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  • Black bear question

    There is an age old question that has generated a lot of opinion from experienced hunters, and that is 'What is the best gun for bear defense?' Well, I'm asking it again, but this time I'm only giving 2 choices. My cousin asked me to load some 180 grain solid lead hunting bullets in his .357 magnum for bear defense. I have some Cast Performance wide flat nose 180 grain gas checked bullets that I load in my .357 Maximum and get almost 1500fps out of my maxi with them. But 180gr is a pretty heavy bullet for a .357 magnum. My load data shows about 1050fps using H110 is about max. Now, my cousin also has a .45ACP. I don't reload for .45ACP but if memory serves me right I think a 230gr bullet pushes out about 900fps. I told him I would load the magnums if he wanted, but I suggested he would be better off using his .45. What say you? Which would you choose?

  • #2
    I have both and would choose the .357, neither would be my first choice if I had other options.
    Over the years I have had encountered 8 bear 15 yards or closer to me. The one time I was actually hunting them one snuck up behind me and I couldn't swing around far enough to get a shot before if vanished. I paced it out to 14 feet away afterwards. They are incredibly quick and deceivingly fast. Had one stick his head through a screen door of a cabin while we were sleeping. Being awakened to "BEAR! BEAR! BEAR! IN THE CABIN!" is something you don't forget. Most of my encounters were at fishing camps in Canada. Fish guts and used frying oil are bear magnets. On those occasions I never felt like I had to shoot one. In CCW training they tell you not to shoot at a threat beyond 15 yards. I'm not a particularly fast draw and I'm sure any of those bears would have had a piece of me if they wanted before I could have made a defensive action. On a side note. The times we were provided with a weapon from the outfitter is has always been a .303 British Enfield. Other than piece of mind it doesn't do much much good if it's in the tent and you are out cooking or whatever.
    Endeavor to persevere.

    Call sign: Limp Wrist

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    • #3
      I NEVER felt a black bear was a threat of any kind.
      BUT we don't have the thick dense forests some of you have.
      Grizzly defiantly.
      They lumber around or sleep just about any place they want to.
      Been close a time or two on them but I was BEAR aware and knew it was there or in the area.
      shoot\'em till your arm falls off

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      • #4
        I see aand have killed Grizzly and black bear.
        there is certainly a difference. Grizzlies will kill humans but don't eat them (Yuk taste) unless starving. Black bears can kill humans and will usually eat them if they are the least bit hungry.
        Grizzlies will attack for territorial reasons; blacks usually only attack if pushed or defending cubs or food.

        Cast bullets are an extremely poor choice for bear protection. You want a full metal jacket, preferably with a round nose.
        WHY....Penetration is the key to killing a bear. flat nose and soft compesition of cast bullets REDUCE penetration, IN PISTOLS.

        I load P++ loads in bear and CCW reloads. if the gun suffers, so be it, MAX is always needed in defensive shootings.

        Just my thoughts.

        outside your question. the revolver is much better for a Non-shooter; unless the 45ACP thaat you have available, the 1911 is a single action handgun and subject to delays in fast defensive firings.

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        • #5
          When I lived in Alaska, I encountered many grizzlies. I carried a 44 Mag for bear defense. Once had a guide ask me why the front sight was still on it. When I asked why, he simply stated, "if you take it off, it won't hurt as much when the bear shoves it up your a$$". Best defense is to be bear aware. I personally feel the 357 is a little on the light side but that is just me.
          "There\'s no such thing as a good gun. There\'s no such thing as a bad gun. A gun in the hands of a bad man is a very dangerous thing. A gun in the hands of a good person is no danger to anyone except the bad guys."

          -Charlton Heston

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          • #6
            For general outdoor defense against black bears and the more probable dangerous encounter with 2 legged varmints,
            The 45acp would be my choice between the 2. As I could have the pistol on me all the time.
            I also have a light sporterized Enfield that's easy to carry. I'd have it, too.
            Ray

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            • #7
              The downside of pistol, if the bears on you, jamming slide is much easier, leaving you with a 40oz club. Revolver can keep on functioning, even while pressed against bear. They recommend bear spray, IMO for the bear's protection, not yours, it does allow you to deploy spray and maybe chase off bear, before they make final charge.

              I've run into lots of grizzlies, that are used to people and aren't hunted. They're more likely to bluff charge you, while defending their kill or territory, spray may cause them to break off, before attack. I would carry spray in chest harness and deploy it with left hand, while drawing revolver, just in case. The legalities of defensive shooting of a grizzly are much different than black bear.

              If a black bear doesn't immediately turn and run, odds are it's going to charge, either in defense of cubs or as a food response. Black bears if given a chance will try to flee, if they don't, they'll attack and likely eat you. There are far more black bear attacks in lower 48, than grizzly.

              A hunted bear and a fed bear behave very differently, across the border in BC, they've already found that out.
              Columbia Falls, MT
              If we don’t speak out against the infringements of today, it will weaken our ability to stop the next infringements.
              Since it took 26th Amendment to change voting age, expanding rights under 14th Amendment. Why doesn't same requirement, to restrict rights, extend to 2nd Amendment?


              NRA Benefactor Life, NRA Ring of Freedom, NRA-ILA Partner in Freedom, GOA Patriot, SAF, Oath Keepers

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              • #8
                "Cast bullets are an extremely poor choice for bear protection. You want a full metal jacket, preferably with a round nose.
                WHY....Penetration is the key to killing a bear. flat nose and soft compesition of cast bullets REDUCE penetration, IN PISTOLS."

                I"m not quite sure I agree with that. I can push a hard cast 300 gr. .44 caliber bullet pretty darn fast from my 7.5" Ruger Redhawk. They're a Keith style SWC and I can safely state they're harder than an IRS auditor's heart. I've oly shot one deer with it and it hit him facing me just below the neck and passed out through the left buttock. Shpuld work just fine on any Black Bear I run into Velocity is just a bit above 1200 FPS from the Redhawk and does about 1070 FPS from a 4 5/8" Super Blackhawk. The Super B is just a lot lighter and easier to pack. The Redhawk needs wheels.
                "Cast bullets are an extremely poor choice for bear protection. You want a full metal jacket, preferably with a round nose.
                WHY....Penetration is the key to killing a bear. flat nose and soft compesition of cast bullets REDUCE penetration, IN PISTOLS."

                Note that I said my home cast bullets are very hard. Water dropped with a custom alloy of my design they turn out at 31 to 32 on the BHN scale.

                "I load P++ loads in bear and CCW reloads. if the gun suffers, so be it, MAX is always needed in defensive shootings."

                No argument there. My bear loads for the .44 Mag. are at top level for the gun in use. A load I consider safe in the Redhawk might be a tad much in an S&W 629. Just ask me how I know. The original Elmer Keith load of 22.0 2400 and his bullet shot mine loose in about 250 rounds. S&W fixed it and 200 rounds later it was loose again. The fixed it but said it was the last time. That one is in semi retirement. For fun and games, try a Ruger 5.5" barreled Bilsey with the John Linebaugh loads. They'll get your attention. None other than Ross Seyfried said they were probably one of the best in .45 Colt. The way mine shoots with heavy loads, I think he may be right.
                Paul B.


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