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  • Writer's pictureJeff Rice

One Gun, One Sight, Three Rounds - Larry Weishuhn

As someone who has long hunted with revolvers, both single and double-action, break-open and even bolt-action handguns I am often asked what gun, caliber, cartridge and sights I recommend for someone getting started in shooting handguns with the intent to hunt with one.


In years past I generally recommended they start with a .22 rimfire revolver, open sights.  There are indeed times I still do just that.  A .22 rimfire revolver is certainly a good start to learning how to shoot a handgun. I have several with which I occasionally use for small game like rabbits and squirrels, and, if there is an opportunity have a newcomer shoot as well.


After visiting with a potential handgun hunter, if I see they are serious, or after I have let them shoot one of mine, I take a different approach.


While some think of a .357 Magnum as big game handgun hunting round, I will grant that round can and certainly will kill a deer with proper shot placement. But it is far from an ideal handgun hunting round.  Frankly I consider the .357 Magnum, even with excellent Hornday ammo, an “expert’s handgun round”.  While this round has less recoil or muzzle blast than does a .44 Mag, .454 Casull or even .460 S&W Mag it loses down range energy very quickly beyond 50-yards.  If as a hunter you are going restrict your shooting to less than 50-yards, then “yeah…maybe”.


I am a fan of the .44 Mag and .454 Casull, both pack more than sufficient down-range energy to cleanly bring down an animal at 100-yards.  In the case of the .454 Casull, that equates to 150-yards.  I have used both rounds with great success on animals as large as elk and even Alaskan brown bear in case of the Casull.  The beauty of the .44 Mag is that one can also shoot .44 Special ammo in the same gun.  With the .454 Casull, one can also shoot .45 Colt (sometimes referred to as a Long Colt). The .45 Colt has less recoil than the .454 Casull, but it still produces sufficient down range energy to take a deer down out to about 75-yards, with the proper commercial loads, meaning using something above the Cowboy Action rounds.


The .45 Colt was extremely popular during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Guns of those era used mostly blackpowder and early smokeless powder loads that produced low pressures. For that reason, most of today’s commercial .45 Colt ammo is not that “hot” and is “loaded down” to keep way from pressure problems.  However, Hornady’s 225-grain FTX LEVERevolution is indeed a round that can be used on deer and deer-sized animals, particularly out to about 50 or so yards.


What I have lately been recommending to new handgun hunters is the .460 S&W Mag, which is a power-house of a round. But the beauty of the round is in the same handgun one can shoot .460 S&W Mag, .454 Casull and .45 Colt.  That said the .460 S&W Mag to me is a beast to shoot when it comes to recoil, a sharp crack.  There is nothing in this world I would not take on, with that particular round. 

I have already told you I have taken game as large as a big Alaskan Brown bear with a .454 Casull as well as a variety of other big game and many deer.  I have also taken deer with a .45 Colt.


When it comes to choice of hunting handguns, I really like the Taurus Raging Hunters. These are double action revolvers that with Hornady ammo I have found to be extremely accurate! Admittedly there are other revolvers, the Taurus guns are simply my favorite because of several factors:  price, integral Picatinney rail for sight or scope mounting, and integral muzzlebrake that greatly reduces recoil, and they are supremely accurate!


Sights?  The Taurus Raging Hunters as mentioned have an integral, or built on, Picatinney rail which makes adding a Trijicon SRO red dot sight extremely easy.  All you need is the sight and a base, both available from local Trijicon dealers. Why a red dot? Using Trijicon’s SRO red dot sight you can shoot with both eyes open!  Target acquisition is quick. With long-eye relief scopes you have to be concerned about eye relief.  With such scopes there is only a certain distance from the scope that you can see the entire field of view, and if you cant your handgun just a little you may not be able to even see through the scope!


With the SRO as long as you have the red dot on target, regardless of where you see it in the “window” you will hit the target.  The SRO is also a lot lighter and less cumbersome than a long eye relief scope.

My SRO sights are 2.5 MOA, that means that at a hundred yards the red dot cover 2.5-inches.  Smaller and larger dot MOA are also available in Trijicon’s SRO.  I have used both lower and larger MOA dots.  I like the 2.5 over the others. This is simply a personal preference. 


What I also like about the SRO is its low profile, light-weight, and, the intensity of the dot can be increased or decreased.  I “crank” mine up brighter during bright sunshine days. But early in the morning and late in the even I turn down the intensity.  When not in use I turn my red dot’s intensity to the lowest possible, done simply by pushing down on the negative (-) on the side of the sight. When I again expect to use my revolver I press the positive (+) until it comes up to the intensity I want to use based on current light conditions.


Sighting in the SRO is also easy.  I generally sight-in my Taurus Raging Hunters revolvers, be it a .44 Mag, .454 Casull or .460 S&W Mag at 100-yards. That way I can place my shot in the vitals of a deer out to about 120 or so yards without any adjustment.  I am continually amazed, using a 2.5 MOA SRO sight, my Taurus handguns loaded with Hornady ammo will shoot essentially 1 to 1.5 five or six shot groups at 100 yards!


With my .460 S&W Mag, topped with a SRO I have on numerous occasions shot a couple of shots or a full cylinder full at 50 yards, using .460 S&W Mag, .454 Casull and .45 Colt, using the same hold on the target to see where those Hornady round would hit the target. I was sighted in for the .460 S&W Mag.  The accompanying photo shows one such results, which are always very similar!

After doing such shooting I know I can cleanly kill a deer out to 50-yards regardless of which of the 3 rounds I am hunting with.


Yes Sir..these days when asked for a recommendation for the new handgun hunter enthusiasts I suggest a Taurus Raging Hunter .460 S&W Mag, topped with a Trijicon SRO 2.5 MOA red dot sight, plus at least a couple boxes of Hornady .45 Colt LEVERevolution, .454 Casull either 240- or 300-grain XTP Custom and .460 S&W Mag 200-grain Monoflex Handgun Hunter.



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