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Discussion Starter #1
I'm interested in some opinions on a handgun for personal defense out in the wild.

I'm planning a backpacking trip. An extremely long trip at that. I plan on backpacking along the great Appalachian trail. A 2,100 mile trek stretching from Georgia to Maine and this trail holds its dangers from man and beast alike and I have no intentions of being ill-prepared.

I plan on taking along a Henry AR-7 for small game, but when it comes to protection.. I'm not sure where to begin. I'm a fan of the H&K USP .45 but that's a steep price tag and I've never owned a handgun. (Plenty of rifles though.) Any suggestions? I'm open to all criticism.

(Also.. any tips for a durable knife? I've got a few old reliables.. but I'm curious to what I can find.)
 

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A Ruger Alaskan comes to mind, as well as the Smith & Wesson model 500 with 4" barrel, and if that's too big, you could go with a S&W N-frame model 629 4" .44 magnum. Or are you thinking something more compact?
 

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I don't know what type of small game that you have in mind. However, if the estimated distance for the small game is not all that far, have you considered the Taurus Judge which holds both the 45 long colt and a 3" 410 shotgun shell? With such an arrangement, you might could eliminate one firearm to carry. I done a lot of backpacking in the rockies in my lifetime, and therefore am considering the weight factor only from my own experiences, and certainly not from the perspective of 2,100 miles on the Appalachian trail.
 

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I don't mind carrying two firearms. The Henry AR-7 is only 2.5lbs which barely registers in my mind. I prefer the accuracy it provides and I'd rather not pick shot out of my meat, haha. The pistol would simply be quick protection from man or beast.

Thank you for the idea though. I've mulled the judge over in my mind and couldn't justify it.
 

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Thanks, shooterX. Any reasoning behind a revolver over a 'typical' or 'tactical' pistol? I never really considered them before. (I'm not sure why.)
 

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Glock 20 or 29 will hold 15 rounds per mag and is enough for whatever you run into in those necks of the woods. If 30 - 45 rounds of 10mm can't kill it or drive it off you shouldn't be there in the first place. All these awesome, huge revolvers are more powerful for the first 5-6 shots - after that the G20/G29 outperforms them all for another 10 trigger pulls of 357magnum-like performance and then a quick mag change can give you another 15 rounds to go.

If you're talking Brown Bears and taking down Moose I would leave the 10mm at home and take the bigger revolvers and maybe a .338 rifle at a minimum.... and make sure my will was in order...
 

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I live in N/W Montana and like to hike the back trails. My long gun is the Marlin 1895M 450 cal.. Its a brush gun, not so much long range but thats what I bought it for. My handgun, I settled on the Ruger Redhawk 444, 44 mag. 4" barrel. I picked a wheel gun because they rarely if ever cause problems with dirt and such (things you might encounter in the back country). More important is the round I shoot in the 444, because I live in Grizzly country I bought a box of Garrett 330 gr. Hammerhead, hard cast rounds. I believe there are only 4 revolvers that can handle that particular round. These are for "penetration" only. Said to be able to pass through the skull of a Griz, and continue on, breaking bones as far as the hips......
Hope I never have to find out, but that rig gives me as much comfort as I can expect, for my situation....It's for da bears !!!!
 

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Thanks, shooterX. Any reasoning behind a revolver over a 'typical' or 'tactical' pistol? I never really considered them before. (I'm not sure why.)
I guess I was thinking of the caliber more than firearm type. And for some reason or another, I have always associated being in the woods and carrying a revovler as my sidearm, not sure why.
If your more interested in an auto, something in .45 ACP, .40S&W , and maybe .357 sig, would be the only calibers I would consider. A Glock or a Sig would be good choices, or if your inclined, a m1911 of some kind.
 

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For that kind of wilderness adventure my choice for protection and to fill the pot would be to sling an 18 inch 20 gauge pump over my shoulder. Easier to cook up a rabbit or a game bird than messing with a bunch of tree rats. If a dangerous occasion should arise a 20 gauge slug or load of buckshot can stop a threat as well as, if not better than most handguns.

A .22 survival rifle(+ ammo) and a .44magnum pistol(+ammo) would add up to about the same in the weight department.

You could even carry a flare or two in case of an emergency.

OMO

bosco
 

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Personally, I would go for the Ruger Alaskan or anything chambered for a .50 or a .44 magnum. But a 10mm glock also wouldn't be a bad choice because of the ammo capacity. You said you've never owned a handgun before? Make sure you get a lot of practice then. Especially with these high power rounds.
 

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On the trip you propose, I believe that you will have more problems with state and park carry than you will with 'critters'...OMO...study individual state gun laws well.:yup::yup::yup:

On that note, I'd suggest a Ruger Redhawk with at least 5 inches of barrel...the choice of those in the Alaska wilderness. OMOYMV
 

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I believe 'shooterX' recommendations were very good although not very economical. Still, I'm not sure you would want to compromise.
 

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I guess I was thinking of the caliber more than firearm type. And for some reason or another, I have always associated being in the woods and carrying a revovler as my sidearm, not sure why.
If your more interested in an auto, something in .45 ACP, .40S&W , and maybe .357 sig, would be the only calibers I would consider. A Glock or a Sig would be good choices, or if your inclined, a m1911 of some kind.
I think you associate a woods gun to be a revolver for good reason. A woods gun should be simple and reliable AND powerful enough. Semi-Autos powerful enough to do that are more of a recent thing and still the revolvers far out strip them in what can be shot out of them. Revolvers are still King of Caliber in a sidearm for the woods and I believe semi-autos will never seriously challenge that.

That said...
None of those you suggested are good to hunt a 300 lb hog with and that's what I measure a woods gun by! A .357magnum with hunting loads - read not 125Gr HP or 147Gr HP - would be the lowest bar - a measuring stick if you will - for woods use. The .45 has only one or two loads out there that would do the job and most .45s would be damaged from regular use of them. A 40s&w would have to be loaded to 10mm speeds to get meaningful, reliable penetration through bone, cape, etc. and the 357Sig only emulates a small range of what 357Mag is capable of and that's those two loads - 125gr HP and 147gr HP - those should never be recommended as "best" for woods protection/hunting.

So actually, no, those three suggestions are not adequate if you are trying to find something you don't have already. If you already own those you will be better off with them than not but if you are seeking an adequate tool for this particular mission - hiking from Ga to Ma along the Appalachians - Don't choose any of those three!

Either:
A revolver with at least .357Mag power loaded with deep penetrating hunting rounds. ALL revolvers stronger than .357 will be that much better!
Or:
An autoloader with that much power or more. 10mm is the bottom floor in that category. The three mentioned above don't cut the muster for everything you may encounter on that hike. 10mm will do the deed - so will Desert Eagle's .357Mag, .44Mag and .50. But they seem extreme and heavy and expensive to me.

A Glock20 is rugged, dependable and powerful enough for your safe travel in those woods and it can take the potential abuse! This I inadvertantly test every time I'm in the woods. It's rough out there even when you're careful. It's capacity and ruggedness are what appeal to me in your situation and seals the deal on why I recommend it. You can get aftermarket barrels @ $120 each and start shooting 40sw and 357Sig anytime you want, also. No other change is needed other than the new barrel. Can you say "Multi-gun" lol

I would recommend 200gr SWC loaded to the max as a minimum carry on that hike. I would also put an aftermarket 6 inch 10mm barrel in it so I got more power out of the load and so I won't be shooting lead bullets out of a factory Glock barrell - a no no.
 

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I appreciate all of your input on this matter. I have a feeling legalities will be my undoing here. :aargh4:

But it isn't stopping me from an attempt! I plan on calling each state authority individually, decipher the laws, and see what can be done. This trip excites me.. something I've wanted to do for a while now. But I don't believe I'd be able to make the full leg of the trip without a firearm to provide food and protection.

I have a feeling out of the 14 states covered by this trek, New York will probably be the one to shoot me down.

Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted on the status of everything!

I'll let you all know after the Monday's business day what has unfolded so far.
 

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I appreciate all of your input on this matter. I have a feeling legalities will be my undoing here. :aargh4:

But it isn't stopping me from an attempt! I plan on calling each state authority individually, decipher the laws, and see what can be done. This trip excites me.. something I've wanted to do for a while now. But I don't believe I'd be able to make the full leg of the trip without a firearm to provide food and protection.

I have a feeling out of the 14 states covered by this trek, New York will probably be the one to shoot me down.

Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted on the status of everything!

I'll let you all know after the Monday's business day what has unfolded so far.


Good luck on this, sounds like more fun than a cruise.
Are you going with someone else, that you have confidence in??

Here is a good site to check if you have not already,
Handgunlaw.us



"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."
Will Rogers
 

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The trail goes into NJ... Better check out their laws. NY will be a deff. NO when it comes to handguns. Long guns should present no problem where the trail goes through NY. If it comes to hunting to eat, you will have to get a hunting license and follow the seasons. I am sure the same goes for hunting in most States.

bosco
 

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We'll see what unfolds. I'm hopeful for a promising turn out. Ugh. Hunting license have been the least of my worry because.. well.. they're rabbits and squirrels and where I'm from no one bats a lash at shooting those. Especially if they're to eat!

It seems I'm in for it! Glad I have time before Spring hits! :smile:
 
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