What Caliber for Escaped Cow?


Reader Richard Ashcraft writes:

On Friday our town was terrorized by Betsy the barbaric bovine before being put down by one of Pocatello’s finest. However she managed to ram a few cars, “nearly” caused a few accidents and put many lives in danger before the police could arrive. Sunday, four more crazy cows made a break for it. I think these incidents raise some good questions in relation to concealed carry and gun rights . . .

Fortunately an Anderson Custom Pack employee took care of business in a brightly lit alley when he dispatched one of the deranged cows with some type of firearm. While the Journal story doesn’t state whether he opened carried or carried concealed, it doesn’t matter really. His quick thinking and his handy dandy firearm prevented potential serious injury to people and property.

This incident should also make a person question which caliber to carry. Do you carry 17 rounds of 115 grain 9mm and hope more is better? Or do you pick 8-13 rounds of 230 grain .45ACP knowing you have God — via John Moses Browning — on your side?

Anyway, chalk up another win for a good guy with a gun…even if the perp was only a four-legged strip steak on the go.


  1. avatar BradN says:

    .45 ACP +P hard cast should do the trick.

    1. avatar Henry Bowman says:

      I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit, its the only way to be sure.

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        Game over!

        1. avatar FsN says:

          We use 22mag here when we butcher. No sense in ruining a good porterhouse. 1 shot drop.

        2. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

          What FsN said. One in the noggin at close range, drag the carcass into the back yard, fire up the bbq, and call the neighbors (and tell them to bring beer).

        3. avatar Michael in GA says:

          If you need to tell your neighbors to bring beer, you need new neighbors.

        4. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

          Surrounded by wine drinkers, unfortunately. Except for the bow hunter down the street. Even his dog appreciates a cold one.

    2. Not another round of cow-liber wars!

        1. TTAG is going to milk this one forever.

        2. avatar polarbear says:

          Can we just moo-ve on from this already

        3. Too late to shut the barn door now.

        4. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

          Keep this up and your father is going to tan your hide when he gets home from work.

        5. Better hoof it out of here then.

        6. avatar Grindstone says:

          This thread is just full of bullsh!t.

        7. avatar SpecialK says:

          There is too much at steak here to get this wrong. Besides, what’s your beef?

        8. avatar JasonMfromSoDakota says:

          Surgeon General Warning: This dairy product may contain harmful amounts of lead.
          Government ventilated and .45cal stamped approved

        9. avatar Fourth Horseman says:

          That was an udderly useless post.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Wow, somebody ate some bbq’d mad cow.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          K. Now that was funny.

        2. avatar JasonM says:

          I’m going to steer clear of this topic.

    3. avatar Mediocrates says:

      You guys are killing me… Like with a .9mm 🙂

  2. avatar Scrubula says:

    Since a .22 to the head has been used by farmers for a long time to slaughter cows for dinner, I’m willing to bet that almost any modern defensive load would work if you aim carefully.

    1. Sure! .22 is great if I was able to “roundup” any!

  3. avatar Survivordude says:

    For cow…

    Handgun caliber either 10mm or .45acp +p

    What I would PREFER to have is either a 12 gauge slug or .308 WIN. Just to be sure I’m having steak later

    1. avatar Chris. says:

      Right! If I get to pick, I’ll take my .30-06 thanks!

  4. avatar Slick says:

    .22 magnum.

    Shoot above the eyeliner and offset from the center.

  5. avatar Anonymoose says:

    .460 Rowland, but first I’ll try a lasso.

    1. You say lasso, I say lapua, let’s call the whole thing off.

  6. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    She-it. ‘Round here, if a cow or three gets out we know enough to drive slow and not spook ’em.

    Usually it’s pretty plain where they belong, and they’ll let you lead ’em home; if their origin is in doubt, the local deputies are good with cows.

    Shoot ’em? Gods and Thunders, why?

    1. avatar DaveL says:

      I was thinking much the same thing. Did anyone try a stock trailer and a feed bucket?

      1. avatar v v ind says:

        Flippin feed bucket?……and miss an opportunity to shoot a gun in the line of duty? good luck amigo!

      2. No, the police came in an MRAP in full battle garb expecting the public to kowtow to their show of force.

        1. avatar NoID says:

          Don’t you mean cowtow? 😀

    2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      Wondering about that, too. Sure would have been a lot of dead cows where I grew up if every one that got out was killed like that.

      Not to go all “anti cop” but I am wondering…is “Shoot It!” really becoming the ONLY solution considered for every problem? And the anti’s say that’s what WE think, while the .gov needs to keep control of all the arms?

      1. avatar v v ind says:

        Agreed, its become utter-ly ridiculous

        1. Just wait for late night then call in a couple good ol’ GA boys and they will tip it over.

        2. avatar JR_in_NC says:


          From some of the comments here, it looks like the officer’s name is cud.

        3. Truth be told, any bull-et will do.

        4. avatar SpecialK says:

          Lots of cheesy comments here. Moove over Jay Leno…

        5. avatar Michael in GA says:

          All kidding aside, you need a 50BMG.

  7. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    There’s only one handgun caliber sufficient for concealed carry and for cow – .357 magnum.

  8. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Oh, FFS.

    If you think you have to kill a cow or horse, draw a line connecting the left ear to the right eye, and vice-versa. Put the bullet in at a normal angle where the lines cross. .22LR will do it. I’ve done it, and the animal doesn’t suffer. They go down in their own tracks like you dropped a stone on them.

    On the other hand, people could learn a little bit about handling animals and herd them back to where they belong. That’s even less trouble than moving 900 to 1200 pounds of dead animal after playing Quick Draw McGraw. But I suppose learning how to handle animals, whether dogs or cows, it just too much trouble for law enforcement.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      No kidding. it’s a frakkin’ cow. Not a bull. If you can’t make it do anything you want for some food and a little finesse, god help ya.

      If Temple Grandin can figure this out, what’s with the coppers? It’s Idaho, they should really have a clue.

    2. avatar Lance F says:

      My first thought was that I would have to start CCing an Australian shepherd, my second thought was how will I keep the police from shooting the dog. I had one growing up and she was a great cattle dog.

    3. avatar Icabod says:

      Unless the cow needs to be put down, there’s no reason they can’t be herded back home. If the cow needs to be put down find someone that knows that they are doing! Had an officer find a hurt beaver. His bullet bounced off the animals skull.

  9. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Just don’t use whatever the Rhode Island State Patrol use.

  10. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    What caliber for a cow?


    1. It doesn’t matter which caliber as long as it is Horn-ady.

      1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        We just need ShootingTheBull to test it…

        1. The cops wouldn’t be so quick on the trigger if they only drank de-calf.

  11. avatar Rokurota says:

    8mm Mooser

    1. Is that what they mean by Bar-b-q gun?

  12. avatar Kenji-con says:

    Personally, I would have liked to see a Taser used. Either way, 8-10 rounds of .45 or 17 rounds of 9mm sounds like overkill for a cow.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      And oh boy is this bull pissed off when the 5 second ride is over…


    2. Or 45 Long Coat, Leather Jacket Needle Point.

  13. avatar DickG says:

    Given the weight, whatever you’d use on mule deer or elk.
    Getting close up and in front of an agitated cow for a pistol head shot is probably not a good idea.
    But then again, this is the East Coast.

  14. avatar GP1935 says:

    Any caliber will do, as long as it’s fired out of a bull barrel.

    1. avatar Tufty says:

      You sir won the interwebz today. Well played.

  15. avatar Tom W. says:

    Is this Bovine Scatology? Really?

    The po-po must be utilizing dog slaying tactics against Ol’ Betsy. Or the armed citizen decided it’s time for a fresh rump roast. Either way, as in the famous Running Of The Bulls, or the matador that gets sloppy and gored, I pull for the cow/bull.
    I like my filet mignon medium rare please. Little salt & pepper, garlic and butter.

    1. Right before you pull it off the grill, douse with balsamic vinegar.

    2. Yes this story seems a little cooked to me. It is too well done. It is rare to see a cow running loose in a city though.

  16. avatar Chadwick P. says:

    .45 acp (automatic cow projectile)

  17. avatar Tufty says:

    How about before we all fall over ourselves to whip out a firearm and cap bessie, someone just tries gently herding it back to where it came from?

    Oh and fyi, a well aimed hammer blow or a 22 between the eyes will do it, but by all means use some wrist-breakingly uncomfortable caliber.

    1. avatar Slick says:

      Between the eyes is too low. Best way is to draw an imaginary x connecting the eyes to the ears. Shoot slightly off the center to avoid the hardest part of the skull.

      1. avatar Tufty says:

        I knew that, I was being figurative.

  18. avatar Model66 says:

    Either my barbeque gun, or a 1911A1(steaksauce)
    Though, if you could tazer it long enough, you may get the steaks to cook from the inside.

  19. avatar cmeat says:

    any large moognum should be udderly effective.

    1. The police use the same gun for dogs and cattle. It is a bullpup.

      1. avatar LongBeach says:

        Your comments on this post are pure gold. Sir, I tip my hat to you in gratitude for the lulz.

  20. avatar jwm says:

    Just goes to show how far we as a nation have drifted from our roots. City dwellers that have never seen a cow outside of a meat aisle in the local big box have no concept how to react too or deal with anything that ain’t a pretend dog.

    Further and further we have come from our self sufficient ancestry. We’re all specialists nowadays. Take us away from our keyboards, our sterile offices and we haven’t a clue.

    A week on a farm would kill or cripple most Americans today.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      The rhetorical “we,” you mean. Certainly not everyone HERE is thus described.

      It’s funny in a sad, sad way. NC (for example) has subsistence hunting and fishing licenses…licenses that can be obtained for zero cost if certain means tests are met. This seems like a WINNER PLAN to me for those that find themselves unable to afford to feed themselves AND pay other necessary bills.

      Instead, we get politicians crying for handouts and groups like AARP seeking to exploit the “fixed income” meme (like the rest of us have “unfixed income”).

      I believe no one should go hungry, and do put both money and time behind that statement. But I’ve got to say, I sure would not mind seeing some of those beneficiaries of various programs out with a fishing pole from time to time (I do see SOME, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nowhere near the number that receive benefits).

      It’s my understanding that’s how C. Hatchcock learned to shoot…helping to feed his family when he was a boy.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Carlos Hathcock, not Hatchcock.

        The rest of the rant was cool.

        Carry on.

        1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

          Ooops. Fat fingered typo. Thanks for catching it!

  21. avatar Bob101 says:

    Better idea. Lasso, feed bucket, and trailer as suggested previously, then truck the cow to the butcher. Easier to transport, and it can feed a few families too. Let the butcher decide what caliber.

  22. avatar TwinReverb says:

    I carry 9mm but I depend on shot placement, not caliber or # rounds, for defense.

  23. avatar Dave S says:

    would vote for the grain and hay method myself,
    but you could call in the EPA flatulance, ah, swat team…..

    1. Correct! The caliber is not as important as the grain.

  24. avatar 5Spot says:

    Well TTAG had that story and vid of the guy on the snow mobile that killed the female moose is a charge with a few rounds of 9 mm. I imagine a moose tougher than a bovine.

    Remember the story, the guy could have turned around and not killed it. He pulled a South Park ” it comin’ right for us…”.

  25. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Bulls can be dangerous but there aren’t many of them around. The vast majority of the bovine population is harmless. In general, shooting a loose cow is just stupid.

    I’ve seen .22LR bounce off a cow’s skull. I have also euthanized dying bovines with the same caliber. If you don’t know exactly where that little half-pound brain is located within that massive head, you best step back and call someone who does.

  26. avatar PRM says:

    I want to know why the police are always shooting unarmed black angus cows….

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I would call al and jessie but they’d show up with bibs and bbq sauce.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Tisk, tisk…


    2. avatar Slick says:


    3. If this happened in Ferguson, it would have caused a stampede.

  27. avatar TJ says:

    I bet this is how it went down.
    Cop: Don’t mooooove. Hoofs up where I can see em.
    Cow: You pig
    Cop: bang bang
    Cow: I can’t breathe. Eat mooooore chick……

    1. The cop was trying to talk the cow down with a bullhorn.

  28. avatar Rick says:

    More importantly, what temperature and how long until done?

  29. avatar Avid Reader says:

    The Department of Labor says approximately 22 people are killed by cows in the US every year. It’s for the children!

    1. avatar SpecialK says:

      Ban cows!

  30. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

    What caliber for the seven hunters and two game wardens? Technique I’ve got down, I just stand there lookin’ cute, and…well you know.

  31. avatar Bob says:

    Wonder why so many are escaping? Could it be a revolution, a mooovement?

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      The article says that it is suspected someone opened the gate, sideways implied it may have been people trying to steal due to rising meat prices.

    2. avatar Grindstone says:

      That was nostalgic.

  32. avatar TJ says:

    White cop and a young black victim. Look out Idaho, here comes Al Sharpton to save the day.

  33. Why am I craving Chic-fil-a right now?

  34. avatar Jeff says:

    I always use a 9mm Cowabellum !!!

  35. avatar AKay says:

    Had to shoot 4 once while coyote hunting. It is hard to kill a cow. They were escapees and rancher asked me to.

    1. avatar Avid Reader says:

      Many years ago while fishing I surprised one with a calf in a box canyon. It was decidedly unhappy at my presence. It’s hard to outrun an angry cow, especially in waders. My only recourse was up the canyon wall a ways and hole up until it wandered off. I only had a .38 snubbie with snake shot-which wouldn’t have done much other than piss it off.

  36. avatar Ralph says:

    Don’t try to understand ’em
    Just rope and throw and brand ’em
    Or shoot them in the head with your nine.


  37. avatar Bob Brayer says:

    My solution would EASILY be to grab my m16 and start chopping at that tender succulent Filet. But in all reality I would just have a mouthful of brass… and lead.

  38. avatar Bill says:

    Is it just me or is the “Betsy” pictured actually a “Bob”? Also, as the cattle in question were destined to be burger in a few days anyway, a bullet and a winch is probably cheaper at dealing with the agitated steer in the long run than having a rodeo in the middle of the street, albeit a bit less entertaining.

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      She looks like a heifer (young female) to me. There’s no sheath on her underside (where the penis would be located on a steer or bull).

      She is also not a cow. She has no udder indicating motherhood.

  39. avatar KarVer says:

    My in-laws cows, bulls have gotten out. We directed them back in. If I shot one I wouldn’t want to think about the outcomes. If I had a stubborn one I might use a switch, at most a plastic pipe piece. Best smacked on there nose area. Then there are cattle prods (a battery shock stick)..
    Only time I know of is a donkey nipped cattle, chased the calves around, was acting up and forced a bull to knock down a fence a get out. An we couldn’t get this donkey. So it was hit by a large “bee sting” that help the behavior come to an end.
    Someone should have thought of how to round up those “cows”. As mentioned above a dead “cow” is harder to move. Most I known of have been moved by tractor

  40. avatar JWC says:

    I’m sure the cow made an overt move and the PD had to go home that night.

    1. The cow fired first but the cop was just grazed.

  41. avatar JT says:

    Why did they shoot the cows? A bucket of feed and maybe a switch or sorting stick is all you need to get them to go into the trailer.

  42. avatar IdahoPete says:

    Marlin Model 1895 in .45-70, using hard-cast 520gr Lyman 457125 bullets.

    One shot, one cow.

  43. avatar jwm says:

    “Bad cow. Bad cow. What you gonna do when they come for you.”

  44. avatar JWTaylor says:

    These are memories I should not share, but with all of the people here calling for small caliber rounds to the head, because that’s how they do it on the farm, I would kindly remind you that we aren’t talking about happy cows in the pen.
    Cows are big, and surprisingly fast, and can seriously take some punishment.
    For instance, many, many years ago I was hog hunting at night. We were just using a 7mm-08 and flashlights. The property owner kept talking about this one giant black hog he kept seeing every night. So no one was surprised when we walked down in a field and saw a giant black pig looking back at us in the light of the flashlight. But man, that pig was HUGE. The land owner told me “SHOOT IT SHOOT IT NOW”. I was really unsure, cause, damn that pig is big. Too big. I told the owner that I didn’t think that was a pig, I thought it was a cow. He assured me that no cows were in the area, and it was his property, so I shot the pig dead in the center of the chest from about 80 yards away.
    Not a pig. Not a cow.
    A bull. A very angry bull. Which had crashed through a fence on his property at some point previous and was visiting his dewberry patches each evening.
    A very, very angry bull.
    He shrugged off the round. As in, he limped for a couple of weeks but no medical attention was provided or required. He was fine. 145grain Speet Hot Cor round. And it didn’t even slow him down. That bull made that field off limits to anyone for about a month.

  45. avatar John Smith says:

    .375 H&H: One planet, one rifle.

    (With apologies to whoever first said that.)

  46. avatar Greg abrams says:

    10mm one shot close range. Or just call Peta and ask them what they would recommend.

  47. avatar Dave says:

    Man, we’re going to be discussing optimum caliber til the cows come home!
    Though the herd might be short a few…

  48. avatar Gearmoe says:

    Toss out a salt lick and lead back to slaughterhouse with a rope.

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