Looking for recommendations on bear protection revolver and fun gun.


August 15, 2006, 12:31 AM
Completely new to guns. Actually, i've never even been near a handgun.
I have a cabin deep in bear country in BC that I go to alot and was wondering if the following type of gun would be good for stopping an attacking bear. I have not seen any grizzlies, only alot of black bears. I do carry bear spray and would only use the gun as an absolute last resort. I guess bear spray in one hand and gun in the other ;-)

After 2 days of web research. I have found that the revolver type is my preference based on their reliability. So far it seems that a 44 magnum gun by S&W would be the right choice. Am I correct so far? I do want a nice looking gun that is not too cheap. Is an 8" barrel the way to go for accuracy?

Also, I would also like a "fun gun" for target shooting. Is the .22 caliber handgun the way to go. Should I maybe look at a higher caliber for target practise? My property is huge and steep and remote with nearest neighbor 20 miles away. There are alot of safe areas where I can set up targets in front of steep hills.

My neighbor is telling me that a shotgun is the only way to go for bear protection. But I don't want such a large weapon to carry around. Plus, I can't pretend to be dirty harry with a shotgun.

BTW, I'm in Canada. I am assuming that most handguns available in the US are also available here?

I am taking a gun class shortly too.

Thanks for any help.



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August 15, 2006, 12:53 AM
I don't know anything about Canadian law or what firearms available in the US are also available in Canada. I do know the S&W 44 magnum is fine black bear medicine. You can start with 44 specials and work up to 44 mags when you feel you're ready. The 44 mag is not a beginners round and will take practice to shoot accurately. THe 8 inch barrel sure looks cool, but it is heavy. The 6 inch barrel carries more comfortably.
I cannot think of a better gun for fun shooting then a 22. Ammo is cheap too.

August 15, 2006, 02:20 AM
BC, if Canadian law allows shorter barreled revolvers they're much easier to pack around all day. If you can get one this is a good idea in a 44 Mag; https://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10001&storeId=10001&productId=27843&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=15655&training=

Yes, a good 22 is a great fun gun to shoot and learn fundamentals on. If you like older guns The S&W K-22, and Model 17 and 18 (which the K-22 became when S&W switched to model #s in 1953) are excellent 22 revolvers. The 617, a stainless version of the Model 17 is still in production from S&W. The Taurus model 94 is another good option in a 22 LR revolver. In a 22 semi-auto the Browning Buckmark and Ruger MKIII & 22/45 are well liked. Those are just a few ideas of whats out there. After you take your handgun class you'll probably have a better idea of what you want.

Last, but not least, welcome to The High Road.

August 15, 2006, 02:25 AM
best bear gun that i know of is S&W 460.
shoots 45lc for fun, 454 casull, and for bear the 460 round. comes in shorter barrel also but i have the 8 3/8 in barrel.

August 15, 2006, 09:40 PM
Welcome BC_bush_man :)

There is a lot to be learned here and it looks as if you are off to a good start. As far as a "bear gun" let me recommend a Ruger Alaskan (see pic of mine)


The Alaskan is a 2.5" barrel DA revolver which is chambered in 454/45LC, 480 Ruger, and 44 magnum. It is on the heavy Ruger Super Redhawk frame and comes with the short barrel so that in case of a bear attack it can be brought into action quickly.

I have chosen the 454/45LC chambering because being able to fire the two different rounds gives the shooter a lot of choices and a lot of flexibility. I urge you to give it some thought. Good luck whatever your choice turns out to be.

Brian Williams
August 15, 2006, 09:47 PM
Juat a reminder if I remember correctly Canadian laws require a handgun to have a barrel longer than 105mm or at least 4+ inches.
Get a nice Ruger Blackhawk in 44 or 45 and have fun.

August 15, 2006, 09:56 PM
Well, though touted as being light for bear, I keep reading accounts of people using .357s on bears. I'd consider a 4-incher with 158-gr. jacketed rounds (not hollow points). When shooting at bears, remember to shoot at the eyes, not the top part of the head. Most people think that's where the brain is, but it's really right behind the eyes. I've also been told to shoot at the nose.

Naturally if you can avoid the bear or scare it with noise (like a marine-styled horn with compressed air), that would be the ticket. But if a bear begins stalking you, it's best to take immediate action. Remember, a bear can cover a lot of territory in very little time. It's better to put something between you and it rather than try running. If you can handle a .44 magnum, I'd sure take the lightest revolver I could buy. Most .44s today are obscenely heavy and are difficult to carry. A medium frame .357 may not be the best gun, but it's one you're likely to have on you.

I wouldn't camp or hike without a good pistol, even in national parks. To ask people to do so is unconsionable.

August 15, 2006, 10:13 PM
If you're new to handguns, you should get a 20", 12 gauge, pump shotgun loaded with slugs and forget the handgun. It takes a fair amount of skill to use a handgun for target shooting, never mind dealing with Yogi when he's PO'd.
In any case, you can't have or use a restricted firearm for self-defense up here. All firearms MUST be locked up unless you're out shooting. There is a 'wilderness permit' in BC apparently. Come by http://www.canadiangunnutz.com/forum/ for more info on it and Canadian firearms laws. The rest of you are more than welcome as well.
"...taking a gun class shortly..." If you're not already, do the restricted and non-restricted at the same time. It'll save you a bit of money to do both at the same time. And go here. http://www.cfc-ccaf.gc.ca/default_e.asp

Sharps Shooter
August 15, 2006, 10:16 PM
Howdy BC bush man, and welcome!
I'm not trying to sound discouraging here, but seeing as how you said you are new to guns and have never even been near a handgun, I think you should go with the "fun gun" first - a .22 of some kind. Practice a lot, shoot it enough to where you feel totally proficient with it, then, and only then, think about stepping up to a "bear protection" handgun - something that starts with a "4". Even at that, I think you should start with the milder loads in your "bear protection" handgun. Like if you get a .44 Magnum, start out by shooting .44 Specials through it. Or if you go with a .454 Casull, start out by shooting mild .45 Colts through it. The recoil and muzzle blast from one of the large bore handguns normally thought of as "bear protection" can be fearsome, especially to the uninitiated.

August 15, 2006, 11:44 PM
Well I think you have already mentioned good choices - I'll just have to agree with you .

.44 Magnum revolver will be great protection for black bear IMO . The make and model is open to what you like and the S&W is a fine choice. I would perhaps go with a 4 or 6 inch barrel for ease of carry, and they are plenty accurate for bear defense . As stated you can also shoot .44 Spl in the .44 Magnum chamber which gives you a lighter load making it more pleasant for practice and plinking. I shoot a Taurus Tracker in .44 Magnum which is a smaller frame size than the S&W .44's and they might be another brand you want to look at along with some others that have been mentioned. No need however to look behond the thought of the S&W in .44 Magnum if that's what fits your desire - they are great guns.

.22 LR handgun for plinking and fun - god yes !! As well as small game hunting for camp meat . Go get one !

August 16, 2006, 11:44 AM
S&W is currently marketing just such a gun: www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/39972


August 16, 2006, 04:49 PM
The current (September) issue of Shooting Times magazine has a large article on revolvers for bear defense.

Here's a copy of the cover:


August 16, 2006, 05:03 PM
Unless you are a law enforcement officer, one of the very exceptionally few private citizens in Canada licensed to carry a firearm, or the bear happens to appear at your local shooting range, you will be in violation of the law if you decide to carry a handgun... regardless of where in the country you happen to be. I would very, very highly suggest that you visit your local RCMP Detachment to discuss the legalities of your plan, and then start looking at a Marlin Guide Gun or the like.

August 17, 2006, 04:55 AM
I have a cabin deep in bear country in BC that I go to alot and was wondering if the following type of gun would be good for stopping an attacking bear.Sounds like he's talking about carrying on his own property.

August 17, 2006, 08:36 AM
sale your cabin move to U.S. and get a SMITH & WESSON 460 V i got one now and thing it is the best S&W ever

August 17, 2006, 09:43 AM
Doesn't matter if he is carrying on his own property. In Canada, it is illegal to have a loaded firearm anywhere other than a place where it is legal to discharge it.

Unless BC's property is in remote enough a locality that it does not have any local restrictions on shooting, he is in violation of the law if he decides to carry that weapon loaded... even on his own property. Canada does not have a justifiable defense of person or property provision in the law when it comes to firearms. Even if his property is not governed by any local ordinance, and it is large enough that he is able to shoot his handgun on it, the moment that he steps off of his own property he will be breaking the law by having a loaded restricted weapon in his possession.

As a Canadian citizen and former resident, I can tell you that Canadian law and law enforcement is generally not friendly toward handgun owners. You can certainly own a handgun to shoot at a club, but I wouldn't ever risk carrying it. If BC really needs a gun to fend off bears, it just makes a lot more sense to buy a bear-appropriate gun (read 45/70, 450, etc.) that won't get him into trouble. If he absolutely needs to have a handgun, I would again recommend that he take the time to talk to the local RCMP to determine their view of his plan.

Consider also that British Columbia's provincial laws around game and conservation are generally incredibly stringent. If BC decides to shoot a bear (even on his own property) outside of season, or without a license, he had better be able to demonstrate very clearly that there was absolutely no alternative. Natural resource officers in BC have the authority to seize property and levy massive fines for poaching behavior. I would treat shooting a bear in self defense every bit as seriously as shooting a person.

The truth of the matter is that the likelihood that BC will ever actually NEED to shoot a bear in self defense, even at his British Columbia cabin, is miniscule - probably less than the likelihood he will ever NEED to shoot a person.

August 22, 2006, 01:18 AM
Thanks for all the great advice and recommendations and the welcomes!

Like I said, I am totally new to this. As soon as my class starts, I will find out what the laws are with regards to carrying a loaded weapon on my 40 acrea property and the crown land behind. I had no Idea, as per the posts by CFriesen and Sunray, that there are major restrictions of carrying handguns. Thanks for the links, I will review them. I will find out pretty soon what the laws are.

Bummer, though, if it is completely illegal to carry a loaded handgun for bear protection. "Bear" in mind that I have no urge to kill a bear under any other circumstances than a direct attact. Oh, well, more research to do.

As you all probably know, we in Canada mainly watch American films and TV, as our film industry is miniscule. Having grown up watching countless American films with people legally defending themselves with guns it is easy to assume things are the same here. I realize that we have different laws, but I did not think that they are radically different.

Thanks alot for all the great replies.

August 22, 2006, 01:34 AM
"The truth of the matter is that the likelihood that BC will ever actually NEED to shoot a bear in self defense, even at his British Columbia cabin, is miniscule - probably less than the likelihood he will ever NEED to shoot a person."

I really believe that too. I am not worried about the bears on my property: they scatter pretty quickly when they see me and rarely return. I only saw one this year on my actual property.

However, I have a gravity fed water system with a pipe system that goes to a creek 2000 feet higher than my property and about 2 kilomemeters in length through some pretty steep and dense forests. This system requires periodic maintenance and I have to walk the length of it to find leaks and make repairs. It is along this stretch that I encounter at least 2 bears everytime I walk it. Being mountainous and dense, there are alot of areas where I can surprise a bear. Also, there is no trail, per se, next to the pipe. The only way to get my directions is to look at the pipe.

This is the only part that scares me, otherwise, for the most part, I am not really scared of them. I have done alot of hiking over the years and cannot even begin to count the number of uneventfull bear encounters that I have had.

August 22, 2006, 04:57 PM
Listen to the nice man who recommended the 12 gauge pump with slugs.

August 22, 2006, 05:36 PM
So a nice revolver in a big boy (big bear?) caliber like 454 Casull or 50S&W would be nice, but it seems to me you need a chance to use it, right?

Looks like in addition to knocking you to the ground and swatting you around like a ping-pong ball, they tend to gore at your neck. So how about something like this:

I dont know exactly the bite force of a black bear for example, though I seem to recall it isnt much higher than a humans. of course, it has pointy teeth which concentrate the bite force in a smaller area and make it more likely to penetrate any armor you might be wearing. But would it crush 16 or 18 ga steel? is the gorget better than nothing at least?

Just an idea.

August 22, 2006, 05:59 PM
The smart money says you should lay on the ground and play dead until the bear leaves you alone. If this method works and it does with most bears you'll both walk away from your encounter with a large bear and you may only have a couple of sratches to content with. But if you have to shoot this large deadly animal find a location where you can fire several times without this bear getting to you first, or you may end up a pile of bear dropping somewhere in the forest. Most handguns over a 9 mm with ball ammo will penetrate a big brown, Grizzly, Kodiak, or a large black bear. The key is can you stay away from this animal until it bleed's to death from the wounds. But the bigger the handgun the better I would say anything over a .44 magnum should do the trick in the handguns.



The guy unloaded his 7mm Mag Semi-automatic rifle into the bear and it dropped a few feet from him. The big bear was still alive so he reloaded and shot it several times in the head. The bear was just over one thousand six hundred pounds (1600#). It stood 12' 6" high at the shoulder, 14' to the top of his head. It's the largest grizzly bear ever recorded in the world. You may run into this bear's brother.

August 22, 2006, 07:00 PM
Get a lama, take it with you to scout the pipe... You can defend your livestock in BC... It has been done several times in the past few years...

Find a conservation officer to chat with ala Ministry of Environment... some are hot heads others are lenient... SSS method, shoot shovel & shut up...

Former resident of Vancouver Island BC... relatives also ex-RCMP...

I do not advocate poaching but I also do not advocate being ripped apart by a bear because some weiner in Victoria, Vancouver or Toronto thinks everything is sunshine and lollipops in the wild and all bears and cougars are fun loving cuddly forest friends. :fire:

August 22, 2006, 08:54 PM
There have been a few times when I didn't carry in a wilderness situation that I looked around and realized that I could easily be rations for Yogi and family and nobody would know about it for a long time. Each time I kicked myself for not having a sidearm. If legal I would carry a 44 or more while checking your water system. It sounds like you have had a number of long distance encounters with no problems, hopefully it stays that way. But there is a chance of getting between mother and cubs which could be tricky. Here's what I got for carry purposes http://taurususa.com/products/product-details.cfm?id=204&category=Revolver accurate, light, shoots 44 special for practice and +P if needed. I think the firearms training and a .22 for practice are great ideas. Stay safe.

August 22, 2006, 09:29 PM
The guy unloaded his 7mm Mag Semi-automatic rifle into the bear and it dropped a few feet from him. The big bear was still alive so he reloaded and shot it several times in the head. The bear was just over one thousand six hundred pounds (1600#). It stood 12' 6" high at the shoulder, 14' to the top of his head. It's the largest grizzly bear ever recorded in the world. You may run into this bear's brother.


August 22, 2006, 10:18 PM
It's a shame you live in Canada; S&W is marketing the 460 and 500 revolvers in just such a kit, complete with brightly colored case. Here's a link to the 460ES version:

Survival Kit (http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=11101&storeId=10001&productId=49904&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=15702&isFirearm=Y)

August 23, 2006, 02:25 PM
I read the full story about the big bear and I would have perfer the .338 Winchester Magnum for that big of a bear anyway.

It's funny how the story got changed on the internet. Thanks for the thread that explained the real story.


August 23, 2006, 02:39 PM

T. Bracker
August 23, 2006, 04:51 PM
Since you are a general gun novice, I will throw my 2 cents in with the advice to get a good quality shotgun, 12 gauge and get comfortable with it. You can use it for birds, small game and slugs for the big stuff. The Brenneke and BRI slugs are good penetrators. Get yourself a .22 rimfire for fun and learning.

.357 magnum
August 23, 2006, 05:04 PM
If you are looking for a revolver this is the one I recommend for your situation. 5 inch barrel is perfect and so is the weight.


Take care Buddy!

August 23, 2006, 06:23 PM
Don't know about the laws or if the same handguns are available but I would go for a RUGER Super Red Hawk in .44 mag. Tough gun also can be had in target grey if I remember correctly and will usually cost less than the S&W.

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