Gun for bear defense


April 30, 2007, 05:23 PM
Is a .357 Magnum sufficient to defend against Mountain Lions and Black Bears.

If you enjoyed reading about "Gun for bear defense" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
April 30, 2007, 05:28 PM

April 30, 2007, 05:29 PM

April 30, 2007, 05:30 PM
Yes but I'd rather have a 460

Shawn Michael
April 30, 2007, 05:44 PM
I would not want to shot at (even a black bear) with a .357 without a really quick escape route (like a waiting helicopter)

There are many bear gun thread that will give a lot of info, the upshot being that the hotest .44 mag is the LEAST amount of gun you would want for bear country.

Mountain lions, on the other hand are thin skinned

April 30, 2007, 06:08 PM
12 gauge rifled slug.
1oz at 1600 fps.

April 30, 2007, 06:14 PM
Use a good hard-cast, flat nose bullet of 180 grs or better and don't worry about Smokey. Now if you're talkin Griz, you'll need a little more.:D

April 30, 2007, 06:22 PM
Thanks for the replies we own a ranch in New Mexico and saw some tracks of something (either a lion or a black bear) the tracks were very indistinct. I have a 686 and thought maybe that would be sufficient for black bear defense and to defend against mountain lions.

April 30, 2007, 09:57 PM
When I asked this question I got a ton of answers telling me to buy a .44 Magnum. I wasn't going to do that and was hoping to get an answer about my .357 Magnum. I'm glad to see you got a straight answer. Like said above, you should load your .357 with a heavy hard cast bullet (180 gr.). Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, CorBon, Speer and all the other top manufacturers have heavy hunting rounds available for the .357 Magnum now. I use DoubleTap because they are less expensive than Boffalo Bore but are reported to be as effective.

April 30, 2007, 10:05 PM
What does a bear need a defense gun for? (sorry, had to it.)

We now return you to your normally scheduled thread viewing.

May 1, 2007, 01:47 AM
I think some of you guys are confusing black bears with grizzly bears. A full-house .357 Magnum is good for black bear defense.

In Texas I can't think of anything you would need a .44 Magnum for that can't be reasonably killed with a .357. The whitetail deer are skinny enough down here that you can kill them with a .357, no problems. Don't know about the Mulies, but those are in a small region of West Texas.

Shawn Michael
May 1, 2007, 03:08 AM
Re "getting a straight answer" the question was not what do I load my .357 with but do you think it is sufficent. If the 686 has a 2.5 inch barrel it just might not be a great bear defense choice. JMO

May 1, 2007, 03:16 AM
Shawn Michael,
Since he already got the answer that his .357 Magnum was powerful enough to handle Black Bear he then needed to know that HP rounds that are usually used for SD don't work well on think skinned animals like Black Bear.

I didn’t suggest a .44 magnum like some others.

Are you feeling a little defensive??

Zeke Menuar
May 1, 2007, 03:19 AM
Back when I had a .357, I used a factory Winchester load that used a 180gr Nosler Partition or my handloads of Blue Dot and 180 gr HC flat nosed lead bullet.

Never used it on bear or cougar. Knocked down a feral pit bull pretty fast.


Jim March
May 1, 2007, 03:33 AM
Learn how a bear's skull is constructed. It's not like ours. The "forehead" is a heavy bone anchor for the jaw will stop almost all handgun ammo dead in it's tracks and has been known to deflect 30-06. The brain is lower and more rear-set than you'd expect. You have to get to it through the eyes, cheeks or snout. Make that shot, and pretty much anything that will kill a human in 357 will kill ANY bear - including Griz.


That's a hell of a tough shot to make, esp. if it's charging head down. If you load up with a heavy flat-nose hardcast slug of 158gr or more, with the Buffbore 180 being just about perfect, then if you're off on windage on a black bear you have enough energy to punch deep past the head and into the shoulder, breaking something with a little luck and slowing it down. Or if you're low, you'll penetrate to vitals. THAT is why you load heavy, hot flatnose hardcast - for those "plan b" shots which are VERY likely to be what you end up saving your butt with.

Same load with a Griz, or VERY large blackie of 600lbs or more (not common but...) your hot 357 hardcast is much less likely to do the shoulder or vitals shots. Which is why you upgrade to the very best 44Mag you can get, or go past that - 454, 460, 475, 500. Again: same deal - those rounds are overkill for a true bear brain-shot, but will have enough effect if you don't make the brain shot.


If you're attacked by a bear and all you have is a 38Spl or 9mm, well, go for it...but you have to make the brain shot, period. And now you know where it is...
If you're an absolute master and can ALWAYS make the brain shot, cool. Carry a very accurate 9mm with military ball. You'll be able to drop any bear, right up through the biggest ever. But more or less *nobody* is that good.

May 1, 2007, 05:24 AM
Originally posted by WESHOOT2:
...There is a second-hand story about a well-known Maine bear guide, who after testing the efficacy of the 357 Magnum in the field, then warned: "minimum .400", 200g, 1000fps..."

See more

May 1, 2007, 08:33 AM
Hmm...second hand stories. Seems like I heard one last summer about a guy in Michigan who killed a charging black bear with a Kel-Tec P-11.:what:

Jim March
May 1, 2007, 08:52 AM
Seems like I heard one last summer about a guy in Michigan who killed a charging black bear with a Kel-Tec P-11.

No surprise at all. He made the brain shot. He rapid-fired the whole mag at it's nose and one managed to slip in. A bear's sinus cavities aren't armored and can provide a straight shot to the brain.

It's his version of the Death Star's ventilation port :D.

BUT: is "The Force" gonna be with you? Sorry, but I ain't bettin' on it.

May 1, 2007, 10:27 AM
Heres the deal.

Ive killed literally dozens of bear--most of them black bear. Ive come to know the critters real well. Black bears are mental pusssies. Black bears dont need to be killed to be stopped, only turned or diswaded, but grizzlies normally need to be killed to be stoped. Black bears will cease and desist if they are hurt. So, yes a 357 with proper ammo is plenty to defend against normal black bear, cause when you shoot them, they will most likely head the other way. They may or may not die later, but what do you care as long as they are not dining on you?

I live in and around grizzly country, so my normal carry revolver in the woods is a 500 Linebaugh. Ive killed several black bear with it. It flat out kills them, but that is not necessary to defend myself against black bear.

In a life time of messing around with bears, Ive had black bear be aggressive about 4 or 5 times, out of a couple hundred. So ignore all those people who say black bears are never a problem to humans--pure trash!

Load your 357 revolver with Buffalo Bore item # 19A or 19C and let the black bears worry about you.

Lions are even easier than black bears to diswade. Lions are truly formidable because of their weapons, but they are pretty fragile when it comes to taking abuse. A good 22 mag. is all you need for Mt. lions.

May 1, 2007, 01:00 PM
Issues to consider:

Size of Bullet/Impact
Bullet placement
Competency of shooter
Size and Fight of animal.

Size of bullet. The .357 is a bit small for large game. The advantage is the impact and the velocity. In all my testing with hardcast loads (Steel, glass, phone books, carcasses etc). I have seen enough velocity and penetration to penetrate to the vitals of any cougar or black bear from a good hard cast .357 (See my thread on .357 Phone books tests if you so desire. Buff Bore 180 gets my #1 vote with Corbon 200 HC a close second).

Bullet placement: Jim March hit this one right on the head (pun intended!) The best place for any bullet is the brain. The .357 is a much smaller slug and your chances at hitting the brain with a smaller bullet may be lower. However, how many of you have honestly tried to rapid fire a .357 or .44 mag at a defensive distance of say 10-15 feet?

I have done this many times and maybe a shooter with larger hands can manage a .44 recoil much better, but for the life of me, I cannot place a .44 bullet like I can a .357. In my book, I will probably always carry a .357 in the blackie and cougar woods. My problem is that when I bowhunt, one of my areas is BIG, BAD Moose territory. They scare me more than anything else. I have never been charged or chased by a cougar or black bear. I have have been charged and chased by a Bull or Cow moose of a few occassions.

Again, a brain shot to a Moose with a .357 would be enough, but I usually carry my .44 in this area because I may need to go for vitals on a moose to protect myself. Same reasoning as Jim mentioned earlier in this thread. I just don't feel confortable with a .357.

However, I have run into blackies only (never seen a cougar while in the woods, but there are millions of tracks. Heard one growling a ways off during last years mulie hunt, but never saw it) in my other bowhunting area. The 357 is lighter to carry and will get the job done.

Size and fight: Refer to above. I live in Utah, no grizz yet although I hear they are slowly getting closer from both Wyoming and Idaho. If I am in Idaho, Wyoming or Montana (ie.Moose or Grizz territory) Garrett 330Hammerheads are in my Ruger Redhawk .44. The .357 stays home! Is this enough, probaly not, but I don't have a choice when my primary weapon is a bow. Whn in Arizona, Utah, Nevada or New Mexco, no .44 really needed with the Moose exception noted above. I used to live in New York, I would probably carry a .44 again if I was there. Blackies are a bit bigger in the Upstate area there than they are here in the Rockies.

Also one poster mentioned above, if you don't live in the Rockies, Canada or Alaska where your encounter with real big game is common, a .357 will always do the trick. My wife is from Texas, when I am there I never carry anything more than a .357. You don't need anything more (with one exception, very large feral pig. However, I have seen those go down with an adequate 180 or 200 grain .357 in one or two shots).

I hope this helps. God Bless.


Stick to the .357 unless you are around the large ladies and big boys in the woods.

May 1, 2007, 02:27 PM
What does a bear need a defense gun for? (sorry, had to it.)

We defend the right to arm bears.

May 1, 2007, 03:50 PM
I've never gone hunting,but wouldn't hollow points be best for any animal that isn't armored? I know bears have thick hides but they aren't past hollow point piercing right?

May 1, 2007, 05:10 PM
No, for bear you want the bullet to penetrate, not expand. A hollow point will most likely get filled up with hair anyway.

Stephen Camp on his Hi-Power web site used his 9mm Hi-Power to take down a South Texas javelina.

Realistically there's nothing in Texas you need a .44 for instead of a .357. A .357 is going to be easier to carry anyway. But for self-defense, I can see someone carrying a .44 loaded with bullets under 1,100 FPS to keep the noise down.

If you enjoyed reading about "Gun for bear defense" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!