln NF on the New Mexico side of the mountains. There, you can carry and hunt, which I have done. Probably going back up there for mule deer next year. My business partner is planning a trip and he has horses, less walking! :D When I'm hunting, I've got the .22 of course. Who worries about cats or bears when you've got a Remington Model 7 slung over your shoulder? I might get up to McKitrick canyon sometime and I'll wear IWB if I do. Friend of mine was out there not long ago shooting pictures, he's a wildlife photographer ( http://www.jameshersey.com ). He said he looked back down the trail and a small lion was "stalking" him. :D All he did was grab a tripod, turn and chase the cat with it and the cat ran off. I think I'll carry the nine there. :cool:
     
  23. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Oh, that's another thing that happened to my idiot photographer friend (moose chase). ROFLMAO When it tells it, it's hilariously funny.:D
     
  24. grimjaw

    grimjaw Member

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    I'd carry .357, because it would give me the ability to deal with just about every other situation, several of which are more likely than running across a grizzly.

    jmm
     
  25. SpookyPistolero

    SpookyPistolero Member

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    I may have missed it skimming through the thread, but didn't see what woods you'd be backpacking into. Unless there is a specific threat, something you've already got will most likely be fine. I do think it would be a good time to go ahead and get something that will work on a broader spectrum of circumstances, and would pick up a good 4" .357 or even the .44. If you like autos more, the Glock in 10mm would serve admirably as well. All of these are unlikely to be used, but you will need them in a hurry if you need them at all.

    So how to carry it becomes the hard issue. Wearing a pack the right way means your waist, shoulders and probably your chest are totally wrapped in some padding and straps. Unless you're going to try and lash the holster to the outside of this, all these areas are a no-go. The only two I've found that worked are, one, to put the pistol into a zippered compartment, accessible while the pack is being worn, that is on the very top of my pack. This was is not terribly fast, but if there are other tree-huggers about, they don't get scared and call the law on me. The second option is to wear a good leg holster. I love this option. It will probably only work if you're going in deep enough that you don't expect to see other hikers, though, lest ye be harrassed.

    Just my two cents, good luck in your choice.
     
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