The right handgun for Alaska

ducbykes

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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
 

Cavflyer

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44 mag

44 mag

Consider the .44 Mag revolver. It's much more powerful than the .45. You can draw and fire it with one hand (not easy or accurate) in an emergency, without having to keep a round chambered. The revolver would carry fewer rounds, but would be more reliable than an automatic. I've always liked the .45, but I decided on a .44 for my hiking trips in Alaska. I've had plenty of weapon malfunctions with autos, but I haven't had one yet with a revolver. The autos can be reliable, but they do require attentive maintenance. Can't speak about the .50 as I have no experience with them.
 
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martyv

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It will not stop a charge

It will not stop a charge

But I'm going to get one of those titanium 357s that SW makes. I think they only weigh 12 oz . The hammerless double action revolver is very dependable for close range, make it point-blank use.

In heavy bear country I would choose a high-powered rifle or 12 guage with slugs. But for everyday carry that I would actually carry without feeling the "big iron" on my hip this little 357 will be there.

Keep in mind...this will NOT stop a charging bear. It will only give you something to use when you are actually being chewed upon. I do know someone who killed a grizzly with a 357 mag. The range was only inches. He was knocked first and pulled the gun from a shoulder holster to kill it.
 

cohoedave

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Use Enough Gun

Use Enough Gun

In My Opinion: The least cost for the most is a five shot - six shooter: 44 Mag-Rugar Blackhawk. Cut barrel to 5 1/4" load with 325 grain hard cast bullets. Simple - Strong - Stopped a charging 58" bull moose 3 ' from my friends feet. Went thought the skull and backbone 22" and retained 78% of its bullet wieght. You have to practice with a pistol and become comfortable with using it. If you don't, it's just are a noisy Club. Myself and most of my buddies now carry 454 Casull's. 500 S&W, If you can handle it - Use It. Hop
 

LoneWolF

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In My Opinion: The least cost for the most is a five shot - six shooter: 44 Mag-Rugar Blackhawk. Cut barrel to 5 1/4" load with 325 grain hard cast bullets. Simple - Strong - Stopped a charging 58" bull moose 3 ' from my friends feet. Went thought the skull and backbone 22" and retained 78% of its bullet wieght. You have to practice with a pistol and become comfortable with using it. If you don't, it's just are a noisy Club. Myself and most of my buddies now carry 454 Casull's. 500 S&W, If you can handle it - Use It. Hop

How about a Colt 10 mm auto?

Also, what are the regulations on carrying them there? Can you carry one on your hip or shoulder without a concealed weapons permit in the wilderness?

Thank you for your time.
 

martyv

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10mm

10mm

I'm no pro on handguns really. But that doesn't keep me from having an opinion. :)

I had a 10mm and was told it was about equivalent of a 357 mag. I have been saying I was going to buy one of those titanium 357 mags to carry but I still haven't done it.

I generally don't carry a handgun at all. I do have a 45 lc but I find a handgun cumbersome. If I'm going into known bear country I carry a rifle or 12 guage. Otherwise, I just go without.

Still plan to eventually get that little 357...better than nothing, which is what I use now.
 

Gshepherd

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Martyv that 10mm is closer to a .40 smith and wess. which is much slower than a .357 an not nearly the knock down power. That .45LC on the other hand can be loaded with some pretty stiff hot loads that would out perform most .44mag rounds. Just something to think about. Your best bet while hiking in Brown Bear country is a good Pepper spray by UDAP. Check out their site. www.udap.com some pretty cool videos!

I'm no pro on handguns really. But that doesn't keep me from having an opinion. :)

I had a 10mm and was told it was about equivalent of a 357 mag. I have been saying I was going to buy one of those titanium 357 mags to carry but I still haven't done it.

I generally don't carry a handgun at all. I do have a 45 lc but I find a handgun cumbersome. If I'm going into known bear country I carry a rifle or 12 guage. Otherwise, I just go without.

Still plan to eventually get that little 357...better than nothing, which is what I use now.
 

martyv

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Pepper spray

Pepper spray

I think I'll get some of that pepper spray. Even when I get the 357 I don't plan to use it unless I actually make physical contact with a bear. So the pepper spray might come in handy for one that was just a little too close for comfort.

I have been awfully close to a lot of bears without having to shoot any in defense. But they weren't acting like they wanted to eat me either.

Shot a couple little blackies with my 32 spl for eating.
 

Flintlock

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Martyv that 10mm is closer to a .40 smith and wess. which is much slower than a .357 an not nearly the knock down power. That .45LC on the other hand can be loaded with some pretty stiff hot loads that would out perform most .44mag rounds. Just something to think about. Your best bet while hiking in Brown Bear country is a good Pepper spray by UDAP. Check out their site. www.udap.com some pretty cool videos!


That's not necessarily correct. The 10mm auto is equivalent to lower end .41 magnum offerings when using Double Tap or Buffalo Bore.

Gold Dot Handgun Hunting - 41 Magnum

41 Magnum 210 GDHP 20 0.183

Velocity(in feet per second) Energy (in foot pounds)
Muzzle velocity 1280 Energy at muzzle 764


10mm Double Tap
Caliber : 10mm

Bullet : 200gr FMJ/ FP

Ballistics : 1275fps/ 722 ft./lbs. - Glock 20

Plus, with a Glock 20 or other similar weapon, you get a 15+1 shot capacity on a durable semi-auto platform. Recoil is also reasonable.
 

Heinous Berzerker

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That S&W 500 is a monster, you might as well carry a small rifle. I carry a .44 Mag Ruger Blackhawk, but make no mistake, it is not a bear stopper if the bear is charging, grizzly or black, although it will make a black turn and run. That Colt 10mm is a piece of crap, but at least you can get some fast panic shooting off with it. If I was going to carry a big auto, it would be a Desert Eagle .44 Mag. The Freedom Arms 454 Casull single action is a really well made pistol that would be good for bear.
 

tccak71

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Hiking handgun

Hiking handgun

I have a 7.5" Ruger Redhawk .44, not exactly easy to pack around. I like the 4" .44 S&W model 629. They're compact and lighter. Since this is a hiking thread, keep in mind you want something compact and packable.


Tim
 

Wolfeye

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I was thinking of picking up a S&W model 629 with a 6" barrel. I'd prefer 4" for hiking, but can't find any bandolier holsters in that size. I handled a scandium .357 in a shop and can't picture myself enjoying the gun while at the range - it was so light that it felt unreal. I was also thinking of picking up a Ruger Super Redhawk in .480 ruger, but it strikes me as a very uncommon caliber.
 

mauserboy

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.44 Mag

.44 Mag

The 629 would be a good choice. You know, there are several adjustable "chest" holsters for the gun, one made here in Alaska by Alaska Sportsman. Very popular with hikers and fishermen. Very tough Cordura nylon and well made. About $70.00 at Great Northern Guns here in Anchorage. I'm glad you are opting for a normal weight firearm instead of one of the super lightweights models that are NOT fun to shoot, and you'd need to shoot your pistol regularly to get good with it. The Ruger Redhawk with the 5 1/2" barrel is also worth considering, IMHO.
 

ak257

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....... The Ruger Redhawk with the 5 1/2" barrel is also worth considering, IMHO.
This is what i carry when I decide to go with a handgun.....which is rarely. I usually have my .450 Marlin rifle along.
 

MauleCFI

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I currently carry a taurus tracker .44 in 4" . OK for carrying but it is so light it is no fun to shoot. My personal favorite is Ruger Redhawk or SuperRedhawk in 5".
 

sbsmith

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Bear Protection

Bear Protection

For as often as one might use it for its intended purpose, the S&W 329
44 Mag. is the obvious choice. Lightweight, you'll carry it when heavier, bulkier guns get left behind and are therefore, of no use. Granted, recoil is nothing short of brutal when loaded with Cor-Bon 325 Hardcast at 1250 fps in a 24 oz. revolver. A quck second shot is problematic, if not impossible, .....so don't miss. Trying to hit a moving target is difficult under the best of circumstances, much less with a handgun. Facing down an irate bear at spitting distance, with your own flee instincts running rampant, trying to quit shaking, is not a scenario any sane person wants to contemplate. But going into Bear country(ALL of Alaska is Bear Country) unarmed is, in a word, stupid. That's why the Backcountry Rangers in Denali National Park are armed with something, although they won't admit it on camera. It's illegal, you know.
Get something light, that you will take with you ALWAYS. Practice with light loads so you can hit a saucer plate at 10ft consistently...and pray you never have to use it.
Just my $02.
sbsmith
 

Tommy SoHappy

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I would recommend a Smith & Wesson 44 mag in the lightweight scandium version. If you use a rifle or shotgun, you will set the gun down at every opportunity to free your hands up for fishing or any other task. There's no sense packing a weapon for defense and a feeling of security, if you have to jog 10 yards to pick it up whenever you move about or feel threatened. So a 44 mag pistol with good hunting loads is the only way to go as far as I'm concerned. For years I packed a stainless steel Smith & Wesson 29 in the mountain hunter 44 mag. Heavy around the shoulders when packing it all day, but nonetheless incredibly handy and durable. When Smith & Wesson came out with their lightweight alloy scandium revolvers they were a big seller in Alaska. I purchased one to replace my old stainless 44. These things weigh practically nothing, they handle and shoot well, have adjustable sights for windage and elevation, and ammo is readily available all over Alaska.
If you buy a semi auto handgun, you have to maintain them to keep them functioning correctly. Even then, semi-autos are prone to jamming when you least want them too. Funky cartridges such as the .500's and Casull and such are just big heavy canons for guys to shoot at beer cans and then jump around yelling "man, did you see those flames shoot out the barrel and all those rocks fly!" They have scant practical value as a sidearm that will remain on your person all day without becoming a burden.

Have I ever had to kill a bear in legal defense of life and property - yes, 3 times. It is a bureaucratic pain in the butt. Most bears will leave you alone. A gunshot fired over the head of a curious bear that comes too close, or an aggressive bear that won't leave you alone, seems to have absolutely no effect. It's like they can't even hear it, they don't even flinch at the loud report (if you want to know how deafening loud a large caliber handgun is, shoot one without earplugs, just once). If you shoot at their feet and spray dirt on them, that seems to make a bear step backwards. Most often they will leave once they are going backwards - kind of like breaks the spell of their focus to attack or investigate closely this thing that holds their interest (this thing is you!). I am convinced after years in the field, that smart bears run at the sound or smell of men. Females with cubs, Messed up, retarded, or just plane young and dumb bears are the ones that will harass you. You do not want to go into the field constantly worrying about your safety or well being. Just buy a good, lightweight 44 revolver, put it in a shoulder holster where it is accessible, but out of the way. And go hiking, biking or fishing.
And, by the way, you can typically sell a used 44 Smith & Wesson in Alaska for darn near what you paid for it. Boondocks in Eagle River gave me $400 for a stainless revolver that I paid $495.00 original price and packed into the field for 12 years.
Tommy
SMITH AND WESSON MODEL 329PD REVOLVER



model329PD.jpg
Specifications
Caliber: .44 Magnum®/.44 S&W Special
Capacity: 6 Rounds
Barrel Length: 4"
Front Sight: "Light Gathering" HIVIZ® Orange Dot
Rear Sight: Adjustable V-Notch
Firing System: N/A
Grip: Ahrends Finger Groove Wood & Hogue Sq. Butt Rubber
Trigger: N/A
Hammer: N/A
External Safety: N/A
Frame: Large
Finish: Matte Black
Overall length: 9-1/2"
Material: Scandium Frame, Stainless Steel Barrel, Titanium Cylinder
Weight Empty: 26 ounces
 

Jani

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Is gun obligatory?

Is gun obligatory?

I am also pannning to stay in Alaska for 6 months to year. Is handgun really obligatory, when I am hiking in Alaska?? I am quite experienced hiker, but I have done all my hikes in Scandinavia (Finland, Sweden and Norway). We have lot of bears here, but those are afraid of humans. We don't need to worry about them. Is pepper spray enough or do I really need a gun?:eek:
 

Erik in AK

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Jani, it's a matter of personal choice and there are risks associated with either. If you have no experience with handguns and choose to carry one while you're here then by all means practice with it BEFORE depending on it.

If you choose not to carry a gun and encounter a bear on the trail, remeber that you are at the mercy of the bear's decision. Cubs aside, the smallest bear can kill the largest human with ease.
 

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