Counter Assault bear spray in a can (courtesy
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Our pith helmeted homie Dean Weingarten has carved himself something of an editorial niche here at TTAG: gun uses against bears. So when I saw Counter Assault selling their bear spray here at SHOT Show I had to ask Brian Fort if his company’s products are better than a .44 Magnum (for example). Here’s his reply and [what the Brits call] bumph . . .

Convinced? Here’s the rest of their pitch:

Counter Assault product sheet (courtesy

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  1. Well, no shit. The guy with a vested interest in the bear spray company pushes the bear spray.

    Just like cisco kid pushes gun control. If he didn’t he wouldn’t get his 30 pieces of silver from kapo bloomberg.

    • So “Brian” up there said in “one out of four” armed encounters with a bear will end with either the human or the bear being injured.
      As long as the injured party is the bear and not the human, I really don’t have a problem with that statistic.

      • I’m surprised the injury rate for shooting a bear is only 25%. Apparently a lot of people can’t shoot straight. Or is he implying that the bears see guns and get scared off, like a mugger might?

        I’d wager those 6% of spray uses that end up in injury “to the bear or the human” all involve serious injury to the human, and the bear walks away with a runny nose and watery eyes. But on the bright side, if you spray into the wind, or up, etc. and manage to get the spray on yourself, the bear won’t eat you, because they don’t like spicy foods.

        I’d suspect he’s presenting his data to make his product look better, if I didn’t trust in the honesty of salesmen so strongly.

        • The numbers are highly suspect. Show us the data. Most bear encounters are not reported or recorded. The studies out on bear spray and firearms look at different types of encounters, and suffer greatly from selection bias.

          It is telling that he emphasizes the safety of the bear.

      • Comparing excellent bear spray and excellent defensive firearm platforms for bear attacks, my intuition tells me:
        — Fatality rate when using bear spray is low.
        — Fatality rate when using firearms is even lower.
        — Injury rate when using firearms is low.
        — Injury rate when using bear spray is even lower.

        Saying it another way, when a firearm “fails”, the human usually sustains significant injuries although they survive. And when bear spray “fails”, the human usually dies.

        Combined, this means that having an effective defensive firearm platform gives you the greatest chance of surviving a bear attack.

    • Hahaha no kidding right. That Crawford guy and Crisco kid. I think I’ve enraged both of them beyond the point of no return. Crisco kid has threatened to sue me on more than one occasion. I personally think they are the same person.

      • So Cisco kid was a friend of mine, no longer gets played on your stereo? Sue you, lmao. Hope he don’t get it all because I’m sueing you too, lmao

  2. My 44 works regardless of wind conditions or number of bears if I do my part. I have no use for Bear Spray.

    • As a green as grass newbie, I’d be fine carrying bear spray along with my gun, although I probably wouldn’t get to use it on bears. Most likely less dangerous, less aggressive, slower mammals.

      If attacked by a bear, I’ll spray him — but only if that saves my hide. I’ll wear a pink tutu if I thought it was the best option. It’s about me living with minimal scar tissue. The bear’s well-being doesn’t enter the equation.

  3. Bear spray, just like human spray, is literally hot sauce with a binding agent. It’s susceptible to wind, and has been noted to fail on more than once occasion. Particularly that recent one noted here on TTAG where the guy used it, and ended up being covered in it more than the bear, and had to use a .300 win mag, and multiple shots to put the beast down. Bear spray is advocated by anti gun and animal rights activists who’s main concern is the bear walking away unscathed, not you. I personally have been sprayed in the face, on more than one occasion, by pepper spray. IF, it gets in your eyes, yes, it “can” take the fight out of you. It does hurt like hell. But, it’s not something to count on. It’s merely a weapon of distraction. When you want to STOP a lethal threat, you use the best tool humanity has invented to stop that threat, that’s a gun.

    • @ Hank
      Yeah pepper spray. Big deal. Let me spray you with CS Tear Gas, which is what I carry as an alternative to my .40 I’ve sprayed two people with this stuff in the span of 40 years and it leaves folks VERY unhappy. (Not legal everywhere, check your local laws)
      As bear sprays go, I have that exact Bear Spray. It’s not for every incident but it can be useful where the opportunity exists to utilize non-lethal. Not every encounter is a “CHARGING BEAST”. Every encounter is different. However, if I think it’s me or the bear, f— bear spray, the bears getting lit up.

      • I agree on CS. Concentrated CS feels like your lungs are being crushed. I’ve been gassed twice and at least for me personally, CS does put me out of the fight. Now I’d say pepper spray in the eyes is higher on the pain threshold, but CS is like being choked out.

        • First time I did it, one guy breathed it in deep and exhaled like it was nothing more than ricola. I coughed and sneezed up more snot than I ever knew existed in the human body.

        • No they didn’t have us to push ups, but we had to hold out rifles out and do the rifle PT crap for a bit while singing the army song. I had a head cold when I went in, it was pretty well cleared out afterwards.

        • People react to CS different ways. For me, I hated it, but was not disabled to the point where I could not function, were they guy next to me we had to drag out. I have also seen people having more problems with the mask than the gas ( you can find out real quick if you are claustrophobic when trying to clear your mask). But at the same time, a lot of people cannot handle a handgun that would be effective against a bear, and given the amount of training necessary to use such a handgun effectively, vs spray, it is nice to have options.

          Also, lets not fool ourselves, CS is just training gas, not real war stuff. The only reason for the military to subjects you to it is to develop confidence in your equipment and motivate your training.

        • And pwrserge, give me a brake about the gas chamber, try working on a flight line for 8 hours in the sun in full MOPP. The nice part was when you passed out, they would dump a 5 gallon bucket of ice on you to drop your core temperature before the medics dragged you off. Oh, and then you were a “bad” kill so you were filling sandbags the next shift.

        • Didn’t say MOPP gear didn’t suck. Said CS gas is grossly overhyped. … and yes, heat exhaustion sucks ass. I would much rather spend and hour in the gas chamber than an hour filling sandbags in level 4 MOPP gear. At least with the gas chamber, you’re ok in an hour or two with proper decontamination. With heat exhaustion you’re out for a day or two as your body stabilizes from the shock.

    • Tell the anti gun animal rights activists (aka Greenies in my part of the world) that you use bear repellent in the same way as personal insect repellent.

      Stand back and enjoy the results. And really wonder if some people actually are too dumb to live.

  4. I’ll keep my G40 MOS stoked with 16 rounds of hard cast thank you.
    I’ll use the bear spray to lubricate my cast iron skillet back at camp to cook up the resulting bear tenderloins, hash browns and eggs.

    • So would I… if I could find a holster I’d feel comfortable carrying that monster in. I’ve got ~$1500 of gun light and sights sitting in the safe because I can’t find a good rig for it.

        • Not nearly tactical enough… Though in all seriousness, I can’t practice drawing with a chest rig at my club (180 rule) so it’s right out. I’m looking for something in a dropleg that will fit a X300-V on it.

        • Same rig. G40 with Tritium RMR, tritium backup sights (silly, but since it needed suppressor height sights anyway… why not) and X300V. The kydex I got for it works, but it doesn’t have positive retention and the gun is a bit heavy for a belt mount. It really needs a thigh rig. The light is great for extra IR goodness, but needs a very special holster.

    • I’m a revolver guy, and my first handgun was a Glock 29 SF because: compromising to have something concealable and powerful, faster reloads/malfunction clearing, Glock’s reputation at the time was better than Tanfoglio’s. Also, just happened to find a G29SF at a show within my expected price, never to this day have seen a compact Witness in 10, or even .45, to handle. I’ve seen whatever Kel-Tec unobtanium you’ve looked for at about half MSRP, though.

      The biggest bear I’m worried about will maybe hit 380 pounds, and they tend to not be confrontational. That said, I wanted a city gun I could also use with black bear. Or feral hog, or cougar my state denies exists in its borders. Or rabid woodchuck, you don’t know.

      I have hot sauces in my collection that would literally be war crimes if aerosolized. I’ve got a vial of Blair’s 16 Million Reserve that’s been kept in a wine fridge from day one. I’ve rubbed my eyes after handling things hotter than bear spray. It’s disabling to a degree, but if I were an angry mammal with adrenaline surging, it would just make me angrier. And that’s without factoring in the wind, which might make the potential victim a victim of their own defense before the bear. Also, Airheads.

      Long story short, my buy list is: Remington Nagant, Finnish Nagant, M38, .454 Super Redhawk, then a 40 MOS. And, for the record, I like the idea of the bike cage spray bottle. I just haven’t owned a bike with a water bottle cage in almost two decades. I went full suspension about a year after the government issued me a hydration pack (out of production Blackhawk(!) model) and haven’t looked back since on either. But something you can use, while in motion, to give you the opportunity to stay in motion and escape the threat, there’s an application I can appreciate. I wouldn’t want to shoot even a .38 from the saddle while moving.

      I carry a dedicated defensive knife when I ride. I assume that the time between my spotting the threat, stopping to dismount, drawing and readying for fire, no matter how much I practice, is going to be slower than trying to outrun aggressive wild dog who will probably knock me down anyway, and I’d rather not be limited by round counts or potential contact fire malfunctions.

  5. “Some days you eat the bear.

    But only one day the bear eats you.”

    FIFY (unless you think you can survive being eaten by a bear.)

    • Bears will eat their fill,then hide the carcass and come back to it to eat more later.
      So some days the bear can indeed eat you.

  6. Living in La-La land.

    If a bear approaches me, I want that SOB to have an injury.

    Id rather have that new folding single shot shotgun then freakin bear spray.

    Jeez oh Pete.

  7. A challenge (to anyone dumb). I’ll let you shoot me with your bear spray after you let me shoot you with any of my guns.

  8. I have no objections to packing bear spray – as an option. If my wife and I are picking huckleberries up in the Cascades and a black bear saunters over to see what we’re up to, I’ll talk to him/her and see if that moves ’em along. I’ve chatted with bears numerous times, and the bear generally moves away. Shot one in the ass with a pellet gun, in my driveway, and he trotted off as well.

    Next phase for a nosy or not-to-be-disuaded bear would be a cloud of spray, drifting his way.

    Aggressive black or Griz (not available in a forest near us)? The .44 mag with 305 gr. hard cast unholsters immediately.

  9. Unfortunately both items are illegal in New Jersey. I can carry neither a firearm nor any mace-like product more than 3/4 of an ounce. Ge me out of this liberal-fascist hell.

  10. If I’m going into bear country I’m taking my AR10 with some 180 grain bonded bullets.
    the only spray that bear is going to get is coming at 2500 FPS with maximum weight retention.

  11. From the pic above :


    Atomized? Are you *kidding* me?

    That’s the *last* thing I want on a windy day, a *cloud* of that stuff drifting back at me, seasoning my ass for a yummy bear snack.

    I want a 30+ foot *stream* of that stuff so I can *aim* it at the critter’s eyes-snout.

    What a way to die, feeling like your chest is being crushed and your eyes blinded by a lung and faceful of “High-Emission Atomized Spray” that you launched yourself as you are torn to pieces by a bear…

    • I’ve never cared for the fact bear spray comes out as a cloud, I’d prefer a stream like wasp spray. I don’t care if I don’t hit the bear at first, it’s not like I can’t “walk” the stream to the bears face.

    • Geoff PR and ACP_Arms,

      Unfortunately, a stream will almost never work because you will almost never be able to direct a tiny stream into a charging bear’s eyes and nose, unless the bear stops and just sits there for you for several seconds at 10 feet away. (You would almost never be able to “walk-in” the stream to a bear’s eyes/nose since a charging bear can easily cover 30 feet in less than one second — which is not enough time to adjust and correct the stream direction on a moving target.)

      If using spray, you really do need a cloud to ensure that at least some of the spray reaches the bear’s eyes and nose. Unfortunately, that cloud is a GINORMOUS liability if the wind brings it back to you!

  12. There’s no rail on the bear spray to mount red dot, mbus, flashlight, forward grip, bipod, grenade launcher/chainsaw bayonet.

    I’m not in bear country, but that doesn’t seem nearly tactical enough to take on a bear. I’ll just rely on old fashioned guns and being the second slowest runner in the group.

    • In West Texas in the border we have the Mexican brown bear. They are more used to Spicey peppered food. I’ll keep my Glock 40!

  13. I saw the bear bells, the collars did not look large enough. It would be cruel to put one on a baby bear, the collar would get too tight – and why would I want a magnetic silencer on the bell. Who gets the job of putting bells on the bear?
    Silliest product I have ever seen.

  14. You know what? I actually support the use of bear spray. Is it effective? Yes. Is a powerful firearm effective? Probably more so. Is shooting a charging bear with a .454 Casull revolver, 10mm pistol, or bolt action rifle something that your average person could do under duress? Probably not. The way I see it, bear spray is sort of like ‘hands-only CPR’. Contrary to popular belief, ‘hands only’ isn’t taught because rescue breaths aren’t effective; it’s taught so that more untrained people will be able to still perform chest compressions, which increases survival rates. There was a guy at my LGS who was shopping around because a grizzly came after a kill when he went hunting with a friend. He was asking me a lot of questions (I’m not an employee, just a regular customer), and his son was handling some of the guns rather unsafely. He had some rather bad preconceived notions, and I would not have trust him with a firearm. I would rather he carry bear spray than panic and get someone hurt or killed.

  15. 33ft is closer than I’m comfortable with launching a counter against a 1,500lb bear at full charge. My rule of thumb is If Mr. Bear is closer than 60ft, the distance of a semi truck with a 53′ box trailer. My 45-70 rifle is at the low ready and Mr. bear is highly likely to be taking a dirt nap soon.
    33′ leave NO margin for error.

    • In all seriousness, I wish there was a bear spray attachment for a rifle that’s activated by your left had while still holding the fore grip; The rifle is at your shoulder ready to fire, you just trigger the bear spray then if you need to shoot you just pull the trigger, no wasted transition time.

      • The only problem that I see with the rifle mounted bear spray — and using your rifle for backup if the spray fails — is that the spray creates a thick cloud and you will not be able to see the bear until it is literally ON TOP of you, at which point you most likely will not be able to shoot it with a rifle.

    • An assailant with a knife can reach you, and cut you, before you can bring a holstered firearm to bear, when they start from 25′ away.
      That’s a man in reasonable condition.
      A bear,in poor condition, can cover that 25′ in half the time a person could.
      That would put the distance needed, for that same bear in poor condition, for a person to unholster a gun and bring it to bear at more than 50′.
      That 33′ distance is far too close.

  16. 9 out of 10 bears surveyed said ‘bear spray makes you taste like blackened chicken’.

    Just kidding, we only found 6 bears, and three of them spoke Canadian.

    • And 3 out of 3 bears prefer Tim Hortons coffee; 1 out of 3 is Named Gord Mackenzie, wears plaid work shirts with a denim jacket and drives a logging truck. eh?

  17. Here is the 100% no questions asked GUARANTEED to work Bear solution.

    For 10 easy payments of $59.99 You will receive a proven to work. Spray. Dual chamber. 00 copper shot. Spray stick. When you see a bear and fear for your life. Put said stick into your mouth. Pull trigger. Situation neutralized. YOUR WELCOME. Made for tree huggers and Bloomburgers alike!

  18. I’m on a SAR team in Canada & we work regularly in the Rocky Mountains; LOTS of bears, black & Grizzly…plenty of cougars, wolves and coyotes. What with our gun laws, carrying a pistol is a non-starter, and a long arm on top of all the other crap we’re lugging around, plus numerous national parks…guns are a tough sell.
    Bear spray we do carry, all the time, everybody. We train with it, we do a lot of classroom work with the Parks biologists. Spray is great stuff, providing you have the right conditions and optimal distances. Problem is, the conditions are very seldom “right”, and while the streamer cans will spray in excess of 30 feet, all you really succeed in doing at that distance is pissing it off. Even with ideal conditions, as it moves through the air it dilutes and incorporates more clean air into the mix. at max range, you’ve lost more than half the effective concentration, and the “cone” of spray has expanded to 8-10ft. Based on close to 20 years of monitoring attacks in and around the National Parks (Banff, Jasper and Yoho mainly), “optimal” distance…where you have near perfect spray pattern, concentration and accuracy regardless of conditions…roughly 6 feet. In bear-speed, that’s about as long as the blink of your eye; hit that timeline, you’re golden. Miss it? Not so much.

    Now, don’t go thinking I’m dissing bear spray; I’m not. I wouldn’t get out of my truck in the bush without it. I’ve used it twice on bears, once on a coyote and it was effective each time discouraging an aggressive animal…agressive but not in full charge. A grizzly in full on “I’m gonna kill your sorry ass” charge, is horrifying to watch. It’s hard to comprehend an animal that big and clumsy looking can move that fast. Anyone that has faced down and shot or sprayed a big bear in those circumstances , I have mad respect for; they’re Hella more calm, and much better shots than I’ll ever be.

    Yes, I do carry a gun any time I possibly can; usually a 12ga. lever action with a 13in. bbl and Brenneke slugs in it. Plus bear spray, every time

    • Why are you not the one writing on bear spray instead of Rob. I do like the point of training. How much training does it take for a “gun” guy to get good with a .44 Mag, much less someone who does not do a lot of handgun shooting. I bet a hour of training with the bear spray makes a world of difference, with a .44 you are more likely to just develop one hell of a flinch.

    • I’d like to know what you are going to do after you have used nearly all of your full can of bear spray, then you encounter a really pissed of 700 lb. bruin, on your way back to civilization.
      Does anybody carry more than one can at a time? Carrying only one can in known bear country is like busting into a Hell’s Angels meeting with a 6 shot pistol, and no extra mags!

      • I carry a minimum of two large cans, one on a chest harness , the other on my pack. Everyone on the team has at minimum one can, most carry multiples. That was a lesson no one needed to have first hand experience to identify that two was one, one was none

  19. Bear spray is good. It’s effective and can be carried openly in some places where guns would draw the wrong kind of attention- bears don’t only exist in the wilds of Alaska.

    That said, if I had a bear-capable gun in one hand and spray in the other, I’d be using the gun. But it’s still a good option to have.

  20. In a charging bear situation, you only may get one chance; I vote for the gun over the wasp spray every time. Is it worth the risk for a feel good moment of “save the animal?” They are our natural enemies, always have been since I was a young man in a cave. Bears kill, that is their game. Momma bears defending their young, or the old boar that is so grumpy he just wants to rip your lungs out, either way. If not 405 gr. of lead from my 45-70, I trust my Ruger .44 magnum much better than a can of hope and change.

  21. In a real life situation I’d be concerned carrying both- here’s why. I can train with my revolver fairly easily and predict the result. Bear spray? There’s no real opportunity to train or predict the result. I’d be very worried about two things. 1) that the spray would get on me or someone in my group, decreasing our ability to think and act at a critical time. 2) delay caused in deciding between spray and gun in a critical situation where fractions of a second count. I have very high confidence in my gun. Not much in a spray that is easily defeated by unpredictable environmental conditions.

    • Oh, you can train with bear spray, much the same way you can train with pepper. I would not carry it unless I have used it before (not necessarily on a bear) and probably got some in my face. I always warn anyone who carries pepper spray to buy two and at the very least blast a wood fence. And if you are going to take it seriously, do it down wind of the fence.

  22. I went to North West Montana last summer and hiked around Glacier National Park. I don’t own a handgun that could take down a bear, so I forked over 30 or 40 bucks for a can of this stuff. I don’t think it’s better than a gun, but I bet it works most of the time and it was a lot easier to buy this spray at the hardware store than to bring a gun from New Hampshire.

  23. I question that 96% claim.
    In how many of those uses, were the bears doing nothing more menacing than simply passing by?
    In how many of those uses were the bears actually charging with intent to do as much damage as possible?
    “Statistics” without data are useless.

  24. A lot of comments here but little knowledge of bear behavior. I live in the heart of the greatest concentration of grizzlies in the lower 48. They are in my yard, along the stream banks, even occasional seen in winter when snowshoeing. I carry spray almost all the time and a firearm 95% of the time. Even when working in the yard. I’ve had at least 4 neighbors this past year injured by bears (two others killed lions in their yard attacking their dog), this country is no joke. That said, attacks are rare. Two situations are the most dangerous. One is the unexpected encounter. Just walking along or fishing and you literally bump into a bear doing the same thing or even maybe sleeping. Instant defensive reaction from the bear and little or no time to use defensive equipment. Chances are that the attack will be limited, though possibly devastating, and the bear will run off. If you have immediate access to your gun this is when it could make a difference (if you are not too terrified to think). The other dangerous encounter is again unexpected. Just out walking along and unknown to you you walk into a zone where a bear has stashed a kill or it’s a mom and cubs nearby. This again can trigger an instant protective reaction on the part of the bear. It comes out of nowhere and is on you. This may be worse than the other, since the bear is protecting it’s area rather then being surprised and may not run off. Again, this is where the gun could make a big difference and you are fighting for your life. On the other hand most encounters involve seeing the bear at some distance. If for some reason (stupidity) you’ve gotten close enough to make the bear nervous, particularly mom and cub, the bear may become aggressive. It may stand up, may be huffing or striking the ground and may come closer. This is when you don’t panic and slowly back away and talk to the bear(do not run).You must be fully prepared at this point.That means spray out and ready and firearm readily accessible. Especially if there are several of you this ends with the bear backing down. Sometimes the bear may make a charge and come to a stop 20′ to 30′ away, stand up and make a big show of who’s the boss. This is a critical moment. This is where spray works best. If the bear starts to charge or continues to charge unleash the cloud of spray at this distance so the bear will run through it. In most cases this will distract the bear enough so it forgets it was attacking you and gives you time to continue your slow retreat. The problem here is that people panic. They either unleash the spray too early or way too late or when the bear is not attacking so it just aggravates it. If one has a firearm and no spray there is a tendency to want to shoot the bear at distances that are not really a threat, resulting in an unnecessary death of the bear because of panic and ignorance of bear behavior. The point is that 95% of the commenters will never be in this position and have no experience with this issue. Bear spray can work well in the right hands and circumstances. Firearms could also save your life and sometimes the bear wins regardless.

  25. When I lived in southeast Alaska I had a few black bear encounters, they all exhibited the same behavior, stop for about three seconds and then ran away. Since moving to the lower 48, I had an encounter with a Mountain Goat. It was just outside of Leavenworth, Washington. (Cascade Mtn range).
    I was hiking up a narrow trail with a steep grade with numerous switchbacks, rocky cliff face type terrain and it was late spring. I was getting very tired, sweating and I started looking down at my feet the harder the trail got, I came around a tight switchback and looked up to see a mountain goat standing about arms length in front of me. Scared the S*** out of me, they are really a lot bigger up close. It was very dirty and appeared to have been rubbing it’s hide to get the winter hair off. I think it was sleeping or sick and I must have startled it, In stamped it’s hoof a few times as I started backing down the trail. The Goat then took off up the trail. I was lucky, I kept thinking what the newspaper headlines would say if things went bad (man gored to death by Mountain Goat). I was armed with a .41 mag Ruger but had no time to pull it. It was actually very odd to have a up close contact with an elusive animal like a Mountain Goat. Really made me think about complacency when hiking and if this had been a bear. .

  26. Ever notice while watching flicks of hunters in Africa riding along in a completely open vehicle, that a group of lions could easily jump into the the vehicle, and eats the contents?
    Have you ever heard of African guides and hunters carrying bear spray, or the equivalent. Five bucks says it wouldn’t work on elephants.

  27. Ammoland shooting sports news just had an article written by Dean Weingarten analyzing 28 successful uses of a pistol to defend against bear attacks.
    The bears included brown, black and grizzlies.
    Pistol calibers included the usual 44 magnum and 454 cassul. Surprisingly there were .45, 9 and .357 used to kill bears
    It turns out that these calibers are also effective in spite of the “common knowledge” that only super powerful cartridges can kill a grizzly bear
    It is a fascinating article. Read it for yourself!

  28. NO, it’s not… Pull your collective heads out kids, clearly you don’t spend much time in Bear country. If you wanna carry BOTH, fine, but always have the firearm and if you can ONLY have one… take the firearm (and make that firearm a 10mm GLock).

  29. “Biologists have found that pepper spray has a better success rate than firearms. According to a study in the “Journal of Wildlife Management,”a person’s chance of getting seriously injured from a charging grizzly doubles when bullets are shot compared to when bear spray is deployed.”

    Obviously, do what you need to to save your life, but if you have the option for the less lethal method, it will be a LOT less hassle to use the bear spray than the gun, in terms of the aftermath.

    In Alaska, you don’t just get to leave a dead bear in the woods and move on. You will be expected to skin it, and salvage the hide with claws attached, as well as salvage the skull, and haul all of that out of the bush and turn it over to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. If you don’t report the shooting, even if justified, you have broken the law. So you will do the work associated with taking a trophy but not get to keep any of it, and whatever activity you were doing might get put on hold or canceled altogether.

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