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Should You Always Carry a Sidearm in the Backcountry?

To put it simply, yes. Here are three reasons why you should always carry a sidearm in the backcountry. 

It’s an age-old survival quote: one is none, two is one. So if you’re traveling in the backcountry, you most likely have your survival knife on you. Why wouldn’t you also carry your sidearm, just in case?

While heading out into the backcountry, don’t leave your sidearm at home because you think you might not need it. There are more reasons than not where your sidearm is an absolute necessity.

1. Signaling

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It’s every survivalist’s worst nightmare: you’ve gotten lost. Somehow, you’ve wandered away from the trail or your planned course of navigation and you have no idea where you are. When hiking into the backcountry, this scenario is much more common than we want to believe and it’s incredibly easy, especially in a new place, to become confused. Having a sidearm on you means that you have the loudest and most recognizable signaling device possible: a gunshot.

Rescue crews and folks nearby alike can be alerted of your presence if you fire your sidearm in three bursts, which is the international signal for distress. Careful – don’t fire your sidearm in the air, remember that the noise will still carry even if you aim at a berm.

2. Self defense

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Running into an unsavory character or two in the backcountry is the last thing you want to think about when you’re packing for your trip, but the possibility is very real. If you practice concealed carry or something similar in your life at home, why wouldn’t you bring a sidearm with you in the backcountry, a place that is isolated and tends to be a haven for people from all walks of life? You never want it to come to a physical altercation, but in case something terrible happens, you’ll be ready.

It’s not just people, either. The backcountry, no matter where it is, is one of the last few wilderness regions, and in those regions are very large, carnivorous animals. Everything from mountain lions to grizzly bears lurk beyond the comfort of trails, and the only way to save your own life should they charge you would be to fire your sidearm.

3. Hunting for food

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Say on your nice pleasant trip to the backcountry, you’ve gotten lost. Three shots didn’t work, and night is falling quickly. You didn’t bring enough food and you’ll soon be going hungry. That sidearm is your best bet to kill and gather small game for roasting over a fire.

This is where matching your sidearm to the season at hand fits in nicely. A big bore revolver would most likely blow small game to smithereens, but if you’re heading out to grizzly bear country, that may be your safest bet. A .22LR is perfect for small game, but would do little should an animal attack.

These are just three simple reasons for carrying a sidearm in the backcountry. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. See what Cabela’s Shooting Park can help you out with, and don’t enter the wild unprepared.

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Should You Always Carry a Sidearm in the Backcountry?