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Outdoors: Forced to choose, which one firearm would it be?

 

May 24, 2016

MULTIPURPOSE GUNS: This photo shows the multiple ways one shotgun (Remington 870) can be configured with simple tools.The 1911 pistol can change configurations and calibers with no tools whatsoever. The two .44 Magnum revolvers are also pictured as well as a sound suppressor. The AR-15 in the box above is shown in the standard utility configuration with a varmint/target upper assembly in the box as well.

Many gun owners have asked themselves which firearm they would own if forced to have just one.

What if things weren’t quite that bad and you could have three, one of each major type?

I have been caught up in this discussion before and made my choices a long time ago.

Once, in high school we had to write a story about surviving an accident, being stranded etc. I wrote a story about an Alaskan bush pilot who crash landed, alone, in the remote wilderness. The fictional pilot carried a Remington 870 pump action 12 gauge shotgun with an assortment of ammunition and survived quite well against a brown bear attack and fed himself all of the way back to civilization.

One thing has changed a lot in the 25-plus years since I wrote that story; you wouldn’t dare write a story that had guns in it in school now!

One thing hasn’t changed at all: That bush pilot should still be armed with that same gun.

If I could own only one firearm, however, it would not be any type of shotgun at all. It also wouldn’t be a rifle, nor one of my favorite, and most used, type of firearms: the semi-automatic pistol. That firearm would be a 4-inch barreled .44 Remington Magnum Revolver.

I’m torn between two revolvers, though, and the situation I would be living under that forced such a terrible choice would be a major determining factor in that choice. The handgun in question would either be a Ruger Redhawk or a Titanium Smith & Wesson Model 329PD.

The S&W weighs half as much and would be way nicer to use on a day-to-day basis as a carry gun for self defense, but the Ruger is virtually indestructible and much easier to shoot with heavily loaded ammunition that would be necessary for most hunting purposes.

First, I will deal with the choice of caliber.

The .44 Remington Magnum cartridge came out in 1955 (really, we should say 1956) and is about as common a caliber as you can find. Many people would choose the .357 Smith & Wesson Magnum as the all-around caliber, but I would argue that anything the .357 can do the .44 can do better.

The guns that shoot them tend to be a bit bigger, but that aforementioned S&W Ti revolver weighs less than most and the actual size difference isn’t that big of a deal.

No, you can’t shoot .38 Specials in the .44, but you can shoot .44 Specials in it. If you have only one gun you surely can afford to shoot the more expensive ammunition as well and/or reload to make especially light or heavy loads.

With full-power ammo, the .44 is roughly twice as powerful and fully capable of taking any animal on earth with proper load selection and bullet placement. The .357 is really not up to that task.

Second, the .44 is the only firearm that really can do it all. It makes a perfectly logical and useful defense gun that could actually be carried every day (this is where the lighter S&W Titanium would REALLY shine).

Game birds can be taken with it with shot shells, albeit at really short range, and I could hunt all big game species as well.

Some are probably thinking, “Why not choose something like a Thompson Center Encore switch-barrel single shot? You would then have the option of about any rifle cartridge anyone could dream of and have the use of shotgun barrels as well as handgun barrels?”

Good idea, but I put my personal and family’s safety first and am going to carry a firearm for self defense no matter what regime is in charge. A gigantic single-shot T/C pistol is not my idea of the ideal carry gun.

Moving back to the choice between the two revolvers I would need a little more information about the situation that has left me with just one firearm. If it’s draconian gun control laws (thanks, Hillary), I might choose the S&W, as I would assume if I hurt the gun beyond repair, which is very possible with any S&W .44 Magnum and especially the titanium ones, I could replace it with another one.

As stated before, this gun is not at all difficult to carry every day. Its main downfall is the recoil with full-powered ammo. This thing is the hardest-kicking handgun I have ever fired.

A 4-inch .500 Magnum has nothing on this gun, as far as recoil goes.

To take the biggest animals in the world with a .44 mag., heavy bullets with heavy charges of powder are needed. I have used and fired these hottest of all loads many times but never in that TI S&W! The recoil might make me cry, but to be honest, I’m not sure the revolver could handle it.

That beefy Redhawk that Ruger builds will take these loads, probably for anyone’s lifetime. For a one-gun scenario I’m afraid I’d have to choose the Ruger.

Just like the S&W, I would carry Winchester .44 Magnum Silvertips for everyday self defense. These are still a magnum load, although loaded down some and have a lighter 210-grain bullet.

There is still a significant amount of recoil, though, and many would choose the lighter .44 S&W Special loads, a wise choice.

If I were stupid enough to move to another country, where carry of a pistol is not legal and purchasing of sporting guns was severely limited (pretty much the rest of the world), I would have to choose differently.

I would not illegally carry a handgun there, as I have no right to do so by their laws and my choosing to living there assumes I will follow the law of the land. With this question, we move into the option of having a couple of guns, let’s say three.

In this scenario I am not limit-ing myself by financial situation, but by law. Most of these countries don’t even let you own a handgun of any kind but if it was some magical land where you could I would have a 1911 pistol with multiple barrels and slides so that I could shoot .22 Long Rifle, 9 mm Luger, 9x23mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W, .400 Cor-Bon, 10 mm Norma, .41 Action Express, .45 ACP, .45 Super and maybe a few others, all with 5- to 6-inch barrels.

Barring handgun ownership I would start with a good .22 rifle, probably an Anschutz bolt action. Next would be something like a .300 Winchester Magnum, truly a cartridge that can do it all, from varmints to big bears. I might lean towards a .375 Ruger if I thought an African hunt might be in my future but a lot of African safaris are done with borrowed rifles now rather than going to the hassle of importing your own private firearm.

Lastly, of course, would be a shotgun. I would probably have to fall back to that Remington 870 as the versatility of a pump action 12-gauge shotgun is unparalleled. Obviously, you can bird hunt with it, and a shorter barrel makes a very serviceable home defense gun out of it. A rifled barrel paired with the new high-tech slugs puts it on par with the best rifles in the hunting fields out to around 150 yards or so.

Another popular variation of this theme is what if everything was the same as now, except you were limited to five firearms? This scenario still stinks for a gun nut, but is a manageable situation.

I would build myself a custom 1911 on an officer’s ACP frame made of titanium with an Accu-Rail* system installed – probably in all of the calibers listed above, but could get by with just a 5-inch Kimber 22 L.R. Conversion, 4¼ inch, 9 mm, 5 inch, 10 mm and 4¼ .45 ACP.

I’d really like to throw a 6-inch 9x23mm Winchester upper half on there too. Without question, the next rifle would be an AR-15 with about a zillion accessories to use it in every scenario possible and in so many calibers it would boggle the mind, everything from 22 L.R. to 450 Bushmaster and most definitely one of those calibers would be .223/5.56 mm – in fact, that would be my first choice (if you can’t tell, I like to cheat the system with these firearms that shoot multiple calibers.)

This rifle would also have a sound suppressor that I could attach to the .22 L.R. 1911 barrel as well.

Number three would be my Winchester Model 70 Classic Stainless chambered in .300 Remington Ultra Magnum. There’s too much detail in this rifle to get into it all here, but suffice it to say that it is my favorite hunting rifle and has been ever since it was chambered in that caliber.

This has always been my “meat gun;” any serious hunter knows exactly what that means and probably has their own rifle so designated. I wouldn’t even consider anything but a .30 caliber Magnum. With bullets available from 100 to 240 grains, it can truly do it all and do most with perfection. Very few compromises have to be made with a .300 RUM.

I guess I would have to go back to the 870 again for my shotgun. No, the 870 is not my favorite shotgun but it is the best shotgun ever made, when all things are considered. The versatility of it cannot be overstated.

My last firearm choice will be a big surprise. It’s not very custom; it’s only had the trigger change and the sights painted. I’ve owned it for about 20 years, it almost has no finish left on it and it cost much less than $200 when I bought it.

It’s the only firearm that I have had on me virtually every day for those two decades. That prize is my Kel-Tec P-32 chambered in the mighty (not!) .32 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP). It’s so light and handy that I always have it on me. It’s in my pocket on the beach, while I’m hunting and no matter what other guns I’m carrying at the time.

I might have an AR-15 in my hands, a .45 in a shoulder holster, a 9 mm on my ankle, a shotgun in the truck next to my S&W Governor .410 revolver, but that lowly .32 is still in my pocket.

My motto is “never leave home without it!”

I don’t have to – it’s so light and flat, it’s comfortable and comforting at the same time. There are not many guns that fit both descriptions.

I think next time I’ll decide which five cartridges I’d choose over all others. That should be fun and controversial!

 
 
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