Hunting With Handguns

Most Challenging Sport?
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by Kim Ralston a.k.a. KRal     Last updated: 2008-12-08 20:31:23

Well this may be a controversial statement but, I have never read any articles on this subject so, I thought I would write about it. You’re probably thinking “What subject?” Well, that would be “Turkey hunting with a handgun”. No, I’m not talking about just any handgun. I’m talking about one that shoots .410 shot shells. Yeah, now you can see where the challenge comes in.

I started turkey hunting in 1991; a “friend” got me addicted. Yes, it’s an addiction. It has been said, that spring turkey hunting has caused more job losses and divorces than drug and alcohol abuse. I don’t know how accurate that statement is but, it can’t be off by much. I do know each year during Mississippi’s month and half long spring turkey season, I suffer from sleep deprivation; living mostly off strong coffee, walking around like a zombie and hearing turkeys gobble in what little sleep I get. Did I mention this is my favorite time of the year?

Now, where most of the controversy will derive is from the bow hunters but, being that I have taken turkey with bow and handgun, I can say hand gunning is the most challenging. How is that? Well, a bow hunter usually uses a blind to hide movement and has a greater distance advantage. A bow hunter, with proper equipment and practice, can extend his effective range out to 50 yards. On the other hand, a handgun hunter shooting .410 shot

shells out of a 7 1/2 to 14 inch barrel, no matter how much you practice, is limit to 25 yards maximum effective range on the calmest of days. If you add a little wind to the equation that range drops to 15 yards or closer. I haven’t used a blind while hunting with a handgun, yet, so you can see where the challenge comes in, trying to call an adult gobbler within effective range.

My handgun of choice is Thompson Center’s Contender with their Super 14” 45/.410 vent rib barrel. It comes with a removable full choke. Remove the choke for shooting 45 Long Colt and with choke installed it can shot .410 bore shot shells. This same barrel configuration is also available for the Encore. Combine this with Winchesters Super X 3” magnum #4 shot and you’ve got a deadly combo. I know the #6 shot has more pellets but, the #4 shot has more energy per pellet and that’s what you need to take a tough tom. There are other handguns that will shot .410 shot shells, like Magnum Research’s BFR 45/.410 and Taurus’ 45/.410 revolvers. I have never used either of these revolvers so, I can’t comment on their effectiveness on turkeys but, I’m sure if you get the turkey close enough they’ll work also.

My first six years of turkey hunting didn’t involve a handgun, just the common 3 ½” 12 gauge long gun. After thinking about it, I was hunting every game I hunt with a handgun except, turkey. That’s when I checked my state (MS) game laws and bought my 45/.410 barrel. Since that day I’ve taken 13 Longbeards with my .410 handgun. Out of the 13, only 2 have been beyond 20 yards and most between 5 and 10 yards. I’ve also missed 3 at less than 10 yards but, we’re not going to discuss them. I do, occasionally, still reach for the long gun when dealing with those stubborn public land birds but, I like to think of myself as a “Handgun Hunter”.

So, if you’re looking for a new challenge (check your state laws) and want to suffer from sleep deprivation, get yourself one of the fine .410 handguns available and try the “Most Challenging Sport”; handgun hunting a Spring Gobbler.


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Recent Comments:

Poster: MIHunter    Date: 2011-09-28    Top

Great article, I can not wait to try hunting turkeys with my Contender! Thanks for writing it.
Poster: Mike Harris    Date: 2010-12-22   Top

Being a turkey addict myself, I understand the difficulty of what you do. Great post and keep it up.
Poster: geojanitor    Date: 2010-01-05    Top

I really enjoyed your article. From the photos it appears you have changed the sights on the 45 LC / 410 vent rib barrel. What type of sight set up are you using? I would like to change the sites on my barrel (bead and v-notch don't inspire a lot of confidence) and am considering trying to adapt Williams Slugger Fire Sights or some type of Ghost Ring. These will be fun experiments but you obviously have a system that works so i would really appreciate your input.
Poster: edd    Date: 2009-04-09   Top

i enjoyed the story very much i also have a 45-410 t-c i thought hunting rabbits and squirrels wa s tough thanks 4 sharimg your story.
Poster: jamesfromjersey    Date: 2008-12-21    Top

You have my higest respect in your taking those most intellegent of all game birds. They are so damm hard to hunt and even more so when you use a handgun. Good for you,James
Poster: TCTex.    Date: 2008-12-06   Top

Ten starts Kral. Great read!
Poster: pab1    Date: 2008-11-27    Top

Great article KRal!
Poster: Rick    Date: 2008-11-22   Top

I read this article twice and enjoyed it each time. I am not a turkey hunter, but ant to get into the sport. Sounds like a great way to increase the time hunting with a pistol. Really enlightened me to the potential. Thanks for taking the time to write this KRal.

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