There are way too many different calibers available for a pistol to list them all, but we will list some of the more popular and more widely available calibers below. It’s important to pick a pistol that is a common caliberso that it is easy to find ammunition for it, and the ammunition won’t cost more than it already does. It’s important to think about where and how you will be using your pistol to make sure you get the perfect size for what you are doing. As an example, if the pistol is for both home protection, and additional protection when you are rifle hunting for grizzly bear, you would not want a small caliber, as that pistol could mean the difference between life and death. It also needs to be a trusted name brand, for the same life or death reason. You need to be able to count on your pistol working perfectly when you need it the most.
Pistol and Revolver Action Types
There are several different types of action that you can find for a pistol, and a revolver. There is a break action pistol, semi automatic pistol, single action revolver, and double action revolver.•Break Action Pistol•Semi Automatic Pistol •Single Action Revolver •Double Action Revolver
Break Action Pistol
A break action pistol is where you push a switch or lever on the pistol, or bend it down to break it open, depending on the model, and the barrel swings open on a hinge exposing the breech so you can load and unload the pistol.
Semi Automatic Pistol
A semi automatic pistol is where you manually chamber the first round by pulling back on the top of the pistol, with the clip in, to chamber a round. When you fire the shot, the next round is chambered automatically and ready to shoot again.
Single Action Revolver
A single action revolver is where the hammer is manually cocked, usually with the thumb of the firing or supporting hand. If you want to fire another shot, the hammer must be manually cocked again. It’s called "single-action" because the trigger only performs a single action, which is to release the hammer to fire the shot.
Double Action Revolver
A double action revolver is where pulling the trigger generates two actions. The hammer is pulled back to the cocked position, which simultaneously rotates the cylinder to the next round, followed by the second action where the hammer is released, striking the firing pin to fire the shot.
Features To Look For When Buying A New Handgun
•Handgun Weight•Handgun Size•Handgun Finish
When considering the weight of a pistol or revolver, the important thing to consider is what you will be using it for. The larger the caliber, the larger the gun, the more the gun weighs, the heavier it will be on your side in it’s holster.
The size of a pistol or revolver is also important. If you have a concealed carry weapons permit, and you want to be able to conceal a pistol, you would want a smaller caliber, smaller profile pistol. If you use the pistol as a life safety backup gun for hunting grizzlies, you would want a large caliber pistol or revolver so that the first shot counts, which could save your life. Larger pistols and revolvers are big and bulky, so the size should carefully be considered so that you buy the right gun for your unique situation.
The finish on a gun is really important to some people, and much less important to others. A nice fancy expensive finish and beautiful shiny engraving on the pistol or revolver look really great in the uplands and on the target range. But if you are hunting deer, elk, or other big game, with a pistol or revolver on your side, a duller, less expensive finish may be a good choice as it will be more exposed to the elements, and more opportunities to be scratched or damaged.
Choosing the Right Caliber Pistol or Revolver
Choosing the right rifle caliber is important. You want the right caliber for the type of shots you take, whether it’s short range or medium range. Each caliber has it’s own purpose, and each size has it’s own fans. For life safety situations, the a medium to large caliber is a good bet.
Common Pistol Calibers
•.22 Pistol •.357 Magnum •.38 Special •.380 Automatic Colt Pistol •57 Ruger Pistol •9mm •.40 Smith & Wesson •10mm •.44 Magnum •.45 Colt •.454 Casull •.460 Smith & Wesson Magnum •.500 Smith & Wesson
22 Caliber Pistol
The .22 Caliber pistol shoots a low caliber round that produces almost no recoil. It still packs a small, fast punch to do some damage, but is more for target practicing, or a first gun for a child to learn with when they first start target shooting. The bullets are much cheaper than other caliber rounds, which makes this a fun addition to your target shooting lineup. Not recommended for a backup gun while hunting dangerous game, or for home protection, though it will do the job on many predators, it won’t affect a bear, and for defending your life from a violent home invader, it may take a few more rounds as compared to some of the larger calibers.•Browning Buck Mark Field Target Micro Semi Auto Rimfire Pistol •Ruger SP101 Double Action Revolver with Adjustable Sight •Ruger LCR Double Action Revolver
357 Magnum Revolver
The .357 Magnum Revolver is a popular choice with law enforcement, and personal protection enthusiasts. Specifically, the Model 686 Plus is an L-Frame, Smith & Wesson® Double-Action Revolver that has a medium-heavy frame that will hold up the to prolonged use with full power .357 magnum loads, as well as any .38 Special ammunition. This revolver is a 7 shooter, unlike the standard 6 shooter you typically see, giving you one extra shot. It’s stainless steel construction provides corrosion resistance which is great for prolonged holster carry when out in the field, or while camping in the backcountry. The Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus Double Action Revolver has really great balance that helps to provide superb accuracy. It is a great revolver for hunting, home defense, law enforcement, and target competition. •Smith & Wesson 68 6 SSR Pro Double Action Revolver •Kimber K6s DASA Revolver •Smith & Wesson 686 Plus Double Action Revolver •Smith & Wesson Model 686 Double Action Revolver
38 Special Revolver
The .38 special revolver is short nose pistol best known for home protection, and for concealed carry. The Smith & Wesson® Model 642 CT Airweight® has a streamlined, lightweight, no snag design that makes it an ideal concealed carry double action revolver. The Crimson Trace® Lasergrip activates automatically when when you grip the gun, which allows you to place shots precisely in any lighting conditions. The 642 CT is a double action revolver which makes it an extremely fast defensive handgun to deploy in dangerous situations, as there is nothing to remember to do except point and pull the trigger. •Smith & Wesson 642 CT Airweight Double Action Revolver •Smith & Wesson 637 Airweight Double Action Revolver •Smith & Wesson J-Frame Centerfire Revolvers •Ruger SP101 Double Action Revolver
380 Automatic Colt Pistol
For the .380 automatic colt pistols, our top choice is the Browning® Black Label® Medallion® Pro 1911 380 Semi Automatic Pistol. It is a scaled down to 85 percent of the size of a Model 1911 in .45 ACP, which makes it a more compact pistol for concealed carry. The grip is long and wide enough to allow for you to have much greater shooting control than is offered by smaller .380 ACP pistols. The housing has a nice textured pattern to help in providing a sure grip. This pistol comes with two 8 round steel magazines and a black ABS gun case. •Walther PPK/S Semi Auto Pistol in Stainless Steel •Browning Black Label Medallion Pro 1911-380 Semi Auto Pistol •Kimber Micro Bel Air Semi Auto Pistol with Night Sights •Browning 1911-380 Black Label Pro Speed Semi Auto Pistol
57 Ruger Pistol
If you are looking for a pistol that is just fun to shoot and target practice with, the 57 Ruger is a great choice. It has an easy-reach trigger and a secure action™ fire control system. It is ideal for new and seasoned shooters alike. It is very durable and ready to handle years of service. The Ruger 57 is an ideal target and plinking handgun that's a real blast to shoot. FN Five-seveN Semi Auto Pistol Ruger 57 Semi Auto Pistol.
The Sig Sauer® P229® Legion Compact Semi Auto Pistol is finished in a proprietary Legion gray PVD coating, providing a great look and design. It has a nice compact design that is perfect for concealed carry with a perfect balance to deliver major firepower when you need it. The Sig Sauer P229 Legion Compact Semi Automatic 9mm Pistol is an accurate and rugged pistol for personal defense. •Sig Sauer P229 Legion Compact Semi Automatic Pistol •Kimber Aegis Elite Custom 9 mm Pistol •Springfield Armory 1911 EMP Semi Automatic Pistol •Smith & Wesson SW1911 9mm Pistol
40 Smith & Wesson Pistol
The .40 caliber pistol is a good size. It’s a step up in caliber size and power from the 9mm. It is perfect for having on your side in dangerous situations, and as a backup gun for big game hunting. •Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P M2.0 •GLOCK G23 Semi Automatic Pistol •Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Full Size Pistol •Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact Pistol
The 10mm pistol is a much more powerful self defense round compared to the 9mm or .40 S&W. The 10mm bullets are larger in weight, and have superior ballistics. It is a better option for hunting than the 9mm for that reason. With more power comes more recoil, so it does take a little practice to shoot well. But after the burn in period where you familiarize yourself with a 10mm, it’s is truly a great gun, and a top choice for many hunters. •Kimber Rapide Black Ice Semi Automatic Pistol •Kimber Rapide Semi Automatic Pistol •Sig Sauer P220 Hunter Semi Automatic Pistol •Kimber Stainless Target LS Semi Automatic Pistol
44 Magnum Revolver
The Ruger® Super Redhawk Alaskan® Double Action .44 Magnum Revolver provides dependable and maximum protection against large dangerous predatory big game, yet it is still a reasonable sized sidearm that is manageable to carry all day on your side in a holster. It is designed with an extended frame that provides extra metal on the critical components so it can handle the powerful big game loads. It has stainless steel construction that provides corrosion resistance for walking through the woods. The Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan is the perfect revolver to carry on your side for protecting yourself from bears while trout fishing, protection when you are camping, or backpacking in wilderness areas where you may run into predators of all types, and it is a great back up gun to have with you when you hunt small game and big game alike. •Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Double Action Revolver •Smith & Wesson 629 Double Action Revolver •Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Double Action Revolver •Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Double Action Short Barrel
45 Pistol or Revolver
The .45 caliber pistol or revolver is a great gun with a lot of power to knock down whatever game or danger that you are shooting at. It’s a great gun for home protection. Kimber has many different custom designs that will set your pistol apart from what others are shooting. •Taurus Raging Judge Revolver •Kimber Hero Custom Semi Automatic Pistol •Kimber Custom TLE II Semi-Auto Pistol with G-10 Grips •Kimber Custom II Semi Automatic Pistol
454 Ruger Casull Revolver
The .454 Casull Ruger® Super Redhawk® is an extremely durable double action revolver that gives you the the reliability that you can depend on in dangerous life threatening situations. It is a perfect revolver for big game hunting. It’s stainless steel provides for great corrosion reistance to give you peace of mind when out in the field experiencing bad weather while out on the hunt. The .454 Casull Ruger Super Redhawk Double Action Revolver is the perfect sidearm to carry for bear protection, for long range target shooting, and home protection. Ruger Super Redhawk Double Action Revolver
460 Smith & Wesson Magnum Revolver
The Smith & Wesson® M460V Double Action Revolver offers great versatility for a wide variety of shooting situations. If you want to hunt big game with a hand gun, this revolver is capable of taking down the largest species of moose and brown bear. It also shoots a milder cartridge that has less recoil for use in target practice or if doing rapid fire for protecting yourself and your loved ones. Offers a milder recoiling cartridge for target practice, or the option of rapid fire for personal protection. The .454 Casull cartridge is perfect for deer hunting, and for hunting black bear. It’s stainless steel properties provides corrosion resistance if you experience bad weather while out on your hunt, or wading through streams. Smith & Wesson Performance Center Revolver Smith & Wesson M460V Double Action Revolver
500 Smith & Wesson Revolver
The Smith & Wesson® Model S&W500™ Double Action Revolver offers a huge amount of power for hunting the largest species of big game, for defending yourself from dangerous game, or protecting yourself in dangerous situations. The easily removable muzzle compensator tames the recoil to a more manageable level. The single action trigger pull is light and crisp for precise and accurate shooting, and the double-action pull cycles the cylinder smoothly to have the next shot ready in an instant. The Stainless steel construction provides corrosion resistance so you can carry this revolver longer on your side while camping and hiking in the backcountry. The Smith & Wesson Model 500 is a reliable and rugged Double Action Revolver that you can depend on in the most extreme conditions. Smith & Wesson S&W500 Double Action Revolver Smith & Wesson S&W500 Double Action Revolver with Muzzle Compensator Smith & Wesson X-Frame Centerfire RevolverAbout The Author Mike Mendenhall is the the founder of Mendenhall Outdoors. This website is an extension of the Mendenhall family’s lifestyle and passion for the great outdoors. Everything that they learn, and experience, along the way that they find may be valuable to our website visitors is on the site for you to enjoy. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive free products from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase. The Best Handgun Pistol Revolver Hunting Experience Awaits!