Hand Gun Hunting
Handgun Hunting For the Challenge of It
What really brought handgun hunting to my attention was my friend Tod setting aside his rifle, saying he was determined to hunt deer with his handgun, a 44 Magnum Ruger Blackhawk. I didn’t follow his lead that season, sticking to my rifle and when we compared notes about our respective success it was apparent Tod took a great deal in satisfaction in the buck he had shot. Hmm, I thought. That is pretty cool.
Since then I’ve done a lot of handgun hunting, starting with smaller critters like squirrels and prairie dogs before graduating to deer and wild hogs. Also since then it seems I’m seeing and reading or hearing about a lot more hunters taking to the field with handguns.
It’s easy to see why. First, for me, is the challenge. While handguns are powerful and have plenty of range, handgun hunters typically challenge their hunting and woodsmanship skills – tracking, seeing, stalking, among them – to get close to game animals, much closer than what’s required in rifle hunting. Another way to put it is, handgun hunters rely on their skills more than their equipment. While scoped handguns can provide decent accuracy out to 200 yards, I prefer to get within 100 yards and preferably in the 50-yard and under range. See what I mean about stalking skills?
With so many styles and sizes of handguns, hunters trying to pick one have a lot of choices from which to choose, starting with the action: revolver, semi-automatic or single-shot. Though I own semi-autos and single-shot handguns in calibers suitable for hunting, my first choice is a revolver, which is why I like the new Taurus Raging Hunter. But more on that in a bit.
Consult your hunting regulations about minimum caliber requirements, but there are a wide range of calibers to handle pretty much any hunting situation. My preference is to keep in the “4s” – 41 Magnum, 45 Colt, 44 Magnum. Handgun calibers go up from there – I’m thinking 454 Casull, 460 Smith and Wesson and 500 Smith and Wesson – which are powerful considerations to keep in mind. Yes, I know, 357 Magnum – and others, I’m just saying how I narrowed it down.
Most hunters opt for handguns with six or more inches of barrel length. (Again, check local regulations, which can vary.) Longer barrels provide a longer sighting radius and the additional weight helps tame recoil, allowing you better control at the shot. Of course, shorter barrel handguns are lighter and easier to carry, but keep in mind the trade-offs.
Sights are another consideration. Open sights, micro-sights or scopes, all are viable hunting choices. Micro-sights and scopes can help with target acquisition and accuracy, but there’s something about the speed and ease of open sights too. Whatever your choice, practice with it, then practice some more. Good handgun hunters frequently practice their hold, stance, trigger squeeze and it doesn’t have to be with a heavy caliber handgun. Plinking with a 22 pistol provides much the same benefits.
But back to sights. That’s what brings me to the Taurus Raging Hunter. This is a six-shot 44 Magnum revolver comes with adjustable open sights but also features an integral Picatinny rail for mounting optics. Everything about it is built for hunting. Unique barrel construction features a steel sleeve inside an aluminum housing, which cuts weight (It weighs 55 ounces, unloaded.) and improves balance. Taurus’ exclusive soft rubber grips with cushioned insert helps take the jolt out of recoil, as does the porting and gas-expansion chamber near the muzzle which disperses gases in such a manner as to reduce muzzle lift so you can get back on target faster for follow-up shots, if necessary.
And, it can be fired double-action, by pulling back on the trigger which brings back and releases the hammer in one smooth motion, or single-action, with you cocking the hammer prior to pulling the trigger. I like that too. You may not think it, but a lot of people shoot better double-action. There’s something about a smooth trigger pull and crisp hammer release. The Raging Hunter lets you hunt – and practice, practice, practice – both styles of shooting.
So if you’re looking to add a measure of challenge to your hunting, think handguns.
To learn more about the Taurus Raging Hunter, visit taurususa.com.