View Full Version : Which handgun for hunting deer?

November 23, 2011, 08:24 PM
I'm thinking about trying to hunt deer with a pistol next year. I've narrowed the choices of pistols to either a S&W 29 or a T/C Encore pistol.

I currently have a 6.5" S&W29, which I initially bought for this purpose. But while in the deer stand this week, a thought came to mind -- why don't I have a pistol that's in the same caliber as my hunting rifle. The next logical thought was a T/C Encore in '06.

I know that it will be like comparing apples to oranges, but which would you guys rather pick? Next question is, how much energy is lost from the '06 round when shot through a short barrel?


November 23, 2011, 09:57 PM
Okay, I suspect this position won't be popular but here goes. If you want to use a pistol to hunt pick the M 29. It is a REAL pistol.

IMHO, the encores are simply short barreled rifles without a stock. To me, rifle caliber bullets should be propelled from rifles with barrels that allow enough room (length of barrel) to adequately burn the amount of powder in the cartridge and not waste it in muzzle flash and noise.

Brian Pfleuger
November 23, 2011, 10:32 PM
The Encore can be handloaded to make better use of the shorter barrel. Factory ammo will have great muzzle flash, blast and "rocket effect" recoil.

In specifics to the -06 I'm not sure, but I have a 15" Encore Pro Hunter in 7mm-08. It loses about 400 fps over a 24" barrel Browning X-bolt with identical ammo.

Personally, I'd hunt with both. If I were expecting shots over 100 yards, it'd be the Encore. On the other hand, unless I had a really solid rest I wouldn't be taking shots that far with ANY handgun.

Why pick just one? ;)

November 23, 2011, 11:00 PM
I was at a Gun Shop talking about hunting. A guy was bragging about using a handgun to kill a WT Deer. He showed us the handgun. It had a 14" barrel, was bolt action, was in 7mmx(?), had a scope and a bipod. I pulled out my SAA and told him that I'd killed deer with mine too. We'd both killed deer with a handgun but I kinda felt like mine was a real handgun and his was a little rifle.

November 23, 2011, 11:01 PM
I hunt handguns a good bit,I use both you named the T/C is better for the longer shots & You dont have to worry about power loss with the 06' I use a 7mm-08 in a T/C out to 200yds with no problems.Also use a Ruger SRH 7.5 in 454Casull both are scoped and shoot well.Both do the job,both have a pretty sharp recoil But it is a lot of fun,easy to carry.The S/W 29 44mag I use open sights fiber optic fire sights just keep My shots under 80yards.Cant really say witch I like the best Shot I like um all.:D GOOD LUCK

November 23, 2011, 11:14 PM
The only handgun I've used for deer is my old M29 .Iron sights ,out to 50 yds or so , all one shot kills ! :p

November 24, 2011, 12:37 PM
Thanks for the replies.....

In either platforms, I'll be limiting my shots to about 50 yards. I know that shot placement is key, and have always been the key to a successful hunt.

I'm content with using the M29, but somehow I just can't get the thought out of my mind that I NEED the T/C encore too........:rolleyes:

How about this question: would you guys take a M29 or a Ruger Super Blackhawk, same barrel length and same caliber?

November 24, 2011, 12:45 PM
No on the contender variants.

Yes to the S&W 29.

If you're comparing a Ruger Blackhawk to a Model 29...then I'd suggest the Ruger. They're built like tanks.

Also, since you haven't mentioned. Ruger's Redhawk Hunter?

Big Yac
November 24, 2011, 07:30 PM
I don't know your laws there but in Ohio we are limited to shotguns and straight walled pistol cartridges so Id say the Model 29. Me, I use a Ruger SRH in 454 Casull with a 9.5" barrel. Its open sights and I use a 300gr Hornady XTP. I have shot several TC pistols and just dont like them.

Brian Pfleuger
November 24, 2011, 07:36 PM
My Encore is great fun. I enjoy it more than I ever have any revolvers. I haven't owned any revolvers but I've shot them plenty. I personally have much more fun with the Encore.

To each his own.

I love the versatility of the Encore, the long range potential and the ability to use the exact same ammo in a long range rifle.

November 24, 2011, 07:56 PM
For me it'd be the Blackhawk in .45 Colt instead of .44 Mag. That being said, either the Blackhawk or the Model 29 would be good choices. I carry an S&W 25-5 in .45 Colt now for close range shots, my only reason for going to the blackhawk would be to load my ammo a little hotter.


November 24, 2011, 10:35 PM
The only reason why I'm leaning towards the Blackhawk is that I've noticed every time I shoot the M29, I'm always cocking the hammer and firing it in single action. Plus, ever since getting a Ruger Single Six, I'm hooked on the SA design. Figured that any shot I take in the woods will be in single action too.

I think that with my up coming OT check, I'll be in the market for a Super Blackhawk Hunter. Unless I come across a T/C Encore at a price I can't turn down.......:D

November 24, 2011, 10:35 PM
44 mag does a fine job for me.

black mamba
November 25, 2011, 01:20 PM
I have taken game with both platforms, both chambered for .44 mag. My Encore is a 10" barrel with 2-6x scope, and my S&W was a 6.5".

I would carry both. The heavier scoped Encore is very difficult to shoot off-hand, but is superbly accurate out to 150 yards off a rest. The revolver is almost half the weight, and therefore much easier to shoot offhand, and plenty accurate out to 60 yards (for me). Use whichever one is more suited to the requirements of the moment.

Grant D
November 25, 2011, 01:40 PM
Model 629 eight and three eights barrel, and two power Leupold stainless scope.= Eight point buck hanging on my wall.
100 yard shot with 180 grain HP
Wish I never sold that gun.

November 25, 2011, 01:53 PM
I'm really not much of a fan of the short-stocked rifles that some call "handguns". I simply fail to see a purpose...and I'll explain.

Part of the reason I hunt is to put my wits up against those of the animal I hunt. The weapon used is part of the challenge. Short-stocked rifles shoot about as far, and about as accurately as their longer stocked cousins, so if I'm going to hunt with one of them, I'll just hunt with a rifle.

For me, handgun hunting involved a revolver, and so far mine have never been 'scoped. They offer more challenge than a rifle of any flavor, and require me to stalk close.

So if it were me, I'd go with the revolver if I wanted more challenge, and a rifle if I didn't. If you choose your rifle with a short stock, then that's your choice. I like mine full length.


Brian Pfleuger
November 25, 2011, 02:10 PM
Short-stocked rifles shoot about as far, and about as accurately as their longer stocked cousins, so if I'm going to hunt with one of them, I'll just hunt with a rifle.

That's not even close to true under normal hunting circumstances. It's like saying a long bow shoots a far and as accutately as a 2011 PSE X-force because they both shoot arrows.

An Encore is good for MAYBE 100 yards off-hand. That's in the hand of a REALLY well practiced and confident shooter. Distances beyond that require a SOLID rest and tree branches are rarely adequate for long (say 200+) yard shots.
Even from a real rest, at any given distance, an Encore handgun (though mechanically capable) is virtually never as accurate as a rifle firing the same cartridge.
It takes real skill to shoot an Encore handgun accurately at long range.

Regardless, disparaging one or the other, due exclusively to personal preference, is silly. The same ridiculous game has been played with archery equipment for decades. First you weren't a real and skilled hunter if you used a compound bow instead of a recurve. Now it's if you use a crossbow instead of a compound. :rolleyes:

In the gun world, it's if you scope your revolver or, to the scoped revolver guy, if your gun shoots a rifle cartridge.

Muzzloader people whine about inlines, the inline people whine about smokeless powder guns.

It's asinine.

November 25, 2011, 06:20 PM
I currently have a 6.5" S&W29, which I initially bought for this purpose. But while in the deer stand this week, a thought came to mind -- why don't I have a pistol that's in the same caliber as my hunting rifle.

Sounds like to me you need a .44 carbine to go with your 629. I have a M77/44 that goes well with my 629s. Problem is, if you take both the rifle and the handgun to the stand with you, you'll never really be a handgun hunter. You just be another rifle hunter with a handgun for backup. To truly be a handgun hunter, you need to leave the rifle at home.

November 26, 2011, 02:58 AM
PEETZILLA NAILED IT. I have revolvers semi's contenders and encores. They all have a place. And are a lot of fun most people I take shooting find something they enjoy, and I thought that was the point introducing new shooters to the sport not whining cause you don't agree with someone else.

Crazy Carl
November 26, 2011, 09:40 AM
I use a Bisley Blackhawk in .41Mag, with 215gr LSWCs over 17.5gr or 2400 for ~1300fps.

Not had an opportunity to take a deer with it, yet, but have no doubt it'll do the trick.

Am considering try to develop a load with Unique for 1000-1100fps with the same bullet. Our deer here are small-ish & the shots close. Ought to be more than enough "smack-down" & the BH is more than accurate enough to deliver the goods.

November 26, 2011, 02:20 PM

Your post is spot on from the beginning to end.

Too, going back a bit further in the 'muzzleloading world' ...

...many can remember the old flinters cussing the caplock shooters. :rolleyes:

To many of the 'ole flinters' you were cheating using caplocks.

As a kid, I rememeber many a heated argument(and a few fist-fights) over this after matchs. :D

As far as which handgun would be better? Both are more than capable of doing the job at distance's further then my personal capabilities .The simple answer would be the one you're most confident with.

The rule of thumb I use when switching from a handgun I'm confident with to a new handgun is, I just won't hunt with new handgun till I find load I'm going to shoot, the max range I'm proficient to and know where its going to hit in between.

One thing you will most likely find with the 10" is its not as easy to carry as the 6.5"

November 26, 2011, 10:13 PM
Last Saturday I ended the season carrying my FA .454 Casull without any opportunity's. This morning I awoke to rain for the Muzzle-loader opener and after carrying my .54 Hawkins Flinter I sure miss the comfort of a holstered handgun.
My next handgun is going to have to be a Horse Pistol of some kind!

November 27, 2011, 04:53 PM
For a hunting revolver I really like a Ruger Super RedHawk. I have owned two in 44 Magnum, and currently own two in 480 Ruger.

Very user friendly platform.

Add Hogue "Tamer" Grips to take the sting out.
Add a Marble Green Fiber Optic Front Sight.
Swap in the new factory 1" Rings for a set of 30mm rings.
Contact UltraDot West and get a 30mm UltraDot sight for it.

That should about do it.

My 9.5" Super RedHawk loaded with 355g Oregon Trail True Shot WFP GC Bullets over 20.0 grains of AA#9. Outfitted as described above put a Doe and an 11 Point Buck in the freezer the second sunday of the Missouri Deer Season. The doe took 1 shot broad side right behind the shoulder.
The buck also took one behind the shoulder, and a second shot angeling away that came out on the back side of the off side shoulder. The first shot would have probably done it, but since I had him stopped I figured a second shot would not hurt anything.

Both shots were at app 55 yards from a double wide ladder stand using a monopod for a rest.

I also have a couple old Contenders for longer range shots. I have a 35 Bullberry 14" barrel and a 6.5X30 JDJ 14" barrel for deer hunting. Also a couple 22LR 14" barrels for practice, and plinking. I have been using revolvers the last 2 years. The revolver is a real challenge.

The 29 S&W will work. I would check with Weigland Combat for a scope base. I would use the 30mm UltraDot on it.


November 27, 2011, 07:43 PM
My original plan was to sell/trade the M29 for the Encore. After giving it some thoughts, I asked myself and said......"why not both?" :p

I suppose I maybe packing too much weight - using the Encore as my primary and using the M29 as a backup....or is it vise versa....the M29 as a primary and the Encore as a backup????:confused: Honestly, I could care less if the Encore is a 'mini' rife and a revolver is a handgun. I just want the challenge and satisfaction of harvesting a deer either platform, eventually.

After thinking about it, I would regret it very much if I went with my original plan and sold the M29 just to find out that I don't like the Encore. My personal gun philosophy is that if I truly dislike a gun, I can always sell it later to get some of my cost back.

Deja vu
November 28, 2011, 08:45 AM
I have taken a deer with my BFR 45/70 using hand loaded 350 grain bullets.