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Old March 8, 2009, 07:53 PM   #1
KC Rob
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Best Caliber for Woods/Back Country gun

I would like to pick up a revolver to carry when I hunt, not specifically to hunt with, though that capability would not be unwanted. I would also carry it when hiking, fishing, camping, etc. I want a revolver that is rugged, reliable, probably in the 4" barrel range and powerful enough to dissuade wild animals of the 2 legged and 4 legged variety. I don't expect any Kodiak Grizzlies to be a problem but bears, mostly black, and lions for sure. I am not sure if I want to step all the way up to .44 mag, but not sure if .357 mag is enough. I want something that is common enough to available anywhere, but I also want to be able shoot it with out breaking the bank. Any suggestions on caliber? Feel free to suggest a specific hand gun as well, I am starting from scratch and am fairly new to the world of wheel guns.
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Old March 8, 2009, 07:56 PM   #2
shoop66
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You can't go wrong with a .50 Desert Eagle, but this is the Revolver forums, so youw ant a big caliber Grizzly handgun? I'm not even joking, a S&W 460 might be a good gun for what you want.
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Old March 8, 2009, 07:57 PM   #3
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357. 4" GP100. Load up these if you think you'll need the extra power.

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct...tnumber=946487

Otherwise you can load up these for most situations.

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct...tnumber=124446
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Old March 8, 2009, 08:03 PM   #4
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In the case he gets the gun I reccomend, he'll load up some of these bad boys: http://tinyurl.com/460smithwesson
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Old March 8, 2009, 08:38 PM   #5
Michael Bane
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Have you considered .44 Special? I have a Charter Bulldog Pug that was redone by MagnaPort, and it is a sweet trail gun. Also the S&W 296/396 ultralite series are great trail revolvers. If you do want to move up to magnum, check out the S&W 329PD. A bigger gun, but will handle magnums...keep away from heavy bullets (greater than 240 grain) in the 329...the Rube Goldberg S&W internal lock will fail with a combination of heavy bullets and ultralight frames.

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Old March 8, 2009, 08:47 PM   #6
cracked91
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I trust my .357. Just get hot loads for it. Get a S&W or a Taurus tracker and call it good. Can't go wrong. But if I was in grizzly bear country, I would be packing at least a .454.
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Old March 8, 2009, 08:56 PM   #7
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Or, if the .460 is too big for you, take on the hearty Raging Bull in .454 Casull. For a nice, large caliber back country camping/hunting/fishing revolver, perfect! Cheap, handsome, durable, somewhat accurate! Don't be scared about the ammo prices. Anyone who shoots large caliber revolvers reloads, unless you're a millionaire. if you don't want it in .454, there's loads more calibers it can come in. .357, .44, and some rifle cartridges, to name a few. Here's a reference pic of the ammo and gun:






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Old March 8, 2009, 09:08 PM   #8
458winshooter
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Woods pistol

I would have to agree with the 357 mag.It will get the job done and has even been used on the big stuff.Search it on the internet and you can read the stories of how it has been used on almost everything.And no,I would not take one to Alaska but they have been used up there.Ammo can be found almost everywhere and it is much cheaper than 460 or 500 S&W.
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Old March 8, 2009, 09:10 PM   #9
EK and KK in FM
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S&W 610

This is a 10mm revolver. Mine has a 4" barrel. Original post wants defense against "2 legged and 4 legged" creatures. I think the 10mm will do just fine! Plus, you can shoot .40 cal practice rounds and that's what separates this choice from the larger calibers. Cheap practice ammo! Deadly stopping power when loaded with 10mm.
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Old March 8, 2009, 09:21 PM   #10
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As someone who has packed a 7.5" .454 Casull around the woods, I can tell you I wouldn't do it again unless I was somewhere where .454 Casull was needed to stop common threats. Ammo is pricey, not readily available in a lot of stores. Yes you can reload it, but component prices are no joke these days either.

I'd go with a .357 or .44 mag or special, in a package you can carry easily.
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Old March 8, 2009, 09:27 PM   #11
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Years ago when I spent a lot of time in the woods, I used a Smith 57 6" with handloaded swaged lead @ 850 fps, hard cast @ 1100 fps and JHP/JSP @ around 1300 fps. I also had a Ruger BH in 41 Mag I used from time to time. I felt prepared for about anything in the woods. Now, since I don't handload as much, I would try to find an older 4" Smith 629 mountain gun with a range of ammo from the light specials to the heavy magnums.
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Old March 8, 2009, 09:29 PM   #12
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Have you considered a .45 ACP revolver?
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.44 Special: For those who get it, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation is possible.
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Old March 8, 2009, 09:38 PM   #13
Saint Dennis
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I spend a bit of time tromping the woods. I've carried a few different handguns and my current favorite is a Rossi 720 .44 special. I would prefer a 696 but they all appear to be buried in other peoples gun safes. In an El Paso rig I hardly even notice it until I want it. Lighter than a 1911 and definitely less of a load than my Bisley Vaquero .44, it is a peach to carry. 357's are hard on the ears for dispatching varmints (like the two porcipines that crossed my path this weekend. Less than 100 yards apart those two turds had flat killed two nice white pines. They are not welcome on my land!) I like hand guns that start with a 4. Otherwise I'll pack a .22
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Old March 8, 2009, 09:42 PM   #14
Hirlau
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Sorry Buzz, but I have to ask !

Quote; "Grizzlies to be a problem but bears, mostly black, and lions for sure.

How many lions you got in Northern Virginia?

I would keep the .357, model 28 Smith, "hot" hand loaded with hard cast semi-wadcutters.

Just a thought
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Old March 8, 2009, 09:53 PM   #15
cracked91
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Id say he is talking about mountain, and those things scare me worse then black bears any day
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Old March 8, 2009, 09:59 PM   #16
Old Gaffer
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Hirlau wrote
Quote:
How many lions you got in Northern Virginia?
VA has mountain lions, EVERY state in the continental US has coyotes.

But to the OPs question, I'd opt for a .357 or a .45 Colt either will do the job; the Colt .45 has been taking care of two legged predators for over a century.

All the best,
Rob
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Old March 8, 2009, 10:08 PM   #17
OttoJara
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Taurus Judge might be an option. .45 Colt and 410 shotshells. Depending on what your up against for the day you have options. .45 colt should handle your lions with a couple 000 buck rounds to back it up would work out nice. If your not worried about the lions, #6 shot is great for snakes.
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Old March 8, 2009, 10:10 PM   #18
Hirlau
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I stand Corrected.

I have always referred to Buzz's Lions as "Cougars". When I lived in North Carolina, the locals called my cougars, "Panthers" When I think of lions, I think of Africa

Would it be worth a 6 inch, to bring the velocity up in a .357? Maybe easier point & shoot?
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Old March 8, 2009, 10:11 PM   #19
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I've got a 6" and think the 4" handles better.
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Old March 8, 2009, 10:44 PM   #20
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I like a moderately loaded big bore revolver with a mid-length barrel for most every purpose. For me that means a standard weight cast bullet at 900-1100fps. Calibers can be .38-40, .41Mag, .44-40, .44Spl, .44Mag and .45Colt. Usually a 4 5/8" or 4¾" barrel length for single actions or a 4" for double actions, though I do own and use a few six inchers.

For example:
The Colt New Frontier, Single Action Army and its replicas, most notably those from USFA
Ruger Blackhawks, Vaqueros and New Vaqueros
Ruger Redhawks 4"-5½"
S&W N-frames, 4"-5" in .41Mag, .44Spl, .44Mag and .45Colt
Custom Ruger Old Model .357 Blackhawks converted to .38-40, .41Spl, .41Mag, .44Spl, .44-40 or .45Colt
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Old March 8, 2009, 11:28 PM   #21
sandbag
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45 Colt

A very underappreciated round.If you have a Blackhawk or ORIGINAL Vaquero,Georgia Arms and Buffalo Bore make some devastating rounds in that caliber.
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Old March 8, 2009, 11:53 PM   #22
Wolfeye
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In most parts of the country I'd trust a .357 loaded with 180 or 200 gr hardcasts. If you're really worried about bears, a good step up is a .44 loaded with 240-310 gr hardcasts. Another decent choice is .45 lc+p, though you have to make sure your gun can handle the pressure. 4" is a decent length for any of these, though 6" is nice if you want to use them for hunting.

Going with calibers larger than that - .454, .460, .500 - usually means carrying a much larger gun that will weigh you down. They're also not a practical choice if you're mainly worried about 2-legged critters.

Specific models to think about will depend on how much you're willing to carry, or the caliber you settle on. Here are a few I'd look at:

.357
Ruger SP101, 3"
Smith 60, 5"
Ruger GP100
Smith 620, 686, or 386
Smith 627 or 327

.44
Ruger Redhawk
Smith 629 or 329

Last edited by Wolfeye; March 9, 2009 at 12:07 AM.
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Old March 9, 2009, 12:14 AM   #23
HiBC
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IMO,
I have a little .44 special 5 shot Taurus snubby,but,you know,the little 44 specials like mine and a Charter,you can't hotrod them,so we are talking 800 fps or so .No real advantage over a LW Commander or so.

While I must concede a SA ruger is slow to reload,a new model can load 6.
With full power Ruger .44Mag or +P .45 LC loads,the hammer gets thumbed during recoil recovery(I don't let it roll in my hand),so I don't think rapid fire with big heavy loads is significantly faster in a DA,for the first 6.
The Bisley grip,I prefer.I intend to get a Bisley .45 LC in the forseeable future.Or maybe a BFR
The extra big frames and extreme cartridges,for me,are conducive to flinch,and big enough to leave behind.I will say a 329 S+W is interesting
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Old March 9, 2009, 12:17 AM   #24
CraigC
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Quote:
Going with calibers larger than that - .454, .460, .500 - usually means carrying a much larger gun that will weigh you down. They're also not a practical choice if you're mainly worried about 2-legged critters.
Quote:
The extra big frames and extreme cartridges,for me,are conducive to flinch,and big enough to leave behind.
I also have to agree with those two statements completely. Standard cartridges and packable sixguns will do 99% of what needs doing.
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Old March 9, 2009, 12:55 AM   #25
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Shoop66, you talk like a man that has spent a lot of time in Illinois and thinks he knows something about the back woods.

.460 X-frames and 8" Raging Bull bull-barrels?

The OP lives in Virginia, not Canada or Alaska. He said he wanted approximately a 4" barrel, and considered .44mag a maximum threshold, with .357 being potentially acceptable.

He's not concerned about T-rexes or Kodiak bears. He's worried about black bears and mountain lions along with 2-legged problems.

Sheesh.

To the OP: My first backwoods gun was a Glock 21 in .45acp. I had 4 different run-ins with bears and lions prior to purchasing, acting as my catalyst. I knew nothing about guns at the time of purchase, and my first experience out shooting with my shooting mentor at the time is still something for which I get friendly ribbing when we go out to plink together.

Since then, I've learned:

1. For most of the lower 48 (maybe exclude the Rocky Mountain states prone to larger bears), .357/10mm/41/44/45 is just fine. The magic number is a minimum of .40 diameter, 200 grains, at 1000fps. .357 is the exception for this rule, and the 180gr offerings from the premium manufacturers are very effective at penetration. For 44 and 45 calibers, 240gr or heavier should be your target weight.
2. You're more likely to experience 2-legged problems than 4-legged, in the wild back woods. That means you need moderate recoil (or lots of experience at high recoil handguns). 454/460/500 are a bad idea unless you have a lot of rounds under your belt as a shooter, and there is a demonstrable need for such a caliber, like 1000 pound bears. A 475 Linebaugh won't kill a mountain lion any deader than a good 44special.
3. Animal attacks are the result of you being the prey, and the animal acting as the predator. You will be surprised, and you will have little time to draw. Guns that are a foot long after barrel/cylinder/grip lenth are added up... are slow to draw. They are slow to aim, and slow to steady on target. While any gun is better than none, shorter barrels are better for critter defense. The minimum requisite cartridge should be used, so that as many well-aimed shots as possible can be fired before the animal is on you.

Good hiking sidearms in 2-legged/4-legged country include:
1. Glock model 29: 10mm automatic, compact lightweight size. 10+1 capacity.
2. S&W 627: 8-shot .357 magnum, N-frame revolver.
3. S&W 625 or 629: .45colt (625) or .44magnum (629) N-frame revolver.
4. Ruger Redhawk or SRH Alaskan: shorter-barreled, 4" (Redhawk) or 3" (SRH Alaskan), chambered in 44mag (RH) or a choice of 44 or 454 in the SRH.
5. S&W 57: .41 magnum sixgun.
6. Any .357 revolver.
7. Anything you own is better than no gun at all.

FWIW, I now carry a 4" Redhawk in .44mag when hiking in woods likely to have black bear. When hiking places that don't have bear but still have lion, yotes (to protect my dog), or meth-cooks then I carry a 1911 .45 automatic.

Strangely, since I've started carrying I have not come across unsavory characters in the back country, and the predators have given me wide berth.
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