Credit Source: Guns.com, by Jacki Billings
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When heading out into the wild for some hiking, it’s important to pack some security just in case wild animals look to interrupt your outdoor fun. It can be confusing attempting to choose a good gun for hiking but that’s why Guns.com is here. We’ve pulled a selection of handguns from our Vault to help make that decision a little easier.
SMITH & WESSON SHIELD
The Smith & Wesson Shield is a concealed carry staple. Chambered in 9mm, this single stack polymer pistol packs neatly into a holster for ultimate concealment on the trails. Featuring a magazine capacity of 7+1 with the standard magazine and 8+1 extended magazine, the Shield marries a stainless-steel slide with polymer frame topping it with a matte black finish.
The striker-fired Shield sports standard white dot sights, which I recommend upgrading to a more luminescent, easier to acquire sight system. For those who prefer a manual safety, the Shield does offer models equipped with the extra layer of security; just remember to put in the time to train to that end. Though the Shield brings a smaller, compact design to the table the trade-off is that recoil is a tad more noticeable on this platform than on some of the larger guns. It’s a common trait among smaller 9mm handguns and it comes as no surprise that the Shield conforms to this archetype; however, it’s no deal-breaker. The Shield remains easily manageable.
The Smith & Wesson Shield is a 9mm chambered semi-auto perfect for those who want to concealed carry on their hike. (Photo: Jacki Billings/Guns.com)
Measuring 6.1-inches with a weight of 20.8-ounces, the Shield proves a perfect companion for minimalistic hikers who prefer to keep it light. The Shield retails for $367.
The G20 boasts that familiar Glock profile, a plus for current Glock owners looking for a little more oomph to their favorite polymer pistol. Taking a step up in caliber, the Glock 20 runs 10mm ammunition through its Austrian build. The 10mm bump means a little more oomph with heavier bullets perfect for tackling animals you might encounter on the trails.
The G20 measures just over 8-inches in length, ever so slightly longer than the Glock 17. Tipping scales at 27.51-ounces, the Glock 20 is also heavier than its 9mm compadre. The full-size frame grants more control over the pistol and reduces recoil on the platform, but it also means that it doesn’t conceal quite as easily as the Smith & Wesson Shield.
The Glock 20 keeps to that Glock look while bringing a larger caliber to the table with a 10mm chambering. (Photo: Jacki Billings/Guns.com)
What the Glock 20 does well, though, is bring a smooth shooting platform to hikers already comfortable with the Glock build. Transitioning from a Glock 17 or 19 to the Glock 20 proves easy to accomplish with no learning curves or training stumbles. The Glock 20 is perfect of those already accustomed to Glock. The G20 retails for $529.
The Ruger GP100 is a giant leap in terms of size. Measuring 9.50-inches in overall length with a 4.20-inch barrel, the revolver weighs in at 40-ounces. It’s a heftier choice for hikers but that weight lends itself to better recoil management. The GP100 comes chambered in both .38 Special and .357 Magnum, though both rounds are easily managed due to that heavier frame. Granted the versatility of multiple chamberings, hikers also have that option of choosing a caliber more suited to the animals in their area. For me, I tended to opt for the .38 Special.
The first wheelgun on the list, the Ruger brings with it the reliability of revolvers. A 6-shot revolver, the Ruger GP100 is easy to maintain, easy to load and unload and a great option for hikers who want a no muss, no fuss firearm. While I always suggest maintaining your gun, the Ruger GP100 doesn’t need a whole lot of babying in the same way that semi-autos sometimes do.
The Ruger GP100, chambered in .357 Mag and .38 SPL, brings a revolver design to the list. (Photo: Jacki Billings/Guns.com)
The Ruger GP100 isn’t for the hiker looking for stealthy carry or lightweight carry. This is one heavy gun, but it achieves its purpose of reliability and is capable of dealing with stray animals you might encounter in the woods or on a hike. The Ruger GP100 retails for $829.
Taurus Raging Judge Ultralight
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include the venerable Taurus Judge in a list of hiking guns. A fan favorite, the Taurus Raging Judge Ultralight packs quite the punch chambering both .410 shotshell and .45 Long Colt. Don’t let the “Ultralight” moniker fool you, this is one meaty gun. For someone petite like me, it was a struggle at times to keep it on target and prep that heavier trigger. Measuring 10.2-inches in length with a weight at 41.4-ounces, this handgun doesn’t mess around.
Like most revolvers, the Judge is fairly easy to manipulate and maintain. Offering seven shots in total, the addition of the .410 chambering brings versatility. You can feel confident that no matter what you face off against on the trails with this gun, you will emerge victorious. The Judge also elevates its features with the addition of a fiber optic front sight, which is a nice bonus to the platform.
The Taurus Raging Judge Ultralight, in .410 and .45 LC, is a fan favorite among gun owners hitting the trails. (Photo: Jacki Billings/Guns.com)
The versatility and just mean look of the gun is its greatest strength. This isn’t a model that you can easily seat in a holster or carry concealed, but it is a model that means business on the trails. Capable of taking on most animals you might encounter; the Taurus Raging Judge Ultralight proves why it’s near and dear to some gun owners. The Taurus Raging Judge Ultralight retails for $983.
Check out Guns.com’s full inventory of revolvers and semi-automatic handguns perfect for the trails.