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Looking for a pistol

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I'm looking for a pistol and I'm struggling with the issue of reliability/dependability in a revolver vs. a semi-auto. I'm told that a couple decades ago revolvers were MUCH more reliable than semi-autos. However, now the differences aren't that big of a deal or don't exist at all. ...or so I'm told.

I want a pistol that I can carry with me while bowhunting. If I get a revolver it'll likely be a 357 and if I get a semi-auto it'll likely be a 40. How similar are they in weight and "carry-ability"? I want a gun that I can crawl around in the mud and dirt in, not have to clean while in the field for ten days, and know it'll shoot when I pull it out and use it.

Thoughts, comments, suggestions appreciated!

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Hey Scoot,

What is your primary concern for needing a handgun? Or, how many legs to the critters you're worried about have? If you're worried about ones with two legs, I'd say a semi-auto in 9mm would be a good choice due to its higher capacity per size. If you're worried about bears and big cats, I'd really suggest a revolver in .44 magnum. It'll make a bigger hole than a .357, and that's important.

As far as specific gun selection goes, how a gun feels and points in your hand is paramount. If you have to "work" to get proper sight/ target alignment when you raise up the handgun, it's probably not right for you. Go to the range a few times, rent a wide variety of guns, and go to the store after each range session and put what you've learned about how guns fit you to use. Yeah, it might be a slow and somewhat expensive process, but what's the cost of buying a gun that doesn't work well for you?

As for brands, Glock is used by all kinds of organizations all over the world. A Glock 26 is quite small and has magazines available with capacities from something like 10 to 33 rounds. Some folks really dislike the way Glocks feel, and I'm one of them. But, I have liked shooting them recreationally. (I know that doesn't exactly make sense, but I don't know what else to say.) You might also be interested to read about the testing process for the CZ P-01, a full-size pistol. It's pretty impressive. Just search it up and you'll likely find what I mean.

For revolvers, I'd buy a Ruger Redhawk (not Super Redhawk) with a 4" barrel. It's fairly small for a .44 magnum, and very reliable. If you're dead-set on .357, Smith and Wesson make some lightweight guns that would probably be great to carry and awful to shoot. How much are you going to want to practice with this specific handgun? You might buy a .22lr trainer just for familiarization's sake.

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Great reply and info, TTT. I'm not at all into guns and really have no desire to be. I'd like to become proficient and comfortable with the gun I choose, but the "shootability" of the gun is reasonably secondary. I'll shoot it enough to feel good about it right away, but then I'll probably shoot it once a year or so otherwise. So, if it kicks like a mule, so be it. That being said, I really have no big desire to overgun myself- I'd assume I'd be flinching all over the place if I did that.

If I wanted a gun for grizz country I'd be looking at a 44 mag. However, I won't carry that much gun around. You were exactly right- 90% of why I want a gun is for 2 legged critters. However, feeling confident in dealing with cats or black bears would be good too. But, more important to me is that I can carry it around and not feel like I'm hauling a cement block around the mountains.

Thanks again for the reply. Any additional info appreciated.

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If the ability to be conceal-ability isn't a big deal, sounds like a 357/38 spc revolver would be the ticket. Smith & Wesson 686, or a S & W model 29? Not sure what size gun your looking for though; best bet would be to go fondle a bunch of pistols and revolvers and see what feels good.

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My buddy has a Glock 29 sub compact in 10mm and it will handle your needs as you described them. The problem though is a subcompact has a small grip (small meaning I can get my middle finger and half of my ring finger on the grip.) with a grip extension, I can get that full ring finger on the grip. 10mm has a pop to it and the subcompact is a handful in that caliber. It will has taken deer size critters. Bear? 44 mag, titanium smith and wesson model 2" or 4" barrel, it is super light, will kick lick a mule BUT in the heat of the moment, you won't even notice it.

Those would be my choices. 2 legged varmits in the woods, 10mm, bears, 44 mag

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I just grab a arrow out of the quiver and get ready to stab something,it made me feel better when the momma black bear was popping her teeth and huffing at me. I did have to clean my shorts when I got back to the truck though.

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Scoot. I think there is a casing size limit of 1" in minn. so with that said I dont think a 40 cal. will work. I have a 44 mag and have opposing feelings on it. If whatever you get try to reload your own shells. My buddy shot a bear that was charging at him and shot it with the 44 mag. and hit it 4 times before it fell and 2 of the bullets where just under the skin in the muscle and the other 2 where buried deep inside the 412lb bear.. Factory loads!! Just thought you would want to know.

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Thanks again for the replies.

x1957x, what do you mean by the casing limit in MN? It's pretty doubtful that I'll carry it hunting with me in MN, but ya never know. It'll be on my hip in ND and Western states though.

Interesting regarding the 44 mag on a black bear. That being said, I simply won't carry a 44 mag while bowhunting in anyplace other than brown bear country. The low likelihood of use vs. the weight is an easy one for me- I won't haul around that much weight.

What about dependability in a revolver vs. a semi-auto? I'm told that's not much of a big deal anymore if you use decent ammo. Others have said revolvers are simply much more reliable- both yesterday and today. Thoughts?

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I wouldn't call myself a handgun expert, but I've taken about 6 shooting classes, I've shot alot of different hand guns, carried them all over the world and have had to use them in real world situations.(iraq and afghanistan). As long as you keep your gun clean, you will have no problems with a semi, just like any long gun you have at home. they are no different from a semi-auto shotgun or rifle. I really like the springfield armory xd line and you can never go wrong with a glock. the things last forever. So like everything else, guns or bows its really all just preference and what you like. Go to a range and try some guns out. Find the one you like the best. I don't have very large hands, so some models of semi, i don't like because i have to move my hands to much to reach the safety or mag release- Springfield xd 45...holds 13+1 sweet gun!

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There used to be dimensional requirements in MN for cartridges for hunting, but those have basically been done away with. Also, for protection, those requirements would be moot anyway. On a related topic, you might want to look into legal requirements for carrying a handgun while bowhunting in the states you're likely to do so. I believe that MN forbids it (unless you have a recognized carry permit) while hunting whitetail, but allows while hunting black bears.

I chased down some numbers from manufacturers websites, just for the sake of conversation. Except as noted, revolvers are 6-shot and semi-autos are given with mag capacity only. All weights are empty. The rows are Maker, Model, Barrel Length, Weight, Capacity

.44 magnum .44spl

S&W 329PD 4” 25.1oz

S&W 629 2 5/8” 39.6oz

Ruger Redhawk 5 1/2” 49oz

Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan 2 1/2” 45oz

.357 magnum .38spl

S&W 686 4” 39.7oz

S&W 686 Plus 4” 38.9oz *capacity = 7

S&W 627 2 5/8” 37.6oz *capacity = 8


Glock 26 ~3 5/8” 19.75oz 10++

CZ P01 4 4/5" 28oz 14

Springfield XDm 4 1/2" 32oz 19

Springfield XDm Compact 3 4/5" 28oz 13&19

The second-lightest model is a .44mag with a 4" barrel. Now I kind of want one.

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Ive used a few different handguns while baiting bears while i am alone. Borrowed a 44mag s&w, 357s&w and finally bought a used g20 glock 10mm.

The longer the barrel the bigger pain in the butt it will be if you carry on your hip. If you go with a nice wheel gun make sure you buy a repacement synthetic grips to use, because the finish might wear or scratch.

The one thing about glock is that if you have a live one in the chamber you'd better make sure you dont have a finger next to the trigger when you draw. The 10mm is a very good round and i think its a 14 or 15 shot clip. I dont have to worry about it getting scratched or dirty. Extreme cold might play a role, like all autos. That depends on ammo or oil.

I really like the glock just had to practice a bit with it. Plus I can purchase an aftermarket 40cal barrel for it and practice with cheaper rounds if wanted.

I do think you need to look around and find something that fits your hands and needs. Have fun shopping.

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