“News of bear attacks have been dominating headlines for the past few weeks, with seven attacks in a five day span across the US.,” The Sportsman’s Alliance blog post at ammoland.com recaps. “With hunting seasons nearing, hunters will be entering the woods and risk the possibility of coming face to face with the bruins. Would you know what to do if a bear came across your hunting path?” Before you answer that question, be advised: “Don’t mistake bears for the cuddly, stuffed animals your child may have named. In actuality, bears are large predators near the top of the food chain. The three different species of bears found across the U.S. can range anywhere from 125lbs to 1500lbs!” OK, they had me at the exclamation mark. I’m thinking something large-calibered in a lever gun, or something large calibered in a revolver [Ruger Super Redhawk Alaska 454 Casull above]. The Alliance is thinking no such thing . . .
If a bear is charging you out of defense: Make yourself as big as possible. Hold your arms above your head and spread your legs to a larger stance. Speak loud and clearly at the bear, however, avoid eye contact as this may be perceived as a threat to the bear and provoke a charge. Appearing larger than the bear may scare it off.
Do not run or make any sudden movements. If a bear charges at you, try to stand perfectly still and stand your ground as bears will make bluff charges to see what you will do. Standing still may cause the bear to lose interest in you.
However, if the bear continues to charge in a defensive manner, your next plan of attack would be to play dead. Playing dead against a defensive bear leads the bear to become bored with you and may cause it to leave you alone.
And there I was thinking bears charge faster than that fancy interior decorating place that melted my credit card yesterday. Also, I played dead when my older brother attacked. Once. So that’s out then. Well, until the bruin makes actual physical contact.
No wait. Not even then. I’m thinking that shooting a charging bear with a gun (me, not the bear) before he or she makes contact is the better option. The Alliance . . . not to so much.
If a bear is viewing you as prey: In rare occurrences, you may be in the situation where a bear that has tracked your movements. Predatory behavior is most often found to be from hunger or just an indifference to what and who you are.
If you find yourself a victim of a bear attack, it is not time to play dead, but rather fight with everything and anything you can find.
If living in bear country, bear spray is a necessity if you plan on venturing into the woods. If a bear charges you, aim the spray for just above the head of the bear so the spray will fall into the eyes of the animal.
From there, use your fists, rocks, sticks, ect. to hit the bear as hard as possible. Aim for the snout of the bear as this is a very sensitive part of the animal.
Bear attacks are not prevalent; however, the USSA urges sportsmen and women across the country to always be prepared to come across these large mammals in the wild to avoid harm.
Mano-a-bruin with a bear? No thanks. I carried both bear spray and a gun in Montana. Admittedly, it was the wrong gun (documentation issues). But I reckon it was way better than a stick. Anyway, God created bears, Grizzly Customs Guns perfected the lever gun. ‘Nuff said.
That snubby Super Redhawk looks like it’d be more dangerous to yourself than the bear unless you had lumberjack arms. Imagine the muzzle bloom coming out of that thing…
In .480 Ruger caliber it isn’t too bad, though really hot bear defense ammo will indeed start avalanches with the muzzle blast. My 400 gr hard cast subsonic loads are very tolerable in small doses. While a .45/70 Guide Gun makes more sense “ballistically speaking”, a big bore revolver is WAY more portable and more likely to be at hand when a bear arrives in camp or on the trail.
John Davies, Spokane WA USA
I never got the point of 480 Ruger. So you have a cartridge a fraction of an inch (.12″) shorter than 475 Linebaugh?
That snubby makes my ears ring just looking at a picture of it.
Everyone does have the right to Bear Arms. Make sure he is dead before you try and take them.
Can I do so while wearing a tank top? I also want to exercise my right to Bare Arms.
Is that Hickcock45 in the pic?
no, Hickock45 would be standing like 120 yards back, and the shots would have been between the eyes.
And he would have done it with a hideout pocket gun. I understand Chuck Norris follows Hickock .45 around taking notes.
I bet you’re right!
Its advised that if a bear comes across Hickock45 in the woods that the bear immediately roll on his back and look very ashamed. Once Hickock45 is convinced that the bear knows what it did wrong, he will wave his hand letting the bear know its ok to slowly leave.
I hear Provincetown is also dangerous bear country.
Beat me to it. Good job.
Forgot San Francisco.
Dangerous bears in San Francisco? Not at all. Actually, they’re pretty tame. If one appears headed towards you, just say “You look FAB-ulous!” If possible, toss out a packet of brie with some crackers while you make your escape.
Indeed. SF Twinks, on the other hand…
I just got off the plane from Anchorage, having spent weeks in the back country. Every single native or permanent resident Alaskan carries a gun. Everything from 44 to 475 Linebaugh. Every single California grad student “guiding” tourists on the mountains carries spray and advises you to “play dead”.
You choose which advice suits you best.
“Every single California grad student “guiding” tourists on the mountains carries spray and advises you to “play dead”.
Just before they turn into bear poop.
I’ve heard about this, I also heard about people wearing bells.
On a side note, I have also heard that you can tell what kind of bears are in the area by looking at the scat. Black bears will have berries in their scat, and it will smell like manure. Grizzly bears will have bells in their scat, and it will smell like pepper!
Why not to climb a tree when a bear is chasing you:
Black bear: You climb a tree, the bear follows you up the tree and eats you.
Brown bear: You climb a tree, the bear loiters around the base of the tree until you get tired and fall out of the tree, it eats you.
Grizzly bear: You climb a tree, the bear knocks the tree down and eats you.
RE: Black Bear Berry Scat
I and a contracter went up the cabin last year to do an estimate on repairs to the roof, after a bad wind storm ripped some of the metal sheeting off.
On the way back down we came across a large pile of scat in the trail that had not been there on our way up an hour earlier.
The scat was full of deer hair…..
And it wasn’t big cat, e.g., cougar, scat. The contracter lives up there, about two miles away. He recognized it as bear.
P.S. Bear that in mind…..
You don’t have to be the fastest Californian grad student guide in the woods. Just faster that one tourist laying on the ground playing dead.
Good tactical plan I’d think.
How do you identify Californian bear turds in the wild? They contain little bells and smell like bear spray.
Oh, we need to enlighten everyone on that amazing, funny sign:
And they’re in California, mostly.
An old game warden I know by the name of Floyd Reagan told of going to work in Alaska hunting poachers. His choice of weapon was a 12 ga pump.
Well, his first day out on snow shoes, he encountered a kodiak about a half mile from camp. It was not happy to see him, or possibly over joyed. Any way, it reared up as it approached. That 12ga almost completely removed the bears head. It was dead when it hit the ground. Unfortunately, Floyde was under the bear, his radio was no where to be found, and it was several long hourse before a search team found him.
A 12 ga full of #4 bird will stop any animal native to North America, but there are better choices.
my prefered method of stopping any bears I encounter is the fence the zoo installed. If not, my 44 mag would have been nice.
So will 1 oz lead slugs…just saying…
[email protected]@@ playing dead, I’d go with the 700 grain T-REX round out of the 4 inch S&W 500. RF shot this video a few years ago at AFS. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceGpP5NY0kk
That round is soooo nasty that there would be a dead bear and a shooter nicknamed “Lefty.”
S+W used to sell a 2 3/4″ barrel version of the Magnum 500 as part of an Emergency Survival Kit. I’ll take something that goes boom over playing dead.
How is that round? I bought a s&w 500 in an 8 3/8 barrel about 3 months ago specifically for bear hunting.
The recoil from the 8 3/8 and the 10.5 inch using the 700 grain isn’t to bad, but it’s really nasty out of 4 inch snubbie. I shoot these three every week, and the 4 incher is the nastiest little gun(recoil wise) I’ve ever shot. The other two are so big and heavy that you don’t mind the recoil.
I’ll have to try some. Thanks for the info
Bah… That’s why you man up and carry a .50 Beowulf with a 7 round magazine. That gives you eight rounds with the terminal ballistics of a small cannon. If that does not stop the bear, I’m not sure what will.
On a side note… Anybody ever try a mag dump from a Beowulf with a RDIAS? I’d love to see that.
“Make yourself as big as possible. Hold your arms above your head and spread your legs to a larger stance. Speak loud and clearly at the bear, however, avoid eye contact as this may be perceived as a threat to the bear and provoke a charge. Appearing larger than the bear may scare it off.”
I’ve seen this tactic in barfights. It rarely works.
As bear ‘society’ is based upon a dominance hierarchy, appearing to be the biggest, baddest bear is a proven method of bear deterrence. Unfortunately, as bears have individual ‘personalities’ and ‘moods’ much as do dogs, and there’s always that one exception to prove the rule, there is no method that is guaranteed to work every time.
That includes firearms and pepper spray as well. If one wants a guarantee that he will not be maimed or killed by a bear, it’s best to stay away from the places where there are bears. Otherwise, you take your chances.
Many a man well-armed with a rifle or shotgun and/or big-bore handgun has been severely wounded or killed by a bear at close quarters in close cover; There simply isn’t time to get all that armament into play for many, as many never even get the safety off, let alone bring the muzzle to bear (no pun intended). Oddly enough, studies of human/bear encounters tell that the best weapon in close cover is pepper spray–NOT a firearm.
Every time I see a counter-intuitive study the first thing I ask myself is “what was the agenda of the authors?”
This study was designed by a guy who wanted to prove bear spray worked. And…lo and behold…it “proves” bear spray works. And is more effective than firearms.
…and is a great mosquito repellent, cures the common cold, etc, etc…
The study is neither counter-intuitive or directed at a desired outcome; The actual BYU study in its full version is also available online.
It is a compendium of nearly 300 encounters, some that turned out well and some that did not; It is compiled as a statistical analysis of what worked and what did not. By the percentages, the study found that it was hardest for people to get a long gun into effective action at close contact distances in heavy cover–there wasn’t enough time given that bears move at 35mph for short distances. A pistol was easier to use as it was shorter–very simple, that. Bear spray was the quickest to deploy and the most effective at very short range as it required no real ‘aiming’ or accuracy.
What is counter-intuitive about that?
Wear a TAPOUT T-shirt to showcase your MMA skillz to the bear. Engage in wordplay and witty banter with the bear; bears are oftentimes intimidated by superior vocabulary and grammar. COSPLAY is also a proven technique for deterring bear aggression, e.g. If you’re dressed like The Joker or a Klingon it will confuse him and he will simply walk away saying “what is a Klingon warrior dong in rural Washington?”
Make yourself appear as big as possible? Well, if you’re The Hulk or that “Thunder” guy from Big Trouble in Little China, you might look bigger than the bear. Otherwise, you’re going to spend your last minute on Earth looking stoopid. And since many bears that I have known enjoyed eating prey items larger than themselves, you just might convince the bear that you’d be a tasty and nutritious addition to its diet.
And how will you know if the bear is attacking you for defensive purposes or simply because he’s hungry and the takeout line was way too long at the local Taco Bell? Perhaps politely asking the bear’s intentions would be the way to go. Except you probably don’t speak bear.
Or — and I know I’m going out on a limb here — you might want to consider shooting the damn thing before he or she decides to chow down on your @ss.
Ralph’s right on target about shooting the bear before it eats you for dinner. I’d go with the golden rule and do it to others (the bear) before it does it to you. The 700 grain T-REX will sting your hand for a bit, but it sure beats letting the bear eat or maul you.
+1 – if you’ve ever seen footage of the relative ease a grizzly has taking down a massive male moose, you can imagine how effective that would be.
I completely agree with your idea that it is best to shoot way out of claw range. However, this works best with accidental encounters. When you are being actively stalked and hunted as prey, in heavily wooded country, you will unfortunately not get that much of a break. The bear knows how to sneak up on jittery prey much faster and with more acute senses than us humans…
That being said, I would be crazy to stick with bear spray and leave the .44 Redhawk at home on a hiking trip in bear country.
There’ve been several cases of men killing bears with their bare hands, so it is doable. I’d rather not try, but it’s possible.
I’ll bet that the bears died laughing.
Davy Crockett did it when he was 3!!!
On a mountaintop in Tennessee.
Actually, according to the song, li’l Davy “kilt him a b’ar.” Which means he dressed his Teddy in an attractive Scottish outfit complete with knee socks and a sporran.
“Rocky Mountain Grizzly Bear Jackson Hole, Wyoming This bear was taken by world famous hunter and hunting guide C. Dale Petersen of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is one of only two grizzlies known to have been killed “without” the use of modern weaponry. Verified by game biologists, Mr. Petersen killed this bear with his hands, and oddly enough, his teeth. It is known that this bear had been aggravated by a group of backpackers, shortly thereafter, Petersen, unaware of previous happenings, came upon the bear. A fight-to-the-death ensued. Petersen, having his right hand and arm wedged in the bear’s throat, actually used his own teeth and jaws to pinch off the bear’s jugular vein. When the bear passed-out from the lack blood flow to the brain, Petersen beat the bear in the head with a stick.”
Fascinating citations, C. Thanks. I’m saving them.
I thought it was a Shao Lin legend, the Hoh Li Fook Tonsil Punch.
According to a local gunsmith that does lots of work for the USGS, their survey crews often carry a Marlin in 45-70 in bear country.
Humm, I’ll take my 1985 in .45-70 over playing dead to a charging bear.
1. I’ll carry bear spray. Real bear spray. Not the stuff the hucksters peddle to gun-phobic city dwellers. Real bear spray. The kind of stuff that will clear out a biker bar in under 10 seconds if you give them a little whiff.
2. After that, I’d prefer a short, handy slug gun with Brennke slugs. Don’t depend on a handgun to do the job that requires a larger weapon.
I have heard that real bear spray is incredibly effective as long as it isn’t very windy.
As for defensive firearms, I agree that a 12 gauge shotgun with an 18 inch barrel and Brenneke slugs is highly effective.
In terms of a handgun, a .44 Magnum with a 6 inch or longer barrel shooting 300 grain hardcast lead bullets will put down the largest of black bears pretty darned quickly if the shooter can put the rounds on target. That configuration will definitely kill grizzlies as well although a motivated grizzly might still tear you up before expiring. It is a good alternative if you want to be free of carrying a shotgun around all the time.
Of course an even larger caliber revolver will be more effective at stopping a large grizzly. With those larger calibers comes even more recoil though … and at some point people will just not be able to handle the recoil which rules them out.
It seems to me that most people can handle .44 Magnum recoil in a heavier revolver with a 6 inch barrel — especially when you have rubber grips. Is the recoil fun? It is stout of course. But just about any man of medium build or larger could shoot 12 rounds and be more than willing to do it again. (I am not sure how women of various builds would do with .44 Magnum recoil — sorry ladies.)
I don’t want the last picture of me to be a pile of scat that smells like bear spray, and accented by a couple of jungle bells.
The issue of wind and distance on the spray is part of why I say “real bear spray.” I mean a spray that not only has the “heat” (Scoville Units) of bear spray, I mean a spray that has a high concentration of the OC, a volume of delivery and stream to hose down a bear’s face from further than bad-breath distance. Look at the UDAP products for an example of what I mean.
The thing that most people forget about bears is this: Their sense of smell is their strength. Their sense of smell is so acute, it is the stuff of Indian legend and backwoods lore. Humans think of their sense of smell as being an “also-ran” – third or fourth, after sight, sound, (and possibly) touch. The human olfactory sense is absurdly inferior to a dog’s – so far inferior, that we use dogs to find things that are “obvious” to most other animals because we simply can no longer concentrate on our noses long enough to smell what is obvious.
What breed of dog is considered by we oh-so-terribly-smart humans as the best at smelling scents on the wind? A bloodhound.
OK, so how does a bear’s sense of smell stack up next to a bloodhound’s? Bear experts reckon a bear’s sense of smell is at least five times better than a bloodhound’s sense of smell.
A bear navigates through the world on his nose. His sense of hearing is OK. His eyesight is actually pretty poor. When you see those films of a grizz rearing up on his hind legs? Yea, that’s not to get a better look at something far-off. He’s doing that to get his nose up out of the air down on the ground and get a clean scent on the wind. Want to know why hunters here in Wyoming and Alaska worry about bears? Because when you’ve been working all day, packing out your game meat, guess what you smell like? Food. The bear isn’t thinking “Humans – they’re what’s for dinner!” – no, good hunters know that after packing out their kill, they now smell like what the bear likes to eat: dead game.
With the bear’s senses being this concentrated on his nose, what does bear spray attack? The trump card in his deck: His sense of smell. What’s more, it attacks his sense of smell so well that it will be a day before he wants another piece of anyone or anything. Along with his sense of smell goes his sense of taste. If you shoot at a bear and you miss, or only slightly wound him, he’ll be back. Get his nose filled with bear spray? He’s done for the day.
Too many people equate “bear spray” with the OC spray that cops carry. Cop OC sprays are to bear spray what a wine spritzer is to white lightening moonshine.
Speaking of smell, I once read some article where the writer speculated that the reason we survived past the stone age was B.O.
I was just thinking that. My 18″ 870 packs a mean wallop to the shoulder but I’d gladly take a few smoothbore slugs and that gun into bear country rather than a revolver regardless of caliber.
1. I use Fox brand, and have experience with it. Do you know a more appropriate one I could research?
2. For penetration at close range Brenneke slugs really are excellent. I wish people would talk them up more. Their high-end 2 3/4 inch 1 3/8 oz slug produces muzzle energy of 3,545 ft/lb, and carries huge momentum with excellent penetration, too much for SD use other than big bears. I like that they don’t throw a wad to the side, as well.
2. I talk up Brennke slugs every chance I get. For most people, they’re the best way to up-gun yourself ib a budget that I know of. A “riot gun” or home defense shotgun with Brennke slugs is a very credible way to take on dangerous game at close range. I will warn people: Be prepared for the recoil. They’re not just a “hot” AA load.
I don’t know what the Sportsman’s Alliance was smoking when they made that recommendation, but it will kill you if you follow it.
We homesteaded in Alaska years ago. I wouldn’t walk from the cabin to the outhouse without a .44 magnum and even then I felt woefully under protected. Grizzlies can travel 45 feet in a second over open terrain so don’t rely on the idea that it might be a fake charge. If the bear is intent on killing you, you won’t have time to tell the difference before it is on top of you. Shoot the critter with largest caliber you have and keep shooting. They take a lot of killing.
My understanding is that it is quite common for grizzly bears to “bluff charge”. They don’t like you being within 100 yards or so and charge at you to make sure you know that. If they do not stop their charge short of you and you do not have a defensive firearm or bear spray, playing dead is probably your best option because you certainly cannot outrun a grizzly bear. The stories that I have read talk about the grizzlies beating you around and maybe chomping once or twice … and then going away once they see that you are not a threat. You will be torn up but most likely survive … unless they just want to eat you of course which is always a possibility. If a grizzly wants to eat you, playing dead will not help your cause although it will certainly help the grizzly.
I have never heard of “bluff charges” from black bears. Black bears should immediately run away if they discover you. Any black bear that does not immediately run away is habituated to humans and that is bad. If a black bear charges you, there are only two possibilities: it is either a sow protecting her cubs or it is hunting you. Regardless of a black bear’s motivation for charging you, at best it will maul you horrifically and at worst it will kill you. Use your defensive firearm or bear spray on a charging black bear before it gets you. If you do not have a defensive firearm or bear spray, make yourself look big and yell as loud as you can … and fight with everything you have in the black bear makes contact.
The problem of with bears is one of simply physics: the big guy wins. Sure,
if they aren’t hungry a bear may simply paw at you a little then move on.
Unfortunately, even smaller black bears can easily open you up or remove
various appendages with little effort. I also notice that no one who advocates
playing dead actually says that bears can be scavengers and opportunistic;
i.e. playing dead is like laying out a buffet. Thanks but I’ll stick with my
12gauge and leave playing hors d’oeuvres to those who’ve never
actually encountered a bear.
I would never play dead that’s stupidity.
If your not prepared to be in the woods then don’t be.
Or come crying home because some one shot Ted.
Me I don’t own anything big enough for a northern bear so I stay out of the woods.
Besides we don’t have any woods here in So Florida. Big weeds yes woods not really.
But if I did go in the woods. I would have along me the biggest thing in a 45 some thing or another and hope I come back with my 2 hands still there if had to fire it.
Im falling apart as is. Just yesterday shot my RIA compact 45 with some +Ps.
My hands still hurt today……………………………………………..
IDGAF what they say, if yogi charges me he will be meet mr hand cannon but then again i’ll keep my ass out of the woods so that solves that problem
Just a thought; I’ve heard bear spray is very effective but range is limited. I don’t think I’d want to wait for a bear to get that close and your longer range options are all lethal (to the bear hopefully). It would make sense to develop a 12ga. shotgun load that could splat the stuff right on his nose 50 or 75 yards. That would give you the non-lethal option first and the lethal option second.
Due to the frequency of human-bear encounters, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is advising hikers, hunters, fishermen and any persons that use the out of doors in a recreational or work related function to take extra precautions while in the field.
We advise the outdoorsman to wear little noisy bells on clothing so as to give advanced warning to any bears that might be close by so you don’t take them by surprise.
We also advise anyone using the out-of-doors to carry “Pepper Spray” with him is case of an encounter with a bear.
Outdoorsmen should also be on the watch for fresh bear activity, and be able to tell the difference between black bear feces and grizzly bear feces. Black bear feces is smaller and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear feces has bells in it and smells like pepper.
Bravo Sir. I was wondering where I read that…
And again, this time with FEELING!
This is a question for RF. (Or someone that can tell me the issues)
I must be not following something. Why are you having difficulty with obtaining the other guns you own?
And what is the documentation issue mentioned? please enlighten me.
After watching “secret of yellowstone” on Netflix yesterday – apparently bear spray is all you need.
That said they were surprised and it could have went a lot worse than it did as the bear surprised them running at them at 35mph out of the blue. They played the “playing dead” routine until the bear decided to snack out on the guy’s leg. They ended up hitting him in the face with the bear spray and that did the trick.
Personally I would prefer to carry both as the pepper spray is very short range and a bear running at you at 35mph doesn’t give you much time to hit him with spray before he hits you.
Personally I’m not looking to hurt any bear and if hiking in their area I would make a bit of noise here and there to let them know I was around so I didn’t surprise them. That said, if a bear thinks he’s going to eat me… he is mistaken. He’s going to eat me?? No. I’m going to eat him, and I’m going to see to it that the other bear’s watch.
The only grizzly bears in California are on the state flag, the last one having died about a century ago. So I am not too concerned. I’ve heard rumors that there are blacks or browns out there somewhere (not very many miles from here, actually), and I even know people who hunt them, but in all the years I’ve lived in Northern California (State of Jefferson) I’ve never seen one (except on the “Bear Crossing” signs).
i like to make note that black bears and polar bears alone with a case in Siberia of a grizzly eating humans alive
TT-33, with the bullets drilled and filled with lead azide.
Not quite legal, but those li’l HE rounds work wonders.
I declare shenanigans. Lead II Azide will detonate before your round clears the barrel unless you have it in some sort of stabilizing mix.
I consider the handgun to be a revenge weapon against a bear. While he’s getting a meal out of my ass I’m getting a sammich out of his. The condors can have what’s left of both of us.
My tactic for not getting eaten by a bear: I don’t go places where there is even the most remote possibility that I will encounter such a creature. If I go to Alaska, it will be on a big cruise ship from which I can view the flora and fauna from afar with binos.
If forced into a situation wherein getting mauled and eaten by a bear is imminent, I doubt I’d be capable of the shot placement needed to kill the beast with a huge ass S&W .500. I think anything less than a 12 gauge is tempting fate…maybe a Mosin M44. If an M44 doesnt kill it, at least I would have scared the crap out of it and half cooked it with the muzzle blast before it eats me.
I love my 45/70, but honestly think that my 870 is just as effective…maybe a bit more so with the first shot 00 buck and the rest slugs.
RE: Kung Fu?
Is there a ‘bear’ style?
Or which style is best for hand-to-hand with a bear?
RE: One Technique
I’m reminded of that Holiday Inn Express commercial from years ago.
A group of people on tour in Alaska are on a viewing platform overlooking a meadow.
In the meadow there is a lone woman facing a Kodiak about 10 meters in front of her. The bear is bigger than she is and standing on its hind legs looking at her.
A guy on the platform is shouting to her:
“Don’t be afraid!
Approach the bear and with both hands cuff it on its ears!”
One of the others on the platform asks the guy, “Ar you a park ranger?”
The guy answers, “No. But I slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.”
I believe it was “Kung Fu Panda”
It appears to me that .45-70 is about the most common thing listed here, followed by a 12 gauge slug gun.
Apparently, no one else owns a .35 Whelen. 🙂
Here’s an interesting article on handgun protection against bears:
That said, I’ll be going to Michigan’s U. P. in a month, and will be hiking. My 870 is a bit cumbersome for hiking in a state park, so I intend on taking my 686+ 6″ loaded up with this:
1700 fps from a pistol…
You read the information incorrectly. The BuffaloBore 125 grain bullet will exit a 6 inch Ruger GP100 at 1700 fps. The 180 grain hardcast lead bullet that you are going to shoot will exit a 6 inch Smith and Wesson 686 at about 1475 fps. (The rule of thumb is that the muzzle velocity of a bullet will increase roughly 50 fps for every additional inch of barrel versus the test barrel used to determine published muzzle velocity.)
All that said, a .357 caliber hardcast 180 grain bullet exiting the barrel at 1450+ fps will be fairly potent on a typical black bear in the Midwest. I wouldn’t be too worried. Just remember that you might need more than one shot to put an attacking black bear down quickly — especially if you encounter a beast in the 400 to 600 pound range.
Thanks for the correction; think I’ll go re-read that to see what else I mighta missed. IIRC, the Central Nerveous System (i.e., brain) is the best target to aim at, no?
Central nervous system shots are always effective and effective immediately. The trouble is that an animal’s central nervous system is a tiny target. And it is extra difficult hitting that tiny target area when the bear is running toward you at 35 mph. Personally, I would start with a carefully aimed shot at the head … which means you still have a good chance of hitting the spinal cord since bears charge with their head down I believe. (If you shot high, you would hit the spinal cord.) If you had additional time (which I doubt), I would unload the rest of the cylinder as fast as you could hit the center of mass of the animal.
Many people don’t know about the peculiar nature of the nice hardcast lead bullets that you plan to carry. Their large, flat front surface makes a huge and very deep permanent wound channel in animals. The particular bullet that you will carry will make something like a quarter size hole in a black bear that extends at least 3 feet into the animal. That sort of wound tends to stop animals fast as long as you put it through their heart/lungs.
For those of you who question the effectiveness of hardcast lead bullets with large flat front surfaces, think of a speedboat going backwards through the water at 50 mph — and think of the horrendous wake. That is what hardcast lead bullets do in mammalian flesh. And because they do not fragment (losing mass) or tumble (because most of their weight is forward), they penetrate straight and much deeper than other types of bullets. Really the only downside to hardcast lead bullets is that they lose velocity at long ranges much faster than other bullet designs which are much more aerodynamic. Oh, and the only reason they suck for self-defense is because they will over penetrate — way over penetrate. But that makes them great for woods defense!
I dunno, bear skulls are unholy tough.
Those things fight over mates, and they fight by basically trying to rip the other bear’s face off.
A few million years of natural selection later, and you’ve got a critter with a skull that can take an amazing amount of abuse.
Another encounter wiith bears at the cabin two days ago.
We’d just finished dinner of grilled burgers, cooked on a Weber portable propane grill on the picnic table outside.
Finishing the meal and relaxing in chairs by the picture window looking over the lower meadow, I saw the adult black bear making its way towards the cabin. Apparently it smelled something good cooking.
Alerting the distaff we took our .45 cal Tarus pistols out to the front porch and watched it’s approach.
At 30 meters we started yelling at the bear. It sat there staring at us for about 10 seconds. The yelling didn’t seem to dissuade it. But a shot fired into the ground—aiming away from the beast—DID. It took off for the tree line at a lope. A second round—again fired away from the bear—sent it scurrying. The can move fast.
Estimated weight was about 450 pounds.
This morning, members of the clan that own a cabin a mile or so down the trail from ours, came walking up. We told them about the bear. They didn’t have any bear spray with them.
[Support your right to arm bears.]
“…seven attacks in a five day span across the US.”
OMG, ban bears!
Bears need to hire a lawyer and see if stand your ground laws and castle laws would work for them. The woods is their home, after all.
I’m all for a “bear stand their ground law.” The problem is when they want to stand my ground.
Here in Maine the black bears are every where, and usually keep to themselves. That said I have two carries that are effective I believe, A Ruger Blackhawk 41Mag with 210Gr wadcutters, nice carry nice to handle. The other is more of a handful, a Lar Grizzly 45WinMag 260Gr hollowpoints. Both are more than competent. As far as playing dead, well, just had a guy snatched out of a tent up in eastern Canada a few weeks back, he was sleeping! Every Sportsmans Alliance I’ve checked up on is run by a bunch of yuppies, even here in Maine the Sportsmans Alliance of Maine is a joke to real outdoorsmen, they have totally lost direction and seem more aligned with the pretend outdoors people than the hunters that put meat on the table!
Just a note on how that which is now illegal was once encouraged: in junior or senior high (1970s) this question came up in a handgun column (would have been either G&A or ST) and the recommendation was a 1911 loaded with the recently discontinued but still available (and completely legal) Winchester AP .45 ACP made for cops on roadblock duty. Don’t remember ever seeing it on the ammo shelf at Western Auto, but I thought armor-piercing .45 would be fun to try out on a long-dead Massey Ferguson tractor on a neighbor’s farm.
From the wiki on Foster slugs:
Shotgun slugs (12 gauge) achieve typical velocities of approximately 1800 fps for 1-oz. (437.5 gr) slugs, for an energy of over 3,100 ft-lbs.
and 45-70 from the wiki: 300gr JHP 2,275 fps 3,449 ft-lbs
But the 45-70 was from a 24″ test barrel… I’ll let every one draw their own conclusions…
Hate to say it but the 44 mag. or the 45/70 government is not enough gun for some big bears. and I have read DO NOT take either to Alaska.
The dude above came face to face with a grizzly and lived. I think I will go with what he did. I am not convinced the playing dead theory will work. You may not end up playing by the time it’s over.
Having worked in the woods for 7 seasons in my wasted youth, and seen my share of blackbears, I would have the following observations:
1. resist the temptation to get out of your vehicle and ooh and ahhh about the cute cub up a tree near the road. Mom is probably around and doesnt think you are cute at all.
2. when picking berries in the forest, make sure its only your party crashing around in the bushes.
3. Dont screw with grizzly bears.
TO: Dave S
RE: Crashing About….
….will sometimes draw a bears unwanted attention. It might think there’s a wounded animal that would make an easy meal.
[Be Prepared…..bring bear spray and large caliber firearms.]
The last option of course is take a .22 and a companion. If a bear attacks, shoot the companion in the knee and run like hell. With any luck, their thrashing and screaming will distract the bear long enough for you to get away. And always drink a toast to the dear departed.
“Make yourself as big as possible.”
Bears are looking for larger snacks so this is good advice.
“Charging in defense”???? How do I know if it’s an offensive charge or defensive? Guess I ask loud and clear…
This will seem sissy to big gun fans but I’ve tried two of the three, know they work. The third will work with ANYTHING.
1. C key Horner harmoica blown as hard as possible. Bear was standing four feet from me when I did this. It retreated 50 feet or so, a second blast caused it to go over ridge. Later that night, harmonica worked every time a family of black bears came near to camp. However, they came back every time after getting nerve up, until I packed up and hiked out… alive, with all my gear and food.
2. Sonic noise maker. On an Appalachian Trail hike with my daughter in the Great Smokys, we came to a gap between two peaks and were verbally challenged by a blackbear that would not show itself. We could hear it near the trail and it growled several times, apparently warning us. The harmonica came out and did not work with this bear. So the sonic noisemaker came out. When I pulled the pin, the din was nearly unbearable for my daughter and I, that noise gets in your head makes it throb. But for the bear it was unpersonalbe and it took off, going down the mountain making enough noise for us to know it was going. We were quite happy to put the pin back in.
3. The National Park service sells a large pepper spray item that looks like a small fire extinguisher. It the bear continues to come closer, or to charge outright, wait until it is 20 feet away and start blasting in the face. No experience with it but it is a bit cheaper than a gun.