Pack'n The Big Ones


Barranti Leather’s Northwest Hunter rig is carrying a 10" Freedom Arms Model 83 in .41 Mag. Good quality
carry gear is the name of the game when hunting with big iron.

One of the most frequent questions I receive revolves around carrying large-framed, scoped handguns. Single-shot handguns are in a different class than revolvers, dictating different carry methods. Let’s focus on the options for carrying revolvers for now.

Since we’re all built differently, hunt using different methods and in all types of terrain and weather, it’s difficult for one particular holster to cover all of your needs, all of the time. Luckily we have some mighty fine options to pack our revolvers whether we’re taking a short walk to the deer stand or hiking all day in the mountains looking for a big bull elk.

I recently stumbled across a unique holster from Triple K. Their Big Thunder rig is a great option for carrying a large-framed, scoped revolver. The Big Thunder distributes the weight of the handgun evenly across both shoulders via well-designed straps. These straps are not thin, and ride your shoulders comfortably. Your belt anchors two straps in the back and another strap goes around your mid-section fastening to the holster, keeping it secure next to your body.

The holster itself carries a revolver in a perfectly horizontal position, always in the ready position and can be adjusted easily. If you prefer to hang binoculars from your neck, the holster can adjust to ride directly beneath the binos. I’ve got my rig riding a little higher on the torso and it keeps the gun next to my stomach. This holster is great for hiking, climbing over fences or up a ladder to your deer stand, getting in and out of a UTV, etc. and stays completely out of the way leaving both hands free.

The leather is premium and my Big Thunder currently carries a S&W Model 629 with an 83/8″ barrel safely, securely, and just as importantly, comfortably. Now if you really want to impress your friends at the next BBQ, check out Triple K’s Space Cowboy rig!

Triple K’s Big Thunder is ideal for packing large-framed, scoped revolvers like this S&W Model 629 with 83/8" barrel.

Even More Options

No stranger to our pages, Barranti Leather is a top-shelf hide-stretcher making some mighty fine holsters. Their Northwest Hunter is my favorite when packing a Freedom Arms Model 83 with 10″ barrel. The padded shoulder strap is most appreciated, and an additional strap wraps around your torso keeping the gun close to your body and ready for action. I’ve worn this holster for hours on end during long hikes while tracking buffalo in Africa. When the long-barreled Freedom Arms goes hunting — it’s riding comfortably in a Northwest Hunter rig.

Another neat shoulder type rig is the Bandito from Pistol Packaging. This holster covers the scope, keeping it protected. I’ve been using one for my S&W Model 686 with 83/8″ barrel and have found this rig to be very practical. Add some cartridge loops and you’re good for all day affairs. Pistol Packaging makes several different style holsters useable with their Bandito Shoulder belt.

Another top-shelf hide-stretcher is Simply Rugged. This company provides a variety of holsters for large-framed revolvers which can be used in their Chesty Puller harness system. This is a very good option for packing those scoped, heavy revolvers around for a day or a week. The system offers simplicity and comfort. Besides making quality holsters — Robb there is a great guy!

For those of you who prefer reflex sights in lieu of scopes, Diamond D Custom Leather makes a great rig for carrying the gun across your chest. Their Guides Choice rig is ideal for not only hunters but fishermen too who venture to the back country. At the farm I frequently carry a S&W Model 610 wearing an UltraDot sight in the Guides Choice rig — and I love it. Holsters designed to wear across the chest are ideal for a multitude of applications. Diamond D Custom Leather does it right.

The Galco Kodiak Hunter Chest Holster is right at home packing a scoped, large-framed revolver. This well-thought-out design features a chest-style, crossdraw carry. It’s not only practical but it comes in attractive Havana brown. A good friend borrowed my Kodiak Hunter for a mountain lion hunt. He must have liked it — I haven’t seen it since!

I know what you’re thinking — there are no cheap holsters mentioned. That’s a fact, as I’m not about to put an expensive firearm in a cheap holster. Serious hunting handguns require a different carry method than your 20-oz. polymer EDC gun. We’re talking about a large, heavy, scoped handgun, likely wearing a long barrel. When I invest — at least that’s what I tell my wife — a lot of hard-earned cash on a handgun, it’s not going into a cheap, uncomfortable, flimsy, unsafe holster of any kind.

When you pack these large handguns around the mountains for a few days you’ll appreciate a well-designed holster providing comfort and protection for your cherished shooting iron. A quality holster is worth every penny. Honest.

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