Handgun for protection from a grizzly?


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December 29, 2008, 07:21 AM
arizonaguide, Myself I want something bigger than a 44 Mag, even though the 44 Mag loaded right could do the job. I want more, My minimum would be the 480 Ruger or a 454 Casull. I prefer a 475 or 500 Linebaugh or a 500 mag.

My 4 inch 500 Mag is a neat package, I have shot a bowling ball fast 5 times at 25 yards and hit it with every shot.

The thing about being a handgun hunter, it teaches you your limitations and as long as you stay within them limitations you will be OK.

The other thing is, I practice with my handguns year around, I shoot thousands of rounds each year through my big bore handguns.

But the big factor it this all is how one handles themselves in a attack situation. No one can prepare for it, you might be armed with the biggest gun you can carry only to find out that you can't move. So there is no training for an attack. So will step up to the plate and some may not.

The key is being smart in the wilderness and know your surrounding to avoid any confrontation.

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December 29, 2008, 12:28 PM
Absolutely agree Redhawk, and it sounds like you have the training and practice to handle the situation in an emergency.

I still wouldn't want anything less than those .500mag (similar to 12ga) numbers.
that 475 with a little over 2000ftlb of energy(2274) would be a little light for my comfort, but that 500 with over 3000 is up around 12ga spec's. Good as a 12ga, for close range EMERGENCY stuff, in my book.

You also bring up a good point about shotgun slugs...you can't just use ANY slug, it's better to go with a NON-hollowpoint slug with as close to 3000ftlb of energy as they make. I will have to research the link, but something solid/roundnose/and high energy...in a 12ga slug. Brenneke Black Magic maybe?
I'll have to look at the spec's...but not just ANY 12ga slug will do.

Stay safe. Good hunting. Thanks for the info/education!

December 29, 2008, 12:36 PM
Now it's time to get you fitted for a 4 inch 500 Mag..lol

December 30, 2008, 03:27 AM
Not sure if someone has posted this but I think bear mace is pretty effective.

December 30, 2008, 06:59 AM
And hope the wind is not blowing back at you.

December 30, 2008, 07:24 AM

works on polar bears too

i'd be concerned with follow-up shots though :)

December 30, 2008, 07:27 AM
I still say: carry both. Seriously, can anyone provide an argument for carrying a rifle, but not a handgun?
It would probably be useful if, for instance, the bear ends up chewing on you after it's 40 yard death charge.

...but not just ANY 12ga slug will do
Totally agree.

What's your opinion on these: http://www.dixieslugs.com/

I agree that with those numbers, a .500 works out to be similar EMERGENCY GUN as a 12ga (in fact almost exactly)! So, would be (maybe)okay at close ranges (similar to a 12ga.).
I'd imagine that you won't be able to get off a second shot as quickly from the handgun as from the shotgun, however. (Since the S&W 500s have (I think it's porting) and weigh a lot, I could be wrong) But, the carry one you talk about probably doesn't have that. BTW, are those energy figures from the gun you have, or the full-size 500? That could complicate this.

338 Lapua...take a look at some of those numbers. Or some of the new ultra magnums.
Up around 5000lbs of energy, and good flat trajectory/volocity
But what if the bear has multiple trauma plates duct taped to it's back? :neener:

December 30, 2008, 07:40 AM
JImbothefiveth, the 4 inch S&W has a compensator just like the longer barreled models, it is the 2 3/4 inch barrel that have no porting.

At a 40 yard full out charge, you may only have one shot, and that is it. But a would venture to guess, unless you have the gun at ready, you will NOT even get off one shot not matter what you are carrying.

Bush Pilot
December 30, 2008, 02:43 PM
Most bear attacks start out much closer than 40 yds, it's more like 15 yds (or less)when you happen on a bear on a kill or sow with cub(s).

When you're in country (thick cover) where you might surprise a bear, you learn to have your gun ready. Ask anyone who's ever shot a critter on Kodiak Island about having a gun ready when he's gutting.

BTW, a bear can appear out of nowhere, you may have watched any area for 30 minutes and suddenly he's there in all his glory, trust me.

December 30, 2008, 04:49 PM
Bear Pepper Spray Bear Pepper Spray Bear Pepper Spray Bear Pepper Spray Bear Pepper Spray Bear Pepper Spray

Bear Pepper Spray !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When in Bear country, I highly recommend having some bear pepper spray. At least spray the bear after you shoot it so that you can claim he kept coming.

December 30, 2008, 05:17 PM
Amen MBT!!!!

Jimbo, I DO like the look of those Dixie Slugs!

I still think for Emergencys (camp/riverbank issues) I'm carrying my PepperSpray, and my 12ga.
I still like the ability to pump a facefull of 00, and the following slugs...if the pepperspray doesn't work. (if there's time for all that?)

I will try pepperspray first, on the recomendations of Fish and Game, Park Service, and US Fish and Wildlife.

Redhawk has a point about a "windy day" though. Then it's 12ga for me.

If I'm hunting though...where I'm "stalking around" (quietly) the odds of surprising a bear (10') at close range increase.
Then it's .338 and Pepperspray!

January 1, 2009, 03:05 PM
New evidence brings me to this question:

Is there a difference between the bear OC/pepper spray and the same size sprayer Human OC/pepper spray?

January 1, 2009, 03:12 PM
This would be #42.


Handgun for bear defense?

42. The odds on being attacked by a bear are very remote. But if you are so unfortunate as to experience an attack by a large bear there is no handgun that would be 100% satisfactory. If discussing the truly big bears, like the grizzly and the polar bear, if all you have is a pistol when attacked, you will need a tremendous amount of luck or divine intervention to survive the encounter. If you simply cannot carry a long gun of sufficient power, then pack the most powerful handgun you can effectively use and pray for Godís help if attacked.

January 1, 2009, 03:37 PM
I still say "might as well carry one, at least it won't hurt anything".

January 1, 2009, 03:54 PM
The first is my main grizzly gun with the other twins as backups.


January 19, 2009, 10:11 PM
what was that other forum that was talking about this subject?

January 19, 2009, 11:07 PM
.338 winchester magnum revolver.:D

January 20, 2009, 10:16 PM
You know its funny how many experts on Grizz there are here!! I bet not 10% of the people on this thread have ever seen one in the wild. I carry a .454 on the rivers in AK when i am fishing them and have seen many big bear. Thankfully i have not had a run in with them yet. A few tense moments is all. Spray may be fine but when the wind is blowing hard as it often does in AK i dont want to depend on it. As for as the silly poster who said that now there is a wounded animal to deal with is silly about not using a hand gun! What the hell am i supposed to do? Let it kill me?? If i wound one i would go after it with the authorities. I would use a rifle not a shot gun with regular slugs. I have had to many slugs not penetrate a deer broadside to have a lot of faith in them. Yes it tore the shoulder out and the deer dropped on the spot but not the penetration i would want. I carry several boxes of Dixie slugs in my truck up there so if i do have to go after one that is what i would use if i could not get my hands on a .338 or so. A lot of experts here who have never seen a Grizz or a Coastal Brown. they are very big animals that demand respect. The first time you see one drag a full grown Boo like a little rag doll you start to understand the sheer power they have!! I could carry my .338 with me but its not practical and to slow to bring in to play as is any gun on a sling and its just not comfy so i would be tempted to leave it behind.

July 20, 2009, 01:10 AM
I have to agree with the person who said, self defense is much different situation than hunting. I had a .454 Casull. Great gun, but couldn't hit squat on a follow up shot if I was in a hurry, and definately couldn't one hand that gun. (Did I mention that I'm partially deaf now after one shot from my Casull deer hunting with it several years ago. That gun will destroy your hearing without ear protection, trust me.) Anyway, I know that in a self defense situation, a head shot is the only chance at stopping an attacking bear at very close range, and the 9mm and .40 S&W will penetrate plenty of skull bone with the right bullet choice IMHO. I've convinced myself of this after many of my own shooting tests. I'll leave the hand cannon at home and carry my 12 to 17 round pistol in the outdoors without any hesitation. If the beasty is bigger in the area I'm in, I may just strap on 2 of my favorite lightweight high capacity polymer handguns. 2 on the body is better than a 12 ga or rifle laying over on the river bank out of reach. ;-)

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
July 20, 2009, 04:13 PM
My limited CONUS understanding is that:

--Pepper spray works better than a firearm for deterring an attack, assuming all your other precautions fail (making noise, using buddies, etc.)

--Longguns are way better than a handgun for obvious reasons - far more powerful. If I really think there's a high chance of a close in encounter, I'm gonna have a .45-70 levergun or a pump 12 ga with hardcast slugs.

--If you must rely on a handgun, you're probably dead so it's academic, but just in case you get lucky, more is mo' betta - that means .454 casull, .476 linebaugh, .500 special, .500 linebaugh, .480 ruger, or .500 S&W mag. If I was just fishing in grizz country and not hunting, I'd have a HUGE can of OC spray ready to deploy on right hip (strongside; I'm righthanded), and a Taurus RB 4" or 5" in .454 Casull on left hip or in a backpack.

July 20, 2009, 11:37 PM
I always love when people proclaim bear spray as the ultimate answer. Wielding that .454 one handed while being attacked/dragged (probably to your death) while inside your tent might be possible, but that bear spray will be worthless. Now please excuse me while I answer the ringing in my left ear.

July 23, 2009, 03:27 PM
Pepper spray is great for what it is, A DETERANT!! it is suppose to make the bear not want to rip you appart. for those who say why carry a handgun, I have to wonder what world you live in. I just moved to the lower 48 after living in Alaska for 4 years. I NEVER went into the woods without a pistol. Yes it is not as effective, but I shoot it quite a bit 5000-8000 rounds / year. Contrary to what some people think Bears are in no way bullet proof. They are tought yes, and you should never count out a bear, its the dead ones that get up and bite you! I worked at a sporting goods store while there, one of my coustmers shot a grizzly ( 8'6" as I recal) with one round, and a hollow point at that, from a .357 sig! The round was a 125gr speer gold dot. Yup I am sure that he was lucky, but since his rifle was farther away then the bear was alot of good it would have done. That is why you carry a handgun. Its for those 2am trips to the outhouse when you don't bring a longgun, and trip over grizzly finishing off your backpack!

Side note to who ever said to spray the dead bear to show you tried!
That is STUPID!! If you shoot it in legimate selfe defense then you are good, but if you go and alter the scence then tell the fish and game office a lie you have now commited purgery and obstruction of justise! Even if it was a clean shoot! So now you rightfully will go to jail because you where stupid! Never try to cover up, or lie! Besides being just wrong and illegal, fish and Game officers in alaska have almost more power than regular law enforcment. they are also veyr well trained and deal with this every day, they know what it should look like and if your story matches whatever evedince they get. And remember if you lie to them to cover up a bad shoot (or a good one) they can take your car, your guns, all your hunting gear, and anything else they think might have helped you comit your crime. Did you fly the hide out in your own plane, bam they now own it! Plus you get to go to jail, don't be stupid!

July 27, 2009, 12:48 PM
grizzlies would be hard to stop even WITH a shotgun with slugs or buckshot. why? if it is charging at you? it wants you away. it wants you dead. buckshot or a slug might stop him, but if it is determined and big enough... you need something that would either blow him up or mushroom a ton inside of him. a slug will just keep on goin. what would i want? a bloody well grenade launcher.
or you can get one of those big ole tasers that you fire from a shotgun. i would just want something that would penetrate a bears fur though.

now where i live, there is very very very few grizzlies (they get thicker as you go north) but there is alot of black bears. now if a black bear is coming after you, it is usually because he wants YOU. for food. and black bears aren't dumb, even if they do charge for other purposes they will back off if met by too much opposition. a bear isn't gonna risk it's life for potential prey if it can fight back effectively. so what do i use against black bear? a 9mm. they will back off if wounded and a 9mm will do more damage even to a bear than you think. it just depends on the bears in your area and why they are attacking you.
but a 12 guage shotgun with either buckshot or a slug will stop most bears that arent as big as an alaska grizz. or a polar bear. so you should have not much of a problem with a shotgun. even a handgun. just aim for the center area of the chest and squeeze. a bear can't keep on going if his heart is ruptured. immediate shut down.
shot placement is everything, because even if you do hit him in the head with a 300 mag is just gonna bounce off. pepper spray and a good handgun will do. if you want to defend yourself. bears are not stupid and if they know you can defend yourself after they try to attack you and you obviously squeeze off a few rounds, they may get mad but they aren't gonna risk an injury. the only time taht your dead no matter what is if you are dancing with the momma bears cubs.

July 27, 2009, 02:39 PM
SODA MONKEY 236 - "grizzlies would be hard to stop even WITH a shotgun with slugs or buckshot."

A retired cop who lives over in Wyoming, was attacked by a Griz a few days ago. She chewed on him but he killed it with three shots from his .41 Magnum. I think the newspaper story is on this forum somewhere.

EDIT: Just found the story.
Jerry Ruth of Clark, Wyo., used hand gestures Friday, July 24, 2009 to describe how a Grizzly bear attacked him near his home. Ruth surprised the bear and her three cubs when she attacked. The bear first bit Ruth in the face, breaking his jaw in serveral places. Ruth, a retired police officer, grabbed a pistol he was carrying, fired three shots and killed the bear. Ruth sustained bite wounds, a punctured lung and other injuries in the attack. Ruth 51, had to described his ordeal on paper because he could not talk.

The encounter happened near Clark, Wyo., while Ruth and another man came across the bears in foothills outside the small town north of Cody. Wyoming game officials captured the cubs shortly after the incident.

Jerry Ruth saw the grizzly for just a fraction of a second before it was on him.

Within seconds, the 275-pound animal had crushed the Wyoming man's jaw when it bit him in the face, fractured his rib and punctured his lung and left deep bite wounds in his calf and scratches across his back.

After the attack, the bear left him for her three cubs that Ruth saw for the first time as he lay bleeding on the dirt. When it reached the cubs about 15 yards away, the bear turned toward him again, "squaring off" as if to charge, Ruth recalled Friday.

Ruth grabbed for the .41-caliber magnum revolver he was carrying in a hip holster and relied on his training and experience as a police officer to save his life. He fired three times, saving three bullets in case his first shots failed.

But the bear dropped and didn't move, ending the furious encounter as swiftly as it started.

"My training as a cop (is) that when deadly force is used against you, you use deadly force to repel the deadly force," Ruth said.

Ruth, 51, remains at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings since the attack Sunday near his home in Clark, Wyo., a small town north of Cody near the Montana state line. Because his jaw is wired shut to heal the multiple fractures, Ruth used a pencil and notebook on Friday to describe his encounter with the bear. His wife, Cindy, has stayed near him as doctors continue to treat him.

One of his treating physicians, Dr. Jeff Rentz, said Ruth's injuries were very serious. The bear bite crushed his jaw on the left side in several places and broke the right side of the bone. The jaw has been wired shut and plates fastened to the bone to hold it while it heals, he said.

Rentz said it appears that the bear hit Ruth in the back, causing the fractured rib and punctured lung. Two of the bite marks in Ruth's calf were large enough to insert a thumb, Rentz said.

"We were concerned about his survival when he got here," the doctor said.

Ruth will require at least one more surgery, and his doctors said it was still unclear when he might be able to return home. Dr. Andy Boyce, an oral surgeon who worked on Ruth, said the jaw will have to remain wired for about six more weeks.

Cindy and Jerry Ruth moved to Wyoming last year after Ruth retired from the Baltimore County Police Department in Maryland after a 28-year career as an officer. They bought property in Clark about a decade ago after falling in love with the area while on vacation, Cindy Ruth said. Her husband spent a month every summer working on their retirement home, she said.

On Sunday, Jerry Ruth and a friend took their four-wheelers for a ride onto an adjacent ranch to look for a herd of elk that Cindy had seen the day before. The two men were hoping to catch a glimpse of the elk, and maybe find a few antler sheds.

They were about a mile from Ruth's house when the men parked the four-wheelers and began walking into a small valley toward a pond through sage brush. Ruth's friend was ahead of him, Ruth said, and the men were 25 to 75 yards apart. Some of the sage brush was as tall as a man.

Ruth said he caught only a glimpse of the bear before the attack.

"Like a flash the bear came out from under some sage brush and she was on me," Ruth wrote. "Grabbed my lower face in her jaw and I could hear the bones breaking."

Ruth said thoughts of his family came to his mind as the bear attacked. The couple has three adult children.

"I next became aware that she was off of me," Ruth wrote. "I was on the ground. She was squaring off to take another charge. It was at this time that (I saw) she had three cubs."

After the initial attack, Ruth said, he was able to grab his pistol and fire three times at the bear, and the bear dropped dead. Ruth began calling for help, and his friend arrived within moments.

The men called Ruth's wife on a cell phone so she could call 911 and meet them with a vehicle. They were only about a mile and a half from the Ruth's house, and they began making their way back on the four-wheelers as Ruth held on to his friend.

Cindy Ruth said was shocked at her husband's injuries.

"I just started praying," she said. "I didn't know how he was going to survive it. It was the scariest thing I've ever seen."

With the help of emergency medical crews, Jerry Ruth got to the hospital in Powell and then was flown to the hospital in Billings. Rentz said a team of St. Vincent physicians took him immediately into surgery.

Ruth said he carries his revolver with him anytime he goes into the backcountry around his house. The habit probably saved her husband's life, Cindy Ruth said. In such a sudden attack, she said, bear spray probably would not have been effective against the mother bear.

"I think the only way we are not at a funeral right now is because he had his gun," she said.

Ruth said he regrets having to shoot the bear, and suggests that people be aware of all wildlife when they venture out.

"I feel bad for killing the bear," he wrote. "I think it was just a matter of time (before) this bear would have gone after someone else."

Orphaned grizzly bear cubs on way to Tennessee after short stay in Billings
Three orphaned grizzly bear cubs were loaded into a trailer at ZooMontana in Billings this morning for a two-day trip to Tennessee.

The cubs - two males and a female - were brought to the Billings zoo on Wednesday by officials with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department after their mother was killed Sunday in Northern Wyoming. The bear was killed by Jerry Ruth, who was mauled before he was able to shoot the bear. Ruth is being treated for his injuries at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings.

(Fair Use, etc.)


July 27, 2009, 03:54 PM
yeah and a few weeks ago a man fought off a black bear and killed it with a 9mm pistol, while on the same day, a man fought off a Mountain lion and killed it with a knife. unrelated encounters, but it just shows you how capable man can be with a weapon. we arre stronger than we think, its all mental really.

July 27, 2009, 04:06 PM
Nuke it from orbit, its the only way to be sure

Bass Killer
July 27, 2009, 09:43 PM
A Cap Gun might scare them away?

July 28, 2009, 09:13 PM
A phaser set to "kill".

Personally, I'd prefer a bazooka.

I'm one of those guys who would never want to face a grizzly with any handgun I could lift. I'm of the mind that a 12ga loaded with slugs or a 30-06 with heavy loads would be a minimum for such a beast. :uhoh:


July 28, 2009, 09:28 PM
So, handguns do stop grizzly bears, even though many on here claim they can't.

July 28, 2009, 09:29 PM
Nuke it from orbit, its the only way to be sure

That's known as "WWRD?" - What would Ripley do?

The other thing I like to ask myself in these situations is "WWRTD?"

"What would Rachel Tam do?" - usually kill everything in sight.


March 15, 2014, 08:57 PM
Here is a link to an article that demonstrates that a short barreled revolver with a magnum level handgun load is effective against grizzly bear:


This person used an Redhawk Alaskan in .454 Casull. The bear charge was very fast, and close-up and personal. I believe that a short barreled .44 mag revolver loaded with 300+ grain bullets at a minimum velocity of 1000-1100 ft/s is capable of stopping a grizzly bear attack a close range. I also believe that the .45 Long Colt loaded with heavy well constructed bullets at similar minimum velocities are also capable of stopping a grizzly bear attack.


I read about another instance in Alaska where an Indian women was out picking berries of some sort with her two small children. A grizzly bear wandered too close to her two children so she apparently walked right up to this grizzly bear and stuck a small Beretta pistol into its ear and emptied the magazine, and killed this bear. While I find this event hard to believe myself, there were other witnesses present that saw her do this. Apparently, grizzly bears, like humans have very thin bone structure at the back of the ear canal.

Bear attacks are generally very sudden, and obviously at close range. Penetration into the brain or other areas of the central nervous system is critical. The small boutique ammunition companies like Garrett, Buffalo Bore, Underwood, Corbon, etc. all load heavy .44 mag, .45 LC, .454 Casull, etc. loads that should be effective enough at close range to potentially stop a bear attack. I also suggest that people look into using the 3 inch magnum 12 gauge Dduplek solid mild steel shotgun slugs that are now being sold here:


A short barreled 12 GA shotgun with these solid steel slugs should also prove very effective at stopping grizzly bears at close range. These steel slugs are far more effective than soft lead Foster style slugs at penetrating hard bone like a grizzly's skull.

I will be carrying a short barreled .44 mag, .45 LC, or .454 Casull along with a short barreled 12 GA when I am traveling in Alaska for my own self-defense against close range bear attacks loaded with the proper style, well constructed bullets and slugs.

March 16, 2014, 12:49 AM
So many posters here touting carry of 454 Casuls and .500 SW but the plain fact is that there are very few people that can reliably handle such calibers. You see people all over the internet shooting them but if you really look at their shooting they are dangerous.

I live in a state with a native Grizzley population. I carry a .44 magnum or my .44 SW with my own custom loads that are way into magnum territory.

The only bear that I have dispatched was a black bear and for that I used a shovel....all I had available when this pest payed me a visit. Against a grizzly I would have been dead and so will most people who do not think and minimize the chance of contact. They arent named Ursus Artos Horribillus for nothing.

March 16, 2014, 01:06 AM
Cobra derringer in .22 Mag. I wouldn't give a bear the pleasure of killing me. I'll beat him to it.

March 16, 2014, 01:15 AM
You do realize this is a 5 year old thread, right? Really, another very old thread brought back from the Abyss!!! :rolleyes:

March 16, 2014, 02:02 AM
Yeah.... Thread necromancy again. Discussed to death.

March 16, 2014, 07:46 AM
Good grief...brought back from the dead by someone that just joined a few day ago. Someone must have been doing a bunch of digging with way to much time on their hands to bring this sucker back to life.

fallout mike
March 16, 2014, 11:05 AM
And if he would have started a new one he would have been told there were already threads on the subject. ;)

March 16, 2014, 11:01 PM
That country is the bears home. I won't go in his home and he stays out of mine .

March 17, 2014, 10:32 AM
The best defense against an enraged grizzly is to have a slower friend in your party, and a 22 through the kneecap ought to slow him down enough.

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