Why the 10mm Is the Ultimate Handgun Cartridge for Hunting and Personal Defense

Why the 10mm Is the Ultimate Handgun Cartridge for Hunting and Personal Defense

If you want a pistol that can take down a mountain lion but is also easier to carry than a .357 hand cannon for self-defense, the 10mm is the perfect option. Now, this handgun will likely never be an everyday carry gun in an urban setting (it’s not exactly a dainty pistol). But when you’re headed into the backcountry (or live there), the 10mm is ideal for a variety of hunting pursuits and to defend yourself from both animal and human predators.

The most powerful factory-loaded handgun cartridge that still fits into a service pistol-sized semiauto is the 10mm. The “big 10” has a stout reputation among Alaskan bear guides and hunters for its stopping power. It’s also capable of taking down medium-sized game at reasonable distances (out to 100 yards) with the right load and a steady hand. I won’t pit revolvers against semiautos, just know, it does take much more of a time investment and skill to become accurate with a big bore wheel gun than a semiauto. And though semiautos are not easy to shoot accurately, you do have the added benefit of more ammo capacity for multiple follow up shots and faster reloads.

If you’re going to hunt with a 10mm, the 1911s have manageable recoil and are supremely accurate. The downside is they can be unreliable if you don’t keep them clean and well maintained, which can be difficult to do in the backcountry. They also don’t have the magazine capacity of double-stack, striker-fired pistols and are heavy, so it’s best to buy a chest holster for wilderness carry if you plan to buy one. Polymer-framed pistols are going to give you more durability and are less susceptible to the elements. They have a higher magazine capacity, are easier to manipulate in all conditions, and they’re lighter. If you can mount a red dot and white light on one, that will make for a fine sidearm.

If you’re in the market for a hunting/self-defense handgun, these are some of the best 10mms you can buy. Plus, why you need a red-dot sight, and the right ammo to feed your pistol, so you can get optimal performance from your next 10mm.

Glock Models 20, 29, and 40
I want a high-capacity magazine loaded in my handgun when my life is on the line. Attempting to reload when a grizzly is quickly closing the distance is not a situation I want to be in. Only two manufacturers are currently making double-stack 10mm pistols and one of those is Glock. A trio of models exist: the Model 20, Model 29, and Model 40.

The Model 20 and 40 share the same frame and magazine capacity of 15+1. The difference is found in slide and barrel length. The Model 20 features a 4.6-inch barrel, while the 40 boasts a full 6 inches. The 40 is also offered with an MOS cut, allowing the shooter to mount a myriad of miniature red-dot optics using a plate system. A slide-mounted red-dot sight is the wave of the future and greatly extends the distance you can effectively engage a target. Be warned, the 40 is like wielding a small sword—it’s very long and can be a challenge to carry.

The 29 is a sub-compact and holds 10 rounds in a flush-fitting magazine, although it will also accept the same 15-round magazine that feeds the 20 and 40. The 29 would be a great concealed-carry backpacking pistol in the lower 48 states, but it might not be the top choice for colder environments where you’ll likely be wearing gloves, or if you’re in brown bear country. The short grip doesn’t lend itself well to a quick, consistent draw, unless you’ve dedicated a significant amount of training to dial it in.

My go-to is the fourth generation 20 due to its reduced length of pull (compared to a Gen 3) and softer recoil thanks to the pistol’s dual-spring recoil assembly. Those with larger hands will appreciate its similar shape, grip circumference, and length of pull, as it is very close to Glock’s famed 17/22.

Springfield Armory XDM10
Springfield recently entered the polymer-framed striker market with a pair of beefed up XDM’s. A standard 4.5-inch barrel model features three-dot steel sights, while the 5.25-inch barrel model wears an adjustable rear sight paired with a fiber-optic front. Both pistols share 15-round magazines. Three interchangeable back straps, three mechanical safeties, and an ambidextrous magazine release mean the big XDM will fit the vast majority of shooters and offers a high level of safety to boot. My favorite model is the all-new OSP 4.5-inch, which actually features a 5.28-inch threaded barrel. I’m not interested in mounting a suppressor, but will take the boost in velocity (due to the length of the barrel). The OSP features suppressor height sights that pair nicely with a red dot. If you experience an electronic failure, you’re right back to where you started.

Recoil is surprisingly mild. The pistol is extremely accurate, and built to withstand the abuse expected to be doled out in the backcountry. Hunting, defense, and practical target shooting, this pistol does it all, and does it well.

SIG Sauer P220 Legion
For those unfamiliar with the P220, it is the handgun the company’s current stable of pistols owe their heritage to. The pistol was originally developed for the Swiss Army, and officially adopted by them in 1975, chambered in 9mm. In 1976 the pistol was made available in .45 Auto and designed to best the 1911 in every way. It quickly became recognized as one of the most accurate .45s out of the box.

Several years ago, the P220 was offered with a 5-inch barrel and chambered in 10mm. The all stainless-steel construction makes for a hefty pistol, but the weight certainly tames the recoil of the 10mm cartridge, especially with spicy loads. Currently, the P220 10mm is available as part of the company’s Legion line and can be had in two configurations; as a double-action/single-action, or with a sweet single-action only trigger.

f you search the aftermarket, you might be able to locate a used P220 Hunter which was available in Kryptek’s Highlander camouflage. The G10 grips were heavily textured for a sure-grip, while the slide was adorned with very functional sights (fully adjustable rear with a protected fiber-optic front). New or used, the 10mm P220 is a joy to shoot.

Ruger SR1911
If you’re looking for a 10mm 1911 that won’t break the bank, then consider Ruger’s SR1911. The full-size stainless-steel SR1911 Target Model features an all-black BoMar-style, fully-adjustable rear sight and a dove-tailed, smooth black front sight. It’s outfitted with an extended ambidextrous thumb safety, a lowered and flared ejection port for reliability, and a titanium firing pin for longevity. A 5-inch barrel and bushing are match-machined from the same piece of bar stock for a very precise fit. The pistol also features an extended beavertail grip safety, black rubber grip panels and an oversized magazine release, making operation with gloved hands or slippery conditions manageable.

Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun
Colt isn’t in the news much these days as it pertains to 1911s, but this list wouldn’t be complete without one, especially given the fact Colt was the first to chamber a 1911 in 10mm back in 1987. The Delta Elite Rail Gun is constructed of stainless-steel and features a classic 5-inch barrel and an integral frame rail, allowing it to effectively pull double-duty as a camp defender and hunting handgun. The 1913 rail accepts most lights and lasers currently on the market. It also features a beavertail grip safety, an extended thumb safety, composite grips with Delta medallions, and Novak white-dot sights.

Read more: https://www.outdoorlife.com/story/guns/the-10mm-is-the-ultimate-handgun-...