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On morning of July 25, 2018, Bridger Petrini was out near the Colorado border, working his dogs for the upcoming New Mexico bear season. He had purchased his professional guide service eight years earlier from his father, who started it in 1985. Bear season would open in less than three weeks, and the dogs had to be in shape for it.

He had some important appointments in Raton, the nearest town, set up for that afternoon.

Bridger Petrini Tri-State Outfitter

He was within a quarter mile of his house, when the dogs unexpectedly discovered a bear and took off. He and the dogs were so close to the house, his 10-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter saw and heard the dogs as the charging bear ran by.

Bridger’s son called and asked if he could come with his father to get the dogs. Bridger told his son to run the quarter mile to where he was and together they started after the dogs and the bear in a Kawasaki Mule.

A little later, his wife Janelle called. Bridger’s sister was visiting and had never seen a bear in the wild. His wife suggested he come back and pick his sister up, but Bridger said no. He had to get the dogs off the bear and back to the house in order to make his appointments.

He told them if they followed in his Toyota Tacoma hunting rig, they might be able to see the bear. So Bridger’s sister, his wife, his daughter and their other two small children piled into the pickup and started after Bridger, his son, the dogs and the bear.

The mesa isn’t very large. The temperature, even at 6500 feet, was in the upper 80s. The running bear and dogs heated up and slowed down quickly. They were fighting on a little bench, right under the rimrock. It was strewn with refrigerator-sized boulders, with some cedar trees, good-sized for the area, but too small for a bear to climb.

Complacency is the enemy of everyone who works in dangerous situations. People do things hundreds of times. They start taking shortcuts. Not to be confused with a hiker carrying a canister of bear spray or pepper spray, Bridger normally carries a GLOCK 20 in a Galco holster when he’s hunting in bear country with clients.

That morning, though, he wasn’t planning on hunting bears. And he had no desire to shoot that bear. There was no client with him. He had to get the dogs off the bear to make his appointments in town. He’d taken dogs off of bears and mountain lions hundreds of times before.

His wife and family caught up with him. He told Janelle to park the vehicles in a little draw while he went up and called off the dogs.

As an afterthought, he took the GLOCK 20 10mm pistol from his vehicle and shoved it in his waistband behind his cowboy belt. It was loaded with 175 grain Hornady Critical Duty FlexLock loads. The magazine only had 10 or 12 rounds in it. A few months earlier, he had heard the theory of “spring set” and decided not to keep the magazine fully loaded.

The dogs and bear were, by the sound, 150 yards away. As he left the vehicles, his 13-year-old daughter tried to follow him but was called back by her mother.

To prevent bear attacks, hunters usually worry about the wind and the bear seeing them. In Bridger’s extensive experience, when a bear sees or smells a human, they retreat. So Bridger expected that bear to run.

Bridger moved in toward the bear and the dogs. The boulders made it easier to hop from one to the next, instead of trying to navigate between them. Bridger hopped to another boulder, moved around a cedar tree and saw the bear and the dogs. There are no grizzly bears in New Mexico. This bear was a big cinnamon-colored black bear boar, tipping the scales at nearly 400 lbs. (In western United States such as Wyoming,  Montana, Idaho, New Mexico and Colorado and other parts of North America, where primary food sources are in mountain meadows and open forest, more than half of the black bears are actually colored brown, cinnamon, or blond.) This one was cinnamon and extremely close, fewer than 20 feet away.

Because of its unusual color, Bridger’s first thought was to get a video. It would be an incredible image. Big cinnamon bears aren’t common. The bear could run at any moment, once he saw or smelled the man, so Bridger grabbed his phone.

Apparently, that bear never read the bear-behavior rulebook. It didn’t run. The bear saw Bridger, turned toward him, and flattened its ears back along its head. Its eyes  locked on Bridger. He’d watched hundreds of bears in similar situations and he knew he’d been targeted. He dropped the phone and snatched his self-defense handgun from his belt.

A lot happened very fast, but for Bridger, everything seemingly slowed down as he went into tachypsychia. It’s a common occurrence in high-stress life-or-death situations. The mind speeds up and events appear to be happening in slow motion. In reality, the person is acting faster than they ever have before.

The bear was coming for him and there was no time for a warning shot. Bridger elected not to aim for the head because he didn’t want to hit one of his dogs. He triggered two or three shots aimed at the bear’s body. The bear spun, snapping at the wounds, about six feet away.

Bridger decided to retreat. He turned and hopped to the next boulder, then the next. He was mid-air to the third when he saw dogs moving past him.

In his fast-mind state, he realized that this was bad. As he landed and turned, the big GLOCK in his hand, and saw the bear coming at him like an over-sized NFL linebacker with claws and big, pointy teeth.

Before he could fire again, the bear hit him. They went over the edge of the shelf together, tumbling down a steep, rocky slope in mortal combat.

Bridger does not remember shooting during the fall. But his family found shell casings down the trail of broken tree limbs and brush. He knew the GLOCK was his lifeline. His right hand was skinned and bruised, but he held on with a death-defying grip.

Bear and man stopped downslope, wedged into brush and boulders. Bridger could feel the bear and frantically attempted to disentangle himself. The bear reared erect, jaws ready to strike. Bridger shot him at extremely close range, in the front of his chest before falling/sliding further down the slope. The bear pursued him. He screamed at Janelle to stay away.

Bridger tried to kick the bear away as it tried to get at his upper body. But he couldn’t shoot for fear of hitting his own legs.

The bear dodged a kick, and grabbed Bridger’s right inner thigh in its jaws, lifting him like a dog lifting a rabbit. Bridger shoved the muzzle of the GLOCK against the bear’s neck, trying to shatter its spine and shut the bear down. He fired.

The bear released his lower thigh, then grabbed his calf, just below the knee. The shot missed the spine. Man and bear are still moving fast, but in Bridger’s hyper-aware state, time slowed. He saw an opportunity for a headshot and, as a last resort, pressed the trigger on the GLOCK.


Later, Bridger found bear hair between the guide rod and the slide of the G20 pistol. The hair prevented the slide from returning into battery. Bridger knew he should still have ammunition left in the magazine, so he racked the slide in good faith and saw a live round eject in slow motion.

Fractions of a second later, another opportunity for a head shot presented itself. The bear ripped at his leg. As the bear tried to tear off his calf muscle, Bridger saw his chance and pressed the trigger.


Man and bear went down together, rolling and sliding a bit further down the slope.

The bear was dead. It was just before noon.

Bridger was lying head downwards on a steep rocky slope, on his belly. The bear was upslope of him, bunched up. It was nearly 400 lbs of flesh, claws and fur, with its teeth still locked onto Bridger’s right calf muscle. Its head was twisted behind his knee.

He was trapped, wedged on the slope between boulders and brush. Moving brought excruciating pain that almost, but not quite, rendered him unconscious. He could reach back and feel the bear’s jaws and teeth, and something slimy trapped inside the jaws — his calf muscle. He couldn’t release his leg from the bear’s jaws or shift his position.

Janelle had heard the shots and his screams. She knew something was very wrong. Their daughter started to run to rescue her daddy, and her mother stopped her. All four children were with her.


Janelle shouted “Where’s the bear!?”

“It’s dead!” Bridger yells. From pistol draw to the last shot was less than 20 seconds.

Janelle and their daughter came up the slope from the vehicles. They couldn’t unlock the bear’s jaws from his leg. The slope, brush, rocks and 400-lb body of the black bear rendered it impossible. The muscle of Bridger’s calf had been twisted, locking muscle, teeth, and jaws together. Janelle called law enforcement, emergency responders, her brother Brad, and friends.

Devout Christians, the family prayed as everyone attempted to disentangle man and bear.

Help arrived in about 20 minutes, according to Janelle.

Five strong men couldn’t unlock the bear from Bridger’s leg. It was a combination of position, slope, gravity, leverage, and the wedge effect of boulders and brush.

Then, Bridger’s brother-in-law Brad cut the Gordian knot.

He used Bridger’s pocket knife, a Benchmade mini-Griptilian (with a blade less than three inches), to begin to cut off the bear’s head. He cut down to the bone. A game warden had a folding saw they used to cut through the bear’s spinal column.

The men finally managed to separate the bear’s head from its body and then from Bridger’s calf. The leg muscle had started turning gray.

Bridger was not unfamiliar with mountain rescues. The previous January, a helicopter had crashed near where the bear encounter occurred and Bridger was the first on the scene. Two of the crash victims had died in his arms. Only one of the six people in the helicopter survived. Bridger saw things he told me a man should never see and had vowed at that point to never to ride in a helicopter.

So as he heard the rescue copter come in, Bridger became an unhappy camper and told everyone within earshot that “I am not going on that thing!”

The helicopter landed as shock set in. Bridger started convulsing. Bridger told one of the flight paramedics from the helicopter that he couldn’t ride in that machine.

She hooked up an intravenous drip as they transferred him from the mountain litter to a gurney. “Let me help you get more comfortable,” she said. She reached across and fastened the chest strap, leaned over, lips close to his ear, and said, “Honey, you don’t have a choice.”

The morphine hit, the world changed, and Bridger said, “Let’s go!”

The original plan was for the rescue copter to fly to Denver, but a storm was in the way. So they rerouted to Albuquerque, skirting weather with quite a bit of turbulence. It was a fortuitous detour, as Albuquerque has one of the top trauma centers in the Southwest and experience with animal attacks.

Bridger spent four hours in surgery and received more than 200 stitches.

Normally Bridger would be out with clients and dogs on the opening day of bear season in New Mexico. This year, he’s laid up in bed, when not undergoing painful physical therapy.

But he’s alive and and considering the merits of heavier, deeper-penetrating bullets in 10mm cartridges designed for bear defense, to carry in his GLOCK.

With luck, Bridger, his family, and his business will be serving hunters, and avoiding close encounters with black bears, for decades to come.


Alaskan Hiker Stops Charging Brown Bear with 10mm Handgun

For more on black bears, brown bears, grizzly bears, and how to survive grizzly attacks, click here.

For federal law on managing bear encounters in the wild, including National Parks, click here. 

For information on the Endangered Species Act, click here. 

For handgun choices in Alaska for dangerous-animal encounters, including chamberings larger than 44 Magnum, click here.  

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

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  1. The dogs knew that you don’t have to be faster than the bear… just the guy taking a video of the bear.

    • “and shoved it in his waistband behind his cowboy belt”

      Rock on dude. You’re da man! Holsters are for sissies and city grinders.

        • This. I only shove my glock into my riggers belt now because the laser doesn’t fit in my holster (alien gear) *cough free shills*… Its always condition 3 unless I decide to shoot at something.

  2. A bear hair fouled his glock and he just thinks he needs heavier bullets? He needs heavier bullets. .44 mags out of a revolver.

    And a belt knife.

    • to @ jwm: Better practice with that Kabar. You’ve mentioned Busted blades and locked back slides. I can’t git her to the hilt no more, and I’ve made a bleeding cut below my little finger trying. Damn My skin cuts like paper . 30 years ago I could wing that Kabar through a barn door. Old Skinny White Guy says Fck Old Age. Lol…. I’m mean , lean, and killing machine, Ha

  3. I was on the fence about getting a glock 20 for bear defense. This article has convinced me otherwise. Three shots to the chest and it kept coming. Then the pistol failed after being fired while pressed against the bear. Then the bear required a head shot at six inches to stop it!
    I think I will look more closely at revolvers in 41 mag or 44 mag.

    • Dunno. With a Glock 20 you have 15+1 chances to hit something important, with a revolver you generally have 5 or 6. I expect having a bear chewing on you has a dramatic negative effect on a person’s marksmanship, so I’d go with ‘more chances’.

      Even then, it sounds like the best thing to bring along on a trip to bear country is “friends with guns”.

      • You don’t have time to use more than a few rounds in a bear attack. This is one application where a 1911 is better. Far less felt recoil than a plastic Glock.

      • I ran both the Glock 29 with Buffalo Bore and the Ruger Alaskan in .44 with BB heavy.

        Decided on 100% Ruger Alaskan simply because if I ever need it, I NEED IT! The Ruger smokes the Glock in power and reliability. Plus I can operate it one handed,

        Nothing wrong with the Glock and I rock Glocks in other situations, but hear in Griz country, the Alaskan is my minimum.

        • Folks, I’ve never hunted bear but I do have 2 .45 long colts a .45 acp and a Smith.357 mag. all revolvers but the .45 acp. Which of these, if any would you recommend for a carry weapon in a situation like this?

    • Yeah. With giant animals like bears, bigger really is better. Well, bigger and faster. Not knocking this guy at all, he did what he had to do and survived, and I get why people like 10mm, and semi autos, but 10mm isn’t a bear round.

      • Hollow points designed for humans were his problem not the actual cartridge. Hard cast flat points or Underwood ammo xtreme penetrator would have solved his problem a lot better. Which is why a lot of people are switching to 10mm in a Glock 20 for bear defense. His other problem was believing in “spring set” and not having a fully loaded gun.

        • Yeah, looked that way to me, too. I wonder if he had friends butcher that bear with an eye toward tracing those bullets? Would be interesting to know, penetration and mushroom. I’m guessing we want lot more than the usual 15″ or so of penetration when dealing with 400 lbs of muscle through thick fur.

        • I agree 100% buffalo bore or double tap harf cast 200 grain would have been significantly better. They are up around 700ft/lbs of energy rather than 560 for the hornadys. That with bullet construction would help. Also a full 15 plus 1.

        • Underwood load of Extreme Defender and Penetrator 10 mm +P+ (or P++) can get you 740 lb energy (4″ barrel?) Put in a 6″ 1911 or 2011, you get a lot more shots in rapid vs revolvers.

          The bullet is the key here for both penetration and cavitation for massive blood loss. Which is where Extreme Penetrator comes in. Underwood is not the only brand selling them since Lehigh Defense sells the bullets to different loaders but they have the hottest loads.

      • I’m trying to comment on Reeder’s question, but there was no “Reply” button for his comment.
        He said, “Folks, I’ve never hunted bear but I do have 2 .45 long colts a .45 acp and a Smith.357 mag. all revolvers but the .45 acp. Which of these, if any would you recommend for a carry weapon in a situation like this?”

        I have a similar situation, except no .45 ACP, only .45 Colt and .357 Magnum.
        The .45 ACP was designed to duplicate the performance of the .45 Colt, so it’s a tossup between those two, EXCEPT that Buffalo Bore makes some great bear defense rounds in .45 Colt (heavy, hard cast lead bullets with a lot of powder behind them), while AFAIK there aren’t any similar bear defense rounds in .45 ACP. If you have a revolver that can handle +P loads, as most Ruger revolvers can (except for the Vaquero), then .45 Colt is definitely better than .45 ACP.

        As for which is better, .45 Colt or .357 Magnum, I have the same question!
        .45 Colt is a low-velocity round, so on paper it has less “foot-pounds of energy” than .357 Magnum, but bears don’t read statistics, LOL, and aren’t impressed with FPE numbers. Heavier bullets penetrate better, so my bet is that the heavier .45 Colt round would beat the .357 Magnum round for bear defense.
        Does anyone know for sure which is better for bear defense, .357 magnum or .45 Colt Buffalo Bore?

        As for me, I would recommend carrying a rifle, shotgun (12ga or 20ga with slugs), or at least a pistol-caliber carbine in bear country. The muzzle boost, especially in Magnum calibers, from a longer barrel (16″ to 20″ barrel) basically turns a .357 Magnum rifle into the equivalent of .41 Magnum from a handgun, and a .44 Magnum rifle into the equivalent of .454 Casull from a handgun, and lever-action rifles can hold 11 rounds of .44 Magnum or .357 Magnum (10+1), twice as many as big-bore revolvers! 11 rounds of .44 Magnum from a lever-action rifle is like carrying two revolvers loaded with .454 Casull, and if you somehow miss with all 11 rounds, you can jam the rifle up the bear’s open mouth into his brain.
        lever-guns are usually shorter, lighter, and handier than bolt-actions, higher capacity (6 to 11 rounds depending on caliber and length) and are equipped with iron sights that are better at short distance

        Shotguns — With a 20-gauge, you need slugs for bear. With a 12-gauge, 000 buckshot might be just as good at close range, I’m not sure. How far does 000 buckshot penetrate?

        Rifles: Minimum of 30-30 (considering it will be close range) or .308. Larger calibers are better.
        The 30-30 is underappreciated, but at very close range, it doesn’t matter that the bullet isn’t pointed, so a 30-30 is almost as good as a .308 from the point-blank distances you’d use one for bear defense. Heavier bullets are better, e.g. 160 grains or more for a 30-30. Of course, a 45-70 would be the best lever-action rifle, but a .44 Magnum out of a rifle can kill an elephant.

        • FWIW, I wouldn’t want to depend on stopping a bear with anything less than a 45-70 rifle, with some heavy bullets seated in the cartridges. But it’s a moot point….I don’t go bear hunting anyway.

          But if I’m where they’re likely to be, I’ll toting my Marlin 1895 CB in45-70 Gov’t

    • Take a look at the S&W 329PD. I have a Model 29 that I carried for years in Alaska. It’s very accurate but it is heavy for a weapon you’re unlikely ever to use in self-defense. The 329 is a dream to carry. Yes, the recoil is heavy but this a gun you are unlikely to have to use. If you don’t handload you can shoot .44 Specials or .44 Russians out of it. The .44 Russians are very controllable.

      I would recommend getting rid of the so called Hillary Hole, i.e., the lock. It’s not difficult to do. You can google on how to do it. There is a company that makes a pin to fill the hole. I forget the name. If you are not handy with this sort of thing any decent gunsmith can do it.

      Here is one site that shows the process:

      Why remove it? Well on most revolvers it isn’t necessary to remove it. However, the 329 is so light and shoot a powerful round. Mine locked up once while shooting full power loads and that was enough for me. I wasn’t going to risk that happening again.

      It’s a nice gun. I wouldn’t carry it if I KNEW I was going to have to shoot a bear. However, the best guns for that are not handguns anyway and even the best handguns are just to heavy to be comfortable to carry on a daily basis.

      My 329 rides in Simply Rugged holster. If you have ever seen 19th century holsters, not the Hollywood version but the real thing, Simply Rugged is a little like that. It covers nearly the entire gun. There is no safety strap. It is made so that it can be carried on either side.

      • I’m another big fan of Simply Rugged holsters. I have a couple holsters for my big revolvers and I wear their Real Man’s Belt every day.

        • +1 for simply rugged, the sourdough pancake is the best IWB/OWB combo holster money can buy for $80 IMO. I use one of their most versatile pouches for my reload EDC, under a t shirt looks like one of those cell phone belt clip ons the old dudes are rockin’.
          Also Bridger needs A REVOLVER! I knew as soon as “Bridger shoved the muzzle of the GLOCK against the bears neck, trying to shatter its spine and shut the bear down. He fired.” That he would have FTF on the next shot. Damn lucky he could rack the slide, if the bear had his left hand instead of his leg he 100% would have been DOA when his wife arrived.

      • I, too, carry a 329PD, with a Delta Point in a custom, high ride holster, loaded with BB bear loads. It’s a great gun for hiking, berry or mushroom foraging, etc. I generally have at least two speedloaders on me as well.

        I did just start carrying my new Springfield TRP Operator long slide 10mm, in an Alaska Guide chest holster at times, particularly when mountain biking, It stays out of my way better than the belt gun. I load it with the heaviest Underwood ammo available.

    • His mistake was carrying Hornady 10mm. They load their 10mm closer to .40 specs.
      Buffalo Bore, or something approaching that level would have been a better choice.

      • That’s the truth. I like those Hornady loads for general defense use but they’re by design loaded down to decrease flash and recoil.

    • 9mm, .40, its going to take at least half a mag to kill a large animal. If you have hollow points loaded, expect to have to put 6+ in its head before it stops moving. Stagger FMJ(Ball) with HPs, HPs won’t penetrate but in case you still want them for defense…

    • I recommend either, but .44 mag leaves no doubt. Just a question of how many rounds you feel comfortable with. (I’d lean .44, personally.)

    • Body shots to a bear will do very little unless you hit something vital. (Not likely when he’s charging at you.) You must go for head shots. Especially at close range.

    • Any semi-automatic pistol when pressed against a surface with enough force, even a soft surface, will push the slide slightly out of battery and not allow the pistol to fire. This is not a defect of the pistol. Pretty basic knowledge actually.

  4. Always wanted to hunt a bear. Maybe if I’m lucky I can book a trip with Bridger in the future. Ram and bear are the only two animals that I have always wanted to hunt. Down here in Ga we don’t really have much opportunity for those.

    Hope he gets well!

  5. You can criticize the guy’s choice of 10mm all you want, but in a fight as dynamic and fast-moving as that one was, high-capacity probably saved his life. No handgun rounds are magic. They still have to hit something vital. The first shots to the body might have proven fatal, but not in time to save him. There were almost no times in the fight where he had time for careful aim. If he’d had a revolver and taken the same shots, he would have been out of ammo long before he was able to get the final kill shot in.

    The guy cleared a malfunction while a bear was chewing on his leg. He’s an effing badass.

    • “The guy cleared a malfunction while a bear was chewing on his leg. He’s an effing badass.”
      Same thing I read.

      • Well, let’s be real, here, he took over Dad’s business of guiding bear hunts? And, of course, he was raised by a man who made his living guiding bear hunts from 30 years back? And his son wants to run along to see the bear? And his wife wants to bring a friend to chase the bear? Hell, ALL of these people are living on a whole ‘nother level from me or anyone I know.

    • By my count he fired no more than 6 rounds… Why did high capacity save his life? I would say the choice of a semi auto almost killed him. If the bear had his left hand in his mouth instead of his leg Bridger would have been SOL. Revolvers don’t jam from contact shots.

      • From this bit: “Bridger does not remember shooting during the fall. His family found shell casings down the trail of broken tree limbs and brush” I take it to mean that more than the rounds specifically called out in the play-by-play were fired, but Bridger doesn’t recall it. What with falling down a mountain, while hugging a bear, I think he may have been preoccupied.

    • I can’t believe no one else if talking about that fact that he cleared the jam and kept thinking. That bear had every intent to kill him and he gave it the big ol’ F**k YOU as up close an personal as it gets.

  6. I believe bear spray to still be the #1 option for bear. I’m not saying be unarmed but it’s a clear plan B option to me.

    • There are many who say that bear spray is more effective than firearms but I would use caution when following this advice. From what I’ve seen most of the bear spray studies are somewhat flawed and misleading. In some of the studies most of the uses of spray are against curious bears who got too close to people and in the few instances it was used against a charging bear it didn’t fare very well. In other cases the researchers won’t even release their data to the public (this is a dead giveaway that a study can’t be trusted). Much like a lot of the anti gun ‘studies’ that are quoted in the media, it is easy to manipulate data to show a desired outcome.

      I don’t live in bear country, so this isn’t really a great concern of mine. I would just urge those of you who need to make a choice between bear spray and firearms to actually look at the studies that have been done and read the critiques of them.

      • You are correct about the so called studies. The USFS came out with a study that proved bear spray was more effective than firearms. The trouble was that they used nuisance bears such as bears around a camp that were sprayed as an example of a bear attack prevented! No lie. That is what they were doing. It’s called Procrustean research. You have the conclusion you want and you stretch, cut and omit the data until it fits. It is done in everything nowadays. In my business we called the biologists that practiced this bioistutes.

        The truth is that pepper spray is effective 80% of the time when used absolutely correctly. Using it absolutely correctly is not always easy. A firearm of the proper caliber is effective 100% of the time when used absolutely correctly, that is a shot to the vitals. Granted that isn’t always easy to do. I have killed a few bears in my life and all were killed with one shot. Some dropped like lightening on the shot. Heart shots were running dead. That isn’t unusual. Really any animal hit right with the right cartridge and bullet is going to die quickly. You hear these stories about bullet proof cape buffalo. I am not an expert only having killed three cape buffalo but they all dropped with one shot. Most of these buffalo that won’t die are the result of poor shooting usually caused by the hunter having more gun than he can handle.

      • I spent time last summer working on Chichagof Island in Alaska, one of the densest populations of Alaska Brown bears in AK. I took bear spray along. I was not hunting but bears would frequently come around town…..a local native American and I were having a discussion about bear spray…..he said they call it “seasoning” up there!!! Which means, don’t depend on it to save you from the worlds largest predator….he packs a .460 and a rifle everywhere he goes….I’ll take it from him as good advice.

    • if 10 mil pills (albeit under loaded ones for the situation) didn’t make that bear flinch, I’m dubious how quick some extra picante OC spray would.

  7. Well that just chaps my ass, because I’ve been feeding that Bear oreo’s for 5 years. I wondered what happened to “Cuddles”, some SOB went n sicked his dogs on it

  8. Two mistakes:
    (1) He used hollowpoint bullets instead of hardcast lead with large, flat meplates.
    (2) He stopped shooting at the initial engagement.

    I would have kept shooting at that initial engagement until that bear was down for the count or the handgun was empty.

    Oh, and kudos for racking the slide and ejecting the round that did not go bang!

  9. I am glad he is alive. Impressed that he kept his head in a life/death situation. Another case that convinces me the 10mm is too light for bear defense. 44 Magnum or 45 Colt (Ruger loads) is the minimum.

    • Not all 10 mm are loaded the same. Try Underwood Extreme Penetrator staggered with any other 10 mm brand in same gun, and report back how it was.

  10. honestly hollowpoints vrs a 400lb anything isn’t a good idea

    there’s a reason why bear ammo is almost always some form of heavy hardcast if its anything less than a 454 casull, and even then you still want hardcast because penetration is key here

    • +1 Hollow points are a very stupid idea for large animals. They don’t penetrate. If anything, stagger HP wit FMJ

  11. Buffalo Bore Hard cast next time big guy! Glad you survived, I crapped myself reading this, great write-up and just goes to show how things can and often do go sideways fast. Hope you have a speedy recovery!

  12. Quite a story! No criticism from me save spring fatigue on his mag. I don’t buy it-keep your gat fully loaded.

  13. Critical duty is NOT made for Bear, Underwood xtream penetrate those are! (Plus Underwood is a much hotter load!) yes you are lucky to have survived that one! Good thing you didn’t run into something like a grizzle.

  14. I’m one of Bridger’s clients. He is the most knowledgeable and safety conscious guides/outfitters I have ever encountered. He wasn’t guiding a hunt when this freakishly outrageous event transpired. He a real pro and I can’t wait to hunt with him again. Glad he is still around.

    • Thank you , Sir , for bringing some sanity to this Chinese Fire Drill . You fight with what you got and never stop fighting . That’s what saves a good man’s ass .
      Bear spray and bells on an already dog provoked bear ! Give me a break !
      You ‘experts’ go 1 on 1 with a provoked large animal , wild or domestic , and then assess an ‘I was there’ moment .

  15. Shot placement killed the bear. The caliber was an afterthought.
    I’m sure it tore him the hell up on the way down, tho.

  16. Ok this is Bridger Petrini here. I never ever get involved in stuff like this and am definitely no social media kind of guy. I just had this article that Dean wrote emailed to me and read it. I made the mistake of reading the comments!

    1. I’m in the off season so there’s “man stopper” hollow points in my glock that was sitting in my truck door. I wasn’t hunting! Exercising dogs remember. For all you “know it all’s” I’m fully aware that those rounds are not bear medicine. I use 220 grain hard cast when I’m actually hunting.

    2. The glock did not malfunction on its own. When I smashed it against the bears body I took it out of battery and was clearly my fault. sorry I was a little stressed at the moment! No fault of the pistol. Also the reason he didn’t crash then was I missed his spine. Sorry he wasn’t holding still for me.

    3. If you’d read the article I intentionally took marginal shots to begin with because I was really afraid of trying for a head shot because if I missed I would hit my dogs potentially. And for the dipshit that made the comment about me not holding my ground just simply hasn’t been in this situation. It was either move or he’s gonna run me over! I guess you’d have held your ground anyhow huh?

    4. I have great big heavy revolvers. They’re great guns. But as one of you said earlier if this situation doesn’t make you a high capacity mag guy nothing will. I’ll never go “dangerous situation” anymore without one! So I definitely agree on that. No more five shooters for me!

    5. No holster because I was just exercising dogs remember? I didn’t even have a gun until wife showed up with my truck. Forgive me for that!

    6. And as far as bear spray give me the gun every time. The author here, Dean has basically proven heavily that contrary to popular belief guns are way more effective then bear spray. Do your research and make your best judgment according to your own needs.

    Sorry I just had to pipe up because I got angry reading all you arm chair QB’s criticism. This was a spooky gosh dang deal! I apologize to all of you that commented who were cordial and I really appreciate some of your comments. It’s not my intention to offend anyone. It just shows how the internet allows a person to just mouth off with no repercussions. My apologies and y’all can now say anything you want I just had to pipe up a little. Take care!

    • Brother, I’m glad you survived this encounter! I just think you could have survived it better and without injury.
      1. You LIVE in bear country and were going after a bear. That requires bear loads. All. The. Time.
      2. The Glock or any other pistol wouldn’t have malfed because if you’d done #1 above the bear would’ve been dead before it got to you.
      3. Dogs are replaceable. People aren’t. What if the bear had killed you and gone after your family because your were worried about shooting your dogs?
      4. Glock 20 for the win!
      5. Again, you LIVE in bear country. A gun should be on your hip all day. In a holster. With a 2nd magazine.
      6. Powerful gun for the win!
      Again, I’m delighted that you survived this attack! Please carry an appropriate firearm with appropriate loads at all times. God speed on your recovery!

      • OK Texican I give up! You are clearly the expert here and I bow and submit to you! Just tell me how many bear hunts you’ve guided in your life and let’s compare? If the situation could’ve been avoided I promise you I would have done so. I’ll make the call on how valuable my dogs are to me and you can on yours. You’re telling me how to live where me and my family have lived and thrived and never been attacked by a bear before for four generations. I think everyone here including myself other than you would agree this was a total freak deal. Dean did a great job here so take it for what it is and please stop running your mouth!

        • Bridger, just because you’ve done something your whole life doesn’t mean you couldn’t improve upon methods, techniques and safety. I’m glad you’re alive and no one else in your family got hurt. I commend you on your performance once the fight began. Have a great life!

        • Skilled storytelling of an incredible encounter! I am beyond impressed at Mr. Bridger’s ability to stay in the fight!

          As to Texican’s prior reply… I’m planning to stop at Kroger’s on the way home, maybe the cleaners too. In light of your advice, I’ll grab my Casull and a 12 gauge (slugs) just in case I’m attacked by a 400lb thug wearing a thick coat. NFL linemen are known to live around here too. One can’t be too careful.

      • I think what is truly heroic here is some internet genius continuing his hindsight-QB extravaganza now that our subject has actually shown up.

        Kudos to you Texican, you’re dumber than those rocks this guy was standing on.

      • While you mean well and your points are valid the tuth of the matter is that reality is hardly ideal. I admire Mr Petrini mainly for staying in the fight. Man in a fight must always do with whatever he has. Petrini did great. Could he have better bullets in? Shure and it is good that you pointed it out. But what about fifle, should he have a rifle? That would be even better, should he disregard his dogs? Maybe,… I would not. I guess what I am trying to say is that while your points are valid I would not use them to criticize the guy.

    • You’ll get no criticism from me. Good job staying in the fight, keeping your head about you and winning.

      Godspeed you to a quick and complete recovery and don’t ever let anyone tell those kids that their Dad isn’t a badass.

    • Bridger,
      Glad you came out of it alive, get well and have a speedy recovery.

      Also, always keep the mag of a gun topped off, no downloading the ammo in it when holds 15 rounds, load 15 rounds. I mean, really, do you really want to have to do a reload with a bear on top of you? 😉 No one has complained about having too much ammo in a fight.

      And again, have a speedy recovery.

    • Looks like there is a consensus developing in this debate.

      First, it’s clear that nobody really needs a 10mm fully semi-automatic Glock to save his life from going mano-a-paw with a bear.

      Second, only a real expert like DiFi knows exactly what a citizen needs to defend himself when seconds count and help is only 20 minutes away.

      Thank God you survived. Thank God you live in America where we still have a 2A and a right to life. Every citizen has a right-to-choose to save his own life. You may have erred in your choice of action, magazine capacity or ammunition; but, it’s your shot-to-call. Bloomberg, DiFi and the Moms won’t be there for you when the going gets tough.

    • Glad you’re okay, if you like the Glock you should try the Glock 21 with the 460 Rowland conversion and underwood ammo, it will be 2 rounds less than the 20, but with 44 magnum power…best wishes on your recovery!

    • Mr. Petrini,

      I have no doubt that you are an excellent hunting guide and none of our comments are meant to detract from that. And I am thrilled that you survived and shared a fantastic (and detailed) account of your encounter.

      I am going to politely disagree with you on one point: that you were wise and prudent being unarmed (or insufficiently armed) in bear country, especially while sending out your dogs to potentially track and/or corner a bear. Why are you thinking that you only need to be sufficiently armed (which includes stout loads with hardcast lead bullets) when you are hunting or guiding a hunt?

      Every time I go out in bear country, I carry a large caliber handgun with ammunition that is appropriate for stopping bear attacks. Whether I am bird watching, picking wild edible berries, hiking, camping, or hunting, I carry that large caliber handgun in my shoulder holster, ready at a moment’s notice. I cannot begin to understand how someone would think they only need bear defense when hunting.

      • Because 99.999% of the time it is a non issue. Like he said, 40 years of guiding in the family and no bear attacks. He could do it for 40 more years and not have another. The article mentions that when you’ve done a potentially dangerous thing 100’s of times without issues you may become a little complacent. Yes, a hiker or jogger in bear country has been attacked and killed by a bear. However there have been millions of jogs and hikes where no one was hurt or even had a close encounter. They wouldn’t necessarily be dumb for not carrying a 3.5lbs revolver on every jog. Am I dumb if I fly in a plane because in plane crashes nearly always everyone dies and there are documented cases of plane crashes? No. It would be ridiculous to not fly for that reason. I fly, I also choose to conceal carry, and I would have a gun on me when in bear country. That’s me. Others can do what they want. You criticize for not having the right load. I complement him for pausing to get any gun at all. You say he is lucky after choosing the wrong weapon. I say he was smart for having it available and taking it with him. I’m sure he would have liked it better if he had the better loads in the gun. Probably will from this point forward. Bottom line, the gun he had combined with his will to fight and survive saved him in what amounts to an extreamly rare encounter with a bear.

    • Bridger, glad you are here, in the sense of being alive and reading the comments on TTAG. Well done on both counts. I’m glad Dean shared the experience here, an did a great job with it. LarryinTX and JWTaylor’s upstream comments about badassness hit the nail on the head.

    • Lot of these armchair dickheads got no clue about real life on a ranch or in the wild . OR , the relationship we have with dog and horse members or our respective families .
      NOR the human elements associated with us . Where we go one ; we go all .
      I’m not asking you to forgive them . Just ignore them .
      How many large animal fights have they survived ?
      68 yrs old and crippled from winning . Retired and gonna be traveling . If our random travels swing your way I would like to stop by to shake the hand of another winner .

    • Bridger… you are in mine and Ed’s thoughts and prayers… I know this isn’t an easy time for you, but the strength of your faith and your family is going to get you through this.

      God Bless you,

      Dana and Ed Herbold

    • Mr. Petrini

      You have a beautiful family and I’m pleased to no end that you are still around to be a role model for them. Your actions and will to survive were pure heroics in my book.

      As for the Glock, I share your choice. It’s what I carried for six years in Alaska and I’m glad I never had use it in self defense. All my close encounters were runners. I bought a used, gen2 Glock-20 in 1994 right before the assault weapon ban. I managed to buy 3 additional, 15 round magazines days before they went extinct for the next 10 years. People don’t take into account the G20 never had its full potential for a back country gun for 10 whole years thanks to the AWB. All “hi-cap” G20 mags were precious like gold during those years. I equipped all five mags I had with the 1st generation of the Pierce plus two extensions, so all my mags carried 17 rounds – and reliably I might add. I carried fully loaded, all the time and never had an issue with reliability from spring fatigue – but that’s not to say i didn’t think about it. In 2003 my fear caught up with me, whether founded or not and I bought new Wolf springs for each mag which made them a little harder to load. A couple years later one magazine’s back literally split in half from sitting loaded because early Glock mags are not fully metal lined – the new ones – the ones you are probably using are light years better in build quality than the originals. My old mags that were worth $150 each for all those years are now eclipsed by a much better product you can pick up for $25 each – free shipping. I equipped my G20 with steel Trijicon sites in 1995 for two equally important reasons. 1. I could use the gun in the dark, which Alaska has a lot of in the off season and 2. it allowed me to rack the slide off the heal of my boot as fast as I can with my left hand as an alternative method of making ready without tearing off the factory plastic back site. I practiced “taking a knee” to charge the weapon with just one hand it until it became fluid motion. When you look around there’s actually quite a few firm, hard surfaces you can utilize to charge weapon when you don’t have to worry about damaging the gun.
      In the early nineties nearly all the major ammo manufacturers had high powered 10mm offerings before they started becoming lawsuit conscious and downloading everything to 40 S&W power levels. I carried ancient Remington FMJs just shy of 41 mag in energy levels before they discontinued the load. The modern offerings of bear loads for 10mm are simply the 10mm living up to its full potential – there’s never been a better time for 10mm ammo selection. I loved the G20 for it’s weatherproofness? is that a word? It was the only gun I could bring back from the wilderness/salt water ocean spray without having rust starting on it – stainless guns included! It is light weight and easy to pack, easy to carry all your ammo in a ready to use state (as in magazines vs boxes) safer to carry than a revolver (condition3), far quicker to reload. My G20 is a shooter. My criteria for accuracy in a handgun is being able to consistently ring 6′ gongs at 25 yards. If i can do this then everything inside that range is a piece of cake. My G20 can do this, it out shoots me. It also can empty 17 rounds PBR pretty damn quick if needed. Not to say I don’t love big revolvers for back country (love all guns) but there will always be a special place in my heart for the G20. For me two mags meant 34 easy to carry, hard hitting rounds. The sweet spot where ft lbs meets firepower.

      All the best to you.

    • Hi Bridger, So glad you survived and are back in business! I am sorry that after surviving the bear and sharing your story, you were (are) subjected to the over the top buffoonery from so many self appointed ‘experts’. Probably should have turned off comments for this article. smh

      I came here from a link put in the comments of a video Paul Harrell did on bear defense with a large caliber handgun. Paul doesn’t expound, he just shoots various calibers and bullet types into his “meat target” and shows the results. He has demonstrated – on camera – the validity of what you are saying.

      God bless you and your family. If I ever need a bear guide in your territory – I will be calling you!

  17. ” not to aim for the head. He didn’t want to hit one of his dogs.”
    Look, I love my dogs as much as the next guy, but if my corgi or chihuahuas are ever latched on to a 400 lb bear head, there is a chance they’re going to get shot.

  18. Really doubt I’d have the same composure if I had a bear gnawing on my leg. And southern Colorado huh? Fortunately the black bears where I live fight nothing but trashcans. But a bear is still a bear

  19. No criticism, you’re a lucky SOB. However all my CCW pistols have mags with either HP and Penetrators or BB alternating in the weapon depending on environment and circumstances. I get a report a black bear is around i switch out mags. I like the options to go heavy or just man-stoppers. When I go anywhere in the woods the heavier rounds go in, because I am not taking a chance. If bears are a regular thing around you, you should I believe, be opting for the take-down power over self defense rounds, but thats my $.02 worth. You did what you had to with what you had on hand, and came out alive, nothing but respect here.

  20. I would be angry with the hounds for running off and not fighting the bear. They must not have been Walkers. Hell I had a Brittany that would go after bears. Now I have a German Wirehair that pointed a cougar last December. When the cougar flushed he hightailed it out of there leaving me with his cat. Well I bought him for birds not cougars. He is extremely brave when faced with a quail or chukar.

  21. Awesome survival story!

    “The author here, Dean has basically proven heavily that contrary to popular belief guns are way more effective then bear spray” – Could someone point me in the direction of this info? I’ve been looking into this lately and the data I came across says bear spray is more effective:
    “based on their investigations of human-bear encounters since 1992, persons encountering grizzlies and
    defending themselves with firearms suffer injury about 50% of the time. During the same period, persons
    defending themselves with pepper spray escaped injury most of the time, and those that were injured
    experienced shorter duration attacks and less severe injuries.

    I’m no expert, just here to learn. I’ve had several encounters with black bears in the wild, and they’ve never been aggressive, but, as this story shows, you never know.

    • RT,

      I don’t remember all the details …

      The claim that bear spray is “better” than firearms has a serious sampling/bias problem, the specific detail of which I do not remember. It might have been something along the lines of:
      (a) The investigator included events where bears were simply curious and successfully driven off with bear spray.
      (b) The investigator excluded events where bears were simply curious and successfully driven off with a firearm discharge.

      Anyhow, in the instances where firearms performed “poorly”, I believe every instance is a result of an inadequate caliber, poor ammunition choice, and/or poor marksmanship.

      Of course we have total control over caliber and ammunition choice: that is not an acceptable reason to claim that firearms are inferior to bear spray. Would we claim that bear spray is ineffective when people used tiny containers of pepper spray intended for human attackers? Of course not. Neither can we claim that firearms are ineffective when people use insufficient calibers or ammunition.

      Now marksmanship can certainly be a reason to claim that firearms are ineffective. If you are somehow not able to shoot a bear and your firearm is nothing more than a noise maker, it is easy to see how a noise maker could be much less effective than bear spray. Once again, even that is largely within your control since all you have to do is practice a bit.

      I believe any of these platforms will give you an extremely high probability of surviving a black bear attack with minimal or no injuries, assuming stout powder loads:
      .357 Magnum revolver with 180 grain hardcast lead bullets.
      10mm semi-auto pistol with 200 grain hardcast lead bullets.
      .41 Magnum revolver with 250 grain hardcast lead bullets.
      .44 Magnum revolver with 240 grain jacketed softpoints.
      .44 Magnum revolver with 300 grain hardcast lead bullets.

      By the way I believe the best sources for the loads above (which come with stout powder charges) are Underwood Ammunition, DoubleTap Ammunition, and BuffaloBore Ammunition — all available for mail order via the Internet of course.

      Incidentally, I also chronographed Winchester white box 240 grain semi-jacketed soft points in .44 Magnum and found them to be incredibly stout loads.

  22. ANY pistol is a shitty choice for a 400lb bear, period. Better than nothing, definitelty, but a simple old school .45-70 or a 12ga with slugs would be infinitely better than any pistol of any caliber.

    • Jim,

      While long guns are always better than handguns, a nice revolver in .44 Magnum with a 6-inch barrel, stout loads, and appropriate bullets will put down a 400 pound bear in very short order.

      I firmly believe in the mantra, “Go big or stay home.” I believe the above platform satisfies that mantra.

  23. That dumb fucker is lucky to be alive. As an aside, this is the risk you run when you fuck with nature for a living.

    • You can Darwin out by ranching with a herd of Long Horns (cattle not football players) My brother herds them from Ford F-150

      My husband has a Smith & Wesson 357 in the wheelwell of his SUV. Lost his Bowie knife years ago.
      I have a 357 Dan Wesson he needs to load and put under his pillow and also needs a smaller pocket handgun for answering the door. He answers the door without bracing it with his foot and at least a 380HP. He’s not a “gun guy” but by damn he’s going to become one since I can’t get down stairs fast enough to make a difference. I Home Carry with Ruger 22lr locked and loaded pocket carry and vehicle within reach. He’s also going to be taking a LTC Class with my Ruger SR22 and he will getting one those as well for outbreaks of rabid grey fox and Bobcats on our small ranch weekend home. Also have Hispanic neighbors who had 20 or more family/friends on the riverbank behind our property. The smart MS13 don’t openly display gang signs. If he asks me what I’m afraid of? My answer is not a damn thing since I carry and you will be carrying now too!
      Not a wife hates or is afraid of handguns in our household.BTW I’m a bad ass woman. Don’t believe me? Ask a guy in Dallas that tied to rape me and thought that since I was not armed I was prey. Used to have to address my oldest brother from slapping me with a dinner plate. I disrespected him by telling him to shut up while I was doing the dishes. Just had a dinner plate in my hand drying it and hit him on the head with it. Never slapped me again.
      There is a reason why humans have teeth and women usually have real fingernails. I keep mine “Catholic Nun” short so don’t break them if have to use alternative weapons by grace of God and Mother Nature or Darwin .
      So yes, even as in my Social Security years, I’m still a “badass” woman, if my life or serious injury. I’m in my hip break years now. Already broke left hip due to a pet sit accident. Did total of 12 weeks rehab and have total function. Might have been more really don’t remember now. So very aware of surroundings, ready physically and mentally to go to battle if ever needed.
      So is that your definition of “bad ass” I believe I meet that definition, if required. If not just a responsible critical thinking state of mind and friendly, kind and compassionate care taker for family, friends and our two Golden Retrievers!

  24. I’ve read this blog for years and can’t remember ever bothering with a comment.

    Jackass arm chair quarterbacking going on here. I can’t imagine how anyone with a reasonable grasp of reality could criticize this gentleman (unless they survived a similar situation). This guy was both mentally and materially prepared enough for a disastrous, spontaneous occurrence and came out on top.

    The guys a grade A bad ass. If I ever do go for blacks with dogs it will be with him.

    • “The guys a grade A bad ass. If I ever do go for blacks with dogs it will be with him.”
      Was that a quote from Django Unchained?!?

      • Hehe. Guess I should have qualified “black bears” (as opposed to browns). Sometime soon I suppose I will have crazed SJWs picketing my house if they lose sight of context.

    • Lex,

      Jackass arm chair quarterbacking going on here. I can’t imagine how anyone with a reasonable grasp of reality could criticize this gentleman (unless they survived a similar situation). This guy was both mentally and materially prepared enough for a disastrous, spontaneous occurrence …

      I am not sure if you were directing your comment at me. My main criticism is that the victim went afield with ineffective ammunition (180 grain hollowpoint bullets rather than 200+ grain hardcast bullets). That is a valid point. (The victim even acknowledged that he usually carries 220 grain hardcast lead bullets.)

      At any rate my overwhelming focus is on learning and teaching. And this event provides important learning material.

  25. That was the bed-time story for my 4, 7, and 9 year old boys tonight.
    The narrative had their full attention. There isn’t much that gets them to sit still and listen hard with wide eyes. They each had to stare at my phone and visually inspect the pictures of where it actually happened.
    Its not much of a silver lining, but your worst day ever sure made for a great story at the Stevens house tonight. Thanks for being willing to share it.
    Godspeed on the recovery.

  26. You don’t need “Alternating FMJ & JHP”. They are both compromised.
    Get Extreme Penetrator line of bullets sold by Underwood and other brands.
    They will penetrate even 1.25″ of anti-ballistic glass and still retain enough energy to punch a human skull.
    When it gets to the body the 10 mm can curve 3″ permanent cavities. There’s enough powder in that thing to use 6″ or longer barrels and still have a lot of flame (unburnt in barrel).
    If you’re hunting bears, you should be carrying nothing but Extreme Penetrator. They come in many calibers.

  27. keeping his head during the situation was life saving . sliding down that slope probably kept the bear from getting his head instead of his leg . that would have been bad

  28. Good God man. I admire you. I too am hiking in a bear country in AZ with my dogs and I too carry Glock 20 but with 220grain hard cast bullets. Your post was inspirational about how not to give up. Do not worry about people criticizing you. They are probably driving huge pickups while they never left a pavement.
    God Bless you and your family and dogs.

  29. That is quite a story!
    Lot’s of woulda shoulda coulda going on here from the armchair experts- –
    Mr. Petrini did what he had to do, under extreme duress, with what he had.
    He kept in the fight, no matter what. It does not matter what kind of gun and ammo a man has if he does not the spirit.
    Good on you, Mr Petrini, may you recover fully and have a long happy life with your family!

  30. @Sora sorry but I’ll do me you do you, EP will go through perp and 2 houses before it stops, not taking a change on that unless said perp gets in a vehicle or hunkers down behind serious cover to use EP. Know whats behind your target.

    • Yes Extreme Penetrator will go through two houses before it stops. It is designed to go through hard stuff without losing energy. Even more so than FMJ that will deform on hard impact.
      But the Phillips head design of it makes it spend most of the energy when going through liquid and body.

      A good aim is critical when it comes to indoor shooting with the Extreme Penetrator.
      I keep it indoor as well. I intend to be capable of shooting through doors if needed. Personal risk I’m taking. Also take it out with me in case I have to shoot through auto glass and body. I’ve been robbed by thugs on an old Caddy. And we’ve seen the vehicle ramming attacks.

      But for bears, etc. This thing will punch through rib, skull and then wreck havoc to the soft tissue organs for massive damage.

  31. The only comment that stuck with me after I took an active shooter class was the will to win beats the skill to win.

  32. I read that a guy tested that idea of too much pressure on the springs. From what I remember, it was for a couple of rifles and maybe a handgun. After three years of magazines being load full, he fired them and there was no problem. So go from there. I keep my magazines full all the time. He should have had one mag in the gun and two full mags on his waist. If he wanted, he could reload into another set of mags every two months? Anyway, I think living in that type of environment, he became too complacent. He should always carry his handgun with extra rounds all the time, unless his family moves down from bear country. I’m just saying.

    • Regarding springs, I think it depends on the quality of the spring steel. I have high quality mags that have been kept fully loaded for years at a time that are still going strong, but then I’ve had a cheap-o extension spring that came with a tube extension for my 870 fail in a couple years — by the time it got to the last round, the shell was practically rattling in the tube. There wasn’t enough spring pressure to get the last round to move in position to chamber.

      I’ve had a couple cheap SKS “detachable” mags from early in my gun days also show notably weakened springs.

      Not all steel is created equal.

      If your springs are of high quality, spring set probably isn’t an issue.

  33. Mr. Petrini, thank you for sharing your story with Mr. Weingarten so that we could read it here. I found it to be instructive and thought-provoking, to put it mildly. And inspiring, as I admire the presence of mind and sheer grit it took to prevail against that bear. As others have said, that was Badass!

    In my experience, looking back I can always find lessons in my actions and their outcomes, and I’d expect you may have found some in the situation you described. But I will not presume to suggest what those might be, as you were there, and I was not.

    I wish you a complete and speedy recovery.

    Again, thank you Sir, for sharing your story.

  34. The gun is fine. The bullets were for soft skinned humans and not fury and fur and massive bone structure. Buffalo Bore bullets for the 10mm are the only way to go.
    There are confirmed stories of a 10mm stopping Brown bears.
    God bless, heal up, and get back to hunting and guiding. Happy Trails.

  35. Sir

    Of all the wonderful and humbling compliments people have given this is the most humbling and flattering so far. I’ve tried to not respond intentionally because frankly I don’t have time but I had to hear. Thank you so much for your service to our great country. I sir with respect have to correct you in one thing though. I sir wouldn’t be half the man you or your men were in the jungles of Vietnam! Thank you again!

  36. When you keep your head and make good use of whatever you have with you even while a bear of roughly twice your weight is doing its best to kill you, then any negative comments sort of lose their validity. After my upcoming surgery to remove my gall bladder, I need to get back in shape. I would like to go bear hunting with someone who can keep his head in a manure impacting on the spinning wind machine type of situation. I will be checking on Mr. Petrini’s bookings in about a year.

  37. Mr. Bridger,
    I think what you did and survived was nothing short of incredible. And all these stupid armchair QBs like Texican would be dead now in such an encounter, of that I have no doubt. You used the best gun for the job THE ONE YOU HAD!!!! It takes true grit and a warriors heart to come thru that the way you did. Well done and you are most certainly a Bad Ass!

  38. I was lucky enough to live in Alaska for almost 4 years in the early 90s. Arrived with a bunch of 1911s and people guns, …left with large caliber weapons, and a love for the big stuff. I regularly carried a Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44 mag and sometimes a Freedom Arms .454 Casul that friends talked me into. I never had a occasion to use them for their intended defensive purpose, but I had several close encounters with AK Brown bears and I can tell you this, I left every one of those encounters with the same three thoughts: 1. I couldn’t believe the sheer power that the animal projected. 2. “Holy Shit!” and 3. No matter what I had with me at the time I wished it was bigger and had more rounds in it! In those days the only Semi Auto available with big bore capability that we knew of was the LAR Grizzley in .45 Win Magnum (later .44 and .50) and you needed Wilt Chamberlain’s hands to get a proper grip on that thing. I remember my first encounter while fishing on the Ninilchik River, right after I had arrived I was carrying one of my 1911s in a shoulder rig and how even at the 50 or so yards away I felt woefully under armed (no pun intended). A guy near me asked if that was a .45 I had after the bear had moved on, when I said yeah, he said; “You’re not from here, are you?” Point being hunting deer or any other grazing animal would never prepare you for what even a small Bear is capable of. And 400 lbs is not small, go to your local gym, load up 400 lbs on the bars and try to lift it, then imagine it hitting you at 25-35 MPH. If you have to shoot in defense at a bear its always a bad situation, its always too close and you always want to hit it as hard as you can as many times as you can. I carry a Sig in 10mm when I hunt (not in Alaska anymore) as a back up now, still love my Rugers but I like the round count and the simplicity of the semi under stress.

  39. Great story. This is a perfect example of fighting through the pain and keeping your head. I saw men do it in Iraq, and this cowboy did it in the mountains. This guy is a stud!

    And yeah, I love Glocks. I carried one on contract in Iraq, and I carry one now. Good thing he was carrying one too because the only problem he had was one any gun would have had but many would not have come back from.

  40. Two things were learned from this, 1). He’s very lucky his wife called and she knew where he was going and went there. 2). He should have had a S&W Bulldog 44 magnum or 50 cal revolver. All jokes aside, GOD bless that cowboy. This world is in dire need of many more like him.

  41. If one is to use the Glock 10mm for bear defense then FMJ 200 grain or Buffalo Bore 220 grain loads folks. Non-expanding and with lots of penetration. Skip the chest shots if possible and go for noggin shots.

    JHPs are made for HUMANS!!! Especially the ‘Critical Defense’ loads. They expand to fast and I doubt will get to a Bears heart/lungs. FMJ or super hard cast folks!!!

    And always carry it in bear country.

    And BTW, I have .44 magnums (several of ’em) and one Glock 40 MOS 10mm. And yes, I’d carry the Glock. Just way easier to shoot strait and fast.

  42. I live and work in bear country (Alaska). I’ve been stalked, charged and had to kill a few…I carry a Marlin 45/70 and a Ruger Alaskan 44mag. Most bears can be persuaded to move-on, but there are the occasional bad attitude types. You want some heavy-hard lead to anchor a large bear, and you keep hitting him, until he is. You have no idea how strong and fast a large bear is… Thanks for the story, and good job staying in the fight.

  43. Mr. Bridger. I’m praising the Lord that He was by your side through this whole episode and that He carried you through. Many negative comments about your gun of choice have been given. Once again they didn’t read the whole story before responding. Nothing was mentioned about where the first rounds hit. Just the neck and head shot. I don’t care how big of lead thrower you have if it’s not placed in a kill zone would do no better than a small bore. Big guns are hard to handle and follow up shots are hard to make. I to personally own a Glock 20 and would hate to be shot with it. I believe it’s plenty capable to handle what you did because you did it with man killers not bear ammo. A man who is proficient with his firearm is way more deadly than the biggest baddest cartridge coming out of an uncontrolled environment. Practice,practice,practice, to become automatic is the answer when facing two or four legged predators. Blessings to you and your family as you move forward. Keep your powder dry. Your a mans man.👍👍

  44. Geez, has anybody wondered why the more experienced guides in Alaska use a 454 Casull revolver and up as their handgun of last resort?
    Having said that, Buffalo Bore does make a 340grain +P+ in 44 Magnum which comes rather close to that 454, at a much lower price. And you have choices if you want to de-power from there, using ‘regular’ 44 Mag ammo or a really ‘lame’ 44 special for the ‘human excrement’ element in the City.
    The 10mm pistol round is as about as effective as a 357 magnum…..only with more rounds to shoot. However is not going to cause the damage a ‘regular’ 44 Mag/revolver round would have, which is what I would carry, given a choice, BUT IT IS DEFINITELY better than nothing, even bear spray. He got lucky he was able to shoot as many times, since these are usually a 1 or 2 shot surprise encounter before it is over and this is where a more powerful caliber makes the difference as you are not in an ideal condition (at the range, not stressed with a stationary target) or had your dogs chasing after the bear, had time to shoot at the bear before it turned around to come after you and you were rolling down the Hill and still shooting the bastard zombie that would not die…..All this seems to be almost out of a Hollywood script!
    Oh to those of you pistol swearers of the 10mm…..yes, it is rather powerful for a pistol and the Glock is nothing to scoff at, but remember the 10mm was going to be used by the FBI after the infamous 1986 Miami shootout. It was replaced by the 40S&W since it had too much recoil for the weaker and smaller agents. There is a difference between a 200 lb male and a 400 lb bear for sure…..Ergo, my argument for the 44 Magnum at least (no limp-wrist problems either) and get the one that can handle that Buffalo Bore ammo and you are good to go anywhere on land in this Hemisphere.

  45. Late to the party here, but anybody who doesn’t think a 10 mm can’t handle a black bear hasn’t shot a lot of biggish animals with a 10, at least in terms of self defense. I’ve killed a 450 lb. boar with my Glock G29 and a 325 boar with my G40. The big boar took a whole magazine because I didn’t score a head shot (had just gotten the gun and didn’t have much practice with it), while smaller boar took one shot to the head to flip nose-in-the-dirt dead at my feet. Both were shot with el cheapo CCI Blazer 200 grain FMJ. I’ve shot several 200+ pound charging sows with my .454 Caasull Toklat, but, as far as I could tell, they weren’t any deader than those I shot with my 10 mm. We don’t have a lot of bears down here, but I’m fairly certain they aren’t a whole lot tougher than a big old boar. Considering that my G29 weighs less than half the Toklat, that’s what I’m carrying in the woods in boar country, but I have definitely upgraded to Bullalo Bore Dangerous Game loads.

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