By Mark Hampton
There are many handgun hunters — me included — who enjoy purpose-built handguns. A handgun specifically built for prairie dogs, a dedicated squirrel pistol, another just for hunting wild hogs, then one for whitetail deer and yet another for larger game like elk or moose may be in your gun safe. These types of specialty handguns fill a specific requirement, and some shooters may want to have them on-hand. But what about the guy or gal who wants to experience handgun hunting and doesn’t have a custom handgun with all the bells and whistles?
You probably have a gun available which will serve the purpose just fine.
Many of us own handguns for personal protection in a caliber suitable for certain hunting opportunities too. There are also competition guns — perhaps a pin gun, steel challenge, or silhouette gun — and any of them can do double duty in the hunting field. The right caliber with the right bullet will get you out in the field. Heck, you may want to hunt small game with a .38 Special using wadcutters (great fun!) — legal in most states — but check your game laws beforehand.
Ruger Super Blackhawk (top) customized by Mag-Na-Port, Ruger Blackhawk with Bowen conversion
in 10mm (left) and Mag-Na-Port and SSK customized Ruger Super Redhawk with UltraDot are all
handguns customized to be put back to work in the hunting field.
Ihad a 5″ Ruger Super Redhawk lying under my bed for home protection. This gun had been highly customized by both SSK Industries and Mag-Na-Port International. It was retired to home protection when I sold a previously owned game ranch where the gun served as back-up for those big mean hogs which didn’t have a sense of humor.
Recently I mounted an UltraDot 30 in Ruger rings and suddenly this gun enjoyed a renewed life as a hunting gun. Being a .44 Magnum, it has enough horsepower for a wide range of game if I can get within a reasonable range.
Another option is a couple of S & W’s, a 6″ Model 686 and a newer Performance Center Model 627-5. Both of these guns were used for casual competition and recreational shooting, and both are very accurate. When choosing the right hunting bullet in .357 Mag., these guns can handle hogs or deer if you do your part.
Buffalo Bore and DoubleTap both provide 180-200 gr. heavy cast bullets, making fine options for hunting. While the .357 Mag. may not be the most popular choice, simply waiting for the perfect broadside opportunity and keeping the range limited will allow these guns to fill your freezer with venison.
A few years ago I carried a Ruger Blackhawk in .30 Carbine around for a trail gun. It sounded like a good idea at the time but I never used it much. So, our good friend Hamilton Bowen performed a 10mm conversion on this seldom-used trail gun and now it sees plenty of action. The 10mm Auto is an often overlooked — underappreciated — cartridge regaining interest today.
Using heavy hard cast bullets from Buffalo Bore, I’ve taken several Texas-sized hogs with one well-placed shot. The single-action Ruger is no longer resting in the gun case but has transformed into a dandy hunting pistol.
RIA’s Big Rock in 10mm (top); S&W 686 (left) and S&W 627-5, both
in .357 Mag. Great double duty handguns!
Big Bore/ Small Bore
Speaking of 10mm Auto, Rock Island Armory has a new 6″ long-slide dubbed “The Big Rock.” Here’s another example of a personal defense pistol which will do just fine in certain hunting situations. This high-capacity handgun would be ideal for following a pack of hounds in hot pursuit of wild hogs, and I wouldn’t hesitate to punch a deer tag using good bullets. Those 16+1 rounds of high octane 10mm Auto ammo will reign terror when a sounder of hogs are encountered.
Unfortunately competition silhouette shooting has declined somewhat over the years. I had a Ruger Super Blackhawk with 10 ½” barrel — an ideal steel target gun — being totally ignored. When my friend Ken Kelly of Mag-na-port International worked his magic, the gun returned as a serious hunting rig. Complete with Weigand base and rings, wearing a Leupold scope, I added Pachmayr grips and this .44 Mag. is no longer sitting in the closet undisturbed. Now instead of ringing steel, this handgun has graduated to real game. It’s a beautiful revolver and a great hunting companion.
Do you like hunting small game but have trouble finding .22 LR ammo? I’m fixing to solve this dilemma with a .327 Federal Magnum, which also shoots .32 H&R Mag., .32 S&W, .32 Long and even .32 ACP too! By reloading, I can cook up fine small game rounds and do it inexpensively. You can whack a varmint with this neat little .32 caliber as well, plus it will serve as a self-defense round if the need should arise.
I’d make a bet most of you have handguns that could make the hunting team with little effort. Those dual-purpose handguns can be instrumental in many ways, whether it’s for home protection, competition, or just plain shooting fun. They just may provide additional pleasure as a hunting iron.
By Mark Hampton
For info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index