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Another documented bear spray failure. In this case, the victim chose to use bear spray instead of the pistol he had with him. It’s an interesting contrast with Kim Woodman, also charged by a sow grizzly with cubs. Kim had a 10mm pistol, a GLOCK model 20.  He stopped the charging grizzly at almost contact distance. Kim only had 30 yards to react. Todd says the grizzly charged him from 80 yards off. From Todd’s facebook post:

I yelled a number of times so she knew I was human and would hopefully turn back. No such luck. Within a couple seconds, she was nearly on me. I gave her a full charge of bear spray at about 25 feet. Her momentum carried her right through the orange mist and on me.

Todd had a pistol with him, attached to his pack. It may have been in a chest holster, but he didn’t access it. We don’t know precisely how the pistol was holstered, the caliber or Todd’s decision making process. We know he had time to have his bear spray out and ready, and that he started spraying when the bear was at about 25 feet. It didn’t work.

The sow left after mauling Todd. He was able to walk, so he started back toward his truck, three miles away. He’d been on the trail to get help for 8-10 minutes when he was attacked the second time. Return attacks by bears are not uncommon. From Todd:

I tried to peek out without moving but my eyes were full of blood and I couldn’t see. I thought that if she came back a third time I would be dead, so I had to do something. Staying in position on the ground, I slowly reached under my chest to grab at the pistol I was unable to get to earlier. I felt I needed something to save my life. The pistol wasn’t there. I groped around again but nothing. I wiped the blood from one eye and looked around.

No bear. The pistol and holster were lying five feet to my left. The bear’s ferocious bites and pulling had ripped the straps from the pack and the holster attached to it. Now trashed, that backpack may have helped prevent many more serious bites on my back and spine.

Todd Orr’s bear attack has gone viral. Bear spray manufacturers will no longer be able to claim that bear spray has never failed.

When I talked to Kim Woodman about his attack, I asked about his opinion on bear spray. He said that it might be useful in some circumstances, but that he would want armed people with him as back up, in case the bear spray did not work. The reputation of bear spray is built on its use on non-aggressive bears that are merely curious, and/or far too habituated to the presence of humans.

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

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    • I keep the Raging Judge and my Rossi 92 stoked with 400 grain Double Tap hardcast lead for these sorts of situations. for all intents and purposes its the equivalent of 16 12 gauge slugs

    • Your headline is misleading and will get people killed. The fellow who was attacked lived to tell the tale. Statistics would show that if he raised his rifle he would have been torn to pieces before the bear died.

      Guns have their place, but the spray should be the first line of defense. Telling anyone otherwise is misleading like defending the single shot .22 short as the best defensive carry especially with methheads and angry domestic abusers.

      Got it?

      • “Statistics would show that if he raised his rifle he would have been torn to pieces before the bear died.”

        But not if he also fired his rifle, into the bear’s brain……

        There is one brand of bear spray that is more effective than a rifle, a 10mm and a large caliber revolver. It’s called MP5. It lays down a cloud pretty hard for even a determined bear to get through unscathed.

        Of course, like all good things, it’s banned in totalitarian dystopias.

        • Clearly you have not been around bears. Next time you are at the range try shooting an armor plated dinner plate charging at you at 35 miles an hour.

          Might as well set your self on fire. It will be about as effective.

        • While I would be delighted to see the Registry opened, if I’m going into Bear Country™, I’m going to want something more potent than 9mm. Even if I can put 30 of them in the air at once.

        • Charlie Mike, Because no one has ever successfully hunted charging big game like rhinos, tigers, and the like. Right?

          Perhaps you can’t do it, and a man’s got to know his limitations and all that. But trophies on the wall have shown hundreds of times, that other men do.

        • Charlie, I have been around bears quite a lot recently…. Almost ran over a Griz on my mountain bike on a downhill run. I certainly get the gist of your comment. Barreling downhill and seeing a big Brown in the middle of the trail, the bear spray canister I had placed so carefully in a handlebar holster was pretty useless, as if I took my hands of the bars, I’d be down, if I grabbed much brake I’d be over the bars, if I tried to turn, I’d be either into a tree or off a cliff…..

          Thank goodness the bear decided not to play with the idiot who looked to have gotten the “who’s supposed to charge who” backwards that day, and ran off…..

          My advocacy for the MP5 against bear, comes from tests similar to what you are describing. Not from actually shooting at bears with one, sorry…… Targets pulled towards you fast and out of nowhere. Not armored ones, but while bears are tough, they’re not steel plated. 9mm puts holes in them, if you can just get the gun into service and hit them, which is the problem with bear charges. With some training, people can get MP5s into action as fast as any gun and, apart from the Miculeks of the world, can use them to deliver lots more lead on target in the time a bear charge takes, than they can with either a rifle or a handgun. A bear charge is a poster case for when a magdump is the ideal shooting drill. And an MP5 is a pretty good tool for magdumping.

          Back in the day, THE scenario used to promote subguns, was as defense against a car suddenly charging a barricade trying to break through. Perhaps explosive laden, perhaps not. Not too dissimilar a scenario from a bear charge, right?

        • >> Because no one has ever successfully hunted charging big game like rhinos, tigers, and the like. Right?

          When you’re hunting dangerous game, you’re expecting to be charged. You probably already
          have your rifle in hand and ready to shoulder.

          Not so when you’re just hiking on a trail, and a bear charges you out of the blue.

      • The science is there, and it does indicate bear spray to be effective. The problem is that the studies I’ve seen (this for instance are old and so are the data they reference – no longer accounting for current bear behaviors, familiarity with humans, aggression due to environmental factors.

        So, while you may be historically correct according to most studies, I’m not so sure how it holds up today.

        Regardless, he’s incredibly lucky to be alive, and he had a pistol, not a rifle.

      • Uh – then what about the other guy that stopped the bear successfully with a 10mm?

        It’s hard to escape the obvious and correct conclusion that much of the push by the forest service for spray over guns is the same old crap, they don’t like citizens having guns in the park. I’m an easterner, but next time I go I’ll have both.

        • The other guy with his 10mm managed to fire off a bunch of shots, some hit the bears body but two of them were determined to have been head shots. One was through the bears eye and the other went through his mouth, both penetrated the brain and that’s what you’d hope for in a confrontation. The head shots not only penetrated the skull but it stopped the bear before it could get a hold of that man.

      • Some people are faster and more accurate than others. Usually they are people that have spent time training to be fast and accurate – so they don’t become one of your “statistics”. If you don’t have some version of the Tueller Drill in your mind before you venture into the back yard of dangerous animals, where violating their territory can get you hurt, you’ve entered there with the wrong mindset. If it’s aggressive and attacks, once it crosses that threshold it’s getting shot, stabbed, choked, punched or bitten, in that order. The difference between a freight train and a grizzly, rodeo bull or cape buffalo is the freight train doesn’t come back to finish you off.

      • Well I can tell you I hosed down a dog (Chow) right in the face and it didn’t faze him in the least.
        However, the wind was blowing toward be and I did get a lung full which nearly incapacitated me.
        In hindsight, I wish I had shot the bastard. I can’t even imagine trying that with a Brown bear 10 times his size.

  1. This is very helpful. I will be in various national forests the next couple of years. My carry gun is a 3″ SS Judge loaded with Underwood Xtreme Penetrators. That is the most my arthritic old hands can handle.

    • Against black bears that should be fine, but then again black bears aren’t usually aggressive in the first place. If you’re going to be in grizzly country I recommend at the very minimum some very stout 357 magnum (180 gr+) out of a 4 to 6 inch barrel. 44 magnum would be even better.

      • I second everything that Vhyrus said.

        You might be surprised how reasonable the recoil is from a HEAVY .44 Magnum revolver with a ported barrel and rubber grips. I saw a woman shoot a 63 ounce .44 Magnum revolver with an 8-inch ported barrel and rubber grips without any trouble whatsoever … and she is definitely NOT a large woman nor a fitness enthusiast. In fact she had never even shot a Magnum revolver of any variety before that. She would not hesitate to grab it and shoot it again if a bear was charging her.

        I would recommend a 53 ounce revolver with a 6-inch ported barrel in .44 Magnum with rubber grips. For black bears 240 grain semi-jacketed softpoints should do the trick. For grizzlies, I would prefer 300 grain hardcast over 240 grain semi-jacketed softpoints.

        • The guy who did stop a charge, used a Glock 20, 10mm…. If recoil is a concern, that one is lots easier on the wrists than any large bore revolver weighing less than a rifle.

          That being said, the Ruger Alaskan in .44, shooting something relatively normal, doesn’t recoil that much at all. Those Hogue grips are ridiculously comfortable, and the gun is a heavy sob. And, like the Glock, but unlike longer barreled sixguns, it is MUCH less likely to have the barrel fail to clear the holster and/or otherwise hang up during the draw in a stressful situation.

          For those who don’t mind a bit of extra wallop, the .44 Alaskan in .480 Ruger, is the heavy hard cast tosser to end all reasonably packable heavy hard cast tossers, at least amongst production guns. As opposed to .44 and .45/.454, the .480 was designed from scratch to shoot the kind of long, heavy bullets that has become popular over the past few decades, and is rifled to stabilize the heavies. Even with some margin, if shooting through brush (or perhaps sharp angled impacts though thick fur…). The stabilization of the longest, heaviest .44 and .45 slugs, are getting a bit marginal with the standard .44 and .45 twist rates.

  2. Very lucky to be alive. I’ve only had one encounter with a bear, and it was small. Curious, and never demonstrated any aggression. Fled when yelled at. I was completely unarmed then… very lucky, and scared half to death. I will never go outside my home again unarmed, if I never see another bear I’ll be happy.

    Had a big buck mule deer in my driveway this morning with a herd of does, fawns and yearling bucks. I saw him as soon as I left the deck, and immediately went right back into the house. I was armed, and carrying my big, heavy walking stick… but there was no reason at all to challenge that buck or disturb the herd since I’m not hunting anymore. Might start taking a rifle with me if I really must go out, however. The deer are not to be trifled with, any more than a bear or mountain lion – of which we have plenty here.

  3. “In light of the rising frequency of human/grizzly bear confrontations, the Montana Department of Fish and Game is advising hikers, hunters, and fishermen to take extra precautions and be alert for bears while in the field. …We advise that outdoorsmen wear small bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears that aren’t expecting them, and to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter….
    It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings. Black bear droppings are smaller and contain lots of berries and fur. Grizzly bear droppings have little bells in it and smell like pepper.”

  4. A chemical irritants such as bear spray or even tear gas will probably not stop a pissed-off mother bear defending her Cubs. After seeing multiple suspects run through pepper gas or pepper spray rather and keep on fighting with police I leave the chemical irritants on the Shelf where they belong. My grandfather once told me when you go into the woods David always carry a Shotgun. You can use birdshot to shoot rattlesnakes in other poisonous snakes Buckshot to hunt deer with slugs to kill bears with all out of one platform. Word of advice to all people that go into the woods please carry a firearm with you and a first aid kit.

    • Keep in mind that pepper spray comes in different flavors. There is personal-defense strength pepper spray, bear-repellent strength pepper spray, and LE-Only strength pepper spray.

      • Uh. . well not really. Anyone can buy the strongest pepper spray made. I’m not saying some companies don’t advertise “law enforcement strength”, but it can all be had. The biggest difference between bear and other sprays is that it comes in a big container that throws a big stream. Its really no different than what they use in prisons.


    • I’ve been looking at an AK-47 based shotgun, the VEPR, that can hold up to 12 rounds or more depending on the mag. It shoots slugs as fast as you can pull the trigger in a fairly compact package.

  5. Bear spray failure occurs everywhere bear spray is used. But ya know what’s worse. Having your anti-bear GUN confiscated while enroute to Alaska, at the Canadian border (with the promise of its return on the way back-thru) only to have the POS (why don’t we just nuke them) Canadians, only to say they “lost” it, when you attempt to go back and claim it. We should take their luggage and modes of transportation when the come down here to steal our healthcare.


    • Didn’t you read their rules ahead of time before you crossed the border? 🙂 They have all kinds of things they prohibit. Some guns can be transported but you have to declare, fill out a form, and pay a fee. Some guns they just confiscate and destroy no matter what, and most of these prohibited ones are what we in the States simply call guns.

        • We need to come to a deal- you guys get to transport your guns across to AK no questions asked (we’ll have to put some sort of seal on the transport case to show it wasn’t opened in Canada). In return, you drop all the ITAR and EAR restrictions for when we want to import parts, scopes and other bits.

        • We need to come to a deal – you go hide in Siberia, and we won’t look for you.

          Your country is not ‘ours’, but, with the South American’ts trying to do an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party shove to the LEFT, we might have to displace you. Sorry, there’s always the N. Pole, tell Santa to move over.

      • I am NOT the BROKE di<k canuck (I know, BROKE di<k canuck, is redundant) WHO OFFERED the return of the firearms before DENYING TO RETURN THEM.

        FURTHER – I am not the BROKE di<k canuck A-HOLE [again, redundant] that is claiming that such firearms were "lost" as opposed to just falling within the set of firearms that needed to be confiscated and "destroyed". That is fing HIGHWAY ROBBERY, and they can go to hell-in-a-hurry.

        I blame Canada.

    • Yes, well imagine a Canadian trying to take a Dominion Arms Grizzly into the US of A. That’s an Unrestricted (meaning easiest license to get, and can be carried the most places) compact shotgun frequently carried in the woods by Canadians for bear (and meth cooker) defense.

      Oh wait, that’s an SBS in the US. Go directly to NFA jail.

      Point being, both countries have idiotic firearms laws. Canada has more idiotic federal firearms laws, but the US has 50 states plus various territories adding various levels of idiocy into the mix.

    • …or better yet, register all bears! Make all bears go through a back ground check before being permitted in the wild! For The Children!!!!

  6. I would not expect a gun to work every time, why would bear spray? Hell, pepper spray and guns don’t always stop people, why the devil would someone think bears would be much different.

    • If used optimally, a reasonably powerful gun will stop a bear charge.

      That’s the difference. And a quite significant difference, as well. Even used optimally, bear spray may well fail.

    • At the very least, if you put one or two good shots on a bear with .44 Magnum or better, they will not return for a second attack because they will be dead.*

      * A well-placed shot to a grizzly bear’s heart/lungs should incapacitate that bear within 15 to 30 seconds. While that means they might still be able to maul you the first time, they will not be alive to maul you a second time on your way back to your vehicle minutes later … that is if you survive the first attack of course.

  7. I have family in Montana (Big Sky) and travel to that area for fun. The town has had a black bear problem for years. They come in to town and get into garbage, break into houses…they are like giant rats. Those bears have built an immunity to bear spray. I’ve heard stories of people spraying them to get them out of their yard and they just stare at the human. I’m not sure about the Grizzlys but they normally stay away from the population centers.

    I absolutely do not rely on bear spray to keep me safe when up in the mountains.

  8. I know the nature types won’t like this, but I have no sympathy. If you go where bears are, you may get attacked by a bear. Duh! It’s like those dumbasses who go backpacking in Iran and wind up being convicted as spies. You go to dangerous places, you run into dangerous stuff. Take whatever chances you want in life, that’s up to you, but don’t complain when it all goes to hell.

  9. Not sure I qualify that as a complete failure. Any encounter with the bear that you can walk away from with your life is successful in my book

  10. What I can’t believe is that this guy didn’t access his gun and have it in hand for the walk back to his car! I would have had gun in hand and been on high alert. If you are going to be in an area where the residents may view you as a potential resource you better be prepared to deal with it whether the area is rural or urban. Different turf calls for different tools, but the concept is the same.

  11. While trail riding (motorcycle) in the mountains of West Virginia I encountered a pile of Black Bear dung (right in the middle of the trail) was especially dark and caught my attention….i poked at it with a stick and noticed the high concentration of berry like remnants. I believe that these were blackberries or something like that. I am positive they were not dingle berries as they were not attached to the back side of a bear. I got back on the bike and that is the extent of my bear encounter.

  12. Spent 5 days in Yellowstone this month. When the Ranger asked if I had bear spray the answer was “Yes”, I didn’t clarify that it was a Colt Anaconda loaded with Buffalo Bore hard cast. You have to admit, this guy is tough.

  13. I’m still not sure if he had time on the 1st mama bear go around. But no excuse on the return trip. I’dve had my GLOCK out . He’s one tough hombre though!

  14. This story reminds me of an old saying. I think it went something like this:
    “Never bring a knife to a gunfight.”

    • He didn’t use the last gun he had. And he lost it. Not wasting my money to get him a new one.
      I’m sure the Youtube revenues he gets from his failure will compensate him just fine.

  15. I don’t condone the use of bear-spray. Why would you want to piss off a bear just before you have to shoot it? Thats just excessive, IMO.

  16. Velocity plus mass to stop a big charging bear . This means 357 or 44 magnum , 454 casull or 10 m/m with a 6 inch minimum barrel length . Don’t play around . My woods gun was always the 44 mag until I got my Ruger Super Redhawk 454 casull with the 7.5 inch barrel . I have a chest rig that is very comfortable and easily assessable and there is absolutely nothing going to walk through it . It may not drop a big angry with one shot but it will definitely let it know I came to play .

    • mark s.

      Your 7.5 inch barrel with .454 Casull should launch a 330+ grain bullet at darn near 12 gauge shotgun slug energies. If that doesn’t do it at close range, nothing short of .50 BMG will.

    • 45 long colt can easily be loaded to .44mag levels if not a hair higher. .460 Rowland deserves a nod and can reach low end 44mag levels. Glocks, XDs and some 1911 will easily take the conversion. 45 Super is about in the 10mm range. Not sure about what will take that, but I know my XDm will run it in limited quantities straight out of the box.

      Part of the reason I bought a .45 XDm. When its carry life is through, it gets converted into a magnum range autoloader 🙂

      • I will concur with your comment on the 45 long Colt’s potentials and the .460 Rowland definitely gets a nod but I’ll hold off on judging the capabilities of the XDM frames and guts for another time , I have little experience with Springfield guns , shot a few , own one in 9mm that I haven’t shot in ages , I know they are well made and from my experience , shoot well , not real thrilled with the factory trigger on mine but I have no reason to doubt you so , cool stuff , interesting . I personally prefer the reliability of the revolver for the woods though .

  17. I used to have a Bowen Classic Arms Nimrod .475 Blackhawk as my packing gun. I was completely insane to sell that one. Mr. Bowen made if for me 8 years before the S&W .460 came out. It was one of the few things I was ever even a little ahead of the curve on.

  18. About 25 years ago in Glacier, a Park Ranger told us that his experience with bear spray was that it worked with black bears, but only about half the time with grizzlies. Asked a Forest Ranger a couple weeks ago about grizzlies in our part of MT, and he indicated that there are well defined passageways that they use not that far from town, but, as yet, they haven’t been seen that close. Meaning maybe 5 miles out on a routine basis. We do have black bears close in. Recent forest fire had a lot of blacks fleeing the fire, but no grizzly sightings.

    My understanding is that you really need hard cast (typically from Buffalo Bore), because JHP doesn’t do the job with grizzlies, sometimes you need a head shot, and nothing else penetrates their thick skulls. Shot a friend’s “bear gun” (light framed 454 Cassul) and the recoil from a single round was worse than shooting maybe 100 rounds of 9mm for me, so my choice is a long framed 10mm (e.g. Glock 40), since I doubt that I could get a second shot with the 454 on target fast enough.

  19. So if im going into big bear country I’m thinking .44 mag minimum. But I’m really thinking a long gun anyway. Something that’s powerful and I can shoot fast like my .303 Enfield or PTR91. It might suck to hump, but 10 rounds of .303, or 20 rounds of .308 is much more comforting than glorified hairspray.

      • foo dog,

        I have heard that a lot and I don’t understand how a slug would be effective against a large (1200+ pound) brown bear. A typical 1 ounce (437.5 grain) foster slug has a muzzle velocity of something like 1,600 fps. And while that sounds impressive, those slugs almost immediately turn into a lead pancake — essentially a lead silver dollar — on impact. That much surface area with such little mass will not penetrate very far.

        Unless they use something like a .50 caliber sabot slug that doesn’t expand nor flatten significantly, I don’t see 12 gauge slugs being able to quickly incapacitate a huge bear.

        I definitely agree that a rifle in .45-70 Government is a superior platform for promptly stopping large bears and that would be my preferred choice.

    • Bears are tougher than humans and hogs. You want a solid round but preferably hardcast. JHP probably won’t make it through the muscle and far.

  20. Just remember that the “Tueller Drill” distance for wild animals is measures in yards not feet. Most predators can exceed 30mph after a few steps. Never let a predator within 50 yards of you without taking some form of defensive action. My rule of thumb is that if I see a protected species closing inside of 100 yards I get ready to shoot. If it’s a coyote and I have any kind of a rifle I am going to take the shot.

    • When you say “coyote”, are you referring to the Coywolf? It’s also called the Eastern Coyote, and its the only coyote that ever attacked and killed a human being.

      If not, I don’t understand where your concern comes from. True coyotes are 35 pounds sopping wet, do not hunt in packs, and are not aggressive. Definitely nothing to be afraid of.

      Also coyotes are not a “protected species” in Idaho. Heck, we don’t even have limits on the number of coyotes you can shoot, and you can shoot them at night with the proper permit. But please be ethical and use the pelts for something nice. Coyote fur is very warm.

      • If you get the right dealer you can sell the pelts to the Russians. They turn the pelts into the lining for their hoods. We usually get 5-10 bucks for a decent pelt.

      • I shoot coyotes as a favor to the local farmers not because I see them as real threat especially if I have my coonhounds with me. They are bigger and stronger than your average coyote. If coyote is moving toward you and breaks 50 yards you could be dealing with a rabid animal so it is wise to take it out.

      • Out here in CA coyotes are one of the few critters we can hunt at night. We have no limit and no season. I’ve seen them from very small to german shephard size. Just not as heavy. Wild animals don’t get as fat and soft as house pets.

        I don’t know how you define a “pack” of yotes but we’ve encountered groups working together.

        • jwm,

          Those “German shepherd size” coyotes are the coywolves to which IdahoBoy was referring. I recently saw a photo of a specimen that weighed something like 55 pounds and looked every bit as big (tall) as a 70 pound German shepherd. And you are definitely right, they are not as fat and soft as house pets.

          Two or three coyotes/coywolves wandered into our neighbor’s yard three years ago and, from only 30 yards away, sized-up one of my children and our 55 pound pit bull family dog. (The coyotes actually started their “Hey everyone, we just found dinner!” vocalizations.) My child was a good 10 seconds into yelling, stomping, clapping hands, and trying to look big — while our pit bull was growling with hackles up and pulling on the leash to tear into the coyotes — before the coyotes finally decided to look for an easier meal some place else.

          As if that wasn’t enough, I also found a story about a pack of coywolves that actually took down a healthy horse that belonged to a Sheriff mounted division. The coyotes took it down in the middle of the day only 70 feet from a home.

          These coywolves appear to present a non-trivial threat to children and quite possibly even adults given that they are capable of taking down a horse.

  21. Nobody ever said bear spray was 100% effective. But 98% of people escape injury after properly deploying bear spray, and to my knowledge nobody has ever died after properly deploying bear spray.

    Note I said “properly deploying bear spray”. Sure, people have gotten hurt, especially when they did not manage to hit the bear with the spray. But if they can’t hit the bear with the spray, they probably can’t hit the bear with the bullets either.

    In order for a firearm to be effective against a charging bear, you actually have to hit the bear. You have only a few seconds to draw, aim, and fire upon a small area of a moving target with high powered ammunition, typically from a handgun. Most people, including me, cannot reliably pull that off. In the same amount of time, you can easily disperse a cloud of bear spray between yourself and the bear, which the bear will have to get through to get to you.

    I’m not all weepy over bears mind you. If it comes down to me or the bear, it’s definitely going to be the bear. But statistics do not lie. For the vast majority of the encounters, bear spray is a better bet. I’ll save the pistol for featherless bipedal antagonists.

  22. There was an interesting study on this that maybe someone else remembers, on using a firearm. It had the percentage of people who forgot to take off the safety and thereby did not get off a shot

    By memory it was high, like 20 percent

    It’s the only time I have seen the often stated advice nt to use manual safeties quantified in terms of failure

  23. Locals around here will almost stone you for shooting a bear, even with a depredation permit. Attacks are pretty rare but bear burglaries are fairly frequent to those residents who don’t “get it” about trash storage. Remember, playing dead with a black bear will not work, only with a grizzly, but the black bears are more easily deterred with less lethal spray.

  24. Found it, 8 percent failed to disengage the safety

    It didn’t say that I saw how many guns were equipped with a safety so the screw up rate could have been 8percent if every gun were so equipped, or 100 percent of only 8 percent of the guns had a safety

    Interesting study too, says guns were ineffective and not distinguished from doing nothing, save for a surprising percentage of dead bears resulting.

  25. I live & work Search & Rescue in Bear country in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Ask most any Park Ranger about their feelings on bear spray; it works great, if used at the “optimal range”…which is NOT the 30 or 50 feet often advertised as the “effective range. The can in your hand may SPRAY 50 feet, but at that distance, the concentration of irritant has become so dilute that it will do NOTHING but piss off the bear. It all works best between about 4 & 6 FEET…WAAY closer than I ever want a bear, black or Grizz, to get. Political correctness be damned ( I live in Canada, and it IS a thing here), my current bear spray is a 13 in. barrel Adler lever action 12 ga. with 5 Brenneke Black Magic slugs in it. That’s probably 3 or 4 than I’d ever get the chance to use; I’ve been charged by a bear and it is indescribable how FAST they move; if you can get two rounds at him/into him during a charge, you’re an awfully fast shot.
    Bear spray is effective really close in…too close for my taste, though

  26. Rather than hard-cast lead alloy bullets, look up Belt Mountain Punch. I think they’re now being loaded commercially by someone.


  27. So many trite responses here. Can’t you see that many of you are falling into the same illogical argument that anti-gunners use. They pick out only the negative, the instances where armed citizens failed, or accidents with guns where kids are killed, while ignoring the much greater frequency of events where guns are used in a positive way to save a life.

    You are doing the same thing with this, picking out a few instances where bear spray has failed to say “See! it never works! it’s bad!” While ignoring the much more frequent events where it DOES works. You know why… because the media never reports when a person was ALMOST attacked by a bear but was saved by bear spray. Just like they never report when someone was ALMOST raped, or murdered, or robbed, or there was ALMOST a mass shooting but it was stopped by a defensive gun use.

    Nobody claims bear spray is 100% effective, but it is recommended because it is proven effective in “most” circumstances when deployed correctly AND because it is much EASIER to deploy then a gun in a high stress situation, especially when you consider that many people in the backcountry have NO experience with guns at all, and any gun that is going to be effective is going to be a heavy, hard recoiling gun not suitable for beginners. Not to mention the cost, $600 vs $60. Also not all bear spray is created equal, UDAP is better then Counter Assault is better then Frontiersman in my opinion.

    Not to boast, but just as a data point, I’d be comfortable in saying that I have spent more nights out in grizzly country in MT, WY, and AK then most people here. Unless I’m hunting I leave the big guns in the vehicle and just carry bear spray, (and a light .22 pistol for fun and rabbits) and I’m comfortable with that choice. By and large if you don’t mess with bears and follow proper camp setup and food storage rules, then they won’t mess with you.

    If you are more comfortable carrying a firearm in the backcountry then bear spray, then more power to you, that’s fine with me. But don’t be spreading falsehoods that bear spray is worthless, because for many non-gun people it is their best and only option, and they should have it. I’d hate for someone to need it and not have it, because they read on the internet that it didn’t work, so they decided not to spend the $60 to get it.

    • I have been on many forums and talked to several people who have claimed that there has *never* been a failure of bear spray that was actually used against a bear.

      So to say that no one claims bear spray is 100% effective is not correct.

      A great many claim that bear spray is more effective than firearms for stopping bears, on the basis of biased studies that compare spray against non-aggressive bears to firearms against aggressive bears.

      It is not an easy experiment to design. Many effective uses of firearms will not be reported; many unnecessary uses of bear spray will be reported, just in the nature of the legal environment.

  28. I’ve long been a proponent of a heavy caliber revolver and / or firearms over bear spray. When this debate first came out, a lot of folks here had some pretty harsh things to say about my failure to name bear spray as the #1 bear defensive weapon.

    I didn’t think bear spray was infallible then, and I certainly don’t think so now. The spray has similar limitations to police OC spray – temperature and weather greatly decrease its effectiveness, and a stout headwind will cause real problems. I fully realize the formulations are different and the dispensing method is somewhat different.

    Having used pepper spray in actual conflict, and having fought through the effects of the same, it isn’t much of a stretch to see how a determined bear could charge through a blast of spray.

    I’m not here to shame the victim. He’s a warrior, and I appreciate his survival skills and honesty. Hippies and champagne liberals will have even more conniptions now that some good failures of bear spray have been documented.

    I hope this winds up being good news. Guns are better weapons than sprays against a determined and deadly attack – provided the user is competent in their use. I hope this incident actually becomes a stepping stone to advance gun rights in bear territory. The old “sprays are better than guns” bullshit from hippies just doesn’t have the same credibility that it used to.

  29. The only good bear is a dead bear. Shoot shoot shoot the bears. Your little can of perfume is not a killing tool and bears are only good for killing. If you have a 9MM shoot the bear 17 times in the head. If you have a 40SW shoot the bear 4x in the head. If you have a 500 S&W shoot the bear one time in the head.

    But above all else, shoot the no good bears.

  30. How about: don’t go into bear country unless you’re specifically intending to take on bears? In that case, go with a well armed team.

  31. Have you ever heard of a saying, “anecdotes are not data”?

    What you have here is one single anecdote. The set of conclusions that you can reach from it is empty. Most certainly, you cannot conclude that he’d be better off if he tried to go for a gun – could he draw it fast enough? If he did, how many rounds would he manage to fire? Would they hit the bear, and if so, would they cause the bear to stop?

    This is all pointless unless and until you aggregate data about many such incidents, and compare those where spray was used (or attempted to be used) vs those where gun was used, and see how many people lived to tell either tale, and how badly they got mauled before that.

    • That sort of data is precisely what we do not have, and which we are unlikely to get.

      Politics are clearly involved in this issue, and it very much interferes in objective data collection.


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