Three Handguns Hunters Want

Hunting with handguns is no longer a fringe activity. It’s more popular than ever, and a number of handguns are well-suited to the task.

Three Handguns Hunters Want

Big-game hunting has long been the stronghold of those using conventional rifles, shotguns with slugs, muzzleloading rifles and archery equipment. Occasionally, hunters took handguns — usually large-caliber revolvers — along with them on their outings, but seldom as the primary hunting firearm.

All that changed in the late 1960s when Thompson/Center introduced its forward-thinking Contender pistol. The break-action, single-shot pistol was eventually chambered in a large number of excellent deer cartridges and had the flexibility of being able to change out the barrel for a different caliber depending on the hunter’s needs. A growing number of handgun hunters soon took to the fields and woods in pursuit of deer, bear and other medium-sized game species.

Now, handgun hunting is growing by leaps and bounds, and even has somewhat of a cult following of participants who thrive on harvesting their game with a short-barreled firearm. Be aware, however, that some of these “handguns” resemble a conventional centerfire rifle far more than they do your typical pistol.

Let’s take a look at three popular ones — a bolt gun, a revolver and a semi-auto — that handgun hunters might look for in your retail establishment.

Remington 700 CP
Remington 700 CP

Remington 700 CP

Just introduced by Big Green last year, this is one of those “handguns” I mentioned that don’t look like a handgun. In fact, it doesn’t shoot like a handgun, either, but more like a rifle, and it is available in several popular short-action calibers. Initially offered in 300 Blackout, .223 Remington and .308 Winchester, the gun is now available in 6.5mm Creedmoor and will eventually include about 10 other chamberings, many of which will be good for big-game hunting.

Built off a standard Remington 700 short action, one of the most popular bolt-action rifle designs in history, the 700 CP (for chassis pistol) exhibits many rifle-like characteristics in a much more compact package. Remington adding the SB Tactical arm brace to the gun made it even more rifle-like, while still compliant with ATF regulations concerning handguns versus rifles.

The 700 CP features a Remington chassis and M-LOK handguards, a muzzle threaded for a suppressor and an included thread protector, and a full-length Picatinny rail for mounting scopes or red-dot sights. The gun also comes with a 10-round magazine and Magpul MIAD pistol grip, with some models offering the aforementioned SB Tactical brace.

As for triggers, the 700 CP’s X Mark Pro trigger is said to be a very fine one, and it’s easily adjustable at that. For those wanting to get into handgun hunting without giving up the extended range their rifle usually brings, the 700 CP is one of the best options on the market right now. 

While the 700 CP’s 12-inch barrel won’t yield as much velocity from a typical rifle cartridge as would a longer barreled rifle, it is still plenty long to get the necessary velocities to produce the downrange energy needed to kill big game at 200 to 250 yards. That makes it a great option for those handgun hunters not satisfied with being able to make shots out to only 75 to 100 yards.

This isn’t a budget gun, by the way. With the Magpul MIAD pistol grip, the MSRP is $1,040. Models with the SB Tactical brace carry an MSRP of $1,169. 

Smith & Wesson Model 629. 44 Magnum
Smith & Wesson Model 629. 44 Magnum

Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum

I consider this heavy, sturdy handgun one of the finest hunting revolvers ever made. The Model 629 is based on the company’s earlier Model 29 revolver and was the first production revolver chambered for .44 Magnum — at the time, in the early 1970s, the most powerful handgun cartridge in the world.

Built on the company’s large N-frame, the gun is now offered with a 5-inch, stainless steel barrel with satin stainless frame finish. The cylinder holds six rounds of powerful .44 Magnum ammo, and the revolver can be shot single or double action.   

As for its deer-killing ability, I’ve personally killed a handful of deer and a couple of wild hogs with the 629 and found it to do its job quite well. When I got to the downed animals, they were just as dead as deer or hogs I’ve shot with high-powered rifles. Prospective handgun hunters should be aware that the gun weighs in at about 2.75 pounds, so a good holster is needed — providing retailers another opportunity for a sale.

More recently, Smith & Wesson has introduced The Model 629 Magnum Hunter, a .44 Magnum revolver built specifically for hunting. The six-shot Magnum Hunter, made by S&W’s Performance Center, has a built-in muzzle brake and comes with an adjustable rear sight as well as a red-dot or green-dot optical sight. With its 7.5-inch barrel and Performance Center-tuned action and trigger, the 629 Magnum Hunter is a top-of-the-line offering for revolver big-game hunters. But with an MSRP of $1,378, it’s not going to appeal to every hunter looking to get into the handgun side of the sport.

Fortunately for those who want to hunt with a revolver, many ammunition companies make fine .44 Magnum hunting ammunition designed for the deep penetration and excellent expansion required to kill big-game species quickly and efficiently. Some good loads to consider carrying in your inventory include Black Hills 240-grain, Buffalo Bore 240-grain deer Grenade +P, Hornady 200-grain and 240-grain XTP, Remington’s 225-grain Hog Hammer and Winchester’s 250-grain Platinum Tip JHP.

Glock G40 10mm
Glock G40 10mm

Glock Model 40 10mm

“Hunt with a Glock? You must be crazy!”

For those unfamiliar with the 10mm Auto cartridge and Glock’s complete line of handguns, that statement might make sense. But for customers looking for a big-bore semi-auto capable of taking deer-sized game quickly and cleanly, the Glock Model 40, known as the G40, fills the bill.

The 10mm cartridge was invented by Col. Jeff Cooper in 1983 and was first chambered in the Bren Ten pistol. Cooper designed the cartridge to have a flatter trajectory and more extended range than the .45 ACP, with more killing power than the popular 9mm. In recent years with a better selection of high-quality bullets on the market, many have begun using the cartridge for deer-sized game, and the G40 is one of the most popular pistols in the caliber.

As most know, Glock is an Austrian company that put polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols on the shooting map decades ago when Gaston Glock invented the P80, now known as the G17, at the behest of the Austrian Armed Forces. Better known for police, military, home-defense and self-defense applications, the G40’s 10mm chambering pushes it into the realm of viable hunting cartridges.

The later versions of the Model 40 feature a 6-inch barrel and a 10-round magazine. And, the MOS model allows easy mounting of red-dot sights for extending the effective range of the gun. A great option for the Glock is the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, which is an excellent hunting optic. The top-quality reflex sight features a 2.5-MOA dot for precise sighting out to about 100 yards.

For deer-sized game, several companies offer 10mm ammo that will get the job done. These loads include Hornady 175-grain Critical Duty and 180-grain XTP, Speer 200-grain Gold Dot, Federal 180-grain Trophy Bonded JSP and 180-grain Hydra Shok, and Buffalo Bore 220-grain Heavy Outdoorsman.  


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