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7 Best Hiking Handguns & Holsters [Guide]

Hiking can be done for exercise, adventure, exploration, and more. You can find trails near even the most urban areas, so even you citydwellers can get in on it.

Sleeping Bag Hike
Alice getting ready to hit the trail.

It’s a safe endeavor most of the time, too. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack a med kit, a means to call for help, and a gun (if you can). 

OWB Holster Bravo concealment Blazer
OWB carry is a great way to keep a gun handy on a hike!

However, before you set yourself loose in the wilds of North America, you’ll need a good hiking handgun. 

And just what is a hiking handgun?

go slowly and be careful
Good advice if you’re not a frequent hiker.

I’m so glad you asked.

Today, I’ll run you through what makes a gun a good option for a hiking buddy. We’ll also look at some carry options as well.

Finally, I’ll list a few of my favorite hiking guns and holsters for each!

Table of Contents

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What’s a Hiking Handgun? 

A hiking gun allows you to protect yourself while on the trail.

Out in the wild, you face numerous threats…snakes, coyotes, mountain lions, bears, and even two-legged vermin that might need ballistic dissuasion

Blowback gif
Sometimes those wiley wabbits need dissuading!

That’s a ton of potential threats. So, before you choose a hiking gun, you might want to do a mini threat analysis. By that, I mean, evaluate where you’re hiking and what kind of predators you might encounter.

The threats in Alaska look a bit different than those in Florida or Maine. So there isn’t just one hiking gun to rule them all. 

charging bear
Sometimes, one round is all you get.

But before we dive into some of my preferred guns for hiking and camping, let’s look at some of the factors you should consider when choosing a hiking handgun

Requirements for a Good Hiking Gun

Reduced Weight

When searching for the right handgun for the trail, take weight into consideration.

Once you hit the ground hiking, you’ll learn that weight matters, and the more weight you have, the more weighed down you’ll feel. Remember that old adage, “Ounces are pounds and pounds are pain?” Yeah, it applies here, too.

bug out bag
Bet you wish you’d left the bazooka at home, huh?

That said, lightweight is a relative term. Lightweight for a hiking handgun is different than lightweight for a concealed carry gun.

Hiking handguns are not hunting handguns, so you can easily trim weight. The more you can reduce without losing power, the better. 

S&W M&P Shield EZ, Sig P365, Glock 43x
Polymer pistols cut weight and size!

Ease of Carry 

Lightweight is one factor, but so is overall size.

You’ll want to reduce size here and there to make the gun handier. One of the best ways is to trim barrel length. 

Handgun Hunting with a shooting stick
I mean…you can hunt and hike with the same gun, but why?

Once again, hiking handguns are not hunting handguns so you can trim down on the barrel and grips a bit. You’ll want a gun that’s easy to carry but also easy to shoot. 

Think about it, you might need to shoot it with one hand. A lighter, shorter weapon is easier to use with a single hand. 

One Handed Shooting
Don’t forget to practice!

Powerful…? 

Hiking handguns are the perfect example of the term power is relative. Conduct a threat analysis and see how much power you need.

Bear Gif
Much more of an Alaska problem than a Florida one.

For instance, I live in an area that doesn’t have large bear populations, mountain lions, or other large scary creatures. 

Powerful to me is a 10mm. But generally, I carry a 9mm on most hikes…or occasionally a .22 LR handgun. That’s all I need to be safe from the threats in my area. 

Popular Pistol Calibers
Popular Pistol Calibers

Base the power level you need on the threats existing in your area.

You might need a .44 Magnum…or a 9mm might be perfectly acceptable, too. 

Carrying a Hiking Gun

If you have a hiking handgun, you’ll need a good holster for it.

A quality holster protects the gun, ensures safety, and makes it easy to access your gun when needed. 

kydex holster choices
Which one, which one?

Beyond that, hiking often offers rough or unpredictable terrain. Choosing a holster with proper retention is critical.

You’ll need a holster that clings to your weapon with some real gusto. 

For hiking carry, there are three different types of holsters you should consider for hiking handguns. 

Shoulder Holster

Shoulder carry places the weapon under your arm and off your waist.

With it off your waist, it becomes harder to submerge it when you cross streams. Not to mention, it prevents it from getting snagged when crossing through thick vegetation. 

AlienGear Shapeshift Holster
Shoulder carry usually keeps your gun nice and out of the way — and there’s less chance of flagging someone if you’re solo.

Not impossible, but harder…so still take care.

As a shoulder rig, you still have concealment. Some states prohibit open carry at any time, so concealment might still be an issue. 

Chest Holster

A classic means for carrying a hiking gun is via the chest. Basically, the holsters is placed across the chest.

Like a shoulder holster — the gun is off your waist and well protected. When you pack a big revolver, chest carry is convenient and comfortable. 

L to R Man Gear Alaska Chest Holster, Diamond D Guides Choice Chest Holster, Hill People Gear Kit Bag
A few options for chest holsters

Chest rigs offer quick access to your gun and maximum mobility. The downside is these rigs are essentially open carry rigs. 

On The Waist Holsters

Carrying your hiking handgun on your waist might not elevate the gun, but it’s still super comfortable, easily accessible, and capable of being concealed.

OWB Holster Range
Good for the range, good for the trail.

Hiking handguns should be carried outside the waistband for comfort and mobility reasons. Nobody wants to get poked and prodded on a hike.

When you carry on the waist, you have to be mindful of the environment, but it’s still a safe and proper way to pack a hiking handgun. 

So now that we know what to look for in guns and gear, let me tell you what handgun models I recommend!

Best Hiking Handguns 

1. Glock G20 

As far as I am concerned, Glock made the Glock G20 just for me. I love the 10mm, and I love quality firearms with decent capacity.

The G20 gives me 15 rounds of 10mm on tap for any environment or situation. 

Glock G20 Gen 4
Glock G20 Gen 4

As far as hiking handguns go, the G20 offers tons of versatility. It’s powerful enough to stop bears with the right load but also appropriate for coyotes, mountain lions, and even snakes and two-legged vermin. 

RDS Glock 20
Hunting with a G20? You can do it!

Because it’s a Glock, it’s reliable, accurate, easy to handle, and even affordable. Glocks are easy to customize, and swapping out the crappy plastic sights will be a must. 

Other than that, the gun is plug-and-play. 

Want all the deets? We’ve also given the G20 it’s own review!

Holster It: Safariland 7378

I might dislike Safariland’s naming conventions, but I do love their holsters.

Safariland designed the 7378 for concealed carry, so it’s an applicable option for concealed carry states.

Drawing from the Safariland 7378 ALS Concealment
Drawing from the Safariland 7378 ALS Concealment

Albeit, a Glock G20 in an OWB holster might print if your shirt isn’t sufficiently baggy. 

However, you won’t drop your G20 by accident. Safariland’s ALS system pins the gun in place and will not release the gun until the thumb release is pressed.

It’s made from polymer and comes with Safariland’s awesome reputation

2. Ruger Blackhawk .41 Magnum 

Single action western-style revolvers kick all the butt.

Seriously, these guns rule, and for hiking, they offer you an easy carrying option. The Ruger Blackhawk comes in various configurations and calibers. 

Single Action Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt
Single Action Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt

The .41 Magnum with the 4.62-inch barrel is the perfect combination of power and easy carrying potential.

I’ll never forgive American shooters for not giving the .41 Magnum its due. It’s underrated but powerful and controllable. 

.41 Remington Magnum
.41 Remington Magnum

You can deal with big bears if necessary, as well as hogs, coyotes, and anything else that crosses your path.

The Ruger Blackhawk’s single-action trigger delivers a short and crisp trigger pull that allows for outstanding accuracy.

A Ruger Blackhawk with .41 Magnum
A Ruger Blackhawk with .41 Magnum

The trigger is backed by big robust sights and a comfortable cowboy-style grip. 

Plus, it’s an affordable option in the big-bore revolver world. 

700
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Holster It: Galco Single Action Outdoorsman 

A classic cowboy gun needs a classic holster, right?

Well, the Galco Single Action Outdoorsman gives you a leather OWB holster in a classic configuration. A thumb snap provides retention, and the holster protects the Blackhawk perfectly. 

Galco Single Action Outdoorsman Holster
Galco Single Action Outdoorsman Holster

Be picky when it comes to leather holsters. Bad leather holsters are unsafe and leave a lot to be desired.

Galco makes outstanding leather holsters, and the Single Action Outdoorsman shows they know what they’re doing. 

3. CZ P10C (Optics Ready)

Yep, your average 9mm still makes for an awesome hiking gun.

CZ created the P10C a few years back, and they created the best stock striker-fired, polymer-frame pistol on the market.

CZ P10C and a box of 9mm
The CZ P10C OR is an optics-ready compact 9mm designed for EDC.

This is the gun I often pack, and for my area, it’s perfectly suitable for the threats I encounter. 

A 9mm can deal with the average-sized hog, coyote, wild dog, and whatever two-legged vermin I may encounter.

Lord forbid I walk upon a cottonmouth snake, but if I do, a 9mm isn’t overkill either.

CZ P10C and the back of a mag
Not to mention it has a 15+1 capacity!

The P-10C is controllable, lightweight, easy to carry, and reliable. 

I own a standard P10C, an early model, and if I had the option at the time…I’d have gone with an optic-ready option. Red dots make shooters faster, more accurate, and extend their effective range. 

What’s not to love? Add in a light, and I have a gun I can use regardless of the external conditions. 

430
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Don’t forget to check out our full review of the CZ P10C!

Holster It: PHLster Floodlight OWB 

A gun with an optic and a light requires a specific holster and the PHLster Floodlight is that holster. It accommodates a TLR 1 or Surefire X300U, suppressor height sights, and an optic.

Phlster Floodlight OWB (Breach Bang Clear)
Phlster Floodlight OWB (Breach Bang Clear)

This rig only offers passive retention, but it’s easily adjustable to ensure the holster grips the gun. 

PHLster makes an outstanding holster, and the Floodlight OWB is compatible with various firearms. It’s universal in the best way possible.

Not to mention, it’s modular and allows for a wide variety of different mounting options from G-Code, Tek Lok, and Safariland. 

Have you tried the PHLster Floodlight? If so, rate it below!

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (57)

Your Rating?

4. Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan .44 Magnum

If you like ’em thick but short, then the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan is for you.

Ruger trimmed the barrel to 2.5-inches, and the madmen chambered the gun in .44 Magnum. That’s very little barrel for a very powerful cartridge

Super Redhawk Toklat
Ruger Super Redhawk Toklat

It does just so happen to be much lighter and easier to carry than a standard Super Redhawk.

This big-but-short gun packs six rounds of .44 Magnum and will make short work of animals as big as aggressive brown bears.

Big sights and the ability to cock the hammer makes it easy to be accurate with the gun. 

While small, it packs a huge grip that makes everything more comfortable. 

Ruger Super Redhawk in 45 Colt/454 Casull Set Up to Hunt
Ruger Super Redhawk in .45 Colt/.454 Casull Set Up to Hunt

It still recoils like a wild bull bucks, but it’s not painful. 

The Super Redhawk Alaskan isn’t for everyone, and it does take some practice to master. However, it packs lots of power in a small package.

Chek out our full review of the Super Redhawk, too!

Holster It: Gunfighters Inc. Kenai Chest Rig 

Chest rigs are often made from leather, but the Kenai chest rig goes modern with a dose of nylon and Kydex to produce a modern chest rig.

GunfightersINC Kenai Chest Holster
GunfightersINC Kenai Chest Holster

Gunfighters Inc. molds their holsters for a specific weapon, and this ensures safety and excellent retention. 

It also provides a comfortable means to carry the big Super Redhawk. It’s also easy to access and gives you total mobility for your arms and hips. 

As far as holsters go, the Kenai is super modern and provides you with one of the best chest rigs on the market. 

5. Colt Delta Elite

I love the Delta Elite. I first heard of it when I read Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter and followed up with a Jane’s identification guide.

Sure I have a bias, but the Delta Elite is still a great hiking handgun. 

Colt Delta Elite with Boxes of Black Talon 10mm Ammo
Colt Delta Elite with Boxes of Black Talon 10mm Ammo

It’s a 1911 at heart, so it’s thin and relatively easy to carry.

It still packs a punch with 10mm rounds in its 9-round magazine. Plus, the single-action system and 1911 ergonomics combined with great sights make it easy to shoot. 

Rail gun is optional, but I can attach a light, I will. The standard Delta Elite is enough, but the rail gun is a little sweeter. 

Classic 10mm 1911
1299
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Holster It: Blackhawk Omnivore 

The Blackhawk Omnivore is an OWB rig made of Kydex and requires a rail or light to carry your gun. It’s very affordable and simple to use and wear.

Blackhawk Omnivore
Blackhawk Omnivore

The wide variety of Blackhawk attachments make it possible to carry the Omnivore on a chest rig, under a shoulder, or paddle, belt loop, or even MOLLE mounts. 

It offers active retention and makes drawing smooth and easy. I’ve used a Blackhawk Omnivore for years without issue, and it’s a great hiking holster. 

6. S&W Model 60 3-inch 

A lot of the guns mentioned so far are quite large and heavy but would be considered moderate-sized at best for field guns.

The S&W Model 60 is not just relatively small but small in general. This 5-shot J-frame packs .357 Magnum power in its small frame. 

S&W Model 60
S&W Model 60

The longer barrel makes it easier to shoot than a snub nose, and the small frame makes it easy to conceal.

.357 Magnum can deal with most moderate-sized critters. Small bears, coyotes, and hogs are easily dispatched, as are two-legged vermin. 

The Model 60 offers an exposed hammer that means single action is easily engaged for accurate shots. As a small-sized revolver, it’s also super easy to carry and comfortable for concealed carry

Best Small Frame Revolver
699
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Holster It: Craft Holsters Shoulder Holster System 

A little gun is perfect for shoulder holster carry. It’s small and doesn’t pull down at your shoulder as you work and move.

The Craft Holster Shoulder Holster System is all leather and provides you with both a holster and pouches to carry spare ammunition in speed loaders. 

Craft Holsters Shoulder Holster System
Craft Holsters Shoulder Holster System

It’s superbly adjustable and comfortable for hikers, both big and small.

Also, it offers a leather thumb snap for maximum retention. This holster is easily concealed and well suited for keeping your gun away from the woods and water. 

165
at Craft Holsters

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

7. Heritage Arms Rough Rider 4.5-inch model

Yep, a cheap .22 LR revolver might be one of the best hiking guns.

For years I strapped on a Rough Rider whenever I went on an ATV or horse ride, and of course, on hikes.

Rough Rider 16-Inch getting some sun
The Heritage Rough Rider

In my area, I face a number of threats, but snakes are the most common. 

I often try to avoid them, and I have backed down from a rattlesnake more than once. However, I’m not going to be defenseless 45 miles from a hospital.

H-hey there, little buddy…

A .22 Magnum makes short work of reptiles and even coyotes and wild dogs. 

The Heritage Arms Rough Rider is a single-action rimfire revolver that is superbly affordable and fun to shoot.

It’s lightweight design (especially the 4.5-inch variant) is easy to carry. All in all, it’s an accurate, reliable, and well suited for hiking

Classicly Awesome
199
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

We got a little goofy reviewing the Rough Rider 16″, but check it out!

Rough Rider 16-Inch blasting
Just a little goofy.

Holster It: Bull Creek Leather Western Holster 

Lots of holsters out there cost almost as much as the Rough Rider. The Bull Creek Leather Holster provides a leather western-style holster at a fraction of the price.

It’s built for the Rough Rider and fits the smaller frame single action gun well. 

Bull Creek Leather Western Gun Belt
Bull Creek Leather Western Gun Belt

A simple thumb snap makes retention a non-issue. The leather is saddle grade and perfectly acceptable for hiking use.

Plus, at the price point, it’s tough to go cheaper without going into the crappy holster world. 

40
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion 

Hiking handguns are their own specific category which calls for a weird combination of power, an easy-to-carry design, and a certain level of versatility.

More CA Roster Handguns
Don’t forget to pack a gun — and a med kit on hikes!

While the above list can get you started, remember when choosing a hiking handgun, examine your potential threats.

Go with a firearm that can deal with those predators efficiently. 

What’s your hiking handgun? And why is it your choice? Let us know in the comments below! Before you hit the trail in your local national park, be sure to read the rules for carrying in national parks!

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7 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    RGP

    I'll second the nomination for the Glock G20. There was NO semi automatic on the market that was able to get me to quit packing big bore revolvers. Then one day I decided I needed a semi auto in case I need to hunt aggressive mutated radioactive ducks in the wasteland of the future... and so I got the G20... and within thirty minutes it became my favorite handgun of all time. I no longer pack anything else except that Glock 20. I did swap out the sights, initially to Ameriglo Hackathorns, but now it wears Heine Slant Pro Straight Eight Night Sights. This Glock is the gun that will have to be pried out of my dead fingers!

    PS, in case you're wondering, I carry it in a Gunfighters Inc Ronin holster.

    September 7, 2021 1:53 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mauser8mm

    Not happy with the Glock 20 holster. I don't like a release on my holsters. Especially when in the woods.

    I haven't found OWB that I like for the g20. My next step is custom.

    May 21, 2021 4:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Pablo

    Glock 29...just sayin'

    May 21, 2021 1:12 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John B.

    Hi a good write up as usual , that said I'll simply suggest that folks think twice about a shoulder rig while doing any hiking with a pack. I hunt and spend a fair bit of time hiking with a pack on, scouting and when I find a good spot, carrying tools in to do trail maintance or tree prep. I found that shoulder rigs either interfere with the pack's shoulder straps, or constantly flag you hiking buddy walking behind you. Similar problem with any IWB or OWB carry option, they interefere with the way the waistbelt on most good packs sit, again at least for me. So I run Gunslinger's Kenai chest rig with a Ruger SR1911 Commander size 1911 or in the winter, a drop leg rig, mostly because the chest rig can get buried in layers of winter clothing. Thanks again for the great reviews.

    May 20, 2021 7:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Joe Smith

    Most of my hiking, fishing and hunting is in Florida. I often see snakes but usually not threatened by them. My biggest concern is rabid animals (like racoons, foxes). I, usually, carry 2 handguns, a small frame .22 LR HP or .22 WMR HP in a pocket or belt holster and my EDC in a 'tanker style holster'.

    May 20, 2021 2:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Colby

    Holsters need to be able to work in conjunction with backpacks, changing layers of clothes that often come with a hike, and the actual movement of hiking. In my years of hiking in Alaska and PacNW, I don't know anyone that uses shoulder holsters because of these reasons. Hill People make awesome chest packs that conceal well and are practical, those and similar disserve some attention. A bit surprised no references to lighter single stack 40 or 45's made your list like a Kahr or XDS 4" but a heavy 1911 does.

    May 20, 2021 1:32 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John

    The best hiking weapon is a fire team, backed up by a quick reaction force on standby.

    It turns out violent people wanting to harm others go hiking (read that as looking for prey meaning you too.)

    A person would be a fool to go on a wilderness trek we like to call hiking without being armed

    May 20, 2021 10:18 am