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Considerations For Handgun Hunting




Hunting with a handgun:

More and more, people are turning to their handguns to go hunting. Not all states allow handgun hunting, though, so make sure you check the local laws before you take on such an endeavor. The benefits of handgun hunting are numerous, with the main one being that it is a viable way of bringing dinner home without having to go out and purchase another gun that is dedicated to just hunting.

In other words, you can buy a handgun for self-defense and go hunting with it (just choose the right gun). Furthermore, you can hunt various sizes of game with various handgun cartridges. For example, a .22 can take smaller game like squirrels and rabbits, while .357 and .44 magnum cartridges can be used to shoot and kill boar, and maybe even whitetail deer.

When using a pistol cartridge to hunt game of any size, keep in mind that accuracy with a pistol is harder to achieve with a smaller handgun. The sight radius (distance from front to rear sight) is lessened, causing you to be less accurate and have a larger miss. Furthermore, while it is possible to make long-distance kills with a medium or large bore revolver, accuracy is better achieved at closer distances.

The reason why this is important, is because while we are hunters, and our main goal is to kill our dinner, we want to make sure that the animal dies as quick and as humanely as possible. If we miss our targeted kill zone, but still hit the animal, it turns into a bloody mess of suffering as we track the animal through the woods—sometimes for miles at a time. This is tough on both the animal and the hunter.

The challenges of handgun hunting as a sport are also numerous, making it a lot more fun than other types of hunting. As you can imagine, hitting a squirrel with a .22lr out of a pistol can be difficult. After all, they are fast, little buggers. However, if you practice shooting at small targets at varying distances as often as possible, your accuracy will improve over time.

Finally, any time you go hunting with a handgun, you need to make sure that you're willing to let game walk on by if the shot isn't right. It's easier to get on target with a rifle, shotgun or even a bow and arrow but not so much with a handgun when the best method is to walk and stalk your prey. Also remember that the longer your barrel is, the longer your sight radius will be, thus improving your accuracy. Not to mention a longer barrel also usually increases muzzle velocity to produce a faster-moving projectile. Happy hunting, and be safe.

Have you ever hunted with a handgun? If so, we' like to know what type of handgun you used, your chosen cartridge and the type of game you took with it. Like this article? You'll love this one: Big Bore Revolvers: Why? Because Murica!

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  1. Paul Strickland

    January 30, 2017 at 9:10 PM

    I started hunting deer with a revolver back in the eighties. I started out with a Ruger Super Blackhawk 10″, .44 mag with a 2X Leupold scope. Around ’94 I picked up a S&W 629, 8″, Classic Hunter, .44 mag and mounted a 4X Leupold scope and have hunted with it since. With tailored hand loads this 629 / scope combo will hold six round sub four inch groups, from sandbags, at 100 yrds. I also have a S&W 586, 8″, .357 mag that makes a good short range deer gun. Using heavy loads with 158 gn, Hornady XTP bullet and I hunt from the same tree stands as bow season. Now let’s talk about hunting squirrels with a Clark Custom Ruger Mk II, .22 …

  2. Bill Krause

    December 23, 2016 at 11:16 AM

    I have a red dot lazer bore sight that I install at 50 yrds. my right hand- hand grip contains a red dot lazer. I line them up and I’m good to go. The bore sight has 3 different sized grips for the inside of your barrel. It fits every gun I have,,,,from 22 cal, up to my 45. And fits all my hunting rifles from 22—-270. LOTS less ammo wasted.

  3. tom wells

    December 23, 2016 at 9:51 AM

    Have taken 7 deer with a S & W 6″ 686. I used the heaviest bullet I could find at the time, Cor-Bon 180 gr soft nose. Large exit hole. Deer never ran more than 20 yds, I’ve been loading a new cartridge. McNett at DoubleTap has a 190 gr, double bullet, a 125 gr hollow point on top of 70 gr slug. Two holes relatively close together on paper but no deer have wanted to help my experiment to date. Hopefully, our winter season will be different.

  4. Stepcof

    December 23, 2016 at 9:45 AM

    Been hunting deer with hand guns for 20+ years. Bought a S&W Performance Shop .44 mag. It’s not very accurate! Only one chamber in the wheel is accurate. Had to mark it so I could use that chamber for my first shot when hunting.

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