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Price not an issue, Which handgun would you buy for big-game hunting? MuleDeer & BlackBear

Handgun Hunting .44 Mag .45-70 .30-30-Win

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#16 Bishop



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Posted 13 August 2018 - 05:21 PM

Sorry for the late reply.  Basic rule to remember. Felt recoil is related to weight of gun and grip design.  Lighter guns are comfortable to carry, but uncomfortable to shoot.  But in reality, you'll probable only shoot 1-3 rounds when your hunting with it.  My preferred revolver to hunt with is a Freedom Arms .454 Casull with a 2X Leupold scope.  But when I practice with it I only shoot two 5 round cylinders, then go to one of my .44's for more practice.  The Freedom Arms is light for a gun that large, but the grip design makes it roll back in the hand to help reduce recoil, as does the porting.  But with all that, it still has quite a bit more recoil then a .44 mag.  Same with my .454 Raging Bull.  It's pretty heavy, ported, still kicks like a mule.  But not as much as the Freedom Arms.  Worse I have is a Encore in .308. When I first got the 13" barrel, it was pure agony shooting 2 rounds.  I sent it back to have it ported.  They drilled it all the way around like a rifle muzzle brake.  It now kicks like a hot .44 mag. 


I've only shot pigs and elk with a .454, but every big game animal in the world has been taken with .44 mags. So if that's your choice, it's a good one.  The guys who hunt big game with .357's are like the guys who shoot big game with .223's.  It's possible, but not ideal. 

If you want a scoped .44 mag, the Ruger Bisley Hunter is excellent, as is the S&W 629 Classic.  Again, lighter(S&W) means more felt recoil. Heavier (Ruger) means less felt recoil.  Plus the Ruger "bisley" grip probably handles recoil better than any other grip design.  I'd avoid the Ruger "dragoon" style grip with the squared trigger housing.  Some people like it, but for me it beats the hell out of my middle finger.    


As to the bigger .460's, 480's, and .500's, all 3 are great handgun hunting calibers.  But the .460 is the most versatile.  The .460 is the most powerful revolver cartridge, and the .454 is about twice as powerful as the .44 mag.  But if either of those are too uncomfortable to shoot, you can fall back on the .45 LC., which can be loaded to shoot hard or soft.  And the weight of the big S&W's and rubber grips help tame recoil some. 


For a hunting handgun I'd go with a 6" to 9" barrel, with 7.5" just about ideal.   And if your going to hunt in California, your ammo choices are very limited.  In .454, I used to use 300-320 grain bullets.  Now I have to use a 250 grain copper bullet.  For my .44 mags, I preferred 240-270 grain bullets.  Now I have to use either 200 or 225 grain bullets.  Sucks to be in California.

John Bishop


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#17 TheGDog



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Posted 17 August 2018 - 02:41 PM

Thank you for confirming what I thought would happen with that squared-off trigger-guard. That sucker seemed way too close to that middle finger, so my better judgement said to skip it.

You've definitely given me lots to think about.

I'm kinda thinking it might be wise if I worked up the ranks, just like with dirt bikes. Maybe start with the .44 mag. 

Mostly because ammo seems significantly cheaper for it and easier to find. I figure realistically, at best, I'll be using it for just SoCal Mule Deer and maybe Black Bear. So .44 Mag *should* be more than enough for that.

SIGH.. but I will say though that I like the idea of the .460 S&W (and it's trajectory!) and all the options that gives you. I'm a big fan of options.


Anyhoo... you've given me lots to think about while I'm waiting for this Vertigo to wear-off. Got food-poisoning on 8-13 and have been dizzy and off-balance ever since. Actually kinda concerned that this may stop me from going out during Archery season like I planned this year. Bought 2 tags this year. Figured do 1 in Archery, do the other in General Season.  But if this Vertigo doesn't ease-up soon I don't know what's gonna happen.  It's scary to drive a car this way!  It's like driving impaired/DUI.  Thankfully I don't really have to drive much since work from home.

Edited by TheGDog, 17 August 2018 - 02:58 PM.

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