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Carrying a Gun While Hiking? The Pros and Cons

Hiking is one of the most popular activities in America today. In fact, more than 49 million people participated in this outdoor pastime for 2019 alone. The stats have probably gone up for 2020 since there wasn’t much else for people to do other than be outside during the pandemic months. So here’s the question — do you take your gun with you on your hike? 

If you have a CCW permit and normally take your gun with you practically everywhere you go, then you’ll probably want to take it hiking as well. There are some benefits and drawbacks to carrying a gun while hiking. Let’s look at those reasons in case you are unsure of whether to carry your firearm when on a hike. 

Benefit: Scare Away Animals 

Depending on where you hike, there may be a variety of wildlife that could be threatening. Most of the animals you encounter on the trails will scurry away from you as they hear you approach. But there’s always the chance that they won’t. It could be a bear, mountain lion, snake, wild pig, or if you are hiking near the Everglades in Florida, a gator! You are going to be better protected when you have your gun on you. 

Benefit: Defend Yourself Against Human Attacks 

The sad fact is that you just never know when someone human is going to be a threat to you. Plus, if you are planning on hiking way out into the desolate wilderness, you are in a more vulnerable place alone on the trails. Someone could easily decide to make you a target. When you have a firearm on you to defend yourself against any attack, more than likely, that dangerous person will leave you alone. 

Drawback: Comfort

The weight of the gun can be quite heavy, especially if you plan on going hiking all day long. Hours spent walking with your gun can throw off your balance if you aren’t in great shape. You could have some extra soreness and pain during the hike or after. The gun could also be digging into your side when you are carrying hiking gear, and that’s uncomfortable. 

It’s better to have a subcompact or micro-compact to carry with you on a hike. Some of those guns weigh less than two pounds. For example, the Beretta Px4 Storm Subcompact is a powerful gun, but only weights 1.26 pounds unloaded. 

Drawback: Illegal Places to Carry 

Since 2010, it’s legal to carry a gun at National Parks in the United States. That doesn’t mean it will be legal everywhere you hike. You could be hiking and end up in an area or state that has some gun restrictions. It’s better to check the laws where you are hiking before you head out with your weapon. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you on whether to carry your firearm while you are hiking. The good news is that in America with our Second Amendment rights, the choice is in your hands.


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6 Responses

  1. I pack a .45 1911 daily , but when I hike I pack a stainless Ruger Blackhawk .44 magnum 5.5 inch barrel . Ya it’s a little over 2 pounds but it has the stopping power to deter a grizzley bear . I hike the mountains of Montana and will deal with the extra weigh it beats becoming grizzley bear scat .

    1. I agree with the 44 having lived in Montana myself, always had a S & W model 29, had a run in with a very old & large male Black Bear. Near Cook City late in the fall. We were 8 feet apart the game warden said at that time of year I looked like FOOD to him. When I looked I had fired 4 times in a very short period of time. The warden said Black Bears will attack more than Grizzles in the fall because the need for food before they hibernate

  2. I’m a retired Maine Guide. The Fish and Game Club I worked for used to have a bear hunt every fall, and I was the guy who did the baiting. The Manager and the resident Guide were good bear men ,and they told me to NEVER go to a bear bait without a gun. It was not IF you would be run off, just WHEN. They carried 629s in .44 mag and so did I. A friend was a retired Navy SEAL from the Vietnam days, and he worked up some loads for me. 240 gr Nosler Partitions for carrying, and a little lighter ones for practice. Black Bears are not hard to kill if you hit them right – but hitting them right is important. Those Partitions would penetrate a head and would break a bone, but were also great if a lung or heart were the target. The big bears come in near dusk, so a wounded bear is a night event. I had a headlamp and a short barreled M37 Ithaca pump with a Mag-lite attached to the barrel and stuffed full of Brenneke slugs.

  3. I carry all the time and my 2 favorites are 1911’s and I alternate between them and they are a 45 or a 38 Super.
    Revolvers* are too bulky so the old slab sided 1911’s are my choice.Also a NAA 22 Magnum 5 shot revolver.
    Being 85 years old I really don’t give a damn about public opinion and will not let some political coward tell me
    I can’t defend myself in my home or the public domain.
    *My revolvers are “N”frame S&W and not really concealable.

  4. I have a 40 acre parcel in the mountains (they call them mountains here) of Arizona at 4200 ft elevation. My three non human concerns are Javalena, Cougar and Rattle snake. I have a model 66 .357 in a holster on my pistol belt – first round snake shot, next 5 are .357 mag JHP.

    1. – first round snake shot, next 5 are .357 mag JHP.

      Smart thinking sir. Very smart.

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