Smith & Wesson Performance Center .44 magnum revolver model 629 (courtesy smith-wesson.com)

“Montana wildlife officials say a hunter who was attacked by a grizzly bear over the weekend is hospitalized in serious condition but didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries,” foxnews.com reports. “The father of the 47-year-old Stevensville man reported hearing a gunshot just before finding his son with serious injuries Sunday afternoon. This is another one of those “be careful what you hunt for” stories.  “On Monday, his father led a bear specialist, state game wardens and U.S. Forest Service rangers into the area of extreme southwestern Montana where the attack occurred while the men were hunting black bear. Jones says the 10-year-old male grizzly died of a gunshot wound near where the hunter was mauled.” This isn’t a perfect example but I’d like to point out . . .

that you need a lot of gun to stop a grizzly bear. How much? I’m sure our Armed Intelligentsia will weigh-in on their choice of defense-against-bears carry. If I’m out and about in the “extreme” wilds of Montana – hunting grizzly bears or just hoping they’re not hunting me – I kinda like the idea of toting a .30-06 lever gun AND something suitably snappy in a revolver.

The basic rule: carry as much gun as you can.

The same rule applies to two-legged predators. Truth be told, all handgun calibers are pretty wimpy in the man-stopping arena. (In fact, the term “man-stopper” is as misleading as “quinquagenarian-friendly Israeli supermodel.”) Some guns are simply less wimpy than others. Carry the least wimpy caliber gun you can carry comfortably, draw efficiently and shoot accurately, quickly.

How you balance ye olde comfort/concealment/caliber factors is a subject of eternal debate, a lot of practice and no small amount of wasted money. While comfort is often the defining element, it pays to put some effort into finding a carry system that allows you to schlep a larger gun. Yeah, I know: three yards, three seconds, three rounds. But no one ever survived a gunfight or bear attack saying “I wish I’d carried a smaller gun.”

[h/t Tom in Oregon]

123 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Carry Enough Gun

  1. Give me a Ruger Super Redhawk in the bad 44. that would be the minimum pistola caliber for me.

    • Same. I would take a big Ruger .45 too. As far as rifles go, I’d say 54R or .30-06, or a .308 in a pinch. A 20, 12, or 10 gauge shotgun loaded with slugs would be better to have than any handgun or a .308.

    • I personally favor a Ruger Blackhawk in .41 Mag. My “bear loads” are 265 grains moving at 1250 at the barrel. Accurate and hits like a truck and flatter shooting than a 44.

    • I live in UT plenty of bears and moose (can be worse than a bear) when I go hiking I carry a 4″ 500sw and a can of bear spray. I don’t want to doubt that I might not be prepared enough.

      • Also here in UT you need to watch out for the big cats in some areas; most cougars are really shy, but they can be nasty if you get in the wrong situation. I think a big revolver is about minimum for any of these beasties, though maybe you could get away with a 10mm.

  2. Picking up my Superblackhawk 44 mag on Monday, used.

    Just reading Keith’s _Sixguns_ and he writes about killing grizzlies with 44 special but he would wait until the bear was six feet away, for the brain shot. Me, I’ll practice with the mags.

    • Do yourself a favor and get a Hogue grip for it. It’ll be much easier to grip. And 20 times more controllable when lighting of those 300+ grain magnum bear rounds. The difference with mine was night and day.

      • I’ve got to call heresy on the Hogues. Blackhawks deserve traditional wood grips. Just man up and deal with the fact that the back of the trigger guard is going to whack your knuckles like a nun with a ruler in Catholic school.

    • Keith did not feel journalistic responsibility towards those he believed were walter mittys. He also claimed to have shot runaway horses he was mounted on. Having had the pleasure of riding runaway horses, that were jumping ditches and downed trees, I can think of nothing more idiotic than draw cock and fire a SAA in that situation, of course Keith rode ponies, but the rule of thumb is to dismount

  3. AK with a “rocker” style trigger. 8 rounds, 2 seconds, 4 inches at 25 yards. Problem resolved.

  4. I actually got into a heated debate with a guy, who was trying to tell another guy who wanted a gun for protection from bears to get a .45. He’s like “.45 will stop anything”. Now I love .45, that’s what I carry. But .45’s going to do nothing but piss a bear off. I convinced the guy in need to get nothing less than a .44 mag.

  5. Im glad I live in a state where anything suitable for two legged predators will be enough gun for the four legged predators as well…

  6. Bear country? I’ll take a Marlin 45-70 Guide Gun with some of the high end 500 grain solids. Good enough for Cape Buffalo then it’s good enough for grizzly. And easy enough to carry and perform rapid follow up shots.

    • same here. got my marlin gs and a blackhawk 41 in the shoulder rig.
      a brownie took 3 chickens from the neighbors last night, and i saw folks parked like walmart at the shore yesterday watching the bears cavort.
      puts the fun and joy in my daily hikes up to the lakes with the dogs.

  7. I only have to worry about black bear, and even then it’s pretty rare to have an encounter that’s more than “How cool was that?” Still, my go-to all around is 10mm. Am I confident it’ll stop a charging sow? Absolutely not. I’d still rather have that than a .45 or pepper spray.

    Two future purchases on my short list that could both become constant woods companions: a Super Redhawk in .454, and a quality .45-70 lever gun. I definitely want the Ruger first, but who knows when I’ll find one.

    • The Super Redhawk will be easier to carry around but shooting any revolver chambered for .454 Casull, no matter how heavy the revolver, is going to be quite unpleasant.

      Personally, I believe the most effective long gun for stopping an angry charging grizzly bear at close range is a rifle chambered in .45-70 government. It shoots huge, heavy bullets with plenty of velocity to penetrate several feet of the heavy flesh and bone of a grizzly. Speaking of, shoot hardcast lead bullets to guarantee that penetration. I would take this over a rifle in .30-06 without any hesitation or second thought whatsoever.

      A respectable second place choice (for stopping an angry charging grizzly) would be a lever gun in .44 Magnum. Shooting the hottest loads with hardcast lead bullets will produce a muzzle velocity near 2000 fps and muzzle energy over 2400 ft-lbs.

    • Believe it or not, we have tons of black bears in northwest NJ. They’re no problem.
      Just scratch them behind the ears…they like that…

  8. .22 derringer. You don’t have to outrun the bear, you just need to be the 2nd slowest runner…

  9. I believe I would want something a little bigger than .30 caliber for grizzly. Perhaps a 45-70 Marlin lever gun with a .44 Mag backup.

  10. A dog. OMG not that lovely young lady. I mean a nice big doggy. Much more aware of its surrounding and a distraction for Mr or Mrs Ursus while you draw and aim.

  11. Wrong. Completely wrong RF. Carry the gun that is comfortable so that you carry all the time. Carry the gun that is most comfortable practicing with once a week.

    If the size of the gun matters we’d all just pack 500’s.

      • I don’t think RF meant for us to take him so literally. I read His Editorship to mean, “Carry enough gun to be appropriate for your activity and reasonable threat profile at the time.”
        Like you, I ALWAYS carry my G19-unless I’m going to a wedding, funeral(hugs), teaching college or other deep cover needs. Then I’ll go to a single-stack nine or a .380 on the ankle. Just as I change to dress clothes from street clothes for these events.
        My always carry G19 would not be appropriate in black bear country, where I’d switch to a .357 or 10mm. In grizzly country, my always carry (long arms are excluded b/c one can’t always carry one) would be a .44 mag Desert Eagle, since I’ve found it to be far more comfortable to shoot and has two more rounds than the Redhawk or Mod. 29 S&W revolvers. I will always carry enough gun. Different circumstances, however, require different tools.

        • ^That about covers it. You need both the right gun for the situation and the right training for the gun (including HOW you carry it, i.e. ankle, shoulder, hip rig). When in the hinterlands, I’d want handgun round with a ME in excess of 500 ftlbs, so I see 357Mag & 10mm as the floor. A 44Mag or 454 Casull will easily double almost triple that. If you can carry a substantial long gun, and you are on terrain where you’re gonna have the warning (time and distance) to engage the furry b*st*rd, but all means, consider things in addition to ME. Next step, avoid friggin bears.

  12. If he was hunting black bear, presumably he had a non-pistol-caliber rifle, also appropriate for Griz.

  13. I like big bores. I usually have a .44 mag on the hip if I’m in the woods mushrooming or hunting.
    The .375 is slung or carried if I’m hunting.
    I don’t relish the idea of becoming bear poop.

    By the way, I didn’t know I was one, but I do now.
    Quinquagenarian, that is.

  14. Now I am new to all this. Are you trying to tell me that my .357 mag is not enough protection for me? I am of the mind that a well placed .22 is better than a spray of .500. Am I wrong?

    • Ms. Kimberly, to respond to the second part of your query, yes, a single hit is better than a bunch on misses IF you are concerned only with human targets. One study I’ve seen shows that more people are killed with .22 than with any other handgun caliber. Why? Because more people are shot with .22. It just takes a lot longer. I doubt that many bears have been deterred with a .22 and then only after they have killed the shooter.

      As to the first part of your question first let me say that there is no such thing as too much gun for protection, at least until you get to over-penetration issues. If your question is what to carry for protection for urban or suburban situations, .357 is not a bad choice if you can shoot it well. If you are hiking in bear or elk country, .44 Magnum is generally considered minimum for a handgun and then only backup to a good rifle round. Plenty of good suggestions here from others. Context matters, a lot.

      • Can you actually find that study saying that more people are shot and killed with a .22 cause it’s referenced all the time, but when asked about nobody can source it.

    • .357 is kinda small for the bear in the article. .357 is fine for 2-legged muggers / rapists etc.

  15. Marlin 45-70 SBL and a BFR 7.5 45-70 in a BFR chest rig.

    S&W 460 5″ which chambers 460s&w, 454 casull and 45lc would do nicely as well in a Diamond D chest rig.

    • Er…I had to look up the BFR, but is that an effective platform to shoot 45-70 from? Seems to me you would get a lot of flash and not much gain…and a heavy gun.

    • Yep, have a S&W Stealth hunter in .44 mag as well as a Redhawk Alaskan, but recently purchased a S&W .460.

      I believe the .460 will be my “roaming around the woods” carry gun.

  16. Word has it that a.44 Mag. with factory loads was a factor in several Alaskan bear maulings. 320 grain cast bullets were reported to be more successful, but why do you think the .454 Casul came out?

  17. They were bear hunting! One can presume they had at least one rifle, but somehow the bear got the drop on him. He shot the bear who didn’t know he was dead yet, and mauled the guys. I have a friend who was hunting moose in Alaska when a grizzly charged from a thicket 30 yards away, murder in its eyes (probably protecting a cached kill) . Craig is an expert shot, fired once when the bear was at 15 yards and it died literally at his feet. Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you. Most handguns are worthless in a situation like that unless you are extremely lucky.

  18. “Never enter a gunfight with a caliber less than .40. A 9mm will take a man down if you either A) hit him in the head several times, or B) empty a magazine in his torso. I carry a .45 1911 all day, every day. Why? Because 9 shots is enough for me – I practice regularly and can put all rounds in the 10 spot.

    • Just… “WOW”. I too carry a .45 Auto every day, Colt Combat Commander, with three 8-round mags. Your statement is baloney. There was a time, when the only thing available was FMJ or hard lead round-nose, that size really did matter. With modern defensive hollow-points, not so much. Compare 9mm, .40, and .45 with good modern HPs. The results from each is almost impossible to differentiate. Check out TTAG’s resident ammo tester, ShootingTheBull410, to see the results.

      So why do I carry that 35+ year-old hunk of iron? Because I have never found anything I could shoot better or more instinctively. And when it is all said and done, that is the second most important thing in a gun fight. The first, of course, is “bring a gun”. Caliber and power are a distant third.

    • .30 is less than .40…

      And here I thought a .308 M1A would be a fantastic weapon to get in gunfight with, silly me.

  19. VEPR 308 or 7.62x54r. The problem is a lot of hunting regulations prohibited magazines over X capacity. In Illinois, not exactly bear county but still, its illegal to CC a handgun while hunting.

  20. I’m out in the Montana wilds and typically pack a Glock 20 10mm with doubletap 200 gr hard cast loads.

    • A semi is NOT the way to go in the wilderness, if needed, you can hardly afford a failure…wheel guns are the only way to go in the wilderness…

      • Failures are no more acceptable in encounters with two legged predators. Semis of Glock quality are no less a priori reliable than wheelguns.

        I hear some people say one handed / weak handed shooting may be more commonly required in a bear encounter, which could favor a wheelgun. But practice is much more comfortable with a G20 than a full power heavy .44……..

  21. I’ll stick to my .41 Magnum, hit almost as hard as a .44, but follow up shots are quicker…I’ll match your 3 with 5…

    • Way underrated cartridge. Like most everyone else though, I opted for the .44. Haven’t found the need for both. Yet.

    • Another fan of the “forgotten caliber”. I will put mine up against any 44 or 45 in accuracy, recoil, ft. lbs. , and as you stated so well, followup shot accuracy.

  22. If I visit Alaska next summer, it’s between the Mossberg 930, Marlin .45-70 XLR, and the .50 Beowulf AR. The .460 XVR in a chest rig, or maybe a .44 Magnum if I want to have some semblance of hearing left after the attack.

    You won’t hear me say that handguns suck at killing people. They are one of the #1 murder and self defense weapons in the US. A 2-7 tap in the vitals will probably drop anyone pretty fast in 9mm – .45 ACP. It certainly can take a few seconds or longer for a “stop” to occur. Heck, I had a deer run about 40 yards with a heart / lung shot with a .308 from a 20″ LTR and Hornady Superperformance 165 grain GMX. That deer covered those 40 yards in probably 5-7 seconds, and then gave up the ghost. I certainly don’t believe the .308 has crappy stopping power, but it isn’t a death ray. Range on that shot was about 40 yards as well.

  23. The wife and I are headed up to grizzly country in alaska for 8 days of backpacking next week. We’re each packing a rem 870 with +2 tubes loaded up with brenneke magnum slugs. It’s right smack in the middle of bear mating season, so I’m guessing the bears might be a tad aggressive. I am praying we’ll have no trouble, but if we do, I feel we’re well prepared to deal with it.

    • 12 ga with magnum slugs is one of the most common I’ve read as carried by regular folks, native subsistence hunters in AK, and guides for bear deterrence…

      One of these days I’m going to get out to bear country for myself, and when I do, I’d probably add the G23 for backup, for two legged and four legged predators,

      if the 870 express with 1 in the chamber and 6 in the tube runs dry. KISS is my motto.

      I’m curious if any of you big game guys have a suggestion for the right round that wont blow up the plastic fantastic, but do the trick as a backup.

  24. Studies have shown that bear spray is much more effective in repelling an attack than a firearm is. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation had a fascinating article about this last year. As others in this thread have noted, animals can stay moving for a enough time after being mortally wounded to do significant damage.

    “University of Calgary bear expert Steve Herrero, author of the authoritative book Bear Attacks, was involved in two studies that looked at the effectiveness of bear spray and firearms in bear attacks. He concluded that 98% of those who used bear spray walked away from their encounter unharmed, and that none of the people or bears involved died. With firearms, 56% of the users were subsequently injured, and 61% of the bears died.”

    I can attest from personal experience that most bear charges are bluff charges. Shoot at a bear when it is charging and you may turn a bluff charge into a wounded angry bear charge. Blast the critter with a cloud of pepper spray and the bear will stop and head the other way.

    http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/bear%20spray.pdf
    http://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/pepper-spray/202-spray-more-effective-than-guns-against-bears-study-.html
    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/lwillcox/bear_pepper_spray_works.html

    • Thanks! That North American Bear Center link is very useful, and the stats on bear spray makes a lot of sense, as a first step. I’ll still carry the 870, and a handgun as backup.

  25. IMHO if ‘Ruger only’ .44mag loads won’t do it you need a butt stock. I don’t really see the point of lugging around a 5 pound pistol. There is an argument to be made for volume of fire over the value of an individual shot, whether the foe be human or animal. There are .44mag lever actions with 10 shot magazines available weighing in about 5 pounds and with the added velocity I think that would be a pretty formidable bear gun with heavy bullets. Then again I’ve heard that ‘bear spray’ (not to be confused with wimpy self defense pepper spray) are supposedly more effective, but do you want to risk your life on it?

    When it comes to humans, carry what you shoot well and shoot often. You can throw a wet Kleenex over .45, .40, 9mm+p and most .357 snubbies. None of them should ever be shot only once at an attacker. And if you can’t handle the recoil of those, I’ve often said that I’ve never been shot 11 times in the face with a .22LR but I bet it wouldn’t tickle.

    • “Bear spray is more effective”
      Why not have a rail-mounted bear-spray canister? The trigger would run along the underside of the triggerguard, pulled by the support hand. If that fails, then your bullets start flying. Although it would be a bit awkward holster wise it’s not too bad, right?
      For practise you could fill it with water and aim at copier paper, so it shows up.

      • I know they have pepper pellets that (I think) work with paintball guns. Prison guards use them. The problem with pepper spray is that if the bear is close enough for the spray you really want to use your gun. A good solution would be a shotgun pepper slug that could reach out 100 yards. Load up one or two up front with 3 or 4 slugs behind it. As long as the bear doesn’t jump out of the bushes right in front of you.

  26. Ruger made a semiauto 44mag carbine rifle in the 70’s they are a 10/22 clone just a little heavier. tube feed 6 shots and very controllable recoil. slung on my back with open sights that’s my plan for bear country.

    • Had one of those, they hold 5, length of pull so short for me 5 rounds made my shoulder ache for days. Sold it shortly thereafter.

      • your right on 5rds. I grew up shooting this gun so i feel comfortable with it. it was my moms deer gun because she didnt like the lop or kick  of the 30-06. and it was pretty light.

      • It’s a fantastic shooter. I picked up a mint used one for next to nothing. There are plenty of them out there.

  27. My father took an Alaskan grizzly once with a .338 Win Mag. Shot it at 175 yards… at which point it turned and charged him. He fired the remaining rounds from his bolt rifle, then started feeding in rounds manually, firing as fast as he could. The bear dropped at about 40 yards; he’d fired 7 times.

    A surgeon by trade and a patient rifleman, he performed a bit of an impromptu autopsy while skinning and cleaning the animal, curious why his first, best-aimed shot hadn’t killed it… perhaps he had missed? He discovered that the first shot had been the only one that mattered.

    The bear had seven entry wounds in it, one on the right side and six in the front. All of his followup shots hit home, but none hit somewhere immediately lethal. The firsh shot had gone precisely where he had aimed; through the shoulderblade, into the thoracic cavity, expanding on its way and bringing along fragments of bone, destroying the aorta, the bronchus, and the top halves of both lungs. With no ability to move air in and out, and with its heart effectively removed from its circulatory system, the bear had still managed to turn and charge 135 yards before collapsing and dying.

    That was the year that the Mossberg 500 Mariner loaded with slugs was retired as the emergency kayak gun, and replaced with a .45-70 lever action. You need enough gun… and sometimes you need enough distance for time to finish the job.

    • I have always pictured 12 gauge shotgun slugs as being relatively mushy — they are soft lead after all. That property is not desirable when shooting a large, heavy, muscular, and tough dangerous animal. I would much rather shoot hardcast lead bullets in .44 Magnum, .45 Long Colt +P, or even better .45-70 government like you stated.

  28. Who cannot carry a .44 mag?
    But who actually does?
    The first, and most important, rule of carrying a gun, is to carry a gun.
    The rules following that descend rapidly in importance. Experienced gun carriers know that, the bigger the gun, the more often it’s left in the safe.
    Therefore the rule should be this — carry the most gun you WILL carry, not the most gun you CAN carry.

  29. I’m in Alaska, and my wife and I each carry a 5.5″ Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt with heavy 325 grainers. Had an N frame, but my wife’s tiny hands had a bear of a time (wokka wokka) controlling the gun and she most emphatically decided that she didn’t want one of her own. If I’d have been incapacitated by a grizzly or a moose, she would have had a difficult time making the shot, so we switched it up a bit and everyone’s happy.

    • We’re of a common mind here. A .45 Colt in a Ruger gives you more bang for the buck over a .44 Mag, IMO.

  30. Garand, on the fence about fixing the bayonet,
    .45 Colt

    Partner with 870 and slugs.
    .44 mag

    Do like the orbiting A10 as back up.

  31. While I won’t get drawn into the “minimum caliber” argument, I will make a couple of observations worth considering. First of all, a charging Brown Bear (or Black one for that matter) is fast. Way faster than you. The old Tueler 21 foot rule gets extended way out when facing a bear, so consider that whatever you bring, you had better be able to light off multiple shots quickly. While you are scared out of your mind. That in my mind would eliminate any bolt gun and unless you practice with your lever gun and can reload and fire in a hurry without losing your sight picture, you might want to opt for a semi-automatic action.

    Secondly, see previous bear speed comment – if you need to go to a backup pistol, it might very well be a situation where Smokey is sitting on your chest trying to eat your face. A semi-automatic pistol is not real good for contact shots as it tends to mess up the reset of the gun. For this, a trusty revolver is going to be more reliable.

  32. I don’t encounter bears but I would use a Para Ordnance P14 in .460 Rowland if I did encounter them often.

  33. When i’m out hiking I never carry smaller than 45 ACP. When I lived in Alaska I never carried smaller than 44 Mag. Also carried a Lone Eagle in 308 Win.

  34. Never heard of a lever gun in 30-06 caliber unless it was a model 99 Savage! My first choice for putting down a G-Bear would be a M1a Abrams, then a Ma Deuce! joking aside, a 12 GA. with Slugs was a common back up gun in the great white hunter Era, Elephant, Rhino, Cape Buffalo all were put down! 20 GA shotguns were used on American Buffalo! A .357 Mag with solid point will work but bigger may be better if person can handle it however the first requirement is self control. When you see 1200 lbs of pissed of animal making a made dash for your Carcass spray and pray is out

  35. A Ruger Super Blackhawk will deal with most bears, methinks. Load up with .44 Special, a heavy bullet and a wicked hot charge (handload for best personal results) and away we go. On the rifle side, go with semi-auto. A charging bear could be stopped in one round, but to be on the safe side I don’t want to be working a bolt or a pump with a bear coming at me. I would take an AK, (God, I want a Krebs) in .308 with a real spicy flavour of handloads, and a nice heavy bullet. Maybe a rocker style trigger, too; if your bear is hit by about four rounds per second I don’t fancy his chances. But only in 7.62, that rate of fire in .308 will kill your shoulder deader that the bear!
    On second thoughts, a Springfield M1 Garand would put down a bear, and look good doing it.

  36. Am I hunting bear or seeking defense against them? If I’m in defensive mode only but am free to carry a long arm a 12 gauge with slugs ought to work and then really any rifle over .308. From a defensive mindset on bear perhaps .458 Socom or .50 Beowulf make good choices. Not quite the power of a 12 gauge or many of the rifles mentioned above, but with the rapid delivery available from an AR style platform utilizing these calibers the bear shouldn’t be the victor.

    If it’s to be a handgun I suppose anything in .44Magum on up ought to do, to include hot loaded .45Colt, .454 Casull, .460 S&W and of course the .500. Having shot examples of all of these I’d just say no to the .500 personally, it’s just too much recoil for me to practice with but I have found the .460 reasonable enough and it’s numbers don’t leave much hope for the bear unless you miss. A personal favorite: Colt Anaconda in .45Colt. A wonderful implement, capable of double action fire, with enough barrel to keep the muzzle from getting too much out of hand and stoked with the right loads incredibly effective. Tacticool options? Coonan .357, Desert Eagle .44 or .50AE, .457 Wildey Magnum (for when you want to get all Death Wish on a bruin), or perhaps something like an AMT AutoMagIII .30 Carbine pistol.

    Then again the context and available weapons drive the tactics and I can’t imagine a bear persisting through a hail of 5.56 delivered rapidly to the face and head or even continuing to advance on a 5.7X28 FN pistol. While neither of these latter is apt to outright drop a bear, nor would either be recommended, both can deliver so many rounds to the target quickly that dissuasion is likely.

    • Sorry got here late. Against humans, I do not feel under gunned with my little LCP with one extra mag. I am comfortable/conversant with and can hit what I aim at with it. If 15 rounds of .380 can’t handle the situation then start the stupid people, stupid places speech. Because I shouldn’t have been there anyway.

  37. I would use a 12 ga with something from Brenekke. Right now I’ve got a couple boxes of the Special Forces Maximum Penetration. 600 grains of hard lead at 1650FPS and 3500 ft lbs. It will penetrate 43 inches of gel.

  38. After reading some articles and interviews with guide hunters in Canada and Alaska, I’d say .30-06 with hardcast bullets in the 220 grain range is the MINIMUM for brown or polar bear, and likely still not enough for a really big one.

    Past that point, you’re going to have to man up (or woman up as the case may be) and accept a hard-recoiling rifle, as .44 Mag, .454 Casull and the like are more bear repellent than actual bear stoppers. .300/.338 Win Mag, .35 Whelen, .375 H&H, 9.3 x 64mm, and .45-70 (in the hotter range of that cartridge’s capacity) all seem to be the norm up north, and a few guides won’t even consider anything smaller than a .416 as sufficient when it comes to consistently putting down a big bruin. 12 gauge Brenneke slugs can also do the job but I wouldn’t want to get within 20 yards of a pissed-off polar or coastal brown if I could help it.

    As for black bears, a relative of mine was hunting in Maine and took a 350 pound sow down (no cubs) with a single shot, it ran for about 20 yards before expiring. He had some 200-grain .308 Nosler Partitions with him so I assume that’s what he used, but apparently black bear have been taken cleanly with .30-30 and 6.5mm Mauser with some regularity so I imagine a .30-06 is more than enough.

    • 6.5mm works for hunting bear, don’t kniw about defending from bear.

      I know that 308 is good for your regular bear. Though something like 9.3mm Brenneke or 32 Hexolitt out of a shotgun is much better.

      I think in modern times people overestimate the constitution of animals. I read about a hiker who took down a bear (Grizzly I thinkk) using a 5.45 AK. Fired 13 shots.

  39. 30-06, even loaded w/220s, is marginal for Moose and bottom of the list for Griz. 300 win mag is a good starting place loaded with a Premium Quality bullet. 338-350 mags are better

    • I dunno if .30-06 is “marginal” for moose, plenty of them including bulls have fallen to the fairly standard 180-grain load and other rounds in the .30 caliber range. At a certain point it’s not going to matter how much gun you have for any game if you can’t put the bullet in the killzone or if it beats you up so much you flinch shooting it.

      • A .30-06 180 grain bullet is fine for hunting moose but is inadequate for reliably stopping a CHARGING moose at close range. Same applies to grizzlies.

        • There was a vid that made the rounds a few months ago showing how a snowmobiler was able to put down a charging moose with what appeared to be a Glock 20 (I’m not up on my polymer pistols outside of knowing that the 20 is 10mm, so feel free to correct me). While that may not be the smartest of options on a moose it at least was able to do it in 3-4 hits. You would not have much luck trying that on a determined grizzly.

  40. I personally prefer to use a .444 cal marlin lever action rifle, and a 44 revolver when, and if I have to hunt bear and never by myself.

  41. Never shot a charging Grizzly. Never had to. I have shot cable pulled, charging paper grizzlies. The most compelling gun I have ever witnessed in that role, was an MP5. 30 rounds in a few seconds tear the heck out of a bear sized target, and FMJ 9 penetrate far enough on average that quite a few of those 30 should do a god job of demotivating a bear. Perhaps similar platfforms in .40 or .45 is even better, but I have no experience with them, and would be concerned recoil would make them harder to keep on target for the entire 30 round magazine.

    “Standard issue” bear protection seems to be a 45/70 lever with heavy hardcasts. And .44 or .45LC/.454. in a wheelgun. I have a Ruger Alaskan in .45 that I have some boxes of 335 grain Corbon hardcasts for. Not really my favorite practice gun, to put it mildly; but presumably less painful than being slapped by a big griz.

    If I had easier access to more training time with long guns, I would focus on learning to use either the above mentioned lever gun, or a European double in 9.3x 62/74. Love the conceptual simplicity of doubles, and they do have one heck of a reputation as charge stoppers. Without enough experience with them to say for sure, they do feel like they come quicker and more naturally up on target than other long guns. More like a shotgun in that respect. Of course, if you’ve got Marine Corps grade rifleman skills, even bolt guns are plenty fast and handy enough for charge stopping. But not being Col Cooper, I’d focus on the simplest gun to get a couple of accurate enough heavy rounds on target from, for bear protection.

  42. For the pepper spray and gun crowd, I wouldn’t do it cause I want to shoot fast and true without having to stop and think. That takes a lot of training and thinking about it.

    In Maine where I live, black bears can be found, no grizzlies, but no elk either. I carry a S&W M&P 10 in 308 ( with 5 rounds (limited by law) and have a back-up mag when hunting and a 410/45 Governor pistol for defense. The 410 has those defense rounds. You know the ones with 3 mini-slugs in them and separated by triple ought buckshot.

  43. Short M2 with 8 rounds of 000BK. (9) .38cal pellets at ~1200fps………X8

    How good’s your shot placement while in the fetal position with pair of freshly soiled Hanes??

  44. As for the pistol….. FN Five-Seven. ¿20? Rounds. Should get damn good penetration. Not my final answer but would be in the running.

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