An oldie but a goodie: a pair of hikers find themselves on a trail with a black bear shadowing their every move. OK, stalking them. Jokes about outrunning your cohort aside, their only self-defense tool is…wait for it…a rock. That said, if one or both of them had a self-defense firearm of the normal sort, shooting the bruin may have only served to enrage the beast. And if they’d managed to kill the creature, the bureaucratic fallout would have been a royal PITA. Still, anyone who’s seen the bear attack scene in the movie Revenant — a featurette on same posted after the jump for your dining and dancing pleasure — will know that bear attacks blow. Walk softly and carry a big caliber my friends . . .

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125 Responses to Carry Gun: A Bear Necessity?

    • I’ll just live in the city, thanks. The critters here respond very well to 9mm and I don’t have Fish and Wildlife up my posterior region if I have to shoot one in self defense.

    • Well, if you don’t have a .454 Casull Super Redhawk with a seven inch barrel. Otherwise,10mm or a .460 Rowland conversion.

    • My woods carry gun is a Glock 20SF. Usually loaded with 16 rounds of Underwood’s hot loaded 220 grain hard cast flat nose. It’s easy to shoot accurately and rapidly, is high capacity, conceals well enough, is reliable, and I’m pretty sure those boolits will go nose to ass through a black bear.

      • Good choice of gun and ammo. Pretty much what I would choose If I was going to move back to bear country. Quick, accurate follow-up shots were damn near impossible for me with the .44 mag revolvers I used to carry, when loaded with hot, hard-cast loads for bear defense. Muzzle flip was pretty bad. The fact that I was a 6’4″, 180lb beanpole back then didn’t help.

        • Frank,

          Do yourself a favor and try shooting a full-size .44 Magnum revolver with a ported barrel. They are quite easy to shoot and have nowhere near the muzzle flip of lighter revolvers without ported barrels. And when I say “full size”, I mean at least 50 ounces and at least a 6 inch barrel.

          I am anything but a “hulk” of a person and I have no trouble shooting such a revolver.

        • Yeah, if I ever went back to hand-cannons, a ported barrel makes sense to me now. My first .44 (and first handgun) was a Colt Anaconda with six inch barrel. It was a pussycat with .44 special, manageable with average .44 mag loads, but when I got into 300+ grain hard-cast loads from Cor-bon and others, it would really slow down my follow up shots. I eventually got tired of lugging around that much weight on my hip on hikes (in hindsight it was more a poor choice of holster rather than gun) so I switched to a Super Blackhawk .44mag with a shorter barrel. It was lighter and more compact, and I found a chest rig that made it comfortable to carry all day on long hikes. Predictably, it kicked even worse than the Anaconda with hot loads, and with smooth wood grips that made it harder to hold onto. Single action was a poor choice for my purpose too. Letting that Anaconda go is my biggest gun regret, especially given what they are worth now.

    • Too bad it’s up here in Canada, the land of the regressive lefties where you need permission to take your pistol to a gun range never mind the fact you will never be allowed to take it into the bush…… Only other solution for us is a shorty shotgun.

      • In all fairness, that aspect of our gun laws here in Canada is not that bad. Shorty shotguns or mare’s legs are decent guns for bear defense I would imagine. It could certainly be worse.

    • Unless it was a .22, or if I had bear spray ( I would have, in bear country) and if I were armed, I would have killed that bear. 9mm, .45 or whatever, just make the shot. The bear was way too aggressive and maybe the next and possibly lone hiker may have experienced a different ending.

  1. I’d want something like a G3/PTR91. Semi auto, 20 rounds, .308, very controllable. Heavy, yes. But, I can deal.

  2. Really? A cgi movie scene is our reference to a bear attack?

    Get real. Black bears aren’t anything like browns. They aren’t nearly as large or aggressive. Make yourself as big as possible and yell at it. If you’ve got a gun, shoot a warning shot. Otherwise, go on your merry way.

    People who are scared of snakes,coyotes, wolves and bruins are cowards. The only animal you need to worry about in the CONUS is mankind, Brown bears and maybe mountain lions if you actually see one. Most of these creatures want no trouble, aside from two legged varmints.

    • “If you’ve got a gun, shoot a warning shot.”

      My wife and I spend a ton of time back in the woods away from people, and we see black bears frequently. Most just want to be on their way, and we keep our distance and give them a lot of room. However, I’ve had to discharge a warning shot 3 separate times, and they all did the same thing…run like hell. When I’m in Grizzly country, I carry the 12 gauge tactical loaded with slugs, as Grizzly’s don’t scare so easily…

      Just don’t understand folks that go into the mountains without a weapon.

      • My in-laws are passionate bear watchers. They spend several hundred hours watching black bears every year, and I am sure that number will surpass 1,000 now that they are retired. They carry no weapons or mace. I make sure their will is up to date frequently.

    • The only North American animal that you left out that is homicidal is the Moose. Other than that (and the ones you mentioned), four legged critters are generally harmless.

      • And the only North American animal that is homicidal that YOU left out is other North Americans.

        The late Paul Harvey once reported that his Canadian guide ( he loved to go fishing in the wilderness) responded to the question of why he wore a sidearm in the middle of nowhere, “If you are unarmed out here you may well find yourself at the mercy of men with no mercy.” Emphasis on MEN.

      • aint that the truth. you see a cow and a baby, give it the same berth you would to a grizzly and its pup. people get too close thinking these swamp donkeys are gentle giants and the babys are wicked cute. a 1000lb momma trying to trample you with hooves aint pretty.

    • Actually black bears have killed more humans than grizzlies. Google fatal bear attacks. There are Web sites that document each bear attack and by what species.

      I was surprised. I’d thought black bears weren’t so dangerous.

    • I mostly agree.

      Black bears are easily scared off. They will often run from you before you see them. But that said, I encountered one curled up in my mummy sleeping bag. That was the lonnnnnnngest 45 seconds trying to get out of the sack and ‘get big’ so that I could scare of the bear.

      I never sleep in mummy bags anymore fyi

    • Not too bright are you? Only a fool walks around the deep woods with reckless abandon and nothing for defense. It’s called nature weeding out the stupid. Of course, you are probably from the deep woods of Rhode Island or Deleware. Shut yer piehole.

    • “Cowards” Such a declarative statement. The reason that wolves, bears and mountain lions attack on humans are rare is because the ones that did were killed.

      Without a weapon, humans are easy prey, just see the size of the animals these animal predators routinely take down.

      In areas where they are protected, mountain lions have attacked humans and coyotes have attacked children.

      The greater danger are feral dogs. There have many more attacks on humans by them than by these other wild predators..

    • Rustle,

      In case you failed to view the video of the two men hiking, that black bear was in predator mode. That means the black bear was looking to EAT one of those guys.

      Did you catch that? A WILD black bear walked something like 200 yards with (and quite often within 15 feet of) those guys. Those men had very good reason to be afraid, because that black bear most certainly was not afraid of them.

      • Wouldn’t say predator mode. Looked to me more like he was expecting a treat. My guess was far too many people have fed him to get him away from them so now he associates the approach to people with getting food.

      • I agree that the bear looked more like it had been fed by humans in the past, and was looking for a handout. I’ve seen similar behavior in Yosemite with bears trying to break into food lockers. They aren’t all that afraid of humans, but they will run for a bit away if charged.

  3. If you go down to the woods today
    You’re sure of a big surprise.
    If you go down to the woods today
    You’d better go in disguise!
    For every bear that ever there was
    Will gather there for certain,
    Because today’s the day the
    Teddy Bears have their picnic.

    And you are on the menu.

      • I wish I could claim credit. “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” lyrics were written in 1932 to a melody from 1907. I came along a bit later, and this was one of my favorite childhood songs.

        • I can remember my mom singing that song to my little brother. Something I had forgotten till you brought it up.

  4. Gun people have this freakin stupid irrational bear obsession! Even Robert, who lives in Austin Texas for Pete’s sake has this stupid fear of bears. Texas doesn’t even have real bears.

    Yes, I understand that bears are occasionally an issue. But really, what are the odds of being attacked by a bear? How many of you have been attacked by a bear?

    I’ve spent tons of time in the mountains in the West (Idaho, Oregon, Washington, mainly. I’ve only ever seen a bear one time (black bear, several hundred yards away, Mount Ranier National Park). I even had a summer job in college that had me in the forest, near Yellowstone, all day every day.


    Still, I always carry a firearm when hiking in the woods (just like I do in my everyday life). I carry it for (1) two legged predators (2) mountain lions (3) bears.

    Bear attacks, just like “rabid human attacks” are rare, but possible. Therefore, I carry. Still, I don’t carry anything bigger than a .357 magnum revolver or sometimes even a 9mm pistol (normal life often carry .38 sp. or even .380. Maybe I am just a naïve minimalist, but I don’t see the point of handguns bigger than .44 mag. outside of Alaska, Montana, or Wyoming.

    Carry your .500 S&W if you want. It is your right. But unless you are a serious Alaskan outdoorsman, I think you a little silly.

      • Well … What is the point of me carrying a defensive firearm on my woods walks if I never get to use it? I need to fight off some vicious animals!

        By the way, I was hiking with my wife, the time I saw the black bear. She did get a little frightened (city girl and from another country originally). She wasn’t terribly comforted when I mentioned that I was carrying my 9mm at the time.

        Does that mean she lacks confidence in my handgun shooting skills?

        • I’ve seen black bears while I was hiking in New Jersey — big ones over 300 pounds. The bears shied away, but I am aware of several black bear attacks in NJ, including a fatal attack in 2014.

          I’ve also been shadowed by a pack of coyotes (maybe a family group?) while riding my mountain bike in Rhode Island. When I stopped, they stopped and looked kinda confused. When I pedaled away, they ran alongside, never coming closer to me than about 20 feet.

          I think that the yotes were just having fun and I never felt threatened. In fact, it was invigorating.

    • I wasn’t in my new home in the San Bernardino Nat’l Forest 2 weeks before I had a black bear run up my street in the dark while I was getting something from the car. I heard it before I saw it, thud thud thud, but did not continue on my car adventure, quick 180 and back inside behind the bear door*
      *security door to most folks.
      There aren’t that many bears in the area so locals get pretty PO’d if they have to put one down, almost always the fault of the resident either actually feeding them or leaving their garbage in bear-accessible area. I keep hard-cast in my .38 ‘just in case’ but you can’t legally shoot them unless they are actually attacking a human or inside your home is my understanding.

    • Art,

      This article claims that there were 31 human-bear encounters in Alaska in 2008 that resulted in the humans shooting the bears in defense of life or property … and those were only the encounters that people bothered to report.

      While such encounters are relatively rare, why go out in the woods without a handgun? Remember, in addition to bears you also have coyotes, cougars, moose, feral dogs, feral hogs, and even the occasional deer that attack people.

      • Remember, that I said – I always carry a handgun when hiking in the woods.

        It’s just that I think a .357 magnum revolver or .40S&W & 9mm+P higher capacity pistols are generally good enough for bad people, wolves, coyotes, feral dogs, cougars, and black bears.

        If I lived in Grizzly or Moose country, then I see the point of a .44 magnum revolver on up. If I was an Alaskan, I certainly want more firepower than a .357.

        I’m laughing at people who buy a .454 Casull, .480 Ruger, or a .500 S&W “for bears”, but then never spend any time in Alaska or the Rockies.

        • Can’t really disagree with that. Even a .45 LC with hard cast would be bad medicine for most Lower 48 critters.

  5. The way I understand it is if a grizzly attacks it’s almost always cause you crowded them and once they percieve the threat to be gone(You play dead) they leave.

    But when black bears attack it;s for food. They eat what they kill. Fighting back is your only real chance then.

    And since the bear is likely to be on you before you know he’s there then you want a big bore revolver(It won’t go out of battery or jam at a contact shot) with a short enough barrel to be wielded from under the bear.

      • It was Jeff Cooper of the 1911 fame. He wrote in the 60’s or early 70’s that a short barreled magnum revolver, I believe he stated a S&W mod 19, was probably the best medicine for this scenario.

        His advice stuck with me over the years.

  6. Nosy bears are what bear spray is for. Black bears will “mock charge” to see what you’re made of, best not to try and run- they are faster than you, only they do not run downhill very well.

  7. While I always carry a firearm in the woods, as I’m more concerned with some of the transients that camp around here, I really didn’t see the need to suggest shooting at that bear. I’ve encountered a few black bear and never once has it taken more than a little yelling and possibly a rock toss to get them to move on. These guys were much too soft in their demands to the bear; he/she almost seemed like they were just messing with them more than anything, not much aggression. Now browns, that’s a whole ‘nother story as I understand it. Keep the 300 grain on standby.

    • Being urban bred and born with no experience with bears, but a lot of experience with dogs and cats, it seemed to me, in my naivety, that this was a young and curious bear, not an attacking bear. There was no growling, showing of teeth, mock charges, or even ears laid back, as I would expect from an aggressive animal ready to strike. I really can’t see a hunting bear prancing around and climbing trees either. In fact, he reminded me a lot of the newest rambunctious puppy addition to my household. I am not suggesting that bears are not dangerous, they most certainly are, just not this bear at this point in time. If it has been me, I would have stopped and picked up the biggest stick I could find, hold it over my head, and do a bunch of yelling and jumping up and down, perhaps even a bluff charge–this bear wanted to get close, but not TOO close. But that’s just my opinion.

      • baring teeth, growling and mock charges are signs of fear. This bear was not afraid. He was trying to decide whether he had a meal in front of him.

        They made it out, but I wonder if they had stood their ground if the bear would have been more likely to leave them alone.

  8. The bear was young and familiar to humans. He seemed to be playing with them. Dumb human things walking along the trail have probably fed him from time to time so he was familiar to humans and seemed he was expecting food from them.
    Normally a bear wont come close with out showing agression. Just from what ive learned poking arround reading about animal behavior.
    So shooting him.. yeah, not a good thing. Those advocating to shoot that cub should take some time out to learn about animals and signs of aggression before making such hasty judgement.
    Also, 2nd video i wasted 10minuites of my time and had to watch that hippy ramble on and the video didnt even show the scene he was rambeling on about? .. can i has my dollar back?….waste of time. lol

    • Zombie Hunter,

      That black bear did not look like a cut to me … rather a healthy black bear, probably every bit of 300 pounds.

      As for the bear showing aggression, I would not expect a bear to show aggression unless it was a female defending her cubs. When predators hunt, they don’t show aggression, they just hunt.

  9. If it’s a Chicago Bear, you’ll be fine so long as you can run about 20 yards, cause lord knows that’s the max that offense can move.

  10. The largest caliber I carry anymore is the 147gr 9mm.

    If I had a bear tracking me, the bear wouldn’t be the only one sh*tting on the woods.

  11. Rocks always worked just fine on Calfornia black bears. They are just big chipmunks at heart.
    When backpacking we would sleep with our food and kept a big pile of rocks near our head to dissuade any yogi’s that came sniffing around.

    Black bears in other places, your mileage may vary.

    • advise against sleeping with food in your tent, thats how bears end up ripping you tent open.

      Better to carry a bear box. Put food about 10-15 yards away and sleep soundly.

      In the morning, just track down the bear box. It wont be too far away. When the bear can’t get to the food, they loose interest.

      • Don’t use tents. Unneeded in the Sieirra. Tarps allow views all around. Food never left unprotected. Once a bear gets it, it is his and rocks won’t get it back.

        The Rangers in SEKI carried axe handles for bear education. Whenever they found a bear in a dumpster, car or tent, they gave it a hard smack on the head. That worked until the bears learned to recognize the ranger uniform.

        Canisters are now required in many places.

        Bottom line, black bears are almost never a danger, but never let the bear have your food. Otherwise the bears end up like the one in the video.

  12. Sorry guys, but I have NO PITY for anybody who goes out in the wilderness without some form of protection.
    No gun?
    No bow?
    No Spear?
    No knife?

    You deserve to be eaten just for stupidity.

    Talking to the bear like it understands English?
    And in a Soft Tone?
    Since when did Bears attend English classes?
    “Good Bear”?
    That might work on my domesticated dog.

    if one or both of them had a self-defense firearm of the normal sort, shooting the bruin may have only served to enrage the beast”?
    Might. Maybe.
    However, a few well-placed shots of a decent-size caliber to the head, and that bear is going down.
    I don’t care what you say.

  13. Wow. These guys must’ve never owned a dog. They did everything wrong here (“good boy, bear”) and got lucky. A deep, low, loud shout while bowing up to a (smaller) animal is universal-speak for “f*ck off.”

  14. In defense of the bears, most are not interested in people, but they are interested in the food people have. A few bears might be interested in people as food, but would probably would be more interested in people crowding in their space. Still, from what my daughters have seen with people and bears in the Smokey Mountains, I am amazed more bear attacks do not occur.

  15. I have never carried when in the backcountry and I have spent a lot of time there (at least in the lower 48). You will only need a firearm when you get near people. Black bears? Stand up, talk firmly and do not run. Unless you need a nice warm coat and some meat for stew (and you are ready to spend the hours required to convert dead bear to food and pelt). Otherwise leave the poor creatures alone. Cool video though!

    • First year I lived in Alaska, in 1992, a black bear broke into an occupied cabin near Glenallen through a window. The couple inside ran out the front door and climbed up onto the roof. The husband fired a few shots at the bear with a .22 handgun and the bear left. With the bear gone, the husband jumped down, ran to a boat nearby to go get help, taking the gun with him and leaving his wife on the cabin roof. While he was gone, the bear came back, climbed a tree next to the cabin to get to the roof, forcing the woman back to the ground where it killed her. When the husband got back with help (and bigger guns), she was dead on the ground and the bear was trying to eat her. Awful.

      • Learned helplessness.

        Only recently have coyotes began killing full grown women. Normally, a simple yell or kick will send em fleeing.

        But… Women have seen so many movies and shows where a woman, instead of fighting the attacker, simply falls back and screams. This unfortunately permeates the subconscious leading women to a state of learned helplessness. A coyote pack or Bruin arrives, they scream, the animal gets excited and closes in, the woman is paralyzed with fear and the animal attacks.

        You can learn a lot about animal behavior from dogs. If you don’t v stand your ground against an aggressive dog, they are more likely to attack, especially if you run or fail to act.

  16. After watching the movie, Backcountry, which shows an appalling bear attack, I did a bit of reading. An article in Outside magazine indicated that there has never been a documented case where a black bear pressed on to a fatal attack after getting a face full of pepper spray. An acquaintance of mine and noted firearms trainer, Greg Hamilton of InSights Training, did some research with the Forest Service years ago, which concluded that black bear attacks were similarly halted by shooting the bear with a gun – any gun. Other studies I’ve read indicate that bear spray tends to be more effective than handguns in preventing attacks – given the light weight, I’m inclined to carry both but generally opt for the handgun.

    My EDC for hiking or field work includes a S&W Model 329, loaded with hard cast Buffalo Bore bear loads, and topped with a Delta Point optic, carried in a custom field holster (high ride, forward cant, for wear with a backpack) built by local craftsman, Dave Workman.

  17. I stumble across black bear at least once or twice a year in the northern mi woods. Most are skittish, or looking for food. When hunting they typically walk right by until they scent or hear you, stop, check you out, and move on.

    My nightmare is inadvertantly ending up between a momma and Cubs though. I saw a momma and Cubs one year while I was hunting (playing right by my trail out) and you can bet I had my 12 gauge close at hand on the way out, well after dark. I also made sure to be very noisy for the rest of the walk, to prevent just this occurrence.

    Shooting a bear is a felony in Michigan, so I don’t think I’m shooting unless absolutely necessary, like as that bad boy is closing within shit-my-pants territory.

    Wolfs also don’t concern me all that much: unless I have one directly in front of me. In that case, I’m checking my six immediately. The pack style attack is excruciatingly rare, but so are attacks from two legged creatures and sharks and most people worry about those!

    Grizzlies and Mt. Lions are a different story. Thankfully they aren’t in the area, but the latter is slowly reoccupying the area: not really a fan of walking through woods with big ass cats that will pounce you from behind!

    • Unless they are sick, injured, or starving, cougars will be deterred by the same tactics that will dissuade a bear–stand tall, don’t run, and make a lot of noise. My kids were taught (there are plenty of cats in the woods here) to find a stick and hold it above your head–the cats will think you are bigger than they are, and will seek other prey. Further, many cougars are dissuaded simply by being caught stalking you–being stealth hunters who attack from concealment, they seem to be embarrassed by being spotted and will sulk off, unless they think they are bigger than you.

      • Makes total sense says the rational me. Then the Whiney little girl in me reminds me that the trick likely isn’t scaring them off as much as it is catching them before stalk turns into pounce!

    • I remember reading about a year or so ago a girl who was a cross country runner was attacked, killed and eaten by nothing more than two coyotes. And we have lots of them right hear in Ohio. I never venture out into the woods without a sidearm even when I have a long arm with me. My .220 swift is a single shot so I am not counting on one shot and then having to reload if attacked by a deer or by coyotes when I am ground hog hunting. I would reach for my Glock 19 and start blasting. Its killed big whitetail deer with no problem. They fall down dead on the spot.

      Some years ago down at Salt Fork a Game Warden was attacked and killed by a large Whitetail Deer.

      Also another man was pulled out of a tree while he was climbing it by a European Red Deer and it killed him. This was at a friends house who had it as a pet. Also in Ohio. So you do not have to go on Safari into the wilds to get yourself killed by wild animals.

      In the distant past I was attacked by a feral wild dog, again in Ohio, I had with me nothing more than an old single shot Savage Model 220 16 gauge shotgun. I was a lad of 16 years and I had to make the first shot count because I knew I probably could not reload fast enough if I missed. Well I did not. The shotgun is a fearsome weapon even when loaded with nothing more than 7 1/2 shot which I was using to hunt birds with that day. I just let the dog get so close I could have kissed him and then blew his head off. Now you know why I have always hated dogs. You cannot trust them ever.

      • jlp,

        I cannot find any reference to a story of two coyotes attacking, killing, and eating a female cross-country runner. Are you thinking of the event in Canada 7 years ago where two coyotes attacked a 19 year-old female hiker? (She did die the day after the attack in spite of prompt emergency response and medical treatment.)

        I cannot find any reference to a deer killing a game warden at Salt Fork, either.

        Can you provide references to those please?

      • Now you know why I have always hated dogs. You cannot trust them ever.

        You’re letting your own unusual experience cloud your judgment. I trust my dogs more than most people.

        • Over the years, I have had 11 dogs, four of which I have now. Not once have I been bitten or feared any of them. Most have been excellent watch dogs (at least in the barking department, although at least two would have stood their ground against an intruder). Feral dogs–or domestic dogs running loose in packs–are a different story all together; they will attack anything, and the latter will kill for sport.

  18. Boy,…he ran, and ran, and ran, and ran, oh my how he ran….and didn’t stop till he was in his Jeep. Ya, I know it wasn’t The Revenant, but these two still had their minds seriously fucked by that bear. Think you’re in control of your self-important life? Surprise. Here’s a small taste of what it feels like to be in the food chain, not on top of it. See how quickly man can revert to his primal, survival instinct of flight, where it’s every one for himself? Isn’t that kind of behavior below even Neanderthals?

  19. Who says outrunning your hiking partner is a joke? That is serious business. It’s why I hike with the MDA gals.

  20. I cannot understand how anyone would walk around in the woods without SOMETHING. At the absolute minimum I would expect people to have nice walking “stick” — something substantial and sturdy enough to kill (via blunt force trauma) any attacker weighing less than 350 pounds. And there is no reason for people to not carry bear/pepper spray. The stuff weighs less than 2 pounds and costs, what, $30?

  21. Ah baloney. The bigger is better again. more crapola. An Uncle of mine killed a European Brown bear in the early 1900’s with nothing more than a .30 Luger with a fmj bullet. He shot it in the head. A friend of mine killed an American Black Bear, he shot it through the heart with a 9×19.

    Penetration and bullet placement is the key not caliber. That is 116 year old hunting results from long ago with both pistol and rifle.

    The 9×19 with the 125 grain bullet has a tremendous amount of penetration especially with fmj bullets. Sound like heresy. Nope, people back in the 1900’s like Kaiser Wilhelm used the .30 Luger to hunt European Red Deer which on average are bigger than whitetail deer. I shot a huge Whitetail deer with the 9×19 using the old, old, Remington 125 grain hollow point bullet. It was the one that was shaped like fmj bullet so it would feed through anything and what amazed me was how deadly this old style bullet was. I wish Remington still made them. By the way I was used a Glock 19 which has a shorter barrel than my Glock 17 and the penetration with my short barreled Glock killed the deer with one shot deader than hell.

    • Penetration and bullet placement is the key not caliber.

      Totally agree … and poachers have proven that fact with the countless thousands of deer that they have killed with nothing more than .22 LR.

      The reason that I prefer a larger caliber is because it provides a greater margin of error — meaning I have a very good chance of promptly stopping an attacking 4-legged predator with nothing more than a body shot. Larger calibers also provide superior penetration when shooting heavy-for-caliber bullets. That 9mm, 124 grain bullet will never penetrate as deeply as a .43 caliber, 240 grain bullet.

      Oh, and larger calibers also enable you to shoot farther. Those heavy bullets in .44 Magnum still have some serious @ss behind them out at 75 yards: I certainly would not want to depend on a 9mm to stop a large predator at that range.

      • Not always. In 1945 the U.S. Military tested the .45 acp with military 225 grain bullets V/S the 9×19 with the 125 grain bullet. The anemic .45 acp bounced off a helmet at a scant 35 yards while the 9mm penetrated the helmet at an astonishing 125 yards and may have been able to do it even farther but the accuracy of the gun and the skill of the shooter was beyond its capability to make any hits at any farther ranges.

        P.O. Ackley when shooting into a U.S. Army Half Track with 1/2 inch hardened armor plate blasted right through it with nothing more than a .220 Swift using 48 grain soft point bullets while the 30-06 with armor piercing rounds with a steel penetrator core bounced off the half track. Ackley when shooting feral mules found the .220 Swift was the ultimate killer caliber fare surpassing the military calibers he also used.

        The Old .228 Savage rifle with an 70 grain bullet was used to kill Grizzly Barrels early in the 1900’s. Now in modern times people use the .223 with the 80 grain bullets to shoot 1,000 yard matches. What looks to be “the latest and greatest” is often nothing more than a rehash of what was discovered long ago.

        Many Old Time Elephant hunters got themselves killed precisely because they were using slow moving big bore bullets that because of their very large diameter did not penetrate as deeply as small 6.5mm bullets used by W.D.M. Bell. Bill Judd and his Son were using .577 Nitro Express double rifles and shot an enraged bull elephant 6 times and the Bull Elephant still managed to kill Bill Judd. Bill died while W.D.M. Bell shot over 1,000 elephants using the 6.5mm and 7×57 and lived to tell about it. All this proves that the “big bore myth” is just that, a myth, because without adequate penetration and bullet placement caliber is meaningless.

        Agnes Herbert in 1900 who used both the .450 double barrel and the 6.5mm preferred the 6.5mm and she hunted with both guns on three continents and shot more big game than anyone today could do in 100 lifetimes. Again more proof that her little 6.5 mm at 2,300 fps was more deadly than her .450 elephant gun whose bullets were much heavier and were traveling at about the same speed (2,100 fps) were inferior in killing power.

        Big bore guns whether they be pistol or rifle kick more, have more muzzle blast, many times less penetration and people in general shoot them less accurately. Jack O’Connor, the Dean of American Gun Writers wrote of this a century ago. Its nothing new. But the big bore myth lives on. People today still believe the .45acp will knock a man down or spin him around like a top or make him disappear in a red puff of mist. Nothing like that ever happened in America’s war of rape, pillage and Conquest of the Philippian islands. Jan Libourel the famous gun writer found not one documented U.S. Military statement that was written during the conflict that told of any superiority of the .45acp over the .38 caliber revolvers then being used in the conflict. It was a myth Colt used to sell pistols after the war and was one of the most successful advertisement bullshitting that they ever pulled off as people still believe such nonsense even to this very day. It might be noted the Military even complained of their .30 caliber rifles not stopping people all of the time. The only statement that Jan found was that the shotgun at close range was a very deadly weapon.

        I might add I have seen no difference at all between shooting a deer with a .357 Mag and a .44 mag. None whatsoever. And it is known that two projectiles having the same sectional density and ballistic coefficient, the smaller caliber will penetrate more deeply.

        Pistolero Magazine in the 1980’s went to Mexico and shot pigs which are anatomically similar to humans except for the fact they are better behaved and they found no difference in killing power between the .38 special, .357 Mag, .9×19 and .45acp. If anything the .45 seemed to work the worst.

        In short if you want the ultimate big game caliber the .260 Nosler would kill anything on the planet with ease even if all you had were fmj bullets and then again W.D.M. Bell said he would never pollute his barrel with an expanding bullet. Perhaps his advice even today is not so outdated as one might think.

    • Eh, what you can kill a bear with from a safe distance and what I want in my hands when a 1000-lb brown bear is charging me at 35mph are very different things.

      Check out this story and pictures. This guy and his dog got charged by a big old brownie without any warning. He put multiple shots in it with a Ruger .454 and stopped the charge just in time, but it still had to be finished off with a rifle later. I doubt this guy would have faired so well with a 9mm in his hands. The biologists said it was a predatory charge and this 900-1000 lb bear was about 400 lbs underweight for his length. So he was hungry.

    • The folks in that video could have killed that bear with a ball peen hammer judging by its rather curious nature.

  22. In terms of ballistic protection, anyone who regularly reads this forum knows that I am a .44 Magnum fanboy. I like the option to shoot:
    — 180 grain hollowpoints (1600 fps for human attackers)
    — 240 grain soft points (1450 fps for black bears, cougars, hogs, deer)
    — 300 grain hardcast (1340fps for moose and brown bears)

    The long site radius and optional single-action also mean that you have a decent ability to reach out and touch someone at ranges of out to 100 yards if absolutely necessary.

  23. Black Bear Country Minimum: Big Knife and a large caliber handgun.

    Brown Bear Country Minimum: Shotgun loaded with slugs and a backup handgun. Some say rifle, but unless we’re talking M1A or something else semi-auto in 308, I say shotgun.

    My two cents

    • Lever-action in .45-70 Government would be my preferred choice for promptly stopping brown bears. A .45 caliber, 400 grain hardcast lead bullet leaving the muzzle at over 2,000 fps is going to be devastating on anything with 4 legs.

      • Quote—————-Lever-action in .45-70 Government would be my preferred choice for promptly stopping brown bears. A .45 caliber, 400 grain hardcast lead bullet leaving the muzzle at over 2,000 fps is going to be devastating on anything with 4 legs. ——————— Qoute

        Actually when Winchester brought out its .458 Mag cartridge it proved to be a colossal failure even with its 500 grain bullet because it was only traveling at 2,000 fps. Winchester should have studied History and they would have found out that they needed a velocity of at least 2,100 fps for adequate penetration with so large a diameter bullet. The result was the .458 Lott cartridge that upped the velocity substantially. Later in time after too many people got mauled and killed Winchester did up the velocity with this anemic cartridge but it operates on the margin of reliability in regards to lethality.

        Contrast this with the 6.5mm cartridge that old time hunters used. Its 2,300 fps was more than adequate for tremendous penetration.

        • jlp,

          I have yet to find anyone who thinks a 12 gauge shotgun shooting slugs will be woefully inadequate for stopping a brown bear. The ballistics of 12 gauge shotgun slugs are .73 caliber, 437 grains (1 ounce), muzzle velocity around 1600 fps. These are basically identical ballistics to Buffalo Bore’s standard pressure .45-70 Government cartridges with one obvious exception: the .45 caliber hardcast lead bullet.

          It doesn’t take a genius to determine that .45-70 Government bullets, which are only 62% of the diameter of a 12 gauge shotgun slug but having the same velocity and mass, will penetrate a lot farther.

          Until I hear stories that .45-70 Government fails to stop brown bears, I will consider them a fine choice.

    • The difference between a grizzly and a black bear: If it climbs up after you and eats you, it’s a black bear. If it knocks the tree down and eats you, it’s a grizzly.

  24. Damnit bear I told you to stop!

    That must be how they do it in Canadia. Just the food chain and nature taking its course, bring something to help you jump the chain if necessary, or end up mixed in with some berries and fish.

  25. FYI, that is not an aggressive bear. That is a curious bear. An aggressive bear isn’t going to follow you around like a lost dog. That being said, curious bears have this nasty tendency to turn into a serious danger once they become acclimatized to humans. That video is more of an advertisement for bear spray than anything else.

  26. Lesson learned
    Young guy left older guy, Dad?, behind and beat him to the vehicle
    No matter what the relationship was, last hike I’d take with that guy

  27. The only close-encounter I’ve ever had with a bear was up on Rampart Range, CO. I was taking my FSJ Wagoneer the length of the road all the way to Denver, and had stopped to camp about halfway. The spot had a firepit and enough room to pull off the road.

    After cooking my dinner of bacon & biscuits and burying the fire, I crawled into the back of the Jeep for the night. Since it was a fairly warm night, I had the back windows cracked about an inch. Just as I was falling asleep, I heard something large walking around the campsite, and I could hear whatever it was inspecting the firepit.

    So I peeked outside, and spotted a fairly large black bear. After watching it a bit, I laid back down and continued to listen. The bear then became interested in the Jeep; it circled a couple times, stopped at the window closest to me, and shoved it’s nose against the opening. It snuffled and snorted, and I heard claws scratching at the glass as it rather half-heartedly tried pulling the window down.

    I had my Tokarev with me and kept it at the ready, but didn’t move. Honestly, I was so tired I was almost falling asleep as the bear did it’s thing. Finally it must’ve given up, but didn’t move away.

    Then the truck rocked as it sat down on and leaned up against the rear quarter-panel. I could hear the bear’s lungs through the body of the Jeep, right on the other side of my head. It was apparent that the animal was in no hurry to leave and didn’t much care about my being there, and I didn’t really care either. In fact, I felt oddly comforted by the animal’s presence, and and it didn’t take long before I fell asleep listening to the bear’s deep, even breathing.

    The next morning I woke up, and the bear was gone. I emerged from the Jeep and saw it’s tracks all around the campsite, along with displaced rocks which must’ve had bacon grease on them. Then I noticed a bear-sized spot in the dirt next to the Wagoneer, with some fur stuck in the wheel-well trim, and it looked like the bear had actually stayed put for a good while.

    I still wonder why it had decided to hang out instead of wander off, and if my Tokarev would’ve been enough to stop the bear had it been serious about getting in the Jeep. Still, just having some means of defense allowed me to stay calm; I doubt I would’ve gotten any rest at all had I been unarmed.

    • We did a family trip many years back to one of those drive through animal parks up in Canada towards Toronto area.

      Had one of the Lions come right up to drivers side window and look me over, must have been maybe two feet away from my face.

      Sure, I know there wasn’t much to worry about being in a controlled area and all.

      I have zero interest in ever doing that again, thanks anyway.

    • The old Tokarev might actually be a decent bear defense gun. It is a small fast round that can penetrate deeply with FMJ’s. I’d rather have that than a .45 ACP for bears. Of course a bigger fast round that penetrates deeply would be better.

  28. I often camp in bear country in the back of a 4Runner. I learned the hard way to prepare and eat food a long ways away from where I sleep. And my Ruger .357 never leaves my side. It still remains an exhilarating way to experience a bit of wilderness

  29. I get that you live in gun averse Canada, but you still want to go out and enjoy nature, at least carry freaking bear spray! Oh, and way to take off and leave your buddy. I guess you were just trying to prove that you don’t have to outrun the bear, you just had to outrun him.

  30. The bear retreated several times during the video. That makes me think it was fairly easy to discourage. It’s hard to say what the bear might have done had the hikers been completely passive. The usual advice is to fight black bears because they are just looking for an easy meal.

    Notice the construction of the garbage can next to the Jeep. We have noticed three levels of garbage protection while camping in Wyoming. If they are ordinary city cans with flat lids, don’t worry about bears. If they are ordinary cans with tall, hooded lids that resist pulling out garbage, there are bears around and they will go after food that is easily accessible. The can in the video is a steel vault with a recessed lid and covered latch. That implies that bear danger is serious and that you need to store your food in a bear-proof container well away from your vehicle and sleeping place.

    In bear country, at least carry bear spray, one can per person. If threatened, use the spray first. It will probably work and do so faster than a bullet unless the bullet hits the bear’s central nervous system. Reserve firearms for bears that won’t take “No” for an answer. In 1996, a married couple hiking in the Yukon’s Kluane National Park were mauled by a young male grizzly. They sprayed the bear repeatedly but it kept returning and attacked after they ran out of spray. It’s situations like this where there is no substitute for a firearm.

  31. That was classic stalking behavior by a black bear – eyes focused on prey, walking on all fours, following the targets, a couple of charges toward the prey. The two potential victims are lucky that their final running away did not trigger an attack. And I really loved the attempts to placate the bear – “good boy!”

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