Handgun Hunting Revolvers
By far more revolvers are carried into the woods each year than any other type of hunting handgun. The revolver offers power, portability, accuracy, reliability and the ability for a fast follow-up if need be.
Single Action Hunting Revolvers
Single action refers to any firearm that must have the hammer cocked before firing. In terms of hunting revolvers, the single action is king. By eliminating the long travel of a double action trigger, single actions tend to be more accurate and reliable with less moving parts. The are a bit slower for the average shooter to get a follow-up, due to the fact the hammer must be cocked after each shot.
Double Action Hunting Revolvers
Double action refers to the fact that the revolver can be fired by simply pulling the trigger which results in a long trigger pull or by pulling back the hammer and then squeezing the trigger. For hunting purposes, most shooting will be done in single action mode. The only benefit that a double action has over a single action is that they do offer fast if not accurate, follow-up shots. They tend to be not as strong as single action revolvers.
Hunting revolvers are available in a wide selection of calibers. Choose a caliber based on the largest game animal you plan to hunt with it. 22's - 38 specials are fine for small game, but lack the power needed for big game and the larger varmints, a 38 special being only marginal on coyote.
The venerable 357 magnum is about the cut-off point for a deer hunting round, and then only in a six inch or longer barrel. (check your local laws, some states to not allow the taking of deer with a 357) The 44 magnum is a more reasonable choice as is the newer 454 Cassul, 500 Smith and Wesson 480 Ruger and the .460 Smith and Wesson.
The minimum barrel length for a hunting revolver should be four inches, anything shorter and you are both limiting your site picture, making hits harder, and your velocity. On the other end of the spectrum a revolver with a 10 inch barrel can be very cumbersome to carry in the field, although it will give great ballistics. Barrel lengths between 6-8 inches are about optimal for a hunting revolver.
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