When you think of weapons used for hunting, the average handgun probably isn’t one of the first names that come to mind.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to hunt successfully with a handgun, provided you’ve got a lot of patience and persistence to back you up.
Can you hunt with a handgun? It is possible to hunt using just a handgun, but for the best results, it should be one that’s equipped with a longer barrel and mounted scope.
As a closer range style of hunting, you’ll need additional skills to get it right, and it takes a lot more patience than using other weapons, like rifles.
With that in mind, we’re going to look at the basics of handgun hunting, as it’s a subject too vast to cover it all. If you’ve been looking for a new challenge for your next hunt and want to switch up your weaponry, a handgun could be the solution.
Should You Use a Handgun While Hunting?
A hunter is only as good as their weapon, and if you’re someone who’s willing to commit to patience and stealth in your practice, the handgun might be for you.
Although not the traditional weapon that people think of when talking about hunting, there are lots of benefits to using one if you know how to do it right.
- Improves stalking and shooting skills: A hunter that’s skilled enough to get their target with a handgun is skilled indeed, and you’ll learn a lot of stalking and shooting skills in the process. It’s especially important to hone in on your accuracy so you can shoot to kill and do it humanely, with experienced hunters being able to bag a trophy kill at 100 yards using their pistol.
- Convenient carry: Rather than lugging around an oversized rifle and bag, along with whatever else you have to carry, your handgun is petite and easy to take with you. This means the landscapes you visit can be different and you can hike further and in more challenging terrain to find animals that others can’t.
- An added challenge: Hunting shouldn’t be easy, otherwise, it’s not fun, and if you want the added element of difficulty and suspense, switch to a handgun. This takes extra training, more patience, and a lot of persistence, but the payoff is worth it.
- Ethical style of hunting: As long as your shot is accurate, you’ll find this style of hunting more ethical. When compared to a bow, the shot is instant and can kill quickly and cleanly, so you know you’re doing it right.
- Suits all targets: With a handgun and a bit of skill, you can take down all sizes of kills including antelopes, deers, and hogs. Although it requires additional target practice to be successful, you won’t be limited to what you can hunt.
Choosing The Right Weapon
The trend towards handgun hunting is also growing, thanks to the evolution of the firearms themselves.
There is now an even bigger selection of handguns to choose from that are ideal for the hunting setting, including ones with longer barrels and mounted scopes, which means less work for better results.
- Bolt action handguns: These are a great choice for long-range shooting which works for hunting, and they operate like short-barreled bolt action rifles. You’ll also get lots of options for scopes which is a huge bonus.
- Semi-automatic pistols: The less common but still usable handgun option is good for people wanting a lightweight weapon; however they’re better suited for experienced handlers because they require greater precision.
- Single-shot pistols: A single-shot pistol is a better choice for long-range shooting when compared to other handguns. You also get the added bonus of being able to attached accessories like optics which gives you a huge advantage.
- Revolvers: The double-action revolver is the faster in this category but you can still hunt successfully with a single action. The benefit of using a revolver is its accuracy and power, which are both useful in hunting.
Sights, Scopes, and Accessories
One of the more challenging things about hunting with a handgun is that you’re limited with the add-ons like scopes and sights compared to other weapons, and some handguns don’t allow for any accessories at all.
However, you should still consider what a scope or sight addition can bring to the table.
A quality scope added to a handgun can make a huge difference for hunting, but it also takes some getting used to.
There are benefits like added magnification so you can see long-distance shots and be able to withstand recoil, but because you don’t have full-body support as you do with other guns, the shaking can be intensified.
Using a sight can also be effective, and there are different kinds like a red dot sight and an open iron sight.
These don’t offer anything in the way of magnification but they make it easier to find the target, even in the worst conditions, which gives you a much greater chance of hitting it successfully.
Tips For Hunting With a Handgun
Handgun hunting is a skill that takes a lot of practice and patience, but it can be made easier when you have some tips to follow. Follow these to make sure you’re doing it safely, efficiently, and with the right gear.
- Commit to lots of practice: Learning to hunt with a handgun is a whole new ballgame and it needs a lot of practice off the field as well. With enough practice, you’ll be able to take down a deer at 100 yards but if you’re not proficient, you can do a whole lot of damage to anything else in its vicinity.
- Have the right gun: Each state has laws about the minimum caliber required for hunting, and this includes handguns. You want something powerful enough for a clean and humane kill so make sure you follow directions.
- Learn about bowhunting: There’s a lot of similarities between bowhunting and handgun hunting, so take some time to learn tactics like scent control and wind placement, as they’ll all come in handy. With a handgun, you’re up close and personal, so stealth is a major part of this practice.
- Get support: Unlike a rifle where you have full-body support, a pistol doesn’t come with any. You’ll want to find ways to get added support then, with things like squatted positions, leaning against a tree, or using a blind or shooting stick.
- Know the laws: A responsible gun owner knows the gun laws in their area, and this includes hunting. There are various state and federal laws about using handguns for hunting, including how they should be carried, and it’s up to you to learn them.
A Handy Hunting Tool
Part of the thrill of hunting is that it’s a challenge, and if you’re someone who thrives in difficult situations, equipping yourself with a handgun could be the answer to your dreams.
As long as you have the patience and persistence to pull it off, you can open up a whole new world of possibilities when you give handgun hunting a try.
There are countless weaponry choices when it comes to hunting, and although handguns might not be the first on your list, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to offer.
If you have more questions about the best firearms for hunting, we’ve answered some FAQs that might be able to help.
Can A .22 Kill a Deer?
While it is possible to kill a deer with a .22, it’s not advisable, as you’ll need to ensure the shot is placed in the right area and that it will expand enough to kill it instantly.
There are better choices for a hunting gun than the .22 if you want to do it humanely, so it’s not recommended.
What Caliber Has Killed the Most Deer?
If you’re hunting deer or another medium to large-sized animals and want the best success in the field, choosing a .30 caliber round is best.
This is considered the most common type for hunting deer in the United States and has a good success rate, with either 30-30 or 30-06 being the two most popular round types specifically.
What’s a Popular Hunting Rifle?
Remington has created some of the most popular hunting rifles in the US, with their pump-action range being the most common by far, although there are other well-known brands as well.
The Remington pump-action rifles are ideal for hunting deer and other small to medium-sized targets and come in a range of calibers to suit your needs.