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


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Want to reach out there and get a feel for what everyone would purchase as a hunting handgunl Obviously for MuleDeer... but also possibly for black bear later on down the road.

I will likely need to put an optic on it. Your experiences with them would be much appreciated. I'd probably lean toward Vortex Venom RedDot

Been kinda eyeing the S&W 460's for their ability to run .460 S&W Mag, .454 CASULL cartridges, and also .45 Long Colt cartridges as well.

Seems like it would be a great mix to allow practicing shooting cheaper with the .45 Colts. Looks like most of the hunting I'd do the .45 Colts wold probably handle my needs just fine. As long as its a pump-up .45LC round.

I'm hoping we can hear some stories and opinions from those who have spent quality time out in nature already chasin' aftrer deer with these types of pistols and what kinds of interresting insider info they have to share with us!

I currently have a 4" bbl .357 Mag. And it would be legal to try with that here in CA. But I was hoping to get something at least .44 Mag or bigger with a longer barrel that could put a serious WHOMP! on 'em.

Another strong thought on this matter is getting the Magnum Research BFR in .30-30 Win (maybe .45-70 ?)


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I'm kind of surprised by the lack of response to this topic. I have only used my Ruger .480 for hunting and did manage to get a nice piggy at 45 yards. I have shot the .454 Casull, the 45lc, S&W .500 and my Colt Anaconda .44 mag. Of all of them I found my .480 the easiest to handle and the one I was able to shoot the most rounds through without much discomfort. The Casull gave me nightmares, maybe because it was the first hand cannon I shot. My .44 is fine to shoot with target rounds but when I switch to a nice hot load it can also be uncomfortable to shoot too many rounds in a row. I didn't find the .500 to bad, maybe due to it's size and the fact I only shot a few rounds. I haven't shot the .460 but I have read a lot of good reports on it. I got my .480 when Ruger first put it on the market in 2001, It never gain the support Ruger was hoping for, I'm not really sure why, to much competition I think. I'm very pleased with mine. Ruger reintroduced it in 2014 and it has become fairly popular with big game hunters.


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Ok... so with the .44... like how many hunting rounds would you say it takes because it starts to make ya uncomfortable and want to stop for awhile?

Nightmares with the Casull huh? Wow... Ok. Hrmm.

Part of me likes the idea of the .500 and everything... that is.. up until I saw how much the damn ammo was. Eeesh. Also I saw a slow-mo vid of a guy shooting one... apparently the lock-up of the cylinder went out of alignment a tiny bit and the whole barrel blew-off! Dude got VERY lucky he didn't get jacked up. That vid kinda turned me off on the idea of that one, to be honest.

Are .45LC's comparable to .44's? Like with a stout .45LC loading?

I can't remember if I've shot .44 mag before. Shot a Desert Eagle .50 AE before. Actually liked it. I was extremely accurate with that pistol. I jokingly told 'em "How much ya give me if I hit the bullseye?" I think just 7yds, which is easy of course, but I didn't think I had a chance in hell of hitting it on my first ever shot. Son of a Gun if that first shot didn't flipped around the orange sticker placed upon the center of the bullseye! And the remaining rounds in the mag were all nice and pretty tight to for somebody that had only shot a .357 up until then.
Bishop is the handgun hunter around here. IIRC, he's comfortable with a .454. I'm sure he can fill you in.

I have a couple .44 mags, both Model 29's. The S&W Mountain gun is easy to carry and I can shoot it decently but its not that pleasant to shoot - 4" barrel, factory grips. Better grips might help. The other is a S&W Custom Shop Stealth Hunter. I got it at a price to cheap to turn down from a guy who needed to sell his toys. That one is a dream. Heavier, great trigger, has a 7.5" full lug barrel and Hogue grips. Accurate as hell. I can comfortably shoot over a box of full house magnum loads - 50 rounds, no sweat. Maybe I'll take it hunting this year.

I have shot the Ruger mags and the .454; all Ruger Redhawks. They are unpleasant to me. I don't think I could ever shoot them enough to become proficient.


I once new a guy who use to hammer hogs with his model 29 S&W 44mag...point blank. Crazy mofo!! He has since grown soft and old.. just drives the truck these days..that being said..hard to beat the old 29...



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Can you mount an optic on a 29? I didn't think you could.

S&W does make a very light trigger pull once you've got it clicked back to single-action. Got a Model 60 5-shot and it's quite a light trigger once cocked.

Unless I happen to trip over a bunch of money somebody carelessly leaves lying around and can get some LASIK... I'm feeling it would be wise for me to get one I can mount an optic on, just in case it proves too challenging to aim *well* at distance with the irons and my glasses. :(

And yeah... I know getting close pretty much takes that problem out of the picture. And my shots so far have been 40, 25, 25 yds. But I'm not soo foolish as to assume they will always happen that close. (Though that is my goal.)

I was thinking back last night... and actually I think I did get to try somebodies .44 Mag before. I think it was wood grips. I remember it stinging a bit more than the heavy .357 loads on mine. Enough to think something like "Boy, I don't know how many I'd be able to do of that.". But since I have real nice Pachmeyer grips on mine, I figured it was mostly because of the wood grips it felt that way?

So... is the general consensus that with a .44 Mag I'd be good to go and not end up with buyers remorse and wanting bigger/better?

I know the general consensus is to have at least 6" barrel. I was figuring like a 7.5"/8" would probably optimal for hunting. That sound about right?


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I'm not 100% certain but I think the .454 i shot was a freedom arms. This was in the mid. 80s. It was the first time I shot a hand gun larger than a .357. I shot 5 rounds through it just so I didn't catch a bunch of flack from my friends. Not a pleasant experience. My friend took two black bears with his .500 S&W but the .44 will kill them just as dead, and far cheaper to shoot.before I got my .480 I looked into either bolt on mounts or having my Anaconda drilled and tapped to receive mounts but was advised against both, advice I took, hence the .480 which I fitted with a 3 x 9 Burris.


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I sent Bishop a PM with questions. Here's hoping he can find the time to bless me with some of his wisdom!


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Hey quick question, today I checked out a Smith & Wesson M629-8. Do any of you know if this piece has limitations on how hot the rounds can be loaded for it to shoot?

I'm asking because it sure seemed REAL LIGHT to me! Lighter than my Ruger Security Six 4" .357. (Granted, this .44 was Unloaded, and I'm used to picking up my Ruger loaded) and I know the word is that the Ruger's are pretty over-built and can handle hot loads in them. So it made me wonder if that's an issue? Had a real nice light pull on the trigger in Siingle-Action. The iron sights, though nice with that orange blade up front, felt like they were maybe a little too narrow to bring on target as fast as my Ruger's sights. Suppose that won't matter as much since I'll likely put an optic on it.

Since this M629-8 felt soo light, it made me wonder if it has limitations when it comes to how hot you can load rounds for it? Not like it's *much* of a concern for me, because I don't have reloading equipment.... yet. But you know, when eyeing a big-ticket item like this, I don't want to make a decision which might later limit my options.

I was amazed at how light it felt though! I was totally expecting it to feel like a tank to me being an 8" and all, since I'm used to my 4" .357. But it wasn't at all!

This model is pretty neat in that on top it's got like 4 or 5 screws for mounting an optics rail. And I believe I read that the optics rail/base comes in the box too.



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FYI, I sent a Message to BuffaloBore asking about that S&W 629-8, and Tim said it can shoot all their HEAVY loads EXCEPT for item # "4D", which is there "Heavy .44 Magnum +P+ Ammo - 340 gr. Hard Cast, L.F.N. - G.C. (1,425 fps/M.E. 1,533 ft. lbs.) - 20 Round Box"


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.


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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.