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Handgun Hunting Basics Part 1 by Larry Weishuhn

Handgun Hunting Basics: Part 1

by Larry Weishuhn

“You here to play cowboy or hunt? Pray tell what do you intend to do with that play toy?” Laughed the grizzled guide when I pulled my Ruger Blackhawk .44 Mag revolver, topped with a Trijicon RMR sight out of my carry bag.

 Those gathered around the ranch’s shooting bench in preparation to make certain their rifles were still properly sighted snickered as well.

“Good Lord willing, I do my part, I plan on shooting the biggest buck taken this hunt.”  I replied, smiling.  My questioner guffawed out loud. 

I was last in the group of eight to shoot.  I loaded a full compliment of six Hornady 240-grain XTP rounds.  Using a sandbag for a solid rest, I cocked the hammer and fired at the 100-yard target.  My first shot was about a half inch high of the “X-ring”.  I cocked the single-action’s hammer, then lined up and shot a second time. It printed a figure “8” with the first shot.  In rapid succession I cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger on four rounds.  All grouped within 2-inches, outside to outside.  The best  three-shot groups by those using long guns was about 2 ½-inches.

I watched the guide looking at my 6-shot group through his spotting scope.  Turning toward me with a raised eyebrow, “Maybe I misspoke a bit about you and your handgun.”  I smiled!

“The bullet goes where the barrel is pointed when you pull the trigger!” Said I placing my revolver back into my travel bag.

Last evening of the hunt shot a B&C record book contender, the biggest buck taken during that hunt. Love it when a plan comes together!

Ruger’s Blackhawks (single action), and Redhawks (double action) chambered in .44 Mag or “size” rounds with bullets and ammo produced by Hornady are indeed worthy of use for big game species. 

During this and two future blogs  I will discuss hunting with handguns; action, calibers, ammo, sights and appropriate distances.

Getting started I would suggest shooting a single-action revolver, meaning the hammer has to be cocked before the trigger can be pulled so the firing pin strikes the cartridge or primer.  I would further suggest starting with a .22 rimfire revolver; ammunition is readily available and not very costly.  This allows and encourages a lot of shooting to become familiar with a handgun and learning how to shoot it accurately, while also having fun. 

My suggestion?  Procure a Ruger Wrangler which is reasonably priced, accurate, fun to shoot, but one that simply has “iron or open sights” meaning a notch in the receiver and a bladed front sight.  Such an open-sight handgun is a great way to learn how to shoot a handgun. Too, recoil and muzzle blast from a .22 LR rimfire is very “tame”.

Being an “old school handgun hunter” who started hunting with handguns back in the 1960’s I have seen a lot of things.  These days I see a fair number of people hunting with semi-auto pistols chambered for 10mm or larger round. I prefer revolvers over semi-autos. This is a personal preference. I love the looks and feel of single-actions revolvers, and occasionally shoot double actions.  But, both revolvers and semi-autos shoot accurately and are available in chamberings sufficient for hunting.   Me?  I “feel” I have more control over a revolver, as compared to a semi-auto.  Too, a quick glance at a revolver tells me whether the handgun is cocked and ready to fire, or, the hammer is down indicating it is on “safe”.

In the next installment I will discuss caliber and round selection for hunting deer-sized and larger big game.

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