H

andgun hunting is in a class of its own. It requires greater patience, a heightened awareness of range and shot placement, and demands trigger control. With a handgun, a hunter gets closer and some, consequently, feel a deeper connection to the hunt. Don’t misunderstand, all methods of ethical hunting are fantastic, but there’s something extraordinary about gripping a handgun and using it to drop a deer with a single well-placed shot. If you’re going to take your favorite handgun hunting, make sure you have the gear to go with it.

Trijicon RMR Type 2
Trijicon RMR Type 2 gun sight
If you're hunting with a semi-auto handgun the Trijicon RMR is an exceptionally well-made ruggedized red-dot that's proven itself in the field time and again.Trijicon

Trijicon's Ruggedized Miniature Reflex (RMR) Type 2 has proven itself in the field. The RMR is a red dot with a 7075-T6 aluminum body manufactured to MIL-SPEC standards and designed to withstand the unavoidable rough and tumble of a hunt. It's made to divert impacts away from its lens, a feature which should not be discounted considering the way some red dots break under pressure. There are currently three versions offered – LED, adjustable LED, or Dual Illuminated – each of which offers dot sizes between 1.0 and 13 MOA.

After running this red dot during multiple hunts on a few different handguns, I’ve become quite confident recommending it. It holds zero well on my 10mms, neither restricts nor hinders my field of vision, and handles the heat and dust of Texas summers as well as tolerating the sub-zero temperatures of Wisconsin winters. The Type 2 model also has a battery saving feature – if you’ve ever had a battery die mid-hunt you know how helpful that can be.

If you’re hunting with a semi-auto, a miniaturized red dot like the Trijicon RMR Type 2 is a great way to up your placement and range game.

Leupold FX-II Handgun 4x28mm
ruger handgun with a leupold scope
Leupold's line of optics includes options specifically designed for handguns such as the FX-II Handgun 4x28mm and the VX-3 Handgun 2.5-8x32mm models.Kat Ainsworth

For revolvers like the Ruger Super Redhawk in .44 Magnum, the Leupold FX-II Handgun 4x28mm scope is a solid addition. With a weight of seven ounces, it doesn't add excessive bulk but it does give you the gift of increased accuracy at greater distances. This particular scope has a duplex reticle with windage and elevation dialing in at ½-MOA field-clicks. Leupold lists eye relief at 18 inches; your experience may vary with grip and personal adjustments. Just as with semi-autos, revolvers are accurate with or without optics but when hunting with them it's wise to use one.

Clarity and field of vision with this scope are excellent. Obtaining a good sight picture and tracking game is easily accomplished and mine has handled accidental run-ins with trees and tree stands without issues. An accurate, well-made scope that holds zero on a large-bore revolver while sitting in a chilly, wet tree stand waiting on Mississippi Whitetails is a win in my book. Leupold also offers the VX-3 Handgun 2.5-8x32mm variable power scope which has 2nd Generation Argon/Krypton Waterproofing to practically eliminate thermal shock. Both are quality optics capable of stellar results.

Versa Pod Model 54
female hunter with versa pod model 54 bipods
Bipods aren't just for rifles. If you're hunting with a heavier bolt pistol and plan to spot and stalk, as I did to take this sow, use a bipod such as the Versa Pod Model 54.Kat Ainsworth

Bipods aren't accessories limited to use on rifles. There are a variety of pistol bipods on the market, some of which are limited to the six to nine-inch height you might be used to with your rifle. Then there's the Versa Pod Model 54. This bipod is adjustable from 20 inches to 31 inches, fully extended, and it weighs in at two pounds. Features include pan and tilt, cant friction lock, and stabilizing rubber feet. This extra-tall bipod is marketed for use while sitting in a chair but has been enormously useful for me while seated on the ground.

It’s the perfect accessory for my hefty bolt action pistols, lending them balance and bringing them to the ideal height for my line of vision when I’m kneeling or seated on the ground.

Why might you be in the dirt? In one case I stalked a sounder of hogs and ended up prone with my shoulders rising up out of a gully. The Versa{rel=nofollow] Pod allowed rapid height adjustment and a steady platform for dropping hogs at just under 200 yards. A bipod might not be the first thing you think of related to handgun hunting but it's a handy tool to have for some pistols.

Streamlight TLR-8 Gun Light with Laser
Streamlight TLR-8 Gun Light with Laser
The Streamlight TLR-8 is the company's newest weapon-mounted light-and-laser combination for handguns with rails.Streamlight

Lights and lasers are useful tools when you're night hunting with handguns. The TLR-8 is the latest model from Streamlight, a company known for quality weapon-mounted lights and lasers. After running it in low-light/no-light shoot houses, I decided to take it hunting on a recent trip to Texas. As the hogs dropped it became clear this was my new favorite weapon-mounted light for my Glock 20.

The TLR-8 weighs 2.64 ounces and measures 2.15 inches long, meaning it’s light and small enough you won’t even notice its presence. Features include a 500 lumen white LED light, 640-660nm red laser, and low-profile, ambidextrous controls. It can be run with only the light or laser on or with the two running simultaneously, both options which have their places. And although the TLR-8 is a rail-mounted light the TLR-6 is available for non-rail 1911s.

Galco Great Alaskan Shoulder System
Galco Great Alaskan Shoulder System
Galco Gunleather's Great Alaskan Shoulder System is made from premium steerhide and provides on-body security and retention during a hunt.Galco Gunleather

A good holster may seem like an obvious piece of gear, but as well all know, truly great holsters are hard to find. We all have a box of unwanted holsters in a closet somewhere. Regardless of your preferred method of carry, Galco Gunleather has you covered. Over the years the brand has become a favorite of mine with the Great Alaskan Shoulder System being just one beautiful, high-quality way to carry during hunts.

The Great Alaskan is made from premium steerhide and meant for chest-style cross-draw carry. It’s easy to adjust thanks to the adjustable torso strap, which has a Fastex buckle, and has a thick shoulder strap for comfort. For security’s sake there’s a retention strap on the holster itself which has a polymer release tab that’s simple to operate while wearing gloves.

The holster is custom-molded and available for a wide variety of firearms including Ruger SR1911s, Remington R1s, and the Glock 20 (among others). The Great Alaskan Ammo Carrier can be purchased separately for either a spare magazine for semi-autos or six extra rounds for your revolver.

If you want to carry your handgun on OWB, Galco has those as well. For OWB with leather check out their Combat Master Belt Holster; for OWB in a hybrid try the Quick Slide Belt Holster. Galco Gunleather’s holsters and accessories are high quality and their customer service is outstanding.

Hit the Woods
female hog hunter holding handgun
The author, her Remington R1 10mm Hunter, and their trophy. Handgun hunting offers its own unique rewards. This R1 Hunter is precise, cycles reliably, and has dropped dozens of feral hogs.Kat Ainsworth

As always, be sure you know the regulations where you’ll be hunting. They vary by state and county so it is always wise to double-check so you can be confident you’re in compliance. Gear up and hit the woods!