“I never thought I would be attacked by a bear. I woke up to a crunching sound and a lot of pain… The bear had a hold of my head and was dragging me across the ground.” Talk about your rude awakenings. Camp counselor Dylan was able to successfully fight off the black bear with, thankfully, minimal injuries.

“I just started hitting the bear as hard as I could,” Dylan said. “And I found its eye, and I started poking it with my fingers…and it dragged me for about 10 feet before I was able to get it off of me.”

The cbsnews.com report notes that black bears aren’t usually aggressive…and then go on to detail that,

A woman and her dogs were attacked on Tuesday after they apparently surprised an adult bear and her cub in a huckleberry patch in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Last month, black bears killed two people in Alaska in separate attacks.

Sixteen-year-old Patrick “Jack” Cooper of Anchoragewas killed after he got lost and veered off a trail during a mountain race south of Anchorage. Mine contract worker Erin Johnson of Anchorage died and her co-worker was injured in a mauling about 275 miles northeast of Anchorage.

All of which is why it’s a good idea to carry something that’s bear-effective when venturing out into the woods. As a camp counselor, young Dylan was probably prohibited from carrying anything that goes bang. The rest of us…not so much.

When you venture off the beaten path, what are you packing to keep mamma bear at bay?

144 Responses to CapArms Question of the Day: What Gun Do You Carry in the Woods?

  1. Typically if I am in the woods its to hunt anyway so I’m packing a long gun usually in 308 or larger caliber. If hiking, 380 pocket gun. They say there are black bears pretty much everywhere in my state but I’ve only ever caught glimpse of one near a U Pic Em blueberry patch as we were driving by. Black bear attacks in the south east are pretty rare.

  2. 45acp until recently. Just finished testing my new Ruger SR1911 in full power 10mm loads(Underwood). Brass looks fine, with no signs of over-pressure. So, long answer short, 10mm. 😀

    • You chose … wisely.

      And it is a fine choice indeed. Make sure you load 180 or 200 grain hardcast lead bullets with big flat meplats if you want a serious bear, hog, deer, and probably even elk stopper.

    • I have a factory G20 upper for my duty 21. I carry it with a Lone Wolf 6″ barrel and 220 grain hard cast full power loads.

    • I carry a .380 TCP but I’m about to “upgrade” to a .22LR Black Widow. 😉

      In central Texas, we worry about no legged (and the occasional two legged) predators in the woods….

  3. Whatever you shoot well. The same principle applies to human defensive shootings. There have been dozens of documented cases of 9mm stopping Grizz in recent years. Shot placement, weapon familiarity, and bullet weight/construction/Sectional Density are FAR more significant than caliber…

    • Yep. In the woods, I carry the same thing I always carry everywhere else. It’s utterly reliable, virtually bombproof, and I can put rounds on target in a hurry if needed. The one cardinal requirement of armed self-defense is simply to be armed, and my EDC definitely fulfills it.

  4. 10mm is the best mm. I’m not a fan of wheel guns, so that’s the extent of my caliber choices. Then again, 10mm from a 6″ barrel should be adequate for any animal in North America with full power ammo. (JHPs are for two legged predators, for four legged predators, you need something with quite a bit more penetration.) Until recently, I made do with my Glock 34 and 9mm +P ammo given that bears are very rare where I live. (Should be non-existent.) I’m more worried about coyotes and bobcats.

    • Some quick goggling tells me black bears are extremely rare in northern Illinois Serge. But occasionally wander in from Wisconsin. I’d say you’re good to go…9mm would kill any coyote or bobcat. I’d be more concerned about 2 legged critters. The kid could have bear spray I would think. Glad he’s OK.

    • Both 10 mm and .357 are a bit weak for large bears (including the larger black ones), but while the 10 comes close in lower SD bull ets, the .357 has a significant edge with higher SD bull ets. A 200gr 10 is equivalent to a 158gr .357 SD-wise.

      • The most recent documented (successful) handgun defense against a brown bear was in Alaska, with a 9mm.

        Clearly ammunition selection (deep penetrating flat nosed bullets) and shot placement are more important than big caliber bragging rights.

        • Yup. Shot placement and penetration are the name of the game against a bear. Fast moving, heavy, hard cast bullets. There was an article a while back that a man in Alaska stopped a brown bear with a 10 mm pistol.

        • I once read about a man in Africa who killed a leopard with a pen knife. Just because it can be done does not make it optimum.

        • Kids in Africa fight lions with sticks. Kids in Palestine fight the IDF with rocks. So by your logic because it can be done with sticks and stones means you don’t even need guns. Remember the guy who killed the bear with the 10 mm did so while the bear was mauling him, after multiple shots, the final one going through the eye. There’s still certainly a big spot for large handguns, and it doesn’t need anti gun style sacarsm to mock tools that are needed sometimes.

      • Ruger GP100 4.2″ with HSM 180gr Hard Cast, Flat Point, Gas Check cartridges According to info I have, this load is supposedly good for 1486 fps with 886 ‘# ME from the GP100 4.2″..

      • surge should get over his fear of wheel guns. If you are in a fight with a bear at night, you will likely want to push the muzzle into your target to be sure. Do that with a 10mm and it’s a FTF. No time to play around like at the range. This is war solider.

        • I’m not “afraid” of wheel guns. I just think that they are functionally obsolete.

        • Didn’t you just say in another thread you owned a raging judge? Perhaps I have you confused with someone else.

        • I also own a flintlock. Should I consider carrying that instead? I own plenty of firearms that I wouldn’t reach for except in the direst of emergencies.

      • Actually, if a coyote were to attack, you should be worried. That would indicate a rabid animal that needs to be put down immediately.

        • Little hint for those unfamiliar with coyote attacks. You will be distracted by a overt nearby coyote while the rest of the pack circles you. Just like in Jurassic Park. About the time you think you know what’s going on, you will be ambushed.

          So don’t savor the nearby coyote as a wildlife experience because at that moment, you are the prey.

      • I walk my dog in a forest preserve that has a coyote pack in residence. Gomer’s a big boy (100 lb olde English bulldogue), but he’s a lover, not a fighter. The only time is his life he got in a fight was when he was a puppy and a mastif head butted him in the face. He was more confused than actually aggressive. I don’t like his chances against a pack of angry coyotes.

        • Yeah. It’s generally a bad idea to let a dog fight animals even if they can clearly take them, due to diseases like rabies.

        • What area of the country do you live in? Down here in the Missouri Ozarks we have packs of coyotes running around our farms. When they get to bad, we just call some good ‘ol boys in who have dogs they hunt them with. It’s quite the sport. The dogs are collared up with electronic trackers. They’ll drop them off on one side of your property and let em go. When the coyotes see the dogs they take off running. They have guys waiting on the other side to pick them up and put them in kennels when they are done.
          As for what I carry walking through my woods….a 1911 .45 cal pistol and an 870 pump with 00 buck or slugs.

    • The more you talk about this the more I think I’m going to end up getting another Glock.

      Did you ever find a holster for it?

      • I usually go out with my G20 in a Stealth Gear OWB Flex. On the trails I OC, but in public I CC due to the lack of retention.

      • Re read the kids story. He was asleep and when he woke up the bear had him by the head and was dragging him off. When black bears attack it’s to feed.

        If the kid had had a gun, shotgun, rifle, or pistol next to him as he slept the bear would have drug him away and he would have still been bare handed.

        As this incident was described the kid would have had to have had his weapon attached to him as he slept. JoeR.’s shoulder holster comes to mind.

        In this exact set of circumstances a short barreled revolver would have been the weapon of best choice. He was in a fight with the animal above him and he was proned out. An auto loader would have jammed after the first shot or would have been out of battery and unable to fire that first shot.

      • 10 mm G40 (long slide version of G20 for the added velocity and reduced felt recoil), with, of course, solid cast bullets. And, yes, holsters are a problem.

  5. If I’m not hunting, a .40 Smith Glock 23 with Underwood Extreme Penetrators isn’t too bad for black bears. I still haven’t ordered a holster for my 627 8-shot .357, which would be much better. Otherwise .308, .30-06, .45-70, 12 gauge, 6.8, .44 Mag, 300 BLK, .460 Smith, .338 Lapua, etc.

  6. If I KNOW I will be lingering in brown or black bear country (canoeing or camping), I bring along my Super Redhawk Alaskan .480. The rest of the time, it would be my 9 mm carry gun, and I would hope I did’t need more terminal energy….

    When camping there is a 12 gauge with Brenneke Black Magic Magnum slugs in the closet. I am a huge believer in “BBB” – Bigger is Better for Bears.

    John Davies
    Spokane WA

    • Another vote for the Ruger Alaskan. No better gun for the overgrown trail or when your trip might last longer than your bear spray.

  7. Bears are very very uncommon where I live, as are most large predators (save the two legged kind); a full size 9mm with defensive jhp will take care of coyotes and feral dogs just fine.

  8. S&W 1006, loaded with 200gr. Hard cast from double tap, carried in a Galco shoulder holster. Belt holsters are not practical with waders or in a canoe.

  9. Bear spray is probably more effective than most handguns folks would be willing to carry. They do not like that stuff.

    Otherwise you could always carry a couple of rolls of Charmin. The bear will appreciate it.

    • Bear spray is not always effective which is it’s problem.

      I’ve never seen it deployed against black bears but Grizzlies sometimes use it as hot sauce for the salmon they just stole from you.

      • “Bear spray is not always effective which is it’s problem.”

        Neither are firearms…. and when you’re experiencing a huge adrenaline dump, it’s a lot harder to hit a fast moving bear in the vitals with a handgun, then it is to put a stream of spray in it’s face. Also think about those people of small stature including children who cannot effectively operate the kind of firearm powerful enough to actually stop an angry bear, the spray is proven very effective when used properly, it has no recoil, and is dead simple to use.

        Then consider the price, the average tourist traveling in bear country is not going to spend $500 and up for a firearm they may not even know how to use, when they can spend $65 on bear spray. Then there’s the weight for backpackers, I’ve spent hundreds of days backpacking and I sure ain’t ever gonna carry some heavy revolver or lever-gun.

        I’ve worked and played in bear country in Wyoming, Montana and Alaska my whole life, I’ve spent thousands of nights in bear country, I carry bear spray. I’ve had dozens of close bear encounters in the wild and never had to use it. I follow the basic bear precautions when in the backcountry and me and the bears get along just fine. For gun people who prefer a firearm, that’s just fine… but It angers me when people poo-poo bear spray. Bear spray has saved hundreds of people, it’s a good thing people, just because it’s not a gun doesn’t mean you have to hate it.

        • Careful with bear spray. It has pain power but zero stopping power, limited range, is less effective in wind and rain, and has had documented cases of failing to stops bears.

          If I can eat pepper spray and continue to fight – and I have documented cases of doing so – I have every confidence that a thoroughly angry bear will not be deterred by spray.

          Carry what you wish, but that’s my $.02.

    • I don’t know. The bear might bet upset because you didn’t give him a twelve-pack, and rip you to shreds.

    • 3 pieces of advice for those averse to carrying a gun in bear country. 1, carry bear spray. 2, wear a bell or something so the bears can hear you coming. 3, watch for bear poop. You’ll know if it’s bear poop because it’ll have bells in it and smelly spicy.

  10. .357mag. Should be plenty of power for a black bear with medium/heavy loads. Luckily, I’ve never had to test that theory. My 44 Redhawk is just too damn heavy to pack around.
    When I’m trying to go light, I pack my S&W Shield in 40.

    • I won’t go into the deep woods with anything less than my 6″ GP100 .357 loaded with Buffalo Bore 180 grain hard cast. If I’m hiking in areas where black bears are commonly seen I sometimes step up to a .44 Mag. That’s just for a personal protection sidearm. If its hunting season I’ll also have a bow, shotgun, or rifle as appropriate.

      I know people that are seeing more and more black bears hanging around. Usually they are pretty timid and don’t bother you much, but don’t accidentally stumble between a sow and her cubs or you’ll have yourself a problem.

      • Renner,

        I really like a .357 Magnum revolver with a 6 inch barrel rather than a 4 inch barrel: that extra 2 inches of barrel provides a nice boost to muzzle velocity with stout loads. It means a 125 grain bullets exits the muzzle at 1,750 fps rather than 1,600 fps. And it means a 180 grain hardcast bullet exits the muzzle at 1,500 fps rather than 1,375 fps.

        Of course more velocity is always better if it does not increase recoil or cause a huge fireball. And at close range when defending against a bear, I’ll take all the velocity I can get, especially with heavy bullets.

        Speaking of, that 180 grain hardcast bullet with big flat meplat and a muzzle velocity of 1,500 fps (which represents 900 ft-lbs energy!) is going to put some serious hurt on an average black bear.

        • That extra 2 inches of barrel may make the gun hard to handle in a bear attack. Contact range gets awkward with a longer barrel.

          This is a good place for the 3 inch barrel revolver. Caliber is optional.

        • Good point JWM. I inquired about this very idea to another commenter.

          What that means is you need a revolver with a 3-inch barrel for sleeping and a revolver with a 6-inch barrel for self-defense before the bear contacts you!

  11. Ruger Security Six .357 Mag. I hope to purchase a higher capacity 10mm when I find (when they manufacture) the right one for me.

    • Michael,

      There is no question that a 12 gauge shotgun with proper slug selection is superior to revolvers for stopping grizzlies. I heard an interesting argument that you should have a revolver when you are sleeping in case a grizzly attacks: it will be next to impossible to acquire, aim, fire, and pump (assuming pump-action) a shotgun if you are in a tent, in a sleeping bag, and a grizzly is attacking. But a revolver you can grab, aim, fire, and fire repeatedly with one hand.

      Ever heard of that? What do you think?

      • I don’t think you’d necessarily need to be asleep in your tent to be surprised by a bear. It’s possible you might not even realize he’s there until you’re on the ground getting scalped. If I was walking around in Grizzly country I’d want both. Although personally I’d probably opt for a .45-70 lever-gun over the 12ga.

  12. G-40 MOS with hard cast Buffalo bore ammo.
    I now have this weird habit of chamber checking and making sure my mag is seated.

    • + 1 on the g40mos with buffalo bore hardcast. Mine is wearing dawson percision tall sights and a vortex venom. All nestled in a dara rmr cut holster.

  13. Black bears are actually native to Texas. However, excessive trapping and hunting virtually wiped them out in the early 1900s. They’re still out there, though., including some in the Austin area and surrounding hill country, and in east Texas forests. I doubt that very many Texans, especially recent transplants and refugees from failed states, realize that they’re out there. So they probably don’t prepare.

    I figure if you’re really going out into the wilderness, say, beyond earshot of gunshot, then you really are on your own. You should be prepared for an assortment of threats. In addition to your EDC, BUG, and extra ammo, I’d posit that a shotgun full of 00 buck or slugs would be a good starting point.

    • I’ve heard that we have black bears my whole life, but I’ve never seen any evidence (carcass, tracks, etc.) they exist here…

    • We visited the Texas Memorial Museum this weekend, and the exhibit pointing out that Texas does indeed have bears, was probably my wife’s least favorite. She inherited her father’s deep-seated fear of bears.

    • There are also brown bears in the west, around Big Bend.

      I am in the Houston area. But my woods gun is a Glock 40 MOS. I figure it should handle any two legged predators with enough rounds for a gun fight. Plus it’s more than enough for coyotes , dogs and cougars. Should I run into one of the rare bears in TX , it is enough to kill one.

      Plus I can kill a pig with it.

    • “However, excessive trapping and hunting virtually wiped them out in the early 1900s.” I was under the impression that we entirely wiped them out. I know that they are back because the guys in Louisiana thought it would be a great idea to reintroduce something that occasionally eats people, and bears don’t care about state borders.

  14. I bought the 5.25″ Mongoose for my upcoming move to rural WY. I bought 200gr flat points and am also considering Lehigh EPs for it. Holes won’t be big but they will be deep. If I have reason to think there is an elevated chance of meeting a bear I will sling (yes, I remember the story of the 11 year old that lived because he didn’t have it slung) a auto-loading 12gauge with slugs. I will probably also carry bear spray if I continue to suspect that that may be more likely stop an advance than a pistol.

  15. BPS, 12 gauge, 3″ Federal 000 buckshot. I think it would be hard pressed to find better short range medicine than 10, .36 caliber pellets moving at 1200+ fps…. per shot.

  16. Ria 10mm full size or Commander depending on my mood. This topic seems to bring out the 10’s

    • Very underated but I really like my RIA Commander Tac ll in 10mm. Even with full power loads.

  17. Since I am on the East Coast and don’t have to deal with Browns or Grizzly’s, I carry a P320 Compact chambered in .357SIG, loaded with Underwood 125 gr FMJ-FN. Rated at 1475 ft/s and about 600 ft/lbs, although I don’t know what barrel length they used for testing. Plus I have 13+1 capacity. If SIG ever rolls out the P320 in 10mm, I will swap to that. On occasion, when I am feeling a bit nostalgic, I tote a S&W 686 plus with a 4″ barrel.

    Also, always bear spray. I’d rather not have to kill a bear just minding his/her business when I rudely barged into their habitat.

  18. Honestly, a DW V-Bob .45. Officially there are no bears in the Black Hills, but I’ve seen one and other singleton sightings have been reported.

    For awhile when hiking in the Beartooth Range, I carried a FA .454, then sold it and carried a hotrodded FA .45 Colt. Then experimented with .45 Super through a DW Heritage but it was beating the gun up badly so I switched to a DW Razorback 10mm, loaded for bear as it were. Now when I’m in bear country it’s the V-Bob again, with a BLR in .450 Marlin close by.

  19. When I am camping, hiking, or hunting I ALWAYS have a full size revolver in .44 Magnum with a 6.5 inch barrel. If I am concerned about average black bears and hogs, I load it with mid-power 240 grain semi-jacketed soft points. If I am worried about large black bears and hogs (500+ pounds), I load it with medium-power cartridges that have 300 grain hardcast lead bullets with large, flat meplats. And if I am only worried about human attackers, I sometimes load down to .44 Special 200 grain hollowpoints.

    • For what I experience i’ll typically carry standard 240 grain rounds as well, but I was wondering about bigger game and the hornady leverevolution rounds in a revolver? According to what I’ve read they’re safe to shoot in a revolver but I haven’t seen anything on how it compares to the effectiveness of the big 300 grain rounds.

      • Hank,

        To be totally honest, I am disappointed with Hornady’s .44 Magnum Leverevolution powder load. They quote a muzzle velocity of 1,410 fps with a 7.5 inch barrel. Compare that to Doubletap ammunition who offers a load that propels a 240 grain bullet at 1,500 fps out of a 7.5 inch barrel. I figured Hornady’s lighter 225 grain bullet, which usually allows more powder volume as well, should produce something along the lines of maybe 1,600 fps at the muzzle with a 7.5 inch barrel. Now that would be remarkable.

        Personally, I’ll take a heavier bullet with a higher velocity every time. Perhaps Hornady’s .44 Magnum Leverevolution is better at long ranges … past 100 yards? In the context of self-defense against black bears which always happens up close and personal, a bullet’s performance past 100 yards is unimportant.

  20. I don’t spend much time in the woods these days, and when I did I never saw any bear sign in southern New England (Eastern CT, RI, Southeastern MA). I saw signs in NH, but no actual bears.

    I saw plenty of ‘yotes everywhere, but they were never a problem when I was hiking or mountain biking.

    If I was headed out into the woods with black bear, I think 230 gr. .45 ACP would be enough.

  21. I need a reason to own a lot of handguns so I tend to assign a purpose to each one. Besides the whole “its an investment line” I use with my wife it helps her to understand my reasoning, such as why I have different size pipe wrenches in my tool box. So, that being said, my camping, hiking, hunting sidearm is a Ruger SP 101 3″ .357 magnum. I did have one opportunity where I had to draw down on a momma cougar that my wife and I came across on a trail. I was going to single action take it down before it made its way over to a cub and them scampered down away from us.

  22. We have no woods in So Fl. But if I was in the woods or The Glades here which are my back yard. It would be my 1911 Commander size RIA in 10mm.

  23. Right now it is a 45acp 5″ but when Ruger gets off its rear and puts out the 4″ barreled Gp100 44 Spec it will be that. (Need the 4″ barrel to be legal to hunt with in Iowa) Skeeter loads (250gr @950fps) with take care of anything in my neck of the woods.
    (Sorry Ruger, I love you guys but why is this taking so long)

  24. My camping guns when I don’t to go hunt are my Dan Wesson .357 Mag and a Henry Big Boy Steel in the same caliber. I’m under no illusions that if a grizzly charged my ass that a .357 is a guarantee of safety. But it might be enough and bears are rare enough here that (so far) I’m unwilling to carry anything larger.

    If I’m out hunting, I either have a .308 or a 12 gauge shotty depending on the hunt.

    I’d really like a DW 2nd Commemorative in .44 Mag. If I ever save up the scratch, I will likely get a lever action rifle and a Ruger revolver to go along with it. That might change my camping set.

  25. Corbon or Buffalo Bore 44mag work well and wasp spray go farther than bear spray, The bears don’t like it (nerve agent) ruger super Redhawk or Mossberg 500/590 with Brenneke slugs

  26. Yea, see that’s the thing about black bears. They are normally very shy and won’t attack humans, much preferring to retreat when surprised. Except when they want to attack people either after being surprised or for no reason whatsoever except that they decide you might be tasty or you annoyed them.

    • I think one of the most common mistakes people make is assuming they can attribute human common sense to animals. Didn’t anyone ever read Moby Dick? Animals gonna animal….there’s no rhyme or reason sometimes. Even dogs occasionally maul children. It’s not out of self defense. IT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE ANIMALS!!

  27. Never seen a wild bear in the states, but I did bump into one in Ontario last weekend, and I have found scat when hiking in the US. When camping I like to keep a .30-30 handy, which I obviously can’t do in Canada.

  28. I’ve never camped in bear country so I’ve always carried my normal weapon, either a S&W .38 special or H&K 9mm. If I were to go hunting in bear / large game territory, you bet I’d plan accordingly. Which in this case means buying a big bore handgun, because I don’t own any others.

    Time to take the family on a camping trip to Kentucky…

  29. Texas, G19, 9mm hollow points. The worst thing out here is bob cats, alternatively stray, hormone modified cows that might or might not go wonky on you.

    The first hog sighting was a while back so I may upgrade when I get the coin.

  30. 6 inch GP100 with 180 grain Underwood hardcast .357 Ammo. Black bears are the largest things I would encounter around here. If I lived where larger animals might be, I’d go .44 mag or hot .45 colt. If, in an area I could carry a long gun, 12 gauge pump shotgun with 3 inch sabot slugs.

  31. Hot loaded 9mm ball is plenty for black bears. Its the indian not the arrow. 9mm ball has plenty of penetration. Infact it will probably out penetrate many of these bigger bores when the big bore uses expanding bullets. Penetrating through and hitting vitals is what will kill. You can carry a 500 s&w and be done no good in a charge situation if you ain’t puttin lead where it needs to be. I also don’t buy the extra mm or two of bullet size mattering ( 10mm, 45, 44) the goal is to hit vitals and drop the bear, not bleed it out. If you can’t get it done with over penetrating 9mm ball, your marksmanship is probably to blame and you will not be saved by a hand cannon that you are even less likely to be proficient with. Or maybe I’m wrong and the black bear up north are way bigger than down south?

    • The big bore revolvers have insanely more power then hot loaded 9mm. You have to remember big animals have thick fur, hide, muscle, and bone. Most non magnum handgun calIbers are simply unable to deliver the penetration and momentum nescessary to bring an animal down quick. That’s the key, you can fill a bear full of tiny holes all you want, and it will die, but that’s after it’s already mauled you. You really want a rifle or shotgun, but, that’s not always practical for some applications.

  32. I have a GLOCK 21 gen 2 that I carry when I wander off into the wooded areas out here in New Mexico.
    Black bear and mountain lions are fairly common in the areas I go though I’ve never had any issue with them.

  33. While all these handguns seem to be good choices. You’ll be better served with a shotgun. Under the stress of a sudden bear attack you’ll be hard pressed to hit them in a vital area. Anything less than a kill shot will be bad news for you. With a shotgun one blast to the face will most likely blind the bear and make it much more difficult for it to find you. Never underestimate the ferocity of any bear. They can cover 30 yards in 5 seconds or less. Killing is what they do either to eat or to protect. When in bear country Always assume their is a bear around. Be alert Be Prepared and Remember this is Their Turf.

  34. I always carry the MOST EFFECTIVE WEAPON of ALL…and the only one that’s 100% reliable:

    The common sense to stay thw EFF OUTTA BEAR COUNTRY!!!!!!!!

    Just Sayin

  35. Here in the NC Mountains we have black bears. When hunting I’ve a large enough rifle, and a .22mag revolver. If I’m not carrying a rifle, then a 3 inch .357 revolver rides along. We’ve chased off hungry black bears from the dumpsters at work with paint ball guns. When I was out west, we just got out the grizzlies’ way, didn’t carry back then. All things said, short of being attacked I’d never shoot at a bear.

  36. I live in the heart of Alaska with some of the biggest bears in North America. They often wander close to town so we don’t have to venture far to need a change in carry plans. I carry an 8 3/8″ S&W 500 in an over the shoulder, tanker style holster, loaded with 450gr HC-SWC. Near a vehicle/camp, that is backed up by a 590 Mossberg 12g loaded with Brenneke 3″ magnum slugs.

  37. as a side arm, it’s either my 4″ xd45 13+1, or my ruger super blackhawk bisley .44 mag, if I’m in the woods, I’m likely hunting, sometimes it’s just rabbits and squirrels with the .22, yotes with the ar15 or .243, or bigger game with either the .243 or 30/06, my shotgun won’t fire slugs so it’s small game and birds for it.

  38. S&W 329PD with DeltaPoint, in a custom high-ride holster built by Dave Workman. Loaded with Buffalo Bore bear loads.

  39. Magnum Research BFR 45-70 with a 10″ barrel. 500 grain hard cast bullets sitting on top of 42 grains of IMR 3031. Just about 1300 fps of “go away bear”! For all of you sissy boys who can not handle the weight, they do make a light weight snub nose version with a 7 1/2″ barrel

  40. My choice is a 10 mm G20, or, even better, G40 (long slide G20 for added velocity and reduced recoil) shooting solid cast Buffalo Bore. Friend carries a light framed 44 mag. Recoil is bruising, and my chances of getting the second round on target is questionable. Also like having 15 rounds over 6.

    We have black bear around the house at times (which is why we don’t throw meat out close in), but also have brown bear further out. Apparently the FS keeps a Brown Bear highway open for them along the ridges so that they can migrate. Luckily, don’t see them close in.

    Someone asked why would anyone want to live around bears. Our answer is low population, huge Ponderosa Pines, and deer and turkey in the front yard (but the black bear in the back was not so good).

  41. Most of the bears you’ll encounter will keep their distance or run away. A few will charge but most of those are bluff charges that stop about 30 feet away. Shooting at any of these will get you into a lot of trouble. So, your shooting has got to be inside 30 feet (that is only one second before he gets to you). That is why bear spray is your best defense. That said, I carry a G17L because there are a lot of other critters needing shooting out there.

    • How can you tell if it is a pile of Bear dug? It has a can of bear spray and bells in it. Too many instances of bear spray being proven ineffective, but better that nothing if that is what you are comfortable with.

  42. On an episode of Yukon Men, one of the younger guys encountered a black bear near his home and shot it it the head with his AR-15 – one shot and it was game over.

    When I cut grass or walk in the woods on our country property which has many hills, hollows, and woods, I carry my Beretta Px4 SC with a mix of 147gr. Hydra Shok and 124gr. Golden Saber in a 20rd magazine. We started to get black bears here in eastern Ohio and if Im working outside, I now take along an AK pistol with either a 20rd or 30rd magazine or an AR-15 pistol. We have a lot of wild raspberry bushes along the edges of our woods here which are thick and impossible to see through so we are exercising much more caution. There was also a confirmed cougar (large) sighting (with photo) at a winery about 5 miles from me about 7 years ago. Not real worried about cougars as they are very rare here (more common in southern Ohio and around Cincinnati) but it is a concern for the future – coyotes are all over here too. Thinking about a .460 Rowland conversion on a 1911 now to cover everything.

  43. I spend a LOT of time in bear/cougar/wolf/coyote country (I’m on a SAR team in Canada, along the eastern edge of the Roky Mountains) We have lots of stuff here that will try to eat you; mostly black bear & cougars, but also a large grizzly population, healthy wolf populations and coyotes everywhere. Being in Canada, carrying a sidearm is a non-starter, and what with all of the other gear we’re hauling around on our backs, a large, heavy big-bore rifle is a significant issue. Bear spray is highly effective when applied properly; the problem is applying it properly. To maximize it’s effectiveness, it should be sprayed when the bear is around 6 ft. away. You ever seen a black bear at full charge? IF you’ve got the can in your hand, trigger lock off, finger on the trigger, by the time you recognize you’re being charged, get the can up and start spraying as often as not he’s already on you. Or, you see him at 30, 40 feet being non-aggressive, so you send a stream his way. By the time it covers that distance, it’s mixed with enough air to just piss the bear off and initiate a charge. By the time he’s in range, the can’s empty & you’re screwed.
    Although I carry it, I’m underwhelmed by it’s effectiveness in general terms. I can’t carry a sidearm, a large bore rifle is too much, so my “go-to” is a modified Rossi Ranch-Hand, in .357 mag.
    In Canada, it’s legal to add a shoulder stock to one without turning it into an SBR, so mine has a Rossi 92 shoulder stock on it. 12″ barrel gives the rounds a significant performance boost (roughty the same energy at 100 yds as a .44 mag from a 6′ bbl, at the muzzle). I hand load really stout loads with 180gr. flat nose solid copper rounds. A Skinner peep and hig-vis front sight, it shoots sub MOD (minute of deer) at 100yds, weighs around 6lbs, is short, easy to shoulder & point, quicker than a boltgun & had enough punch to reliably drop anything up to around a 400 pound bear…so 99% of whatever I’m likely going to cross paths with.
    Bears are not at the top of the list for animals I’m concerned about, though. That spots occupied by cougars. Bears REALLY don’t like people; they’re terrified of people and will do everything they can to leave the area. Cougars are 150 versions of your sist-in-laws viscious house-cat that hates you; they’ll stalk you, or a group of people, and if the opportunity presents itself, they’re on you. THOSE things….they’re creepy

  44. Marlin 45-70, and new army Remington with 45LC conversion loaded with Buffalo Bore 1000 fps standard pressure, or 12 gauge Benelli army with slugs.

  45. I can’t remember the last time I was in the woods that I didn’t have a rifle. The closest I’ve come to being in the woods without a rifle was probably going to the range with only handguns.

    I even took an AK to a dove hunt. You can fit a lot of stuff in a truck.

    On the animal front, I’m most worried about poisonous snakes that I don’t see. I’ve heard of mountain lions being in my area, but that is an extreme aberration.

  46. 6 inch 44 Mag Ruger Super Redhawk or my 10.5 inch CMMG Mutant Pistol in 7.62×39 with arm brace 😉

  47. Well, my EDC for about 10 years was a Glock 20, which the Siriuspatruljen have found to be their choice for Polar Bears, so I’d be real confident with a blackie.

    I’ve since given up a hundred ft/pds or so for the .357 SIG, but I would feel more than adequately protected with it.

    This is a bit more than academic for me, as black bears have been in my yard more than once.

  48. It all depends on the woods. My Alaskan in 454 if I’m in an area that might see bears. I carry it in a Simply Rugged sourdough pancake holster with the Chesty Puller rig. Rest of the time it’s my Match Champion with a few shotshells back by 158 grain 357, same rig, just swap holsters.

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