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Thread: The right handgun for Alaska

  1. #1

    Default The right handgun for Alaska

    I am planning a stay in Alaska next year for 6 months to a year. I want to do a lot of backpacking, snowshoeing, and some archery while I am there. I have been shopping for a handgun to carry with me. I get very mixed stories on what I need. Do I need the new S&W 500 or will a 45 do? I would not be able to use the 500 again which would be a drawback because I would never really need that gun. Any help would be appreciated.
    Thank you

  2. #2
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    Default

    My suggestion would be the biggest handgun you can shoot WELL.
    Not knowing your experience makes it hard to recomend something. I'm not sure what "45" you mean, but if you mean the .45 ACP, while I consider it o be my favorite self defence round, it's not a bear stopper in my opinion. I consider .44 mag or HOT .45 Colt loads to be about a minimum. I carry a .44 mag with 320gr hardcast bullets @ about 1350 fps.
    If I'm hunting with it as my primary weapon it's my S&W mod. 29 with 8&3/8 barrel & red dot sight. If it's for bear defense or as a backup while bow hunting it's an iron sighted Dan Wesson with a 6" barrel.
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  3. #3
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Talking Must be the first of the month....

    ducbykes, this topic comes up almost monthly here it seems. If you check the Archives on this site you will probably fine more perspectives & opinions than you have time in the day to read.

    Good luck.
    ďLife has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.Ē ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

  4. #4

    Default More info.

    Thank you for the quick replys. I guess I need to be a little more specific in what I am looking for. Most of the gun threads that I have read on here have been rifles. I haven't seen much on the S&W 500 and that makes me wonder if that is because no one uses it. I am not real up to date on hand guns. I have shot a 30-06 most of my life. I was really just looking to find out if I needed more than the .45 ACP. I do not know how accurate I would be with either as I have never shot them. The 500 I was looking at was the 8-3/8" with a red dot sight. It is a lot heavier, but if it saves my hide I do not care about weight or money. I have been told that it actually kicks less than the .45 acp which might make me a little more accurate with it. Any further help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

  5. #5
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    ďLife has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.Ē ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

  6. #6

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    You should maybe check out a .480 Ruger

    Powerful pistol but handles well.. good deer hunting piece if you were ever inclined.

    Could probably re-sell it pretty easy if you ever chose to down the road

  7. #7
    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Default wait 'til you get here

    there are lots of "bear defense" pistols for sale used up here.(hmmmm?)
    personally, i don't carry one.
    Akhippie is right on though, just read the archives...
    Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"
    http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters.org/

  8. #8
    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Default

    I just went through this myself, but I'm a life long Alaskan who has been hunting in bear country for the last 20 years. I finally decided on a Taurus 444multi 44 mag.

    My reasoning was as follows. (no particular order)
    • Its got to be small enough I can draw it fast and easy.
    • Its got to be light enough I dont mind carrying it on any hunt. If I dont have it with me, it wont be any good to me when I need it.
    • Its got to be powerful enough it can do substantial damage at close range, but not so powerful I cant shoot it accurately.
    • I have to be able to shoot it with one hand incase my other hand is busy being some creatures lunch.
    • Its got to have inexpensive ammo. This goes back to the shooting it accurately, if I cant afford to practice with it, I wont be accurate with it. 44mag/44 special and 454/45 colt fit this requirement well.
    • Its got to be cool/neat/special in some way. I can only afford to purchase so many firearms and I want to enjoy them to the fullest. (I’m man enough to admit this plays into many of my purchases. Form AND function! lol)
    • It cannot cost an arm and a leg. I like fine craftsmanship as much or more than anyone, (machinist by trade) but I have many other outdoor hobbies to support.
    The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the State or a political subdivision of the State.

  9. #9

    Default

    If you aren't going to shoot it a whole lot- enough to get really good with it- don't bother wasting money on a handgun. Price the ammo and think.

    How about getting a 12 gauge instead? With a barrel change, it's something you might use once you return home.

    I'm not anti-handgun for bears by any means, but recognize their limited power and the need to really be able to hit exactly what you are shooting at.

  10. #10
    Member Doug in Alaska's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm almost afraid to jump in here but since you asked I'll give you my opinion. I agree with BrownBear, a 12 gauge would be probably be your best bet. However, I carry a Marlin Guide Gun when I am able. I can't always carry a shotgun or rifle. When I can't, I carry a Ruger Alaskan in .454 Casull. Sometimes I need something light weight and easy to carry. I shoot a lot with this handgun. I'm at the indoor range at least once a week and usually twice, so I feel fairly comfortable with it. Just my opinion.

  11. #11

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    DOnt forget to file off the front sight.......








    That way it wont hurt as bad when the bear shoves it up your butt.
    hahha sorry I couldnt resist.

  12. #12
    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Talking i resisted...

    but i gotta admit, it wasn't easy <grin>
    Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"
    http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters.org/

  13. #13
    Member Doug in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JinAK View Post
    DOnt forget to file off the front sight.......

    That way it wont hurt as bad when the bear shoves it up your butt.
    hahha sorry I couldnt resist.
    Why did I know this was gonna happen?!!

  14. #14
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Default Here is a good story about the usefulness of a pistol for bear defense

    Reed Thompson moose hunting story

    It is going around in email with more photos to it. The key thing about the above story is know your equipment and know your buddies equipment just as well as your own.

  15. #15
    Member alaska bush man's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Pistol

    I think a 44 Mag will do everything you need, with good 300gr SP you will be in good shape for Alaska.

    I do most of my sidearm carry with 357 mag in 6" Colt Python and 180gr. Sierra FPJ handloads. Works for me!
    Alaska

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    Default .41 magnum

    My father turned my attention to the .41 magnum when i was a teenager.The recoil was manageable and at the time it was one of the big calibers you could buy at that time.Now with all these new calibers ,I still feel my .41 is enough handgun.Bottom line is its still a Handgun.Ive never shot any animal with it except for a grouse,which i shot the head off.I carry Federals 250 grain cast core.I feel these are a fine bullet for the .41.The advertised velocity is around 1250 fps.Does anybody have any experience with these bullets from federal ,good or bad..Thanks..

  17. #17
    Member Doug in Alaska's Avatar
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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by alaska bush man View Post
    I think a 44 Mag will do everything you need, with good 300gr SP you will be in good shape for Alaska.

    I do most of my sidearm carry with 357 mag in 6" Colt Python and 180gr. Sierra FPJ handloads. Works for me!
    I agree, unless of course you are from California, then you should probably file the front sight off!

  18. #18
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    Default 454 Ruger Alasken

    I Picked up the Ruger 454 Alasken for camping and fishing. ( good hand gun.)

  19. #19

    Thumbs up 357 mag!

    You guys might think Iím crazy but the last time in was in the bush I carried a 357 mag ruger GP100 with 200g speer FMJ hand loads. I think a pistol is extremely inadequate for bear protection. Your only chance is getting lucky by hitting the brain or breaking bones with penetrating rounds. Iím able to practice with a 357 mag often because it will not abuse me like a 44 mag. or larger hand cannon. I can shoot that 357 well and donít think I would gain anything else by a larger weapon. Plus itís lighter and faster to use than many larger guns.

    Also it has other uses like a home defense gun with 110g or 125g load is one of the best people stoppers.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie1 View Post
    I think a pistol is extremely inadequate for bear protection.
    I think you would be very hard pressed to research and find even a single circumstance where any pistol was inadequate for bear protection. Have you ever heard of anyone being killed by a bear and the cause was attributed to too small of a handgun? Have you ever heard of even a single case where someone was killed by a bear while the person was in possession of a handgun?

    The key factor with any handgun for bear protection is "make sure it is available!"

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