Handgun Hunting 101

Pelican Flyer  |  July 18, 2020

Handgun hunting is a relatively short-range hunting style that involves taking game with a hunting pistol or revolver. Though similar in many ways to firearm and bow hunting, handgun hunting relies on additional accuracy and marksmanship skills. It's truly one of the most thrilling hunting pursuits around. If you're interested in giving handgun hunting a shot — pun intended — be sure to start with this useful guide from Pelican. We can help you find a handgun case to keep your weapons safe in transit and out in the field.

Benefits of Handgun Hunting

What makes handgun hunting so appealing? It's like a day at the range, except instead of a paper target, you get to bring home dinner for your whole family. Practiced handgun hunters can score deer, wild hogs, antelope and more. Here are some more pros to handgun hunting.

  • It takes shooting skills. To become proficient in handgun hunting, you'll need plenty of shooting practice. Most hunters can bag a trophy kill within 100 yards — occasionally more with a larger, more powerful handgun. Accuracy is paramount to ensure a clean, humane kill.
  • It takes stalking skills. Any short-range hunting activity that requires you to get relatively close to your quarry will involve some serious stalking skills. Handgun hunting forces you to approach your target quietly and cleverly.
  • It's more ethical. Many hunters consider handguns to be more ethical than bows because they can kill their targets quickly. As with any hunting, a more accurate shot ensures a more ethical kill.
  • It's versatile. If you already own a pistol, ammo and a pistol case, you've got all the gear you need. In other
  • It's easier to carry. Of course, long days hauling a relatively lightweight, compact pistol or revolver are much easier than long days hauling a heavy firearm. Handguns make destination hunts much easier. If you venture out into rugged terrain that requires you to climb or cut through dense brush, your handgun will simplify the adventure.

pelican consumer blog benefits of handgun hunting

The Best Guns for Handgun Hunting

What kind of gun should you take on your first handgun hunt? It depends on how and where you plan to use your firearm. All in all, you want a relatively lightweight handgun with adjustable iron sights or an optical sight to assist with aiming and accuracy. The most popular handguns for hunting include:

  • Revolvers. You can use both single- and double-action revolvers, but double-action configurations are faster. With extreme accuracy and power, the right revolver can be a great asset to your hunting arsenal.
  • Single-shot pistols. Also known as “short guns,” single-shot pistols are powerful and effective even at long ranges. Single-shot handguns give you access to only a single round and can be fitted with an optic to ensure rifle-like accuracy.
  • Bolt-action handguns. These are essentially short-barreled bolt-action rifles. Like single-shot pistols, they are powerful at long ranges, and you can easily outfit them with an optic. However, bolt-action handguns give you access to multiple rounds and offer more scope variety.
  • Semi-automatic pistols. Though not used quite as often as the other handguns on this list, lightweight semi-automatics can be effective for highly skilled marksmen. They are reliable and accurate, but optics are difficult to add.

Handgun Hunting Laws

Check with your state’s natural resources department to learn about handgun hunting laws in your area. Most states have limits on barrel length and caliber. For example, in Maryland, handguns used to hunt deer must be at least .40 caliber with a barrel length of at least 6 inches. Handgun hunting is typically limited to the shotgun season, but be sure to double-check all your local laws to determine when handgun hunting is legal.

A Thrilling Challenge

Handgun hunting can be a fantastic challenge and sharpen your shooting skills. Pelican is here to help you find the right gun case for your unique needs, whether you hunt with a pistol, a revolver or a good old-fashioned rifle.

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