View Full Version : Mountain/Woods Handgun For My Daughter...Which Caliber?

Southern Shooter
March 7, 2012, 12:52 PM
My 21 year old daughter is about 5' 2" and 120 lbs. She loves the mountains of Utah and Wyoming and enjoys hiking and camping in them. At times she is with friends and at times she goes out alone...against my better advice. She has various forms of pepper spray for defense. But, I am not totally confident in that and would like for her to have some firepower with her, too.

Which caliber and which guns would ya'll recomend for her? And, why?


March 7, 2012, 01:45 PM
Revolver of some kind, the largest caliber she can comfortably shoot accurately.

May have to try out a couple of calibers, maybe try a buddies or rent one or two.

March 7, 2012, 01:49 PM
Revolvers are more reliable, can drop a mag out of a revolver can't get jammed. Some women can tolerate 45 colt, some can't. You'll just have to let her try some.

Art Eatman
March 7, 2012, 02:16 PM
Let her feel and fondle a 4" Ruger SP 101. Heavy enough to sorta tame the recoil of a .357 full-house load, but not bad for holster carry.

5'-2" and 120 pounds is not delicate, but at 5'-2" there could be a problem with hand size vs. a pistol's grip size. Try a Smith K-frame as well.

Nothing wrong with "good used"...

March 7, 2012, 02:36 PM
She has various forms of pepper spray for defense. But, I am not totally confident in that and would like for her to have some firepower with her, too.

I'm not trying to be confrontational with you but I don't think this is for you to decide. She needs to decide on her own and willing to practice with the firearm. I have 2 daughters and I rather have them carry pepper spray than a firearm just because "I think it is better". For protection and ease of use, pepper spray is very effective. Unless she's willing to take on the effort of proper use/training, getting her a firearm "just because" isn't the best idea.

March 7, 2012, 02:51 PM
Mountain/Woods Handgun For My Daughter
Yeah, OK, sounds like a fair trade. Send her and I'll send you a handgun. ;)

Just kidding. I agree that your daughter should be part of the decision, and I agree with Art that the Ruger SP101 is a great choice. Hey, why not do both? See if your daughter agrees that a handgun would be a good idea, then if she does take her out to the gun shop and let her fondle the guns until she falls in love with one.

And don't be too hasty in your opinion about pepper spray. If it will stop a grizzly, it will stop a man.

Southern Shooter
March 7, 2012, 03:07 PM
I did not state this up front. My fault.

She is very comfortable with semi- and revolver handguns. She has been shooting them since she was 8 years old. And, has had a service size .38 Special and Bersa .380 Auto designated her's since she was 12 years old. And, she shoots them well.

It is not whether she wants or does not want a gun. She loves them. But, her guns are here in Louisiana and she is 1,600 miles away. Really, I just have not offered to send them to her, as of yet. Before I did so, I thought this might be a good time to add to her collection. Something that could fill the nitch of a moutain/woods gun. It sounds as if she will be staying out in those parts for a few more years.

So, before bringing up the topic with her I decided to check in with ya'll to gather up opinions and thoughts. Caliber, guns, barrel length, etc..

I do have a very nice stainless Ruger Security-Six .357 Magnum with a 4" barrel. She is welcome to that. But, I am also very open to helping her buy her own gun out there.

My two concerns about the .357 Magnum as it does have quite the snappy recoil. And, is it sufficient for two legged and four legged creatures. Was thinking of bigger caliber, heavy bullet, and slower velocity.


Southern Shooter
March 7, 2012, 03:19 PM

ha ha...The gun for my daughter might sound tempting...until she stomps her foot and gives you the glare:mad:. Heaven help the man who "thinks" he has tamed her. :)

March 7, 2012, 03:27 PM
Your Security-Six sounds like a good choice to me...My woods gun is the 6" version.

March 7, 2012, 03:32 PM
Ya know guys.. you may be missing something here.
This gal needs a gun for protection mostly from animals and not for "combat".
She also needs accuracy, power and probably will not care to have much pain from recoil.

All that said, I might recommend a Ruger Bisley in 357, 41 or 44 mag, or maybe a 45 colt. All work very well with heavy cast LBT style bullets.

The Bisley grip is the easiest grip of any for handling recoil painlessly.

A single action is still a very formidable gun to face a single human adversary with, and there may not be anything as good (let alone better) for a field gun for use on animals.

I live in Wyoming and I hunt in Grizzly and Wolf country every year. Those of us who live around them have a tendency to carry a lot of Single Actions, and it's not in any way related to the "cowboy image”! It’s because they work so well.

March 7, 2012, 04:35 PM
I would recommend a either a 3-4" .357 or a .44 Special revolver.

Revolvers can be loaded to reliably shoot multiple rds of snakeshot if she will be in areas with rattlers. And they can reliably shoot a wide range of bullet weights and velocities. She could load light .38 for volume practice and heavy hitting, hardcast 180 gr LSWC from Buffalo Bore and others for bear. A medium load with 158gr HP would be a good all-around load.

If she can carry a .44 Special then she could get a larger heavy bullet without a lot of muzzle blast and recoil. Same thing as the .357, she could load with snake shot, mild recoiling 180 gr, or heavy hitting 300 gr.

Art Eatman
March 7, 2012, 04:52 PM
Sounds like some intra-familial communication might be a Good Thing. :D

March 7, 2012, 05:01 PM
Glock 20 sf 10mm auto. Atleast as powerfull as .357 magnum. Recoil isnt to bad for most. 15 rounds of 200 grain xtps going 1250 fps will handle anything she will encounter. Glocks are known for being reliable and durable.

ohen cepel
March 7, 2012, 05:10 PM
The Glock 10mm is a good option if she can deal with the frame size, I'm a pretty big man and the grip is on the large size for me.

I would look hard at a .357. Train a lot with .38's and then load it with hot .357's when she goes to the woods.

I'm an east coast guy and will build a .357 to my specs once I settle down using a 6in 1/2 lug GP100 (current plan at least).

March 7, 2012, 05:23 PM
Yea the regular glock 20 has a large grip. Thats why i said g 20 sf. Its got a shorter grip. I think for size capacity and power it cant be beat. In my opinion its the best all around.

March 7, 2012, 05:50 PM
Give her the Security Six. Would be perfect.

March 7, 2012, 06:25 PM
My advice would be to get a 4" Ruger GP-100 (357 mag) and a good belt holster. I use the Bianchi holsters quite a lot for general unconcealed carry.

March 7, 2012, 07:17 PM
Ask her what she wants then send her the money to get it. Oh, and a nice holster.

March 7, 2012, 07:31 PM
Glock 20 sf 10mm auto

Ive got the 20SF and it is my preferred trail gun, but Ill +1 it probably being too large for hands attached to 5' 120lb ladies.

As others have mentioned, the largest revolver the lady can handle with confidence and skill will be her best choice.

March 7, 2012, 08:38 PM

With rubber grips.

Southern Shooter
March 7, 2012, 09:50 PM
So, there is not enough advantage to these calibers...say in Taurus Tracker or in a S&W...over the Ruger Speed-Six or GP100 in .357 Magnum? Especially, in the heavy-for-caliber 180-200 grain hard cast bullets?


March 7, 2012, 09:59 PM
Ruger Super Redhawk in .44mag. in a 6.5" barrel. Heavy enough to absorb the recoil enough it won't hurt her to shoot it and accurate enough to put the bullet where she wants it out to 50 yds. The DA gives her the opportunity if needed to just draw and shoot for protection. If she cocks it and shoot single action she can fine tune her aim and take game with it.

The .44mag will be excellent protection from most any animal she'll encounter in the woods - 4 legged or otherwise.

Make sure to get her a good leather holster for it too.

March 7, 2012, 11:14 PM
357 or a glock 23 (40). She'll probably use it more for self protection against humans or a piece of mind than on a bear anyhow. Revolver to keep it simple but a auto if she can operate it.

March 8, 2012, 03:41 AM
Go with the 357 or 44 mag. 357 will fire 38 spcl. and the 44 mag will fire 44 spcl. Let her decide which one she wants.

March 8, 2012, 09:21 AM
Due to the popularity of the Judge series of pistols, the 45colt has a more variety of cartridge offerings. For a little while all that I could find was cowboy action loads.

March 8, 2012, 11:36 AM
I can't recommend that an inexperienced shooter with a small stature get a 44 mag for woods protection. The amount of recoil is very important. But so is having a firearm that is powerful enough to provide some protection when necessary. I believe she will find the 357 mag uncomfortable to shoot. So I recommended the Ruger GP-100 in either a 3" or 4" configuration as the most powerful handgun caliber that is practical.

I think the "Judge" (Taurus or S&W version) would be a poor choice as would an airweight revolver. But I do suggest a revolver over a semi-auto pistol.

March 8, 2012, 11:41 AM
I didn't recommend a judge.....I stated that because of the judge, the interest in 45colt has created more ammo choices.

Old Grump
March 8, 2012, 11:57 AM
Ruger Security-Six .357 Magnum with a 4" barrel. If you are willing to send that to her she will be as well served with it as any other gun she could get her hands on. Got my first deer with one at 135 yards in New Mexico a whole bunch of years ago and still wish I had it. It was a great shooter on 200 yard targets on the rifle range and just as handy at the pistol range on Bullseye targets. Even took a rabbit or 3 or 4 or well a bunch of them using 38 spcl wadcutter ammo.

Not real proud of that deer though, only deer I ever had to shoot twice and now I restrict myself to 100 or under but the gun is up to it if she is. It sure made me feel better when I was walking around in mountain lion country.

March 8, 2012, 11:58 AM
A .357 Magnum is a proven stopper of beasts of all kinds. Want reduced recoil? Load it with any number of .38 Sp loads. Want ultimate stopping power? Load it with 125-158 gr hollow points. Practice with the .38s and guard thyself with .357s. The range of available revolvers is wide, from Scandium-Alloy J-frames snubs to 8" barreled hunting rigs.

I've carried a Ruger SP101 for over 20 years (3" barrel, factory grips). It's a bit heavy, but absorbs recoil quite nicely, conceals adequately and will handle 1000s of rounds without a hiccup. I also carry a S&W M&P 340 because it's highly concealable, lightweight and once again...it's a .357.

Ever since Law Enforcement gave up the .357, they've been searching for a caliber that will stop as effectively. .45 ACP is as close as they've gotten, but for pure consistency in stopping power, there's nothing like the magnum. The ballistic nature of the 125 gr. SJHP has been termed a "lightning bolt effect."

As for limited firepower, I understand why departments have gone to auto loaders. However, for most civilians there are very few circumstances that require more than 5 shots (I believe the actual average of shots fired is 3).

So...while there are many fine handguns and excellent reasons for carrying the various calibers, for me it is obviously the versatile and highly effective .357 magnum.

March 8, 2012, 11:59 AM
Accuracy is so so on the "Judge" with 45LC. You read about both extremes, so I don't know what is reality. I wanted one when they first came out for a fun gun, but have since crossed them off my want list.

RickyRick, you did say that. I didn't mean to offend you.

I would rather she got something like the S&W 625 or something similar in 45LC than the big cylinder on the judge which nudges you toward using 410's. There is a great power range available with the 45LC, but most factory ammo is not real powerful unless you buy from Buffalo Bore or similar loadings. Of course, you can always load to about 1000 fps which would make a controllable package. You can do the same things with either the 41 mag or 44 mag of course.

March 8, 2012, 12:17 PM
Is she comfortable and proficient with firearms? I generally think its a mistake to push the issue with somebody who isn't comfortable with firearms or willing to put in the training with firearms. This is serious business.

I didn't see post #7. My mistake. I think a DAO revolver with a 3-4" barrel is hard to beat. I really wouldn't trust a semi-auto smaller than a 40S&W against wild animals. I generally have more faith in revolvers than semi-autos out in the woods.

March 8, 2012, 12:22 PM
Yes, the op stated that she was proficient with firearms. My understanding is that he wishes to purchase and send her another one.

March 8, 2012, 02:14 PM
Ruger 3" SP-101, or my favorite the 3" or 4" GP-100 is my suggestion again. I believe I'm going around in circles.

Good luck with the choice.

Southern Shooter
March 8, 2012, 02:58 PM
Well, I received a phone from my daughter just after lunch. She had questions about her SUV. However, I brought the gun and backcountry issue. We talked about the various gun options including buying her a new one.

She is a very practical person. She has shot my Security-Six quite a bit and is comfortable with it and how it performed in her hands...and, well, she asked if I would object to her having it. What's a dad gonna say??? I will be packing it up and and heading to my local firearms dealer.

She has access to a lot of heavy hardcast .357 Magnum ammo. That, with her promise to practice at the range, often, makes this a great choice for her.

Thanks for ya'll's input.

March 8, 2012, 03:37 PM
Fantastic choice. Having grown daughters of my own I know it makes you proud when they take responsibility for their safety. Shows she has good common sense.

March 8, 2012, 05:41 PM
As the father of two girls who LOVE shooting and hunting, your story nearly puts a tear in my eye. Must be a cat in here!

Southern Shooter
March 8, 2012, 07:04 PM
Yes...she is a strong thinker with common sense and in most cases very independent. She has a strange mix of caution and boldness within her character. As a father, I am scared for her at times and want to intervene...but, I am more scared to squelch her focuse and drive and thirst for life.

Her approach to life is that anything that makes her nervous is just exactly what she delves into. Which is how she became involved in competative swimming, running/jogging mountain trails, sky diving, and, now she is heading to the Middle East for 2 months (scary time to be over there). :eek:

March 8, 2012, 08:34 PM
I spent two months in Israel and Palestine and one month in Syria in 2007. Wonderful, beautiful place and people despite the politics. She'll be fine. Just tell her not to visit the Western Wall with a CQC Knife in her pocket...the IDF frowns on it.

Southern Shooter
March 8, 2012, 08:35 PM
ha ha...I will for sure remind her to leave the knife behind.

Southern Shooter
March 8, 2012, 09:28 PM
If she and the Ruger Security-Six can handle the recoil, there seems to be plenty of choices for ammunition suited for the backcountry. Certainly, not grizzly defense ammo. But, I would think anything else would be in jeopardy if struck in the right spot with these.






March 9, 2012, 09:27 AM
Check out the Ruger DA .327 magnum. You can shoot .32 shorts and longs,the .32 H&R Magnum and od course the .327 magnum. The ballistics on the .327 mag are real close the the .357.:) Cliff

March 10, 2012, 12:53 PM
Let her feel and fondle a 4" Ruger SP 101. Heavy enough to sorta tame the recoil of a .357 full-house load, but not bad for holster carry.

5'-2" and 120 pounds is not delicate, but at 5'-2" there could be a problem with hand size vs. a pistol's grip size. Try a Smith K-frame as well.

My wife carries a S&W 640 in 357....(I think 640 is right..It has a short barrel..but I think they make a longer barrel now)

Lee McNelly
March 10, 2012, 01:20 PM
someone has a redhawk 4in 44mag

March 10, 2012, 09:53 PM
I think you have made a fine choice in the gun. I prefer the 44 mag, and let me tell you having hunting in an area where we were walking on grizzly prints I still felt a little vulnerable. But I think with hard cast bullets she will be fine. However, at no point should she load a hollow point in the gun for woods carry. If she does have to face a bear, or more likely a ****** moose, she is going to want all the penetration she can get.

My 44 mag is a Smith and Wesson 329 PD which is an scandium framed revolver. Not very nice to shoot a bunch at the range, but very nice to carry in the woods. It also helps that I cast and load my own bullets for it, way more tolerable to shoot than with factory ammo.

March 11, 2012, 07:28 PM
Whatever she will carry. As I always say "let her decide" you cant buy a gun for daughter anymore than for a wife.

She would probably find it too big but take a look at the S&W Governor. I found it to be BIG after carrying a jframe for a while.

Doug S
March 12, 2012, 03:29 PM
I think the two of you made a good choice. I recently picked this one up for a woods/hiking gun...
Small enough to carry conceal, but not a bad belt gun either. 357 has been used on pretty much everything in the lower 48 if memory serves.

Deja vu
March 13, 2012, 08:11 PM
My mother in law bought her self one of those Chiappa Rhinos (blue with a long barrel) For a 357 magnum it has surprising little kick. It is still very loud (like all 357 magnums) but it is pretty easy on the hands.

I see she is using your Security-Six... very good taste :cool: