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For bear hunting, many outfitters believe hard cast bullets, often handloaded to maximum safe fps readings for maximum foot-pounds of energy, are the best choices. Commercial solids, not JHPs, from Buffalo Bore, Winchester, Remington, and other sources can also be used.  Bullets with hollow points are less important because penetration is most important. 10mm pistol makers include colt, smith & wesson, springfield, sig, and others. Choosing a holster that allows for a fast first shot is crucial.

The 10mm semi-auto is increasingly popular as a wilderness defense gun in Alaska. Fully loaded, it’s as light — and a bit more powerful than — a loaded, small frame .357 magnum. The GLOCK 20 10mm pistol holds 15 rounds of ammo versus five or six for a .41 or .44 magnum revolver or a 454 Casull wheelgun. In this case near Homer, Alaska, in the Kenai peninsula backcountry, the sidearm did the job as a bear gun.


A Homer man shot and killed a charging sow brown bear at Humpy Creek last Friday. Kim Woodman, 57, shot the bear five times with a GLOCK 10mm Auto semi-automatic handgun before the bear fell about 6 feet from him. While backing away from the sow, Woodman fell and accidentally shot himself in the left foot . . .

Park Ranger Jason Okuly and Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jason Herreman went to the scene in bear country. In this bear encounter, he found that the charging bear sow died from two gunshot wounds, one below the right eye and one in the chest. Shot placement counts.

Backing away from an attacking animal or person is natural and can be effective. But without eyes in the back of your head, falling down during the bear attack can be a serious danger. To clarify, consider this . . .

You’re backing away as an 800-lb brown bear, black bear, or grizzly bear is charging you at close range. For bear defense, you’re firing a 10mm handgun. You trip, but you stay focused on the threat, firing as you go down. As you press the trigger, your foot flies up into the line of fire as your back goes down to the ground — a case where over-penetration could work to your ultimate advantage.

It’s not uncommon for people in self defense situations, in grizzly country or elsewhere, to inadvertently wound themselves or others. The action is often fast and chaotic. The trick is to keep your eyes on the prize: survival.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.  Gun Watch

For more on the incident, click the link below.

Exclusive Interview With Kim Woodman: 10mm Bear Gun Guy Who Shot His Toe Off [Graphic Video]

For more about bear protection in North America, click the links below.

Wyoming: Another Successful Handgun Defense Against a Grizzly Bear

Bear Spray Failure in Montana

Father Uses Taurus .44 Magnum Revolver to Shoot Grizzly Bear Attacking His Son

Gun Review: Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum Revolver

Gun Review: Grizzly Custom Guns .45-70 Brush Hawg Modified Marlin Lever Gun

New From Lehigh Defense: .45 ACP Xtreme Defense Bullets in Underwood Ammunition

Random Thoughts About the Idaho Grizzly Kill

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


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      • He’d be either pulling a long, heavy DA trigger or he’d have had to thumb cock an SA re volver.

      • he’d more likely be out of ammo, and the bear more likely dead from higher power ammo prior to the slip/fall? just my humble theory, but then anyone can monday morning quarterback any situation. I like to think I would have survived that situation, but untill I come face to face with death by grizzzly, it’s all academic.

    • Maybe he would have run out of bullets before landing killing shots with a revolver. Maybe is a shit word. He came out of an encounter with one of the largest carnivores in the world alive, because he was armed; why try to Monday morning QB it?

        • It’s not being bear chow that’s the problem so much as being bear shit later on that I really don’t find appealing at all. A 10mm hole in my foot would be more than amply satisfying of a trade-off for never having become the leavings of another animal.

          Monday morning QB’ing anyone’s deadly encounter with a large carnivore is the height of hubris. We should be congratulation the guy and honoring him for showing yet another reason why the choice of weapon should be the exclusive domain of the wielder with no room made for others to have any say whatsoever. 15rds of 10mm or 6 of .44mag or 10,000 of .22lr. It’s their choice and when they live, their choice is vindicated.

        • If your survive being eaten by a bear long enough to experience the defecation then I would be truly impressed.

      • That is my plan. Was looking at a G20, and the guy showing me asked if maybe the G40 would be better. You aren’t going to be carrying concealed, so the 6″ barrel is not an issue, and apparently reduces felt recoil. Some reviewer thought that the G40 didn’t have that much more recoil than a 9 mm G17. And it comes MOS ready, if you want a fancier sight.

        So far there really aren’t any brown bears that close, though two were killed maybe 30 miles down river several years ago. Do have a lot of black bears, and I think it only a matter of time until a brown comes around. We shall see b

        • Glock’s not the only manufacturer of 10mm auto. I had a 20SF last year as a bear defense gun. This year I switched to an EAA Witness Steel (new model). It’s easily the most accurate out of the box gun I’ve shot.

      • 10mm Glock with 15 Extreme Penetrator bullets is a powerful weapon for brown bear headshots. Will def get the job done.

    • You don’t get it. This badass has the bar-story of a lifetime, but he needed a conversation starter to get the free drinks, so he puts one in his foot so his limp would draw questions. This guy’s a thinker, with brass ones..

    • Geez, make an observation and everyone loses their minds. lol Of course it’s laudible that this gentleman survived an encounter with a bear. No one is “Monday morning quarterbacking” that. I just know that a lot of wilderness guides and hikers tend to carry large caliber revolvers. Note that this guy only shot five to six times, one of which was in the foot. I was simply curious if AD’s are part of the reason revolvers are still used in the wilderness frequently. Commence flaming.

    • FACT: He’d be dead if he was using a boat-anch… er revolver. He may be a klutz but at least he knows enough to carry the superior firearm.

    • Thats really a ridiculous thought.

      He might have been dead if he had a revolver… thats equally as ridiculous as its all moot. He had a 10mm semi auto and killed a charging grizz DRT without being mauled before the bear expired. Ill take a self inflicted shot in the foot over being mauled any day of the year.

      • The fact that you get nearly 200% more bullets and very very adequate ballistics (with the right loadings) would sell me on the 10mm over any revolver. YMMV.

        • if you already have a 1911 or Glock 21 (& others)you could use the 45 super with only a heavier recoil spring and a fully supported barrel. It has the same potential at the top end as a 10mm and you wouldn’t have to buy another gun. They sell it at Underwood and Buffalo Bore.

        • Using a 10mm against an 800 pound bear is more or less the same as a .32 auto against a 180 pound man. Adequate? Barely maybe. (Obviously it sufficed this time.)

        • The referenced 460 rowland is a ballistic performance match for 44mag but it has the same or better capacity than many 10mm offerings. Suggesting a 10mm over a 460 because it has better capacity and numbers really shows that you fired off an opinion without being willing to spend 3 whole minutes on the google machine. Negligent discharge of words still count as an ND?

        • The .460 Rowland is basically a hot, lengthened .45 ACP. The 10 mm is a hot, lengthened .40 Smith. The .460 has more power, but definitely does not have more capacity than the 10mm. The Glock full size 10mms, the most popular 10mms on the market, hold 15 +1. The .460 Rowland Glock conversions hold 13 + 1.

        • Derek it was one sentence, and you didn’t even read the whole thing, since you apparently missed the word “revolver”, of which .44 mag and .45 LC are routinely the ammunition.

      • Or any centerfire weapon with a butt stock. I’d take my Rug er no.1 (single shot) over a 10mm handgun. Even my .30-30 can put out 3 times the energy of a 10mm and Buffalo Bore even makes a 190gr. that should get sufficient penetration.

        • I personally would be carrying my ksg with slugs. but with the 10mm, we sell buffalo bore lead cast that are meant for bears. if u fire a few at the legs and a few at the head the impact alone would probably stop them.

        • I’ve always considered the 10mm to be more or less the equivalent of the .357 magnum, given similar loads and barrel lengths, although the .357 has a bit of an edge in high SD bullets due to it’s longer cartridge and overall lengths – bear(sic) in mind that a 200gr. 10mm bullet has almost the same SD as a 158gr. .357 slug. Now I’m a huge fan of the .357 cartridge. But I would consider it marginal at best when it comes to large bruins. Especially with a barrel as short as 4.6″ (as in the Glock 20). I wouldn’t hesitate to hike around black bear or cougar country armed with nothing more than my 6″ GP100 loaded with 158gr. Double Tap hollow points. But those critters are much more likely than not to be chased off by yelling at them.

          If I had to hike around grizzly country armed with only a handgun that I actually own, I’d pack my .44mag Blackhawk with some very heavy hard cast bullets. But I think I’d be more comfortable with the above mentioned .30-30 loaded with run of the mill 170gr. soft points. The downside of the handgun calibers that can actually compete with my lowly .30-30 is that the revolvers that chamber them are almost as heavy as the .30-30. And of course there are plenty of more appropriate rifle calibers than .30-30.

          If you knew for a fact that you were going to be charged by an angry brown bear what would you carry?

        • “If you knew for a fact that you were going to be charged by an angry brown bear what would you carry?”

          Carry? HA! If I knew for a fact this was going to happen I’d be sitting in an M1A1 and using the coaxial M240 as my primary with the main 120mm as my secondary, preferably with someone dumber than I up on the .50 and if it all goes to shit I’ll run that bear over!

          In strych9’s ideal world your weapons carry you!

        • The 10mm just has much more firepower than a .357 out of a revolver. Hot 10mm loads out of a Glock 20 will have more power than a 4″ revolver, and hot loads out of a Glock 40 will have more power than a 6″ .357 revolver. By hot I mean Underwood Ammo hot. And the 10 mm Extreme Penetrator will punch through bullet resistant plexiglass.

          Even if you considered the power levels identical (they’re close), you can get 15 + 1 GLOCKs and 2011s versus 6, 7 or 8 shot .357s. Don’t get me wrong, I think the 8 shot Smith revolvers are cool, but they definitely have less firepower (total energy prior to a reload) than .357 revolvers. And I’d hesitate to put the truly hot .357 through the Smith revolvers when the Ruger GP100s are built a lot more strongly.

          Sure, if I knew I was facing a bear I’d pack a semi auto 12 gauge with Brenneke slugs, an elephant gun, or an AR-10 with a 25 round mag. But the 10mm worked. It’s tough to argue success, even though it came with an extra hole in the foot.

          Now the .357 out of a lever gun becomes a whole different animal altogether…

        • ‘Hot 10mm loads out of a Glo ck 20 will have more power than a 4″ re volver, and hot loads out of a Glo ck 40 will have more power than a 6″ .357 re volver.’

          If you’re comparing hot 10mm loads vs. light .357 loads.

          Double Tap;
          Glo ck 20 – 230gr. hard cast = 641 ft/lbs
          4″ GP 100 – 200gr. hard cast = 640 ft/lbs

          Buffalo Bore;
          5″ barrel 10mm – 220gr. hard cast = 703 ft/lbs
          5″ S&W .357 – 180gr. hard cast = 783 ft/lbs

          Underwood (no test barrel info);
          10mm – 220gr. hard cast = 703 ft/lbs
          .357 – 180gr. hard cast = 783 ft/lbs

          You’ll find similar results with lighter bullets.

        • Gov,

          Looks like Buffalo Bore has reformulated their loads. They used to warn against shooting their hot .357 out of Smith .357s. Still the .357 / 10mm energy levels are very close, and 16 rounds of 10mm has twice the energy as 8 .357 rounds. I think an 8 shot Smith .357 with a 5″ barrel would be a very cool multipurpose gun.

          And Underwood 135 JHPs run over 800 FPE from a 6″ barrel. Their hotter than the light bullet .357 loads. Roughly 833 for 135 grain 10 mm vs. 802 FPE for 125 grain .357.

        • I’ve heard that a lot of fishing guides in Alaska like to carry around Mossberg Cruisers with slugs. Buttstocks are for suckers!

        • No argument here on round count, 81.

          That 135gr. 10mm bullet has a much lower SD than even a 125gr. .357 slug. Lower SD means more room for powder, but less penetration and less energy farther downrange. Probably an outstanding self defense round though. There’s a problem using that trick with a re volver. Low SD bullet will clear the case before the front of the bullet reaches the forcing cone. This allows superheated gas to pass in front of the bullet into the barrel which will lead to cracking the forcing cone. If you look at the 110gr. loads they’re all very mild loads, around 400 ft/lbs. If you’re shooting a Coonan or Desert Eagle you could load these up as hot or hotter than the 10mm 135gr.

          Still, if I had to use a handgun on a brown bear I’d rather have 6 rounds of anything bigger than .44 than 15 rounds of 10mm or .357. If a bear is charging it will almost certainly cover 50 yards before you could get a 7th round off anyway. Best make the first 6 count.

        • Gov,

          Not sure if the .357 has the edge on SD. They’re both great rounds. If memory serves, the case capacity of the 10mm is about 24 vs. 27 gr for the .357. So the .357 wins there.

          I own a .357 J frame but don’t own a 10mm – unless you count 1/2 dozen .40 Smith “short and weak” pistols so maybe I’m just being a PITA for no particular reason. If I had to pick a bear handgun it’d be my .460 Smith XVR and the subsequent hearing loss and scorched knuckles. My buddies got a 500 Smith that’d be even better.

          I think the .357 revolver and the 10mm auto are both fine woods guns. If cost wasn’t an option I’d be inclined to go with the STI Perfect 10, but it’s probably more likely that ill wind up with another Smith revolver.

          Speaking of which, I’ve got to stop off at a couple of local shops and pick up my Mossy Oak 10/22 TD and Sig 229 Legion.

        • I love a good caliber war.

          I checked the Hornady catalog I downloaded last year and this is what I came up with. Some of the SDs I had to calculate but whatever the percentage increase or decrease in weight is the same ratio for the SD in a given caliber.

          10mm / .357
          135gr =.121sd / 110gr = .123sd
          155gr = .138 / 125gr = .140
          165gr = .148 /
          180gr = .161 / 140gr = .157
          200gr = .179 / 158gr = .177
          230gr = .206 / 180gr = .202
          / 200gr = .224

          A 10mm should penetrate more than a .357 given equal SDs and energy because it’s the slower heavier bullet. For instance a 200gr 10mm at 1256 get you 700 ft/lbs vs. 158gr @ 1413. So it might be a wash in the end.

          Yea I’m a nerd, but I’m a nerd with a gun.

          If you don’t mind saving a couple hundred bucks you can’t go wrong with a GP 100. I’ve got 2.

        • I’ve always liked the rugged Ruger GP 100. I had one of the old target grey Ruger .454 Casulls and I sold it like an idiot (to buy my Smith .460 XVR). I was almost able to pick up a blued Colt Python .357 with a custom wood grip but the price was too elusive for this married man.

          My next “gun” is going to be a fancy sapphire and diamond necklace for the Mrs. I haven’t figured out my next gun related purchase.

        • I’ve heard Rug er discontinued the ‘target gray’ because it didn’t live up to their standards for wear. Come to think of it, I’ve been carrying a Wiley Clapp GP 100 in ‘Hawkeye blue’ for 2-1/2 years and it’s getting a little holster wear. I’d bet good money I could send it back and Rug er would refinish it for free. Liked it so much I picked up a 6″ stainless. The stock Hogue grips suck and the fro nt sight is a plain black post, but Altamont makes some nice old style wood side panel grips that are pretty affordable and you can swap out the fr ont sight yourself in about 2 seconds flat. Toss in lighter hammer and trigger return springs and you’ve got just about the perfect re volver IMHO. And still a $100 cheaper than a 686.

          I’ve been tossing around buying a 10mm myself. Probably go with a Colt Delta Elite, but it’s on the high end of what I’m willing to spend. Maybe next year. The 10 would also make a pretty sweet semi-auto carbine.

    • My guess would be a Buffalo Bore 220 grain hardcast with 700+ ft/lbs of energy. I wouldn’t recommend JHP on a bear, Too much fat and muscle protecting the vitals. Second choice would be basic FBI light load FMJs with muzzle energy in the mid 500 hundreds.

      • That’s some impressive ballistics from Buffalo Bore! Flat nose hard cast for the win? BTW I see Dateline on ID with Tamron Hall is about to come on-“Guns on campus “(in Texas). Fun viewing with I ASSume has a real anti gun NBC bent 🙂

      • A Ruger GP100 4.2″ loaded with HSM .357 Bear Loads have 886 ‘# ME—a 180 gr hard cast lead flat nose bullet with gas check–this would me my choice–this same load out of my Ruger 77/357 rifle is even more devastating–if I was in the back country I would have both along

      • I carry 220 grn hard cast lead flat nose rounds from Underwood in my G20 while hiking in the hills around here. Black bears, mostly. Grizzlies rarely, as we’re at the very edge of their territory. But also cougars and wolves. And moose.

        • Bear are the only potential four legged threat in North America that require a high powered round. Everything else can be stopped with a 22. Coyotes and wolves do not react like Pit Bulls when they get shot. If the wound is not immediately incapacitating or fatal, they run. Even a cougar would probably take off when shot with a 22. If a 22 is too weak for comfort a 380 will do in a cougar just fine.

        • Where I live here in NW Montana I carry the Glock 20 loaded with DoubleTap 200gr WFNGC @ 1300 fps, if I change it will be to their 230-gr WFNGC loading. When covering the outdoors I do put in my Lone Wolf 6″ barrel for the extra fps that it will give.

          I read a lot of these comments, and see quite a few nay sayers. I have no doubt what the 10mm can do, as Ted Nuggent proved it in Africa against a Cape Buffalo.

          But there will always be those nay sayers that say he got lucky, REALLY NOW There will be those nay sayers that hit the ballistic data charts and say it’s impossible this data says it is not possible, yeah well science says the bumble bee can’t fly either.

          For me I will trust my Glock 20, and the DoubleTap 200gr WFNGC loads protecting me since it first came out. YMMV

        • I don’t know any place that doesn’t have bear that has moose. On the otherhand, I know lots of places that have smaller predators that have no moose or bear.

        • We don’t really have bears in Ohio, but there is at least one resident moose here (me).

        • If I’m already carrying a 10mm for bear and moose, which I am, I’m not going to also carry something smaller and purposefully choose something smaller and less powerful should a cougar or wolf or wild mushroom harvesting gang or whatever become a threat.

          I think when I go huckleberry picking in a couple weeks here I’ll be carrying a 10mm KRISS Vector 🙂

  1. I’m impressed he had the presence of mind to keep shooting. Yeah- an interview would be great. And how big was mama bear?

  2. What a shame. Too bad a bear had to lose its life as they are so beautiful. But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Kudos for staying alive. I would have done the same and then been sad afterwards. I’d much rather kill a charging ISIS soldier.

    • Ummm, yeah, beautiful, at a distance. But having that “beautiful” almost thousand pound carnivore with finger long claws and teeth charging you with the intent to do great bodily harm would be absolutely terrifying.

      While the “Revenant” was an alright movie that butchered the real story, (which would have been a much better movie, instead of the P.C. piece of propaganda it became), the part where Dicaprio got torn to pieces by the Grizzly was grusome, and also terrifying, just thinking about the times I’ve been in bear country.

  3. If in bear country I’d have a Glock 20 with an extended ported barrel like a Lonewolf that can take cast bullets. I’d use the heaviest bullet with the most velocity. The CMMG Anvil is also looking like a very nice gun to take in bear country if you can and want to carry that weight.

    I think overall the accuracy and ability to get off so many rounds means the G20 wins if the correct ammo is used. One round and yes a .44 magnum or better is the choice but with the adrenaline pumping you have to keep pressing the trigger until the bear goes down. I would also think like with self-defense situational awareness and training yourself to get the handgun out quickly and put rounds accurately downrange is important. When in a situation like that training takes over.

    I’m not an outdoorsman but if I were I would be aware of the area in terms of flora and fauna. I’d be looking around for any signs of wildlife and like walking around in the bad area of town I’d be hyper aware. It might destroy some of the relaxation and fun but you have to always maintain the mindset of being protective of your life, especially if you are with your family.

    • I think if I was going hiking in such an area I wouldn’t play games and just carry a long gun. Something like a battle rifle, G3/FAL type. Semi auto and 20 rounds of the meanest .308 that can be had

      • If you’re hiking any real distance with lunch, fishing gear, maybe tent and bed roll, plus a 12pound+ rifle, nope. On trips like that I carry a S&W 1006 in a Galco Miami classic, (2 spare mags) loaded double tap 200gr. I don’t notice the weight and can access pistol in a canoe or with waders on.

        • I wish I never parted with my 1006! Maybe I’ll get the Sig Sauer in 10mm, or a Ruger Redhawk in .41 Rem mag to replace it.

      • Henry Lever using Garrett’s heavy-duty Hammerhead 540-grain SuperHardCast load delivering 1550-fps.

        The round itself is often used for hunting bear and Garrentt himself has shot big game in Africa with the same round.

    • “I’d use the heaviest bullet with the most velocity.”
      Take yer pick. You can have one or the other, but not both.

      The laws of physics still apply, even with a Glock.

  4. Living on Kodiak, all i have to say is those bears are huge….keeping your wits about you with one of those on the move is no small accomplishment.

  5. Alaskan hiker stops charging brown bear with 10mm handgun — what the brown bear was doing with a 10mm handgun I’ll never know.

  6. Sure, people in Alaska pack .44mag and up in revolvers and they do stop/kill bears but for my money I’m going with my cousin’s husband’s advice (they live in North Pole, AK) a 12 gauge, .45-70Gov’t or another pretty serious rifle round. If that’s too much to “lug around” with you, well you don’t value your life very much.

    A few years back I was visiting my cousin when her husband came home from a bear hunt. That bear had a TON of bullets in him from previous encounters with people and we’re not talking pistol rounds we’re talking heavy hitting rifle bullets. Sorry, when you start digging .375 H&H out of a bear you know they’re tough SOB’s and you question the effectiveness of a pistol against them. Just a month or so before I got there one of my cousin’s neighbors had a bear get into the house and raid the fridge. Three shells of 3″ 1.25oz slugs to put that sucker down.

    Fuck a handgun against a grizzly unless it’s all you have. Carry a long gun.

    • Strych9, that’s exactly what I heard and I believe it! Dead bears get cut open and you find all this ammo in them that obviously did nothing at the time to stop them.

      As you stated, I’d carry a 45-70 or semi auto shotgun (the Russian Saiga’s can carry 20 shells – then have at it!). The handgun is backup. An Alaskan guide relayed a story of his friend who shot a massive Griz a long ways off with at least a 40 cal rifle round. The bear went down but then got back up and ran off! What the heck.

      The moment I would find 375 H&H stuffed inside a bear I took down would really have a lasting effect on me. I agree with you – carry the damn rifle! Any man who confronts dangerous game IMO has a brass pair.

  7. Did I read correctly “It’s not uncommon for someone to be injured”. For real. From running through brush or just tripping I get. This is the first I’ve ever heard of someone shooting them self in an animal attack.

  8. Let’s see. 5-6 rounds of 10mm and he got 1 bear. 1 boot. And the foot in the boot. It must have been a thru and thru. and if he’s anything like me he killed 1 pair of drawers in the process.

    And, at 57 he’s younger than me. Youngster had an adventarous day and deserves a nap.

  9. He is a local guy. I heard a different version today from a friend of the self shooter claiming that he had his foot up against the bear and that the last shot went through his foot and finally killed the bear. But since the bear was 6 feet away from where he fell, that story sounds a wee bit off. Just as the comment about shooting the bear numerous times when only two shots connected. Fired multiple shots yes, but only two hits. I can see that in a stress-shooting. Probably just another poorly written piece by our local newspaper.
    Back in 1992 the same guy had a similar incident a couple miles behind our house.
    ANYWAY, I carry a 10mm Glock while teaching floatplane flying and photo guiding. I use 200 grain full metal jacketed flat nose Hornadys. With a stiff load of AA#9 my loads run right at 1,200 flps over my chronograph. I replaced the stock recoil spring with a heavy spring and a stainless guide rod. Bears require penetration to make the internal organs bleed out. Would I rather have the power of my 44 mag shooting a 310 grain hard-cast at 1,200 fps.??? Well yes… and that is what I carried for years. However after various run-ins with weirdo two legged critters out in the bush, I decided I needed more ammo in my gun than the bears ( who leave me alone) required.

    • I’m interested in the 2 legged weirdo critters you’ve met in the woods. If you’ve got a minute, I’d love to hear what you’ve come up against.

      • David:
        We are being swamped with numerous carpet baggers and other goof-balls who have been watching the totally fictional Alaska reality TV shows. Our newly advertized state-wide drug use policies are also contributing to a huge increase in homicides as the organized gangs from out of state are staking out their territory by killing off the local wanna-be drug lords. I have run into crazies who think they have staked out their personal homesteads in State and federal park lands. Plus the occasional idiot who thinks he has a mining claim in a non-mining area. Just imagine you have landed on a remote lake to take a whiz and maybe shoot a few photos. Suddenly some crud encrusted knuckle-head wearing camo and carrying an SKS comes out of the bushes and start yelling nonsense about you being a government agent sent by the UN to spy on him.

    • Alexander,

      As you stated, penetration is absolutely necessary to stop large brown bears. You are on the right track with full-metal jacketed bullets. However, there is an even better choice as other people have hinted: hardcast lead bullets with a “wide flat nose” no less. You will see people refer to them as WFNHC which is an acronym for Wide Flat Nose HardCast.

      Those bullets keep their shape even when they hit bone in a large brown bear. More importantly, they PENETRATE well over 36 inches and make a HUGE hole the entire length of that 36 inches … something like a 1+ inch diameter hole. You can think of your handgun and hardcast lead bullet system as a long-range “coring tool”. It should be apparent that animals have a hard time functioning after you remove a 1+ inch diameter cylinder of material over 36 inches long from their body.

      Important note: I seem to remember hearing that you cannot fire hardcast lead bullets from Glock factory barrels for some reason. Do your research before heading down that path.

      • I have been hand-loading and casting bullets since Nixon was the president. In the case of the marginal 10mm, the FMJs are a good trade off due to their reliability in feeding and accuracy. I use a taper crimp die for the 10mm and experimented with crimp amounts until I found the maximum benefits. ( I cut marks around the sides of the die ) I only carry the 10mm while out instructing in remote lakes as a compromise firearm, as it is barely powerful enough to deter a bear yet has enough fire-power to engage any “more” crazies I might encounter.
        As I stated in my original comment, for secondary brown bear defense ( a long gun is primary) I actually prefer using 310-320 grain hard cast in my 44 mag or my 454. My 44 mag carbine likes the Lyman #429650 for feeding, ( if I can seat them far enough, but for revolvers I like the old Lee 430-310-RF. My old 454 likes the Lyman #452651 325 grain.

  10. When I used to backpack Summers in the Kenai Peninsula, both of us carried 375H&H Magnum rifles with 10mm pistols as backup. Almost every resident Alaskan we ment had a big bore rifle or a 12 gsuge. Only the Californians went unarmed.

    • Oh, this Californian (who’s really a Wisconsinite) would be packing some heavy-duty serialized gear in bear country. Sometimes I carry 2 handguns and a good knife in the LA / OC area, and you don’t really see bears much around here.

  11. Another win for the mighty 10mm!!!

    However, as somebody here mentioned, .460 Rowland might be the better ticket. After all, 1,000 ft/lbs of energy does trump 720. Thankfully, most .45 Glocks, Springfields, and 1911s can be easily converted to .460 Rowland.

    I debate buying a Glock 21 just to convert it.

  12. I”d like to recommend that jerry moonbeam brown, o’bama, shillary, and quite a few others go on a “nature walk” up there.

    • I bought one for the bears in Minneapolis. That and it has 50% more power than a 9mm.

      Now that I know more, I’d step up to .460 Rowland in real bear country.

  13. I’m getting a glock 40 now because bears. I like the ladies, and I hear their menustration attracts bears..

    Also. I love lamp.

  14. I wish I could find a .400 Corbon barrel for my Ruger P345. I think that would make it my ideal gun for literally everything.

  15. Is 10mm perfect? No. Did it take down an 800 lb. brown bear in 2 shots? Yes.

    There is always going to be a “better” caliber, gun, ammo, etc. The Glock 20 is a stock gun that shoots an off the shelf round. Shot placement, keeping your gun on target, and being able to make accurate follow up shots are more important than anything.

    Underwood and Buffalo Bore both offer factory 10mm loads that have sufficient penetration and energy to take down Alaska’s brown bears. This article is proof of that.

    • Thank you. Sifting through all the comments pissing on the 10mm when the facts right in front of us show it did the job. Adequate shot placement and penetration with whatever gun and caliber can get you there. People forget how hard it is to draw quickly and get rapid shots on target in a high stress encounter. On paper, the big bore revolvers sound great but have you mastered a fast draw and rapid, accurate shots with it? If you havent, then your gun only looks good on paper.

  16. My best friend and I went bear hunting one day on a depredation permit. My aunts pear farm was having trouble with bears coming in and wrecking things and eating all the fruit. We set up in a corner of the field about 80 yards from the fence line with a spotlight at the ready. I had a .270 cal semi-auto rifle and 2 spare mags (12 rounds on tap total), my friend had my G20 with 15 rounds of stoutly loaded 200gn WFN super hard cast bullets I made and a spare mag. We didn’t think it was more than 2 or 3 bears we were dealing with so we were confident in the firepower.

    2 hours into the darkness and we find ourselves more or less surrounded and within 10 feet of no less than 7 bears. So close you could smell them. They obviously knew we were there but had little concern which was utterly terrifying when you realize they were black bear that usually skedaddle at the first hint of a human in that area (hunting pressure is generally steep there). As they foraged for fruit they spread out a little and at one point about 10 minutes in to being surrounded by feeding bears my hunting partner Skeeter stands up and says, “Fark it, I’m out.” and walks to the car very calmly and pretty quietly. I called him a vagina-man and proceeded to follow him out, not letting on that I was piss scared too. The only reason I wasn’t leaving myself already was my duty to stick with my wing man and the fact that my gun only held 4 rounds at a time. I didn’t really cotton to the idea of a tactical mag change in the middle of a fight with a squad of bears.

    Yes, 10mm is deadly strong but it’s still just a pistol. There is no such thing as handgun stopping power. There’s just a lucky shot.

    • As Elmer Keith used to say…..”the more I practice, the luckier I get”.

      Lots of different calibers MAY kill a bear. The question is what do have with you and what can you hit with.

      Was he fortunate? Yep. Was he prepared? The outcome says yes.

      Well done. Too bad about the foot. At least it wasn’t his thigh, stomach,etc.

  17. I would trust the 10mm Underwood using the Lehigh Xtreme Penetrator projectile. There is a video showing it can defeat bullet proof glass set to resist .44 magnum.

  18. There is a case documented in the NRA “Armed Citizen” where a guy in Asia stopped an escaped tiger with 13 rounds from a .32. He had to reload to get to 13. Now there is a guy with some brass balls! Also, he did not shoot himself in the foot!

    • The ability to shoot a LOT of rounds in a very short period of time is a key factor assuming that those bullets provide adequate penetration. Of course a .50 caliber bullet has greater stopping power. Carrying the firearm that can launch that .50 caliber bullet is another matter. If you cannot carry a rifle in .45-70 Government or similar, lots of rounds is a good thing.

  19. The writer didn’t say the man used a G-Lock, he just used it to compare the number of rounds available in a semi vs a revolver.

    The man could have been carrying a 1911 (much better pistol) in 10mm.

    the actual inset from the news report make no reference to the brand/type of 10mm handgun used.

  20. This is similar to a story going the rounds a few years back. A man walking with his dogs killed a bear with his Ruger Alaskan .454 Casull magnum. He also fell while backing up. His gun jammed on the fourth shot because he was using handloads and the bullets were creeping out under recoil, but one of the three he fired was sufficient to do the job–the other two shots were ineffective.

  21. Anybody want to bet he wasn’t using his sights? I’m guessing this was basic panicked point shooting, and once the bear got close enough it was hard to miss the head. Another argument for having lots of bullets in the magazine vs a revolver. A lot of those shots are probably going to miss.

  22. It was only after dropping the brown sow and shooting himself in the foot, did he discover he now had another “brown sow” to deal with…

  23. 10mm ammo with full or hot loads approximates 41 mag ballistics. Sure a 480 Ruger or 500 S&W is much more potent, but given the weight, cost, and capacity of any Glock in 10mm, it’s easy to understand why some choose the pistol as a practical and reasonable tool for defense in bear country. And now we have documentation the 10mm got the job done in a real world bear attack.

  24. If this man had taken one of our personal defense courses, he would not have shot himself as we teach the proper way to back away from a threat – be it a 4 legged bear of a two legged attacker. There is a proper way to learn and he didn’t get additional training. I hope his foot heals and he isn’t crippled.

    • The “proper way to back up” works fine in a controlled environment, it’s a little different in the woods and wilds of Alaska. Do you realize a bear can hit 35 mph? Do you know that grizzlies have the largest adrenaline gland of any mammal? He did just fine, I doubt any keyboard commando here (myself included) would do any better.

  25. This all prompted a look at the Buffalo Bore site… gadzooks!
    His .41 Mag 230gr Keith goes 1450. Wow.
    And since every BuffBore round I’ve chronoed met the advertised, I believe this.
    Now, that’s a hard choice, between that SWC and some 10mm something.
    But the other gentleman above citing the somewhat greater threat from two-leggeds does tend to bring things around back to the semi.
    Another factor is that nearly any handgunner will be able to dispense six accurate-ish rounds from a semi much faster than that same person with a revo. I know I can, and I own more revos than semis and shoot both platforms a lot.
    Yeah, but- I carry a semi. Six is… well, sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t.

  26. If I knew I was going to be attacked by a sow grizzly I would need a weepon, I’d be sitting on a beach in St. Thomas. Laughing at the silly bear

  27. 45-70 is my pick for anything that big. If there is any remote chance of encountering one, I’ll bring the rifle. Moose especially. Once those things get pissed off, you have two options: Out run it, or kill it. If a long gun is absolutely not doable, then I would be hard pressed to find something better than a G40 with some heavy cast. Revolvers in 454 casull, or 460smith would be the only other options in my mind.

  28. I love Glocks and I own several versions including the G40 with 15 rounds of 10mm and the Trijicon RMR. It’s a great gun with very lite recoil, but I’d use it as a backup to one of my S&W 500’s with 5 shots of 700 grain lead or even my favorite 629 hunter. Glocks are very reliable, but a failure to feed or stove pipe would suck when a bear is chasing you down.

  29. If we are buying into the penetration trumps all meme – as it seems TTAG has signed off on . . . then it seems a 5.7 with a heavier load to prevent the “speed boat effect” would meet or beat a 10mm. Plus you get 20 rounds standard capacity. A crazy idea I know. Just throwing it out there. Let the hate begin 🙂

  30. so glad TTAG is back on line with regular columns. missed all the guys with the hillaarious comments, and a few of a more serious nature.
    thanks robert.

  31. Blah blah .460 rowland this, .45 super that.

    Sometimes, a man doesn’t want to worry about having to reload or his reloading skill, and to pay through the nose but be able to get ammunition in most cities.

    10mm is pretty much the best balance of power in a semi-auto handgun with ability to buy more at non-super specialty shops. Out of the box solution, as opposed to gunsmithing an existing gun, and having to get into reloading.

    If you have to travel and are worried about not being able to ship ammo/it being confiscated/it being tampered with/getting more on short notice, I’d love to hear if there’s a better alternative than 10mm.

  32. Hi guys, the “gentleman”(dang I guess I am getting older) missing his middle toe from 10mm friendly fire. Well where does a guy start , a interview would be the easiest, not sure how that happens.
    Have to say I threw the glock (20 3rd gen) in my pack with a box of shells not really expecting a brown bear encounter on a compulsive day hike at glacier view park. Once hiking and seeing brown bear scat stopped and loaded up a clip and put gun in pocket.
    Park Ranger Jason Okuly who hiked in to get the skull said the whole seen involved 30 feet. He kindly retrieved my sunglasses, that fell off the top of my head when I tripped on something stepping backwards, saying they were 2ft from the Bears head. Not sure where homer news came up wth 6′. Also says bear being bloated and stinking they didn’t look real hard but found shots in eye, mouth, and chest.
    All happened in about 4 seconds and didn’t realize had shot off toe until saw blood coming out of boot. Just started hiking out without looking over anything, heading for skiff while still had adrenaline rush.

  33. Nothing shocking here. Saw a video of a snowmobiler drop a charging bull moose with 2 shots of 40SW from a Glock 27. Alaska Troopers carry Glock 22s, if thats enough gun for them its enough for anybody anywhere. The myth you need a 454 Casull to stop a big animal is just a myth.

    • We may have a myth-understanding. Sure you don’t need a .454 Casull–after all bullet placement is vital–but it doesn’t hurt to have a .454.

  34. I normally carry a G20 to defend myself against any threat in both rural and urban environments, and over the last couple of years it’s supplanted my former carry weapon, the classic 1911 in .45 ACP. It was a hard choice to make, but the final deciding factor was that 15 round magazine, and with a powerful cartridge. I recently had a chance to shoot the G40, and I liked it, but I won’t be buying one. My Gen3 G20 has a great trigger, but I also found that the longer barrel of the 40 doesn’t point as well as the shorter barrel. The 40 is marvelously accurate, to be sure, but I get on target faster with the 20 and can actually hit better with it when speed counts.

  35. I carry a Glock 29 daily and am aware of the 10mm’s penetrating ability. Its closely aligned ballistically to the .357 mag though a bit hotter. However, I’d never carry or rely solely on my Glock in bear country unless I had to go to it as backup in the unfortunate event that I had maybe dropped my main defense weapon: a 45-70 guide gun or a semi-auto shotgun loaded with hot slugs.

    The lucky man in this story managed, to his life-saving credit, to score a shot that penetrated this beast under it’s eye and in its mouth, that quickly reached the brain. A head shot will “stop” many animals from charging and will render any human unconscious immediately. The goal is to stop an animal – death is just a bonus. Dangerous game when shot peripherally, can still maim or kill a human which is why I’d carry a more substantial weapon whose caliber would endow me with the best odds at neutralizing a charging animal.

    The 10mm, loaded hot with hard cast FMJ, is fully capable of penetrating the skull of a brown bear. Btw, a brown bear is larger than black bear and considered more dangerous, which again demonstrates the amount of luck, and a steady hand this man had in defending his life with a handgun and his perfect placement of those head shots. Those shots alone stopped the bear and perhaps allowed an accurate follow-up shot to center mass. Remember, the angry bear is moving up and down and laterally as it is charging, so scoring a head shot is all the more difficult. It’s adrenalin is also circulating which prefaces the need for shot placement to the head. I was up close to a brown bear in a zoo a while back. It was a real display of brute strength, unbelievable size and energy as it ran around and climbed the make-shift tree placed in its cage. It made me pause with respect to any man who dares to confront dangerous game in the field and I stepped back a foot or two as I checked to see if he/she couldn’t get out.

    I’ve read about brown bears being shot point blank with a 44mag who still managed to kill a man before it bled out and died. So my backup side arm would be a .454 Casull or S&W .500 along with the above rifle/shotgun. IMO, this guy was lucky. Thank God he made out ok.

  36. I read a new report on a different forum that a man killed a Grizzly with his 9mm Automatic using Buffalo Bore ammo. Is this going to become a competition of “How Small Can We Go?”

    Not just a copycat, either. He was guiding some people and shot the bear carefully as the bear was focusing on his clients. I can’t recall the web site but photos were posted of the bullet penetration.

    • This is pretty common among those who want to be in the record books. (From what I’ve heard). “John Johnson has the world record for Cape buffalo taken with a Cold Steel NJ-compliant slingshot.”


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