Big bores and big bears are a match made in heaven; but when it comes to handguns, what exactly do you need in bear country? While the majority of these guns are geared toward bear hunting, some also work well for defense in bear country. Always pack enough caliber in a quality platform and you’ll never be disappointed.
Smith & Wesson 460
Any number of Smith & Wesson revolvers could be inserted here, including models like the 629 or 657 in .44 Magnum and .41 Magnum respectively, but when big and dangerous game is the name of the hunt it’s always better to have too much gun than not enough. Certain calibers extend the effective range as well.
The .460 S&W is one of the most potent revolver rounds and S&W does it upright with power and accuracy for long-distance big game hunting. S&W advertises the .460 as possessing “the highest muzzle velocity of any production revolver on earth.” Look at models like the XVR or Performance Center 460s for top quality and features. If the .460 sounds like too much gun, be assured these revolvers will also fire both .45 Colt and .454 Casull.
Remington 1911 R1 Hunter
The craze over 10mm long-slide hunting pistols is still booming and the options are many. Not only is the 10mm round more potent for hunters than other common semi-automatic handgun calibers, but the longer barrels and slides mean greater velocities and accuracy with the extended sight plane. The Glock Model 40 MOS and Springfield TRP with their 6-inch barrel both make solid choices as well, though Remington’s R1 Hunter is one of the most popular “tens” on the market today. The 6-inch barrel and longer slide on this gun are built with stainless steel, coated in black PVD, dressed in aggressive G10 grips and topped with fully adjustable sights. The pair of 8-round magazines don’t hurt, either.
Taurus Raging Hunter or Raging Bull
The Brazilian made, cost-effective double-action revolvers do dual duty as self-protection and bear hunting knockdown sidearms. The new Raging Hunter is chambered in .44 Magnum and built with an 8.375-inch ported barrel topped with a Picatinny optics rail. The aggressive-looking Raging Hunter, in either blued or two-tone, is built for serious hunting.
Those desiring even more horsepower will want to check out the Raging Bull line in .454 Casull. While the Hunter holds six rounds, the Bull takes only five and has similar features, sans optics rail. Hunters will want the longer barrel models, while those seeking purely protection in bear country can look to the snubbier builds. The Taurus series represents some of the most cost-effective big-bore handguns on the market.
Ruger Super Redhawk
Ruger’s revolvers have made solid hunting sidearms for decades, and the modern Ruger Super Redhawk wheelguns are no exception. The top choice here has long been the .44 Magnum, but now Ruger also chambers the Super Redhawk in the more commonly hyped pistol caliber of 10mm as well. The dual-chamberings allow the use of two calibers in one, like the .44 Mag/.44 Spl, 10mm/.40S&W, and .454 Casull/.45 Colt. These stainless steel, double-action revolvers are attractive, potent and sure to be passed to the next generation of hunters.
Magnum Research BFR
The BFR is touted by the company as “the most powerful production single-action made” with a dozen calibers in total and two frame sizes. From the company of Desert Eagle fame comes this full line of over-built, serious wheelguns. Long cylinder calibers include .30-30 Win, .45-70, .444 Marlin, .460, and .500 S&W. Barrel lengths are available in either 7.5-inch or 10-inch variants with cut rifling, with overall lengths at 15-inches and 17.5-inches respectively. The finish is a clean, brushed stainless, with solid stainless steel construction.
If a wheelgun just doesn’t seem modern enough for bear medicine, Magnum Research Desert Eagle semi-auto pistols pack one hellacious wallop in .50AE or .429DE and look mean enough to make you the envy of all your hunting friends.
Whether bear hunting or pure backup, these are guns to trust with your life.