The Best Revolver Trail Guns

Luke Cuenco 06.09.22

Packing for Bear Country: The Best Trail Revolver Guns

Whether you plan to camp in the Alaskan wilderness or hike anywhere along the Appalachian Trail, bears, moose, and other wildlife threats are always a possibility. Most people can make do with carrying a canister of bear spray or even their daily concealed carry weapon for personal defense during these activities, but sometimes these methods aren’t optimal for defending against all the threats we might to encounter. Revolvers have a number of longstanding advantages over semi-automatic pistols, including the ability to use more powerful straight wall cartridges in a more compact space, and also being ammunition sensitive as would be a semi-automatic pistol.

You could also argue that the predominantly double-action/single-action nature of most defensive revolvers is much safer to carry on the trail with full gear, as it further reduces the risk of an accidental discharge which could be quite a mess of its own. Finally, you might be more familiar with revolvers and prefer them to semi-automatics and that’s why today we’re going to take a look at the best Revolver trail guns you can take with you on your trail run. next hike or camping trip for your personal protection against large wildlife.

Packing for Bear Country: The Best Trail Revolver Guns

Photo: Smith & Wesson Performance Center



1. Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan


Ruger Super Alaskan Redhawk

The author’s choice

The Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan is a powerful revolver that offers the same favorite features of the original Redhawk with a little more punch. In addition to corrosion-resistant stainless steel construction for durability, cold-forged barrel for accuracy and longevity, and triple-locking cylinder for easy alignment and reliability shot after shot, the Super Redhawk also features a Hogue Tamer Monogrip that fully encloses the frame, and the .44mag and .454 Casull models can accommodate less powerful cartridges as needed. Available in a number of calibers and barrel lengths, the Super Redhawk is an ideal revolver for carrying around big game country. And if you want a really nice trail gun, you can always send one to Bowen!

Advantages/Available in multiple calibers and barrel lengths so you can optimize for your needs

The inconvenients/Very heavy double action trigger

Conclusion/A super tough, super reliable magnum revolver with a proven track record

2. Smith & Wesson Model 29/629


Smith & Wesson Model 29/629

The author’s choice

Originally manufactured in 1955 and now offered in the company’s Classics line, the Smith & Wesson Model 29 is an N-frame revolver chambered in 44 Magnum. At the time it was first introduced, the Model 29 was the most powerful handgun in production, but the weapon’s greatest fame came nearly 20 years later after it was used by the fictional film character Dirty Harry. The Model 29 has been favored by law enforcement, hunters, and handgun enthusiasts and is also a suitable weapon for home defense.

Advantages/Smooth trigger with a classic design

The inconvenients/Pretty expensive

Conclusion/A classic design that many may already know

3. Raging Bull Judge


Taurus Raging Judge

Packing a giant 6-shot cylinder, the Taurus Raging Judge fires the 454 Casull in addition to providing the same popular 45 Colt and 410 shotshell ammo combo of the original Judge models. Along with increased capacity, the Raging Judge features the famous Raging Bull red backstrap for added cushioning when firing the powerful 454 Casull cartridge. The Raging Judge is extremely versatile thanks to its cylinder, which means you can use it for more than just bear defense.

Advantages/Versatile revolver capable of firing several types of cartridges without changing cylinders

The inconvenients/Large cylinder takes up the vast majority of the handgun’s space

Conclusion/Ideal for venturing all over the country

4. Smith & Wesson Model 500


Smith & Wesson Model 500

The obvious

It should be kind of the obvious choice on this list. The highly revered Model 500 is one of the most powerful revolvers on the market, chambered in the absolutely brutal .500 S&W Magnum cartridge, capable of delivering up to 2,500 ft/lb of muzzle energy with the right ammunition. Back in 2003, the gunsmiths and engineers at Smith & Wesson wanted to deliver maximum power for serious handgun hunters. The power they sought required an all new frame, the massive X-Frame, and formed the basis of the new S&W500 model, the most powerful production revolver in the world. This ushered in the era of the “big gun” and was only the beginning. For ultimate power and speed, there’s nothing close to an X-Frame Model handgun like the Model 500.

Advantages/Probably the most powerful option on this list

The inconvenients/Extreme recoil, heavy to carry

Conclusion/If you don’t want to compromise on potency and lethality, this is the only option.

5. Anaconda Foal


Anaconda Foal

The classic

The Anaconda has been completely redesigned to use an oversized Python action. Featuring a solid stainless steel frame for strength and durability, this DA revolver lives up to its pedigree. Experience linear leaf spring action for a non-stackable, glass-smooth trigger. With recoil-absorbing Hogue grips and adjustable interchangeable sights, this .44 Magnum is cool and comfortable from range to woods. A recessed target crown provides protection and the frame is drilled and tapped for optical mounts, making the Anaconda an unstoppable sidearm for the hunter.

Advantages/Classic design with a legendary manufacturer

The inconvenients/Dear

Conclusion/A great revolver due to the improved re-design features that make it a great fusion of old and new.

All of these calibers are hot enough, what is the bear (pun intended) minium cartridge for bear defense?

You can technically kill a grizzly bear with a 9mm pistol, but it’s widely considered a undernourished round when it comes to defending. The main problem with cartridges below .41 magnum is all about penetration. Most experienced bear hunters will say that a round with a minimum of 1000 ft/lbs of energy is considered the lowest end where you can effectively take down a bear. Smaller rounds can eventually kill a bear by causing it to bleed, but chances are the 9mm round and similar rounds won’t stop it fast enough for you to avoid tearing yourself apart.

Where is the best place to shoot a charging bear in self-defense?

Hunting usually puts you in the opposite situation. When hunting a bear, you can often wait until it gives you its “best” side to take it down in a more humane way, causing minimal skin damage and minimizing suffering. In a self-defense situation, however, you are only offered one option: face and upper chest. Bears have fairly thick skulls and tend to lower their heads when charging at you, leaving only their heads to shoot at, which is why it’s important to carry rounds that have a high muzzle energy and preferably hard or penetrating bullets so you can be sure the bullets will penetrate the skull.

Is bear spray still a viable option for bear defense in places where you can’t carry a gun?

In research conducted by several organizations, those who choose to use pepper spray in favor of firearms experience about the same rate of injury in close encounters as those who use firearms. According to some reports, those who choose to use firearms for close encounters with bears often have a lower success rate in repelling the bear without injury. That being said, bear spray has a very limited range and properly fitted canisters are often larger and even then only effective at ranges of around 15 feet. If you stay constantly aware and have enough practice and discipline, a firearm can extend that engagement distance much further than any type of handheld bear spray.

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Luke Cuenco

Luke is currently a full-time writer for,, and, of course, Luke is a competitive shooter, firearms enthusiast, reloader, outdoorsman, and generally interested in all things the great outdoors. Luke is also a certified private pilot and is currently pursuing his commercial pilot license in hopes of becoming a commercial pilot. Some of Luke’s other interests include all things aviation, aerospace, and military technology, as well as American Conservancy endeavors. Instagram: @ballisticaviation YouTube:

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