Packing Handguns on Hunts
I'm asked quite often if I carry a handgun while hunting. My facial expression generally gives the answer before my mouth does. Whether hunting out west in the mountains, or walking a small stand of timber here in Michigan, I'm usually strapped.
In today's society, I feel much safer in the outdoors than I do in public surrounded by complete strangers. Some folks worry about bears and cougars.
But in the world we now live in, it's our fellow man that worries me most.
That said, having a small sidearm to point at dangerous bears and mean kitty cats is a good idea. But before you do, check your state's regulations on carrying a sidearm while hunting.
My absolute favorite back country standby is the Glock 29. It's chambered in 10mm and is a compact, easy-to-carry pistol. The magazine holds 10 rounds. That's a lot of firepower when you compare it to some of the big revolvers that only hold five or six bullets. If you're worried 10 rounds won't be enough, the Glock 29 accepts the same magazine as the full-sized Glock 20, which holds 15 rounds.
The 10mm cartridge has been around for several decades. The FBI used it for a while. However, it was dropped because smaller-framed agents couldn't pass accuracy qualifications due to the snappy recoil. Smith & Wesson later altered the round by developing the .40 S&W, which is basically a 10mm short.
As of late, the mighty 10mm is gaining popularity. It's likely the most versatile semi-auto handgun cartridge. It can be loaded down to the velocities and energy of the .40 S&W, but can also be loaded hot for serious back woods defense. Hotter loads of 10mm ammunition can produce the same energy levels at 100 yards that a .45 ACP produces at the muzzle.
Rugged construction and reliable performance are key when selecting a gun. It's a gun that'll get toted through brush, mud, dirt and sand. You pray you never need to use it, but when you do, it has to fire, every time. A Glock does that. Their simplicity is what makes them incredibly reliable.
I know I'll catch some flak from people who say you need at least a .44 Magnum to stop an angry ball of fur, claws and bad attitude. But it all comes down to putting the lead where the lead needs to go. Hit your spots. But in case you don't, the 10mm has knock-down capability even with marginal shots.
I hope our big bore revolver lovers haven't left the page yet. It's my second choice for back country protection. It's a much better option than common big caliber wheel guns that can weigh nearly 4 pounds empty. The Smith & Wesson model 329PD is a very lightweight six-shot revolver. Chambered in .44 Magnum, it's a great package for all-around protection. The gun is a featherweight, weighing just over 25 oz. I'll warn you though, its lightweight package stings the hand something fierce when shooting full house .44 Magnum. To become familiar with the 329PD, I recommend practicing with .44 SPL cartridges to get a feel for the gun.
Revolvers are undoubtedly the most reliable platform when it comes to handguns; yet they are limited in the number of rounds they hold. Wheel guns and semi-autos have pros and cons. The type of gun you decide to carry on a hunt comes down to preference. That said, if you don't feel comfortable with the calibers I've highlighted here, it doesn't mean that you can't stop a threat with a different caliber. Shoot whatever you are proficient enough with to be accurate. But remember, the round you choose better be powerful enough to do the job quickly.