Alaskan Grizzly Bear Attack Demonstrates Effectiveness of .44 Magnum

Bear Attack 7 Sept 2006

Sherman, set the wayback machine for September 7th, 2006. Alaskan moose hunters Doug White and Reed Thompson were working on packing out the meat and head from a successful hunt. They were attacked by a large grizzly bear . . .

I found the account as I was searching for bear attacks where pistols had been used as a defensive measure. The bear, during the attack, moved from one hunter to the other, giving Doug the chance to access Reed’s .44 magnum, that had been hung in a tree.

Doug shot the bear and stopped the attack.

Because of intense interest from his family and friends, Doug wrote a detailed account of the attack and the aftermath. He includes several photographs. Here’s an excerpt. From  thegreatwhitehunter.com:

When Reed distracted the bear from its attack on me, I had time to concentrate on the holster. I saw a buckle with a strap running through it. I could not figure out how it held the gun in place, so I grabbed the buckle and attempted to rip it off.

To my surprise, the buckle was actually a snap and the strap peeled away. As I pulled the revolver out, a sudden calm came over me, and I knew everything would be fine. I looked in the direction of Reed only to once again see the bear charging at me. He was about ten feet away coming up and over the initial log that I had tripped over.

That was when I pointed the revolver and fired at center mass. The .44 magnum boomed in the night and the boar fell straight down, his head three feet away from where I stood.

As he fell, he bit at the ground and ended up with a mouthful of sod. I stood in a dumbfounded stupor. I had no expectation that the pistol would kill the bear. My hope was that the shot would sting the bear and help scare him away along with the flame and loud report.

As his head sagged to the ground, I shot him three more times in quick succession, out of fear and anger.

While not stated in the account, one of the pictures indicates the first, crucial shot, was to the center of the bear’s chest. It might have continued on to hit the spine, resulting in the instant collapse of the bear.

The pistol, from the picture and account, appears to be a Ruger stainless single action .44 magnum. This attack makes 29 pistol defenses against bears that I have found. Only one of them ended in failure.

The full account is worth reading for anyone interested in the dynamics of bear attacks and the effectiveness of pistols for defense against bears.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch

comments

  1. avatar David says:

    Why, oh why, wasn’t that gun on someone’s hip? If I was in the wilderness there’d be a gun on me at all times. Even sleeping! If I had to camp for the night.

    1. avatar JasonM says:

      For hiking and camping, I prefer a chest rig. Backpack straps and holstered guns don’t get along well.

  2. avatar BLoving says:

    Woot! I believe I said the other day, “.44 Rem Mag FTW!”
    Two questions:
    1. WTF is your .44 doing up in a tree without your butt still attached to it?
    2. WTF are you doing using a holster you are not absolutely certain how to operate?
    🤠

    1. avatar DrewR says:

      1. Presumably he removed it when they started cleaning the moose, which is probably the worst time to do so.
      2. He said it was his hunting partners gun.

  3. avatar DrewR says:

    I carry a 6 inch Redhawk with 325 grain hard cast lead handloads when I go to Grizzly country. Never had to shoot a bear with it, and hope it stays that way, but pretty confident it will do the trick if needed. Penetration is key, so hard cast lead is the way to go.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!!! We have a winner!

      The key to using .44 Magnum to successfully stop a large grizzly bear attack is using heavy, hardcast lead bullets and having a 6+ inch barrel to boost muzzle velocity (over short-barreled revolvers).

      Oh, and the other key to using .44 Magnum to successfully stop a large grizzly bear attack is HAVING IT ON YOUR PERSON.

      1. avatar Old Fur Trapper says:

        Great choice. Some others are .50 Desert Eagle, .454 Casull, .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum and the .480 Ruger. The 10mm is also coming into popularity because of capacity. All with hard cast bullets. Check the following. https://www.nrafamily.org/articles/2017/7/6/handguns-for-defense-in-bear-country/
        The hunters violated the most basic safety rule when cleaning game to pack out. Keep your gun on your hip and always designate one to watch for bears. They are lucky to have survived given they left their primary defensive weapon in a tree!

  4. avatar mark s says:

    If I was in Bear country , cutting up a bloody Moose , I would have had my own defensive weapon with me first , in my case it’s my Red Hawk .454 Casul and if I had for some reason forgot to bring it , you can bet I would have already learned all the what’s and what not’s of my partners gun , like how to remove it from it’s holster . ……………….
    Lessons learned .

  5. avatar Michael says:

    I hunt on Kodiak. When one of us has an animal down, one guts, the other stays ready for a bear

  6. avatar Mas Cool Arrow says:

    But I always heard that bear spray worked better than a gun.

    1. Heard that from a park ranger or game warden, no doubt.

    2. avatar BLoving says:

      Heard that from: a city weenie who’s never met a bear. A bear spray salesman. Someone who hates you.

      1. avatar Mas Cool Arrow says:

        Now that you mention it, my wife was the one that told me… Right after asking if the life insurance was up to date

        1. avatar piper says:

          lol !!!

  7. avatar TexTed says:

    “It might have continued on to hit the spine, resulting in the instant collapse of the bear.”

    That’s about the only way a handgun bullet is going to drop a charging bear that quickly. “Center Mass” hits can disrupt the circulatory system, but science has proven that enough blood remains in a human’s system that they can continue to act for up to about 10 seconds. An instantaneous drop like that pretty much requires a spine hit for instant paralysis. Very difficult to do, but an absolute guaranteed instant stopper. Good on him for having the clarity of mind to make such a shot, and for having the appropriate ammo in an appropriate caliber such that it could actually travel through a large bear and disrupt the spine and cause such a necessary instantaneous stop.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      Grizzly bears can operate much longer that humans due to the way their circulatory system/muscles work. They store a lot more oxygen in their muscles than we do.

      My cousin lives in AK and I’ve helped him dress a bear. The number of large caliber rifle rounds that came out of that bastard were truly frightening. So, I asked about this. He’s seen a large grizzly remain upright and functional for 90 seconds to 2 minutes after taking a fatal chest shot. And that was from a pretty stout rifle round, .300 Win Mag IIRC.

      He had a long explanation for why this happens, which I boiled down to two sentences above. Since he’s a doc, his wife’s a doc and their hunting buddies are all doctors and/or veterinarians I’m just going to assume they know what they’re on about.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Modern bears remained top predators thanks to evolution ‘weeding out’ the bears that dropped faster due to serious injury. Likely a happy accident for them due other evolutionary happenstances, but they are around because the weaker ones aren’t. Over thousands of generations that adds up.

        Compared to pretty much every other mammal, humans are easy to put out of action. We better remember that when we are out where the truly strong are…

  8. avatar jwm says:

    This is really what the .44 mag was designed for. To give folks working in dangerous animal country a very portable self defense tool.

    It was pretty much a niche round til Dirty Harry.

    Hollywood has done the same thing for other rounds. Elevated them to cult status, whether they deserve it or not.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “This is really what the .44 mag was designed for.”

      Yup. He’s in a medical field, I’d really like to know if he noticed any hearing damage after 4-5 rounds of *big boom*…

  9. avatar TrueBornSonofLiberty says:

    That picture gave me the chills.

  10. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Doesnt necessarily take a magnum.

    Need to read Elmer Keith’s accounts of animal attacks in “Hell, I was there”.

    Good placement and a heavy bullet at a decent speed.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Specialist38,

      Keep in mind that you might need a Magnum load to propel a heavy bullet to a decent velocity.

      For example the venerable .38 Special, 158 grain load exits a four-inch barrel at something like 950 fps which isn’t enough velocity to reliably cause deep, catastrophic damage in a large, tough animal. That same bullet in a .357 Magnum exits a four-inch barrel upwards of 1,400 fps. That is a big difference.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I agree with what you say about the .38 in a large animal. I am a fan of the .38 but grizz country ain’t the place for it.

        Oddly enough, that same 158 grain LRN bullet is prone to through and through on people. Kinda says what needs to be said comparing us to bears.

        I’m comfortable carrying the .38, with better bullets, where I hunt. No big bears.

    2. avatar Hank says:

      Yes you do want a magnum. A 9, 38, or 45 isn’t an adequate round for something as large as a bear, with think hide, fur and muscles. You can carry a 9 in bear country if you want, but make sure the sights are filed down!

      1. avatar LJPII says:

        Depends on what type of bear. I know a guy who emptied his 9mm into a Black Bear…killed it well enough.

        1. avatar rookie says:

          As a firefighter for 25 years in a major urban dept. in Southern Cal., I have been on many gangland shootings involving the 9mm.While it does have the necessary power to kill people, as often as not, people survive being shot with this caliber.The last call involving a 9mm, the victim was shot 15 times and was still fighting us to get up off the gurney and get some payback. So, your friend may have downed a black bear with his 9, I don’t think I would bet my life on one.

  11. avatar Uh-huh says:

    .458 WIN MAG

  12. avatar ironicatbest says:

    The guys got lucky.. How in the hell did our ancestors kill them with a rock tied on the end of a stick? They must have been some real badasses……………….. When I worked as a hunting guide, my boss introduced me to our hunters as “PETA Joe”, do to my love of critters, I don’t trust bears, they’re hard to make friends with. One minute they may seem docile, then in an instant, their all pissed off and mad about it

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “How in the hell did our ancestors kill them with a rock tied on the end of a stick? They must have been some real badasses…”

      No, they had whole *lot* of time to think about how to do it, holed up in a drafty, cold cave with *nothing* to do but listen to cave-wife bitch and cake-kids squabble.

      Just ask ‘Brother Sam’ –

      NSFW

      http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2u2uo7

  13. avatar TrappedInCommiefornia says:

    Such senseless killing. If only those murderous hunters had been carrying bear spray, that poor bear would still be alive.

    /sarc

  14. avatar Rimfire says:

    Big credit to the guy “finding his calm” in that situation; it allowed him to place a well aimed shot . You’ve all read how much ground a bear can cover in a few seconds..he kept his cool and did everything right once the holster fiasco was passed. Forgot to ask said bear “Are you feeling lucky, punk”.

  15. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

    Dean Weingarten is a fear salesman, and not just in this article, but most of his others. TTAG has lots of writers who are smarter than him when it comes to the woods and guns.
    For 43 years I’ve read so many detailed reports men who were mauled after grizzlies were shot, I … almost … can’t count ’em all. But I can count ’em well enough to know it was a lot more than the tiny sample of 29 that he cherry-picked to scare you.
    And if you go into the North Bush influenced by Weingarten, he just might get you killed. When grizzlies threaten, North Country sportmen pick up long guns, not revolvers.
    This is the end of my comment. Some might think about these matters a bit more, so I also wrote some footnotes down below.
    ======================================================================

    SEPARATE FOOTNOTES WHICH ARE NOT A COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE:
    Want to feel fear for the right reasons? These things WILL hurt you and & then kill you:
    Your fat.
    Your personal decision to sit on your ass too much.
    Your alcohol.
    Other guys’ alcohol.
    Your cigarettes.
    Your drugs.
    Human beings in the woods.
    Ticks.
    But they don’t press that fear button like bears, do they?

    GRIZZLIES: In the far north, when attacking grizzlies are on sportsmen before they can aim a long gun, they un-chest-holster an big-blast Alaskan snubbie. They know they’re probably going to wind up underneath any grizzly that charges, shot or not. If so, they’ll need a no-safety, round-in-the-chamber-already handgun that doen’t get a longer barrel turned sideways under a billion pounds of pre-shot and still-biting-you-bear.

    BLACK BEARS:
    I’ve personally gotten black bears to leave my campsites dozens of times just by raising my voice a little, and (when with others) I’ve literally run them off dozens of other times. No problem.
    Above the lower 48 states, as you get farther and farther north, black bears do get bigger and bigger, more and more aggressive, and more and more dangerous, and you just might have to shoot one. But how much time have you spent in the far northern woods so far in your life?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      So, people are mauled by bears. And sometimes folks can save themselves with a handgun.

      Isn’t that what Dean said?

      1. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

        No. He said that handguns stop attacking bears almost 100% of the time. They don’t. And as I said at the git-go, a hell of a lot of hunters have been mauled by grizzlies after they shot them.
        And he said nothing about thinking through the 29 reports…which were somebody else’s work, not his… and making sure he understood them all the way through.
        People must do that. For example, I said I’ve made lower-48 black bears leave my campsites a lot more than 29 times just by sounding irritated. No gun.
        Does that (true, b.t.w.) statement I’ve made people really understand what to do about bears? Hell, no.
        We have to do better. We have to think.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          We must not have read the same post. He plainly states that he was researching attacks where pistols where used in defense. Of which he found 29 accounts. He never said pistols were 100% effective.

          You have a bone to pick with Dean and your bias is showing thru.

        2. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

          No, Dean said he read someone else’s reseach (“greatwhitehunter”), and he provided a link to read it.It’s fine that he did so. I’m not criticizing him for that, but he didn’t say it was his research.
          As for his own writing, yeah, I sure do criticize it.

          (THIS IS A SEPARATE SUBJECT. I DO GET THAT:) I think “akgunner” wrote a comment below the article which is more helpful than the article itself. (It’s the one with the “18:26” time-stamp).
          akgunner’s command of language, his clarity of thought, and his thinking were just superb today.

    2. avatar Hank says:

      A Black bear just killed a guy in Florida there, genius. Maybe you should pay more attention to the world around you and have a little less Tude’ with everyone.

      1. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

        No it didn” t.
        So don’t lecture other people about losing an attitude, make more of an effort, like I did, and you’ll get the facts, like I did.
        I bothered to read the articles about last week’s the bear attack in Florida, unlike you. It was the first bear attack in the region in forty years, and it didn’t kill him, it slashed at him when he let his dog out and stepped outside, probably in panic that he was being attacked by a pack. How many people were attacked by humans in the last 40 years?
        I’ve also bothered to read Weingarten’s stuff for years. He’s a fear pimp. He’s an intelligent and well-educated man who honestly believes his own be-afraid B.S., but it’s still be-afraid B.S.
        Now do what I did when I was wrong last week. Admit that you were wrong and apologize.

        1. avatar Hank says:

          Are you melting snowflake? Show me on the doll where the handgun touched you.

        2. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

          That sentence wasn’t even English. Hell, it wasn’t even American. It wasn’t even language. It doesn’t mean anything. I don’t even know if “Hank” The Anonymous was insulting me, or how, or about what, because “Hank” cannot use words.
          Does anybody, anywhere, have any idea what Hank means? Anybody? Anybody at all? Any dolls at all? Any snowflakes at all? Anyone else?

        3. avatar Hank says:

          Wow. I’m certain this is the most butthurt I’ve made anyone on this website since that crazed lefty threatened to sue me. 😂

        4. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

          Sure looks like a bunch of weakling dodging on your part, “Hank”. Did you ever even bother to check on last week’s bear attack in Florida after I said you were wrong?
          Where’s your manning-up and saying you were wrong, “Hank”?

        5. avatar Hank says:

          Dude you should stop before you have a heart attack. I’ve clearly enraged you to the point where your more of a danger to yourself and others. Take a deep breath and realize this is an anonymous Internet forum. Please don’t take out your rage on your wife or kids tonight. Go outside and smoke a cigarette or something.

        6. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

          So you’re absolutely not man enough to admit that you were wrong about the Florida attack, then?
          And if you want grownups to take you seriously, you really do have to stop sounding just like Jesse Pinkman.

        7. avatar Hank says:

          Ah I love the kind of hater you are, that you are so jealous of hand guns success even, though you deny you are jealous. You should instead be astonished of its success and dominance instead of blaming it on things like you’re made up fake news. Just try to accept the fact that handguns are the best and enjoy the show while it lasts because the rage that exists in you is going to be your demise. Sad!

        8. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

          You’ve been evasive, sneaky, and weak four times in a row instead of manning up and admitting that you said something that isn’t true, that a bear just killed a man in Florida, which was a mistake.
          I see you’re suddenly changing from Jesse Pinkman language to an exact imitation of Donald Trump-tweet language.Why? Do you actually think that you impress anyone by imitating other men?

          And you actually said this:”handguns are the best”. Now there’s some first-class thinking That’s the reason why infantrymen have left their rifles back at camp when they go into battle for the last thousand years. That’s the reason why deer hunters don’t waste their time with deer rifles, and duck hunters don’t waste their time with shotguns.
          And by your TV remark, I guess you’re a big fan of getting a fat ass by sitting around and watching the box instead of using TV as a tool to make yourself healthy, capable, and strong.
          And I’m sick with the flu,so I’m goofing off in this pathetic comments section. What’s your excuse?
          Admit that you made a mistake, “Hank”, and that you were wrong, and apologize. Like a man.

        9. avatar Old Fur Trapper says:

          Sorry Scotty, but you missed again. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/04/140415-black-bear-florida-attack-habitat-wildlife-conservation/
          I distinctly remembered this one! So that makes two attacks on humans. Now how many other domestic animals such as pets have been taken, is anyone’s guess.
          But I do know this. Despite NG’s statement about black bears normally running when confronted by a human, do not bet your life on it! Black bears are responsible for more human deaths and mauling s than griz and brown bear combined! They have been documented stalking humans, attacking without provocation, eating humans they killed and more. Next to Bison, they are the second largest cause of fatalities and mauling s in Yellowstone Park.

    3. You have access to the Internets, just as others do. There are some books out on bear attacks as well. The article was about pistols being used to defend against bears. I have been asking for people to send in documented instances of people attempting to use pistols to defend against bears for over a year. Please send your references, links preferred. I am looking forward to seeing them. I have found 30 instances so far. (Another was uncovered after I wrote the last article.) So, show us the instances that will change the percentages. People claim there are multiple instances where people with pistols failed to stop the attack and/or kill the bear. Should be easy to find if they are out there.

      1. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

        First, I give you credit for confronting a critic, and also for being civil.
        I have always acknowledged your educational and army background and qualifications when I’ve criticized you. One thing I’ve never called you is stupid. You’re not. After all your name’s not “Hank”…

        I have a more-than-full-time job except when I have the flu,like today,and I’m not going to write your articles for you. You write em and put your name on ’em, you have to do that heavy lifting. You have to do more than say there are books out there, you have to read ’em.

        My Grizzly Ed? Among other things, I subscribed to “Alaska Magazine” for about twenty years, beginning in 1975, and “Backpacker Magazine” from the same year, but until the early 2000s, when its subscription subcontractor made it way more trouble than it was worth anymore, and subscribed to “Outside” magazine for many years, along with Backpackinglight.com

        I’ve read about a bazillion books on camping and backpacking. I was awfully struck by the Santa Cruz mountains-area hiking book I read. Every 1.5 pages, it tells you that you’re now at the exact trail spot where yet another guy from yet another sawmill was killed by a grizzly on such and such a date.
        I’ve watched, while working out, flossing, but never sitting…I don’t sit while I watch TV…pretty much every documentary on bears ever shown, including the one on crazy, brave, brilliant, dead Timothy Treadwell.
        So yes, I did do my homework before opening my big mouth.

        1. avatar Hank says:

          Holy shit you have some serious issues. Yes I’m sure you’ve read 12,000 books on bear attacks and subscribe to bear attack monthly while you work out to bear attack shows. Holy shit I can’t stop laughing.

        2. avatar DrewR says:

          I don’t have any particular issue with what you’ve said so far, but you must understand that by refusing to give any actual citation of your sources you are undermining your own argument. You criticize Dean for his 30 cases, all of which are sourced, yet you flat out refuse to source your own claims.

          That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Unless and until you provide evidence to support the claim, that’s all it is; a claim. Again, I’m not saying this because I necessarily disagree with you, I’m saying it because it hurts your own cause.

          Dean made a claim and provided evidence, then you made a claim and provided none, and when asked to provide evidence you refused and essentially said it was up to Dean to disprove your claim, which is not an intellectually honest way of aproaching a discussion. You have avoided your burden of proof, and I have a problem with that.

        3. avatar Red in CO says:

          Wow dude, for real? You criticize Dean, he responds and asks you to provide a source for your criticism, and then you refuse, and do so in a self-righteous manner? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you as a full-time, Soros-funded troll over at The Federalist. Why don’t you stay there

      2. avatar Old Air Force says:

        here is one of the links I had bookmarked; http://www.leverguns.com/articles/paco/41heavy.htm . Down in the article a little ways Paco talks about his bear kill. I am still looking for some 300 grainers. The heaviest I have found without casting my own is 265 gr. I don’t look for bear but if one came my way I am ready.

        1. avatar Scoutino says:

          How many you need? I cast and powder coat these:
          https://leeprecision.com/mold-6-cav-c430-310-rf.html
          I use Lyman no. 2 (90-5-5) alloy and size them to .430″. With red powder coating the loaded cartridges look like little lipsticks. ☺
          I can spare you some.

        2. avatar Old Air Force says:

          Actually looking for 300 grain .411 hardcast.

    4. avatar strych9 says:

      “But how much time have you spent in the far northern woods so far in your life?”

      I was born and raised there. So, at this point 39.53% of my life. Your comment here is snarky and uneducated.

      If you end up underneath a Grizzly that mauling your ass “pre-shot and still-biting-you” there’s a common, two word, phrase for that kind of situation. That phrase is “You’re fucked” because the chances you survive such a situation are slim to none. People aren’t buying snubbies in big calibers for this kind of situation any more than they’re buying large knives because they want to join that one guy who actually did kill a grizzly with a Ka-Bar.

      1. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

        I have fifteen articles on the Alaskan revolver in my archives, and i’ learned something from them all. You might have learned that if you didn’t try to snub total strangers over the internet and instead tried to speak as intelligently as the author just did when he disputed my claims just now.
        Think about it. Why wouldn’t you choose a long-barreled gun that shoots with higher velocity, better penetration, more accuracy, less muzzle flip, less recoil, and holds one more bullet to stop a charging bear? Because so many hunters got bowled over, mauled,and prevented from shooting straight when they tried to shoot from underneath a grizz with long-barreled handguns. That’s why.
        Why the Alaskan was designed as a snubbie? You could try noticing that fact, wondering about it, and asking…

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          “Why wouldn’t you choose a long-barreled gun that shoots with higher velocity, better penetration, more accuracy, less muzzle flip, less recoil, and holds one more bullet to stop a charging bear?”

          Because of this thing called “real world experience”.

          Many bear attacks happen in brush where a shorter draw is preferable. Then you have to get on target which is easier with a shorter, lighter gun. At this kind of range the accuracy of the longer barrel doesn’t much matter nor does the penetration, which doesn’t much matter anyway. What matters more is the right bullet. Really the extra bullet is unlikely to matter either.

          Sorry, there’s what you read and then there’s real life.

        2. avatar Scoutino says:

          “Why the Alaskan was designed as a snubbie? ”
          I don’t know if I would call it a design. Ruger just took a Super Redhawk and cut the barrel even with the frame extension. Sure makes it shorter and lighter, easier to carry and draw. That might be the reason.

      2. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

        Upon second thought, I think you just honestly misunderstood my meaning, and I may have misunderstood yours in the reply I just wrote.

        When I wrote, “But how much time have you spent in the far northern woods so far in your life?”, it was a statement about black bears. It was a statement that very few of us are in the far north, so very few of us are in the far-north areas where black bears are so much bigger, aggressive, and dangerous.
        It wasn’t a challenge or snub to anyone, really.
        After all, I hadn’t yet read any words from “Hank”, so I had no reason to do so at the time.

      3. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

        I had also noticed that your post of 13:49 was damned good. Thoughtful, knowledgeable, unusual, and well-written. I forgot to mention it, and you should get credit where credit is due.

    5. avatar LJPII says:

      All of your comments are irrelevant. This is a website about guns, not WebMD. And you cant kill cancer or diabetes with a revolver. The article is not an argument against carrying a long gun, but a reason to carry a good back up as well. And you have no idea how much anybody here spends in Bear Country. Besides, it only takes one trip for things to go bad…potentially. It’s good to be prepared regardless how many times you visit the wilderness.

  16. avatar akgunner says:

    I live in a small native village in bush Alaska. I’m thankful that I’ve never had to defend myself against anything but an overly aggressive dog. However, I’ve learned a few things.

    1. Bear spray is worthless – I’ve used it three times. The first was simply a test to see how far it would spray. Unless it’s dead calm, you better be sure you know what direction the wind is blowing. When I test sprayed it, there was the slightest cross wind. It immediately blew enough of it back in my own face that had it been a defensive use, it would have made matters worse. The second and third time I used bear spray was against overly aggressive dogs. The first time a strong cross wind completely redirected the spray 90degrees to the side. The second time it was dead calm, but it sure wasn’t a 16ft spray. The dog was close enough however that the spray did hit the dog right in the face. The dog did nothing more than backup, sneeze, and trot away.

    2. Your gun needs to be accessible and not overly retained. The majority of my travel is either via ATV or Snowmachine, while not on foot. If I’m on my ATV my rifle stays in your typical V shaped rifle mount that attaches to my front rack, retained by rubber straps. At anytime I can simply reach forward, undo the straps, grab my rifle and I’m good to go, or so I thought…

    It was day 3 of the hunt and we decided to head home due to adverse weather. I was driving along an overland trail, about to cross a small creek and pop back out onto the beach of our lake. As soon as I rounded the corner I spotted a probably 900lb brown bear, not barely 20yds away. The bear was just as startled as I. The bear had 2 options, attempt to scale the rocky cliff one direction, or head straight my direction. Thankfully he decided to scale the cliff because it was a good 20 seconds or more before I could undo the straps to my rifle and get it pointed in his direction. Had he chosen to come my direction, there’s no telling what would have happened.

    My sidearm at the time was unfortunately in a hip holster, covered by jackets. It would have been just as inaccessible while my body was pumping with adrenaline. Since then, I have switched to a GunfightersINC chest holster. This holster always lives on the outside of my outermost coat. It provides fantastic retention without the need for any straps, buckles, or the like. When I need it, I simply have to grab my pistol and pull. The rest of the time it stays secure in its holster.

    All of that being said, in my past 4 years in Alaska, you know how many times I’ve been attacked by a bear? Zero. Would I be able to stop a bear attack if it happened to me? Who knows. The dozen or so times I’ve encountered bears out here, they’ve either minded their own business or run the other way. The biggest thing you can do to protect yourself from bears (at least in Alaska) is to respect them, their home, and their food source.

    1. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

      Now that’s a first-class comment! akgunner’s comment HELPS people and makes them smarter. It’s the statement of a man who has experience, understanding, and appreciation.
      My state used to require a class and a license to buy pepper spray, and I lived there, so I took the class. I learned things that could make the difference between success and failure. I recommend training and study before using. Youtube’s pretty good, and even has spray vs. grizzly vids too, readers.
      Spray products vary. Some of them are like a fog. For animals, I always get concentrated-stream types. And they don’t work well if you don’t shake the cans from time to time, just like spray paint. And they degrade over time, and must be replaced. I spray with mine regularly, even though I have to buy a lot more of it, both for practice and for making sure it’s as potent as can be.

    2. avatar strych9 says:

      That’s a cool chest rig. It’s similar to the one my cousin uses. I’ll have to ask what brand he has.

      His backup in case of a bear attack is a 500 S&W. Best thing in the world? No, but if he can’t get his long gun out it’s better than a knife or bare hands (pardon the pun).

  17. avatar Walt Longmire says:

    That poor bear, he was just turning his life around.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      That .44 mag turned his ass around.

    2. avatar Aaron says:

      He din do nuffin!

  18. I heard that bear was a friend of Cecil the lion.

  19. avatar Joe R. says:

    Ok. . .

    1) are these Alaskan hunters from Alaska? Cause they’d be weaponless from the a _ _ rape they’d get coming through Canada.

    2) lots of bear attack stories lately. Global warming? Or can’t hunt them easily/legally so shoot yourself a moose and wait around for the main event?

    3) Self defense from a bear attack with a pistol is a cautionary tale at best, correct?

  20. avatar cisco kid says:

    Craig Boddington’s new book dispels the myth that carrying a handgun in big bear country is effective in stopping a bear. In his research of hundred’s of bear attacks the people who used handguns usually did not survive the attack. Believe it or not those that used pepper spray or just played dead survived more than those that pulled out hand guns and blazed away.

    Although I seldom agreed with Jeff Cooper he was right when he said that if you use a handgun as an offensive weapon its tantamount to committing suicide no matter what the caliber.

    Pistolero Magazine in the 1980’s when shooting barnyard hogs found that there was no difference in killing power between the .357 magnum, .45 acp, 38 special and 9×19.

    Contrary to Gun Writer Myth and continuing bullshit about the Philippine “Insurrection” (polite world for jack booted storm trooper war of rape, pillage and conquest) Jan Liborel found that there was absolutely nothing in the U.S. Military records that indicated the .38 Colts were any less effective than the later used 45 long Colt and little used .45 acp handguns used in the conflict. The Army even ranted against the 30-40 Krag as being ineffective. What did work was the short barrel shotgun.

    1. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

      Your comment is just what the doctor ordered. Well thought-out, well-researched, and well-said.

    2. avatar DrewR says:

      I haven’t seen anyone advocate using a pistol as an offensive weapon for bears in this thread, or in the article, it is specifically about using a pistol as a defensive weapon on a charging bear. I am not looking to go toe to toe with a Grizzly, but if I am out bow hunting or have set down my rifle to gut a deer it is far better to have a handgun that will effectively penetrate a large animal than to scramble for my rifle if I get charged. I carry both, with bear spray on my left side and a .44 on my right, so IF the bear spray fails I’m not completely f-ed. It is better to have and not need than to need and not have, in my opinion.

    3. What is the title of Craig Boddington’s book? Hundreds of bear attacks? Sourced? I am skeptical. Even in the flawed study “Efficacy of firearms for bear deterrence in Alaska” the researchers only found 269 attacks in Alaska. They have not released their data, but they found handguns to be 84% effective against bears, surprisingly, more effective than long guns. The period of time for their data set was from 1883 to 2009.

      I’d like to see Boddington’s sources for “hundreds of attacks”.

    4. avatar Aaron says:

      Putting aside your irrelevant propagandizing about the Philippine insurrection, there is clear evidence that when comparing ball ammo, the .45 ACP is better than the .38 special and the .45 Long Colt was better than the .38 Long Colt. Note that the .38 Long Colt used in the Philipines was even less powerful than the .38 special, and US troops did in fact prefer the .45 Colt revolver to the .38 Long Colt. The .45 Long Colt revolver (or just Colt) fired a larger diameter bullet, with greater weight, and a significantly higher velocity than the .38 Long Colt, or even today’s .38 special standard loads.

      As stated by Marshall and Sanow in “Stopping Power”, “As a general trend, and all else being equal, stopping power increases as the size of the recovered bullet increases.”

      In addition, their table “Caliber Comparison” on page 335 shows a significant advantage for .45 ACP over .38.special

      Granted, the “stopping power” of any pistol is low, but the nonsense in your post about the .38 vs .45 makes everything else you say not credible.

  21. avatar Timothy Benton says:

    I wonder if Grizzly Bear Spray would have been a safe alternative in this incident for the humans involved in this incident and the Grizzly Bear Would Still be alive

  22. avatar JackassJim says:

    Scotty, or Cisco or whatever his current intertube name is; I believe may be afflicted with the same disability as my unfortunate nephew.

    His raging confrontational writing style that relies upon fabricated facts, is so close to his that I wouldn’t be surprised if it was revealed that he indeed is actually my nephew.

    All in the family wish him nothing but the best, however his violent and irrational demeanor makes him a true pariah and danger to himself and anyone around him.

    His father has tried in vain to get this sad lad committed to a psychiatric treatment facility for years with zero success. Seems that the bleeding hearts in the state in which he resides view the rights of wild animals and violent sociopaths as superior to those of regular folks.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Scotty reminds me of an autistic. He’s read some books so he’s an expert. Likely been in a group home since his folks could no longer care for him. Some of these guys are border line genius. But they don’t have sense enough to get out of the way of a truck.

  23. avatar Wally1 says:

    Wow, it’s a story, “Lighten up Francis”.

  24. avatar Aaron says:

    But bears are “all-natural” and “organic”, and everybody knows that anything that is “all-natural” and “organic” is safe and good for your health, right?

  25. avatar Recce1 says:

    I lived in AK for a number of years in the early 70s and whenever I went fishing I carried a .44 magnum. Elmer Keith developed it to hunt AK Brown bears. He was a brave soul.

  26. avatar CACTIJOE says:

    I LIVE IN COLORADO BETWEEN CRAIG, CO AND BAGGS, WY. WE HAVE WOLVES, MTN LIONS AND BEARS APLENTY AROUND MY ELK CAMP. NOT UNUSUAL TO HAVE BEARS CLOSE TO CABIN EATING BERRIES OR GETTING A DRINK. DO NOT SEE THE MTN LIONS MUCH BUT THEY ARE OUT THERE AS SEE THE TRACKS AND A GLANCE OUT THE WINDOW ONCE IN A WHILE. WHEN CLOSE TO HOUSE CHEST RIG WITH SHORT BARREL S/W .44 MAG OR SUPER RED HAWK .44 LONG BARREL. CALLED BUFFALO BOAR AND USING ONE OF ROUNDS THEY RECOMMENDED FOR MY SITUATION AND BEARS. WHEN FURTHER A FIELD ALSO CARRY MARLIN SS 1895 LEVER WITH BUFFALO BORE RECOMMENDED ROUND IN 45-70. I CARRY BEAR SPRAY FOR DOGS NOT BEARS. I DO NOT BELIEVE SPRAY THAT EFFECTIVE. FLORIDA IN WINTER AND HAVE USED IT ON SEVERAL PIT BULLS AFTER ME AND NOT THAT IMPRESSED, FIGURE PISSED OFF BEAR 100 X PIT BULL SO NO THANKS. WHEN IN HOUSE CHEST RIG ALWAYS ON AND PISTOL UNDER PILLOW AT NIGHT. FRIEND HAD BEAR COME THRU WINDOW ONE NIGHT SO NUFF SAID. NAM TAUGHT ME SH#T, SHOWER, SHAVE, SLEEP WITH WEAPON. SEEMED GOOD EDUCATION AS MADE IT HOME DUE TO FASTER DRAW AND ONLY 4 HOLES IN ME, MANY MORE IN TWO LEGGED BEARS WITH RED STAR BELT BUCKLES. . I WAS STILL PRETTY DANGEROUS WHEN WOUNDED AND SAME APPLIES TO BEAR. I NEVER SLING OR STRAP MY SMOKE POLE, ALWAYS IN HAND AND PISTOL NOT SECURED UNLESS DOING SOMETHING WHEN IT COULD FALL OUT IF TUMBLE. I APPRECIATE BEARS PLACE IN NATURE, DO NOT HUNT THEM PERSONALLY ( ELK YES, TASTES BETTER TO ME) AND RESPECTFULLY KEEP MY DISTANCE WHEN POSSIBLE. ALL ANIMALS UNPREDICTABLE, BEEN BUCKED OFF FOR NO APPARENT REASON BY MY USUALLY DOCILE AND FAITHFUL PINTO SEVERAL TIMES AND BITTEN BY MY SCOUT DOG IN NAM ONCE ON AMBUSH WHO REDEEMED HIMSELF BY SAVING MY LIFE THE NEXT AMBUSH. GO FIGURE. MY HOG BACK UP IS MY SHORT BARREL S&W .44 THO HAVE YET HAVE ONE TO GET UP FROM REM .308 HOG HAMMERS. HUMANS AND PIT BULLS ONLY THING HAVE HAD TO SHOOT TO DEFEND MY SELF AND NO DESIRE TO TEST THE .44 AGAINST BEARS OR SUCH BUT FEEL THEY WILL GIVE ME THE BEST CHANCE AND I AGREE ON BEST AMMO FOR JOB. NOT A SHILL FOR BUFFALO BORE, REMINGTON, HORNADY OR WINCHESTER, BLACK HILLS OR OTHERS BUT JUST LIKE THE WAY THEY HAVE ALWAYS HELPED ME SELECT THE PROPER ROUND FOR THE SITUATIONS I WOULD BE IN. JUST CALLED THEM ON THE PHONE AND MOST HELPFUL. ON OCCASION DO ALSO CARRY MY 870 PUMP GUN IN 12 GA WITH RIFLED BARREL WITH SLUGS , SLUGS AND BUCKSHOT AND JUST BUCKSHOT WHEN MOSTLY THINK I MAY NEED TO COVER SNAKES, BEARS AND LIONS ALL IN SAME WANDERING. DO NOT GO INTO LOT ABOUT GRAINS AND SUCH AS I THINK THESE INDIVIDUAL CHOICES BASED ON SHOOTERS PREFERENCE AND SITUATION. FOLKS AT BUFFALO BORE AND HORNADY PARTICULARLY FRIENDLY, KNOWLEDGEABLE AND HAPPY TO HELP. LAST TIME CALLED BUFFALO BORE GOT THE OWNER AND MUCH TALK AND HELP ON CARBINE AND PISTOL ROUNDS NEEDED FOR A SITUATION SINCE I AM ARMED ESCORT FOR LIVING. MY BEST ADVICE HAVING HAD TO DEFEND MY SELF MANY TIMES IN WAR AND CIVILIAN LIFE IS BE AND STAY PREPARED WITH BEST EQUIPMENT CAN AFFORD AND BEST ADVICE YOU CAN SEEK. I READ STORIES ABOUT THE GUIDE WHO KILLED THE BEAR WITH A 9MM ( LUCKY ALL I CAN SAY AND HE KNEW BETTER ME THINKS THAN TO CARRY SUCH IN BEAR COUNTRY) AND ALSO THAT MONSTER GRIZZ SHOT IN ALASKA AFTER HE KILLED AT LEAST TWO HIKERS AND TOOK ON GOVERNMENT HUNTER ON DEER HUNT WHO EMPTIED 7MM INTO HIM AND BEAR FINALLY DROPPED AT HIS FEET. ONE DEAD HIKER EMPTIED .38 IN HIM AND CAN SEE HOW WELL THAT WORKED. TWO OR FOUR LEGS , SLITHERS OR SWIMS( ATTACKED BY SHARKS ONCE, HAD .223 BANG STICK THANK YOU VERY MUCH, END OF SHARK AND ATTACK) BE PREPARED. CRIME AND WILD ANIMALS LIKE WHEEL OF FORTUNE SPIN, NEVER KNOW WHEN IT WILL STOP ON YOUR NUMBER.

  27. avatar Tom Hill says:

    I wonder what Larry Kelly would have to say about the negative talk here about the Magnaport Stalker handguns that his company built……and he took to Alaska and the African continent to do his testing with it way back in the late 70’s or 80’s. I’m pretty sure, he would say, the gun is only as good as the person handling it. Don’t know if anyone else remembers his encounter in Alaska with a grizz……that had been following him and a guide in a bad storm. They made it to a small hunting cabin but went to find some firewood outside and upon opening the door, the bear was going to come in! He took that bear with his Stalker……..and a great ad for that gun was a pic of Larry standing and facing the end wall of the cabin after the storm, with the bear mounted flat on the wall. It stretched from the peak of the cabin to the ground.

  28. avatar Annie Hall says:

    Interesting study. Great story. Unfortunately, most everything else on this page is hogwash! I’m referring to the “Trending now” BS. Click bait makes me so mad I wish I had a .44 magnum!
    LOL! ….. I’m kidding, of course! ….. I do have one. {vacant stare}

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