Hand Gun choice for Vac in Alaska


July 19, 2011, 10:59 AM
Wife and I are making our 2nd visit to Alaska in Sept. Last time we went commando and there were 6 bear attacks in and around the general areas we visited within a week or 2 of when we were there. This time I am taking a weapon for SD [not hunting] while visiting in the wilds of Alaska. Just want something that offers a better chance than rolling up in a ball and hoping for the best. I've seen several fishing videos [someone in your party should be armed] where 2 or 3 rounds from a 45 will generally convince a pesky grizz to wander off. The recommended Handgun for Alaska is a 44mag, but I don't own one and I don't see myself wandering down the trail from the motor home with a 44 on my hip. I have several options, but have pretty much selected my Glock 40. It has a 15 round mag and some pretty serious punch with a 180 grain load. Also have a 357mag colt [6shot] and a 45 LC [5shot]. The 357 might be preferred but with a 6" barrel, its not an easy carry. The short barrel on the 45 offers a lower muzzel Vel and only 5 shots.

Have been lead to believe that the best ammo for a potential encounter with a big bear is a heavy solid load that offers the best penetration. Does that rule out the 180 gr JHP that is my normal SD load? Is the 180 gr FMJ that I shoot for target practice a better choice? Is there a better 40 cal round that anyone would suggest.

Remember this is a "precautionary" not a hunting situation. I'm not going up there to confront a bear. I know we will see several in the wild and have the very real probability of one or more closer than any tourist would prefer. Just don't want to be a meal for a bear without more than a rock to defend with.

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July 19, 2011, 11:23 AM
My thoughts on this is a .45 is to slow of a bullet to guarantee penetration to something vital. If you don't want to carry a 44 mag a 10mm auto is probably as low as I would recommend for carrying around bears, that being said anything is better than nothing an a heavy fast bullet from any gun might work.

4v50 Gary
July 19, 2011, 11:27 AM
I concur that the 10mm is the minimum one should go. I would actually prefer a double action 44 magnum revolver.

July 19, 2011, 11:29 AM
I would go with specially formulated pepper spray for bears. I think a .40 S&W is likely to just "annoy" a bear. Also, a wounded bear is more likely to attack the animal that just wounded it. IMHO.

I would call professional guides in Alaska and ask their opinion....

July 19, 2011, 11:31 AM
If it were me going where your going, I'd go with a G20. Now I'm not really a big fan of 10mm, and like the .45acp for most handgun applications. But I shoot my Glock 21 the best of all the handguns I've ever tried and I imagine I'd be just as good with the same frame in a different caliber.
But I'd go with a Glock 20 with heavy grained semi-wadcutters, but that's just me. I can't shoot revolvers as good or as fast as I can my Glock so more hits with lesser caliber is better than misses with more caliber.
From what you currently own, I'd take the Glock.

July 19, 2011, 12:17 PM
1) I agree with the idea alred mentioned that you're better off with cautious behavior and pepper spray rather than a handgun.

2) If you do go with the gun, then you didn't mention the make and model of the .45LC, but it would be most effective caliber against large animals of the three you own. With ammo chosen for penetration, not expansion, like Buffalo Bore hard-cast wadcutters, you'd have a chance.

July 19, 2011, 12:27 PM
I would go with specially formulated pepper spray for bears. I think a .40 S&W is likely to just "annoy" a bear. Also, a wounded bear is more likely to attack the animal that just wounded it. IMHO.

I would call professional guides in Alaska and ask their opinion....

If the wind is in your face when you spray it you're going to wish you hadn't. With handguns, wind don't matter.

I totally agree with calling a pro for advice, good suggestion.


July 19, 2011, 12:36 PM
The 45LC is a Tarus Judge 410/45LC. My concern with that gun is its only a 2 inch barrel but has an AND only has 5 shots. Would definitely load it up with the heavy 45s only for this application, but am thinking 15 rounds from the 40 would serve me better.

Will also pick up some good bear spray as well. But want the handgun to make some noise if necessary and shoot for effect as a last resort.

Any 40 cal ammo that offers a better penetration? Are solid wadcutters better than FMJ at 180 grains?

July 19, 2011, 12:41 PM
Where are you going to be and what are you going to be doing?

Your reference to a motor home suggests you're going to be on the road system at least, but how much remote backpacking are you doing? What areas are you going into?

Handguns can work, but only if you can draw fast enough and fire accurately enough. It's dicey for most of us.

If you're in an area with a lot of bear activity a slug gun with Brennekes would be the best option. If you're stuck with just a handgun then go with heavy hardcasts of high sectional density. That rules out the fo-tay. FMJ's aren't much better. I know one incident where a very luck hit from a 9x19 broke a sow's shoulder, but those are some dice to roll.

July 19, 2011, 12:54 PM
If you going .40 something along these lines, tested out of a stock glock.


July 19, 2011, 12:58 PM
Renting a motorhome in Anchorage and think we will be driving west toward the big Nat'l park near the Canadian border. No backcountry stuff, just day hiking and given the time of year [Sept] we don't anticipate seeing a lot of people. Camping is where ever there is a flat spot for the motorhome and we've had enough for the day. For those who haven't been to Alaska, on our drive from Anchorage to Denali in 08, over 200 miles, we passed maybe 25 cars the whole day. Point is the campgrounds if you stay in one will be remote, and we will likely be the only ones there. The state and national forest services have primitive camping areas all over the place. I could take a 12g with slugs, but it wouldn't be with me all the time like a handgun. Understand it would be better, but wouldn't be as readily available. Saw several fisherman with handguns [44's and 45's mostly]. I've read that you're unlikely to get off more than 2 or 3 shots if you surprise a bear, so maybe the extra rounds in the 40 shouldn't be a factor. I've also been advised to take what I'm most comfortable shooting as rounds on target are better than rounds that miss. I'm pretty comfortable with the Glock.

July 19, 2011, 02:02 PM
Take a shotgun. A handgun is just an excuse not to carry a real gun.

David E
July 19, 2011, 03:11 PM
Buy a .44 magnum and get good with it. Always wear it anytime outside.

Kodiakbeer knows about bear attacks, so heed his advice and get a shotgun, also. Put a sling on it and get skilled in bringing it into play from the shoulder quickly. (I prefer muzzle down carried on the off-side shoulder)

Either take it seriously and do it right, or buy some bear pepper spray and hope the wind is in your favor. Or stay home.

July 19, 2011, 03:32 PM
Of the guns you have listed, I would go with the 357 and load it with these:


get a good holster and a STIFF gunbelt, and it wont be so bad to carry, or get a shoulder holster. but I think it would be much better than a 40 S&W.

It also wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up an 18" barrel Mossberg 500, you can find them used for $200 all day long. load it with these:


July 19, 2011, 03:37 PM
I'm a sniveling coward when it comes to huge/fierce Alaskan beasts so I'd pack the biggest/baddest handgun I could afford/carry. My thoughts are toward a .500 S&W Mag or .454 Casull.

July 19, 2011, 04:21 PM
I could take a 12g with slugs, but it wouldn't be with me all the time like a handgun.

There are some really nice backpack scabbards available these days. Alaska Sportsman makes a line of them. You can carry an 18" shotgun with full stock no problem. In fact I find it easier to tote long guns with the scabbard than big magnum handguns on the hip.

Bear spray is also a very good idea as back up and for little black bear cubs coming after you.

The most important defense is your ears, eyes and of course your common sense. Never be afraid to leave if you get a bad feeling or see an unusual amount of sign. You can often hear the bears in the undergrowth even if you don't see them. They'll barge around under the devil's club in tunnels, making a very different sound from browsing moose. Sometimes, too, you'll notice the moose and black bear are unusually agitated and that's a sign to get out of Dodge.

July 19, 2011, 04:24 PM
Ok, I get the point. Will look for an appropriate shotgun and probably take one of the handguns for back up. Appreciate the candid feedback. If you think a 40 is not adequate, you have to keep in mind we went commando in 08. Traveled thru the Kanai [sp] Pen., up to Danale and then east on the Glen highway. We were truely unprepared in 08. That was the year of several spring attacks, even a few in and around Anchorage. That is why I am taking it seriously this time. Don't plan on going to Kodiac [hard to get to in an RV] but maybe on the next visit. This time we're going in the fall. I understand we will see more color and less snow.

We will be armed this time.

July 19, 2011, 05:06 PM
You're still statistically more likely to get hurt on the highway than on the trails, so don't worry too much about it. And obviously don't go around shooting bears on sight or something. 99% of the time you leave and they leave so everything's fine.

July 19, 2011, 06:17 PM
It's easy to get to Kodiak in an RV. Just drive on the ferry in Homer and drive off in Kodiak 11 hours later. The weather is quite a bit warmer here than on the mainland and the silver salmon fishing is hot until well into November, and it's beautiful. Buy a hunting/fishing license and catch some fish and bag a blacktail. It's worth the trip - at least you can say you got off the road system...



Cactus Jack Arizona
July 20, 2011, 02:21 AM
Funny, I don't worry about the reliability issues of a semi-auto here in the city. However, out in the wilds of Alaska, there is only one gun I'd take with me, the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan in .44 Magnum. Meeting up with a big mean hungry bear and becoming his meal would not be my idea of a nice relaxing vacation.

July 20, 2011, 05:13 AM
Of the choices you listed, I'd go with the .45 Colt. Check to see if your gun will handle the Buffalo Bore 325 grain SWC and load up. I'd also consider an 18 inch shotgun (12 gauge) as a staple. Just a legal FYI, if you are stopped by LE, your first words must be ones informing them of the weapon either on your person or in your car. Enjoy beautiful Alaska!


July 20, 2011, 10:34 AM
Take a shotgun. A handgun is just an excuse not to carry a real gun.

After 25 years of liveing and hunting in Alaska (much of it brown bear hunting) i have to agree with you.

Shotgun/slugs is a BIG step UP from a handgun, and personally i NEVER carried nor believed in carrying anything smaller than a 44mag. for bears. And after takeing a lot of big game with my 44 mags, all i can say is, you better do a LOT of practice with that 44 if you want it to be of any good when you need it!


jim goose
July 20, 2011, 03:29 PM
If you really have a concern, and wont feel safe enough to enjoy yourself, then do it right. 12 ga. Almost every handgun will leave you with a doubt.

July 20, 2011, 05:40 PM
Thanks for the info on the Kodiak ferry from Homer. Might have to do it on the next visit. Sounds great.

July 20, 2011, 06:08 PM
I agree with the shotgun and slugs along with bear spray. The scabbards are nice so is a good sling, always with you that way. If you have a slug gun already why not? Try this experiment....take the biggest handgun cartridge you're thinking of bringing and set it on a table....then take a 12 gauge 3 inch slug and set it next to the handgun cartridge.

Pick them up, feel the weight, compare the diameter and length then look up the foot pounds of energy delivered by them both. If you are objective about "bear protection" the choice will be crystal clear. A bear charging/mauling you or yours in wild country miles from medical help is as serious as it gets.

July 20, 2011, 06:09 PM
I'd take a Glock 20 with good FMJ or HC lead bullets, you'll want all the penetration you can get if you have to shoot a bear.

Something like this would be good...
Buffalo Bore would be my choice.

Or if you want to go wild, get yourself a Springfield Armory XD tactical .45 acp and get a .460 rowland conversion.

July 20, 2011, 06:58 PM
What ever I take, I have to get it on the plane in TN for the trip to Ak. Flying American Airlines, any advice? Have read their special baggage rules and guns have to be unloaded and locked in a hardsided case. Ammo preferred to be in original package. Also mentioned TSA approved locks. I checked out the locks and they are locks that apparently the TSA agents have master keys so they can inspect the package without cutting off the locks.

Never flew with a handgun or long gun. Help!!

July 20, 2011, 07:13 PM
I've never heard of a "TSA approved" lock. I just lock my guns up with any good lock, declare them on check-in and forget about it. I've never had a problem.

Beached Yankee
July 20, 2011, 07:16 PM
guncrafter #3 in .50

July 20, 2011, 07:20 PM
First I've ever heard of the TSA approved lock, but saw it on the AAlines baggage instructions. Found a couple at ace Hardware from the usual lock makers and they have a little Airplane logo/TSA mark on the package. I don't like the idea of something that some duffus with the TSA can unlock after it has been inspected and then locked at the ticket counter. Think I'll bring one just in case, but go ahead and use my usual pad lock.

Anything special about ammo? Or should I just wait and buy what I need in Anchorage?

July 20, 2011, 07:55 PM
The TSA locks aren't mandatory, some advise them because if they do, for some reason have to get into your bag, they are going to get in there. A TSA lock would prevent damage to your bag in that circumstance. My pistol case does not have TSA approved locks on it, never had a problem, except when not-so-bright ticket agents open the case and let everybody on the flight see that there's a gun in my bag.

July 20, 2011, 08:04 PM
Everyone is going to jump in and say "get the Brenneke super-wham slapper 4 inch magnum" (or whatever), but it's a lot more important that your slugs shoot to point of aim than have superior ballistics. Assuming your shotgun has the standard gold bead sight, then buy a couple different slugs and see where they shoot. Most of the hot slugs (in my experience) tend to shoot high. Take the slugs that shoot to point of aim in your shotgun and only those. You won't have time for Kentucky windage if you have to use your shotgun.

If your shotgun has adjustable sights, then by all means get the wham-slappers.

July 20, 2011, 08:08 PM
The TSA locks aren't mandatory, some advise them because if they do, for some reason have to get into your bag, they are going to get in there. A TSA lock would prevent damage to your bag in that circumstance.

A TSA lock might invite theft by TSA agents, so if they aren't mandatory I think I'll avoid them.

July 20, 2011, 08:40 PM
The hard sided gun case must be locked with standard NON-TSA locks in order to comply with Federal law. If you put the gun case inside a suitcase, the suitcase may optionally be locked with a TSA lock.

Federal regulations require that the owner of the firearm is the ONLY person to retain the key/combo to the lock on the gun case. If TSA asks you to turn over the key to them for "inspection", do not do it.... to do so would violate Federal regulations. You open the case for them.

July 20, 2011, 08:42 PM
So, there is actually a lot of different things going on in this discussion, and I'm glad to see a few other Alaskans chime in.

Briefly, on the TSA locks, just mentioned, Master Lock (and others) now make luggage locks that have a code on them that tells TSA officers which "master key" will open it. Those locks are now required to fly with firearms inside suitcases. If you use a hard sided gun case as an extra bag, then that's legit, too. I just did this back in May. They are all under 10 bucks, though.

As for the whole 45 pistol for bears thing...

I guess ANYTHING is better than NOTHING. But The US Fish & Wildlife conducted a study of bear attacks and published condensed findings in Fact Sheet No. 8, titled Bear Spray vs. Bullets, which can be downloaded in PDF by simply googling "us fish wildlife bear attack study" and clicking on the first return.

In short, bears are more likely to continue an attack when a firearm is used than when bear spray is used AND, injuries sustained by humans are greater and more serious when a firearm is used than when bear spray is used. I've come across many wildlife biologists in the field and I've never seen one armed with other than bear spray, although that may be linked to some company policy rather than professional choice.

I've carried a 44 revolver, 30-06 rifle, and a 12 ga for bears, but I find that, for backpacking and canoeing, fishing etc. the bear spray is much easier to carry. (CHEAPER TOO). I will also second other comments here that, unless you're very good with your chosen firearm, it won't do much good anyway. A far as ammo, it seems that everyone swears by the hard cast lead bullets. You are correct that PD hollow point rounds will not serve you well up here. Be advised however, if you use bear spray on an upwind bear, you're going to spray yourself as well.

Don't concern yourself with "public opinion" carrying a firearm up here in the outdoors; only an outsider for the lower 48 would even give you a second look.

I hope you enjoy your trip, and my final advice to you is take every normal precaution with food and with trail etiquette and you will likely have no problems. The lat time you were up must have been that 2008 year with so many attacks along Rovers Run in Anchorage; that was an odd summer.

July 20, 2011, 08:47 PM
Without any experience with bears, and offering an opinion just sitting here and reading all that has been said, have you considered a carbine rifle? Even a 30/30 levergun in a short barreled version with a sling can be easily carried without being too cumbersome. You could use a scabbord if you like them just as easy. I don't even think it would weigh a great deal more than a heavy high caliber pistol. A short rifle can be pretty quick when you need it and have a lot more punch than a handgun. I would bet better accuracy is easily achieved over a handgun.
Get the bear spray too! Good luck whatever you choose.

July 20, 2011, 09:06 PM
"The hard sided gun case must be locked with standard NON-TSA locks in order to comply with Federal law. If you put the gun case inside a suitcase, the suitcase may optionally be locked with a TSA lock.

Federal regulations require that the owner of the firearm is the ONLY person to retain the key/combo to the lock on the gun case. If TSA asks you to turn over the key to them for "inspection", do not do it.... to do so would violate Federal regulations. You open the case for them."

Concise and factually perfect, good post.

July 20, 2011, 09:12 PM
I'll second what fly2ak says - you're a lot more likely to have a bear nosing around your campsite trying to steal food than attacking you in the woods. So, the bear spray is a lot more likely to be used than a shotgun.

If you shoot a bear (justified or not), you've just screwed yourself for several days. You have to skin the bear and take the hide and head to the nearest F&G office. A good sized brown bear head and hide weighs 200 pounds, stinks a lot and is a huge PITA to deal with. You probably won't get in any legal trouble if the shooting is even marginally legitimate, but it will sure put a dent in the middle of your vacation. The spray will suffice for any bear nosing around your camp or "woofing" at you or whatever.

July 20, 2011, 10:07 PM

I CAN'T BELIEVE that I didn't think to post about that as well. As in any time one kills an animal, the real work begins AFTER you pull the trigger. (And yes, one can get in a lot of trouble up here for needlessly shooting a bear.)

July 20, 2011, 10:49 PM
Concise and factually perfect, good post.

And the proof:


49 CFR 1540.11:

§ 1540.111 Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals.

(c) In checked baggage. A passenger may not transport or offer for transport in checked baggage or in baggage carried in an inaccessible cargo hold under §1562.23 of this chapter:

(1) Any loaded firearm(s).

(2) Any unloaded firearm(s) unless—

(i) The passenger declares to the aircraft operator, either orally or in writing, before checking the baggage, that the passenger has a firearm in his or her bag and that it is unloaded;

(ii) The firearm is unloaded;

(iii) The firearm is carried in a hard-sided container; and

(iv) The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the passenger retains the key or combination.

(3) Any unauthorized explosive or incendiary.

(d) Ammunition. This section does not prohibit the carriage of ammunition in checked baggage or in the same container as a firearm. Title 49 CFR part 175 provides additional requirements governing carriage of ammunition on aircraft.

There is NO EXCEPTION to (iv) above that allows TSA to possess a key to the lock on the firearms case.

July 20, 2011, 10:49 PM
I'm on my 6th trip to AK next week. Currently i'm bringing a S&W 460V with a 5" barrel. I hand load 360 grain flat nose hard cast bullets. I don't hunt, but backpack throughout the state. As much as i love wildlife and especially Bears. I value my safety overall.

Bottom line is bring what you can shoot the best. The best $25 i ever spent to improve my knowledge in shooting was to pick up a book on ballistics.

My personal favorite is 45 caliber. Either pistol or rifle. something with more KO power Vs. smaller caliber with penetration. My opinion.

July 20, 2011, 10:59 PM
Indeed a rifle is more accurate, but the problem with a rifle is the ability to shoulder it in a hurry....... It just isn't going to happen.

So ask your self, will you really be carrying it in hand on the ready? probably not. and if so you'll not have a good hike and you'll look like a nut case.......or elmer fudd.

July 20, 2011, 11:31 PM
Correct on my last trip being in Spring of 08. Was aware of a couple attacks while there and read about the others after returning to the lower 48. When we planned our current trip, we both decided to be more prepared this time. Love Alaska, but would have to be there for a long time to get use to the bears. definitely would not shoot anything without extreme cause other than with a camera. The gun that I bring will be the one that I am most comfortable with. I couldn't practice enough with a 44mag between now and Sept to get comfortable with that cannon. If I shoot anything with a gun, it will be totally in self defense.

Several mention of bear spray. What is a good one and where is the best place to get it in Anchorage?

Since I have no idea how to skin a bear, I guess if it comes to that, I'll just have to call the troopers and throw myself on the mercy of the authorities. They'll know it was me that did the shooting, because I will be quivering against a tree, wearing a totally new pair of undies.

July 21, 2011, 12:02 AM
There are bear attacks every year. The ones in 08 just got more press since so many of them were in Anchorage. Don't worry about bears, just be prepared to deal with them. Since you're coming in September, most of the rivers will be still be choked with salmon so just avoid thick brush along streams.

July 21, 2011, 01:13 AM
Are moose a threat in September?


July 21, 2011, 01:25 AM
Counter Assault Bear Spray. You can buy it at either REI or Sportsman's Warehouse in Anchorage. Get the large can and the holster for it. It works just like a fire extinguisher, and it shoots about 20" I think. $55 at REI; they've gone up in price since I bought mine. (I have two cans-one for me, one for my girlfriend, cheaper than buying another gun.)



July 21, 2011, 01:29 AM
Moose are always dangerous-often times more so than the bears. Worse time for stompings is in the spring, when they are guarding their young. However, one winter, we had a moose on the of Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage campus stomp a blind man to death outside the library. Some kids had been throwing snowballs at it shortly before, and it was already p.o.'ed. One stomped an 8 yr old boy down the street from my house in 2006 because he rode his bike between the cow and her baby. They come up in our yards all of the time; we keep our distance.

Elm Creek Smith
July 21, 2011, 02:01 AM
I'd recommend HSM .45 Colt "Bear Loads," 300 grain JSPs that clock around 1100 fps out of my Ruger Bisley Vaquero 4 5/8 inch barrel. DON'T shoot these out of a Judge! If you want to use a .45 Colt with heavy loads, Ruger Redhawks, the older Blackhawks, Vaqueros, and Bisleys are good choices; not so the "New Vaqueros." You might also look at a Taurus Tracker in .45 Colt, .44 Magnum, .41 Magnum (all 5 shot only).

A heavy-loaded shotgun would be ideal; I suggest wearing a revolver for the "Oh, $#@t!" moments.


July 21, 2011, 03:44 AM
Take a shotgun. A handgun is just an excuse not to carry a real gun. ++. 12 gauge, the great equalizer.

July 21, 2011, 03:45 AM
That Taurus Judge would actually be a great all around survival weapon if you are decided on carrying a handgun, loaded up with Buffalo Bore standard pressure heavy .45 Long Colt for bears or other large predators, with a few rounds of .410 in your pocket, buckshot for smaller predators and birdshot for small game in a pinch.

July 21, 2011, 10:22 AM
Just ordered ammo from Buffalo Bore for both the 357 and 45 Judge as suggested by other posters. Understand that neither of these revolvers are optimal for Alaskan bears, but they are what I own and am comfortable with. The 357 mag ammo is the heavy 180 grain solid density and the 45 is standard pressure 225 grain solid density wadcutter, both from buffalo bore. Still working on the short barrel 12 g. and will pick up the bear spray upon arrival. Also having a good belt made for the holster of my 357 colt trooper mark III.

Want to thank all, especially the members from the great state of Alaska, for their comments. I believe that those who live it are the ones who give the best advice.

Now just as a precaution and the fact that my choice of weapons [at least the handguns] are on the very low end and not recommended by most for bear; WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED POINT OF AIM, should an attack take place? Realizing that this would all happen in a heart beat, its still always best to have a target rather than just throw lead. Each and every round has to go where it has the best chance of success.

July 21, 2011, 12:28 PM
Straight through the nose has the least bone between you and the bears brain. And... if the bear is coming at you, the nose is the center of mass - the head will be low and surrounded by lots of bear.


July 21, 2011, 01:22 PM
As I don't actually hunt bears myself, I don't know enough about their anatomy to advise on this one, but let me know how those buff bore rounds shoot in your 357; I am thinking of buying a box for my lever gun just to keep around cabin.

PS: speaking of ammo, bring your own ammo up with you (you can carry up to 4 pounds in checked baggage); ammunition (of every type and caliber-even 22LR) is comparatively expensive up here. The low end yellow/green box Remington and low end Winchester runs about $3 a box more than in the lower 48 and the better hunting cartridges (as in with Nosler or Barnes bullets) are even more of a price difference. I always bring ammo up with me when I visit the Lower 48.

Oh, last thing I just thought of, a good friend who always carries a 44 uses a shoulder holster that also holds 2 speed loaders (Eagle Creek is the manufacturer I think). The advantage there is that it works better with hip waders, and you can fish in deeper water while still keeping your gun dry. I've carried his rig canoeing, and the only other thing I added was a neck lanyard (similar to what the Brits and Canadian military used in the World Wars) as a last piece of safety. (If I ever get around to buying the Taurus Tracker I want, I'm having a lanyard loop added to the butt before I take it home.)

Carne Frio
July 21, 2011, 01:26 PM
Alaska Airlines and federal regulation allow for 11 pounds of ammo.
I also bring up hard to find ammo on every return trip.

July 21, 2011, 01:30 PM
That must be a very new modification; when I flew in May, it was 4 lbs. That's awesome news to hear, because 60 rounds of 30-06 takes up your 4 pounds.

July 21, 2011, 02:05 PM
Are moose a threat in September?

Moose are always a potential threat, more so in mating season though. But PLEASE don't shoot our moose! 99.9999% of the encounters are not hostile and even if one charges you, running off and dodging is the best defense. If you shoot one it's not going to die for a minute or so and will still have time to trample you. And it will almost certainly be unnecessary.

There was a fatal incident at UAA years ago but the victim waltzed right up to a highly agitated cow with calves. I've been charged many times and running plus dodging is the best defense. Even when a bull had tines pointed at me and hackels up, when I jumped off into the devil's club he ran past. Everyone here gets charged eventually. It's usually a cow huffing and stomping towards you, and she just wants you gone so you get gone. Standing your ground and shooting her is not kosher.

Besides, the legal implications of shooting a MOOSE are quite distinct from shooting a BEAR. Everybody gets charged by moose here, we live with them. And people eat them so a moose you shoot is a moose that won't be on the table. Shooting a moose in alleged DLP is a lot closer to poaching. Or like shooting someone's prized bull because it charges you.

I can see only two true justifications for moose shooting in DLP--if it's charging a child or if it's actually kicking you.

It's just the spice of life around here.

July 21, 2011, 02:12 PM
Read this thread and try to understand how quickly bear attacks unfold. If a brown/grizzly decides to take you down it happens in the blink of an eye and without warning. They don't puff up and and roar at you, they don't give you any warning at all. If you feel safer wearing a handgun in camp then go for it, but really, the way it happens is that you'll hear some breaking brush and turn to see a bear rushing you from 15 or 20 yards away. They move at 40 miles per hour. You won't have time to draw a handgun.

The bear that does puff up and roar at you isn't a real threat. He's like a rattlesnake telling you not to get any closer. So don't get any closer, just back away slowly and you'll be fine. Real attacks don't happen like that and that's not just my experience, it's the experience of many people I've talked to who have experienced the real deal. Forget the handguns.


July 21, 2011, 02:18 PM
The bear that does puff up and roar at you isn't a real threat. He's like a rattlesnake telling you not to get any closer.

Well, the agitated bear is a real threat, but he's a threat that can usually be avoided. There have been incidents when folks ignore the warnings or get in the wrong spot at the wrong time with an agitated sow. The fellow who lost his eyes a few years back was one. Or folks on mountain bikes moving too fast to notice the huffing sow who got knocked around.

July 21, 2011, 02:43 PM
My two oldest sons are headed to Alaska this fall. Sending them a Casull and a S&W 50. They will be near Ft. Wainwright and hopefully away from bear concentrations.

July 21, 2011, 02:50 PM
My two oldest sons are headed to Alaska this fall. Sending them a Casull and a S&W 50. They will be near Ft. Wainwright and hopefully away from bear concentrations.
Off the top of my head those would be my choices as well.

July 21, 2011, 05:58 PM
We have handguns that kill like .375 H&H rifles. For instance, .500JRH, 500 S&
@, .500 Linebaugh, both small and maximum, and the .475 Linebaughs.
You can buy a .475 Linebaugh from BFR for under a 1000 dollars, and, will have an excellent, portable, packable gun for Alaska.

Don't bring a knife to a gunfight.

The National Park folks recommend a .458 Winchester rifle as number one, with the .375 H&H and 12 gauge with the right slugs a bit further down the list.

Two BIG bears taken by guys from around here both took 11 rounds of .375 H&H
to finally stop moving, each.

For perspective:


These are NOT pitbulls.

July 21, 2011, 07:40 PM
If you have a shotgun, I'd bring it along with slugs. If not, I'd bring you biggest caliber rifle. Failing that, if all own are handguns, I'd go with the biggest one and shoot +P solids from someone like buffalo bore. If you want to get something new, I'd go with a 44 magnum myself as a back up. You can practice with 44 special loads. Also, I would definately practice. Only hits count.

Shadow 7D
July 22, 2011, 02:59 AM
Kodiak can expound on this if he chooses, but I for one don't suggest a HANDGUN, if you wish something that size,

as it is PROVEN MORE effective than handguns...

really, bear spray and a proper sense of paranoia will do you more good than blasting some poor bear you happen upon.
and don't forget your Bear Bells...

cerberus arms
July 22, 2011, 03:11 AM
the 45 cal Glock should do the job..

July 22, 2011, 09:21 AM
the 45 cal Glock should do the job.. No.

Bear are big tough animals. You want something that has a high sectional density for good penetration. .45acp is not it.

July 22, 2011, 09:50 AM
Kodiak B - Wow, just went thru your thread on the attack. I knew I was hearing from someone with experience but had based that on where you live and the nature of your comments. Your story puts a whole new and quite vivid perspective to your feedback to my questions. I know I have to sound like a 12 year old cub scout when I think about the naive nature of the thread I started. We all have to start from where are and I'm just a return visitor from the midwest. With that said, I at least had the foresight to reach out for advice concerning our return visit. While others have provided helpful advice, your unique experience brings the whole subject of SD in bear country to a high-definition quality perspective. Thanks for sharing all and I have received more than I ever could have hoped for when I started this thread.

Getting back to my initial question now, I totally understand the inadequate nature of the 357 and 45 even with the heavy loads that I have ordered. I will however have accomplished my objective in having an option other than throwing rocks and rolling up in a ball however ineffective that option may prove to be. Clearly the answer to all of this is to be smart and do everything to avoid surprising a big bear, creating an environment in camp that would attract one, and the best defenses to increase your odds should an incident occur. Avoidance is clearly the #1 - #10 best advice. A gun response is well down the line and is something to be avoided almost at any cost. My wife and I have about 6 weeks before heading north. We will use that time to think about all that has been said and developing a strategy relative to what we have learned from this thread. Practice practice practice in getting that gun in hand and on target so that we have at least a fighting chance in the rare event of an incident.

Now moving on to finding the best way to ship the bear spray back as I am hopeful of not having to deploy it on the trip. Hate to spend $100 and have to leave it behind. We have bears in the neighboring smokey mountains where we visit often.

July 22, 2011, 10:04 AM
the 45 cal Glock should do the job..
A .45 ACP against huge bear?? Not me!!

BTW, frankly, I'm getting a bit tired of all this "Glock Love". They're good firearms but, come on, they aren't "All That", IMHO.

July 22, 2011, 12:18 PM
the 45 cal Glock should do the job..

Yeah, sure...


July 22, 2011, 12:24 PM
Bassdogs, don't let bearanoia spoil your Alaska trip. Just make sure your shotgun has slugs that shoot to point of aim. And there's nothing wrong with having a handgun around especially in camp, and in the environs of Los Anchorage.

The odds are very low that you will have any problems more serious than some bear nosing around your campsite.

July 22, 2011, 02:03 PM
First problem is how to get it there.
Next having live in Alaska for 6 years, first time there was in 1959 - drive up, yes it was NOT paved as it is now for the less non brave. (ha)
A good friend Shorty Powers, an old time Alaskan & guide carried a Fox 410 cut down to be a hand held self protection weapon. Ihad Jack Shine an Alaskan gun smith make me one. Best thing I ever did. He added a few extra, like a place to carry extra ammo. Worn it like a pistol on my hip. It will stop a charging Moose. Shrty assure me it will stop a bear. I had no readon to doubt him. He also has the only bloodhounds (at that time ) in Alaska, so he travel the state lots. By the end of my next tour 1972 to 1975 I had travel most of the state, would go back anytime.

September 23, 2011, 12:55 PM
Great trip. Returned to lower 48 [KY] yesterday after 16 days and 1800 miles [motorhome] in Ak. Saw bears from a distance and 3 dead [hunters along the Denali Hwy] but no personal incidents. Camped just a few miles from the recent mauling of a hunter on the Denali. We were in a gravel pit turnout east of Paxson just a few days before that incident. That hunter got one shot off before being overran. Apparently he returned down a game trail and inadvertently came in on a moose kill. Survived after boat rescue and heli to Ak

Anyone who enjoys the outdoors needs to schedule a visit to ALASKA. It is truly the last American frontier. Don't go if you need amusement parks or shows to be entertained. Don't go if you are bored by miles [thousands] of unmarked wild bush as far as the eye can see. Don't go if you are bored by snow capped mountains and Moose / Caribou / Bear / etc walking across the few roads you will find. Already planning our next trip. Next time my newly acquired Rem 870 18" 12g will be making the trip.

PS: Flying with a handgun is for the most part a non event if you follow the rules. Hardsided locked case with unloaded firearm and ammo locked inside.

September 23, 2011, 01:07 PM
One pof the execs at a company where I worked went on a guided fishing trip to Alska many years ago. He showed some photos and I noticed that the guide was holding a rifle in one hand and a rod in the other. The exc told me thahn when he asked the guide what he would do ih saw the bear the guide replied "I would drop the rod". The rifle was a Win M70 in 458 Magnum.
Two years ago while on a tour of Alaska I sytopped into the local hardware store/gunshops and found that the smalest caliber rifle omn display was a 338 Win Mag.
If I were to go hoofing in the wilds of Alaska I would take a short barreled Rem 870 with slugs.

September 24, 2011, 04:03 PM
the 45 cal Glock should do the job..

NO If you do use a 45ACP, file the sights off so it won't hurt as much when the bears shows you where to shove it.
My vote is for Rem870 12 gauge with good slugs. Not buck shot. I never leave home without my 454 casull.(ccw) But when in bear country it will always be my 870.

September 25, 2011, 03:02 PM
I see your Glock as a viable SECOND gun to a pistol griped 12 bore that you have shot a bunch.

I used to do a great deal of shooting with one [ armored truck ] and I practiced from the hip and from the shoulder [ as if shooting a pistol ] and I got pretty good with it.

The choice om ammo would be the heaviest you can shoot AND hit with.

As with the 12 bore,the pistol with those 180 grainers is very stout.

I would carry the 12 bore on a sling in back of the shoulder,and the pistol is to NEVER come off your person.

Good luck and remember,you cannot shoot to stop ANYTHING if your not facing and AIMING !..

Revolver Ocelot
September 26, 2011, 11:59 AM
I live in alaska, I have heard of bears being taken with as little as a 357 magnum but for self defense a 44 should be bare minimum. This may be the excuse you need for the wife to let you get a ruger srh alaskan ;) . If you have one the a 12ga with the proper ammo will do the trick just fine.

Deaf Smith
September 26, 2011, 10:50 PM
If I go to Alaska, I'll just take my 4 inch 629-1 and my 18 inch Mossberg Mariner with Berneke 12 gauge Black Magic slugs.


Calibre: 12 GA 3”
Weight: 1 3/8oz, 600 grs, 39g
Game: elk, deer, wild boar, coyote, bear
barrel: smooth and rifled
chokes: all
range: up to 100 yards

Chronos out at 1500 fps.

And then enjoy the great state of Alaska.


September 27, 2011, 09:31 AM
I'm sure this is nothing new to most folks here but... if I was going to use 12ga slugs in defense against a big bear I'd seriously consider the steel slugs from DDupleks (Hexolit 32). These don't deform so they should have far better penetration through thick skin and bone. I've heard rumors that these are no longer imported but I don't know if that's true. I bought a few just in case.

September 27, 2011, 11:03 AM
I read the post that stated that a bear will attack too fast to draw a handgun.

Sorry but not doing or preparing for an attack is against my nature.

I will prepare as best I can and then pray that I dont find out how good ---- or bad I am.

But I will carry the best hardware and the best ammunition and PRACTICE,PRACTICE,PRACTICE.

btw to all who are planning on bothering to carry a handgun,I am very fond of the chest carry that I got from El Paso Saddlery as they will make it for any gun you want.

Mine is a Ruger Blackhawk in .44 magnum w/ a 4 3/4" barrel loaded with Buffalo Bore 305 grain magnums.

September 27, 2011, 11:05 AM
bear spray and a north american bfr 45/70 revolver

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