The right handgun can be a surprisingly effective choice for hunting.
If you choose the wrong handgun, however, you'll be wasting your time in the woods.
These six tips will help make the decision process a little easier.
What kind of game will you be hunting?
Obviously, bigger animals are going to require bigger bullets, so you need to make sure you're hitting the woods with enough power. If you're hunting bigger game, you shouldn't be using anything smaller than a .357 Magnum. You don't want to overdo it on smaller animals, though, as you'll damage a lot of the meat. Start with .22 LR if you're hunting squirrels or rabbits, and adjust accordingly to the game you're chasing.
Revolver or semi-automatic?
Revolvers are simple in operation, and semi-automatics generally allow higher capacity and quicker shots. If you're hunting big game, you could go with something like a Glock Pistol in 10mm or a lower-capacity .500 S&W Magnum revolver. It really comes down to preference. You could even look into single-shot, bolt-action and lever-action handguns, but those options generally require a little more research. Ultimately, your new gun should fit you and your style of hunting.
How much accuracy do you need?
Longer barrels equal higher velocities and usually better accuracy. You really have to ask yourself one question: how much barrel do you want to carry around with you? At close range, 6-8 inches is what I personally prefer.
Scope or no scope?
Some handguns have integral scope mounts you can attach a handgun scope to. When you start adding a scope, though, you increase bulk and weight. When you look through, you'll see your hand wobble more than before. You can, however, always get yourself a good set of cross sticks or some other kind of support for long-range shooting.
What are you willing to pay?
It pays to shop around and check individual handgun reviews. Talk with seasoned handgun hunters on what they use. Don't get sucked into the "more is better" trap, as the price really matters when shopping the local gun store. Gun buying shouldn't mean taking out a bank loan.
How much recoil can you handle?
When Dirty Harry made the .44 Magnum famous, everyone wanted one. But, many later showed up on the used-gun market when new shooters realized how much kick they had. Calibers such as .500 S&W Magnum and .460 S&W Magnum boast even more recoil and power. So, stick with what you can handle.
Do you like articles about the outdoors? Click here to view more articles by Eric Nestor. You can follow him @ericthewoodsman on Twitter, The Classic Woodsman on Facebook, and @theclassicwoodsman on Instagram. You can view more Nestor Photography photos at Nestor Photography.