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2/8/2015 9:37 PM
So here I am. I decided that if a .357 is the "bear" minimum for bruins, I might as well maximize it by having at least a four inch barrel. If I'm going to have a four inch barrel, then I might as well use a larger caliber. I wanted a 45 LC so I could convert it to support 45 ACP too, but the 44 Mag is more prevalent here. I have time to practice before the spring when they are out. So, since I have already opted to not buy another auto platform and caliber that can compare to the minimum requirement for large animal defense, that I am buying an available 44.
I should mention that the only negative I've ever had with a large bear was in Canada, and I was unarmed. I am thankful that it was not too hungry. Good behavior in the woods and other means of protection work well, but we wouldn't be in this forum if we didn't also believe in being prepared/armed.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. -C.S. Lewis
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2/9/2015 2:42 PM
strow, on another forum in a universe far far away I got VERY tired of all of the chest beating where folks compared energy and TKO numbers and such without any idea of shootability so I posted a public challenge - 7 yards, 2 rounds, shot timer. Post your caliber, grain weight, velocity, times, and group size. I chose those numbers because in most of the encounters I read about that's where the bear was when the person had a chance to shoot and 2 rounds was what they got off. And you've got to start somewhere. First off, not a whole lot of folks showed up to publicly post their numbers. Funny thing, that. Second, NONE of the monster loading shooters posted anything. Ironically, my .41 magnum (which was considered too light by the pundits) results were about the heaviest posted - 250grain / 1350. There was a guy shooting a 45LC with something like a 280grain / 1100. And those were the two heaviest loadings with results posted. My conclusion was that I could ignore all of the talk from the "heavy load" guys. Completely meaningless. The real deal guy whose experience starts this thread out is about as heavy as I've heard from anyone who shoots pistols for real.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
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2/9/2015 6:03 PM
In the FWIW department, I believe it was about 2 years ago here in Colorado, a dude was awaken in a campground by the screams of another man in a nearby tent being drug out of that tent by a large black bear. The bear had him by the head and was pulling him around like a rag doll... the hero of the story responds at night, with a flashlight in one hand and a 9mm in the other. From what I recall, he emptied the gun into the bear and saved the man's life. The bear was found by DOW officers about 70 yards away, deader than a Stanley hammer. It might not be the ideal pistol/caliber, but as Evan stated....sometimes it's the one you have that counts.
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2/9/2015 7:21 PM
Josh, should have spoken to this before. In a 44 magnum - get a 4" barrel full steel N-frame S&W, pre - lock. Mountain guns are nice to carry, but I'd go full under lug if it were me. Put a pair of the X-frame rubber grips on it and then do the majority of your practice with .44 special loads. Double action, not single action.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
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2/13/2015 12:54 PM
Thank you. That is pretty much what I am doing. I went with a "classic" Ruger Redhawk. I don't like the locks on the S&W either, though I've had a couple. Ruger has a good reputation, and I like my other ones. I got it right away so that I can maximize my training time before spring when moose calfs drop and hungry sows come out looking for food. That's about the time my family will be up here and we want to get out and play.
I also appreciate you mentioning the .44 spc. Partially because of the original post, I was looking at the 45 LC for controlability and better follow up shots. That's also why I HAD (past tense) an N frame .357. I figured for every shot I got out after the first one I was increasing my chances of a hit by 100%. I also thought that if I went back to a 4 inch barrel, that I might as well go up in caliber too.
As soon as I have some shot times I will post them for you.

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience almost always comes from bad judgement. - Unknown
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2/13/2015 9:15 PM
I love my 45 Colts, but my 5" S&W model 29 in 44mag gets the nod.
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2/14/2015 10:33 AM
I am looking for a bear/handgun hunting gun but I am finishing my last semester of school. I know it is not ideal, but what would you all think of carrying a single action revolver like a super blackhawk. Basically in my price range I can afford something like that or a double action taurus, which I wouldn't totally trust. In a year I should have plenty of disposable income, but will spend the summer just outside of yellowstone in prime grizzly country. My primary carry gun is a 9mm that I have loaded with winchester ranger 115 gr +p+ rounds, not exactly up to the task of bear defense. The advantage of a super blackhawk is that it would make a good hunting handgun in the future.
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2/14/2015 11:02 AM
It is pretty well known on this site that I am just not a fan of revolvers for anything other than fun, so it should be no surprise that I think you would be far better served with a Glock 10mm than a revolver period. I also don't think anyone who is not a serious cowboy action shooter or shoots lots should carry a single action for anything serious. Defense is usually not a leisurely activity, and going into it with a gun that requires cocking everytime before it fires without having that skill deeply ingrained is just asking for trouble in my opinion.

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
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2/14/2015 11:36 AM
The Glock 20 is like a semi-auto 357 mag. It is a good gun, but a 44 is better if you can only get off 2-3 rounds. A grizzly isn't going to wait for you to deploy 16 capsules of lead repellant in a charge. I started off carrying a single action 45 Colt in a Blackhawk. I own a 454 Casul as well. I believe you need to shoot what you can handle. The 454 was good for a young me. Now I prefer the double action 44mag. The glock 20 is fine for black bears, but so is a 45acp, 14 guys in Greenland carry glock 20's for polar bears, but that is because they used to carry Sig 210s in 9x19mm. I would still rather have a 44mag to deal with a polar bear. I might go with my 454 for that. Big differnce in power.

I would save up and get what you would really like to have.
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2/14/2015 12:00 PM
My experience running a revolver on a shot timer both drills and also at matches is that with a revolver it is more like 1 accurate round and 2-3 with a semi in the same period of time. That mirrors what I see from others who consider themselves revolver guys. I have yet to find someone who can tell me how much of a difference the power of a .44 or any big bore handgun really makes. So until then I am going to focus on accurate, fast hits, and multiple ones. If you are one of the few who practices enough with a .44 let alone with what most consider a "bear" load to get that done more power to you. Most can't do it with a lightly loaded .38. A guy who used to post on here was adamant about a .44 for bear country, because he had killed a lot of black bears, until I had him do some realistic shooting with one. Afterward, I was impressed and told him he was one of the very few I had seen that actually could handle a revolver that well, which he attributed to lots of practice. He said I am getting a Glock 10mm. There is no doubt that even a .41 has more power than a 10mm, but on the other hand accurate rounds on target will always trump more power for me. In my opinion, and experience with a revolver you are banking on 1 round doing the job more often than not. Whereas with a semi you are banking on 2 to 3 rounds getting the job done, and that is because at best you will have seconds to get off a shot or shots.

I am also a huge proponent of a light on a handgun for back country use. Note I am not saying you use that flashlight for iding stuff, but come shooting time I would rather have a good two handed grip, if possible, especially with a heavier recoiling handgun than one.

One of the common problems we have on here is that folks with a lot of experience and skill, like CZ, underrate how much work it takes to get the skill and experience they have.

Agreed, be patient and save up and get what you like/want.

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
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2/14/2015 9:53 PM
On big bears and animals it is the mass of the bullet that helps get the penetration. Penetration reaches the vitals to promote incapacitation. On paper the old 45-70 looks like a pussy cat 1400 FPS or so in its original loading, but the big 405 grain bullet would punch through an American Bison. Today's popular ft lbs of energy rating doesn't really do justice to the effectiveness of 45-70.

When I carried single actions in Alaska I would use two hands. My off hand would cock the hammer. I could double pretty quickly. The design of the Freedom Arms 454 handle makes the gun feel pretty tame. With modern ammo it makes the handgun like an old 1873 trapdoor 45-70 in your hand.

I agree that the Glock 20 has an advantage on the light. Most of my encounters with moose and bear happened in low light despite the long daytime hours of summer in Alaska. One of the reasons I switched from my single actions was the ability to deploy the weapon effectively one handed.

I will own up to what Scott pointed out. I have to remember I grew up having incredible shooting opportunities. My skills are now instinctual. I can shoot just about any platform given a bit of familiarization. There was a time when the question was 357 or 44mag. It's what we all had to shoot. For semi autos it was mostly 1911, Browning HP or your dads WW2 bring back? For duty carry I would switch between several weapons. I guess I just knew what I had on me.

Shooting wonder 9s and newer polymer framed guns was a snap after being brought up on 357, 45s and 44s. Going back to the 44 and 454 is a thrill and requires some retraining.

44mag is hotter than many can handle. It is hard for men to admit that to themselves, but look how many pristine 44s are on the second hand market.

I want to caution anyone who thinks a handgun is a one or two shot stop on a bear. I have never personally seen a big bear drop in its tracks from one shot. My good friend Chuck Mo, a famous guide in AK back in the 1980s put 4 44s into a charging sow. Despite hitting it once in the muzzle, twice below the chin and into the boiler room and once in the forepaw the bear still thrashed him and made it 300 yards away to croak.

I know a lot of people here can back me up on how bears can go honey badger even after being hit solidly with a decent rifle caliber.

A handgun is a backup for big bears. I was always told to have at least a 30-06, or up, in my hand at all times while I walked around in AK. I carried an 870 with slugs when I fished up there.

My Glock 20 and 19 are the originals brought into the country. In fact I just replaced the two piece spring and guide rods out for gen 3 captured springs tonight. I am not a Glock hater by any means. I am probably going to break down and get a gen 4 G20.
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2/15/2015 3:06 PM
You said the key thing, if you are worried about stopping a bear, get a long gun. Pistols are insufficient as fight stoppers.

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
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2/15/2015 8:16 PM
Well if I could figure out how to load a picture...they are worth a thousand words.
Yesterday, I helped walk my friend's dogs. I am staying at his cabin until I can get my family back up here. There are 26 miles of mushing trails behind the cabin with moose and wolves in them. In the picture you would see me with a Marlin 336 in .30-.30. I was also wearing a Runners Kit Bag with Glock 21, and a Tarahumara with some basic stuff. (I just bought an Original KB to fit my .44 into)
My point is that yes, a handgun is only meant to get you to a rifle, so yes, I have a long gun with me whenever I can. My unique situation is where I happen to work, it's alot easier to inconspicuously get a handgun in your emergency baq to go unnoticed. Also, when kids (6, 2, and 7 months) arrive in the spring, I will have my hands full with them. It makes it harder to carry a rifle or shotgun, but I know a handgun is backup. I opted not to get ANOTHER Glock (I have several models) because I wanted the most power I could reasonably handle if I ONLY had a handgun. I DO wish I could put an X300 on a Redhawk. All of my armed confrontations have been at night, but they have been against bi-pedswhich is the first reason to carry when in the remotes of anywhere. If I were not in Alaska, I would preferably carry one of my "wondernines". I too have carried the gambit of handgun models. But I know that practiced efficiency of movement will earn me the results I want, regardless of the platform. (Constrained of course by my own ability to shoot that platform with human paws and strength)

You cannot be disciplined in great things and undisciplined in small things. There is only one kind of discipline- perfect discipline. -GEN George S. Patton.
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2/20/2015 2:05 PM

I think I'd go with this, only with a girlfriend :-)

While out hiking in Alberta Canada with my boyfriend, we were surprised when a huge grizzly bear came charging at us out of nowhere. She must have been protecting her cubs because she was extremely aggressive.

If I had not had my little Beretta Jetfire I would not be here today! I yanked it out of my purse and fired one shot. It hit my boyfriend in his kneecap and the bear caught him easily. While the grizzly mauled the poor cripple, I was able to escape by just walking away at a brisk pace. I love that pistol. I'll find other boyfriends.

(just to break the mood LOLOLOLOLOL)
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2/23/2015 2:09 PM

This Forum subject gets so much play on all the Forum's that guys get ornery about beating an already beaten and dead horse. But hey, it always fascinates me probably because of the pucker factor. So here is my take.

After 5 Alaska trips bowhunting including 2 to Kodiak Island (one trip we saw 30 Brown Bears) as well as hunting elk in MT grizzly country most years I have considered this a lot. Current wisdom leads to pepper spray as the best alternative but I also like to have a knot on the end of the rope. I let my partner carry the spray and if possible would be the first thing deployed. I carry the pistol.

What I have found is that if the firearm is too cumbersome or heavy it will stay in the tent after a day or two. I have owned various 29's, a 629 scandium, a Taurus total titanium 44, a glock 20, among others. My opinion today is that penetration is the key and modern bullets have changed the game. With Garrett, Buffalo Bore, CorBon and Grizzly cartridges making hard cast FN penetrators the options are wide open. I have tested many of these on thick steel I-beams at my local gravel pit. The shining star is the Belt Mountain Punch loads from Grizzly Cartridge. They are solid brass machined bullets. last year they released a 357 Mag load. I have been looking for a 3 inch Smith Scandium. To others point talked about here, I think a light controllable 357 with this load would make me feel pretty covered on just about everything if you can hit the noggin under stress.

All that said, my current "go-to" bear carry in all but Kodiak is a HPG snubby kit bag with the new Sig 320 in 357 Sig sub-compact loaded with Double Tap hard casts. I see Sig is re-releasing the 226 in 10MM. That is another option if something larger doesn't bother you. Sold my Glocks, they just don't instinctively shoot where I point under pressure and haste. Hate that grip angle.

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2/23/2015 4:21 PM
I don't enter these discussions much but this one needs some perspective IMO. No matter what anyone one says bears cannot handle a firearm well so no matter what gun or cartridge you get for them it will be ineffective, period. That said, bears have large paws with claws and that equals a big gun.
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3/9/2015 2:17 PM
Some threads just never seem to die regardless of forum and the "Bear Gun" question is ever present. So I'm here to keep it alive...

As a new resident of Anchorage, AK I have personally been debating this for the past year. My own personal carry story is much the same as Scot's. I grew up shooting 1911's, made the switch to 9mm Glocks, but found the inescapable nostalgia for JMB's finest creation too much to handle and came back full circle. Like the Hill's I've found that the .45acp is generally adequate for my backcountry and front country needs in the lower 48, but now that I live in AK what do I do? I like the idea of my gun being dual purpose, especially since the lines between front country and backcountry are blurred here in AK. You could easily find yourself staring down a bull moose or grizzly in your driveway, and one might be inclined to swing down to the creek for a bit of fishing after work. My options and opinions:

Up here concealability isn't really an issue so my current carry gun is a SA Operator (Steel). I'm flirting with the idea of just swapping ammo dependent on the task at hand. I already carry two spare mags, so loading "bear ammo" in the second would be too easy. The current trend on most shelves here is Buffalo Bore 255gr +P hard cast. Provided it feeds reliably, I think the gun should handle it ok as long as I'm not shooting a lot of it. If I have to start messing around with spring weights and buffers that would defeat the purpose of the multi-purpose tool. I plan to pick up a box in the near future and can report back with results if anyone is intrested.

The other option is to pick up a 4" 44mag and run 44spc for front country duties. However, as many have suggested, I don't have a lot of practical trigger time on wheel guns, much big bores, and realistically will not dedicate the time to become proficient.

As most have said, if I'm in an area where I am really concerned about a grizzly ambush I will have a long gun in hand.
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3/9/2015 5:51 PM
dcampbell - please do report back on that BB 255gr. I'd be most interested in that. Feeding, POI shift (if any) over standards loads, accuracy, etc. If that doesn't work, I'd strongly consider 10mm before going to a wheel gun. And your book recommendations were not at all outside of "normal" HPG fare. Thanks for those.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
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3/10/2015 12:28 PM
Unfortunately, with the exception of Wilson no one that I will buy a production 1911 from makes a railed 10mm. I think you might be on the right track with the heavier loads for your existing pistol. I would caution you to only get one box of the buffalo bore as all the feedback I have gotten from folks is that it is you will get between x4 and x5 your normal group size. Whether or not you want to do business with the owner of Buffalo Bore is another question. Doubletap also makes a 255gr, but the bullet profile isn’t as good for feeding. However, I do think that their velocity is probably a bit more reasonable for controllability, but I have never shot either so I don’t know. If you are a full time resident of AK, thinking about a switch to the 10mm, as better bullets are available. Personally, the new Sig SAO interests me.

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
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3/10/2015 1:19 PM

since we're beating a dead horse :-)

my hunting back up is a 3" redhawk in 45lc, in it I carry Grizzy 300 grn +P

since I have recently had a super red hawk cut to 5" in 454, in it I'll be carrying the 300 grn SP

but that's regular hunting, if I was going to Alaska or some place where they have the big bears
I'd go with the 335 grn lfncgc

I do like that bronze projectile punch ammo but @ 85+ per 20 ... hmmm I think not ...

so just a few thoughts :-)
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