Handgunning for hogs

A Taurus Raging Hunter with a TruGlo red dot is the author’s top choice when handgunning for hogs.

Stalk wild pigs at close range

As the hunter slipped across a creek, he could see the hog feeding in the recently thinned pine plantation. 100 yards away, the animal was oblivious to the presence of the hunter, who had a Taurus Raging Hunter revolver chambered in .44 Remington Magnum to his chest.

On top of the gun was a Hawke Optics micro red dot, mounted to the integrated Picatinny rail.

Ridge Rogers had a field day handgunning for hogs.

As the hog fed along, the hunter slipped back and made a circle downwind of it, regularly peeking through the trees to keep up with its location. Once he’d closed the distance to 60 yards, the hunter nestled alongside a big pine tree and waited. If the hog stayed on its current course, it would stroll right past the hunter at 35 yards.

Hunting hogs, pigs, feral swine or whatever your name of choice, it is one of the most fun activities a hunter can have afield. Many hunters would rather hunt pigs than deer, ducks, small game or any other animal. For those who hunt hogs this way, it has a thrill like no other hunting activity or species.

In this hunter’s case, recovering from an elbow injury led him to hunting with a handgun. Drawing a bow was out of the question, so he adapted the handgun approach and never looked back.

The draw

“I absolutely love the challenge of hunting with handguns, and revolvers in particular. Hunting with a handgun is just like bowhunting, only a lot louder,” he said.

One of the main reasons for the correlation between handgunning and bowhunting is how close a hunter needs to be from their intended target. A big bore revolver allows for shots at slightly longer distances than bows, but getting within 50 to 75 yards of your game still requires the same focus on shot execution (holding steady, trigger control and follow through). And they both require the same stalking and shooting skills.

The author poses with a wild hog he killed with his handgun.

So what do hunters need to consider when it comes to handgunning for hogs? First and foremost is what type of handgun you prefer. Types of short guns include handguns, revolvers and pistols. A pistol and revolver are both handguns, but a handgun is not necessarily a pistol or revolver.

To make it simple, a revolver is a handgun with a rotating cylinder that moves the live round to the firing position each time the hammer is cocked. A pistol is a semi-auto, while a handgun can be a revolver, semi-auto, single shot or bolt action firearm which is shot without the aid of a shoulder support.

Time on the range is essential for getting comfortable with your handgun and optics.

When choosing a handgun for hogs, most hunters prefer revolvers. Big revolvers with large calibers and long barrels are ideal. A typical hog hunting revolver will have a minimum of a 7-inch barrel and be at least .41 Remington Magnum for hogs. A .357 magnum is capable, but it is pushing its ability for larger hogs. A .44 Remington Magnum, .454 Casull or .460 S&W are preferable for hunting feral hogs, with the .44 Remington Magnum being the most versatile and popular.

In the pistol category, you need a minimum of 10 mm for large hogs.

Handgun choices

All major manufacturers make quality revolvers suitable for taking hogs quickly and humanely.

Some of the top handguns for hogs include the aforementioned Taurus Raging Hunter, .454 Casull and the .460 S&W Magnum. The Ruger Blackhawks, Super Blackhawk, Redhawk and Super Redhawk all come in the same calibers, as does the S&W 629. Freedom Arms is arguably one of the finest single action revolvers made today, and has revolvers in a variety of calibers that are more than capable of taking down hogs.

As the hunter sat ready for the hog to feed past his direction, he steadied himself against the tree for a solid rest. Easing on the hammer, he quietly cocked and waited. When the hog moved into the opening and in range, the hunter settled the Red-Dot on its neck, then eased on the 3-pound trigger.

At the report of the gun, the hog dropped and was done. The Hornady 180-grain LeverRevolution bullet found its mark and the hunt was over.

Hunting pigs with a handgun offers many different options over rifles. It elevates the challenge to get closer, and for hunters who prefer stalking hogs, both hands are free until the final moments. A bandolier or chest holster are great options for carrying the gun securely and conveniently. Carrying the revolver across the chest protects it. And it allows the hunter to stalk safely, quietly and effectively.

Whether you’re stalking, sitting in a stand or chasing hogs with well-trained dogs, being armed with a good, reliable handgun will increase your excitement and challenge of taking big hogs.

One word of caution: these guns are extremely loud. Firing a few rounds can cause permanent hearing loss. Hunters should invest in good hearing protection before shooting, whether at the range or while hunting. It is not worth the loss of hearing to hunt with a handgun. But with that taken care of, the thrill provided by taking a big hog with a revolver is hard to beat.

A pistol scope is one option for handgunners. A red dot optic is another.

Handgun optics

Optics for handguns include two distinct types. First is a scope. Many manufacturers make scopes for handguns. These require long eye relief and lower magnification. Some of the most popular are 1X and 2X models. Too much magnification can distort the distance when aiming for a tough shot. Many hunters agree the 2X is just about right, providing some magnification, but not too much.

Mounting the scope is crucial for accurate hunting. Big bore handguns offer an aggressive recoil. Without the correct base and rings, this recoil will be more than your scope can withstand. Using a torque wrench and following the manufacturer’s recommendations for the proper torque setting is essential to achieve a strong, accurate bond of the base to the top of the handgun.

The use of a Picatinny rail is the best option, due to its ability to secure the rings tighter to the base. Once again, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for torque setting for the rings to the base. Lastly, balance, center and mount the optic to the rings with torque settings to prevent any issues down the road.

The second option is red dot optics. More and more hunters are switching to these for the fast target acquisition and low light ability. Several companies make red dot optics. Some are low profile and others are the size of scopes with an illuminated dot rather than a reticle.

Whether you choose a scope or a red dot, take the time to mount it correctly. Then practice for proficiency to ensure that when the pig of your dream appears, you will be able to perform under the pressure.

About Pete Rogers 161 Articles
Pete Rogers of Taylors, S.C., is employed with the USDA Wildlife Services and has been a sporting writer and photographer for over a decade. He has a real passion for trapping and enjoys sharing his outdoors experiences with his wife and five children.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply