Sometimes you need a more powerful handgun than normal.
When it comes to sidearms, it seems like self-defense guns are king. Handgun rounds like .380 ACP and 9mm are popular concealed carry rounds. For those looking for more firepower there are rounds like .40 Smith & Wesson and .45 ACP. Most people tend to stop around .357 or .44 Magnum. However, for some people, these rounds still are not large enough.
Today we will be looking at some of the larger caliber handguns. These guns fire huge bullets and produce a tremendous amount of muzzle energy. Many are ideal for big game hunting purposes but can also be used to protect against bears or for home defense.
In any case these are some of the largest caliber pistols on the market today.
Taurus Raging Judge Revolver
We will kick things off with a very versatile revolver that packs one heck of a punch. There is no way around it, the Taurus Raging Judge is a beast of a gun at 73 ounces and an overall length of nearly 14 inches. The barrel length alone is 6.5 inches. This is not exactly a concealed carry gun. The thing that makes it versatile is that it is chambered for .410 shotshell, .45 Colt AND .454 Casull. Yes, you really can shoot all three out of one gun. There is something to be said for having options, even if this gun may seem like a novelty to some.
Depending on the type of ammo, a .454 Casull round can reach speeds approaching 2,000 feet per second and can hit with over 1,800 foot pounds of energy. That means this gun can be used to hunt deer and similar-sized big game. It can also be used as an effective personal defense against bears, even though finding a suitable bush holster may be problematic. The cylinder can hold six rounds and it features a black rubberized grip and the Taurus Red Bull backstrap to help tame the massive recoil.
Smith & Wesson 460XVR
Looking for a handgun that can fire rounds over 2,000 feet per second? This gun can do that. Smith & Wesson claims the 460XVR produces the highest muzzle velocity of any production revolver on earth. The .460 S&W is essentially a slightly longer and more powerful version of .454 Casull. Speeds of 2,300 feet per second are not unheard of and this gun can deliver nearly 2,800 foot pounds of energy depending on the grain bullet used. This would be a gun to consider for Alaskan bushmen or fishing guides looking for extra firepower against bear attacks.
This double/single-action revolver has a capacity of five rounds although we highly doubt you will need more than one for most big game animals. The stainless steel frame and barrel give this gun a hefty weight over 72 ounces, but what else would you expect from a big bore revolver like this? An interchangeable compensator allows you to tame some of that recoil. S&W offers a few different barrel lengths, so you should be able to find one to suit your needs. This gun can also fire .45 Colt and .454 Casull as a bonus.
Ruger Super Redhawk
Another revolver chambered in .454 Casull, the Redhawk has an advantage over the Taurus in that it is nearly 20 ounces lighter. The Redhawk is a well-known large caliber hunting handgun capable of taking down just about anything you want to hunt with it. The cylinder holds six rounds and the 7.50-inch barrel is rifled with a 1:24 rate of twist for maximum accuracy. The entire gun has a stainless steel finish to help it stand up to the elements. A black hogue tamer monogrip helps to tame the recoil and help you place those shots where they are needed.
Ruger makes a few different variations of this revolver including the "Alaskan" edition with a shorter barrel that is specifically designed to be used a bear defense gun. These revolvers feature an adjustable rear sight and a replaceable red front sight insert. As a bonus, like most of the large revolvers on this list, this gun can also fire factory .45 long Colt cartridges. Ruger specifically mentions factory rounds, so reloading does not seem to be an option here. Still, we appreciate any gun that gives us options for more than one type of ammo, especially in remote areas where options at smaller stores may be limited.
Glock 29 Gen 4
We admit, 10mm auto is on the much smaller size of the calibers we have already featured in this story, but we wanted to provide some options. We know there are other 10mm firearms out there, but not many are this concealable. Also, some people prefer semiautomatic pistols to revolvers. The Glock 29 was the company's answer to everyone who loved the Glock 20, but wanted a gun that was easier to conceal. The 29 has an overall length of 6.97 inches and a 3.78-inch barrel. The standard magazine holds 10 rounds while an extended mag can increase that capacity up to 15 rounds. The entire package weighs about 32 ounces with a loaded magazine, which is not bad at all for a gun with this much firepower.
In case you were wondering, a 10mm round can reach speeds of over 1,600 feet per second and nearly 800-foot pounds of energy depending on the type of round you use. The Glock 20 has already proven itself to be an effective bear defense gun. If you are worried about defense against human attackers, this gun will work for that too. This is a good option for anyone who wants a higher caliber pistol that can also be easily concealed.
Magnum Research Desert Eagle
We know, we know. The Desert Eagle is often not taken seriously at all. To be fair, practical applications for this gigantic, gas-operated semi-automatic are limited. We think that some of the pushback for this gun comes from the fact it is used in so many movies. We lost count of how many times Arnold Schwarzenegger has used one in his movies. We suspect filmmakers pick it just because it appears normal sized in his huge hands. Even though the idea of law enforcement using this gun like in "Last Action Hero" is ridiculous, but I digress.
One thing is for certain, there are not many semi-autos that deliver the over 1,500 fps speeds that .50 Action Express does. When you consider it can hit with up to 1,500 foot pounds of energy, no one can argue it does not have stopping power either. I have heard a few isolated stories about people using this to hunt deer, but for the most part, it is a range novelty. It is worth noting that Magnum research offers this gun chambered for .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum too if you are looking for a slightly more affordable version.
Magnum Research BFR
Speaking of Magnum Research, we should mention their other giant firearm, the BFR revolver. BFR stands for "Biggest Finest Revolver." Magnum Research went above and beyond with these insane wheelguns. How wild are they? Well, they offer these guns chambered for big bore handgun cartridges like .460 S&W, .500 S&W and a .45 long Colt/.410 combo. Seems normal enough right? How about a revolver chambered in .30-30 Winchester? Or .444 Marlin? How about .450 Marlin and .45-70 Government or .475 Linebaugh?
You may be asking: "Why?" The best we can tell is that Magnum Research simply said: "Why not?" Obviously, many of the rounds we just mentioned are popular for deer hunting. Maybe that is probably why this gun does not get quite as much flak as the Desert Eagle. Some people can see it as practical for handgun hunting. It does makes more sense to shoot a deer with .45-70 than .50 AE. In any case, Magnum research offers several different barrel lengths and grip combos depending on what caliber you get. We have heard these guns are extremely well made, even if practical applications may seem limited.
Smith & Wesson Model 500
Looking for a gun large enough to make Dirty Harry sweat? One that could take down a T-Rex? Look no further than the Smith & Wesson X-Frame 500. This gun has developed a legendary reputation for being the most powerful handgun on the planet and it is well-deserved. For one, .500 S&W Magnum can fly at nearly 2,000 feet per second and can deliver between 2,600 and 2,800-foot pounds of energy to a target with a 300 to 400 grain bullet weight. This single/double-action gun sends bullets absolutely screaming down range!
Like the 460XVR, these guns have the barrels and frames made from stainless steel to help them stand up to the elements. They weigh between 55 and 70 ounces and have a five-round capacity. Smith & Wesson offers these guns with varying barrel lengths from eight inches all the way down to four! This gun has a reputation for having a nasty kick, even with a muzzle brake, but it is certain to drop any big game animal you shoot with it quickly and most importantly, humanely.
Thompson/Center G2 Contender
This single-shot offering from the folks at Thompson Center is one of the more popular hunting handguns on the planet. One of the reasons for that popularity is its versatility. You can change this firearm to a variety of different calibers by doing a simple barrel swap. The company offers a few rimfire options for this gun, but the options go up significantly in caliber from there to rounds like 204 Ruger, .223 Remington, .30-30 Winchester, .357 Remington Mag, .45-70 Govt, and a .45 Colt/.410 Bore combo.
The nice thing about this one is that the barrels can be swapped by anyone simply by removing the forend and a few simple screws. No gunsmith needed. T/C offers this one with either a blued or stainless steel finish and those finishes are interchangeable with one another. Another nice thing about the G2 is the addition of a manual firing pin selector that allows you to switch from rimfire to centerfire on the same frame. You could hunt squirrels with this gun one day and moose the next!
For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels.
NEXT: 8 OF THE BEST .22 PISTOLS ON THE MARKET FOR TRAINING AND PLINKING FUN
Enjoy the outdoors?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.