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In a post called Why You Shouldn’t Take a Gun When Hiking on the Appalachian Trail: IMI Systems Quote of the Day, a snowflake named Margaret (not shown) offered a whole lot of reasons why she wouldn’t tool-up for her national forest adventures. TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia shot down her arguments with extreme prejudice. Which left a void: What are the best guns for hiking, especially in grizzly country? Ruger, Colt, Glock, Smith & Wesson, Taurus, even Springfield are all great options for backpacking, but here are my picks . . .


Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight (courtesy


Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight (around $450)

If you want a firearm that can take down a black bear, wolf, mountain lion or other small game or four-legged critters, Smith’s five-shot .38 caliber snubbie is not the gun you’re looking for. Nor would it be suitable for “where the F am I?” emergency hunting.

Bear spray or pepper spray are considered self-defense options by some, but if you’re a hiker seeking more protection from two-legged threats, the 642 is, as the Brits say, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

The 15-ounce Smith and Wesson Model 642 Airweight’s biggest, maybe even only, advantage: The handgun is easily schlepped into United States bear country in a fanny pack or comfortable IWB holster. It provides supreme portability over however many miles of Mother Nature an outdoorsman seeks to traverse. It’s also reliable AF, no matter what the conditions. Speaking of which . . .


GLOCK 20 (courtesy


GLOCK 20 (around $615)

While the GLOCK 20 is a lot bigger than the diddy little ccw five-shot Smith, it only exacts a 13-ounce weight penalty. Not to be a Buffalo Bore, that doesn’t include the weight of the cartridges. Which cost a bomb and weigh a ton. But the full-size G20’s capability is from another planet.

With the right 10mm ammo, with appropriately placed shots, Gaston’s gat is great personal defense against a bad man or a rampaging grizzly bear at a fair distance, maybe even both at in quick succession, what with its 15+1 magazine capacity.

As you’d expect, the semiautomatic GLOCK 20 is an uber-reliable semi-auto pistol that doesn’t require a lot of babying to keep running. As for concealed carry comfort, there are plenty of backpacker compatible options, from cover-it-with-your shirt outside-the-waistband holsters to not-so-covert-now-eh-Mr.-Bond chest-mounted rigs.


Henry Repeating Arms .30-30 lever gun (courtesy


Henry Repeating Arms lever gun in .30-30 (around $699 and up)

If you’re serious about not becoming bear scat in Colorado or hunting something brown-bear big in between communing with nature, you need some serious firepower. Any shotgun that fires slugs is a good choice. Any long gun in a suitably powerful caliber is also a suitable contender for a backwoods/desert/mountaintop companion.

[NOTE: This list does not include my weighty 5.56 caliber SCAR-16 as toted by Liberte Austin in the pic at the top of this post. That was clickbait humor.]

I’m going with the Henry .30-30 in don’t-mind-if-I-ding-it stainless steel. The lever gun offers an ideal combination of light weight (7 lbs.), maneuverability (39” long), portability (swivel studs, useful with iron sights out to 125 yards or so), large predator “stopping power,” accuracy, capacity, safety (carry it without a round in the chamber) and last but not least, cool.

Yeah, I know: the Big Boy is not a carry gun per se. But if you’re carrying it, it’s a carry gun, right? As Elvis might have said, carrying the Henry feels so good how can it be wrong? If you see Margaret, ask her. Better yet, don’t. If you don’t understand it, it’s not for you.

Note: Federal, state and local laws vary. Always contact the appropriate law-enforcement agency to confirm the rules and regulations of the area in which you plan to hike.

More about hiking and carrying:

Outside Magazine Really Doesn’t Want You to Hike With a Gun

Want to Stay Safe When You’re Out on the Trail? Carry A Gun

Here’s the Best Backcountry Sidearms for Hunters, Hikers, and Campers – (Gun reviews of Smith & Wesson .44 magnum, .45 ACP Smith & Wesson 1911, Ruger LCP .380 ACP, Glock 20 10mm, .380 ACP Smith & Wesson Bodyguard)

Ruger Releases SP101 .357 Magnum With 4.2-inch Barrel and Fiber Optic Sights

Which Gun Would You Grab: Hiking in Bear Country Edition

The Company K Colt 4th Cavalry Single Action Army

Gun Review: Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Double-Action Revolver

Taurus Adds .454 Casull to Raging Hunter Series

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  1. Many people find the Glock 20’s grip to be overly large for their hands.

    I wouldn’t take any of these hiking. For hiking, I prefer a revolver chambered in a more powerful round.

      • Factory loaded 10mm is more powerful than factory loaded .44 Special. Handloading can bump either one, but until you get into Elmer Keith country, 10 still holds the edge.

    • Fortunately, I’ve got rather large hands. My bear gun is the G-40 MOS stuffed with buffalo bore rounds.

      • They discontinued the long-frame G20 years ago. If you have big hands get a G20Gen4 and add backstraps to your liking.

    • I was thinking S&W M27. It’s about the heaviest recoil I can tolerate in a handgun, but I would definitely want something north of 9mm in terms of muzzle energy.

      • I don’t know, I saw an article a while ago (wish I could find it again) about an outdoor guide in Alaska who dropped a charging grizzly with a full size 9mm loaded with +P hardcast rounds. I agree, it’s far from ideal (the only reason he dropped the bear was that he managed to get a headshot somewhere in the magazine he mostly emptied), though it IS doable, at least theoretically.

        Also, why 30.30? Why not .45-70? I understand that the round has actually been experiencing a resurgence in Alaska as an excellent anti-bear round in the classic lever gun configuration.

        • Just because someone did something once, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. There was also an old Eskimo lady in Alaska that shot a grizzly with .22 recently. That doesn’t make .22 an appropriate round for bear.

    • That was a good listen. Thanks for that. I’m heading to Prince of Wales Island in September for a bear hunt.

  2. Can’t quibble with your choices. Much. J-frame .38 or .357 – perfect. 10mm is a great round, though I never could get a Glock 20 to run reliably with original-spec loads and swapped it for a Razorback. Thirty-thirty is OK, but any light lever gun in a decent centerfire rifle or big pistol caliber is fine without looking too out of place (on western trails at least).

    Commenting isn’t as much fun if you agree with the post.

    • Agreed. 4 inch 357 mag in black bear and mountain lion country, 6 inch 44 Magnum or some type of rifle (or both) in Grizzly country. If the biggest thing I can reasonably expect to see are Coyotes my always carried LCP II or a .38 revolver is plenty.

  3. I think I’d like to have a double rifle in .450 Nitro Express in case I stumble across a rhino on the Appalachian Trail. My bearer, Harry, can carry it for me.

    Hey, you never know.

  4. Our local bear hunting club uses Ruger 44 caliber revolvers. They shoot them put of trees after the dogs chase them there. It works for them.

  5. Glock says the 20 weighs 30.89oz unloaded and 39.71oz loaded. The S&W 642 is 15oz and 5 rounds of .38 special are about 2.6oz, so you’re at 17.6oz. So, where’s that 13oz weight penalty for the Glock 20 at? Are you recommending carrying the Glock 20 unloaded when hiking or something?

  6. Would this not be one of the useful applications for a Mare’s Leg or similar lever action “pistol” in a large caliber? Or maybe even an AK pistol in a chest rig? Would not a steel core AK round take down just about anything short of a brown or grizzly bear at close range? I own neither gun, so these are actual questions.

    • ‘Would this not be one of the useful applications for a Mare’s Leg…’

      Yes it would, but I’m curious what the other useful application for a mare’s leg is.

    • Every mare’s leg I have seen has been in .45 Colt or .357 Magnum. A .45-70 mare’s leg (cut down guide gun?) wouldn’t hold many rounds and wouldn’t be fun to shoot. In an emergency I don’t want an awkwardly-balanced pistol that absolutely needs two hands to operate and is hard to aim.

      There are no applications for a mare’s leg where a revolver isn’t better.

    • I think a good .357 mag or .44 mag revolver with a seven to eight inch barrel would be better than a Mares leg. I would seriously consider a Thompson Contender with three barrels, Bear/Deer, small game calibers and a snub nose for human threats.

      • I’ve owned several Contenders. They are great little guns, but even in 45/70, I wouldn’t want to depend on one in bear country. Bears have been known to suddenly charge from behind a clump of bushes, trees, or anything that might conceal them from your view, until they are ready to pounce on you.
        You could very well miss the first shot due to the sudden adrenaline rush that overtakes you. You might not even have time to get the breech open for a fallow up shot, not to mention the rest of the actions needed to fire a second shot.

        Also, how did we get from a simple hike on the Appalachian trail, to an all out heavily armed Grizzy hunt? Myself, I think I would just take my Ruger SRLX, loaded with defensive +P’s, and of course some reloads.

  7. I love the idea of a revolver and a lever action. I’d go with matching caliber though. .44 mag or .357 depending on the size of game near where you’re camping or hiking. Easy to pack just a couple of boxes of ammo

    • That would be cool. I reallyreallyreally want a revolver/levergun combo in .357 mag.

      As it is, I feel just fine packing my 9mm semiauto pistol on hiking/camping trips and urban/suburban excursions alike.

      I’m not going to schlep a long gun on the one-in-multiple-millions chance that I run into a grizzly or a rabid moose. Just not worth it. If my all-purpose carry gun can’t get the job done, my number was probably up anyway. Although if I did decide to bring a rifle along, my Marlin .30-30 (my favorite, and the most trusted gun in my safe) would be going with me.

  8. As mentioned in the other thread. I carry a SP101 .357 (with the 4.2″ barrel) in a Ribz chest pack that I’ve sewn a holster in to.

    It looks like any other dorky chest rig, but the gun is easily accessible with one zipper or even keeping the zipper halfway open.

    • For anything in North America, except for Grizzly country, I prefer the Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum with the 4.2″ barrel, It’s a handgun that offers the versatility and reliability of a revolver with the power of the Glock 20 in a slightly lighter package. Its only drawback vis-a-vis the Glock is that it only holds five rounds instead of 15. this however should be enough when hiking.

      • I prefer the Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum with the 4.2″ barrel also; if I was absolutely FORCED to have only one handgun, this would be it (means 13 others would be lost). Too much versatility here, goes with my Ruger 77/357 great.

  9. J frame 442 in front right pocket loaded with BB copper hollow points. In an Uncle Mikes pocket holster.

    The AT, like my stomping grounds in CA, has no grizzlie bears.

    Only thing I would add to that is something like the M6 scout in .22lr over .410. Light weight and a real meal provider if SHTF.

    • And if you are up on the Pacific Coast Trail, not many bad guys, considering that almost all of it is over 7000 feet, some over 10,000. All in all, it is a pretty safe place. All the bears care about is your food. No wolves (yet) either. The only problem is that if you drop down into town, you have to carry concealed or put your unloaded gat in a locked container.

      • No wolves that I’m aware of. But I’ve seen cougar, bobcat, yotes, bears and tweakers in the boonies.

        Guess which ones worry me most?

        • a tweaker bear? 7 feet from nose to snout and weighs 90 pounds. Patches of fur missing. Rotten teeth.

          Disney ought to be able to work up a family of movies about Tweaker Bear.

      • So if it just wants your food are you, as in the other post, safe as long as you just give it what it wants? 😉

        • YOU are FOOD!
          How much food would a person take on a simple hike? After the bear eats what you brought, it’l still be hungry, and it might just eat what brought the “snack”.

  10. For hiking the Appalachian Trail and to manage weight, I’d carry a Keltec PMR-30 in 22 Mag which weighs 13 oz. It can hold 30 rounds of 22 Mag ammo, which weigh very little …….and gives lots of defensive firepower.

    • Seems like most here have never done any backpacking. This is a far better suggestion. Weight is everything when hiking for days on end. My thought was a crickett in 22 mag. Pairs well with the keltec and you can shoot some dinner on the way with either.

      • “Crickett”
        Are we talking about the 6 leg variety, or the single shot you might have purchased for your young daughter?
        I’m assuming it’s the latter due to the spelling.
        This might be a good choice for a camp gun, for an occasional squirrel, but I’m also assuming that this was never meant for self defense for anything bigger than a cricket.

    • And when the front sight falls off it will distract the bad guy so you can run away.

      That gun is an excellent idea, and I can’t wait until Ruger comes out with a version that works reliably.

  11. The Glock 29 is a great option. Wear it OWB on your hike then wear it IWB for dinner at nice restaurant. It could be the best of both worlds.

  12. Bit hard to get a Wilderness carry ATC up here if you’re not a trapper, so:

    1. A Dominion Arms Grizzly mag-fed with the 8.5 inch barrel.
    2. A Henry Mare’s leg in .44 magnum, with a youth-length stock fitted
    3. Chiappa Ridge Runner takedown in .45-70.

    Special mention goes to an antique pistol in .44 Russian or .455 Webley and the RCMP letter confirming antique status.

      • It’s fine if you register it and don’t wander across state lines. IV8888 has an SBR’d Henry.

      • It’s legal up here in Canada- one of the few nice things we get with our laws. I think a lot of it has to do with how getting authorization to carry pistols is so hard up here- so we need a useful alternative. Same goes for antique pistols, but they don’t pack as much punch and are pretty expensive.

        • Not a natural born CANUK however, forbCANADA handgun laws, We )ONLY this FIREARM) carry our Ruger “REDHAWK” in .45ACP/LC. It gets BUFFALO BORE heavy loads for the trails. This Ruger “REDHAWK” line are THE STURDIEST revolvers we have seen on market. T❤️Rugers REDHAWK line are true BEASTS and very nice looking to boot. True works of art, our opinion. Other big-bore calibers are available too. A .45 REDHAWK w heavy BB loads will handle pretty much anything in lower 48🇺🇸🔫✝️🎃

    • The loading gate spring on my Ridgerunner snapped after about 40 rounds and I’m on month number 2 waiting for a replacement to arrive from Italy…

  13. I carry a 10MM EAA Witness compact when I go hiking. It has a 12 round magazine capacity and fits my hand comfortably. Yes, it’s a little heavy, but that’s OK for me. It has power and can be nicely concealed with a 3.6″ barrel.

    • That gun was my 2nd choice for a 10mm. As I have the EAA compact in 45acp and a Sar B6P in 9mm for carry. I went with a RIA 4 inch 1911 as Im more of a pure single action guy.
      But. I’ve also wondered about a short barrel with a full power 10mm in it.
      No ones done any research on 10mm loads with a short barrel Im aware of.

      • I haven’t chrono’d short-barrel 10mm loads either, but I’m pretty sure the rule-of-thumb “50fps per inch” rule applies, or at least gets pretty close. When barrels get very short or very long, things get wonky.

        My standard load is a 180grainer at 1330fps through a 5″ barrel, so it would be around 1280fps through 4″. I’d be interested in actual tests too.

      • 10mm in short barrels are no different that other calibers w short barrels. The longer the barrel, the more “runway”’projectile has to develop increased pressure thus muzzle velocity. That Ms a powerful firearm & load you have. Bear in mind, NO HANDGUN can match a rifle (same round) as longer barrels generate higher muzzle velocities. As physics go, GENERAL rule is 4” barrel is point most calibers hit “afterburner” and accelerate exponentially faster each inch of barrel. With you particular 10mm, the damage a 2” barrel inflicts is negligible as far as life-threatening injury goes. For a wild animal or human, it’s comparing a 80-pound person and a 200-pound person stepping on an insect. Either one kills bug but 200-pounder has much more. Dead is dead. No “levels” of that🇺🇸🔫✝️🎃

  14. Fair points made on the two handguns. The G20 with Buffalo Bore ammo is a good choice in bear country, especially if you’re accustomed to carrying and shooting a Glock. But why the 30-30??? If you’re carrying for self defense you don’t need range; you need stopping power. A 44 mag lever gun, or 45-70 is much better defensive medicine.

    • I second this. I wonder if you could just take a 3″ .38spl LCRx and a 2″ .357 one and just swap the cylinders…maybe?

      • I doubt that you could swap the cylinders because the .357 Magnum cylinder is likely longer to accommodate the longer .357 Magnum casing.

        That was a great idea though!

        • I think that on the LCR cylinders are all the same length, just bored internally different. Also the LCR .357 cylinder is made from Carpenter stainless steel as is the frame (same with the 9mm). Non .357/9mm LCR frames are aluminum, so a strength issues arises along with each cylinder needing to be timed for that particular gun. This is my understanding. on the matter.

      • I think you could build a hammerless 3″ .38 out of an LCR and an LCRx for sure though. Of course, what I want is a hammerless,3″ .357, which they will never make.

  15. Depending on where you’re hik ing I tend to agree with DG and would recommend a revolver in a ca liber big enough to take on the biggest critter you could possibly encounter.

    I like the .30-30 choice, but for a defensive weapon I’d probably opt for a .44 mag lev er g un. .30-30 offers significantly longer range (I shoot the 200 yard gong with my 336BL with open sights) but the .44 offers a higher rou nd count.

    The other candidate should be an LCP or LCR (or equivalent), since weight may be a significant factor for long hikes. An LCR in .357 or .327 would probably do the trick on black bears and cougars, but if you’re needing to keep it as li ght as possible and LCP is a whole lot better than nothing.

    • Governor,

      A lever-action rifle in .44 Magnum (shooting full-house loads) also has more “stopping power” than a .30-30 rifle — at least within 100 yards. Couple that with the higher round count and I would take a lever-gun in .44 Magnum over .30-30.

      Another consideration when out hiking: stumbling onto a marijuana grow. In that scenario, the RIFLE that I would want is not compatible with stopping typical four-legged predators. What to do?

      • u_s, I’d probably lean toward the .44 myself because of round count but I think you’re underestimating the mild mannered but mighty little .30-30. My first thought was that yes, if you’re willing to spend $2-3/round on .44 ammo you would get a boost up from the .30-30 at close range, but if you’re shooting the cheap stuff the .30-30 has a significant edge. However, it being Sunday afternoon and all, I decided to take a closer look. First, if your .30-30 is a Marlin, you’ve got ‘micro-groove’ rifling which will bump up muzzle velocities a bit, even above what the box says. Joe over at Real Guns got over 2100ft/lbs out of both the Federal Fusion 150gr. and the Hornady Leverevolution 160gr.*

        In comparison, Buffalo Bore lists their Deer Grenade as a +p round and they claim just under 2000ft/lbs from a 20″ 1894. I punched in the numbers into Hornady’s ballistics calculator, adjusted it for my current elevation and the weather conditions I wish it were outside and this is what I came up with. By 100 yard the Federal Fusion load still packs 1627ft/lbs, the Leverevolution 1727 vs 1296 for the +p Deer Grenade. Even down rating the really cheap stuff’s rated velocity for a shorter barrel and the .30-30 still catches the Deer Grenade by around 75 yards. Wind drift is a virtual wash, but obviously the .30-30 has a much flatter trajectory.

        So I think I’m going to emphatically state that a .30-30 is more powerful than a .44 magnum rifle.


        • Governor,

          I am certain that .30-30 Winchester has something like 30% more velocity and energy in foot-pounds than full power .44 Magnum coming out of rifle barrels. Remember, though, that energy in-and-of-itself does not always equate to better “stopping power”: that .44 Magnum bullet is HUGE and HEAVY which means it creates a HUGE and DEEP wound channel.

          In other words, out to 100 yards, I believe the .44 Magnum has superior terminal ballistics over .30-30 Winchester. In my case I shoot Winchester white box .44 Magnum 240 grain jacketed soft points which I chronographed at 1,900 fps out of the muzzle of my rifle. Even at 100 yards, that bullet is still whistling along at 1,500 fps. I have to believe those ballistics produce superior stopping ability versus the Hornady Leverevolution .30 caliber, 160 grain bullet at 2,100 fps at 100 yards. Oh, and those Winchester white box .44 Magnum cartridges cost about $0.70 each versus more than $1 each for Hornady Leverevolution!

          Now if you want to reach out to 200 yards, then I would definitely give the nod to .30-30 Winchester. Within 100 yards and I think .44 Magnum rifles are better for stopping large animals.

        • A lot depends on the load and the target. For large bears a heavy hard cast slug from a .44 is probably better than any available .30-30 round (although BB does make a 190gr ‘bear load’). 100 yard performance would not be a factor anyway for bear defense. For thinner skinned game, like bad guys, I keep the 336 loaded with Federal 125gr hollow points which is supposed to be a varmint load, but with a semi-jacketed hollow point zipping along at well over 2500fps it has to be a devastating SD load. In the .44 revolvers I keep PMC 180gr hollow points in all 12 chambers (I’m guessing around 900 and 1100ft/lbs respectively). For rifle defense against black bears and cougars I’d go with the Federal Fusion 150gr. in .30-30 (mostly because they’re quite a bit cheaper than the Leverevolutions) and a 240gr SP in a .44, either rifle or revolver.

          IMHO the round count is probably a bigger factor than terminal ballistics. Compared to my 336BL with it’s 6 and sometimes 5 round magazine, the 1894 carries 10 in the tube and still weighs less (although it’s slightly longer). Even that probably doesn’t matter though. You’ll probably run out of time before you run out of ammo.

        • Governor,

          “A lot depends on the load and the target.”

          That really is the key. Whether or not a rifle in .30-30 Winchester or .44 Magnum is a better stopper totally depends on the scenario and which threats you expect.

          For reference I chronographed those PMC Bronze .44 Magnum 180 grain hollowpoints out of a revolver with a 7.5 inch barrel and measured 1,600 fps. That is an utterly devastating load against human attackers, wolves, feral dogs, coyotes, and mountain lions. I have some doubts, though, how well those would work to fend off large black bears, large feral hogs, and even large white-tailed or mule deer. If I have any inkling that I will face those large tough critters, I load up with 240 grain jacketed soft points.

        • I think if you’re using an appropriate bullet, either .44 mag or .30-30 will handle anything in the lower 48 other than grizzlies, at least for defense (close range). If you’re in grizzly country I’d want at least a .45-70. Preferably a Ma Deuce.

          Good to know on the PMCs. That’s one of those rounds that they don’t tell you what the ‘test barrel’ was but you can pretty well guess that it’s a 12″ non-vented – 1750fps. I saw a review of my birdshead Vaquero (3-3/4″) that got 900ft/lbs out of Federal’s 180gr. SJHP, so I figured it would be similar. Now if I could find some gel tests on it. Or just about any other SJHP load for that matter.

  16. Blued Ruger Blackhawk with 4 5/8 in bbl. with Heavy Loads.

    The blues Model is 4 oz lighter than the stainless.

  17. 30-30 is an odd choice. I’m by no means a fanboy but when hiking and fishing in Western MT, the G20 longslide 10mm with 200gr FN hardcasts always comes along.

    • The problem with a wheel gun in W MT, N ID and NW WY is that brown bear and wolves essentially share the area (along with black bear, mountain lions, and coyotes). Maybe not to run into each Very often, but enough that both have to be considered. We have all five in the county that I spend half the year in. And the wolf packs these days are often big enough that 5 or 6 in a wheel gun aren’t going to be enough. My solution is a G20 with solid cast loaded, for brown or black bear, and a spare magazine of JHP for possible wolves, coyotes, or cougars. Encountering wolves should give me time to switch magazines, and if not, then I would rather risk over penetration with them, than under penetration with a charging bear. We don’t have a lot of brown bear (blacks are fairly ubiquitous, probably only eclipsed by coyotes in the county), but enough that they have to be taken into account.

      • I hunted the Thompson River valley this fall and it was so thick with wolves that it looked like someone was running dog sled teams up in the timber. The trails in the snow were nearly wide enough for my brother and I to walk side by side.

  18. My list would be
    S&W 360
    Glock 29 Gen4
    S&W 329
    Carry light and pack a punch. If you live in Alaska you might want to invest in a Ruger Alaskan .480 or Toklat, and if you live in the wilds of Canadia you should get a 12 gauge pump shotgun with a folding stock or PGO.

  19. Marlin 1895 Guide gun in 45-70 GOVT. Out hiking dunno what you’re runnin into you may as well have the caliber to deal with it all

  20. I live on the east coast, so for me I carry a S&W 686 plus in .357 with a 4 inch barrel in a Guide’s Choice holster.

  21. In most areas of the lower 48 it seems that whatever you would typically carry for urban personal defense would be the way to go, since most critters (cougar, etc) are likely to be stopped by any adequate “regular” personal defense load (G26 or G43 with Federal HST 147s for instance). And, since they’re likely to be moving, shot placement and follow-up shot speed will be very important.

    In areas where I’m likely to encounter anything bigger (bear and such) the G20 with Federal Vital Shok JSP is my go-to with a 642 tucked in my pocket.

  22. My choice for Pacific NW hiking (bears, LOTS of moose) is a Ruger SRH Alaskan .480 with 400 gr hardcast (subsonic) in a Simply Rugged chest rig. Plus an LCP2 riding in a pocket as a BUG. In camp I have a Mossberg 930SPX with 3 inch Black Magic slugs. If I cross into Canada only the shotgun will go with me, and I guess I will have to carry that darned bear spray away from camp. JD Spokane WA

  23. Either the Dan Wesson SS 6″ .44mag, or the Marlin 1894 in .44mag.
    Better yet, both!!

    Or for all purpose serious SHTF hiking (trying to stay alive BAMN), my CA C39v2 AK pistol on a sling. You won’t need steel core with a couple of 30rnd mags.
    That Tapco trigger is sa-weeeeeet.

  24. I think my S&W Model 69 snubby in .44 Magnum will do the trick.

    Of course, that will be backed-up by my S&W 649 and my Sig P225, both of which I always carry.

  25. Hiking, not hunting. Throw a .30-30 or other long gun on your back on the AT and someone is likely going to assume poaching. This is as bad as the EDC pocket dump – everything but the kitchen sink.

    • Never walked the AT, but have done much of the PCT and you’re right. Long guns or open carried handguns make you look goofy. On most of the PCT they’ll get the attention of law enforcement too.

      Those EDC pictures are mostly fake. I guess you knew that.

  26. For the AT, I’d want a handgun and I’d choose a Charter Arms .44 Spl in a Simply Rugged OWB holster, with a few rounds of ammo for snakes and more for personal defense. I’d also want a Mossberg 590 “Shockwave” in 12-ga (in an over-the-shoulder scabbard strapped to my pack) with slugs or buckshot, with a few rounds in #6 in the pack for taking small game in an on-trail emergency. Except in Maryland and New York State, I’d be legal with that. Come to think of it, those guns probably wouldn’t be a bad outfit out West, too. I was also thinking that a ’92 takedown in .44-40 or .45 Colt would be an acceptable substitute for the Shockwave.

  27. An glock 29/29sf would an more compact option ore an glock 30/30 sf converted to 460 rowland for big animals

  28. When I hike in North Carolina Mountains I take a Glock 29 with Buffalo Bore 200gn Hard Cast bullets. Yes I have seen bear, not had to shoot them.

  29. My S&W Model 60 in 357Mag is, in my opinion, the best carry of all time.
    For bigger prey, my 1895 Marlin Guide in 45-70 with some Buffalo Bore 400-gr Magnums will definitely do the job, or for really BIG stuff, (that I would never see), Garrett’s 540-gr +P SuperHardCast.
    Of course, the odds of me taking a 2000 mile walk are much less than winning the lottery..


  30. Because I thought polygonal rifling and hardcast bullets were a bad mix, I didn’t buy a Glock 20 or 40. Instead, I bought a Glock 21 and installed a .40 Magnum conversion barrel, also a stiffer Wolff recoil spring. Then I learned that I had been misled by a misunderstanding and a myth

    Oh well, a G21 was easier to find than a G20. They’re lying about in every pawn shop, fairly cheap especially if they show a lot of mileage, which means (for purposes of price negotiation) the barrel is shot out and the recoil spring is tired.

  31. I am going to cry foul on Margaret’s behalf. She never claimed to be anti-gun. Almost all her reasons had to do with space and weight. Her logic is no different than regular TTAGers whining about how a 1911 is too heavy to carry around town. She has merely fallen into the trap of rebaselining acceptable weight based on modern lightweight equipment.

    25 years ago the baseline weight for long distance backpacking was heavier than her expected maximum daily carry weight is now. When I was backpacking out west in the 70’s a 40lb load would have been considered bare bones. Lighter equipment doesn’t lower the maximum weight you comfortably carry. It allows you to carry more gear.

    So shame on you, Robert for misreprenting her and creating ill will for the gun community.

    • And if you are planning on a long stay in the outdoors than you take a Browning Buckmark with a 7.25″ barrel and 200 rounds of ammo. For a day hike you take your daily carry.

  32. Wow, all the insite, but no one has asked Farago…
    Who’s the girl and what is she carrying?
    …only part sarcasm.

    • Did you read the article or just look at the pictures? It’s in there…

      “This list does not include my weighty 5.56 caliber SCAR-16 as toted by Liberte Austin in the pic at the top of this post.”

    • Said in the article: “This list does not include my weighty 5.56 caliber SCAR-16 as toted by Liberte Austin in the pic at the top of this post. That was clickbait humor.”

  33. forget the guns, I will take the blond. why can’t I get a hiking companion like that. well anyway, the glock 20 is good and powerful. and I myself would take my S&W M642 or Colt Agent as well as one of these; my S&W M 19 4″ 357 ( nickel ) or my S&W M22 ” 45auto/auto rim or my S&W M 21 44 spec . with a bunch of different loads of course. lite stuff and heavy stuff. or I could take my S&W M327 8 shot 5″ 357 mag thunder ranch performance special. which has attachments for a scope and a laser or lite. works with moon clips and is only as heavy as the M19. and maybe my old Marlin 336 or Winchester trapper 30/30. or perhaps m M500 12 ga shotgun. with some slugs. ( 18″ barrel with rifle sites, 5 round tube plus one). any one of those would be ok to have.

  34. I have hiked 40 of my years including all of Appalachian Trail from New York to Maine I hiked the rockies in NM and Colorado, Washington state cascades and penninsula as well as Arizona

    My current backpack carry gun is Ruger 3″ LCRx that I installed a .357 mag cylinder in as it comes .38 works fine for East Coast with 125 rem jsp its perfect weight of 20 ounces but gives great sight picture
    full recoil rod and 3″ easy to point and rides close I use kydex chest rig plus its trigger area is big enough for heavy gloves

    I ran Ruger sp101 3″ .357 mag with rear milled in dovetail night sights when out west with buffalo bore ammo
    ditto the above attributes but prefer all steel gun for powered up ammo

    Its all about weight and compact for hike I never had issue but allways comforting

  35. Yeah all the interweb gun sperts choosing a wheel gun for a hungry charging bear with mouth wide open @ 35mph will definitely end up as bear scat after the crapped in their pants shaky fired 5 rounds runs out……

    Has anyone here shot a charging bear? yeah…..

    Shaky Head shot? Ricochet? 1 hole shooter?

    Body shot? ur dead!

    Look at the sharp slant and tiny target area on a bear’s thick boned head when the bear is charging and its head and body are bobbing up and down at you.

    Happy Trails Now and make sure u rub on lots of bacon grease.

  36. I’m more concerned about the 2 legged threat on a trail. Many more of them in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin than charging bears. The revolver is a no-brainer for those of us who would panic, fumble, panic while are hands are shaking. Racking a slide? Even tho you’ve done it many, many times? Heck, you know how to talk, but, your voice cracks and you stutter when you’re scared.

  37. Considering that bears have been killed using a Ka-Bar or other cutting implement, it’s funny how one persons choice is another persons garbage! personnel weapon is a .44 special loaded to 900 ft per second with a 240 grain HP. 10 mm recoil recovery time is slow!
    a .38 with a 158 gr lead hollow point is more adequate than nothing
    why would a person carry a 30–30 into the woods without one in the chamber, oh I know wait a minute I got to load my gun!

  38. What about a shock wave loaded with buckshot and/or slugs or a mare’s leg in 44 mag both could be slug over the shoulder or along side a backpack \ messager bag… more then enough for large predator either two or four legged kind…

  39. My hiking gun is a 6″ Smith and Wesson Model 28-2 Highway Patrolman. Is it a bit too big? Yup! It will stop anything smaller than a Grizzly, and it looks pretty cool, which, honestly, is 50% of why we carry something anyway, right?

  40. having done a lot of hiking, and carried several guns doing so, Its really a no-brainer.

    S&W 629 & 2 speed loaders
    First load, standard self defense loads
    2nd load, bear/pig punchers of your choice.
    3rd load, snake loads.

  41. My G40 has a 6.5 inch comp’d KKM barrel, Vortex Venom, Streamlight TRL-1 HL, trigger work, and grip tape. I love my handgun! All I need is a Kenai chest holster, and I’m good to go.

    Sure beats snowflake prepardness, which consists of hope.

  42. I would say a revolver in .357 Magnum four inch or better barrel a various load from shotshell, deer load to heavy penetration is best or at minimum a 9 mm semi auto for human threats.
    Personally Grizzly or remote areas I would carry S&W M-25-5 four inch barrel .45 Colt with appropriate loading, shotshell and such. Around here a S&W M-640 or the Ruger LCP II will do humans being the biggest threat with Coyotes second.
    I have never been hiking and needed a firearm, I carry a knife though Buck Nighthawk.

    • SOG seal pup is my choice for hiking. Nice and light…sheath has a puch for flint, sharpener etc..

  43. My three choices for a hiking gun: 12 gauge autoloader, Uzi 9mm, and .45 Long Slide. I had another choice but the store owner’s response was “just what you see, pal”.

  44. I had a weird thought,
    How about a sawed off 10 Ga.? On the first shot, upon sighting a bruin. you could shove a couple of super tasty meatballs down the barrel, eating what gets shaved off. Keep the gun loaded with a light powder charge, and no pellets. Try and shoot your balls (meat) in front of the bears nose.
    If that doesn’t get it’s mind off of you, then you can fallow up with tastier meatballs, or a load of 00 buckshot. Keep running shoes handy!

  45. S&W Governor is a light weight versatile choice. 410 shells good for snakes and 45 colt hard cast Buffalo Bore for big critters. If I was in Grizzly country…Ruger Super Blackhawk loaded with 45 colt +p rounds.

  46. My choices are a Ruger Blackhawk 6.5″ bbl in .41 mag with Packmayr grips does wonders on just about anything. If the hike is long enough to require a pack then I would add a Henry AR7. Never, I mean NEVER leave the house without at least two blades. That should cover most anything I would encounter anywhere I would be hiking. I do carry “bear loads” in the .41 though.

  47. Is everyone forgetting about the greatest carry gun ever…DESERT EAGLE point five oh?
    Just ask Bullet-Tooth Tony.

  48. I know it’s heavier than lead and brutal to fire, but I carry an S&W 500 on my hip or, when necessary, in my pack. I do a lot of Pac NW hiking and that leaden weight feels like gold when something I can’t quite see sets the hairs on the back of my neck standing.

  49. RIA 10 mm standard 1911 in a holster that attaches easily to your pack belt, and then can be swapped out to your regular belt. Cloth military flap style holster is fine, several available on the net. Amazing penetration and wound channel and the round is very loud, so maybe it will scare off most critters, Tweaker-Bears, not so much.

    Uber reliable, and I would probably go for the Lehigh Defender loads. I am not looking to pot squirrels for supper. Grizz are not something to mess with, period. My one experience with one – it did not want to eat me and I was willing to hike a few miles extra to avoid triggering it’s territorial instinct. I figure this is why I am sitting here writing instead of being converted to bear sign years ago.

  50. Really appreciate the author’s writing style. Well done up to suggesting a lever action 30-30. Right or wrong, legal or illegal, while carrying a long arm of any kind on the trail, you are certain to converse with a law enforcement officer relatively soon. Sierra will see to that. Besides, hiking with a fully loaded Glock 20 safely tucked away is down right thrilling.

  51. I have hunted Alaska for Brown Bears several times. My 629 carried in a Jackass Shoulder rig was just right for me. I had it loaded with federal 300 gr. factory cartridges and felt just right. I slept fine in my little ‘ole Spring Bar tent with my 629 under the pillow!

  52. You forgot the Ruger GP100 Stainless.
    We ferried a helicopter from Denver to Fairbanks had to cross through Canada where they want to know what you’re carrying for protection if the helicopter goes down in the wilderness, especially in bear country.

    Canadian RMPD were good with my Ruger GP100 w/180 grain Buffalo Bore and Corbon loads. When you squeeze the trigger you know something is leaving the barrel with intention- not like a 44 mag but known to do the job

  53. The 30-30 is very powerful at close range, and has been known to stop big bears that became too interested in hikers. Wit all the modern stuff out there, it can be hard to choose. But things that have been tested for 125 years are often what you need. 30-30, .45 Colt, and of course, a cool head.

  54. The 30-30 is very powerful at close range, and has been known to stop big bears that became too interested in hikers. Wit all the modern stuff out there, it can be hard to choose. But things that have been tested for 125 years are often what you need. 30-30, .45 Colt, and of course, a cool head.

  55. Hey folks its hiking, you’re not out on maneuvers or a mission, carrying rifles lever or otherwise and AR platforms, huh!?
    If you’re hiking I carry a pistol, a revolver not semi for in the rough its more dependable; a Ruger GP100 loaded with two snake shot and 4 180 grain Buffalo Bore hollow point. It provides a variety of defensive kills if necessary.

    btw, I don’t like to fire shot loads through the barrel but its back up for yes snakes. I came across a large rattler in the Sequoias and it advanced towards me, that’s a first. After that, I loaded with shot, just in case

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