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I need heavy duty magnum handgun suggestions.

bfunkbfunk MemberPosts: 113 Member
I live in Yellowstone country, and my wife and I are avid hikers and campers. I case you didn't hear, another hiker was killed by a bear in Yellowstone last week. I've been lucky, and all the bear encounters I've had in the mountains around Yellowstone have been just fine. Both my wife and I carry bear spray, and we know how to use it. However, with all the encounters lately going pretty bad my wife is kind of freaking out, she's on the verge of not wanting to get out to the places we usually go let alone any new places that have been know to be home to bears.

She is starting to really get on board with me getting a large mountain type handgun to supplement the bear spray. My largest handgun currently is a 9mm. It seems that the prescribed bear medicine around here is either shotguns with slugs, larger centerfire rifles or a handgun .44 magnum and up. Now backpacking with a shotgun or a rifle are out of the question for me, so I'm into this for a big handgun.

The .44 magnum seems to be the popular choice in the handgun option. Now I'm not one to spend my money poorly, I don't want to throw it away on a handgun that is poorly built, shoots poorly, and could be unreliable. That said, I also don't want to spend a bunch more on features and finishes that are unnecessary.

I'm thinking a 4 inch blued or stainless workhorse type revolver with either wood or rubber grips, but probably rubber. I think I would still like adjustable sights, but this isn't a deal breaker. I want a gun that can be shot regularly, not something that could wear out with frequent practice.

I don't know much about these types of guns, can anyone suggest some models that I should look at? I'm not totally opposed to looking at used guns, I'd lean towards new, but I would buy used for the right gun.

Thanks so much,

Brian
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Replies

  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Well, the Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum is one option, I had one S.S. 7 1/2 inch barrel
    and the Glock 20 in 10mm is another outstanding choice too.

    If you consider the amount of accurate firepower you can lay down with a Glock 20 and several magazines.
    There are accounts of Park Rangers killing bears with a 9mm after all, Dan Johnson told of one such case.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • bfunkbfunk Member Posts: 113 Member
    Oh I'm sure that the 9mm could kill a bear, the question is, what shape will I be in before the bear "expires"? I'm intrigued by the 10mm, I think it has a lot of power from such a small package. The question is, is it enough power?
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Ask folks like Ted Nugent for example, the 9mm was just a yardstick to show it has been done, the 10 mm also has heavier loadings.

    Example
    http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=114
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 8,496 Senior Member
    When you are talking grizzly, I would start at the 44 Mag, 45 LC, 454 Casull with hard-cast bullets.
    If it was Black bears then I would be content with smaller cartridges-Well not really, but you know what I mean.
    Next when you buy this you need to be able to practice with it under duress and learn how to shooting intentionally, even while moving or at moving targets.
    I don't know what your handgun experience/skill level is, but whatever it is, I would want to increase even more.
    The big bore revolvers are known for helping shooter's develop bad shooting habits.
    Do you reload?
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • MileHighShooterMileHighShooter Senior Member Posts: 4,975 Senior Member
    10mm? In a word....no. Its still a .40 caliber, just like a 40S&W just going faster. You are talking 165-180gr bullets.

    Start at 44 Mag and go UP from there, not down. If you are really worried about weight, S&W does offer some Airweight series in 44 mag and 45 Colt. Be warned, those are PACKING guns, NOT plinking guns. No one wants to put any more rounds then absolutely necessary down a 20 some odd ounce 44 magnum. Practice and become familiar with 44spl, get used to the gun as much as you can but don't shoot one of these excessively, but almost forget you are carrying it they're so light

    Ruger Alaskan is a great choice, and its available in several calibers.

    If it were me, and it was the only protection I was carrying, and I'm protecting the lives of me and my wife.....I'm packing a the S&W 460 X-Frame short barrel. You can fire 45 Colt, 454 Casull or 460 S&W through it, making it easier on the wallet (kind of) to shoot. It'll also be much more comfortable to work up to the super magnum level of recoil and blast. Start out with 45 Colt and then go from there.

    Obviously, one cannot mention the ultimate bear medicine in a hiking gun without mentioning the king of the hill, also in the X-Frame....the 500 S&W Magnum. Its one of the most powerful handgun cartridges in the world. You can launch anywhere from a 250-800gr bullets, in hard cast, FMJ, hollow points, hunting tips, any bullet you want. Its pricey to shoot, but just like those airweights, its for carrying and hoping never to use it, then popping soda cans all day. Some 500gr Garret hard casts would make SHORT work of a grizzly bears attitude adjustment when properly applied. And if all 5 shots don't do it, well, you can beat the crap out of the bear with the like 5lbs steel gun lol
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    If you go the big bore revolver route, then hand-loading is indeed in order and build up from lighter to heavy loads in stages.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,663 Senior Member
    When I was in Alaska, everyone I knew had a 4'' Redhawk .44 loaded with 300grain hardcast. Rugers website shows the shortest barrel for a Redhawk is 9.5''.... :uhm:

    There are 4'' Redhawks on Gunbroker in .45Colt.... They can be loaded as hot as the .44 mag, but I don't know about factory loads..... Redhawks aren't as strong as the Super, but you don't need to feed it a steady diet of the hot stuff and you'll save a little weight....

    pix423621030.jpg
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Strange, I picked up a S.S. Ruger Redhawk 7 1/2 inch barrel in a Washington pawnshop some years ago.
    Nice heft and balance to it too.

    My mistake, 7 inch barrel

    http://www.gunsamerica.com/971551807/Guns/Pistols/Ruger-Double-Action-Revolver/Redhawk-Type/RUGER_REDHAWK_44MAG_7_BARREL.htm

    Here is another one listed as a 7 1/2 inch barrel

    http://www.gunsamerica.com/961545107/Guns/Pistols/Ruger-Double-Action-Revolver/Redhawk-Type/RUGER_NEW_MODEL_REDHAWK_44MAG_7_5_STAINLESS_NEW_KRH_4.htm
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    For a backpacking gun, I'd suggest this one:

    5303.jpg

    It's not a plinker, or even a moderate-range hunting arm, it's only got one purpose - - - - -it's a "get off me" gun for something very large that bites! Beyond 15 yards or so, it won't be accurate enough to do much good, but it will make enough big holes in a bear that will, hopefully, slow it down enough to let you do a quick reload and make some more holes. It's available in .44 Mag. or .454 Casull, and I think I'd go for the Casull. You can practice with .45 Colt and run just enough of the .454's through it to get accustomed to the kick and the muzzle blast- - - -which will be considerable.
    Jerry
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,663 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    Strange, I picked up a S.S. Ruger Redhawk 7 1/2 inch barrel in a Washington pawnshop some years ago.
    Nice heft and balance to it too.

    My mistake, 7 inch barrel

    http://www.gunsamerica.com/971551807/Guns/Pistols/Ruger-Double-Action-Revolver/Redhawk-Type/RUGER_REDHAWK_44MAG_7_BARREL.htm

    You would think at least a 6'', but 9.5''???

    The only short barrel is the Alaskan and at 2.5'' it's too short.... I want all the velocity out of my ammo, and I get lucky enough to see the bear charging from 50 yards away, that's when I'm gonna start shooting!

    I remember ready as a kid about African big game hunts, that if you are getting charged head on ( I think the story was about a lion) you need to aim a little low... Don't know how you would practice that...
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I know you would have to be good fast and well practiced.

    I found out My reflexes were not too shabby when a Co-worker's Snapon impact driver was making its way to the concrete floor and I snatched it out of midair..... From a fair distance away too...
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,326 Senior Member
    Stainless Ruger Redahawk with 5.5" barrel.

    It has enough barrel to take advantage of a .44's powder charge, but is not as awkward as the 7.5" version.

    The cylinder is a little longer than that of a S&W, giving you room for heavier bullets.

    In general, it's a very robust handgun - you'll break before it does.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • BPsniperBPsniper Banned Posts: 1,961 Senior Member
    Bigslug wrote: »
    Stainless Ruger Redahawk with 5.5" barrel.The cylinder is a little longer than that of a S&W, giving you room for heavier bullets.In general, it's a very robust handgun - you'll break before it does.
    This. Or a S&W Mountain Gun in .44 Mag if you can find one. The bigger guns have punch but I'm sure they SUCK to hike with.
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,797 Senior Member
    BPsniper wrote: »
    This. Or a S&W Mountain Gun in .44 Mag if you can find one. The bigger guns have punch but I'm sure they SUCK to hike with.


    Here lies the rub. All the hand cannons people are recommending are good choices but present a sizable chunk of weight to carry around. The S&W mountain gun is a solution except they are rare and pricey. (about twice the price of a used redhawk) If you decide on .44mag, I would opt for a used redhawk and if you want to go bigger the 460 is hard to argue. The SRH in 454 casull might be a little cheaper to aquire and there are always lots of used SRH's in 454casull on Gunbroker. A guy on another forum that I read did a writeup on buying a SRH in 454 and getting the barrel cut down to the length of an Alaskan. It was cheaper than buying an Alaskan.
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
    .
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 8,496 Senior Member
    If I was in your area I would be packing one of Bob's FA's at all times when I was in bear country.
    This may not work for you, but it is the direction I would head.
    Yes, it is a single action, but it is reliable, accurate, and you can run it hard.
    With this in mind I would also consider going up in caliber, if I could maintain accuracy/form.
    Costly? Yes
    Would I be willing to buy used? Most definitely.
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • wizard78wizard78 Senior Member Posts: 1,004 Senior Member
    BPsniper wrote: »
    This. Or a S&W Mountain Gun in .44 Mag if you can find one. The bigger guns have punch but I'm sure they SUCK to hike with.

    Not bad at all if in a decent holster. Which ever you decide on, 44mag

    DSC01132.jpg

    or something in the x-frame calibers

    LeftSideX-Frame.jpg

    "Practice", is the key to using a large caliber handgun effectively. A second thought is a compensator. For hunting I wouldn't recommend it because of the excessive noise but would recommend it for bear self defense. I would prefer control and manageable recoil, than worrying about extra noise, when my life is on the line.

    “When guns are outlawed, only patriots will have guns.”
  • gunrunner428gunrunner428 Senior Member Posts: 1,018 Senior Member
    Ruger's Redhawk in .44 Magnum runs the same MSRP for 4", 5.5" or 7 1/2", and the 5.5 inch in a decent holster wouldn't be bad to carry, unless you're hauling it along with a full backpack, when it may get a little obtrusive. the 4" would then be an easier packer, and less expensive than the S&W Mountain Guns. Check them out here: http://www.ruger.com/search/ , enter "revolver, double-action" and ".44 Magnum" to search.

    Interestingly, the standard S&W 629, with 4" barrel lists at the identical MSRP as the standard (non-Super) Redhawks. And if you pay MSRP, I'll have to tell you you've been taken, and badly, by your dealer. http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_764949_-1_757767_757751_757751_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y

    If you're going to practice a bit, and not simply rely on it as "bear medicine" only to be unholstered in the event of a charging b'ar, a Super Blackhawk single action might be the ticket - 4 3/4" barrel for decent .44 Mag velocity as opposed to the 2 1/2" Ruger Alaskan, stainless steel, and a couple of Benjamins cheaper than the Redhawk/M29. In fact, the MSRP (the best reference from the makers on-line) is only slightly more for S/S than blued, so for your purposes I'd definitely get the stainless. http://www.ruger.com/products/newModelSuperBlackhawkStandard/specSheets/0814.html

    Upside is a slightly lighter hand cannon, rugged mechanism, adjustable sights; downside is the need to cock between shots which may or may not be an issue for you, but I would seriously have to weigh this if I were in your shoes, there's something to be said for a simple trigger pull with a bit of weight under stress, instead of having to thumb the hammer, even with the support hand, between each shot. If Br'er Bear decides to get up-close and personal, he's getting repeat shots from me, and Murphy being the constanct companion he is I'd rather not run the risk of dropping my defense equipment in the middle of a hasty hammer cock.

    And as far as MSPR goes, like cars - DON'T assume you'll be paying this at the dealer - prices vary by region but I have NEVER seen a gun tag in the store with MSRP as anything but reference. Your price should be noticably less, and don't be afraid to by used, especially Ruger. If anything crops up as a problem with a Ruger, send it to 'em and let them work their magic. No warranty as such, but a fantastic factory policy of making sure their guns and customers are taken care of.
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,663 Senior Member
    :bang: See what happens when you should go to bed instead of surfin..... the total length of a 4.2'' redhawk is 9.5''.... Der! My eyes must have really been crossed...
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    Being a 10mm fan, here is a possibilty that might be worth considering. It's not an original idea - just one I heard, and liked.

    The G20 recoil spring can be beefed up to handle heavy grain 200 gr. (plus) loads, and an after-market barrel with conventional rifling can be purchased for a little over a hundred dollars, allowing you to buy the heavily charged 200+ grain hardcasts from Doubletap.

    This modification will get you fairly close to .44 magnum power, plus you have 15+1 rounds. I have not fired these hot rounds through my own 10mm, but the 180 grain ammo is fairly pleasant to shoot, and a little practice makes the possibilty of accurate and rapid fire a more reasonable expectation. Personally, I think I would be happier with this setup than a big heavy six-shooter. I have toted the 10mm around in the woods quite a bit, and it was not that burdensome.

    The G20 was designed specifically to shoot the 10mm round - not modified from a smaller chambering - so I'm thinking it would handle those loads pretty well. Bigslug could better advise you on that.
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,043 Senior Member
    Ruger Redhawk 44 Magnum with the 4" barrel:
    http://www.ruger.com/products/redhawk/specSheets/5026.html

    Keep it loaded with heavy hardcast loads, pack a few speedloaders of .44Spl ammo for small game/ plinking, and have a few snake shot loads handy. Who gives a rats behind if it's heavy. We all need more exercise anyway.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • BigDanSBigDanS Senior Member Posts: 6,992 Senior Member
    Guys, he wants protection, not to go hunt a bear with a handgun. I love these threads, and I will post what I have posted before. This will provide you with 20 rounds at your hip of 825 FPE hardcast ammo, and with an extra mag 40 rounds. I realize that a Griz is big and that a .44 mag or .454, or .460. or even .500 S&W deliver a huge whomp in one shot. However, in my opinion, I would rather have a BUNCH of shots than just one two or even five.

    Glock G20:

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTtCfurxi9cwj-QFUlmOfS4CGT7a0Yi4QyNxfeWCD44E9Z147pF

    Arredondo 6 round magazine extension:

    pgroup_7516_image_260_shadow.jpg

    Lone Wolf barrel extended / threaded, 6.61 inches:

    ThumbnailHandler.ashx?MediaID=45530&size=220

    Buffalo Bore hardcast 220 grain 10mm at 1300 ft per second = 825 FPE:

    detail_219_21C_med.jpg

    Wolff Gun Springs combo guide rod and spring 22 or 24 lbs:

    REMOVE SKU QTY DESCRIPTION UNIT ($) TOTAL ($)
    [ X ] 50122 GLOCK 20,21 RECOIL GUIDE ROD & SPRING COMB 22Lb 29.95 29.95

    And I forgot, for fun you can add a ported screw on compensator:

    pgroup_7515_518_400x600__shadow.jpg

    And a Serpa OWB Holster:

    410500bk-r.jpg

    D
    "A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,663 Senior Member
    From BuffaloBores website=

    Heavy .44 Magnum +P+ Ammo - 340 gr. L.F.N. - G.C. (1,478 fps/M.E. 1,649 ft. lbs.) - 20 Round Box

    NEW HEAVY 44 MAGNUM +P+

    This new load is designed ONLY for certain firearms. They are as follows; Ruger Red Hawk, Ruger Super Red Hawk, Ruger Super Blackhawk or Vaquero, Freedom Arms Model 83, Taurus Raging Bull, Colt Anaconda and Dan Wesson Revolvers. Suitable rifles include T/C Encore, "modified" Marlin 1894 (see next paragraph), Winchester 1894, any rifle with a falling block action and the Handi Rifle. We get hundreds of emails asking if this load can be fired in S&W revolvers or some firearm other than what is in the above list. The answer is NO.

    Just sayin.....
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • calebibcalebib Senior Member Posts: 1,701 Senior Member
    At present I carry a Ruger GP100 4" loaded with 200 grain hard cast LBT style bullets from Cast Bullet Performance using Lil' Gun powder. It's a stout load for sure, other users have reported more than 30" of penetration through wild hogs. I do plan on upgrading to a Ruger Redhawk in .45 Colt at some point. I also carry bear spray.
  • WeatherbyWeatherby Senior Member Posts: 4,953 Senior Member
    However, in my opinion, I would rather have a BUNCH of shots than just one two or even five.

    IMHO the problem with that is your only likely to get the one or two shots
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,663 Senior Member
    A 10mm might be good enough broadside, but from this angle..........

    Brad-Sosephs-Alaska-Bear.jpg

    Any hand launched projectile isn't going to get enough penetration for my liking. You are going to have to go thru that skull to hit anything that will slow him down..
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    At that point in time, the load in your handgun needs to weigh almost as much as the load in your pants!
    :fan::fan::fan:
    Jerry
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,663 Senior Member
    Speaking of Yellowstone..... Has the law allowing firearms in parks in effect now???
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 8,496 Senior Member
    Actually, I like the idea of a light weight weight semi-auto for a protection weapon that works for both 2-legged and four-legged predators.
    Before I would make that choice I guess I would want to see actual experiences of those who have killed a grizzly with a 10mm.
    Were they hunting or were they stopping a bear that wanted to kill them?
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • wolf049wolf049 Member Posts: 217 Member
    jbp-ohio wrote: »
    Speaking of Yellowstone..... Has the law allowing firearms in parks in effect now???

    Your OK to carry in the Parks. I was carrying while in Yellowstone, Jun 2010, and I talked to 3 Rangers and I was never botherd because of it.
    "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
    - Richard Henry Lee
  • NCFUBARNCFUBAR Senior Member Posts: 4,324 Senior Member
    What ever you go with (10mm, .41Mag, .44Mag or such) should be fine for giving you a fighting chance, you ain't huntin' bear. THINK AMMO!!! Hardcast heavy loads and there are many here who know that better.
    “The further a society drifts from truth ... the more it will hate those who speak it."
    - George Orwell
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