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Old February 10, 2013, 07:54 PM   #1
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Hiking in Alaska, which sidearm?

A customer was in my store Saturday looking for a carry case to transport his sidearm to AK.

His choice was a Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan. We discussed the gun as well as ammo choices.

It felt good and handled well. It was very big.

After he left I asked myself " What would I take to back-pack in Alaska"

Not sure if I have my full answer yet.

What you you take, and why?

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Old February 10, 2013, 08:06 PM   #2
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I have a S&W 629-6 w/4" barrel. Comfort is secondary to protection, more fire power! If you have access to a Ruger carry a Ruger. If you can shoot a S&W better than an other carry the S&W. Try them all, and pick the 44 mag or bigger that suits you the best!

One other thing, buy some bullets (300 grain). Don't waste money on hollow points or light bullets. I said that like I really know what I'm talking about, that was fun!
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Old February 10, 2013, 08:19 PM   #3
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Ruger Blackhawk 4.62" .45 Colt
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Old February 10, 2013, 08:56 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jmortimer
Ruger Blackhawk 4.62" .45 Colt
Ruger Blackhawk 4.62" .44 Magnum
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Old February 10, 2013, 09:59 PM   #5
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The general consensus is ".44 magnum or better" but if you can't shoot it well, why are you carrying it? There is also the old saw to file the front sight down so it won't hurt as much when the bear sticks it in your keester.

In general north of the Alaska range but south of the Brooks range- interior Alaska- a bear that squares six feet is about as big as they come, and this one is experienced enough to stay away from people that smell like gunpowder.

North of the Brooks range you got the big white ones, professionals tend to eschew handguns in favor of rifles and the 12 gauge. South of the Alaska range, where you find the salmon fed brown ones and black ones that can get way over six feet, again professionals tend to eschew handguns and keep their rifles close by, generally .45-70 up to .338 Win Mag.

I stick with a Redhawk in .45Colt, but if I am crossing a mountain range from Fairbanks I have some big heavy hardcast with magnum primers and a snoot full of H-110. In the interior I tend to carry the 270SAA ~BHN 15 clocking 1000-1100ish over a reasonable amount of HS-6.
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Old February 10, 2013, 10:35 PM   #6
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If it were only a hike and not a hunt I'd carry 2 handguns.
A Ruger 22 stainless auto pistol or a S&W M-63 stainless kit gun, and a Freedom Arms 454 Casull loaded with LBT 370 grain bullets.
I'd carry the Casull on my hip and the 22 in a shoulder rig.
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Old February 11, 2013, 02:31 AM   #7
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Take a companion, two legged variety, with you and a .380. When the bear gets aggressive, shoot the companion in the knee and then get away quickly.

Or, Ruger .44 Redhawk since I am nearly out of casual acquaintances to take on hikes.
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Old February 11, 2013, 11:22 AM   #8
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44 magnum or more powerful is good for a backup.
But a 12g, shooting Brennekes, is my primary for hiking.
If you make enough noise while hiking you will rarely
ever see a bear.
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Old February 11, 2013, 11:29 AM   #9
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For a trail gun, prefer a 3" S&W M29 44 Magnum, the only handgun that gives me reasonable confidence that I can stop any attacker (4 or 2 legged).

Also good to carry a knife... recall Gene Moe, who in 1999, was ambushed by a 800 lb brown, Mr. Moe was mauled (leg, arm) couldn't get to his gun, so killed it with his knife, and a solid left hook. Mr. Moe, is still around, today in his 80s, he was 69 at the time of the attack.
For 20 years the sea was my home, always recall the sun going down, and my trusty friend, a 1911 pistol, strapped to my side.
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Old February 11, 2013, 01:10 PM   #10
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Any good 44mag is a great choice. You could go with a 454 Casull but they get heavy for all day carry. For a auto, a Glock 20 loaded with hot 10mm is a great choice.
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Old February 11, 2013, 03:51 PM   #11
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I used to live in Alaska, and hiking was one of my favorite past times. If you're looking at handgun, .44 Mag, minimum, but if you can do it, I'd really go .454 Casull. For short hikes, I usually carried my Mossberg 500 12ga loaded with Brenneke Black Magic 3" Magnums, and my 1911 on my hip. I didn't own a .44 or bigger, so on longer hikes, I'd borrow my Dads.
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Old February 11, 2013, 04:04 PM   #12
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Reminds me of the joke.

Guy was asked that question. He replied "First,never hike alone! For a gun just carry a .22 derringer. If charged by a bear, shoot your friend in his kneecap and briskly walk away. The bear will concentrate on him.

Seriously though, of the handguns I own, it would be my .45 (long) Colt. If I was to buy one, then a .454 casull
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Old February 11, 2013, 05:27 PM   #13
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You would need to consider where exactly in Alaska you are looking to backpack. Going to Kodiak? Juneau (panhandle/southeastern)? Fairbanks? Anchorage? Kenai peninsula? Denali?
Also what time of year are you talking about?

Different places, times of year, will dictate what kinds of critters you will cross paths with. If its brown bears, nothing less than a .44mag. If its black bears, a lot of people choose the 10mm.
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Old February 11, 2013, 06:27 PM   #14
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DA revolver in .44 magnum. I would choose .45 colt with hardcasts, but neither S&W or Ruger produce many DA .45 Colt revolvers anymore. Almost impossible to find a .45 Ruger Redhawk.
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Old February 11, 2013, 08:41 PM   #15
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Ruger Alaskan .454 loaded with either .454 Casull or heavy .45 Colt.
Glocks and Single Actions

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Old February 11, 2013, 08:53 PM   #16
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.460 S&W. Comes in a variety of barrel lengths and you can shoot .460 S&W, .454 Casull, .45 Colt. I'd use it with the .460 with hard-cast lead bullets. I'd also look at a .500 Linebaugh or something from Magnum Research (BFR), or Freedom Arms.

Last edited by buckhorn_cortez; February 11, 2013 at 09:05 PM.
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Old February 11, 2013, 09:27 PM   #17
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S&W Model 63 and pepper spray...
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Old February 12, 2013, 10:52 AM   #18
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I spent this past summer in Alaska, and got my fair share of hiking in around an otherwise busy schedule. Since I was there for school, I didn't have the luxury of taking any of my guns with me, but never had need of one. I never felt under-gunned with my wits and a can of bear-spray.

If I were to go back on my own accord, since I generally like toting a handgun with me anyway, I'd take along my S&W 625MG loaded up with some heavy 45LCs.
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Old February 13, 2013, 07:25 PM   #19
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I'd carry my G-20 loaded with 200 gr hardcast @ 1300 fps. While a 44 mag looks impresive on paper that is with 8" test barrels. When fired from shorter barrels people actually carry the real numbers are not as impressive. The G-20 pictued below chronographs 200 gr bullets @ 1300 fps. The 3" 629 is 3/4 lb heavier, 1" longer and only shoots 240 gr bullets @ 1150 fps. I can get 1400 fps or more from a 7-8" barrel, but if I have to carry a handgun that big I'd rather carry a carbine.

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Old February 13, 2013, 08:46 PM   #20
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Taurus Judge or S&W Gov revolver...

I would buy a new Gov revolver or Taurus Judge. You could use it for snakes, wolves, bear, etc.
It could work with .45acp, .410 Shotshells, .45LC etc.

CT Lasergrips makes a grip for the Taurus too.

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Old February 13, 2013, 08:58 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by ClydeFrog View Post
I would buy a new Gov revolver or Taurus Judge. You could use it for snakes, wolves, bear, etc.
It could work with .45acp, .410 Shotshells, .45LC etc.

CT Lasergrips makes a grip for the Taurus too.

I can't speak towards the Governor, but I wouldn't stake my life on my Judge in the wilderness. On my gun, one of the original 4" models, the cylinder is sloppy, and I would question it's cold weather use. And given the overall weight and size, I'd rather find a better gun to tote.

I originally bought my Judge for hiking and the trails for snakes and the like, but it quickly fell out of use for anything but popping clay's thrown from my other hand.
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Old February 13, 2013, 09:09 PM   #22
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Depends where in AK. If you are going into Grizz territory you are most certainly better off with a long gun of some type. I like the Marlin Guide Gun in 44/70. A handgun is better than throwing rocks but bear spray would be more effective than most.

For Black Bear most .44 mag w/ hard cast Corbon or Buffalo Bore should be sufficient. For a handgun I carry the Ruger Alaskan in .454 Casual w/ Corbon or Buffalo Bore heavy cast.
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Old February 13, 2013, 09:32 PM   #23
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338 win mag.

just kidding,

I have no expertise but I would say 454.
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Old February 13, 2013, 09:55 PM   #24
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If you are not a good handgun shot UNDER PRESSURE may I suggest a 12 gauge shotgun? Say a Mossie 18 inch barrel pump with a 4 shot tac-star side saddle and using Brenneke Black Magic slugs. That gun won't cost you even $300.

I mean a 600 grain slug at 1500 ain't hay.

Otherwise take the most powerful handgun you can shoot with accuracy and controllability. Preferably from .357 magnum on up.

This could be a 10mm, or .41 magnum, or .44 magnum, or bigger.

But whatever handgun you take do note: compared to that 600 grain 12 gauge slug at 1500 you see they are pretty puny.

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Old February 13, 2013, 10:00 PM   #25
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If you are driving through Canada then none of them. Pistols are a no-no in Canada.
I bought a 12 ga. Maverick 88 with 18.5" barrel and carried slugs and buck.
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