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Thread: Scope for Handgun Hunting?

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Default Scope for Handgun Hunting?

    I've been giving more thought to hunting with a handgun next year. My main focus is getting my son out on his first critter and after last year's hunts realized I ended up carrying two rifles a fair bit....particularly late in the day when I didn't want to be schlepping two rifles around. We mostly hunt on foot and I'm already pack muling a lot of stuff.

    So to that end- I've been thinking about using a handgun as a secondary weapon and my son using a rifle as our primary weapon. I'll most likely use a Ruger Bis Hunter in .44MAG.

    After doing some longer range shooting with a couple of handguns, I believe a scope is in order but I have little experience with handgun scopes.

    What are you guys using? Fixed 2.5, 4x or variable?
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Done a whole lot of it, but none in the last 10 years so my info is "less than current."

    I found I could handhold and accurately shoot offhand a 2x on both revolvers and single shots, but not a 4x. Just to wiggly in my waggly old age. Also, on a SRH in 44, I just didn't need any more magnification within hunting ranges, rested or not. My picks were all Leupies. Ran all the way up to 6x on some of my singles in flat calibers that would be rested in any case, but for a do it all revolver, something in the 2x range was ideal for me.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Leupold 2X and good for life. As power goes up even the pulse of blood through you eye can give a wiggle to focus at least for me. I have used lesser brands on rifles with no problems but the Leupold I the only scope I've used that help up on 44mag and up handguns.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    Two power is plenty and anything over 3X, in addition to the wiggling reduces your field of view and gets hard to find your target. The real benefit isnít the magnification . . . . Itís the fine point you get (no trying to guess where the center of a thick blade is) and that you can see the target below the point of aim when your aiming a little high.
     
    You want a quality name like Leupold as the recoil is very hard on them. There are other good brands but one that will live very long on a big game handgun isnít cheap.
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    I use a 2.5 to 8X Leupold. I keep it set on 2.5X However I figure the firearm is good to 200 Yards Plus over a rest like a backpack.

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    I've been on a quest to connect with my BisHunter for a few years. Here's my setup.

    2X28 Weaver is perfect for the Bishunter. Larger objective than the Leupold 2X which gives a larger exit pupil which can give more light but also makes it easier to find the crosshairs when bringing the gun up. Weaver claims it will hold up to "1000's" of rounds of 454 Casull, not sure about that but I've shot a lot of heavy 355gr 1200fps 45 Colt loads and it's accurate as can be.

    I had Von Ringler make one of His Wyoming Combo Holsters for it. http://www.ringlercustomleather.com/catalog/i2.html Here is an old post with a review I did after first getting it. http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...036#post712036 I've used it in the field a few years now and am happy with it.

    I've posted quite a bit here about this gun, load and holster.

    I shot these groups off a wrist rest, no part of the gun touching a rest. I was aiming at the top target for all shots. Upper group 1st 2 shots on the left and then I "settled in" and shot 3 on the right. Lower group is my plinkin load, 8.5gr Unique 255rnf. I thinks it's about 950fps. About 10-11 inches drop. At 50-70 yds from various field positions I can hit my 4 inch swingers 6 out of 6 easy. I really like this gun/load/scope combo.





    Last edited by Snyd; 12-30-2012 at 16:59.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    After trying a couple of different scoped revolvers I never ended up happy. Went to an Ultradot and like it

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Thanks much folks- I'm liking it.

    I believe a 2.5x Leupold is what I'll shoot for unless I find a smoking deal on something else. I can see where less wouldn't actually be more where magnification would be concerned.

    Snyd- nice rig! Just as a question- how heavy is that holster? Knowing how big a SBH is, that holster looks enormous. Good luck on connecting with it this year!
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    Thanks much folks- I'm liking it.

    I believe a 2.5x Leupold is what I'll shoot for unless I find a smoking deal on something else. I can see where less wouldn't actually be more where magnification would be concerned.

    Snyd- nice rig! Just as a question- how heavy is that holster? Knowing how big a SBH is, that holster looks enormous. Good luck on connecting with it this year!
    The holster is very light, weight is not an issue. Pics make it look big and bulky but it's not. If you ever want to check it out let me know if you're headed to Fairbanks.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    I've had several handgun scopes through the years. A Bushnell scope of which I can't remember the name. It required a unique base and was a pain in the neck from the start. I tried it on a couple Contender barrels, but could never keep the base tight. It is in a box somewhere around here that should be thrown in a dumpster.

    I had a 2X Tasco at the same time--still have it--that taught me the advantages of a scope sight on a handgun. Mounted on a .22 rimfire, it continues to impress the uninitiated to single shot handguns.

    I've had various fixed power Simmons and Weaver scopes that failed in one way or another (no critique of Snyd's scope) since then. I used a couple of variable power Burris handgun scopes (3-9, 4-12) and the eye relief and field of view were very difficult IME.

    My go to handgun scopes have been 2X Leupolds. I've not had one fail (though I'm certain that time is coming), which provides a lot of confidence in the field. Field of view is adequate and eye relief is perfect. There's not a whole lot I want to do with a handgun that I can't accomplish with iron sights, so any extra magnification is plenty, but the single sighting plane and crosshair significantly improve my accuracy. I've tried 4X Leupolds, but I think their attributes are actually disadvantages. I also have a 2.5-8X Leupold on a .223 Remington and for small targets at longer ranges it is fine. It is bulky and heavy, but on a 14 inch barrel that's mostly unnoticed. I'd not be interested in it on a handgun for big game, but for varmints and such it is a good match.
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    As a matter of curiosity, how much effective range are you guys getting from these scoped handguns?

    It would seem 100yds is pretty doable on caribou sized critters and anything less would be even better. I'm not much of a moose hunter, but 50yds seems pretty solid with enough poop to punch through.

    How about farther? I'd guess these pistol rounds lose steam pretty fast so I've got no idea if you'd run out of accuracy or energy first.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    As a matter of curiosity, how much effective range are you guys getting from these scoped handguns?

    It would seem 100yds is pretty doable on caribou sized critters and anything less would be even better. I'm not much of a moose hunter, but 50yds seems pretty solid with enough poop to punch through.

    How about farther? I'd guess these pistol rounds lose steam pretty fast so I've got no idea if you'd run out of accuracy or energy first.
    There are handguns and then there are HANDGUNS. Depends on a bunch of factors, but I've killed some critters at a good bit more than a 100 yards. I'd say at a minimum, a scope on a handgun doubles the sure hitting distance for me.
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    I haven't scoped a heavy hitter but I have an old Ruger MKI 22 that has had a Bushnell Phantom 2.5x mounted on it for about 40years. It's good on Ptarmigan to 50+yds. 2.5x is about as much as you can use without a rest and is plenty for caribou sized targets for as far as you can judge bullet drop (150yds +)

    1Cor15:19
    If that is a Bushnell Phantom you are ready to toss out, give me a reasonable price and I'll send you some green. There are a few places those work pretty good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    1Cor15:19
    If that is a Bushnell Phantom you are ready to toss out, give me a reasonable price and I'll send you some green. There are a few places those work pretty good.
    That's the one. It may take a while to find it, but when I do I'll let you know.
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    44mag is going to be around 150 yards max for the gun then the shooter and situation will deduct from that. When you get into things like a Contender or 460 Smith the gun is capable of about twice that but the afore mentioned deductions are larger the further out you go. Get your rig set up then shoot often and youíll get a real good idea of your limitations.
     
    As far as loosing steam it depends, some drop like a rock and some go right on but they will pretty much all kill well beyond any range you can make effective hits at. My opinion is the big calibers that drop like a rock are better suited for handgun hunting than the repurposed flat shooting rifle rounds. Big calibers get their killing power comes from mass and they donít loose mass at range . . . Small calibers need speed and/or expansion, from a short barrel speed gets sacrificed at the muzzle so it may be flatter shooting at range but too slow to be effective. A 200g .452Ē or .429Ē doesnít need to expand but a 7mm does and may not shot from a Contender. Just my opinion though, other opinions have killed lots of game with those rifle round handguns.
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    I have tried a variety of fixed and variable scopes, plus no mag and 2x red dot sights. The Leupold 2x LER scope is actually only 1.8 magnification, and to my eye doesn't magnify much at all, but the field of view is decent at 21' @ 100 yds. With the variables, somewhere between 2.5 to 3 power is the best, providing real magnification of the target, but field of view gets to be a problem. These long eye relief scopes are designed to give a full view shooting off-hand, with arms fully extended (15-20 inches). That really cuts into the field of view, and seldom while hunting do you shoot off-hand with arms fully extended.

    My next scope is going to be the Burris Scout scope. It's 2.75x by 20mm, so will mount low just like an LER scope will. Magnification seems perfect, and because it has intermediate eye relief (8-14") the field of view is still 15' @ 100 yds. I handled one at the NRA show last summer, and the optics are excellent. It should be no problem at all using field positions to get the proper eye relief. Braced against a tree, off sticks or a pack, with arms bent should bring it right in at about 12 inches.

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    My Ruger Mark II Target has a Millet red dot on it and is great for small game and birds. It stays in my pack all during hunting season. The Ruger 44 Mag SBH has a Trijicon Reflex II on it and it is good a little past 100 yrads. This set up works very good for black bear over bait. Also have a Savage Striker, bolt action 'pistol' in 308 that had a Lepulod EER 2x on it. I have taken it on sheep hunts and have taken caribou out past 200 yards with it. It is a fun one to shoot but a little hard to get used to.
    As one gets a little older, the eye sight is not what it used to be and scopes make things a little easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Bearcat View Post
    ...As one gets a little older, the eye sight is not what it used to be and scopes make things a little easier.
    Boy ain't THAT the truth!
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    I run an Aimpoint 9000SC on my SRH in 44mag. I originally got it for black bear hunting because I was getting tired of not being able to distinguish my cross hairs (I had a 4x then a 2x Leupold handgun scope) from the black bears (This was over baits at oh dark thirty). I got the Aimpoint and haven't regretted it yet. I can bust clay pigeons at 100 yards from a rest with ease. I was worried that the lack of magnification would be a hindrance but for hunting it is awesome. Aimpoint now makes scopes that are way smaller than the 9000sc which I would love to have but at this point if it ain't broke I am leaving well enough alone. I have no problem with moose at 100yards and would not hesitate to use this scope to 150. Be mindful of what size dot you get. Mine is 4moa and for real precision work it takes a little more effort. I was shooting my buddies AR two Saturdays ago and he had the Aimpoint Micro with the 2moa. It was really sunny and it was a real bugger trying to see such a small dot in the bright light. It was great once it started getting dark out but I'll take the 4moa any day.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    One thing for sure with a handgun setting for point blank range out to say 150yds with a 44mag is almost an act of futility.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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