If you sell guns in cold climates, you already know it's important to have certain features on a firearm. You want controls that are easy to reach and operate with gloved hands. Mechanical tolerances must permit moving parts to function when sleet and plunging temperatures coat a firearm with ice. Rifle and shotgun stocks need pull-lengths short enough to fit naturally when brought to the heavily padded shoulder of cold weather gear.
Even if you sell guns in Tombstone, Ariz., El Paso, Texas or Southern Florida, you can't neglect this market. Some of your clients will venture into Alaska. Others will discover that their local gun permits are recognized in Idaho and Wyoming. In addition, travelers can get non-resident carry permits in five of the six New England states. (As you already know, the sixth is Vermont, where even a visitor can carry a loaded, concealed handgun without a permit so long as he or she is not a felon and has never been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent.)
Selling customers the right self-defense equipment is always important. Let's look at the handguns best suited to meet your customers' needs when they venture into severe cold weather.
Bears & Bad Guys
There are two self-defense concerns in Alaska. Big, mean animals and nasty, dangerous criminals. The state is so far-flung that it's most unlikely that your customer will find a fish and wildlife officer on hand when his fishing trip, mountain hike, or snowmobile run is interrupted by an enraged grizzly bear or an angry moose. There are also human predators. Rape is a frequent crime in Alaskan cities, and the state has had more than its share of mass murderers and serial killers.
If your client is adventurous enough to hunt big bears with a handgun, you'll want to steer him to a .454 Casull by Freedom Arms, Ruger or Taurus. Hint: the Taurus Raging Bull is not only eminently affordable, but kicks the least.
If the client doesn't want to be a handgun hunter but doesn't want to be bear chow either, a more compact .44 Magnum is the ticket. A good friend, a former Alaska State Trooper, says he has seen the Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum so often in the bush that he wonders if it isn't the official "Alaskan handgun."
That said, a double-action revolver with a more maneuverable 4-inch barrel is probably the best bet in a grim last-chance situation with the bear already on top of you. The shorter barrel means you're more likely to be able to deploy it quickly. In addition...