I voted for pistol because of ease of carrying, like bringing it to the fishing hole, easy use in a tent, and being able to shoot it with one hand, incase the other is in a mouth, and packing it away easily. I was very close to buying a .500 today, but I decided to wait because two guys suggested I get a rifle.
Ripface, this is how I do it. I find an action on auctionarms (or a doner rifle). You can find a decent mauser for under $150. then I turn it in with whatever caliber in mind and they make me a rifle. right now I'm having a short bbl'ed 338 built on a mauser. I'm also having a 35whelen built on a mauser plus I picked up a 1917 enfield action for $65. I had a 458Lott on a similiar action and not sure what I'm gonna do with this one. I know I can get a pretty decent 416 for under a grand on this action. Actually all 3 are under a grand for a gun I want.
I did penetration (on the cheap) test between a shotgun and a 45/70. I didnt even include the lott just to be somewhat fair. After seeing how the 45/70 compared to the shotgun, it wasnt even a question.
Some folks like shotguns, some pistols, basically its your butt you have to keep in the vertical position. what do you feel comfortable with?
I vote for the 45/70 lever as referenced above. For 4 accurate, fast hard-hitting shots out of a lightweight short barreled package, you can't get any better. Plus, you may very well be using this as your hunting rifle to begin with.
Look at Garret Catridges website for some interesting testimonials and ballistic tests if you have any doubts as to the field effectiveness of the Hot 45/70 loads avalaible-whether his, Buffalo Bore, or others.