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Old 03-15-2018, 11:50 AM   #1
Bounder45
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Hunting/Tracking Sidearm

I'm looking to pick up a pistol for dispatching wounded game (as part of the DEC's leashed tracking dog license). I've spent a season walking around with a shotgun or rifle, and while I'll always consider that option, I'd also like to have the option of a more portable, but still lethal, pistol.

The only animals we can track here in NY are bear and deer, so I want a cartridge that can effectively deal with both. I had considered .40s&w at first, but I think that might be on the light side (or entirely inadequate) for bear. I started looking at magnum revolvers. Something like a .44 magnum would be more than capable for taking either animal, but it's also heavy and kicks pretty hard from what I understand.

What do hunters here think about using a .357 magnum? Something like a 6 or 8 shot pistol would probably be no heavier than a regular semi-automatic pistol. I've heard some internet forum goers say that .357 magnum isn't enough for black bear, while others say it should work just fine. As with anything discussed on the internet, there is often a lot of hype and exaggeration.

Thoughts?
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Old 03-15-2018, 01:18 PM   #2
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Take a look at the 45ACP Dispatched a bear 2 yrs ago with it with no problem
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Old 03-15-2018, 01:36 PM   #3
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Take a look at the 45ACP Dispatched a bear 2 yrs ago with it with no problem
I have considered both .45 acp and .40s&w. Honestly, if I were to forgo a magnum revolver and go with a lighter cartridge, it would probably be the .40s&w, which IMO has better terminal ballistics. I might consider a .45 acp if only for the 1911-style weapon and the associated manual of arms.

That said, I just am not sure if either cartridge, which are really self-defense oriented more than anything else, are truly suitable for dispatching large-bodied animals. I know you can take animals with such cartridges with good shot placement (I recall a story of an Alaskan guide who killed a brown bear in self-defense with a 9mm) but I don't know if they're ideal. Does that make sense?

Even considering a big step up (in terms of recoil) to a .357 magnum, I've seen many internet "experts" declare that cartridge is hardly adequate for killing black bear. But I can't figure out if that feedback is based on real world experience or if it's just gossip that has been regurgitated so much it has become accepted "fact."
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Old 03-15-2018, 02:11 PM   #4
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My minimum choice would be a .357 Mag. There are other considerations for this and any other caliber you choose like the type of ammunition you use, and the accuracy of the gun you Choose. For Black Bear I would stay away from hollow points and use the heaviest bullet available, a heavy style Keith SWC would be a good choice if you are a handloader. In my experience I find that revolvers with adjustable sights are much more accurate then semi auto’s, and that is real important when dispatching wounded game especially at a distance. A quick one shot kill is important. I personally would feel comfortable with any .357 Mag, 41 Mag, or 44 Mag revolver with adjustable sights, hope this helps...
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Old 03-15-2018, 03:51 PM   #5
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^ Jack, thanks for the input.
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Old 03-15-2018, 03:55 PM   #6
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Pretty interesting read on this
https://www.americanhunter.org/artic...-bear-country/
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Old 03-15-2018, 04:18 PM   #7
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Thanks. Yeah I saw that article during my own research. It certainly has some points worth considering, but overall I think the author is somewhat jaded against anything that isn't .40 caliber magnum or larger. He seems of the mindset that "bigger is better" even though he explicitly acknowledges that bullet construction and shot placement are just as important, if not more so. I am inherently skeptical of people who claim they can put accurate .44 magnum shots into a small target when under stress. I’m sure some can and do practice to that standard, but not all. It’s one thing to hit an inanimate, stationary target, and another thing to hit a moving, living animal especially if that animal is aggressively charging towards you.

I’m not planning on facing any brown bear charges, but I do need enough kinetic energy to put down a wounded black bear, which has the potential to get aggressive during a hunt/track. I’m thinking that .357 magnum has enough energy to accomplish that task and I’ll likely be more comfortable shooting it; thus, it is probably the optimal cartridge for my purposes.

Last edited by Bounder45; 03-15-2018 at 06:17 PM..
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Old 03-15-2018, 07:21 PM   #8
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I would feel a tad underpowered with the 357 magnum.

An excellent woods gun is 10mm semi such as a Glock 40MOS (long slide) or Glock 20. I have the former and you can load it with 220gr flat-nose, hard cast rounds that will penetrate and crunch through muscle and bone. Similar ballistics to the 357 magnum but it provides 10 rounds vs 6 (or 7) rounds with a 357 magnum. Ruger has a new 357 magnum model GP100 Model 1774 that carries 7 rounds and has a 2.5" barrel much like their Alaskan series.

https://us.glock.com/g40mos

https://ruger.com/products/gp100/specSheets/1774.html

Another option is a 45 Colt. I prefer the Ruger Toklat which is a 454 Casull that also fires 45 Colt. You can load it will either caliber. A 360gr 454 Casull round will drop a black bear right in its tracks. The 45 Colt should do the same. You can two in one revolver.

https://ruger.com/products/superRedh...eets/5517.html

I love my Toklat in 454 Casull but if I were doing it over again I'd get the Desert Eagle 44 magnum semi-automatic NY compliant pistol. 8 rounds of 44 magnum in a semi. That will provide plenty of firepower in a handgun with a minimum amount of recoil.

https://www.sportsmansoutdoorsuperst...tweight-pistol
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Old 03-15-2018, 10:18 PM   #9
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I would feel a tad underpowered with the 357 magnum.

An excellent woods gun is 10mm semi such as a Glock 40MOS (long slide) or Glock 20. I have the former and you can load it with 220gr flat-nose, hard cast rounds that will penetrate and crunch through muscle and bone. Similar ballistics to the 357 magnum but it provides 10 rounds vs 6 (or 7) rounds with a 357 magnum. Ruger has a new 357 magnum model GP100 Model 1774 that carries 7 rounds and has a 2.5" barrel much like their Alaskan series.

https://us.glock.com/g40mos

https://ruger.com/products/gp100/specSheets/1774.html

Another option is a 45 Colt. I prefer the Ruger Toklat which is a 454 Casull that also fires 45 Colt. You can load it will either caliber. A 360gr 454 Casull round will drop a black bear right in its tracks. The 45 Colt should do the same. You can two in one revolver.

https://ruger.com/products/superRedh...eets/5517.html

I love my Toklat in 454 Casull but if I were doing it over again I'd get the Desert Eagle 44 magnum semi-automatic NY compliant pistol. 8 rounds of 44 magnum in a semi. That will provide plenty of firepower in a handgun with a minimum amount of recoil.

https://www.sportsmansoutdoorsuperst...tweight-pistol
Thank you for the feedback.

I had considered 10mm auto. The problems, as I understand them, is that 10mm doesn't seem to have the same ammo availability or options as some of the more established hand gun cartridges, especially as it pertains to hunting rounds. I also don't find the 10mm semi-auto platforms to be as ergonomic or portable. And in my eyes, it does seem that the 10mm's terminal ballistics are no better than what .357 magnum has to offer.

I had considered .45 colt and 454 Casull, as well as .44 magnum, and I'm sure any of them are well up to the task, but I am looking for a pistol/cartridge that is both portable for long movements and sufficient for black bear. If it is possible, I would prefer to avoid the recoil and overall experience of shooting a big cartridge.

Are you absolutely convinced that a .357 magnum isn't up to the task?

I saw 2 Chuckhawks articles which described .357 magnum as a bare (no pun intended) minimum for brown bear defense:http://www.chuckhawks.com/protection_field.htm
and
http://www.chuckhawks.com/firearms_defense_bears.htm

I would think that if it can handle a brown bear, it should be more than adequate for handling a black bear, no?

Edit: Keep in mind, I am looking for a sidearm to dispatch an animal (deer or black bear) that has already been wounded by another hunter. I'm not necessarily looking to use a handgun for a hunting a healthy animal. If I suspect that the hunter messed up the shot resulting in a marginally wounded animal, I'm inclined to forgo a sidearm entirely and use a rifle or shotgun. And if I suspect the animal's wound is not fatal in the long term, I will likely refrain from tracking it at all.

Last edited by Bounder45; 03-16-2018 at 12:21 AM..
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Old 03-16-2018, 01:01 PM   #10
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If you get a bear in close that has lain in wait and charges, I'm doubtful that anything short of a large caliber rifle or shotgun slug is going to slow it down. That being said, I would feel comfortable with a 45 auto with FMJ. You can pump out quite a few rounds quickly. I presume when you are tracking you still have the hunter following as backup as well.
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Old 03-16-2018, 02:06 PM   #11
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Eagle, I totally agree that a rifle and/or shotgun is far superior to a pistol when it comes to taking big game. However, for those situations where I require the extra mobility and there is a high probability that the animal is severely wounded, I'm willing to accept the compromise of a pistol cartridge.

I am curious as to why you and wiiawiwb suggest a .45 acp pistol over something like a .357 magnum. Is it purely because of the extra rounds available for follow-up shots?

By the way, I will have a hunter following me, but if the track/recovery takes place after legal shooting hours, I, as the tracker, am the only one legally allowed to dispatch the animal.
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Old 03-16-2018, 07:36 PM   #12
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I never suggested a 45acp over a 357 magnum. Neither would be my solution for a woods gun. I think both are underpowered.
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Old 03-16-2018, 11:20 PM   #13
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I never suggested a 45acp over a 357 magnum. Neither would be my solution for a woods gun. I think both are underpowered.


Apologies. You recommended a 10mm, but my point still stands: .357ís terminal ballistics easily match or outright exceed those of 10mm. Why do you consider .357 underpowered?


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Old 03-17-2018, 10:57 PM   #14
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.357 matches or exceeds the 10mm???? 10mm is closer to the 41mag, also a good choice. Go to Doubletap and check out their 10mm ammo. 200gr. hardcast - 1300fps 750FP at the muzzle, from a Glock G20. (Mine wears a 6" aftermarket barrel which ups those numbers a bit). And I should think dispatching game as you are proposing is an up close and personal activity.

Ammo cost, how many rounds are you going to use to dispatch these animals? With the cost of firearms, dogs, vet bills, food , transportation etc, ammo cost is a minor consideration.

Recoil on a 44 mag or lesser cartridge? Come on , it's just not that much of a consideration. Go to your local range, explain your situation and anyone there with a handgun in the calibers your considering will let you try a few rounds, anyone I know at my local range would certainly let you try their firearms.

In a revolver I would go with a 44 mag or 41 mag, in a semiauto, the 10mm.

I own and shoot in revolvers 22lr, 32mag, 357mag, 38-40, 10mm auto, 41mag, 44mag, 45 Colt and semiautos, 9mm, 10mm auto and 45ACP. Oh, and then there are my TC Contender barrels from 22lr to 45-70 (the latter Can be a bear to shoot) I have no favorites, there all enjoyable to take to the range. To me it's like some people go to the golf course, I like to spend a morning at the range. And I occasionally take non-shooters, have yet to bring anyone who did not have a great experience.

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Old 03-18-2018, 08:50 AM   #15
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.357 matches or exceeds the 10mm???? 10mm is closer to the 41mag, also a good choice. Go to Doubletap and check out their 10mm ammo. 200gr. hardcast - 1300fps 750FP at the muzzle, from a Glock G20. (Mine wears a 6" aftermarket barrel which ups those numbers a bit). And I should think dispatching game as you are proposing is an up close and personal activity.



Ammo cost, how many rounds are you going to use to dispatch these animals? With the cost of firearms, dogs, vet bills, food , transportation etc, ammo cost is a minor consideration.



Recoil on a 44 mag or lesser cartridge? Come on , it's just not that much of a consideration. Go to your local range, explain your situation and anyone there with a handgun in the calibers your considering will let you try a few rounds, anyone I know at my local range would certainly let you try their firearms.



In a revolver I would go with a 44 mag or 41 mag, in a semiauto, the 10mm.



John M


John, looking at the energy delivered by both cartridges, 10mm seems to peak at the high 600ís lb ft. I see there is a 135gr that delivers north of 750 lb ft, but thatís a controlled expansion round and Iím not sure itís the best for hunting.

.357 magnum has hunting specific cartridges that will deliver anywhere from 750 lb ft to 800.

So at its best, 10mm is about the same as .357 (in terms of energy delivery), and at its worst, it has a slight disadvantage compared to the magnum.

I also have seen more than a few reports of 10mm semi auto having cycling problems due to the huge variety in load options.

Round cost and availability: yes I understand there will be some cost, but as with any firearm i own, I intend to practice quite a bit before i employ it in the field.

Recoil: .44 mag is a pretty substantial recoil and blast, just about everyone, including the diehard gun journalists acknowledge this. Could I learn how to shoot one? Yes. Would I want to practice extensively with one and shoot it multiple times at an animal? For me, probably not if there are equally viable options, but I suppose thatís subjective.


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Old 03-18-2018, 10:58 AM   #16
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Well, practice is king, the handgun you shoot the most accurately will always be the best.

I think it was your original mention of the 40S&W round that got me on to the 10mm, the 10 is far superior for your use than the 40.

If your sticking with hot loads with the 10mm and the 357, if you had 2 loads with 750fp of energy at the muzzle the recoil is the same, simple physics. That said, I find the revolver more pleasant to shoot, generally heavier, thus less felt recoil and the semiauto has that twisting moment to the recoil whereas the revolvers are more straight back. Within the types of revolvers, though I am a single action fan, the grip shape on my double action seems to have less felt recoil than the single action. Good grips can make a big difference. Taurus for instance has those ribbed rubber grips on their double actions that are supposed to feel real nice.

Another consideration with the 44mag is to practice with the 44 special rounds, which would probably be fine for all of your intended uses anyway , but you'd still have the option of a hot 44mag for that big ornery wounded bear in the brush that you may come across. Of course I'd feel much better with your 12ga and slugs at that point.

I do find revolvers easier to consistently shoot accurately than semiautos, but that's, just me.

By the way what breed dogs do you use, and what is your training regimen like?

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Old 03-18-2018, 01:57 PM   #17
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John thanks for the comments.

My dog is a German Shepherd. He has the scenting ability but he is a little big for some of the areas we end up going through. Wire-haired dachshunds are very popular with a lot of trackers in the northeast due to their work ethic and smaller size.

As for training regimen, Iím still new at this compared to many others out there. Iíve done some artificial tracks with deer blood and hide, but honestly nothing truly trumps real world experience (actually finding a wounded deer).

I could send you a pm if you are interested in learning more about game recovery. There are some contacts I have who are much more experienced than I am.


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Old 03-18-2018, 04:06 PM   #18
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I would choose a 357 mag revolver. Revolvers are reliable, you can rest your hammer on an empty chamber making it safer while crawling through thick brush. 44 mags , 10mm and larger calibers , recoil make them difficult to shoot.
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:46 PM   #19
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I would choose a 357 mag revolver. Revolvers are reliable, you can rest your hammer on an empty chamber making it safer while crawling through thick brush. 44 mags , 10mm and larger calibers , recoil make them difficult to shoot.
You must have an older revolver for that to be an issue. Modern revolvers do not have a firing pin attached to the hammer and have a transfer bar blocking the firing pin. This allows safe carry with fully loaded cylinders. It allows dry firing too, without damage to the hammer.
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Old 03-19-2018, 12:19 AM   #20
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A little food for thought regarding the use of handguns and wildlife

https://www.ammoland.com/2018/02/def...#axzz5AAIVXCXs
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