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  #1  
Old 02-12-2012, 09:36 PM
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Question Best handgun to take into the mountains in AK


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Just moved to Ak a few months ago, I know I need a new pistol to carry with me when I'm out and about in the mountains because my 9mm won't cut it. So my question is what would be the best all around pistol to take into the mountains to protect myself?
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:13 PM
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I have a good friend who is a Inuit Eskimo who hunts and guides in Alaska. When I went with him for a moose hunt a few years back he carried a Marlin 45-70 Guide Rifle and a Ruger Super Redhawk in the 44mag. He called me just last week to talk and tell me that he had traded off his Super Redhawk 44mag. for a Smith & Wesson XVR 460 mag. His reasons were that the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game require that after the harvest of a large animal (ex. moose/large bear, etc.) you gut the animal THEN you MUST salvage and transport all meat out BEFORE you can transport the antlers and cape. You can carry the antlers and cape out with the last load of meat, but not before!! He says that in the areas where he hunts and guides, that the big bears have learned that the sound of shot/shots usually means a FREE MEAL of at least intestines... And they do come in a hurry!!!! While they are carrying the meat its hard to also carry a rifle. He told me that for the last few years that both the Browns and Grizzlys are getting worse at this. Also that he had problems with large bears five times this last season going back to the kill site for the rest.I ask him why the 460 S&W and not the 500 S&W and he told me that the 460 S&W will also shoot the 454 casull and 45 colt rounds. Now he said that the S&W 460 is a large pistol, not something you put in your back pocket and forget its there.. He also said he would rather have it and not need it then to need it and not have it !!!! In your case you may never have the need for such a powerful round but you can shoot the 454 casull or the 45 colt.. If I lived in Alaska I would take the lead of a Native Alaskan Inuit Eskimo who's family has lived, hunted and survived there for hundreds of years... Just my 2-cents.... Hopes this helps you !!

Last edited by TreeRat; 02-12-2012 at 11:31 PM.
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  #3  
Old 02-13-2012, 05:52 AM
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Welcome.

You might want to try and borrow or rent one of the big boomers, before spending the money. They aren't easy to control if all you normally shoot is a 9mm. Big step up!

At a minimum, I'd want my 5.5" Redhawk, in .44 mag, with some good loads. You may need a little practice at that level before you move up.

Good luck.
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  #4  
Old 02-13-2012, 08:10 AM
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I would echo TreeRat with a couple of comments. The smith is double action. this alone could be a life and death difference in a defense situation. you don't release your grip, or need two hands, to operate it. BIG PLUS.

The 460 makes sense to me for all the reasons sited above. Practice practice practice with 45 Colt, itself a very good hunting round for camp meat... venison.

Also do penetration tests with the 460. You will discover that a 405gr to 440gr hard cast bullet will make any CNS shot you need in any animal you will encounter, and it will do it around 1000 fps. You could bump to 1100 fps with possibly NO penetration benefit. But a hard cast bullet at that speed range penetrates exactly like a 45/70, and the reduced velocity from the standard high-pressure loads makes you more competant sooner. YOU DO NOT NEED SUPER HIGH VELOCITY. You need accurately placed HEAVY MOMENTUM.

If this concept is new to you, please do penetration testing with all the ammo you can find and satisfy yourself that this is correct. You will have great confidence this way.

There are other similar options in the same general class. The Ruger 480, which seemed to fizzle, has great potential, and is the ruggedest mass produced hand gun.

Lastly, a redhawk 44 mag will deliver 405gr hard cast bullets at about 1000 fps and it truly penetrates like a rifle round, with less than normal 44 mag recoil and SIX rounds rather than five. A lot going for it. Perhaps you can make a deal with the Alaska guide for his redhawk?

Best with whatever you get and I hope you will let us know and let us see your penetration test results.
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  #5  
Old 02-15-2012, 05:20 PM
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Lots of folks up here carry 44mag.I carry a 45 colt with 285 gr handloads.Ilike the idea of the bigbores but don't like the weight.A well constructed heavy bullet in either these calibers will get the job done.If for some odd reason I feel I need more fire power I go with a shotgun or rifle,wouldn't be given up all that much weight over a 460 or 500 smith.

Last edited by hntfsh; 02-15-2012 at 05:30 PM.
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  #6  
Old 02-15-2012, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Griz View Post
I would echo TreeRat with a couple of comments. The smith is double action. this alone could be a life and death difference in a defense situation. you don't release your grip, or need two hands, to operate it. BIG PLUS.

The 460 makes sense to me for all the reasons sited above. Practice practice practice with 45 Colt, itself a very good hunting round for camp meat... venison.

Also do penetration tests with the 460. You will discover that a 405gr to 440gr hard cast bullet will make any CNS shot you need in any animal you will encounter, and it will do it around 1000 fps. You could bump to 1100 fps with possibly NO penetration benefit. But a hard cast bullet at that speed range penetrates exactly like a 45/70, and the reduced velocity from the standard high-pressure loads makes you more competant sooner. YOU DO NOT NEED SUPER HIGH VELOCITY. You need accurately placed HEAVY MOMENTUM.

If this concept is new to you, please do penetration testing with all the ammo you can find and satisfy yourself that this is correct. You will have great confidence this way.

There are other similar options in the same general class. The Ruger 480, which seemed to fizzle, has great potential, and is the ruggedest mass produced hand gun.

Lastly, a redhawk 44 mag will deliver 405gr hard cast bullets at about 1000 fps and it truly penetrates like a rifle round, with less than normal 44 mag recoil and SIX rounds rather than five. A lot going for it. Perhaps you can make a deal with the Alaska guide for his redhawk?

Best with whatever you get and I hope you will let us know and let us see your penetration test results.
I agree with you for the most part other than 5 rounds vs 6 ,I've been around hundreds of bears in many different situations and supprised a few at close quarters(fortunately they high tailed it) and they can flat move when they want to and you be lucky to get off one shot never mind 6.405 gr bullet in bullet in a 44mag will certainly do the job,I doubt many of us could shoot it well.So a well constructed bullet(heavier the better) that you you can shoot well and those smiths are just plain to heavy for me to carry around everyday my two cents

Last edited by hntfsh; 02-15-2012 at 06:01 PM.
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  #7  
Old 02-15-2012, 10:29 PM
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Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan .44mag.
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  #8  
Old 02-16-2012, 01:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Welcome.

You might want to try and borrow or rent one of the big boomers, before spending the money. They aren't easy to control if all you normally shoot is a 9mm. Big step up!

At a minimum, I'd want my 5.5" Redhawk, in .44 mag, with some good loads. You may need a little practice at that level before you move up.

Good luck.
Mike makes a good point as a caliber to start at. Another idea, if you reload, would be the 45colt, loaded hot, or with Buff bor or Corbon.

There was a moderator named Scotty [Coldfingers] who hung his hat in AK. His choice was the Smith Mountain gun, 45 colt, loaded with 300 grain Beartooth bullets to 1000fps. 1000fps is about the limit of punishment that a Mountain gun will take on an "Emergency" basis.
Whatever you choose, it should be the biggest caliber you can control, and follow up with effectively. I'm not sure the short barrelled Ruger Alaskan is a good choice??? While it may be packable, are follow up shots obtainable quickly??? and, what is the muzzle flash like @ night? Are you going to temporarily lose what little sight you have on a dark moonless night in AK to muzzle flash when Mr. Kodiak comes looking for a meal?

But then again, easy for me to say sitting thousands of miles away in the hills of the east.
What ever I chose to use in the AK wilds, you can bet it would also be a hard cast bullet.
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  #9  
Old 02-17-2012, 08:29 AM
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hntfsh,

About the capacity thing, I also lived and hunted around the great bears. So, if I'm on the beach with a couple of deer down, I'm at 4 rounds in the gun already... that's the way I was looking at it. I agree with you that if a bear wants you he's there in an instant, and you're doing good to get the shot off in time. It's the exact reason I quit hunting with the sbh and started carrying the rh, I can get off a shot marginally quicker with strong side and much quicker weak side.

It's all academic, but I try to give myself a chance to come back....

Best
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  #10  
Old 02-17-2012, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Griz View Post
hntfsh,

About the capacity thing, I also lived and hunted around the great bears. So, if I'm on the beach with a couple of deer down, I'm at 4 rounds in the gun already... that's the way I was looking at it. I agree with you that if a bear wants you he's there in an instant, and you're doing good to get the shot off in time. It's the exact reason I quit hunting with the sbh and started carrying the rh, I can get off a shot marginally quicker with strong side and much quicker weak side.

It's all academic, but I try to give myself a chance to come back....
PS: The 405gr hardcast 44s at 950fps recoil less than the standard 240gr jsp, and much less than a 300gr shot at max safe pressure. Hard to believe I suppose but I've let lots of guys try the load and everyone agrees that it's easy shooting.
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  #11  
Old 02-17-2012, 08:41 AM
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I carry the 629 because it is short,controllable,quick into action,and light enough that it is not a burden,so it is ALWAYS on my hip in big bear country.Down here,(the bears only run around 700 lbs)in western Montana,Idaho Panhandle,but I don't feel undergunned anywhere with the 340 gr hardcast at maybe 1200 fps (listed at 1425 from a 6",and yes,I know they are not recommended for the 629).Walk into a big gun store anywhere down here in the lower 48,and you will see .460,and .500 S&W's for sale (used once) all over the place because they are too much gun for 98% of the people out there.A gun you can't fire quick follow up shots with,is a death trap.
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  #12  
Old 02-18-2012, 08:15 PM
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I haven't been to AK....yet, but have my carry gun for when I do get there, a Ruger SRH Alaskan .454. A blast to shoot & practice with .45 colt, still easy shooting with Winchesters attenuated .454 load and when the time comes, a plethera of heavy .454 loads available. Over 500 .45 colt loads through it, several hundred .454 loads and it's become my pet gun. A very nice double action trigger, and thats how I shoot it, with pretty good accuracy too. Only slightly heavier than an N frame, but incredibly more durable. I think it's the best balance of portability & power available and highly recommend it.
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  #13  
Old 02-19-2012, 08:54 AM
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The .44 mag with a heavy flat nose is hard to beat for utility and portability. The 460 and 500 X-frames weigh a lot and are huge for a handgun. I have the 500 and it is very comfortable to shoot with 440 grain lead flat nosed bullets over 10 grains of Trail Boss for about 850 FPS. If you end up with a .500 you sure don't need any silly 1700 FPS+ loadings for close encounters with a bear, nor do you need to super-charge the .44 or .460.
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  #14  
Old 02-21-2012, 06:22 PM
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I've lived in Alaska since 1978. I carry a ruger super redhawk chopped to 4.5 inches in .454 casull loaded with 335 grain Bear tooth bullets. I used to carry a 629 S&W in .44 mag. I like the penetration of the .454 better. But when I'm in known bear country I'll carry my .45-70 guide gun with 525 grain pile driver.
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Griz View Post
PS: The 405gr hardcast 44s at 950fps recoil less than the standard 240gr jsp, and much less than a 300gr shot at max safe pressure. Hard to believe I suppose but I've let lots of guys try the load and everyone agrees that it's easy shooting.
Interesting indeed usually when you go up in weight you have more felt recoil,unless you are down loading it.Do have to load your 405 cast at or near maximum load to stabilize the bullet?I know each gun is different and you can have different results with different makes twist,weight,configurations ect...So whatever works for you thats great.I used to carry a 454 loaded with 370 gr hard cast as a back up,but after long day sloggin thru tundra ,mountains ect.. it wore on me.So I use it as a primary gun for brush or stand hunting.For a back up I carry a 45 colt ,ruger SBH 4.5'' barrel with 285 gr hardcast with a heavy dose of h110,tried 300 gr,but they didn't print well.As you been around bears you know the best way to avoid a confrontation is to not get in one the first place.If that don't work it always nice to have a plan b or c(sidearm)
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Old 02-22-2012, 07:30 PM
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Interesting indeed usually when you go up in weight you have more felt recoil,unless you are down loading it.Do have to load your 405 cast at or near maximum load to stabilize the bullet?I know each gun is different and you can have different results with different makes twist,weight,configurations ect...So whatever works for you thats great.I used to carry a 454 loaded with 370 gr hard cast as a back up,but after long day sloggin thru tundra ,mountains ect.. it wore on me.So I use it as a primary gun for brush or stand hunting.For a back up I carry a 45 colt ,ruger SBH 4.5'' barrel with 285 gr hardcast with a heavy dose of h110,tried 300 gr,but they didn't print well.As you been around bears you know the best way to avoid a confrontation is to not get in one the first place.If that don't work it always nice to have a plan b or c(sidearm)
It's a mild load. I posted the velocity from my 5-1/2" RH. It rings gongs out to 100 yards, but I don't know the velocity at that distance. It penetrates like a 45/70, and is customized to have massive penetration out to 50 yards. Great for a stopper and great for deer hunting as well.

There is no sign of instability. Another shooter runs it at 1030fps from his RH and he penetrated 12 one gallon jugs of water. It's flying true if it stays centered in the water jugs. Tumbling bullets exit sideways early on.

You can get a lot more recoil and noise, but not a lot more penetration than that.

Grizz
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Old 03-03-2012, 08:47 AM
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I just carry my Ruger Redhawk 5.5" or Blackhawk 4.6". Both are .45 Colt. Load is a 300 grain Cast Performance 300 grain LFNGC over 20 grains of H-110 in Starline cases with CCI large magnum pistol primers. I get 1040fps out of the BH and 1100fps out of my RH and it penetrates, plain and simple.

Don't see a need for anything bigger even though I have a SRH in .454.
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Old 03-03-2012, 09:09 AM
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I just carry my Ruger Redhawk 5.5" or Blackhawk 4.6". Both are .45 Colt. Load is a 300 grain Cast Performance 300 grain LFNGC over 20 grains of H-110 in Starline cases with CCI large magnum pistol primers. I get 1040fps out of the BH and 1100fps out of my RH and it penetrates, plain and simple.

Don't see a need for anything bigger even though I have a SRH in .454.
That's close to the deer load I used in SE. A 325g hard cast plain base bullet, 20gr 296, out of a 10" SBH.

I quit carrying the gun and swotched to the RH because I figured the DA trigger was a tactical plus in the bear woods.
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:07 AM
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Never hunted an AK big bear but this load may work.

A 45 Winchester Magnum with reloaded Cast Performance 265 grain.

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Last edited by dantana; 11-18-2013 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:13 AM
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I do have another question for you guys and gals that have hunted either big bears up north. I have been doing some penetration tests with all my 35s and my 45 WM shooting thru one gallon oil jugs with 5/8" plywood stacked in between the jugs. Give me an idea the diameter and about size of a 1000-1200# shoulder bone? And how thick would his shoulder meat be before you get to his vitals? And if the shoulder bone was lying on the ground could you break thru it with an axe? Give me an idea?? Or a photo.

Below is 265 gr. Cast Performance for 45WM.

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Last edited by dantana; 11-18-2013 at 05:42 AM.
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