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The Fun of a Trail Gun

I am a gun guy.   I shoot a lot, I reload my own ammo, I like to be outdoors and guns just go perfect with the outdoor lifestyle.   Over the years, I have enjoyed many a trail gun during my outdoor pursuits.

What is a trail gun you ask? For me, it is a handy, portable, light weight, accurate pistol that goes with me on the trail when camping (outside of state park and recreation areas) or hunting in the tall and uncut.   They require a high degree of practice as not everyone can easily hit the target with a pistol.   But, once mastered, these handy tools can be your outdoor companion.   My favorites for the trail are and always will be single action revolvers.  Yep!  The good old cowboy gun is, in my humble opinion, the best trail gun available.   They are accurate, reliable and carry on the hip in a leather (gotta be me) holster perfectly.

For Nebraska, we are talking about a good 22 caliber pistol or even up to 32 caliber. A Ruger Single Six in .22 LR or .22 magnum is about perfect.  The same gun in .32 magnum is about right for mid-size small game such as coyotes, fox and bobcat.   Ultra-compact pistols do not generally make ideal trail guns as they can lack the accuracy or shoot-ability that a good single action pistol can have.   In the semi-auto field, the Ruger Mark II or Mark III is about right.   The old Colt Woodsman was designed just for this purpose and is as good a trail gun today as it was nearly 50 years ago.   Also, make sure you know the laws in the area you may be using a trail gun.

Trail Gun on hip

Over the years the trail gun has provided my family and friends with countless hours of entertainment. Each year we head to the Sandhills to camp and hunt.  These remote locations are perfect for trail guns.  I have carried such when scouting, hiking etc. in such locations and have really enjoyed their company.   I recall several outings around the campsite where the trail gun was used for informal target shooting.  These are great times to enjoy shooting with family and friends and can really help develop your skill as a hunter/shooter.

Target shooting with family is loads of fun!
Target shooting with family is loads of fun!

Often, the trail gun can be a tool for opportunity. During the hunting season, while camping or hiking I have been able to harvest rabbits, squirrels, etc. for the pot.  They can easily  turn a walk in the woods into a fun hunting excursion.   Perfect for critters of opportunity that the hunter can take when they would not normally have their rifle handy.


Finally, the trail gun is often my primary hunting gun for small game.   I grew up handgun hunting and it is my preferred method for taking game.  Being a handgun hunter also helped me develop skills I needed to master bow hunting (well…master may be a strong word).   This time of year, I prefer to use the trail gun when calling raccoons and coyotes.   For this type of hunting, I am generally lugging around the electronic caller, a walking/shooting stick and a portable seat.   Adding a rifle seemed to make this more of a chore.   But, with the trail gun strapped to my hip, walking through the woods and setting up to call  is simple and a bit more challenging.   Challenging is not always good but simple appeals to me.   If you are thinking of adding another firearm to the battery, the trail gun may just be the ticket to expand your fun in the outdoors.   They are handy, have multiple uses and are just plain fun to shoot.

About jeff rawlinson

Jeff is the Education Manager in the Communications Division with Game and Parks where he has worked for the last 15 years. He oversees the Hunter Education, Boater Education, Hunter Outreach and Shooting Range Development for the Commission and is a devout hunter, angler, wildlife viewer, naturalist, father and husband. He holds a BS and MS from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has been a Hunter Education Instructor for over 20 years, NRA firearms instructor and range officer, National Archery in the Schools Program Archery Instructor Specialist and member of the National NASP Board, sits on the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Hunter Recruitment and Retention Committee and Education Committee. Jeff is an avid handgun hunter, loves to chase turkeys in the spring, squirrel hunting enthusiast and philosopher of the outdoors. He is an avid shooter and loves to spend outdoor time with family and friends. He has a passion for exciting others about the outdoors. A history buff, Jeff is a strong supporter of our North American Model of Conservation and tries to spread the message of its importance and relevance every chance he gets.

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