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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsFirearms and Sk...Firearms and Sk...10mm woods gun10mm woods gun
New Post
8/10/2012 11:23 AM

I am evaluating using 10mm (in the package of a Glock 20) as my backcountry handgun.  I am curious to hear from those that have made the decision to go this way.  I live in Oregon and travel frequently in northern California, Oregon and southern Washington.

What threats were you trying to offset?

Why 10mm over .45 acp?

What are your thoughts on ammunition availability?

What load do you carry?

Conversational constraints:  I don't live in grizzly country.  I intend to go with an auto and am debating between the relative merits of the two calibers mentioned above.  It is likely I will be sticking with a Glock either way.  Finally, while I appreciate all contributions, I weight more heavily the opinions of folks that are actually carrying a 10mm, or have purposefully chosen a .45 over a 10.  I've already had a really good side conversation with someone on the board about this very topic.  Maybe he will chime in.

Thanks in advance!


New Post
8/10/2012 12:45 PM

I carry the Glock 20 when I am out of town. Most of the "threats" could be handled with either of these calibers but I choose the 10mm because if you want to take on a bear or if you needed to kill an elk or deer in a "survival situation" I think the extra that the 10 brings is significant enough to warrent using it. I also have a 1911 so I went with something new just to see which I liked. Since I carry a Glock 19 regularly and I like the 10 mm I am going to stick with the Glocks and probably sell the 1911. If ammo is an issue and you don't reload then the 45 is the choice because of all that is out there and the choices in factory ammo that you have.

New Post
8/10/2012 12:48 PM

Thanks for the reply, Snakey3.  That's exactly the kind of perspective and info I am looking for.  What's your carry ammo, if you don't mind my asking.

New Post
8/10/2012 1:11 PM

Hansford and I have discussed this a couple of times, but I thougth I would throw up my thoughts for others to see.

Every six months or so I consider a 10mm, but I always end up staying with a .45.  My carry gun is a 1911, and as a result most of my training and practice is with a 1911.  I also have a bit of spare ammunition hear and there. For the defined areas (i.e. no grizzly) I feel just fine with a .45, and it always comes down to familiarity and logisitics (extra ammunition, magazines, holsters, etc...).  My current carry round for everything is 230gr GD.  However, now that I am in country with more bears (see Evan's Coming Home thread) I am considering picking up some 230gr XTP due to its greater penetration.  Basically, I would continue to use the GD for every day trips, but if I was going out for the weekend or longer I would switch over to the XTP.  I need to get some though and see were it shoots.  The other alternative is some hand loads put together by a friend.  They have all been chamber checked, but I have never gotten around to running them through the gun after chamber checking them, bascially because were I was in Oregon I just didn't feel the need for more that the GD.  They are basically, a semi-wad cutter with a harder cast going standard velocity.  I lean to the XTP over that a bit just because it is an off the shelf solution.  I haven't messed with any of the boutique .45 loads because I have heard reports that I consider reliable about terrible accuracy. 

The reasons I consider the 10mm.  Flatter trajectory (good in a survival hunting situation), greater velocity with a like sized bullet (I have shot at least three different 10s with the DT 230gr loads and have gotten good accuracy and reliability), capacity (I would probably end up carrying a second magazine, but I wouldn't need to). Finally, I think the glock is probably a better woods gun given its materials, design, etc...

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
8/10/2012 1:41 PM

Thank you, Scot.

Edited to add:  I hear "flat shooting" said a lot about the 10mm.  I'd really like to hear how that is important to 10mm users: what's the farthest distance you're shooting with a 10mm and would it be that much more advantageous over .45?  Or is it a theoretical advantage?

New Post
8/10/2012 6:38 PM
Don't have the 10mm, but my HK USP compact and tactical models should be able to run with an Glock 10mm and and even beyond. Just another option and I already own these ones.
New Post
8/10/2012 10:20 PM

You and I have already discussed this Hansford, but for the sake of group discussion, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject and hopefully bring something to the table.

First of all, I'll confess I'm a huge .45acp proponent.  I realize that modern ammo technology has largely closed the gap in the 9mm/.45 debate, but all things being equal, I'll still take the larger, heavier projectiles-------------specifically 230gr Gold Dot.  And as of late, in the G21 platform.  For a woods gun, where concealment isn't of the same concern as in town, I see very little down side to the fat, comfortable G21.  For urban carry I'll step down to the 9mm because that's what the wonderful little G19 is chambered for--------but to stay on topic....

I then thoughtfully consider every conceivable scenario I might encounter in my neck of the woods, to see if the .45acp would fall short at some point and I'd wish for a larger cartridge.  I did consider the 10mm after shooting Christian H's G20 with 230gr DT solids.  It's a very controllable platform, which I would equate to a scaled-up G22 in size, and ballistics, and to a slight extent, felt recoil.  But it didn't bring enough "necessities" to the table that weren't already provided by the .45acp.  The largest four legged threats I might possibly face are black bear, cougar and wolf.  Possible encounters with those three are far outweighed by odds of bumping into bad men.  At least in my area.  I feel the performance and controllability of the .45acp in a G21 (finally parked the 1911s after a long time) is the optimum balance for meeting those threats.  If I was specifically heading into black bear country I would chose to carry 225gr TC solids for additional penetration, otherwise I will carry 230gr GDs as my do-all load.  If I was heading into known black bear habitat with a black bear tag in my pocket I'd carry a rifle and a yet unpurchased DA .44mag/.45 Colt.  But I'd have to plan that trip in advance, and that's not in my future plans for now.  If encounters with predatory animals weren't a possibility, a G17/19 would be a perfect choice IMO, and serve the One Gun man just fine.  But the animal factor is just high enough (at least mentally and emotionally, if not actually) that I wouldn't feel that I was adequately covering my bets.  I feel that the .45acp with 230gr GDs or solids does.  And if a guy is up to the challenge of effectively concealing a G21 it could very easily be a One Gun solution.  For the colder half of the year it will be mine.

I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to test the 155gr .40S&W on MANY crippled big game mammals over the last 16yrs.  The cartridge works OK for its size,  and for a One Gun man the G22/M&P40 might be an OK choice with 180gr loads.  To me the .40S&W is neither fish nor fowl.  Others may disagree.  I prefer my two gun approach for urban and rural uses, and feel I've got the best of both worlds that way.

I'm tired and heading for bed.  Please forgive any and all typos.

New Post
8/10/2012 10:46 PM

On paper, the 10mm is undeniably a more powerful cartridge. Theoretically and practically it offers more penetration - all things being relatively equal. The hurdle I can't seem to get past is the relative performance difference between the .45 ACP and the 10mm when fired from identical platforms, i.e. service pistols with 4" to 5" barrels.

I've taken about a half dozen deer with the .45 ACP and a hunting buddy has killed a few with his 10mm Glock. On these flesh and blood backstops - the performance is practically identical. Even though he gets more predictable pass throughs - the terminal performance is about the same. Shock the CNS really well - they go straight down. If they must bleed out - they'll run a short distance. My gut tells me the performance disparity favors the 10mm beyond say 40 yards, but the gun (or me as the shooter) isn't really capable of taking advantage of that ballistic advantage IMO.

I hear people say fairly often that "professional bear hunters" in AK and such places prefer the 10mm Glock, but I can't document a single incident of one being used by anyone that's thrown lead with either cartridge in order to make a comparison.  Anyway, the only bears I'm likely to encounter are the black variety and at the distances I'm likely to use ANY gun defensively allows me to stick with the .45 ACP round for now. I do shoot +P loads in both 200 and 230 gr bullet weights. While the availability of ammo thing isn't that big a deal one way or the other for me personally, but I've been so heavily invested in the .45 round for so long I'll never shoot through my stockpile.

This is a bit off topic, but instead of considering the 10mm anymore, I'm going to do the work necessary to push the .45 into +P+ territory with reloads. By using .45 Super brass and changing the recoil springs, I really don't think I'll have any trouble getting a 230 bullet close to 1100 fps, and that will work for up close engagements on anything I'll ever encounter.

Now having said all that, every time I see a Glock 20 for sale I get this urge to scratch an itch.

New Post
8/11/2012 4:15 PM

 Jason and 41magfan,

Thank you both for your perspectives.  I was hoping to have more input from 10mm users, but your solid advice and experience on using 45 acp is very helpful.

I owe the contributors to this thread beers.  Much obliged to all.

New Post
8/11/2012 5:12 PM

I think 10mm is the answer to the question. It is in that perfect area between 45 acp and 44 magnum. Having killed a couple bears I would not want to go up against one with a 45 acp. I actually wouldnt want to go up against one with a 44 mag either though. The 10mm has the power but also is controllable and can be had in a lightweight package. Same can be said about 45 acp but for me it lacks the power.

I am going to sell off 3-4 handguns and buy a 10mm for my woods gun(and a 9mm ccw). For for my woods guns I own and have used: 45 acp, 45 auto rim +p, 45 super, 10mm, 357 mag and 44 mag. I never shoot hollow points in any of them, either FN-FMJ or hard casts.  Like 41 mentioned I think if you already own a Glock 21 or 30, like the 45 acp and have lots of ammo for it 45 super is the way to go. Its the runner up to the Glock 10mm in the woods gun debate IMO. My Glock 30 gets 1050 fps with a 255gr hard cast flat nose and is very controllable/accurate. That kind of power in a gun that weighs 40oz's with a TLR-3 light and 13 rounds sounds like a winner to me. Swap out the recoil spring and you go back to shooting regular 45 acp.

So my opinion is to go 10mm over 45 acp unless you have reason to go 45 super like I mentioned above. Really though I am still going to get a Glock 10mm so take it for what its worth, not a whole lot. Just bringing up another option.

New Post
8/12/2012 12:27 PM

Bought a Glock 20.  I carried it about ninety or so miles in Grizzly Central (Bob Marshall)  Didn't see any bears but they are there.  It rides nicely in a KU Koala.  I was surprised by how mild the recoil is compared to a 44mag 629, not that the latter is that bad, but I can shoot the G20 a lot faster.  Now I have to get dies and a Dillon caliber conversion for the 550.   The gun weighs 38.3oz with a loaded (15rd) mag (180gr).  The SF(slim frame) is a big improvement over its predecessor, but I'll eventually do a grip reduction to achieve the same grip angle as a 1911.  I haven't decided yet on sights.  I'm also pondering a light for it, prefferably something light, maybe the Glock?  Anyone have any ideas please advise.  I want something lighter than a Surefire. It would replace a hand held as an anti-cliffout LR light.

New Post
8/12/2012 6:33 PM


For me the only time the flatter shooting comes into place in a survival hunting situation. I don’t know the exact numbers off the top of my head for the 10mm, but a .45 drops 6” at 100yds and really drops off after that. If making a shot on game to survive means taking that 100yd shoot, or at least what I think is 100yds than I like the idea of less drop.  The 10mm just extends my point blank range, whether I have the skill at the given moment or not is a different discussion 
I guess what it comes down to for me is that, if you carry a 9mm in town, especially a glock there is no point in not going 10mm. If you are carry a .45 than sticking with a .45 makes sense. 
I can’t think of his name right now, but I have a book on my shelves from an Alaska Professional hunter. In the book he mentions he carries a 10mm after trying to get a .44 mag into action against bear. He designed a couple of inflatable boats if that helps anyone think of the name. (I am to lazy to walk into the other room.)
FYI, I have some obear sausage in the freezer from Wes. Listening to his thoughts on bears is worthwhile. 
Wes, why not a .44 mag on a bear?
TAK, I use TLR3 lights for pretty everything these days. I like the size and cost.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
8/12/2012 8:09 PM

Threats: People, bears, cougars (in that order of concern)

10mm over 45: See the long-winded expansion below.

Ammo Availability: Need to plan ahead. 10mm gets ordered online, although the way Cabela's have cropped up, you can actually find decent 10mm ammo easier than you'd think. I plan to stock up from Underwood for carry use and reload for practice.

Carry Load: For Colorado, I'm leaning towards the Underwood 200 grain XTP or the same with a 200 FP. Have a trip to Yellowstone in the possible department for next summer, and might invest in some Buffalo Bore 220 grain HC in the thoughts that it will serve me better than a sharp stick and I'm not buying a new heavy revolver.



I recently purchased a G20SF for my woods gun. It's not my first go around with a 10mm as I carried a G29 for some time on all my backwoods forays. I have also carried various .357s, .41s, .44s and .45 ACPs before coming back around to the 10mm. For me it's the best balance of power, control and portability. My normal carry gun is a G19, so there is very little adaption required when going from urban to mountain use. At the moment, I have only two centerfire handguns and the G19 and G20 seem to cover my bases quite well.

Nothing against the .45, but I am a believer that the 10mm will perform better for defensive use against bears. That is based on shooting zero bears with either or anything for that matter, but I figure you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, and my line is based on my belief that the 10mm offers better penetration than the .45.  When we get into the wonderful wilderness defensive use discussion, penetration seems to be a consideration that should be given sufficient weight. The 10mm does give up on wound channel, especially if we're talking about FMJ-FP or SWCHC style bullets, but I figure if if it doesn't get there, it doesn't matter if you have a bigger hole. IMO 41magfan actually makes the case for the 10mm based on pass throughs. For HUNTING deer at close range, I'd feel about as good with a heavy .45 ACP load as with a 10mm as either will do sufficient damage per his reports. But for shooting at something toothy coming AT me, I'll take all the extra "get there" that I can... as long as I can shoot it.

It's hard to really compare apples to apples but here are some boutique ballistics from Buffalo Bore with due respect given to 41magfan's comment on paper ballistics versus in field performance.

10mm 220 1,200 fps 703 fp

.45 +P 255 925 fps 484 fp

.41 230 1,400 fps 1,074 fp

.40 180 1,100 fps 484 fp

I've never bought into the 10mm equals a .41 mag stuff. That only applies to some factory loads, as you can easily load the .41 heavier and hotter and the 10mm pretty much is what it is. However, the 10mm is almost halfway between a +P heavy bullet .45 and a heavy .41 in velocity and energy. I'm thinking that is a significant improvement. I'll go further and venture to say that that hot .40 Short and Weak load will actually penetrate better than the heavy .45. Just food for thought. Do I want to carry a .40 S&W in the woods? Not really. And if I don't want to go that route, do I really want to push the .45 ACP -- great SD cartridge that it is -- to do more?

The 10mm cartridge and the Glock 20 are designed around a 200 grain bullet at 1,200 fps. No fuss, no muss, that's the deal. You can go up a bit with a heavy hardcast like the BB, or down with some of the self defense type stuff, but everything is meant to work around that initial load which is not too shabby.The .45 ACP was not intended to launch heavy bullets over 1,000 fps, nor are most of the guns chambered so designed for it -- even the G21 puts less metal around the cartridge and has a lighter slide than the G20. They certainly can and do fire hot .45 loads, with many very happy owners, but it's still pushing things beyond the design. I'm one of those conservative guys and when it comes to semi-autos, I really want reliable and durable. The G20 10mm gives me that with no screwing around or pushing the envelope.

I think the 10mm is a compromise round. It is at the upper level of power that most shooters can handle easily, but it offers the capability of rapid, controlled fire. It is not the type of hunting handgun that a .41, .44, or pick your heavy .45 revolver cartridge is. It is not the big bear cartridge they are either. However, I feel grossly unarmed with any handgun when contemplating that sort of thing. What it does is deliver a fairly large diameter bullet at a relatively high velocity that will do for man or beast in a package suitable for serious self-defense.

Glocks are Glocks. Ugly, with a spongy (but consistent and short) trigger and without the best ergos I've encountered, but boringly reliable and durable as well as extremely light considering the power. Sort of ideal for rugged outdoor use. 38 ounces INCLUDING 16 rounds is pretty light for that amount of firepower. That's my last 1911 empty. Yes, I know they make lighter 1911s, but they still carry half the rounds.

I am not knocking anyone who employs a .45 ACP for this use, handguns are marginal defensive instruments regardless. I can't prove that the 10mm will actually do a better job. It's just that I feel like it is sort of at the bottom of the barrel already and I don't want to try to make the .45 work when I can get a 10mm out of the box, order some ammo and be GTG. All my thinking is purely conjecture, as happily, I have been unable to test my convictions. I do feel fairly well armed, especially since I worry as much or more about close to the trailhead human threats as I do bears.

Sorry for the rambling, I've been typing this between family and work stuff so I think I wandered and repeated a bit, but I'm sort of done trying to sort it out any better at this point. I don't think there is actually a wrong choice, but I feel better with my Glock 10mm than I did with an HK .45 with some very hot loads which were as hard to get as any good 10mm stuff.

New Post
8/12/2012 8:12 PM

Oh, and as soon as I get a chance to download some pics, I will show y'all the ULTIMATE backpacking gun for bear defense. That will earn it's own thread though. Westy's best bow for bear defense, get out of the way... ;)

New Post
8/12/2012 9:36 PM

I hear people say fairly often that "professional bear hunters" in AK and such places prefer the 10mm Glock, but I can't document a single incident of one being used by anyone that's thrown lead with either cartridge in order to make a comparison

I have one acquaintance who's shot a few bears with a G20. Black bears bayed with dogs or over bait. It works but its not a defensive situation at all. Head shooting a bear at close range with HC ammo has predicatable results but does little to promote one cartridge over another in a defensive role.

The G20 is pushed into a woods gun role here relatively often as it gives reasonable power, durability and shootability as well as being perfectly suited for more urban encounters as well. A friend of mine packs one on his float hunting trips, but there's usually a bunch of rifles on those excursions too. I think I would be fine with one in that role, but I'm something of an optimist. 

All professional bear guides I know (which is a few) wouldn't consider taking on a bear with any handgun at all, they are medium/large bore rifle shooters to a man. In fact, one outright bans handguns in his camps. He's a lot more worried about scared folks in the dark with a pistol than he is of bears...he's likely right on that account.

New Post
8/13/2012 6:37 AM

Excellent thoughtful post CCH. 

New Post
8/13/2012 8:46 AM

I thought the G20 and 21 were identical except for the barrel, magazines, recoil spring (weight), and extractor? Is that not the case, or did I mis-read CCH?

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
8/13/2012 9:46 AM

The slides are not identical. More metal is taken out of the 21. The breech face dimensions are different. You can convert a 21 to 10mm with an aftermarket barrel, but it is not a gun designed for the 10mm. I think KKM makes one for that purpose, but you can't turn a 20 into a .45 without replacing the entire slide assembly. The 20 can be converted to .357 Sig or .40 S&W pretty easily with a barrel switch.

If you go to the link below and scroll down a bit, there is a photo showing the difference between the 21 and 20 slide. The 20 was designed for the 10mm, not a retrofitted .45. That is one of the selling points for me.


Jason, thanks. When you buy as few firearms as I do and have to jump through so many hoops to do it, you tend to get very thoughtful as to what you buy and why. Just ask the Hills how many emails they had to put up with when I bought my most recent bolt action or my AR, and they were only part of the consulting group.


New Post
8/13/2012 10:03 AM

Thanks for the education. I knew the 10mm came first and then the .45, but didn't realize that the .45 was so modified.

You bring up a great point when it comes to picking a firearm based on  caliber. If you know that you want a given caliber then it is typically better to figure out what caliber a given platform was designed for and then check reliablity as the original caliber is typically the more reliable model (1911 in 45 vs 9mm/38super/10mm/etc... or G17 vs G22).  That is not to say that those pistols won't run in other caliber, but rather they aren't really designed for that caliber.  Going down in pressure, velocity, etc... always seems to work better as well (G20 to G21 or M&P 40 to 9mm). 

I know that Hansford is specifically looking at a G20, but another reason I haven't jumped on the 10mm is that the 1911 wasn't really designed for the caliber and has to be set up right, and it will still beat it up.  (Well that and the models available, but that is a different discussion.) So picking up a 10mm 1911 to complement my .45 is not as easy as picking up a G20 to compliment my G19/17.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
8/13/2012 10:33 AM

Agreed on the challenge of finding a good 10mm 1911. It just wasn't designed for it. It also wasn't really designed for some of the heavy loads being compared to the 10mm either, especially when you get into .45 Super territory. Beyond your concerns, my other problem with a 1911 10mm for woods use is that it will have a steel frame, making for a pretty heavy load on my scale. I really like that Glock loaded with 16 at the same weight as an empty 1911. Sort of straying here, but if a guy is looking for a steel frame 10mm, the S&W 1006/1076 pistols were also designed for the cartridge and hold up well based on the reports I've seen. I just can't get past the DA/SA trigger... and the weight.

I think when all is said and done, the G20 is sort of the perfect storm for backpacking. It is not the most powerful handgun for the outdoors, it is not the lightest handgun for backpacking, and it is not the most controllable handgun for self-defense, BUT it offers a great balance of those three key characteristics coupled with excellent durability, reliability and a relatively modest entry cost. There is really nothing else like it on the market. I've certainly looked. With a better trigger and better ergos, I'd almost call it perfect for my use.

HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsFirearms and Sk...Firearms and Sk...10mm woods gun10mm woods gun