Letter Re: Montana Bound–Recommended Sidearm for Rural Living?

Mr. Rawles,
I was able to buy 20 acres in Montana, and wanted to get your advice on a sidearm to carry while out on the property. I have a S&W K19 .357 Magnum revolver, SIG Sauer P220 in .400 Cor-bon, and a Beretta 96 in .40 S&W. I am sure that the .40 S&W is not enough to stop any large animal unless the shot is perfect. The same probably goes for both other rounds. I would prefer a semi-auto over a revolver, and wanted to get your thoughts on a Glock 20 with a barrel in 9 x 25 Dillon. I am thinking that this is clearly the better stopper, but am not sure about the bullets feeding correctly. Perhaps I would be better getting something like a Kimber in .45 ACP and buying the better springs for .45 Super or .460 Rowland. Any help you can give would be appreciated. Regards, – J.M.R

JWR Replies: I frankly think that you’d be better off with either a Glock 21 or a Springfield Armory XD chambered in .45 ACP. This is because .45 ammo is ubiquitous compared to the non-standard and downright exotic calibers that you mentioned (10mm, 9×25 Dillon, .45 Super and .460 Rowland). Yes, there are a few cartridges like those that are marginally better than .45 ACP ballistically, but I like the wide availability and relatively low cost of .45 ACP. Less expensive ammo allows more frequent practice. And, of course, .45 ACP is also far more likely to be available When The Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF). FWIW, I also live in bear country (mostly black bear, but some grizzlies), and The Memsahib and I both carry stainless Colt M1911s in .45 ACP, normally loaded with 230 grain Federal Hydra Shok ammo.

Shot placement is more crucial than foot pounds of stopping power. With a double stack autoloader you’d have a few more rounds to depend on than my wife and I have. (Although we do carry 10 round magazines when out hiking or trail riding). Those last few rounds might be fired with muzzle shoved inside Mr. Bear’s mouth.

OBTW, our standard joke when out huckleberry picking is that when folks find our bodies, they’ll at least see a lot of brass scattered around and know that we put up a good fight.