Using a handgun is one of the most challenging and rewarding ways to hunt game. It takes a lot of practice, patience, and persistence to be successful, but bagging a big buck, boar, or other trophy with a sidearm is an incredibly satisfying feeling.
Most handguns are designed for self-defense or target shooting, so finding a model suitable for hunting can be a challenge. Which handgun will work best depends on several factors, including the type of game you plan to hunt and your level of comfort with the weapon.
If at all possible, we suggest testing a few different makes, models, and calibers before making your final decision. That way, you can get a better feel for how the weapon handles and better gauge your ability to handle it.
Don’t know where to start? Here are our top picks to get you moving in the right direction.
Chambered in powerful 10mm Auto, this handgun packs plenty of punch and is more than capable of bringing down wild hogs, whitetail deer, and other similarly sized game.
The easy-to-handle G20 Gen4 has a large 10- or 15-round magazine capacity and is semi-auto, which makes follow-up shots a breeze. It’s also made of strong hi-tech polymer, which keeps the overall weight light, reduces felt recoil, and handles wet weather like a charm.
Top Hunting Handgun on the Market Today
7 Best Hunting Handguns
1. Glock G20 Gen4 - Best Hunting Handgun
Glock handguns are polymer-framed, short recoil-operated, locked-breech semi-automatic weapons, and this 10mm Auto version offers some massive firepower for hunting. 10mm Auto is a popular handgun cartridge for hunting deer and feral swine, although more than a few wild cats and black bears have fallen to this potent cartridge.
When loaded with appropriate hunting ammo, the Glock G20 Gen4 is capable of producing 550 foot pounds of game-dropping muzzle energy. It has a 4.6-inch barrel and an overall length of just over 8 inches. Weighing in at just under 30 ounces unloaded, the Glock G20 Gen4 manages to maintain a lightweight status thanks to its sturdy polymer frame.
The Glock G20 Gen4 also has a healthy magazine capacity of either 10 or 15 rounds. While some hunters may scoff at carrying so many rounds, if you hunt in bear country or ever need to defend yourself from an aggressive injured hog, you’ll appreciate every single round in the mag.
The Glock G20 Gen4 can also pull double duty as a self-defense pistol. It comes with fixed iron sights, so if you want to add a red dot, you’ll need to see a gunsmith.
2. Ruger Mark IV Hunter - Best .22 Handgun for Hunting
Ruger’s Mark IV Hunter is a classic rimfire pistol perfect for hunting small game. It is reliable, accurate, and durable - everything you want in a hunting handgun. It has a 10-round magazine capacity and holds one round in the chamber, giving you plenty of shots before you need to reload. It is also quite striking, featuring mostly stainless steel with a beautiful brushed satin finish.
Perhaps the best feature of this compact pistol is its simple, one-button takedown. With the simple press of a button, you can tilt the upper receiver up and off the grip frame without any extra tools. This one feature means you can easily field strip your weapon for complete chamber-to-muzzle cleaning right in the field.
The Ruger Mark IV Hunter couldn’t be easier to aim. It comes from the factory with an adjustable rear sight, but it is drilled and tapped for easy optics mounting.
As great as this .22 LR handgun is, there are a few minor faults.
The grips are a tad on the large side. While this may not be a problem for most hunters, those with small hands may struggle. Also, the trigger pull feels a little gritty. However, neither of these small issues should be a deal breaker. All in all, the Ruger Mark IV Hunter is a worthwhile weapon.
3. Taurus 444 Raging Bull - Best Handgun for Hunting Big Game
When it comes to successfully hunting big game with a handgun, bigger is usually better. In that arena, the Taurus 444 Raging Bull definitely fits the bill. Chambered for the powerful .44 Magnum, this revolver has a barrel length of 8.375 inches, a 6-round capacity, measures 14 inches overall, and weighs almost four solid pounds. Once mounted with a quality optic, there are few North American big game species this bully can’t handle.The trigger on this monster is an absolute gem. The trigger pull is smooth and the break is crisp. However, shooting this powerhouse is not for the faint of heart. The Taurus 444 Raging Bull produces serious muzzle flash, intense report, and some heavy-duty recoil.
4. Ruger Redhawk - Best Revolver for Hunting
The Ruger Redhawk has been around the block a few times. First introduced in 1979, the Redhawk made waves with its elongated reinforced cylinder that allows it to handle higher pressure loads than most other revolvers. This feature made it a popular choice for handgun hunting. Today, the Ruger Redhawk remains a popular choice, both as a hunting tool and as a bear-defense sidearm.
We like this double action Redhawk revolver chambered in .44 Magnum, which is great for medium to large game. This model has a 6-round capacity, measures 11 inches total, has a 6-round capacity, and weighs just over 3 pounds.
It comes with adjustable front and rear sights, but is ready for a scope if you need to lengthen your effective range. Also, the Ruger Redhawk hits the marks on accuracy, reliability, and durability.
5. Glock G40 Gen4 - Best Handgun for Hog Hunting
Although hogs are pretty tough animals, they are no match for the Glock G40 Gen4. Chambered in 10mm Auto, with a 6-inch barrel, and a 15-round magazine capacity, this Glock makes a deadly hog-hunting handgun, especially if you’re running hogs with hounds.
This reliable pistol weighs 1.76 pounds and measures just short of 9 ½ inches. It is made of sturdy, yet lightweight polymer that resists bumps and bangs and holds up well in damp weather. The design incorporates a longer slide and barrel than Glock’s G20 10mm Auto, which increases projectile velocity and energy.
Hog hunters will especially appreciate the MOS Configuration which makes it easy to mount a reflex sight directly onto the slide. Glock also offers four plate options with the G40 which meet the specs of the industry’s most popular optics. If you need a good scope, Glock has made it extra easy to mount.
The only potential drawback is the gun’s size. This isn’t a firearm that is easy to conceal. However, it works great if your main aim is filling your freezer.
6. Smith & Wesson 629 Deluxe - Best Handgun for Deer Hunting
When it comes to powerful revolvers, Smith & Wesson definitely leads the pack. This double action revolver chambered in .44 Magnum or .44 Special is plenty capable of killing deer out to 100 yards. When mounted with a quality optic, the deer won’t stand a chance.
Weighing in at just over 3 pounds, the S&W 629 Deluxe measures 12 inches long and has a 6 1/2 -inch barrel.
Not only is this powerful revolver deadly in the woods, it’s also handsomely attractive. With elegant textured wood grips and sharp stainless steel barrel, cylinder, and frame, this weapon has the traditional feel of a cowboy revolver.
The SMith & Wesson 629 Deluxe is designed to handle a broad variety of hunting loads and has an adjustable rear sight, so you can tune the weapon’s point-of-impact to match your favorite hunting ammo.
The rear sight also features screws that allow you to easily adjust windage and elevation using nothing fancier than a small flat-head screwdriver. Meanwhile, the front sight features a red insert in a ramped black steel housing. Both sights are designed for easy alignment and improved visibility.
While this reliable revolver could easily pull double duty as a home defense weapon, it is a little hefty for toting around. However, at just over 3 pounds, it is still significantly lighter than the average hunting rifle.
7. Smith & Wesson 500 - Best Handgun to Carry While Hunting
Even if you don’t plan to hunt with your handgun, carrying one with you into the woods just makes good sense, especially if you’re hunting in bear country. The Smith & Wesson 500 is a great sidearm to carry “just in case,” even if your primary hunting weapon is a bow or a rifle.
Advertised as the most powerful production revolver in the world, the Smith & Wesson 500 is chambered for the powerful .500 S&W cartridge, which with the proper shot placement, packs enough power to stop even the largest bears. The shorter 4-inch barrel on this model also makes this X-Frame revolver easy to carry on your hip, well out of the way of your major weapon but still easily accessible if you need it.
Summing It Up
From the Ruger Mark IV Hunter chambered in .22LR to the Smith & Wesson 500, there is a handgun on this list capable of tackling the full spectrum of game, ranging from the smallest squirrels all the way up to the largest most dangerous game.
When it comes to a practical, reliable hunting handgun, our top pick is Glock G20 Gen4. This lightweight, easy-to-handle firearm is chambered in 10mm Auto, which is plenty powerful for bringing down whitetail deer and other similarly sized game. It is also a semi-automatic and has a magazine capacity of either 10 or 15 rounds, meaning there’s plenty of opportunity for rapid follow-up shots. It’s also produced by Glock, one of the most respected handgun manufacturers in the world.
No matter which handgun you choose to carry into the field, make sure you spend some time at the range before opening day. Ultimately, accuracy and confidence will be your best weapons, and the only way to achieve this is to spend some time practicing.