Handguns for Defense and Hunting

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Revolver
or semi-auto

Choosing a
handgun for protection usually involves some compromises. Defense
against large, dangerous cats, bears, and moose would be better
served using the more powerful rifle or a 12 ga. shotgun with slugs
at close range. The rifle should be kept loaded in magazine only
and never left beyond arms reach. Of course this is impossible when
one is wading waist high in the Alaska ranges while manipulating
a trout rod and reel.


The Ruger 43
oz. 4 5/8 " Barreled 6 shot Single Action Vaquero Revolver,
in 44 Magnum, is simple and economical, a good choice for wilderness
defense.


The X-frame Smith
& Wesson 500 is the most powerful revolver in current production.
This 4 inch barreled model gives up some velocity, and recoil, compared
to its longer barreled hunting versions. However, it is easier to
carry for self defense against dinosaurs.

In the wilderness,
a powerful handgun could be carried in a vertical shoulder holster
or belt holster. But unlike the rifle, a potent handgun like this
requires a great deal of practice to be effective. The simple, more
rugged single action revolver is recommended in 41 mag, 44 mag,
454 Casull, or 480 Ruger. The 500 S&W would give bragging rights.
Hand loaders can achieve a good level of power with the 45 Colt
in the older model Vaqueros. Heavy hard cast bullets will provide
the most penetration. The handgun should be kept fully loaded and
reasonably accessible, as long as the holster retains the weapon
securely and is not so loose about the body that it impedes a clean
draw.

Self-defense
against criminals and human predators doesn’t require as much power
as it does speed of draw and control of follow up shots. In fact,
over-penetration can be avoided by choosing a bullet which expands
rapidly, slows down inside the target, and releases its energy quickly.
Again, a great deal of practice is necessary for fast presentation
and follow up control. A large ammunition capacity is not as important
as getting the first shot off as fast as possible and placing a
couple of heavy, expanding bullets where they will achieve the desired
effect.

Both semi-automatic
pistols and double action revolvers are excellent choices for urban
self-defense. In semi-autos, choose the 45 ACP or 40 S&W calibers.
In revolvers the 44 Special and 357 Magnum make fine choices. Good
quality and dependability are paramount. Small size and weight are
considered secondary to effective stopping power. A rough or checkered
grip can help wet or slippery hands maintain control. Other important
considerations are the attributes that help one to carry it concealed,
to move about in comfort, and to have quick accessibility while
both sitting and standing. Any of these factors, when neglected,
may prevent you from having a gun fast enough when one is needed.
Not carrying a gun because it’s uncomfortable could negate the whole
study of firearm defense and survival, not to mention the lives
of you and your loved ones.


Ruger’s 25 oz.
2 1/4" barreled SP 101 5 Shot Spur-less Double Action Only
Revolver in 357 Magnum will be much more pleasant to shoot loaded
with 38 Special ammunition. The Ruger GP100 is a larger, heavier
357, with a 6 shot cylinder, that will reduce felt recoil even more.
If it’s purpose is home defense rather than concealed carry, a 3"
or 4" barrel is recommended.


Discontinued
The Taurus 17.3 oz.2" Titanium 5 Shot Shrouded Hammer Single
or Double Action 357 Magnum will be exciting to shoot because of
it’s light weight, unless lighter weight, 125 grain bullets or 38
Special ammo is used. Felt recoil and muzzle blast can be considerations
during practice sessions, but in a real life or death confrontation,
they generally go unnoticed due to the mind’s concentration with
the task at hand. With ultra heavy,180 grain Federal Cast Core 357
Magnum hunting ammo, it will brain anything in North America, if
your wrist is up to it. Single action capable for more precise shooting,
snag free, and super light, it can be carried comfortably concealed
all day long. Be sure to clean the cylinder mouths after shooting
the shorter 38 specials before inserting 357 cartridges. For a lightweight
defense against big critters in the woods, see the 20 oz. titanium
41 Magnum on the web page Holsters.


This double action
only S&W 642 in 38 Special has Crimson Trace laser grips. It’s
light weight and small size makes it a good front pant pocket backup.

The double
action revolver is simpler to learn. It’s easy to see how it works
and how it’s loaded. The long, stiff trigger pull is the only safety
device needed. If the trigger pull seems too hard, a bit of finger
strengthening exercise will solve the problem. Don’t worry, in a
crisis, there will be plenty of finger power. The swing out cylinder
is easy to load and unload. Many grip styles will accommodate different
hand sizes. Short barrels and bobbed hammer spurs aid in comfortable
carry and snag free presentation. New materials, like titanium and
scandium, make the revolver one of the lightest handguns available.
Some consider the revolver to be more reliable than the semi-auto
pistol. However, a malfunction in a revolver is usually serious
enough to prevent its operation pending the services of a competent
gunsmith. A bullet can be pulled out of the cartridge case far enough
during recoil that it prevents the cylinder from turning. In particular,
the cylinder crane is carefully aligned and there are several small
delicate parts and springs which won’t tolerate abuse. Exercise
care when handling and cleaning so that there is no torque applied
to the crane. Have any used gun you acquire looked at by a competent
gunsmith familiar with that model of revolver. Never snap the cylinder
in or out with a flick of the wrist as they show in the movies.
After loading, gently rotate the cylinder into battery and safely
check that the trigger and hammer are not locked up from cylinder
misalignment. The bulge of the cylinder makes the revolver less
comfortable to carry near the ribs, and it can hang up a fast draw
from the waist or pocket unless a top quality holster is used. The
snubby, as it’s affectionately called, has the best shape for a
quick draw from a front pants pocket.


One of our favorite
Kimbers, the 28 oz. 4" Barreled Pro Custom Defensive Pistol
with self luminous night sights in 45 Auto. A .22 LR Target Slide
and Magazine Conversion Kit is available for the 4" and 5"
Kimbers. See the smaller 25 oz. Ultra CDP 3" Kimber on the
web page Accessories.

Recent
surveys indicate that more pistols are used than revolvers for carry.
I suspect that the people who take time responding to the surveys
are predominantly the more experienced shooters. Although most semi-auto
pistols handle and point more naturally than revolvers, they need
more time invested getting familiar with their controls and operation.
They are more rugged, mechanically simple, and quick to load. Most
jams are easy to clear and are usually due to the shooter not locking
the wrist or not getting a high grip to provide resistance to the
recoiling slide. Their thin sides make them more comfortable to
carry, especially inside the waistband, where according to the surveys,
the most experienced prefer. New alloys and plastics make some semi
automatic pistols the smallest and lightest handguns which still
offer a moderate level of stopping power. Several safety systems
working in concert make the pistol safer than the revolver for carry,
however, those same safety systems must be defeated by the shooter
before the pistol will fire.

Carry a 1911
style pistol cocked and locked with a round in the chamber, or condition
1. With a grip safety, thumb safety, and a firing pin block, it
is one of the safest handguns. Shorten an ambidextrous thumb safety,
especially to accommodate Crimson Trace laser grips, and it won’t
be knocked off safe inadvertently, while the gun rests in a good
holster. I recommend never trying to lower the hammer on a live
round in the 1911 style pistol. "There’s many a slip twixt
cup and the lip." Also, I recommend never allowing the hammer
to be at half cock. The sear is carefully mated to the full cock
notch on the hammer, and putting it into the half cock notch could
degrade an otherwise sweet single action trigger.

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the rest of the article

August
23, 2010

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