Last Updated September 12th 2023
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Winners at a Glance
Taurus Raging Hunter
Smith & Wesson Model 500
Magnum Research BFR
Handgun hunting is back in fashion. In part it’s thanks to weird and disparate gun control laws and regulations that combine to outlaw rifles at set times.
So what do you do? Well you could stay home with the family and wait for rifle season. You could cross State lines like The Bandit with a trunkful of bootlegged beer, or you could join the ever growing throng of sidearm hunters
They used to be an odd breed, old colonial types or Grizzly Adams mountain men who would prefer to rip the animal’s spine out, Predator-style. That’s just not true anymore.
There are all kinds of firearms to suit your budget, ambition and physical strength. We’ve gone for the big guns this time around, we’ll do the small game hunting another day.
Here are the best hunting handguns that we could find…
1. Taurus Raging Hunter
- Price: $868.99
- Caliber: 44 Magnum
- Barrel: 8.375 inch
- Total: 3.44lb
- Capacity: 6
Taurus didn’t just do better with its latest pistol. It took inspiration from the market leaders, blended that with traditional Taurus values like price and came up with the Taurus Raging Hunter.
Now the Raging Hunter is one of the best handguns on sale and a class leader. Whether it’s for hunting or just for range shooting, you’ll honestly love the Raging Hunter from the moment you lay eyes on it.
Now this isn’t new technology, not by any stretch of the imagination. S&W has been churning out guns that don’t look a million miles away from these Raging Hunter large frame revolvers for years. They just happen to cost a lot more.
The Raging Hunter is half a pound lighter than the Taurus Raging Bull that was also a staple of the handgun hunting scene, and the trigger pull is smoother.
The lightweight shroud with the custom porting and integral compensator and gas expansion chamber is certainly a major factor. All this stuff never used to work together quite so convincingly.
Bigger Calibers to Match Your Ambitions
You can buy a gun chambered for Casull, but the 357 Magnum revolver is all you need for hunting deer etc in North America. It’s also a practical, versatile, relatively cheap hunting round that shouldn’t run dry in a hurry.
Of course you can order a Raging Hunter chambered in 460 S&W or 454 Casull for hunting big game. Or you can carry a 44 Magnum. Barrel lengths range from 2 inches up to this specialist hunter you see before you. For the full line-up, go here.
A World of Space For Scopes, Optics, Reflex Sights
That massive Picatinny rail gives you basically every single option for your scope or other optics, combination of optics, whatever you want for your handgun hunting revolver.
For more 44 Magnum revolvers, including some seriously expensive gun porn, check this post of 44 Mag revolvers for sale in 2023.
Where to Buy 44 Magnum Ammo
Get great deals on specialist hunting cartridges and home defense special hollow points and hunting gear here:
- Lucky Gunner – Massive stocks and hard to find ammo.
- Brownells – Not much stock, but the price is right.
2. Smith and Wesson S&W500
- Price: $1,837.99
- Caliber: S&W 500 Magnum .50 Cal.
- Capacity: 5 Rounds
- Barrel length: 7.5 inch
- Total Length: 15 inch
- Weight: 4.38lb
This absolute beast of a handgun is perfect for hunting big game. Or any size of animal. Except small game, it will just turn them into pink mist.
As far as power goes, these S&W X-frame hunting revolvers can send it is as far and as hard as you ever reasonably need to go on public lands in the USA. Or anywhere else for that matter…
Smith and Wesson claims the S&W500 Magnum Smith & Wesson Performance Center model is the most powerful production revolver in the world. And it probably is, if we ignore the BFR as non-production, with a velocity of around 1800fps and 2000lb/ft of muzzle energy.
If you’re large predator hunting, or taking Cape Buffalo and Mule Deer, or hunting elk, this is your huckleberry. For smaller deer hunting, it’s more than enough.
Compensator Means You Can Cope
Without that muzzle brake, it would be more than a handful. Even with it, you’ll need to learn to deal with the recoil of this hunting revolver.
It’s a tailor-made, specialist hunter that actually loses out to the simpler S&W 500s if it comes to animal defense or even home defense. This is a hunting handgun first and foremost and there’s a rail up top that’s ready for red dot sights, a scope or specialist hunting gear.
If you want a smaller, more wieldy S&W500 Performance Center model, or you even want something with a bit less punch, for your own particular reasons, then go here for a full selection of snubnose and less well endowed pistols.
Where to Buy S&W 500 Magnum Ammo
Where to Buy S&W 500 Magnum Ammo
Not too many places stock these $3.50-$4.00 bullets. But we have some for you here:
- Firearms Depot – Buy big bore Hornady and Magtech hollow points. S&W hunting ammo.
- Lucky Gunner – .500 S&W hunting cartridges. Hornady Custom 500 grain bullet and more.
3. Glock G40 MOS Configuration
- Price: $705.99
- Caliber: 10mm
- Barrel Length: 6 inch
- Total Length: 9.49 inch
- Weight: 1.76lb
- Capacity: 15+1/10+1
You can go hunting with a Glock these days. In fact the Glock 40 has emerged as an unlikely hero of the handgun hunting community.
It’s thanks to the fact that it’s a lightweight pistol, accurate, generates serious energy and pretty much always goes bang with each trigger pull. High capacity magazines mean cumulative damage becomes a real factor with a dangerous game animal as well.
Is one or two rounds of big bore ammo or a Glock mag dump the answer? Like most things in the firearms world, that’s a polarising question. Both can work though.
This long-slide Glock is a beefed up version of the G17 or G34 chambered in 10mm ammunition. And it can inflict some major damage on most things North America can send your way, especially with specialist 10mm hunting rounds for hunting deer & feral hogs.
Long Slide Glock is a Lightweight Hunter
A 6 inch slide and 10mm ammo creates real serious muzzle energy and a gun that can kind of mix it with the big 44 Magnum S&W X Frame revolvers in terms of terminal ballistics.
More and more people are hog & deer hunters with a 10mm Glock. This gun is harvesting deer at 100 yards with single shots and taking hogs, too. Not bad for a self-defense round that emerged from the FBI’s discontent with the old 9mm Luger.
The shorter barrel Glock 20 with the 4.61 inch barrel are more practical and versatile semi automatic pistols, especially for concealed carry, but we’re talking handgun hunting here and the G40 is definitively hunting gear. Its unique combination of power, long range accuracy and repeatability are making it a hunting hero.
4. Magnum Research BFR
- Price: $1,377.99
- Caliber: 45-70 Government
- Capacity: 5 Rounds
- Barrel Length: 7.5 inch
- Total Length: 15 inch
- Weight: 4.3lb
Do you spend your life leading secret missions to Jurassic Park? Or wandering the Savannah? you’re going to need an absolute hand cannon. For them, what could still be the most powerful handgun in the world is waiting…
Most of us just don’t need this kind of firearm. Once the novelty has worn off, the stainless steel Magnum Research BFR will become one of those collector’s pieces guns that you’re happy to own but don’t fire that much anymore.
A Weird Ornament?
It could even become a centerpiece, because these single action revolvers are historically significant and fantastic things to look at.
Well, the version with the vented rib is fantastic to look at. Without it, the gun is awkwardly proportioned if we’re honest. It’s still fascinating and functional art because of what it is, but the Taurus is a prettier handgun.
It’s a pretty minimalist revolver when you look up close and you can see how functionality has been sacrificed for stability and basic survival of the structure when you engage that trigger action.
A dedicated handgun hunter can definitely use this single action revolver, but it’s really meant to use as scoped single shot handguns and is not set up for fast follow up shots.
If you want to harvest Cape Buffalo or Mule Deer with a revolver, this might be the one.
5. Desert Eagle XIX 50 AE
- Price: $1,966.99
- Caliber: .50 AE
- Capacity: 8+1 Rounds
- Barrel Length: 6 inch barrel
- Total: 10.75 inch
- Weight: 4.5lb
This is often derided as a movie
Now you’ll end up stripping these semi automatics regularly, and it gunges up like a nasal teenager with flu. But the Deadpool 2 gun certainly has the horsepower to take down a Whitetail or feral hogs.
All the motion happens at the rear, too, and the fixed front barrel section is all rail up top. So you can fit a proper scope without worrying about the glass lunching itself on your fast moving slide.
It’s basic, agricultural and over-engineered. It’s also fun.
The Desert Eagle is too big and clumsy for the real world, even as a home defense gun. But as a gun for taking down proper sized animals, it just about makes sense here. Cape Buffalo and Mule Deer are both in its wheelhouse, and you could argue a case for using one for pest control.
6. Smith & Wesson 460 XVR
- Price: $2,244.99
- Caliber: .460 S&W Magnum
- Capacity: 6 Rounds
- Barrel length: 7.5 inch barrel
- Total: 12.9 inch
This is a hunting gun, a competition shooter, a home defense cannon and an ornate custom handgun, all rolled into one. You know it, we know it. The S&W 460 XVR is kind of awesome.
This isn’t a one-trick pony. The matte stainless steel 460 S&W Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 629 is a great choice for an all-round hunter and competition pistol that has taken more deer than you ever will. Its effective range is easily a match for the more powerful pistol too.
More Than Just a Long Barrel
Design wise the Smith & Wesson Model 460 XVR is just different enough to let you know it’s a special handgun. This has been through the hands of the company’s master gunsmiths, and they didn’t just graft the 7.5 inch barrel and fiber optic sights on there for deer hunters and other North American game.
Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model pistols inevitably hold multiple entries on the list because it is, frankly, the King of the Hill when it comes to the best hunting revolvers.
7. Dan Wesson Kodiak
- Price: $2,565.00
- Caliber: 10mm Auto Cartridge
- Capacity: 7+1
- Barrel Length: 6 inch
- Total: 9.75 inch
- Weight: 2.63lb
If you want to go hunting with a handgun, and you also want to look good, well this could be your answer.
The company made its name producing better Smith and Wesson revolvers. Now it is forging a reputation in the long slide 10mm sector with this 6 inch barrel semi automatic pistol.
You get match grade bushingless barrel, fully adjustable sights and a rail on the dust cover for a laser or weapons light. Also, you get other worldly control of 10mm Auto recoil and supreme accuracy through those rear open sights.
From whitetail hunting to bear defense and range work, these Kodiak semi automatics can do it all.
Law enforcement preferred the Colt Delta Elite 10mm as a concealed carry 1911 when it briefly lost faith in 9mm, but this is a better handgun.
8. Nighthawk Custom Korth Mongoose
- Price: $5,547.99
- Caliber: .357 Magnum
- Barrel Length: 6 inch
- Total Length: 11.02 inch
- Weight: 3.64lb
We love Nighthawk Custom guns round these parts, even if we can’t really justify the cost. They’re made on US soil, by master gunsmiths and they are really aimed at target shooters, but still this is insane money.
Competition shooters swear they are worth it, and that nth degree of engineering does tend to shine through under the spotlight of competition. As a hunting revolver, it would just be an epic thing to own and enjoy.
You get adjustable rear sights and an adjustable front sight on a custom handgun. So you can get really precise with the iron sights or mount a red dot up top and go high-tech when you’re hunting medium size game or turn small game into instant pate with single shots.
9. Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter
- Price: $669.99
- Caliber: Multi-Caliber – Up to 45/70 Government
- Barrel: 12 inch
- Weight: 3.5lb
- Capacity: 1
Single shot handguns are popular hunting tools thanks to their price and versatility.
The Thompson Center Arms Encore Pro Hunter is a gun safe in a bag, and you can switch between calibers in a minute. Go big game hunting ort bullseye rats. It’s really up to you.
And when you’re tired of medium game hunting with a handgun, you can slot on a stock and turn your single shot handguns into a rifle with adjustable sights. Really that’s a perfect combination.
So if you’re chasing North American black bear, deer hunting and hunting turkeys, there are Encore Pro Hunter configurations to suit. And that is cool if single shots are your style with handguns & rifles.
10. Christensen Arms Modern Precision Pistol
- Price: $2,215.99
- Caliber: 308 Win Mag
- Barrel Length: 12 inch
- Total Length: 9 inch
- Weight: 6lb
- Capacity: 5+1
You either get the Christensen Arms Modern Precision Pistol or you just don’t. It really does feel like an act of subversion deer hunting with a bolt-action AR pistol set-up in .308 Win Mag or 6.5 Creedmoor.
Honestly, both those rifle cartridges make the 10mm and 44 Magnum look a little on the puny side as hunting ammo. So if you’re shooting bigger game and need the extra muzzle velocity at close range, or you’re going long range hunting, then this is the last stop before you switch to a rifle.
You can obviously get a better grip on this Remington 700 pistol chassis than you can with a 1911.
Then you can fit a sling, a brace, a bi-pod or just about anything else you want, this is an absolute beast of a hunting gun and wildlife management love this bolt action pistol.
Remington started this movement and the pioneering Remington XP100 bolt action is a cult classic. It was always a niche gun, but with State laws proving increasingly restrictive to handgun hunters, well suddenly a market has presented itself for this oddball weapon for deer hunting and big game hunting alike.
The new rules mean these layouts are getting more popular, and who doesn’t like a backpack gun with their hunting gear?
Use classic iron sights or red dot sights on the Picatinny rail up top.
11. Ruger Super Redhawk
- Price: $1,273.99
- Caliber: 44 Magnum
- Capacity: 6 Rounds
- Barrel Length: 9.5 inch
- Weight: 3.6lb
Ruger used to be a mountain man’s pocket gun with the infamous Ruger Alaskan and the Super Redhawk that has ingrained itself into the culture. The Blackhawk, too, is a legendary hunting revolver.
The company is also an expert in small game hunting and the Ruger Mk 4 22 is our undisputed champion of the 22 LR pistol ranks and it’s great for a good shot at much smaller sized game.
The double action revolvers are well loved in the handgun hunting and dangerous game communities, and load them with the best Coyote hunting cartridges and it’s a great tool for the farm.
Simple operation with the long trigger also means these double action pistols are an option for home defense and comes with the classic open sights.
You can, of course, fit more advanced adjustable sights for target shooting or longer range handgun hunting.
12. Sig Sauer P320 XTEN
- Price: $799.99
- Caliber: 10mm Auto
- Capacity: 15+1 Rounds
- Barrel Length: 5 inch
- Weight: 2.06lb
From a concealed carry gun to hunting deer, the best Coyote hunting guns, hunting whitetail deer and long range target shooting, the new Sig P320 XTEN can do it all and more.
These semi automatics are all rounders rather than out and out hunting pistols, but that is no bad thing honestly. Especially if you like close range hunting.
Law enforcement carries the compact 320 chambered in 9mm all the time and they are some of the best sellers in America in the more popular caliber. 10mm gives it an added muzzle velocity, kick and a custom handgun feel.
Use the standard sights, fit a red dot sight, do what you like to your full size handgun to suit your particular job. It’s not the stereotype hunter, but it is a great gun.
The Freedom Arms Model 83 Field Grade is a great hunter, as is the Freedom Arms Model 83 Competition.
Law enforcement agencies loved the Colt Delta Elite 10mm for a while and you could kind of make a case for including that, but more for a concealed carry defensive weapon than hunting Whitetail deer.
We also love the Kimber Super Jagare, but not enough of you do to warrant its includiosn. And that’s a shame…
Tactical Gear and Ammo
If you’re going hunting for a big game animal then you don’t just need guns, ammo etc. You might need the best Coyote hunting cartridges, or large bear hunting.
And you might want to read the gun reviews on hunting ammo, practise ammo, optics, knives, bowhunting, a solid rest and all the other things you now officially need to go with your handguns & ammo.
There’s a lot of information out there.
If you want large bullets, ammo, optics, bowhunting, knives etc, we will do posts for those very soon.