THE Alaskan bear defense rifle


December 4, 2006, 10:15 PM
I just saw THE ultimate practical bear defense gun:

It's a new model Marlin in 45/70. It's stainless, has a straight stock in grey laminate, and I think the barrel is shorter than the previous "guide gun". The thing handles great and has really nice fiber-optic sights.

Just checked the Marlin website and couldn't find it. If I were Alaska bound I'd pick one up in a heartbeat.

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Deer Hunter
December 4, 2006, 10:23 PM
I always thought that the .458 Win Mag Garand would make the best bear-defense rifle...

December 4, 2006, 10:32 PM
Nope! As we recently learned from another thread, THE ULTIMATE bear gun is the 45 LC. Magnum Desert Eagle 12 Ga. Snubby Revolver! Gotta get me one.:D

December 4, 2006, 10:34 PM
Wouldn't a 12 gauge with slugs work just as well but quicker follow up shots?
A friend of ours who did business in a lot of remote areas of Alaska (accessible by float plane) carried a .445 supermag as his bear gun. He sold it a while ago. I fired it once but didn't have enough money at the time to buy it :(

December 4, 2006, 10:37 PM
Yes definitely the 12g slugs are plenty of stopping power for Alaskan Bear. I'd choose this. It's important however that if you go this route you buy a rear sight and a slug barrel. Your 12g slugs' effectiveness will be much better that way.

December 5, 2006, 01:02 AM
I wasn't sure but I've heard the best solution for a charging grizzly is start pumping slugs into him and hope he drops before he gets to you! Maybe Cosmoline or another Alaskan can tell us what they use up there in the boonies. I'm going up again this summer to do a little fishing on the Kenai. Might have to get me a grizzly gun :)

December 5, 2006, 01:12 AM
The guide gun IS handy, but it's heavier than a shotgun, and is slower to operate.

Great hunting rifle though.

December 5, 2006, 01:21 AM
I know the 1895G actually is heavier, but it doesn't feel that way to me in the field. Just seems handier. I've got slug guns, Marlin guide gun and a .44mag revolver, and I think the pick out of 'em would be the 1895G. Admittedly, you don't need the range of a rifle in a truly defensive situation, and the slug will work better, but just having handled everything I just feel like the 1895's dimensions make it much quicker off the shoulder to bear on a target, it's not clunky in any dimension and handles very nicely. From any serious cartridge, and maybe I'm just a scrub, but I can almost rack a bolt faster than I can get back on target after recoil. So a lever would be no problem.

Easy for me to say from my chair here at home, I've never been close to a bear while hunting or fishing, but just having had all three of the mentioned options in the field, I'd opt for the comprimise between effectiveness and handleability, personally. My two cents are worth even less out there though, so just buy all three though and decide for yourself :D

December 5, 2006, 01:24 AM
When I was 18 and living in Palmer, Alaska the first gun I bought was a mossberg 500 for bear defense.

Even with a 18 inch barrel it was too cumbersome for backpacking. I packed it, but on trips like Crow Pass (26 mile mountain pass) I regreted it every step of the way. Also, the sights were terrible, it wasn't stainless steel, and ammo was bulky and heavy.

When I was 21 I bought a Ruger Super Redhawk in .44 mag. The revolver packed nicely, and I still believe that a .44 mag is adequate for backpacking.

Now that I have more cash to play around with, and I do less backpacking when I go to Alaska to visit family and friends, I'd highly consider a compact lever-gun in 45/70 for bear defense.

The new Marlin I saw would even be superior (IMO) to a shotgun w/ 3" slugs. Here's why: Follow up shots would be just as fast as a shotgun. I have to believe that there are loads for 45/70 that can offer far superior penetration then 12ga slugs. Accuracy, with the good fiber optic sights that were on the Marlin would be far superior to any shotgun. Handling and packability would be far better than a shotgun. The rifle is stainless steel (almost a requirement for AK).

December 5, 2006, 01:26 AM
Well, the only picture I found was here:

I guess it might have just been a limited edition guide gun, but it sure seemed shorter?

Maybe I just have one of those love at first sight kind of moments, and wish I could justify buying it!

December 5, 2006, 03:48 AM
Marlin's craptastic safety is what takes it out of the running for me as a 'defensive' arm.

1. half cock. You must shoulder the arm and cock the hammer, under duress this could be an issue without a lot of training. Add wet hammer, wearing gloves, bear charging...

2. cocked with safety on. Well it's NOT "on" in the sense that a shot gun is. pushing the button puts a block between the hammer and firing pin, you can STILL pull the trigger and SMACK, you now have a hammer down on a rifle that didn't fire. If you weren't prepared for this you certainly are confused. You must now take the safety OFF, and re-cock the hammer. See above.

Again, not a big deal in a HUNTING rifle, but in a defensive arm... nope, sorry. I love the way the guide gun feels, the short barrel, fat forearm makes it a dandy woods gun. Don't care for the porting on the early models. Love the way it shoots, esp with the 405 gr ammo.

Also the extractor is a weak point on these rifles.

A hammer offset extension (like for scoped rifles) helps make the hammer bigger--for use with gloves or wet weather, but that safety just bothers the heck out of me.

December 5, 2006, 06:20 AM
I have never been there but from what I have read, I always thought that the best "brownie medicine" was a Winchester Model 71 rechambered to 450 Alaskan?

Personally, As long as it made big holes I would feel somewhat safe...of course, the 458 WinGarand would be VERY NICE... :)


December 5, 2006, 06:42 AM
wish I could justify buying it!

What is the meaning of this new word "justify"?

December 5, 2006, 09:02 AM
It's right on their website...

And in stainless:

December 5, 2006, 09:17 AM
It's right on their website...

Yeah thats the 1895GS (stainless). It is a great little gun, I bought one last month right here in the THR rifle forum.

The OP says he saw one with laminated stock, which is the XLR pictured here.

Problem is the XLR doesn't come with the short barrel. What he probably saw was an XLR that someone had cut down. That is getting to be VERY popular.

The XLR has a pistol grip stock where the 1895G/S has a straight stock.

From asking many folks about this, and about why Marlin doesn't make a short XLR, the general concensus was that the guide gun purpose is to be compact and easily carried and the pistol grip is too bulky, so Marlin decided not to make one. Funny that the gun they stole this idea from, the Co-Pilot, has a pistol grip stock. Maybe they were afraid of being sued?

MANY people (me included until I priced it) wanted the XLR laminate, pistol grip, but with short barrel.

Only way to get one currently is to have a 'smith cut it, and I didnt' want to spend the money on it. The fact that the OP said the one he saw had fiber optic sights also leads me to believe it was built up.

I'm hoping maybe Marlin will see the light and announce one at SHOT.

Unless of course the OP has seen a new model, which is doubtful. He probably saw a homemade XLR guide gun, which would be a GREAT thing to have.

As for the title "best", here's what Jeff Cooper had to say about this type. I agree with him 100%, but the price of the Jim West knocked me down.
This article was one of the Col's online commentaries in 1999.

We mention again that the annual award granted to the Marlin Guide Gun as "Gun of the Year," should properly have gone to Jim West's "Co-pilot." That abbreviated 45-70 lever gun is a grand idea for certain special uses, but the Marlin people evidently lifted the idea directly from Jim West of Anchorage without acknowledging it or paying him a cent. Interestingly enough, the Marlin people claim to be back-ordered on the Guide Gun. You have to wait. Jim West commences work on yours right now, or at least he could when I committed this to paper. The "Co-pilot" offers several features which are absent from the Guide Gun. It is a better deal all around.

It is a better deal all around.

If you have upwards of $2000 and a year to wait.......

December 5, 2006, 09:35 AM
The gun in question is a Davidson's exclusive. You can find one at:

December 5, 2006, 09:44 AM
Pic from Davidson's. Notice is does NOT have the pistol grip stock, and even in the listing it says 1895GS-LTD, not XLR.
So it's better, but still not what people really want; the pistol grip.

And they only made 500 of them, at Davidsons request, and they are all sold out I think. So again hopefully Marlin will get the message that these are in demand and will introduce something at SHOT.

And here's what we all REALLY want but can't afford.

December 5, 2006, 10:02 AM
The Ultimate Alaskan Bear defense rifle would be a Browning BAR in 338 Win with a 18” barrel and an Aimpiont 1X or a holographic system… Lock an load… What up now Ballou?

December 5, 2006, 10:35 AM
I forget the company, but this firm will convert stainless Marlins (444.45-70 and 450) into takedowns that are popular in Alaska. The 450 guide gun weighs about 7 lbs. I shot a 450 guide with 18.5' ported barrel and recoil (IMO)was less than a 12 ga. slug. I will look in my bookmarks at home later.

The Marlins can be slicked up to be smooth as glass and still deliver a tremendous punch. I have several Marlins in rifle caliber (more in pistol) and all (38-55, 30-30, 32-40) can cycle the long cartridges with a single finger.


Brian Williams
December 5, 2006, 10:42 AM
The company in Alaska was probably Wild West Guns, WildAlaska was a member here but has moved on and still posts occasionally at TFL.

December 5, 2006, 10:42 AM
Well, the forest service studied this, and, they came up with 458 win mag, first, 375 H&H second, and 460 Weatherby, 3rd.

45/70 was WAY down the list.

I think I'd carry a 450 Ackley.


December 5, 2006, 10:44 AM
shot gun , 12g slug

SA Pistol, 50AE

Revolver, 500SW ( Is SW the only brand that chambers it?)

Bolt Action, 416 Rig! ( makes a nice Bear Gun)

Lever action, 45/70

SA Rifle , BAR in 338

December 5, 2006, 10:52 AM
Brian has it.

Heres the website (don't salivate on your keyboard)


December 5, 2006, 12:08 PM
Wild West Guns ( used to (?) base their Alaska Co-Pilot on the Marlin 1895, but I thought I had read somewhere that WWG went to making parts instead of using Marlins.
Anyway, their website is pretty interesting and they've got a toll-free number for those of us in the lesser 48.

December 5, 2006, 12:13 PM
Could someone please tell me why Marlin don't put a full-length magazine tube on their .45-70's? I can understand the Guide Gun being a bit shorter (although I'd like to get an extra round in there), but why the same circumcised tube on the long .45-70's? Their Cowboy model had a full-length tube - why not the same on their other guns?


December 5, 2006, 12:23 PM
I've always wondered the same thing, Preacherman. The lack of full-length tube has always bothered me and is kind of an eyesore. The only advantage I can imagine is that it might improve the handling a bit, but I've not compared the two side-by-side. Either way, I'd take the extra round any day.

Essex County
December 5, 2006, 12:45 PM
I may be 50 years late, but I was hoping the Winchester Model 71 was still earning it's keep............Essex

December 5, 2006, 01:05 PM
Even though I like the full-length magazine tube on Marlin's Cowboy rifles, I actually prefer the shorter tube on their regular 1895 series guns and the XLRs. I think it improves the handling qualities of the gun and I like the way it looks. My 336XLR, even with the long barrel, handles very nicely and still has 5+1 capacity with the half-length magazine tube. Plus, barrel bands don't exactly enhance accuracy...

December 5, 2006, 01:16 PM
Could someone please tell me why Marlin don't put a full-length magazine tube on their .45-70's?Methinks it's an traditional aesthetics decision. Thinking back to the 1886 Winchester, the early lever action, big bore sporting rifles had less than full length tubes as well.

pete f
December 5, 2006, 03:54 PM
The 45 70 loads that the forest service dropped way down were not the "ruger/marlin only loads'' that you can easily find in any reloading manual. The loads tested were the old nearly black powder equivilent factory loads that are available.

The current boutique loads like buffalo bore and similar limited production ammo really move the 45 79 into a different class, I have seen some 45 70's in modern reproduction (japanese) 1886's that manage a 500 grain hard cast lead at just about 1850 FPS, which is darn close to factory .458 ammo. 430's at close to 2000 fps and 350's at 2200FPS in hard cast. This is serious medicine for big animals.

I had a 95 winchester copy that rebarreled to .416 alaskan, basically a 405 case with less taper, a bit of a shoulder and able to shoot much more available (and africa game tested) .416 barrels. I n ever got a chance to use it up in Alaska, but that rifle spent a season up there and it was more than adequate for big bear, It is not yet back from Africa, but a few emails have said that on a lion, it was devastating. One shot, hit front shoulder, broke that, exited opposite side of the animal at the left hip, and it broke that on the way out. With two flats on opposite corners, the animal was down, a second shot ended the noise. I bought that rifle thinking i was going to be able to afford more trips North or east, but those are no hold for now. It travels with a good friend who really really likes it,

As for the ultimate bear carry gun, I would too think the a layout much more similar to the Trapper look would add a round, without adding too much weight and with the slimmed down fore arm of the trapper as well, to fit in to a sleeve case like the old timers. One of the more accurate portrayals of this type of gun use was in the bad movie with Michael Douglas "Romancing the Stone" he was a poacher who carried an 870 (IIRC) in a sleeve scabbard attached to his backpack. When I was living up North, many of the true woods guys did the same.

December 5, 2006, 05:05 PM
I was gonna direct your attention to Wild West Guns but others already have. My experience with them has been completely positive. You can deal with Ken with confidence.

December 5, 2006, 05:30 PM
I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in AK, mainly fishing. Out in the boonies, I saw a lot of guides using shotties. My guide told me that he chambered buckshot in the 1st round followed by slugs. He says the buckshot to the face generally gives the bear pause and the shooter a better second shot with a slug. I also saw a lot of lever guns. I carried a 454 SRH, but never even came close to needing it.

December 5, 2006, 06:30 PM
Were I to ever seriously consider the question of a bear defense rifle, I think I would start somewhere around the "scout concept" short bolt rifle, chambered in .375 and go from there. But I'm from the lower 48, and thus talking strictly theoretically and not from experience, which means I'm probably wrong, very very wrong.

Ranger 40
December 5, 2006, 06:50 PM
My ole battered Pre-64 .338 Win. Mag. has never failed to lay'em on the snow.

December 5, 2006, 07:29 PM
Bought this for my stays in AK.

December 5, 2006, 07:32 PM
I have a model 1100 remington, parkerized, 22 inch barrel with rifle sights, screwin chokes, 7 round extension, and black polymer stock. I can't imagine a better bear stopper when loaded with sluggs.

December 5, 2006, 08:35 PM
Bought this for my stays in AK.

Hate you. Really do...... :D

THAT is beautiful. THAT is what everyone wants whether they will admit it or not.


The Deer Hunter
December 5, 2006, 08:42 PM
Anyone else thinking barret?

Bottom Gun
December 5, 2006, 09:25 PM
I agree with Dr Rob on the safety issue. The crossbolt hammer block is the reason I got rid of my Winchester Trapper. It is simply terrible. I would push it OFF, set the rifle down for a while and it would somehow manage to find the ON position again. It seemed to go into the ON position much easier than it would go into the off position.

I don't know how many times I dropped the hammer on that stupid bar. I finally did it twice when I was hunting and that pretty much did it for me. Down the road it went.

I thought about welding it in the off position but didn't. Maybe I should have. It would have made the rifle much better.

December 5, 2006, 10:13 PM
Marlin's Guide Guns have relatively short barrels and the "abbreviated" magazine tube, but Marliin does offer the full-length magazine tube in the longer-barrelled 45-70 Cowboy version, (albeit at a premium price).

I'm another who doesn't care for the look of the short magazine, and when I get my 45-70 it will be the Cowboy, not the Guide Gun. I have an older 30-30 336-RC and a new .357 octagonal barrel Cowboy now, but can feel the pull of the 45-70 getting stronger.

For those who don't like the cross-bolt safety, it is apparently fairly easy to modify. You can completely disable it, (do a search - I've seen instructions on this or another forum) or get a small "o"-ring to slip over the pin. My 30-30 is a 1968 rifle, so it doesn't have the safety. I haven't used the .357 for hunting and probably won't, so I'm not going to disable the safety (yet).

December 5, 2006, 10:33 PM
Here's the thing:

If you aren't planning on doing any hiking with the weapon, a .50 BMG Barrett is THE BEST bear defense money can buy. If however, you're hiking 10 miles a day you might end up using that Barrett .50 on yourself.

Now, what I intended on discussing is the best all-around bear defense weapon. If you could only have 1. For any situation from hiking 10 miles a day to cruising around on your 4-wheeler (ATV), to hiking a modest amount through the bush from camp.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not going to pack a full size rifle while backpacking 10 miles a day. Revolvers are great, quick to shoot, quick to reload (w/ speedloaders), and the .500 S&W may be the ticket, BUT have you ever tried to shoot a .454, .480, .445 or .500 accurately at a target moving 30 mph? A .44 mag is probably the most firepower the average joe can accurately shoot, but I'd hate to have to rely on it when a 700lb grizz wants to kill me.

Shotguns offer good firepower, but the sights generally are terrible, there are very few models that are weather resistant (nickle plated, etc.), and they're heavy and bulky.

All I'm saying is that IMO I thought the new Marlin rifle would be perfect. I'm from Alaska, I travel back at least twice a year, and I'm always in the "bush". I have a trusty .44 mag, but I'd MUCH rather have something like the Marlin 1895GS-LTD in my camp.

December 6, 2006, 12:39 AM
When I was there in the 70's working as a bull cook on a track gang for the ARR I built me one. Was a Remington 742 30-06 that some yahoo left on the truck of his car and then took off down the road. When I bought it from a pawn shop for $90 it was in pretty sad shape with both sights knocked off and a lot of gouges dents and scratches. I cut the barrel off at 18", the stock off an inch, cut off the pistol grip and a lot of useless stock wood, slimmed half of the forehand wood, soldered on some crude sites, and added a webstrap sling for barrel down carry; then I painted the bitch with about 3 coats of black railroad enamel to fight the weather. Weighted in at about 61/4 pounds with five 220 grain rounds. When I went back outside I got broke and had to sell it, sure was a mean looking piece. Never did use it on anything other than rocks and stumps.

December 6, 2006, 12:49 AM
Hoot: I like it. THAT, my friend, is true Alaskan style.

Doug in Alaska
December 6, 2006, 12:57 AM
I live in Alaska, have for 25 years and have used shotguns, handguns and rifles for bear protection. My preference is the Marlin Stainless Guide Gun loaded with 525 gr. Beartooth Pile Drivers. This gun goes with me everywhere, have a gun boot mounted on my boat just for it, unless I'm moose or caribou hunting and then the .338 is my choice. I have a Wild West rear peep sight and Williams Fire Sight on the front. I love this gun, the stopping power is unbelievable. If you don't care for the cross-bolt safety (I hate the dang things) check out this modification. I have three Marlin lever guns and have installed it on all of them, and a few of my buddies guns. This is the cat's meow!!

BTW, Jim West sells some great modifications, his attitude leaves a little to be desired but just take him with a grain of salt. I don't have work done there but do buy his parts on occasion. I really like his rear peep sight because of the protective wings. Don't want to start a war, just my opinion in case you decide to give him a call. :D

FLtoAK05, nice rifle!

December 6, 2006, 02:19 AM
FLtoAK05, why put a scope on a short range rifle? I like the Wild West mods otherwise.

I never use the push-button safety, just the half-cock, trusted a 336 with that for years.

For anyone suggesting a full length magazine... that's REALLY front heavy when loaded full. Kind of like trying to brush hunt with a Marlin Super Goose.

The 1895 Century Limited in the safe is almost 'elegant' with the half magazine and long half octagon/half round barrel. The steel buttplate kicks like a mule. It wouldn't 'look right' with a full mag the way the cowboy does.

And I like hoot's "Junkyard Wars" rifle.

December 6, 2006, 03:35 PM
If you don't care for the cross-bolt safety (I hate the dang things) check out this modification. I have three Marlin lever guns and have installed it on all of them, and a few of my buddies guns. This is the cat's meow!!

I have installed these on three Marlins and really like them. Inexpensive and easy to install.

BTW, Jim West sells some great modifications, his attitude leaves a little to be desired but just take him with a grain of salt.

Or a block of salt. :D

December 6, 2006, 05:09 PM
Here's a better way to deal with a Marlin safety. take off the stock and just behind the crossbolt safety is a hex-head set screw. Just tighten this and the safety will remain off.

Most of my Marlins are older and lack the safety but I would never carry one loaded with the hammer at half-cock. A marlin with hammer down on an empty chamber and a loaded tube is easy to cycle and shoot.


December 6, 2006, 07:24 PM
I have more choices available than most, and I'd still choose a shotgun for defense, and a .45/70 for hunting.

1895 Cowboy w/Lyman sight.
1895 Century Limited
1895 GS

January 6, 2007, 11:53 PM
I prefer my S&W .500 4inch loaded with 700gr. on top of 24gr. of H110. And recently my Dad gave me a companion to my revolver, the H&R single shot rifle. Nice and short, light, and nice light gathering sights. Now I'm set for moose, bear, or even tyranosaurus rex.

January 7, 2007, 12:51 AM
I and three other people that I KNOW OF are trusting the .50 Beowulf for a bear pack-along.
I don't think of anything much handier to pack than an AR... and in the winter, swap uppers and shoot coyotes/wolves/wolverines/etc with .223.

Edited to add: I don't know ANY locals that will have anything to do with WWG's. They'll all agree the product seems great but they can not abide the rudeness.

January 7, 2007, 10:38 AM
Wouldn't a 12 ga with slugs work just as well.......?

Yup. All the ones I've whacked were pretty much DRT with Brenneke slugs.

Two this year were taken with Foster slugs. Both at close range. Both never took more than a couple of steps before falling over. One slug was recovered the other a pass through.

Redneck with a 40
January 7, 2007, 01:43 PM
For a bolt action rifle, I'd choose a 375 H&H magnum, probably a Browning. I'd have a 12 gauge with slugs to back that up.

January 7, 2007, 02:44 PM
I don't trust these exposed fiber optic sights in the field. It always seems like a good smack on rocks will shatter them.

Shotguns offer good firepower, but the sights generally are terrible, there are very few models that are weather resistant (nickle plated, etc.), and they're heavy and bulky.

That has not been my experience. I've taken old 'bergs through rivers, literally in the river, dropped them in mud and filled the actions with sand and they still work. Their greatest advantage may be their cheapness. Unlike a dandied up 95 from Wild West, the shooter won't have any hesitation exposing the Mossberg to rough conditions. And as far as sights, you just get the slug barrel with rifle sights. I also haven't found them to be heavy or bulky. Pound for pound they're lighter than a rifle because they have a far lighter barrel.

Having carried all manner of long and short guns for bear protection, the big advantage of the '95 is its FLATNESS. Shotguns are quite round in profile, and are less easy to stow for that reason. Leverguns are very flat, and can be kept in a backpack scabbard more easily. But as to whether that's enough of an advantage to justify the enormous price difference, I don't know.

January 8, 2007, 01:31 AM
If I was lost in the woods I'd probably be happy with a .22 and a Bible. But i I was expecting to come across an evil, nasty bear, a guide gun in .45-70 would suit me fine. I still might need a change of pants.
Have you seen the Ruger Alaskan?

Henry the Eighth
January 8, 2007, 04:35 PM
I like my Marlin 1895GS as an all around rifle and as a bear defense rifle. If you surf Randy's site, I think you will find his ammo in a Marlin Guide Gun is hard to beat:

Even out-penetrates the .458 Win Mag.

October 14, 2007, 12:34 PM
I just saw THE ultimate practical bear defense gun:

It's a new model Marlin in 45/70. It's stainless, has a straight stock in grey laminate, and I think the barrel is shorter than the previous "guide gun".


I am thinking about getting a larger capable rifle for elk and my dream of an Alaska hunt. This thread caught my eye. My cousin was treed by a grizzly and he now carries bear spray and a 44 Rem Mag pistol when he fly fishes in NW Montana. So we have talked about bear guns. The last thing one wants is to end up as dinner for a hungry grizzly!

I did a little analysis using Federals excellent free ballistic calculator (See:

I looked at the ammunition that generated the highest energy at muzzle and 50 meters. I assume that most man-bear life and death shootouts are in pretty close range. I looked at Popular Pistol, 12 Ga Shotgun, a few rifles that you would find hunters carrying. I included the 45-70 because I own one and it is a nostalgia weapon coming back into favor.

I am attaching the chart that shows the results. The 45-70 generates more twice the energy of the 44 Rem Mag (both with a 300 gr round). So if you are going to carry one weapon for bear defense the 45-70 rifle makes sense if you want a rifle instead of a pistol. But if you are hunting and want to be able to take down a bear, my Browning 30-06 generates 41% more enegy than the 45-70. I will not be carrying a shotgun if I am hunting in Montana or Alaska. But it is interesting to see that the best shotgun ammo only generates 12% more energy than the old 45-70.

In my case I think the 338 Win Mag makes a lot of sense as the main purpose is to be able to generate knock down energy on a flat trajectory out to 300 yards. It does that and still offers 61% more energy at the muzzle than the 45-70.

There one other factor that comes to mind. As a kid growing up in Montana, I read with great interest a number of books about bear attacks. One of the things that sticks in my mind is that in a number of cases, hunters who were attacked shot and then got a jam or failure to feed a round in a bolt action rifle. Clearly a result of panic and not taking a full return on the bolt. With lever actions, the more excited you get does not interfere with the loading of the round. What ever you are carrying it would be a good idea to try a few rapid fire practices at short range to make sure you can make the bolt, pump, or lever work and hit the target.

Fnally, when if the bear makes it through three rounds of 338 Win Mag and six round from my 44 Mag, as he opens his jaws to bite off my head, I will spit in his mouth. Supposedly, human spittle is to bears as quiche is to men. So if all else fails, and you can muster some spit in this situation, spit in his mouth and then play dead. Cause chances are you will be!:)

October 14, 2007, 12:53 PM
Why take chances? Barret M107 should do the job:evil:

Tully M. Pick
October 14, 2007, 01:09 PM
So if you are going to carry one weapon for bear defense the 45-70 rifle makes sense if you want a rifle instead of a pistol. But if you are hunting and want to be able to take down a bear, my Browning 30-06 generates 41% more enegy than the 45-70.

Now run the numbers with one of Garrett's 540gr +P Hammerhead loads.

October 14, 2007, 01:32 PM
For those who have an issue with the Marlin Safety (I can understand this in a defensive rifle), all you have to do to make it not be a problem is:
1. Get and "E" clip at a hardware store and stick it on the little "ring" that is exposed with the safety in the fire postion. No mods to the rifle and cheap.
2. Get one of the kits that are offered to completely replace the safety.
3. Take the stock off the rifle. Then put the safety in the fire position and tighten up the little allen screw that holds the spring loaded detent in for the safety until its tight enough that you have to very purposely put the safety on with all your might. (personal favorite).

BTW- how can you accuse Marlin of "stealing" the idea for a lever action 45-70 carbine? They have been making carbines in various calibers for over a hundred years so how could anyone think that them introducing their own carbine would be lawsuit worthy?

XD-40 Shooter
October 14, 2007, 04:21 PM
As far as a bear hunting rifle, I agree that the 338 winchester magnum is the way to go, if you can withstand its punishing 37 ft lbs of recoil energy, double the .308. When it comes to a defensive weapon against bear attacks, I'll take the 12 gauge with 3" magnum slugs, if anything will do the job, that is it.

From what I have read on the internet, most Alaskan guides will tell you that the 338 win mag is the most popular bear rifle in Alaska.

Float Pilot
October 14, 2007, 04:32 PM
1. The two most popular cartridge amonst Alaskans are the 30-06 and the 338 Win mag.

2. The best Bear defense weapon is between your ears.

3. We debate this subject up here all the time.
The best tool (rifle, shotgun, etc) depends on :

A. where you are going,
B. how you are getting there
C. and your personal skill.

That is why God wants me to have lots of guns.

October 14, 2007, 04:57 PM
That is why God wants me to have lots of guns.

I always knew it, but now I have confirmation. :D

October 14, 2007, 05:47 PM
Well we are coming up on SHOT season, and this thread has been resurrected.

Any more rumor on Marlin offering a Guide Gun with pistol grip stock or something new completely?

October 14, 2007, 06:05 PM
In my case I think the 338 Win Mag makes a lot of sense as the main purpose is to be able to generate knock down energy on a flat trajectory out to 300 yards. It does that and still offers 61% more energy at the muzzle than the 45-70.

The .338 WM has become *the* standard Alaskan hunting cartridge from all I've seen. The classic Alaska rifle isn't a tricked out levergun (though those are cool) but a beaten up bolt action in .338. Often an old Ruger 77. I've even seen some covered with auto sealant. Basically they're not terribly valuable and nobody is going to cry if and when they bite the dust in the bush. But they deliver acceptable accuracy and the .338 WM gives you enough power for anything in the state *plus* giving you some extra yardage to play with if you're hunting in more open country or in the mountains.

Personally I prefer the .375 H&H among the magnums, but I'm in the minority.

The question of what to bring for bear *defense* if you're not hunting anything big is another matter. You no longer need to worry about shooting beyond 30 to 50 yards, so a slug gun becomes a much more viable option so long as you load it with hardcast magnums.

October 14, 2007, 06:05 PM
"The guide gun IS handy, but it's heavier than a shotgun, and is slower to operate.

Great hunting rifle though."

Excuse me? Slower to Operate? Explain how a Pump action is faster than a lever action.

My next rifle is gonna be a 1895 45/70... So I'm a little biased...


October 14, 2007, 06:14 PM
Could a 30-30 be used to stop bear? I'm guessing at close range it would be better than nothing.

Also, is the 12g slug really a bear stopper?


October 14, 2007, 06:27 PM
Could a 30-30 be used to stop bear? I'm guessing at close range it would be better than nothing.

Yes, certainly. The .30-30 has considerably more power than all but the most potent magnum siderarms. And in the early days of smokeless powder it was considered a true bear rifle, believe it or not. One native guide up here dropped dozens of Kodiak and never used a rifle bigger than the .30-30! Of course, the last bear also got him. But who's to say that couldn't have happened with a bigger rifle anyway.

The bottom line though is you're likely better off with a more powerful magnum rifle or at least something throwing larger hardcast slugs with more momentum.

highlander 5
October 14, 2007, 06:36 PM
Winchester 1886 in 45/70 with 400-450 gr at 1800 fps would do the trick but with its curved steel butt plate it a killer on both ends and with a full length barrel (26 " I think) you have 9 or 10 rounds at your disposal

October 14, 2007, 06:54 PM
As far as the feed tube is concerned you can order a full length one and cut it to the length you need.

I think someone on the has done this.


October 14, 2007, 11:01 PM
2. The best Bear defense weapon is between your ears.:what:

What the hell! You want me to hit him with my freaking nose!

Forget that, I'll take a 12 gauge.



October 14, 2007, 11:24 PM
You must have been looking at the Davidson exclusive 1895 GS LTD, they are serial numbered GSLTD0000, they are sort of a XLR GS with fiber optic sights, 18.5" like a Guide Gun. I bought one to modify and didn't have the heart to do it, so now it sits in the safe unfired. Then I bought a 1895(no letter) 22" barrel which has the pistol grip stock. It is now 16 1/4", removed the checking and oil refinished, Wild West Trigger and bear proof ejector, DRC lever, XS sights and scope mount, leupold scout scope, limbsaver and other stainless parts. I use it for hogs but same principle as bear gun. A short 45-70.

October 15, 2007, 12:59 AM
I don't think a short range defensive rifle should wear a scope. No matter the choice of rifle I like a large ring apature ghost ring set up with a square post white line front sight the best.

As far as the rifle and caliber go it should be relatively light, easy to carry, reliable and you should be completely familiar with it.

The best defensive weapon is the one you have with you when bad stuff happens.

My problem with a scope, any scope, is that the lenses need to be covered in wet rainy or snowy conditions. even with butler creek style caps they are slower to put into action than good set of iron sights.

My two go everywhere do everything guns when I lived in AK were a 20" carbine M-70 .375H&H and an S&W 629 Mountain gun in .44 Mag.

I wouldn't feel under gunned with any decent rifle from .308 up in a proper configuration in bear country.

Silent Sam
October 15, 2007, 10:26 AM
Take a look at the Ruger 375 Alaskan.

October 15, 2007, 11:16 AM
I don't think there is 1 good bear gun for Alaska. There are too many variables, if you overlaid the state onto the lower 48 and put the SE Panhandle on Florida then the last Aleutian Island would be in Seattle. You have Temperate Rain Forest on Kodiak and Arctic Coastal Plain on the north slope. How do you get to where you are going? If by plane then there are weight issues, if by boat you may have to jump out of the Zodiac in medium surf. That being said when I was beach combing or left town I would always take a radio, binoculars, & short barreled slug shotgun.

Ha-ha, I still remember the one time in Bristol Bay I didn't take the aforementioned and saw a huge pile of seaweed that I swore was a sleeping bear.

October 15, 2007, 01:27 PM
If you wanted something a little lighter and considerably more compact, you could try one of these:

October 15, 2007, 02:09 PM
Heh Heh :) best bear gun heh heh.

Some thing you can hit the bear with? I'm just guessing here. :evil:

No really, I love seeing those pics of the chopped down lever actions in enormous calibers. Pretty cool looking, but I really question the practicality of having a scope on the thing.

If its really for defensive bear use the bear is going to be pretty close any how and moving fast, finding it in a scope would just slow you down. Seems like more of a detriment to me.
Fun guns to own though.

I think the 12 ga slug is used mostly because it works as a close range defensive round on bear. I read a post a while back where a woman in N. California shot a black bear that was breaking into a building on her property. The slug went through the bear and broke the leg on the opposite side and kept going. Seems like plenty of power there.
Also a 12 ga is cheap, and if the environment gets to it….well its easy to replace.

October 15, 2007, 06:21 PM
My Hakim battle rifle would be pretty decent, 8x57 mauser semi auto box fed 10 rounds on tap. Got a bayonet for it, but it's about like hauling around a telephone pole....:D

Nothing wrong with a 12 gauge and slugs. Alternatively, there's the BAR in .338 win mag, but my favorite idea for an Alaskan rifle is this in .325 WSM. A very handy, quick firing MAGNUM rifle with around 4000 ft lbs of muzzle energy. Keep yer marlins....

October 15, 2007, 06:24 PM
BTW, I'm faster on target with a low power scope than I am with irons, nothing to line up, just put the crosshairs on target and....BANG. But, I'm talkin' 2 power or less here preferably.

Old Trapper
October 19, 2007, 01:27 AM
I'm faster on target

I'm sure not an expert on this topic, but let me offer an idea from some of the old Africa sporting literature that would seem to apply very well to a charging bear in thick alder brush in Alaska.

Many of the old professional African hunters used to followup wounded lions with their double barrel shotguns rather than their double rifles simply because the shotguns were much faster handling and plenty lethal at nearly point blank range.

A big male lion weighs as much as the average grizzly. I don't need to debate the size difference between the species. They are both fast, powerful, and superlative athletes.

I also have a lust for those cool compact Marlins, but I won't rationalize getting one because it's a superior bear gun. It's not superior for me primarily because I haven't used a lever gun much in over 40 years, and I dont' think I'll ever get in enough practice with one to make handling intuitive and automatic under stress.

If a guy shoots hundreds or maybe even thousands of rounds a year with his favorite shotgun at clays and birds -- chances are that a shotgun with the same handling characteristics is going to point pretty fast and natural at a charging carnivoire. A guy isn't going to have to think about the safety because it will come off as fast and instinctively as about anything else he does with a firearm. His finger muscles will have that safety memorized.

So, let's all buy Guide guns to reward Marlin for for their good behavior, but for self defense against 800 pound carivoires that run faster than race horses let's carry the powerful long arm that we can handle the fastest and most instintively under stress.

The last time I was in the Alaskan bush, I was unintentionally and invigoratingly close to a number of big bears. A few were just a hop or two away and fortunately showed no interest in charging. Had they changed their minds the time difference would have been no more than a second or two -- no time to fumble with gun handling.

Under those circumstances your body language and your attitude are more important than your gun. For me personally, having the right gun helps me be cool and calm becasue I know I'm the one at the top of the food chain. Avoiding and preventing human bear conflicts is a good bear conservation strategy.

I surely love those big beautiful bears. I'm not against hunting them and I'm certainly not against self defense -- but intelligent sportsman will be just as knowledgable and skilled at how not to shoot bears as how to kill them.

It's lots of fun to discuss bear self defense, but if we ever have to defend ourselves against a charging bear more than likely it will be because we did something stupid.

Sorry for the rant.

October 19, 2007, 01:40 AM
Meh, I'll just no-scope them with a Barrett M82CQ:evil:

Besides, the fireball from that thing would probably cook it for dinner.

October 19, 2007, 08:24 AM
Ah, but the bear would already have killed you and wandered off by the time you swung that beast around for the shot!


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