Once you step out of your home and head for the wilderness, you have to be prepared for anything. It does not matter what kind of game you are hunting, the odds are that you will be out on the trail, miles in the middle of nowhere. Not the best place to be without a sidearm in case it is needed.

A bolt-action rifle is all well and good, but most long-range bolt-action hunting rifles are scoped and zeroed at specific distances. Add to that the fact that they are dreadfully slow under stress. If you have a charging grizzly coming at you from 10 yards away, the last thing you want to do is to fumble with the bolt under sub-zero temperatures and try to align the scope as he closes the distance.

Don’t be fooled by bruin’s bulk and lumbering gait. A grizzly can easily hit 35 miles per hour. That’s way faster than Usain Bolt in the Olympics. And it is not just bears alone you have to contend with in the wilderness. If you stumble across a pack of wolves busy dismembering their kill, they are liable to go for you. This is why it is absolutely imperative to carry a sidearm with you when you go into the woods. This advice holds true for all kinds of large, medium, and small game animals.

Now the question arises which gun is too much for a hunting trip? Conversely, which one would not be able to cut the grade when the going gets tough?

The answer depends a lot on the kind of animal you are hunting, as well as the terrain in which the hunt takes place. If running into a pack of coyotes were your main fear, you would not be well served by a .500 Magnum revolver. However, strapping on a small Glock 43 while venturing into bear territory, might not be the best course of action.

Let us check out the best handguns available today for your specific hunting needs:

Big Game Hunting

Predators come in all shapes and sizes and that includes both four-legged and two-legged ones. In both these cases, you will need a weapon that can hold its own against some of the meanest critters nature throws at you. Fortunately, plenty such sidearms exist for just this purpose:

S&W 500: The Ultimate Monster Handgun

This monster of a gun is right on top of our list for big game hunting. It has been constructed on S&W’s massive X frame. The good people at Smith and Wesson know a thing or two about revolvers. After all, they have been making them since the 1860s. When they created a handgun, they called it the “most powerful production revolver” around. People set up and listened.

The Smith Wesson S&W 500 is a large frame SA/DA revolver. It is chambered in the extremely powerful 500 SW Mag caliber. This variant has been constructed of stainless steel and has a five round capacity. Its formidable recoil is tamed by a combination of a highly effective muzzle compensator and finger groove-equipped Hogue grips. Add to that the heavy 4.5 lbs. weight and shrouded 8.4-inch barrel and this becomes a gun you can shoot accurately.

This gun can take down any animal that walks the earth today. You can’t go wrong with the 8.4 inch barrel length is not so big as to be impossible to holster and not too small so that it’s difficult to control for fast follow-up shots. In fact, you can even use it for both hunting and self-defense. The cartridge can top off at 60k pounds of pressure per square inch (psi). For comparison, most rifles max out at 55k psi.

This is a heavy firearm so it would be a good idea to carry it in a chest holster. This way, you will be able to distribute the weight evenly all over your upper body.

You can shoot softer loads for practice and high-pressure ones in case you find a T Rex in your backyard.

Most commercial factory loads have muzzle energy of around 2800 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. This is roughly equal to a bowling ball traveling at 70 miles an hour.

Once you master it at the shooting range, you can carry it in the field with total confidence that it has your back against just about everything out there.

Specs:

  • Price: $1,439.99
  • Brand: Smith & Wesson
  • Action: Revolver
  • Barrel Length: 4 inches
  • Weight: 56 oz.
  • Caliber: .500 S&W Magnum
  • Capacity: 5 Rounds

S&W Model 629: Raw Power in Your Hands

Many big-bore wheel gun aficionados think of the .44 Magnum as the most powerful handgun in the world. And that was certainly the case when Clint Eastwood brandished his S&W model 629 in the Dirty Harry series. While it’s not as powerful as a .500, it is certainly an extremely powerful handgun that can protect you from just about any large game animal out there. The Smith & Wesson model 629 comes with a 6.5-inch barrel and six rounds of potent .44 magnum ammo.

At 3.2 lbs. it’s not a light gun but not so heavy that you would have any trouble toting it around on your trip. The .44 magnum is an extremely effective weapon, especially when loaded with full power flat tip loads. The 6.5-inch barrel gives it considerable accuracy while its heft keeps felt recoil low enough for fast follow-up shots.

It can put down even a charging moose along with just about every dangerous big game animal around. Should you have a wounded animal on your hands, and have to track him through the wilderness and into the bush – Rest assured that this would be a great companion in case things hit the fan and you have to squeeze off multiple shots.

Specs:

  • Price: $984.99 Used
  • Brand: Smith & Wesson
  • Action: Revolver
  • Barrel Length: 6.5 inches
  • Weight: 3 lbs.
  • Caliber: .44 Magnum
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds

Glock 20 Gen 4: Power and Speed Rolled into One

The Glock 20 offers 15+1 rounds of potent 10mm rounds that you can shoot very fast and very accurately. All of it is available in a package small and light enough to be carried in a side holster.

As with all Glock pistols, the G 20 is also equipped with a ‘safe trigger’ system. This ensures the weapon is semi-cocked and won’t cock completely until you squeeze both the trigger safety and the actual trigger simultaneously. This will force the striker to full cock and release the sear to fire the weapon.

Many people prefer lighter calibers and multiple shots in the age-old ‘quantity over quality’ debate. However, the Glock 20 will give you the best of both worlds since it’s one of the most powerful, high-capacity pistols in the world. Add to that the fact that the Glock is virtually impervious to the environment.

Ever since its creation, Gaston Glock’s masterpiece has become a by-word for out-of-the-box reliability. The Glock 20 is a chip off the old block and is every bit as reliable as any other Glock model. Unlike many other handguns, you don’t have to pull back the hammer or mess around with manual safeties.

You just pull the weapon, aim, and shoot. There is no need to transition from SA to DA (with revolvers) or DA to SA (With pistols carried in condition two). With a Glock 20, you get the same consistent, safe action trigger pull after every shot. The night sight equipped Glock 20 is an ideal sidearm to carry with you on your next hunting trip.

Specs:

  • Price: $521.40
  • Brand: Glock G20 Gen 4
  • Action: Semi-Auto
  • Barrel Length: 4.61 inches
  • Overall Length: 8.07 inches
  • Weight: 1.92 lbs.
  • Caliber: 10mm
  • Capacity: 15+1 Rounds

Medium Game Hunting

Just because an animal is not a full-sized grizzly bear doesn’t mean that it’s not dangerous. If you shoot a warthog and don’t get him in the vitals, he will likely come straight at you. And those tusks are no joke.

If you are hunting with a rifle or even a DBBL shotgun, you run the risk of running dry before the animal is down for the count. If he decides to fight it out, your empty or unloaded long gun might serve only as a pike to keep him away from you.

Packing a sidearm on your medium game hunt can ensure that you will always be armed, irrespective of the situation. Let’s check out the top contenders for a sidearm you might need when you go hunting for medium game.

Kimber K6s DASA 4” Combat 

Kimber is a company that has been known for its 1911-style handguns. But, this changed with the 2017 release of the Kimber K6s revolver. They set out to create a Colt Detective Special for 21st-century use.

All Kimber K6s revolvers can be chambered for.357 Magnum, and will accept.38 Special or.38 Special +P ammunitions. But what sets the Kimber K6s apart is the 6 oz. cylinder.

Although the K6s’ cylinder may be smaller than other competitors, it holds one more cartridge. This allows you to have more power in a smaller package.

The new Kimber K6s have a double-action/single-action configuration. This takes Kimber’s legendarily smooth and short trigger pull to the next level. Double action trigger pulls still weigh between 9.5-10 lbs. The K6s have an exposed hammer that allows single-action shooting.

A single trigger pull weighs in at a crisp 3.25-4.25 pounds. For precise shooting. The Kimber K6s Combat revolver has a 4″ barrel and is an excellent home defense and duty firearm. It can also prove invaluable to campers, hikers and hunters while hiking through bear country.

The added weight of 2 oz. The additional weight (2 oz.) and enhanced sight radius (6.1) of the K6s 3′ will allow for easy handling of even the most extreme bear defense loads.

 

Specs:

  • Price: $1,039.99
  • Brand: Kimber
  • Action: Single/Double
  • Barrel Length: 4 inches
  • Weight: 25.5 oz.
  • Caliber: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds

SAR USA K2 45: One of the Highest Capacity .45 Pistols Around

Built by the Turkish Sarsilmaz company, the SAR USA K2 45 offers the venerable .45 ACP caliber in a 14+1 round package. This is one of the highest capacity .45 pistols available today. The .45 ACP caliber has been in service for more than a century and has put down all kinds of two and four-legged predators.

The key feature of this weapon is its CZ ancestry. The CZ 75 is justly venerated as one of the most reliable and accurate weapons out there. And the K2 45 certainly pays homage to this lineage. Which makes sense because it’s not some cheap rip-off but an actual licensed clone of the original CZ 75.

The quality of the weapon speaks volumes and is easily visible in its fit and finish. The trigger is exceptionally smooth in both SA/DA modes.

The weapon’s low bore axis and slide-in-frame design make it an easy gun to shoot, despite the high recoil of the .45 round. The weapon is full steel and has steel sights that are adjustable for both elevation and windage. There is a full-size accessory rail for a tactical light and/or laser. All in all, a really neat package at a highly affordable price.

 

Specs:

  • Price: $609.99
  • Brand: SAR USA
  • Action: Single/Double
  • Barrel Length: 4.7 inches
  • Overall Length: 8.3 inches
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs.
  • Caliber: 45 ACP
  • Capacity: 14+1 Rounds

Springfield Armory XD 40: A Rugged Weapon Designed for the Outdoors

Springfield Armory’s Xtreme Duty (XD) series has carved a name for itself as one of the toughest and most reliable handguns available today. Few weapons have been as torture tested as the XD and the .40 variant is no exception to the rule.

The 40 S&W round is a very hard-hitting load and it can put down virtually all threats in the medium game category. The weapon has trigger safety, grip safety, and an internal firing pin safety, making it an extremely safe gun to carry when you go off into the woods. Throw in an accessory rail for a tactical light on the Springfield XD 40 and you can depend on it at all hours of the day and night. Extra magazines are also available quite easily.

 

Specs:

    • Price: $492.99 Used
    • Brand: Springfield Armory
    • Action: Semi-Auto
    • Barrel Length: 5 inches
    • Weight: 2 lbs.
    • Caliber: .40 S&W
    • Capacity: 12 Rounds

Taurus G3: An Affordable and Reliable Package

A 9mm may not be as powerful as a .44 mag or even a .357 magnum, but it more than makes up for it with the sheer variety of loads available. From standard rounds to +P JHP loads, the 9×19 cartridge has it all. It is arguably the single most popular handgun caliber in the world.

From the FBI to armies all over the world, to armed civilians. Millions of people carry their 9mm pistols (and a few 9mm revolvers) with absolute confidence.

The G3 is one of Taurus’s most recent offerings chambered in the 9mm caliber. Taurus is unlike other gun makers that start with full-sized guns and offer compacts and subcompacts later on. They made the G2c variant and now they have introduced its full-sized 17 round capacity variant.

The Taurus G3 is an inexpensive pistol that still offers many of the same features that are available in pistols that cost almost twice as much. Its aggressively checkered grip will feel natural even in gloved hands, and its triple safety system will give you the confidence to carry it chambered all the time.

It has a trigger safety like a Glock, but it also incorporated a thumb-mounted external safety ala the 1911 pistol. Apart from these external safeties, it also has an internal firing pin safety.

Loaded to the brim with +P ammo and a spare magazine, it can help save your life from any disgruntled animal you see coming towards you.

 

Specs:

  • Price: $287.99
  • Brand: Taurus
  • Action: Semi-Auto
  • Barrel Length: 4 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs.
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 17+1 Rounds

Small Game Hunting

Small game animals might not be very dangerous, but even a small animal can turn at bay when it’s desperate. Coyotes, for instance, hunt in packs. Running into a pack can put you at a serious disadvantage. Moreover, you might need a weapon for a close-up humane kill.

Taurus Judge: Potent Varmint Medicine

The Taurus judge seems to have been created specifically for the bush. You can load both .45 Colt as well as .410 shot shells in it. This is a great weapon to tote along when you are in snake country. It has fiber optic front sights and fixed rear sights.

The matt and stainless steel finishes don’t wear off easily and its spurred hammer is easy to cock for single-shot action. Its five shot capacity is good enough for all kinds of varmints and other animals that need to be dispatched quickly.

Specs:

  • Price: $499.99
  • Brand: Taurus
  • Action: Single/Double
  • Barrel Length: 6.5 inches
  • Overall Length: 12.5 inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs.
  • Caliber: 45 LC
  • Capacity: 5 Rounds

Heritage Rough Rider .22lr/.22WMR Combo: An American Tradition

No roundup of American hunting sidearms can be complete without something that reminds us of the halcyon days of the Wild West. Enter the Heritage Rough Rider. Capable of shooting both .22 Long Rifle (LR) as well as .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR) cartridges.

It is a well-balanced, well-built, and reliable weapon with an action that dates back to the 1800s. You can use it to get rid of snakes, rabbits, and everything in between. It is also an ideal weapon for putting a small animal out of its misery. This weapon has fixed front and back sights, a blued finish, and a six round capacity.

Specs:

  • Price: $168.89
  • Brand: Heritage Mfg
  • Action: Single
  • Barrel Length: 4.8 inches
  • Weight: 2.08 lbs.
  • Caliber: 22 LR/ 22 WMR
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds

Conclusion

There you have it. The roundup of some of the best sidearms for hunting that you might need when you go on your next trip. All of these fine guns can handle their respective tasks irrespective of the game you plan on hunting. In a pinch, you can also use them for defense against two-legged predators. If you plan an extensive trip in the wilderness, make sure you strap on some great sidearm protection.