For the past 15 years I’ve used the same sidearm for all my backwoods work and adventures. From the wooded hills of the north east to the Alaskan interior, and a few places in between, the Ruger Redhawk has been my choice as a survival sidearm and it has served me well.
When I first set out to find a pistol that would make a good survival gun, I had a small list of things that were top priority. The gun needed to be rugged and built to take a beating. It needed to be easy to maintain. It needed to be able to replace my rifle if, God forbid, I was separated from it. It needed to be able stop large predators, like a grizzly bear.
At the time I looked at a lot of different handguns but one really stood out to me. The Ruger Redhawk seemed to be the perfect choice for the job at hand. The Redhawk has a reputation for being a solid, sturdy firearm. It has been around forever and has a loyal following. I’ve always been fond of Ruger’s craftsmanship, having used many of their various rifles models. Because I wanted a gun that would easy to maintain in very harsh conditions, I chose to get one in stainless steel and I have never regretted that decision. Being a double action revolver it has the reliability of a revolver, no worries of jamming like autoloaders are known to do, but the ability to fire rapidly. Being chambered for 44 Rem Magnum, it has the ability to stop a grizzly if need be and when I was picking berries or traveling the backcountry of Alaska that was an important qualification. Even when not in bear country, I enjoy the peace of mind that if I get separated from my rifle, I could still harvest game animals with it. If it needs to be used for self defense against another man, the 44 is plenty gun enough for that as well. I ended up choosing a 7.5 inch barrel for the added accuracy it would provide, although I have often thought that a shorter barrel might be more practical for faster drawing. It’s a toss up really. The Redhawk I purchased was outfitted with Pachmayr Presentation Grips which I quickly got rid of. These grips were to large for my hands and hindered my accuracy. If you have large hands these may be fine, but my hands are small enough that I hated them. I installed Hogue Bantam Grips on mine and absolutely love them. They are by far the most comfortable grips on the market, especially if your hands are on the smaller side. With high recoil caliber like the 44 Magnum, proper grips are even more important.
After 15 years of carrying the Redhawk as my backwoods sidearm, I’ve gained a respect for this sturdy handgun. It has served me well and I’m sure it would serve you well too. Do you have a favorite sidearm for the deep woods? I’d love to hear what your favorite is and why you chose to carry it!
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