Camping Gun Recommendations

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Beachbum

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 19, 2009
Messages
29
I have been considering buying a revolver for backwoods protection. I am an Assistant Scoutmaster and we camp, canoe and backpack primarily in Florida but with periodic trips to the Smoky Mountains in GA. Don't tell the BSA because they frown on such things but as a leader, I doubt I'm alone in preferring to go armed into the outdoors.

The biggest concern in Florida is gators, snakes and bears. The bears around here are far from grizzlies and most gators are under 10 feet. I was wondering what caliber would be necessary for the job. I have considered 44 mag/44 spl but wonder if 45 colt or .357 mag would do.

As a backpacker, weight is a consideration and .357's come in a much lighter package than 44's. I have handled a Taurus Judge and was impressed by the light weight and the .410 shotshell option but I'm not sure if the .45 Colt would do the job on local predators, particularly the Georgia bears.

I'd appreciate any opinions and am interested in comparing/contrasting Ruger's guns with others.
 

Skalkaho Slim

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 18, 2002
Messages
969
I would not recommend the Judge - not because it's a piece of garbage, which I don't think it is, I just am not satisfied with the results I have seen using .410 and 45 Colt. Great snake gun, but that's about it in my view.

I think something in .357 flavor would work just fine. A 3" Gp100 would be about perfect, but good luck finding one. I'd be opting for a 4" in whatever brand you'd like. 'Course, a Ruger would be preferable. ;)

The .357 is going to be real versatile and if you don't have to worry about the larger bruins, I can't imagine it not taking care of whatever you may come across.
 

Snake45

Hawkeye
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
6,064
Skalkaho Slim":1fx27att said:
The .357 is going to be real versatile and if you don't have to worry about the larger bruins, I can't imagine it not taking care of whatever you may come across.
Agreed. Although with carefully selected loads, .44 Special and .45 Colt can also be quite formidable, even more so than the .357.

If you're a newbie to handguns, stick with the .357, and spend a lot of time shooting it with .38s until you develop some skill, then move on up in power to full loads.
 

John E Davies

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jul 24, 2006
Messages
179
I have to ask how big the black bears get in the Georgia mountains, because that is what you have to plan for. With some kids along to watch out for you don't want to be wishing for a V8 when you bought a V6.....

I would look for a light framed .44 Maq revolver, and it wouldn't be a Ruger.... maybe a scandium or ti framed Smith or Taurus. You will be carrying it a LOT more than you will be shooting it, and when push comes to shove you most likely won't be annoyed by recoil. Practice with gel gloves and maybe a wrist brace, because these guns will hurt with standard Mag loads.

444MULTI.jpg


http://www.taurususa.com/product-details.cfm?id=204&category=Revolver&toggle=tr&breadcrumbseries=RB2

40056367.jpg


http://www.gallatinarms.com/SMITH_WESSON-Smith_Wesson_329PD_44_Mag_4_Titanium.html

One of my motorcycle riding buddies carries one of those Smiths in the Idaho and Montana mountains, and he is very fond of it.

I carry a SRH in .480R which is a pound heavier, but I have to worry about brown bears.... We could also talk about ammo choices, but that would be another "Best for Bear" thread....

John Davies
Spokane WA
 

AzRebel

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
216
I've no experience in Florida, but I'd probably choose a .357 mag.

There's a bunch of choices available for something small enough to conceal and light enough to carry easily.

And while I'm not sure what it takes to kill a 'gator, I've no doubt that a .357 mag would do for a black bear if loaded right.

I carried a .357 mag for an "all purpose" revolver for a lot of years, but don't own one now. I'm more inclined towards a .45 Colt for backwoods carry, but my needs and conditions are different than your's.

And I don't need to conceal it like you "should" for the situation you describe.

Daryl
 

americal

Hunter
Joined
Feb 19, 2009
Messages
2,174
Black bears--gators-- snakes=44mag. with short barrel :) regular mag.rounds + some shot shell loads for snakes :!: in a double action or single action.
 

John E Davies

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jul 24, 2006
Messages
179
Out of curiosity I googled "black bear size Georgia" and came up with this:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sour...0_D8CA&usg=AFQjCNEaTDRPN2lqLOUQ4mBv0Ird4JnC8w

Average male weight is 150 to 300 pounds, but the largest on record (hit by a car) is just under 600 pounds.

Now, I don't know about you, but any aggressive carnivore over 400 pounds is going to get my attention REALLY fast and I sure wouldn't be happy with any caliber less than .44 Mag.

While it is real unlikely that you will encounter a record bear, they are out there...... be safe, not eaten. Google "bear attack Appalachian" and you will get some interesting reading.

John Davies
Spokane WA
 

Rclark

Hunter
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
3,251
I carried a .357 mag for an "all purpose" revolver for a lot of years, but don't own one now. I'm more inclined towards a .45 Colt for backwoods carry, but my needs and conditions are different than your's.
This has been my experience too. As a teen and into my 20s I carried a .357 while camping, hiking, and fishing here in Montana. Never had to use it. Now I prefer the .45 Colt (still have my ol' reliable .357 BH though :) ) . The Blued BH .45 Colt is actually quite light, but packs a good wallop if needed. The .44 Spec flattops would also be good for your needs.
 

batmann

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Messages
307
Given your weight requirements, I would go with the Sc frame S&W in .44M as mentioned by a previous poster. More expensive than a Tauri, but well worth the difference. Smith makes a couple of different barrel lenghts so finding one to suit you should not be a problem. What might be more of a problem is cost and recoil. They are on the expensive side and kick like a mule with mags, but get a good heavy .44 Special load and you should be fine.
Buffalo Bore makes a Mag load designed for the 329 Smiths and they make an excellent 'heavy' .44 Special load as well. The Special load (255 gr) is what I carry/use in my Flattop in .44 spl.One other option to think about (heavier) is the Alaskan.
 

roaddog28

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
260
Hi Beach Bum,

Nobody has suggested this revolver but a good used Security Six 4 inch barrel stainless steel I feel would be a good choice. They are 357 magnum. With the right ammo I feel you could handle anything up to a bear. The Security Six is light enough to carry but strong to hold up. And the Security Six is reliable. Plus you can get a good one for $350.00 or less sometimes. Below is my Ruger Police Service Six 4 inch blued. This is the fixed sight version of the Security Six. This will give you a idea of how the gun looks.

Good luck,
roaddog28
RugerServiceSix.jpg
 

Cholo

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Messages
5,605
It should start with a .41 mag and work its way up. Weight? Let's talk about that...

I fully understand unsprung weight when it comes to cars and a gun putting it's weight in whatever kind of holster you choose. I've also backpacked a bunch. What's really the difference in weight between a lightweight .44 mag and a regular all steel or aluminum grip framed Ruger SA in a .41 caliber and above? 16 oz. or so? Gee, I don't think I can make the hike dragging a pound or so more up the hill :roll:

I don't know about you, but I could afford to lose a heck of a lot more weight than that, and I could lose that 16 oz. or so in 2 days if I wanted to. I do, but I digress...

What do you own now is the question. Have you ever has a black bear charge you with 3 cubs in tow in the Smokies? I have! I followed the law and was unarmed. If I had my choice and was actually attacked, I sure wouldn't have chosen a puny .357, and I don't care what you load it with!

If a pound or so makes a difference between carrying a formidable gun and either a lightweight underdog or over priced S&W, one single exlax will cure the weight concern :wink:

My dos centavos that won't buy you a look from a 3 centavos hooker in Tijuana...
 

John E Davies

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jul 24, 2006
Messages
179
Cholo":3dx620fj said:
Have you ever has a black bear charge you with 3 cubs in tow in the Smokies? I have! I followed the law and was unarmed. If I had my choice and was actually attacked, I sure wouldn't have chosen a puny .357, and I don't care what you load it with!

That sounds like an interesting tale - I would like to hear it if you don't mind.

I bet the Park ranger would have said to you "black bear attacks are extremely rare!" That's small consolation if you are the unlucky hiker.

John Davies
Spokane WA
 

deac45

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Messages
386
I personally would choose an S&W Mountan Gun in 44 Magnum. The extra weight over a scandium model is insignificant to me. A 4" 357 Ruger or S&W would be my second choice.
In GA I'm more concerned about coyotes and two legged varmits than bears.

deac45
 

dougader

Hunter
Joined
Jun 18, 2008
Messages
3,108
Ditto on the S&W Mt Gun. Since I handload my own ammo, I chose 45 Colt. If you buy your ammo factory-rolled, then I'd say 41 or 44 magnum. Its a great revolver, weighs about 39 ounces and packs a whallop, but isn't so light that it hurts you just to practice with it.

1stMtGun_2.jpg
 

brionic

Bearcat
Joined
Jan 27, 2009
Messages
29
How are you planning to carry the unsanctioned revolver? If you are planning on hiding it deep in your daypack or backpack, you can pretty much forget being able to access it quickly.

There are several "Hide a gun" type backpacks and attachments available commercially that you might look into before committing to a particular platform.

As far as suggestions for a weapon, you didn't mention your skill level with any particular platform. Stainless is always a good choice for a weapon that might get wet or mucked up. Semi-autos can be great choices, but you risk the "oops" factor much more than with a revolver. As far as revolvers, a single action will be very durable and strong, but, for many people, harder to manipulate and fire quickly. A double action revolver might be a better choice, depending on you.

The best thing to do is visit several gun shops and handle a bunch of guns to feel them in your hand. Some guys prefer big guns, because they handle recoil better, while some guys prefer a smaller gun in the "hideout" role. Pros and cons to each.

One revolver I have not seen mentioned here is the ubiquitous SP101, which can be had with a variety of options like bbl length, hammer bobbed or not, caliber, etc etc. Very strong, very durable, and able to handle strong .357 or .327 loads from Buffalo Bore.
 

Cholo

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Messages
5,605
John, it's on topic and I don't mind relating the experience...

It was sometime in the 80's, summer, and I was an avid hiker. 15 mtn. miles was nothing. One day 2 friends and I decided to make the ultimate one day hike in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We left one car in Cade's Cove and drove up to Clingman's Dome in the other. How hard could it be? :roll:

Incredible beauty, deer in red coats, and wild bore that can tear up a mtn. in no time flat; not to mention what they could do to us. At the 1/2 way point, 13 miles or so, we realized we'd made a mistake and this should have been a 2 day hike. I thought it was going downhill from Clingman's Dome at 6650' to the valley at Cade's Cove. Nope! It was down then up then down then up; over and over again.

The last 6 miles or so was downhill and believe me when I tell you this, it's harder on you than going uphill. Well, we got near Cade's Cove to a place called Spence Field. It was beautiful with some people who came up from Cade's Cove to picnic or whatever. The trail was really narrow.

Lewis was in front, no, not the Lewis from the movie Deliverance, and Cholo was toilet paper--wiping up the rear. Suddenly Lewis motioned to get back right now!!! We didn't question him, we booked it. Right then on the trail out of the woods came a mama black bear with 3 cubs. We ran back to the field and she charged. There was no place to go :shock: We backed off and I actually took a couple of pics. She charged again and we again retreated. All this time her cubs were rolling all over each other having the time of their lives.

Nothing happened, but I remember thinking I wished I had my SBH just in case. With the way it went down there was no way I would have taken a shot unless...

Love the right to carry in Nat'l Parks now with as much time as I spend in them. What I worry about is the people who think their lives are in danger with bears and they really aren't...

Yes, black bear attacks are really rare and I wouldn't give them a 2nd thought. I would like to have some insurance though, and it wouldn't be a .357.
 

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