Unit for Home Defense and Backcountry Use
I'm new to handguns. Shot a .22 rifle as a kid many years ago, but figured I'd start at step 0 again just to be safe.
I'm considering buying a handgun for home security as well as for backcountry safety. I'm a field ecologist and make trips to the Alaskan backcountry as well as other field areas. So my requirements for a multi-use tool are slightly different than for a person just searching for a home defense gun.
In no particular order here are my initial thoughts on requirements. This is literally day 1 of the search, so I'm hoping to get guidance to a class of handguns more than a specific model. I'll zero in on a model among my local shops where I can test fit, balance, etc.
- It must be completely weatherproof/dunkproof. If I take a tumble into an arctic stream I need to know that the gun will still function safely and accurately. Also, it is just impossible to keep anything perfectly dry on a solo unsupported trek.
- Weight is not a huge issue. We carry slug shotguns with respect to grizzlies and the occasional polar bear, and I am used to that weight, so not an issue.
- At this time I have zero plans for concealed carry for day-to-day running around town.
- Temperature can vary quite widely, so the gun will need to handle that.
- Ammo must be affordable-- I'm a scientist not a rockstar
- I am a fit man in my early thirties; I can probably handle recoil as well as the next guy but accuracy is more important to me that leaving a giant crater.
- That said, as my home defense piece, it must have ample stopping power.
- Don't care about new vs. used, as long as it works like a dream.
Thoughts? Thanks in advance-- the FAQs have been very helpful in bringing up initial thoughts.
I live in Fairbanks, AK. The minimum caliber acceptable for bear protection up here is .44 mag -that's minimum. That means you are in the market for a revolver. I'd note here that having the same pistol for defense and field work in your profession is a bad idea. The pressures generated by a .44 mag in an enclosed space can cause permanent hearing damage and is generally a BAD idea for someone new to handguns. In fact, you will hate shooting your .44 mag if it's all you've shot since a .22LR. I'd suggest getting two guns: a 9mm for the home (Glock 19, Springfield XD9) and a Smith & Wesson or Ruger double action revolver with at least a 4" barrel. A longer barrel like 5.5" would be better by using more of the cartridges pressure and taming recoil a touch. The Ruger Super Redhawk is superb and will take anything you can throw at it or throw it in.
Get proficient with the smaller caliber before getting acquainted with the .44. The .44 could save your life if you are prepared to use it properly under stress. The same skills you learn shooting the 9mm will apply to the revolver in .44 as well.
If you already pack a shotgun for the occasional Bear you need a BUG/Personal Defense gun to go with it.
I would go for A Stainless Ruger Redhawk 5 1/2" in 44Mag.
Definitely a man stopper and can handle much larger also.
44 Mag ammo should be readily available in Alaska normaly. I don't know if it is right now.
If you go swimming with it and it doesn't drag you to the bottom just pour the water out before it can turn to ice cause none work when filled with ice.
If at a future date you consider CCW get a second pistol.
Home defense *and* backcountry use? There is no handgun that is suited for both. Anything suited for backcountry use, which means defense from large mammals, is too large for home defense use. Also, there is no handgun cartridge that is large enough for backcountry use and is still affordable (affordable being a rather subjective description, since we cannot know what is expensive to you).
All modern handguns are dunkproof, as long as they are lubed properly and cleaned post-dunking. If carrying a revolver, I would get rubber grips to replace the wooden ones. Temperature may make a difference, as some semi-auto's run better on grease, and grease can really thicken up if the temps are low enough. Better to use a revo in really cold temps, and lube lightly.
All that being said, I can't see getting a large-bore handgun when you already use a shotgun. But if you must have one for backcountry use, then the only ones I would consider for use in AK would be a .460 or .500.
Since you already have an effective and very good choice for backcountry use, I would suggest that you concentrate on a handgun suitable for home/personal defense. Any decent revo or semi-auto in 9mm, .40S&W or .45acp would do fine for most people, but in your case I would go with a .357 revo, mostly because you AK'ers will often wear a lot more clothing that us southerners will. A full-house .357 is still very controlable in a 4" steel medium or large-framed revolver, and will punch through multiple layers of clothing.
p.s. by any chance, have you read "Gates of Fire", by S. Pressfield?
Originally Posted by TOF
+1 on TOF's statements. For your home defense, I would suggest, since all you've shot are .22's, a 9mm. Many dependable manufacturers and prices for both handgun and ammo that won't break the bank. Good Luck.
+1 on all statements already provided.
I do want to add that there is a pistol, maybe not good for back country, but good for ranch and home defense. might I suggest the Taurus Judge. it is capable of taking .410 shotshells and also .45 long colt. I'm not to familiar with the .45 LC as to hpw powerful it is but the .410 would be fine for home defense. anyone who is willing to correct this statement I am willing to hear your opinion.
+1 on the Stainless Ruger Redhawk 5 1/2" in 44Mag. It will take the abuse and is still small enough to pack around and not weigh you down too bad. Those 500 Smiths are nice but it's more weight to back around. and I really don't like the recoil on a shorter barrel weapon.
Did someone say Alaska?
This is the gun you need.
List- 900$, got mine for 700$ from Gun Genie- just click stock watch and one 'll be in soon. Used they are much less.
Grab a box of Punch soilds or equivallent- carry with confidence.
Check out Gunblast.com for more info on these. Jeff knows his stuff and speaks well of these.
.44m is easier to get off a string- if you get lucky and have the time, and, shoot one handed if the other one gets malled. It'll stop some big stuff if placed right when using a heavy, hard solid.
The .454 from Dick Casull is a one shot stopper, if you place it right, with a hard solid. It's a kicker though. Very brutal with fullhouse heavy, hard solids.
My .44m is very doable with 240gr bullets over 23gr of H110 and a CCI 350, as a practice round.
It's got room for more, and, gets it out of doors.
Do not carry HP's.
They are usesless against large, angry game with 2" of hair, hide, blubber and big bones.
I prefer the 2 1/2" tube. The 200 fps I give up is made up for in faster presentation time and better carry. 4" is for combat anywho so. But either or. I prefer the short tube.
I also recomend a Simply Rugged holster. None better for this PDW. Period. It passes the 1g test w/o a strap, and, is dunkproof. Rob is the man and will treat you right.
I carry out of doors with confidence with this lil thing on my hip. Short of a slug-gun, this gets the nod.
For HD, use .44 spl. in the .44mag chambering or .45 LC in the .454 Casull.
I also recomend getting some snap-caps and practicing. The pull is firm at first but gets WAY better after a couple hundred rounds and 'marrying the trigger'.
You can actully dry-fire this w/o snap-caps till the cows come home w/o damage, Ruger actaully encourages it. I prefer to use caps though.
Practice: shooting from weird postions, fast presentation while turning, weak hand etc...
Advice: Never, ever take off your gun belt in the bush, for any reason. Eyes in the back of your head.
Accept no substitute.
Friend of mine picked up a Ruger Super Redhawk specifically as bear-mace in the unfortunate event he might be in a spot, knee deep in a trout stream, and a griz or other equally nasty critter gets too friendly and he can't retreat to leave mr critter in his own element in peace.
.454 Casull <-- That's some serious firepower.
Nice thing about it though, you can shoot all you want to with .45 Colt and have a blast with it too.
You could get the 2 1/2" Ruger Alaskan also for a snubby version.. If you miss the target, you'll set him on fire from the muzzle blast. hehehehe Kidding aside, I held one and I gotta admit, they feel grrrrrreat. Nice balance.. glorious grip.. just plain comfy, until you pull the bang switch I'll bet and jump back a foot or so. hehe
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