By Montana Grant

Posted: July 23, 2022

Montanans still enjoy the right and privilege to Carry a sidearm. With a training class, you can apply for a Conceal Carry card. Laws are constantly changing so stay up to date.

Carrying a sidearm is a big responsibility. I recommend that every citizen take a firearm course that meets your specific needs. Having a sidearm is one thing, knowing how to use it is another. Skills need to be practiced and perfected. 

I carry when walking my dogs. You never know what you may encounter. Other dogs and owners are not always friendly.

Opinions about guns, pistols, and handgun uses abound. Consider what you need and for what purpose. My ideas have evolved and been learned from my experiences.

Hunters often carry a sidearm along with their bow, rifle, or gun. So how should you…

Carry a Sidearm?   YES! Better to be prepared than helpless. There are more reasons to be smart and carry than not. Bowhunters especially need to carry. You never know if a bear is hunting you or comes into your kill. If your bow or rifle is separated from your person, the sidearm is in the holster.

What caliber is best?    Pack what you need for what you fear. Grizzly bears need more lead than a snake. For me, a 357 magnum is a good choice. I can load up or down depending on my need. Snake loads are also available. Alaskan guides carry the same gun and loads for monster bear protection. 

What holster is best?    You want a secure carry. Make sure that there is a flap, loop, or snug fit so the gun stays in the holster. Comfort is also important. I prefer a belt carry that keeps the weapon secure and out of my way. Hunters already have a full chest of gear from pack straps, binos, calls, and range finders.

What type of ammunition is best?   Snake loads are for close in. After 5 yards forget them. For big predators go with high velocity Bear loads. Norma makes great loads.

What is the best way to carry?    Holsters come in many variations. They can clip or thread onto your belt. You can also get a shoulder harness. Consider what you are doing when carrying. If I am fishing, shooting, or archery hunting, I carry on the opposite side. This helps to avoid tangles. 

Automatic or revolver?   I carry a revolver. On one hunt, I had a friend get charged by a bear. His 10mm semi-automatic jammed after he took a “warning shot”. Fortunately, the bear veered off and he did not need a second round. A revolver rarely fails to cycle. You are guaranteed 6 shots. If a bear is on you, shoot it in the mouth or under its neck.

The goal is to never need to use your sidearm. Use your other senses, experience, and training to avoid needing to use the gun. Bear spray is fine, but you need to hit the bear in the face, Usually, the spray gets you too. Have multiple layers of planned protection.

Plan A    Bumping into your sidearm reminds you why you are carrying it. Pay attention so that you may never need it.

Plan B   Use the pistol accurately. If you feel threatened, aim to kill. Face and head shots are effective.

Plan C    Carry a meaningful sheathed knife big enough to kill a predator.

Fishermen may need to carry too! Rattlesnakes, bears, wolves, coyotes, and other predators can ruin your day. Wolverines, marmots, and other critters like fish too and can become aggressive. I once was hiking out of a remote trout stream when I walked into a herd of camouflaged rattlesnakes. They must have recently came out of a den and all had cloudy eyes. This means that they are shedding and angry! I was carrying my 357 mag. With 6 rounds of snake loads and 2 speed loaders with hollow points. I was shooting snakes more than 2 at a time and ran out of ammo.

I exited the trail through the tall grass and into the creek. My pistol was hot and in hand. I guess I was prepared to go hand to fang if needed.

Carrying a sidearm gives you confidence, security, and protection.

Montana Grant

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