Bear medicine/ Alaska/ Hunting or SD


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wwace
April 22, 2012, 07:39 AM
Ok, I have read a bunch of threads with quite a bit of lousy information about bears, Alaska hunting or self defense including calibers, firearms and bullets. The following is my opinion based on personal knowledge and first person related experience.

A bear can be very easy or hard to kill, it all depends on bullet placement and the state of adrenaline of the bear. A very determined bear who is not broken down or CNS hit is literally not going to stop until it is dead. There are tales of kids killing Brownies with .22 long rifle and I have seen a grizzly shot a dozen times with .338 & 30-06, they are always unpredictable.

Hunting:

Rifles: Any modern 7mm or larger caliber with a properly constructed bullet of 160grains or larger is fine for hunting in Alaska unless you are specifically after a coastal Brownie or Kodiak. If you are after the larger bears take at least a 30-06 if you cannot handle a .338 win mag. You do not need anything larger but if you like them calibers up to .416 are ok. Your guide will most likely look at you funny if you show up with a 458 as they are brutal. Do not bring a rifle you cannot shoot well and trust with your life and the lives of your party.

SuperUltraDuperListicMagnums: The short answer is they are not needed for Alaskan game, you are much more likely to be unable to shoot one of these portable cannons consistently.

Action: A good reliable bolt action is the best without any doubt, CRF is adviseable and I highly recommend it. Most hunters here do not use doubles but if I was guiding you I would not be unhappy if you showed up with a single shot Ruger #1. Semi auto, pump and lever actions all have too many moving parts to be considered in my opinion. None of these actions are 100% reliable in Alaskan conditions in rifle calibers.

Sights/Scopes: If you are hunting bears specifically then a low power scope such as a 1.5x5 is usually best. This is what I have used for over 20 years. I would also recommend that your rifle be equipped with iron sights and you have quick detach scope mounts. If you are hunting moose or caribou etc then a 3x9 or 4x12 or something similar is all you need. Spend some money and get quality glass , same with binoculars. You do not need $1000 + optics though they are nice if you can afford them. Personally I use Leupold, Nikon and Burris.

Ammunition: Modern bonded bullets with controlled expansion and high bullet weight retention will work best. Bullets that do not penetrate well will not kill anything here well, bears especially so. My favorites are TBBC, Swift A frames and Accubonds. I do not like Barnes TSX type bullets as I have witnessed very poor performance from them and I do not allow them in my camp.
Solids: You want penetration but this is one case where a solid may not have very good results. If you hit a bear with one and it does not hit the vitals or bone it may have little or no effect on the bear.

Shot Placement: This is the key factor with bears. If you do not hit CNS, vital organs or major bones you just piss off the bear more. Study how bears are built and learn proper placement. Viewed from the side divide him in half and hit him dead center of front half, front leg forward if possible you should shoot halfway up just at rear of leg. High or low shots will have poor results unless you spine him. If you are being charged and the range is close you basically aim at the nose. This is a tough shot, most people are going to have trouble hitting a bear doing 25mph or more and bouncing around until it is close. Ten yards is about your last chance of avoiding getting chewed on.

Self Defense: Each year many bears are shot in defense of life and property here in Alaska. And many more are killed that go unreported for various reasons I will not get into. Do not make the mistake of thinking a Black Bear cannot be dangerous. I had a friend killed and partially eaten by one that weighed about 150lbs. Any bear can be dangerous. I recommend that you always carry bear spray at minimum, even if you are hiking or biking on the edge of town. If you are out in the boonies I highly suggest a firearm as well.
Always have proper training and follow instructions and common sense with pepper spray and firearms. The following are my opinions as to what I would use:

1 12 gauge pump with slugs or slugs/00 buckshot. I have seen several thread where 12ga slugs were disregarded for bear protection because of poor penetration. This is ridiculous. A decent 12 gauge slug will penetrate a bear nearly end to end and is the single best round for close in bear stopping. For smaller bears buckshot also works well doing lots of damage but for the big guys you basically want slugs.

2 Large caliber rifle with quality bullets, expansion must be controlled or you will not get adequate penetration. I still prefer a bolt action for self defense for the same reasons I hunt with one, they work. If all you have is a lever action please use hard cast bullets or they will do little in the way of penetration.

3 Any other rifle, any rifle will do in a pinch, many bears have been killed by the Eskimo people with nothing more than a 222 Remington, but then again they knew what they were doing.

4 Large caliber revolver, 44mag or up loaded with hard cast lead works with the right placement, be practiced with your gun.

5 Any other handgun, 357 mag, 10mm best but any gun is better than nothing. You may not want hollowpoints here.

Remember in any case that if you are being charged and you kill a bear your story will be investigated. Many bears bluff charge to 6 or 7 yards, you need to analyze the situation quickly and correctly and make the proper decisions under great duress. An aggressive bear at close range will test you and your undies.

So in summary for Alaska and anywhere else for that matter it is best to use what works and has always worked. The widely used .338 winmag is the most popular rifle in Alaska. Stay with reasonable velocities and quality ammunition. You do not need some boutique AR caliber to shoot a bear with. Most people here would laugh at you if you showed up with one. Same goes for lever and pump actions, we tend to look at these as deer rifles and not use them here. I have one friend who has always used a BAR 338 even though it has had problems several times. Not me, I will stay with a Mauser type action for hunting and the 12 ga for specific defense work.

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hardluk1
April 22, 2012, 08:24 AM
Since this covers Defence against browns Wheres the bear spray. Hunting around the grizzly line in general. 338 or larger caliber and a backup with maybe something heavier in someones hands. If sight seeing and fishing 45/70 with hardcast of 405 gr +in a lever rifle or short barrel 12ga slugs. I will leave the pistol home. Probably dupo solids in the slug gun.

SimplyChad
April 22, 2012, 09:02 AM
How bad of a choice is a 45-70 throwing a 400 gr pill when it comes to bears?

wwace
April 22, 2012, 09:10 PM
Read under Self Defense where I ALWAYS recommend you carry bear spray, then again I always have a firearm if possible.

If you are determined to use a 45/70 please use hard cast lead that will penetrate. You also want more than 2000 fps.

hogshead
April 22, 2012, 09:26 PM
Confused first you say pumps are not reliable or tough enough for Alaska hunting then you recommend a pump shotgun for defense. Then you recommend a 30-06 but no lever guns. Give me a lever action 444,45-70 or 450. You obviously have never hunted with any of these inferior cartridges and seen what they will do.

wwace
April 23, 2012, 05:18 AM
I recommend a pump shotgun because they do not make a 6 or 7 barrel shotgun. If I thought 2 shots were enough for self defense from bears I would have recommended a double barrel. A pump is the only way to get a sufficient amount of ammo for a possible encounter. As a matter of fact I would use a semi auto shotgun with 4 or 5 shots before I used a lever action or any rifle type in defense of life or property. I do own several very reliable semi autos.

As I said, if you own an appropriate caliber lever action with quality bullets go for it. I just think there are better options. Most people who venture out into the sticks are not the Rifleman. These guns kick like mules amped up on Red Bull. Try and hit a charging dinner plate at 30mph sometime repeatedly. This doesn't even take into account the very complicated action. Tubular magazines are easy to jam, say a little water seeps in and freezes, you now have a single shot. The loading gate can get stuck or break. The lifting block can jam on a twig (we have tough twigs). You cannot exert the same amount of energy on a lever action as you can on a pump to overcome minor stickiness. A simple CRF bolt action rifle is better, always has been, always will be.

I have only seen a couple of animals shot with lever action rifles, several deer in AZ and one caribou by the Canadian border in November 1991. The deer were pretty much wasted (30-30's). The caribou was shot with a 444. I was watching two nice bulls when a guy rides up on his Skidoo and drops off his buddy with his levergun. This guy started shooting at one of the bulls and it was the grossest thing I have ever witnessed hunting. First shot hit a foreleg low breaking it, second missed, third hit it right in the right rear ham, blood showered for at least 40 feet. The next shot missed, the fifth shot hit right rear ankle, by this time I was screaming at the guy. He finally managed to kill it somehow. To this day I kick myself for not shooting that poor animal and putting it out of its misery. He was using soft nose that just splattered when they hit. Oh yeah, the range was maybe 90 yards at a standing animal. He was fighting the action between shots but it was a little cold, only -35.

hardluk1
April 23, 2012, 07:34 AM
It simple pays to know your firearm and use a lube to a minimum that does not freeze . You can't say a lever rifle is not good if a hunter has used one for many years and has the bullet and cartidge for the job. Freezing and icey weather does not fly any better with a pump shot gun than a lever or bolt rifle if not prep'd for cold weather.

Let a hunter go to way northern canada for deer season when its 10 below for a week of snow then some what warm camp at night and with the wrong lube and lack of prep to your firearms or a bolt rifle a lever ora pump shotgun can become a single shot. The typical grizzly season in alaska is somewaht nice weather that deer season in many states or in canada. Fishing season too.

Maybe a good thing you did not help finish that caribou. That hunter might have gotten all bent out of shape over that.

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
April 23, 2012, 07:15 PM
As far as your story with the guy using the .444 on the Caribou, that was in no way the rifles fault. That was all the fault of the shooter and his piss poor marksmanship. I've dropped Elk at 150 yards with a .30/30 and the same with a .444. Leverguns have been used in Alaska and Canada since they where invented. Don't know where you hunt in Alaska but everywhere I have hunted the grand state I have hunted with an old levergun of some sort just about every time. Never been laughed at or anything of the sort for packing in with a light, maneuverable, easy to shoulder, and most of all dependable firearm. Never had one lock up on me but I have enough common sense to protect my firearm when packing through the thick stuff. Most people do.

As far as your Bear defense, pretty much spot on correct.

DM~
April 23, 2012, 09:36 PM
Ok, I have read a bunch of threads with quite a bit of lousy information about bears, Alaska hunting or self defense including calibers, firearms and bullets. The following is my opinion based on personal knowledge and first person related experience.


I'm just wondering, are you a guide? Just how much big bear experience do you have? Or are just a guy that likes to hunt and have some opinions??

DM

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
April 23, 2012, 11:07 PM
Forgot one thing, your theory about a Mauser type action being "the best" choice is absurd. Why do you think the Canadian Rangers chose the Enfield action over Mauser? Because of freezeup. The Mauser action, while my favorite of all bolt actions, is subject to freezing up quite a bit more than an Enfield action. Many bolt handles have been broken off Mauser actions trying to slam them open because they were frozen solid.

wwace
April 24, 2012, 07:24 AM
I'm not a guide, but our hunting camp makes it seem as if I am. I have hunted in Ak for over 40 years. I do have friends who used to guide though, one of whom guided over 100 Brown bear hunts. Hunting bears or running into one when hunting other game tends to be quite different than running into one in your front yard or when fishing etc. and that is some of what I was trying to point out along with the self defense basics.

My outline of recommendations is just my opinions, nothing more. Experience with your personal weapons is far more important than what the weapon actually is. If you only use lever actions and yours is very reliable, fine, it is just not what I would use. Your marksmanship and field craft are what count when you are alone, if you are on a guided hunt these factors are not as important as your guide will make up for your lack of either. (hopefully)

Also let me say this, my position on bears today is 100% non confrontational, I try to leave them alone and hope for the same in return. I do not hunt them specifically any more. It just so happens that every once in a while you have to deal with a problem. Experience is hard to come by first hand with bears, the more you share knowledge the better informed we all are in the end.

wwace
April 24, 2012, 08:10 AM
Forgot one thing, your theory about a Mauser type action being "the best" choice is absurd. Why do you think the Canadian Rangers chose the Enfield action over Mauser? Because of freezeup. The Mauser action, while my favorite of all bolt actions, is subject to freezing up quite a bit more than an Enfield action. Many bolt handles have been broken off Mauser actions trying to slam them open because they were frozen solid.
The last Enfield I picked up had a sticky action, this can happen to any rifle. I am not saying the Enfield isn't a great rifle, it is, it's just that most modern rifles are either Mauser derived or push feeds like Remington. As far as my choice being absurd I don't think so. CRF actions are recommended more for dangerous game unless you use a double, which are rare here.

I used a push fed Sako 338 for 20 years, great rifle, just not as safe as CRF. That and they have a horrible safety, you shouldn't carry that gun with a round chambered. Last year I got a new Model 70, now that is a nice rifle. I was really impressed with it, great trigger and very accurate. 375 H&H FTW.

wwace
April 24, 2012, 08:18 AM
As far as your story with the guy using the .444 on the Caribou, that was in no way the rifles fault. That was all the fault of the shooter and his piss poor marksmanship. I've dropped Elk at 150 yards with a .30/30 and the same with a .444. Leverguns have been used in Alaska and Canada since they where invented. Don't know where you hunt in Alaska but everywhere I have hunted the grand state I have hunted with an old levergun of some sort just about every time. Never been laughed at or anything of the sort for packing in with a light, maneuverable, easy to shoulder, and most of all dependable firearm. Never had one lock up on me but I have enough common sense to protect my firearm when packing through the thick stuff. Most people do.

As far as your Bear defense, pretty much spot on correct.
I know the shooter was at fault in the caribou event, and we have better ammunition now too. And if you are hunting in the cold I suggest you run your gun dry if it will do so. Synthetics are pretty good if not.

And yes, most guides will expect you to show up with a scoped bolt action rifle, my laughed at comment was tongue in cheek. I knew of some natives down by Lake Clark who used to shoot bears with a 30-30, it is what they had and their personal experience trumps weapon choice.

Flintknapper
April 24, 2012, 08:20 AM
DM wrote:
I'm just wondering, are you a guide? Just how much big bear experience do you have? Or are just a guy that likes to hunt and have some opinions??

WWACE replied:
I'm not a guide, but our hunting camp makes it seem as if I am.

WWACE previously wrote:
Ammunition: Modern bonded bullets with controlled expansion and high bullet weight retention will work best. Bullets that do not penetrate well will not kill anything here well, bears especially so. My favorites are TBBC, Swift A frames and Accubonds. I do not like Barnes TSX type bullets as I have witnessed very poor performance from them and I do not allow them in my camp.


To not be a guide (nothing wrong with that), you have amazing control over the camp…I must say. ;) :D

Can you please elaborate on the “poor performance” of the Barnes TSX. I am not disputing it….just very surprised and wondering what kind of sample number we are talking about.

Thanks,

Flint.

DM~
April 24, 2012, 11:30 AM
My outline of recommendations is just my opinions, nothing more. Experience with your personal weapons is far more important than what the weapon actually is.


I'm glad you said that, because my extensive hunting experience in Alaska, much of it for brown bear, has left me with many different opinions from your first post.

DM

jmr40
April 24, 2012, 11:41 AM
Confused first you say pumps are not reliable or tough enough for Alaska hunting then you recommend a pump shotgun for defense. Then you recommend a 30-06 but no lever guns. Give me a lever action 444,45-70 or 450. You obviously have never hunted with any of these inferior cartridges and seen what they will do.

Simply put levers are the most complex, heaviest and least reliable of all repeaters. A bolt rifle is the least complex, lightest and most reliable of all repeaters. If you think you can get off aimed repeat shots faster with a lever action chambered in these rounds you are sadly mistaken.

The 444, 45-70, and 450 will work, and if you want to play John Wayne with your rifles you are certainly welcome to do so. But there have been multiple tests done that conclude that a 30-06 loaded with quality 200+ gr bullets actually outperform the big bore lever chamberings, and do it with 1/2 the recoil, and in lighter more compact rifles.

wwace
April 25, 2012, 01:03 AM
DM wrote:


WWACE replied:


WWACE previously wrote:


To not be a guide (nothing wrong with that), you have amazing control over the camp…I must say. ;) :D

Can you please elaborate on the “poor performance” of the Barnes TSX. I am not disputing it….just very surprised and wondering what kind of sample number we are talking about.

Thanks,

Flint.
My control may just be my imagination as I built the place with my relatives some 40 years ago and I provide all the transport, food etc. I like to exhibit control over areas of my expertise, mostly cooking lol but I am usually the most knowledgeable about weaponry.

I guess I can at least tell the story regarding the Barnes fiasco.

One of my guests used them last year in Federal premium Tripleshock 338 winmag, 225gr, he was shooting a nice Weatherby with a good scope. I put him on a nice Caribou bull we were lucky enough to be in a close enough position to intercept. The bull popped up on a little ridge around 100 yds from us and a few cows soon got out of the line of fire and I gave the ok to shoot. My guest (friend of a friend) shot a couple of times with no effect, he was resting against a small tree which was affecting his shooting I guess, 3rd shot and the bull walked off the ridge out of view for the moment. I knew he had hit it I just didn't know where. Now mind you this is the same guy who the previous year put 2 bullets into a moose about an inch apart at a couple of hundred yards with the same rifle, different ammo. We ran over, crossing a gully, and got up where the bull was last seen. We found the bull standing in a draw about 30 yards away in some "nice" brush. Well he walks over a bit closer and fires at the bull hitting him in the backstrap due to the angle to reach the vitals and the caribou dropped but was still very much alive so I yelled at him to shoot again. This shot was in the neck at which the poor animal finally succumbed.

By this time I am thoroughly pissed off, disgusted with everything, it is hot as hell, a zillion biting flies and gnats decided to join (have) us for lunch and the animal is in a hole in 8 ft tall alders. We went down and gutted him but at the time it was so miserable I didn't really pay attention to the hits. I had watched the last two strike and there was a wound low in the vitals, no exit. We walked a mile back to where we had left an ATV and retrieved the bull, took him back to camp and hung, skinned and quartered him. The shooter was thoroughly berated (not entirely in jest) for ruining the backstrap multiple times but he was happy to get a good animal as the caribou were really scarce in our vicinity.

Well, after another week we made our way home and started butchering a couple of days later. When we got to the right front quarter of the boo one of the guys found the bullet which hit the neck and showed it to us. I was shocked. Now mind you it looked great, petals opened up well and everything. The problem was in penetrated all of 2 or maybe 2 1/2 inches. I looked at the wound and was amazed at how shallow it was. At this point i interrogated the shooter who was present on what type of ammo he was using. I personally witnessed the shot, sounded normal, range was around 10 or 12 yards, from a 338 win mag. Yep I was both shocked and in disbelief. Then and there i threw a fit and banned Barnes bullets from my camp.

So yeah it was then I had my Edison moment and realized the the Barnes X bullets were opening prematurely. Two or at most 3 inches penetration from a 338 is shameful on a caribou neck. I am of the opinion that the other hits did not reach the vitals. I have killed quite a few caribou and they are generally simple to kill. I wish I had payed more attention during the autopsy but we usually do not pay much attention to these things. I wrote Federal and Barnes both but I guess they did not like my choice of wording.

wwace
April 25, 2012, 01:31 AM
I'm glad you said that, because my extensive hunting experience in Alaska, much of it for brown bear, has left me with many different opinions from your first post.

DM
Ooh, please tell stories and add your input, I encourage everyone with bear experience to post advice or just hunting stories. Peace

Alaska444
April 25, 2012, 01:33 AM
Ahhhhrg, someone picking on the .444 again. That was not the rifle's fault the hunter didn't prep it right and could not hit anything with it with the wrong bullets. My .444 can group in an inch and a half at 100 yards with my Skinner Sight, no scope. Great, powerful and accurate rifle in the right hands. It is my choice for a woods gun up in Idaho.

Granted, we really don't get 35 below up there in most places in Idaho, but it does get wet, cold, snowy and rainy like the panhandle region of Alaska. Lever rifles are great brush guns. If you are in northern Alaska with more open space, the bolt action high powered rifles starting with .338 magnum are the usual starting points for most guides from all I have heard and read.

I also went with a .300 WSM Browning BLR which is another option not noted here yet. The BLR has the accuracy of the bolt actions and it gives the option of rapid followup shots in a self defense situation against a bear. The BLR is my elk rifle for Idaho.

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
April 25, 2012, 02:24 AM
wwace, I have heard both extremes regarding the Barns X bullets. Premature opening and not opening at all. And then I have also heard some very high praises as well. ALL bullets will have faults at one time or another. Simple physics dictates that no one thing can be perfectly repeated at any time. You can come close, but the passage of time itself keeps from perfect copying. Different angles, hide thickness, hell, even just the simple will of the animal itself will make each and every shot different to one degree or another.

Simply put levers are the most complex, heaviest and least reliable of all repeaters. A bolt rifle is the least complex, lightest and most reliable of all repeaters. If you think you can get off aimed repeat shots faster with a lever action chambered in these rounds you are sadly mistaken.

Horse pucky to most all of that statement right there. My Marlins are the lightest rifles I own (except for a couple of Savage bolters with synthetic furniture but just by a few ounces) and trust me, I own a LOT of rifles. Bolts actions are a bit less complex in the works but they are no more reliable than a lever action in the hands of someone that actually knows what they are doing. And as far as follow up speed, I can bet you any day of the week I will be faster on followup with one of my .30/30's than ANY bolt action .30cal I own including my Enfields which I am extremely fast on. You sir are the one that is sadly mistaken there.

Art Eatman
April 25, 2012, 09:08 AM
Comparative cycling times depend a lot on the amount of practice for operating at speed. Let's not get off to wandering around in that arena, okay?

Me, I'd likely rank as slow, and for a very good reason. Think about it. :D

WardenWolf
April 25, 2012, 09:29 AM
There's always the Russian way with a scoped Mosin Nagant and a ~200 grain soft point. Brute force? Maybe. But it will get the job done. And you KNOW those rifles won't lock up in the cold.

Regarding distrust of leverguns, semi-autos, etc., it's entirely a case-by-case situation. Some gun designs are more prone to problems than others. You have to know your weapon, and the environment. Preparing a firearm for extreme cold might include a thorough degreasing and relubricating with a more suitable oil, for example. It's really no different than preparing your car for those same conditions.

Sav .250
April 25, 2012, 10:04 AM
Just curious, how many big bears have you killed in Alaska? If I missed it, my apologies.

Flintknapper
April 25, 2012, 10:50 AM
Sir, if I understand you correctly…you have “banned” Barnes TSX bullets from your camp based on the performance on exactly one animal (some of the shots of which you admit you don’t know either the placement or penetration)?

The other shot (neck shot) is reported to have penetrated no more than 3”, though the recovered bullet was said to be intact (petals opened).

It is truly hard to imagine that a TSX fired from a .338 Win Mag at a distance of 30 feet would penetrate no farther than what could be expected of a .22 rimfire, but I will take your word for it.

Oddly enough, I just finished watching a show on TV where a guy shot a Caribou using a .300 Win Mag and 180 gr. Accubond bullets (one your preferred bullets) from a distance of approximately 130 yds (according to narration).

At the first shot (perfectly placed tight behind the shoulder) the animal never even flinched (no kidding). The guide and hunter both watched the Boo a few seconds and determined to shoot it again.

The hunter shot once more…and you could clearly see the hide ripple from the impact (another perfect shot), this time the animal slowly walked off (after just standing there for a bit) and eventually toppled over.

Now, you and I both know that the 300 Win Mag delivers plenty of power (under 400 yds) for Caribou and the Accubond is an excellent bullet.

But if we were to use this one (odd) example to demonstrate the apparent lack of ability of the round to drop an animal, it would (at best) be intellectually dishonest of us IMO.

The TSX is actually designed to open quickly, but generally achieves good penetration as well…..by virtue of the sharp petals “cutting” (not pushing) their way through flesh, combined with the tendency of the bullet to retain nearly all (if not all) of its weight.

If the TSX is known for anything…its penetration.

But, my point is this:

Even if the occasional anomaly happens (poor bullet performance due to whatever circumstance) is it really fair to judge (and subsequently BAN) it based on such a small sampling?

Likewise, the story about the guy shooting the Caribou (all around the edges) with the 444 lever gun!

Presumably, they (lever guns) are banned from the camp as well? Though the cartridge and rifle action are well proven elsewhere.

Nothing wrong with having strong opinions about what constitutes proper gear for a given task, but before dismissing any one group….perhaps a stronger argument could be made…than simply ‘I saw this happen one time’.

I do value your experience and Thank You for relating it here…as all input is something we can compare to our own and develop opinions about.

And I apologize for drifting so far from the theme of this thread (BEAR S/D)

Flint

hogshead
April 25, 2012, 12:03 PM
Well said flintknapper. I find it hard to believe that a 338 from 30 yds only penetrated 3 and half inches. Of course I also like lever actions and feel that they are lighter and have a faster rate of fire than a bolt gun.

wwace
April 26, 2012, 04:19 AM
Comparative cycling times depend a lot on the amount of practice for operating at speed. Let's not get off to wandering around in that arena, okay?

Me, I'd likely rank as slow, and for a very good reason. Think about it. :D
I agree

wwace
April 26, 2012, 04:21 AM
Sir, if I understand you correctly…you have “banned” Barnes TSX bullets from your camp based on the performance on exactly one animal (some of the shots of which you admit you don’t know either the placement or penetration)?

I did some research also and there were enough doubts about these bullets to support my ban.

The other shot (neck shot) is reported to have penetrated no more than 3”, though the recovered bullet was said to be intact (petals opened).

Correct

It is truly hard to imagine that a TSX fired from a .338 Win Mag at a distance of 30 feet would penetrate no farther than what could be expected of a .22 rimfire, but I will take your word for it.

BTW, I used a 338 for 20+ years, I used to shoot everything in the neck and mostly with Swift Aframes. These if recovered were at the hide on the opposite side of entry. I never had a neck shot not penetrate a moose, which is 4x as tough as a caribou. One of these days I will learn the important of photos, I really wish I had taken them in this instance

Oddly enough, I just finished watching a show on TV where a guy shot a Caribou using a .300 Win Mag and 180 gr. Accubond bullets (one your preferred bullets) from a distance of approximately 130 yds (according to narration).

At the first shot (perfectly placed tight behind the shoulder) the animal never even flinched (no kidding). The guide and hunter both watched the Boo a few seconds and determined to shoot it again.

This is a typical reaction from a lung shot that didn't hit bones

The hunter shot once more…and you could clearly see the hide ripple from the impact (another perfect shot), this time the animal slowly walked off (after just standing there for a bit) and eventually toppled over.

Now, you and I both know that the 300 Win Mag delivers plenty of power (under 400 yds) for Caribou and the Accubond is an excellent bullet.

But if we were to use this one (odd) example to demonstrate the apparent lack of ability of the round to drop an animal, it would (at best) be intellectually dishonest of us IMO.

The TSX is actually designed to open quickly, but generally achieves good penetration as well…..by virtue of the sharp petals “cutting” (not pushing) their way through flesh, combined with the tendency of the bullet to retain nearly all (if not all) of its weight.

If the TSX is known for anything…its penetration.

When I went looking for info I saw many instances of failure of the various Barnes type bullets, In no way am I some expert about Barnes but I of course have my opinions about what I have used extensively. First off the X type bullets are very large for their weight compared to typical lead/copper bullets. Since they are designed to flare open on impact this gives them a larger surface area for the weight so I would be surprised to see the same penetration side by side a TBBC, which is the perfect all around bullet IMO. Mass + greater surface area = less penetration in my mind. Since Barnes seems to be quite long for the heavier bullets they may not adequately stabilize in some rifles also if there is not enough twist.

But, my point is this:

Even if the occasional anomaly happens (poor bullet performance due to whatever circumstance) is it really fair to judge (and subsequently BAN) it based on such a small sampling?

From my experience a conventional bullet will perform every time pretty much the same, they break bones and may deform but they will always penetrate adequately. Why use a bullet that may not work when you most need it, I will not.

My other findings showed cases of them not opening at all or bending off of a leg bone among other things.

Likewise, the story about the guy shooting the Caribou (all around the edges) with the 444 lever gun!

Presumably, they (lever guns) are banned from the camp as well? Though the cartridge and rifle action are well proven elsewhere.

In forty years nobody(our guests) has brought anything other than a bolt rifle to our camp, and none of them were asked to bring or not bring any certain rifle action type. This sampling is maybe about 60-70 different people though, not over a hundred for sure. Maybe it has to do with the area where my family was from they didn't grow up using levers, although my dad shot a lot of deer with a Savage .300

Nothing wrong with having strong opinions about what constitutes proper gear for a given task, but before dismissing any one group….perhaps a stronger argument could be made…than simply ‘I saw this happen one time’.

If you are in an area where you can step on a bear at any moment I would not suggest using any equipment you have any doubts in. Where I am responsible for people I will try give them adequate instruction and advice as to what does work, but I am not hovering over them at the same time they hunt on their own mostly at our place.

I do value your experience and Thank You for relating it here…as all input is something we can compare to our own and develop opinions about.

And I apologize for drifting so far from the theme of this thread (BEAR S/D)

Flint
I am trying to edit above.

wwace
April 26, 2012, 05:33 AM
Just curious, how many big bears have you killed in Alaska? If I missed it, my apologies.
I am not for various reasons going to answer this on a public forum, but big is subjective when you are talking about brown/grizzly bears, any of them are scary as hell when you run into them. As I said before I do not hunt them and try to avoid them as much as possible. If I am fishing and they come along I leave. The crap you see on TV where people stay put in close proximity to any bear is against my advice, I say give them their space and avoid conflict, after all it is how they live. However if you have one trying to get in your house or cabin that is quite different, that is part of what I am trying to get across.

BTW, my first close up Brownie experience what we did was run, but we were lucky enough to be able to get out of sight to do so and we had no weapons whatsoever, a sow with two huge cubs FTW.

wwace
April 26, 2012, 05:48 AM
wwace, I have heard both extremes regarding the Barns X bullets. Premature opening and not opening at all. And then I have also heard some very high praises as well. ALL bullets will have faults at one time or another. Simple physics dictates that no one thing can be perfectly repeated at any time. You can come close, but the passage of time itself keeps from perfect copying. Different angles, hide thickness, hell, even just the simple will of the animal itself will make each and every shot different to one degree or another.

agreed with all of the above

Horse pucky to most all of that statement right there. My Marlins are the lightest rifles I own (except for a couple of Savage bolters with synthetic furniture but just by a few ounces) and trust me, I own a LOT of rifles. Bolts actions are a bit less complex in the works but they are no more reliable than a lever action in the hands of someone that actually knows what they are doing. And as far as follow up speed, I can bet you any day of the week I will be faster on followup with one of my .30/30's than ANY bolt action .30cal I own including my Enfields which I am extremely fast on. You sir are the one that is sadly mistaken there.

that was not my statement, but I did agree with some of it, the complicated in particular. BTW, my Sako .338 action is lightning fast, when shooting game I often found I had already worked action without thinking, this is the kind of performance you want if your brain is capable of keeping you informed that you have already reloaded LOL

Flintknapper
April 26, 2012, 02:11 PM
I did some research also and there were enough doubts about these bullets to support my ban.

It is your prerogative to exclude anything you like, I would never argue that, but just a cursory search on the subject turns up many more times where there is praise for the bullet... than any actual failures.

http://www.go2gbo.com/forums/index.php?topic=176495.0

Its easy enough to find "something" to support your position.... particularly IF you already have a viewpoint. So...I don't know which way it happened (you first read about the bullet, then had an experience, or had the ONE experience and then researched).

Like you, I searched the subject and did in fact find folks who were not thrilled with the TSX/TTSX. But, many, many....more who were happy with them.

In almost no case...were they faulted for lack of penetration, but I am not doubting your story. Its just way out of the ordinary and you might experiment with the bullet a little yourself to see if it changes your mind.

I do like (and use) some of the premium bullets you promote, but any of them can fail under certain conditions. At that point, a thorough and objective look into "why" that happened is in order. Not a rush to judgement based on one experience.

wwace
April 27, 2012, 01:15 AM
It is your prerogative to exclude anything you like, I would never argue that, but just a cursory search on the subject turns up many more times where there is praise for the bullet... than any actual failures.

http://www.go2gbo.com/forums/index.php?topic=176495.0

Its easy enough to find "something" to support your position.... particularly IF you already have a viewpoint. So...I don't know which way it happened (you first read about the bullet, then had an experience, or had the ONE experience and then researched).

Like you, I searched the subject and did in fact find folks who were not thrilled with the TSX/TTSX. But, many, many....more who were happy with them.

In almost no case...were they faulted for lack of penetration, but I am not doubting your story. Its just way out of the ordinary and you might experiment with the bullet a little yourself to see if it changes your mind.

I do like (and use) some of the premium bullets you promote, but any of them can fail under certain conditions. At that point, a thorough and objective look into "why" that happened is in order. Not a rush to judgement based on one experience.
I had actually seen one forum post regarding them poorly in an African forum I belong to, but I did not read it until afterwards. It was probably 9-10 months before we had the problems. I recalled seeing the pictures and went back and read the complete post. The post was regarding various Barnes X-bullet problems that a well known guide had seen over several years from multiple clients. The issues ran the gamut from huge entry wounds on small game to not opening at all and hitting unintended animals after passing through the intended target. I had not seen anything like what he had encountered. I ended up relating my experience and talking with the guide several times about this and other subjects. I did not go on a huge quest to find bad data about Barnes. I just took what I saw and formed my own opinion. Again I will never use them because I do not think it is appropriate to use a product I do not trust or have "personal" good experience with. TBBC's, Swift Aframe's are top performers in my experience, Accubonds are a bit softer but I have only used them on one moose so I will pretty much stick to the others. I know they will work if I am lucky enough to see suitable game. Same goes for Nosler Partitions, many like these bullets but I do not like that the front basically turns to shrapnel while the rear acts like a solid and sails right through moose, at least in 250gr 338 they do. I do not like the shotgun effect and the wasted meat so I will use bullets that stay together.

Flintknapper
April 27, 2012, 12:35 PM
Same goes for Nosler Partitions, many like these bullets but I do not like that the front basically turns to shrapnel

Very much by "design" and that has been my experience with them too.

Appropriate for many situations, not so much for others.

Boils down to proper bullet selection for the task at hand.

If a person chooses the wrong bullet for the wrong application, it would not be fair to call it "bullet failure", I know you would agree.

I support your decision to only use bullets you have confidence in (for whatever reason).

Feanor
April 27, 2012, 04:00 PM
Bear medicine/ Alaska/ Hunting or SD

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Ok, I have read a bunch of threads with quite a bit of lousy information about bears, Alaska hunting or self defense including calibers, firearms and bullets. The following is my opinion based on personal knowledge and first person related experience.

A bear can be very easy or hard to kill, it all depends on bullet placement and the state of adrenaline of the bear. A very determined bear who is not broken down or CNS hit is literally not going to stop until it is dead. There are tales of kids killing Brownies with .22 long rifle and I have seen a grizzly shot a dozen times with .338 & 30-06, they are always unpredictable.

Hunting:

Rifles: Any modern 7mm or larger caliber with a properly constructed bullet of 160grains or larger is fine for hunting in Alaska unless you are specifically after a coastal Brownie or Kodiak. If you are after the larger bears take at least a 30-06 if you cannot handle a .338 win mag. You do not need anything larger but if you like them calibers up to .416 are ok. Your guide will most likely look at you funny if you show up with a 458 as they are brutal. Do not bring a rifle you cannot shoot well and trust with your life and the lives of your party.

SuperUltraDuperListicMagnums: The short answer is they are not needed for Alaskan game, you are much more likely to be unable to shoot one of these portable cannons consistently.

Action: A good reliable bolt action is the best without any doubt, CRF is adviseable and I highly recommend it. Most hunters here do not use doubles but if I was guiding you I would not be unhappy if you showed up with a single shot Ruger #1. Semi auto, pump and lever actions all have too many moving parts to be considered in my opinion. None of these actions are 100% reliable in Alaskan conditions in rifle calibers.

Sights/Scopes: If you are hunting bears specifically then a low power scope such as a 1.5x5 is usually best. This is what I have used for over 20 years. I would also recommend that your rifle be equipped with iron sights and you have quick detach scope mounts. If you are hunting moose or caribou etc then a 3x9 or 4x12 or something similar is all you need. Spend some money and get quality glass , same with binoculars. You do not need $1000 + optics though they are nice if you can afford them. Personally I use Leupold, Nikon and Burris.

Ammunition: Modern bonded bullets with controlled expansion and high bullet weight retention will work best. Bullets that do not penetrate well will not kill anything here well, bears especially so. My favorites are TBBC, Swift A frames and Accubonds. I do not like Barnes TSX type bullets as I have witnessed very poor performance from them and I do not allow them in my camp.
Solids: You want penetration but this is one case where a solid may not have very good results. If you hit a bear with one and it does not hit the vitals or bone it may have little or no effect on the bear.

Shot Placement: This is the key factor with bears. If you do not hit CNS, vital organs or major bones you just piss off the bear more. Study how bears are built and learn proper placement. Viewed from the side divide him in half and hit him dead center of front half, front leg forward if possible you should shoot halfway up just at rear of leg. High or low shots will have poor results unless you spine him. If you are being charged and the range is close you basically aim at the nose. This is a tough shot, most people are going to have trouble hitting a bear doing 25mph or more and bouncing around until it is close. Ten yards is about your last chance of avoiding getting chewed on.

Self Defense: Each year many bears are shot in defense of life and property here in Alaska. And many more are killed that go unreported for various reasons I will not get into. Do not make the mistake of thinking a Black Bear cannot be dangerous. I had a friend killed and partially eaten by one that weighed about 150lbs. Any bear can be dangerous. I recommend that you always carry bear spray at minimum, even if you are hiking or biking on the edge of town. If you are out in the boonies I highly suggest a firearm as well.
Always have proper training and follow instructions and common sense with pepper spray and firearms. The following are my opinions as to what I would use:

1 12 gauge pump with slugs or slugs/00 buckshot. I have seen several thread where 12ga slugs were disregarded for bear protection because of poor penetration. This is ridiculous. A decent 12 gauge slug will penetrate a bear nearly end to end and is the single best round for close in bear stopping. For smaller bears buckshot also works well doing lots of damage but for the big guys you basically want slugs.

2 Large caliber rifle with quality bullets, expansion must be controlled or you will not get adequate penetration. I still prefer a bolt action for self defense for the same reasons I hunt with one, they work. If all you have is a lever action please use hard cast bullets or they will do little in the way of penetration.

3 Any other rifle, any rifle will do in a pinch, many bears have been killed by the Eskimo people with nothing more than a 222 Remington, but then again they knew what they were doing.

4 Large caliber revolver, 44mag or up loaded with hard cast lead works with the right placement, be practiced with your gun.

5 Any other handgun, 357 mag, 10mm best but any gun is better than nothing. You may not want hollowpoints here.

Remember in any case that if you are being charged and you kill a bear your story will be investigated. Many bears bluff charge to 6 or 7 yards, you need to analyze the situation quickly and correctly and make the proper decisions under great duress. An aggressive bear at close range will test you and your undies.

So in summary for Alaska and anywhere else for that matter it is best to use what works and has always worked. The widely used .338 winmag is the most popular rifle in Alaska. Stay with reasonable velocities and quality ammunition. You do not need some boutique AR caliber to shoot a bear with. Most people here would laugh at you if you showed up with one. Same goes for lever and pump actions, we tend to look at these as deer rifles and not use them here. I have one friend who has always used a BAR 338 even though it has had problems several times. Not me, I will stay with a Mauser type action for hunting and the 12 ga for specific defense work.

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Last edited by wwace; April 25, 2012 at 12:25 AM.

:eek: Wow, just wow.

Alaska444
April 27, 2012, 05:04 PM
"If all you have is a lever gun?" Come on, that is more than most when you are in close quarters with a bear. A .338 WinMag in dense brush is the last thing I would want with a large brownie coming at me.

Bolt actions may be better when you have a lot of distance between you and the bear, but up close and personal, give me a lever rifle anyday.

As far as buckshot for bear? Consider that the average buckshot is the same as nine, .380 bullets going into a bear at the same time. In addition, these are round projectiles with poor SD and they simply lack penetration.

Aim COM and hope and pray you get lucky with good penetration into CNS or the vitals. You will need somthing that can bust through bone and have enough penetration to extend deep into the vital areas.

There are a whole lot of combinations of bullets, calibers and powder charges to get you to that point. Note, that even with African caliber guns, too many times where bears hit well with these "elephant" guns have kept on coming.

The only way to reliably drop one of these critters is a CNS hit. Anything less than that is just a crap shoot.

Go with the biggest gun you can reliable handle. The minimum recommended power is 3000 ft-pds muzzle energy with bullets designed to penetrate. There is much more on the plate than just a bolt action .338 magnum.

Shadow 7D
April 27, 2012, 05:20 PM
I would note the number of people not commenting
bears have been killed by a variety of arms, whether 'Ideal' or not
many of these encounters may have been better managed with either a better sense of paranoia (be aware of where the bears may be) or by using other responses, I like the idea of bear spray, as you don't have to get the critical hit, you have a nice large cone of pain.

as for what gun, something that can work, leave it at that. Cause many of the mauling happen SUDDENLY, read the accounts. or PM Kodiakbeer and ask him (or look up his thread)

In the end, education, paranoia and proper wood craft will do more to keep you safe than any gun.

OH and hunting bear is MUCH different than bear defense, go ask Caribou.

Alaska444
April 27, 2012, 05:38 PM
The problem with bear pepper spray data is that it is not all inclusive. In other words, there are a lot of bear encounters every year that are never reported or documented in any mannner. In addition, those encounters ended with a gun that does not wound are likewise not always recorded either.

The data is vastly incomplete which makes comparing statistics of which is more effective quite comical in many ways and subject to the bias of the researcher writing the article.

Bear spray is certainly on the list of effective deterrents, but looking at the articles that quote anecdotal accounts is not real hard science at all.

One of the confounding errors of this research is the number of bluff charges considered successful bear spray defenses. There is no way to record from anecdotal accounts what was a real charge from a bluff charge which is much more common.

Likewise, how many people with gun in hand have stood down a bear as well?

If folks truly believe that scientists have "proven" bear spray as better than a high caliber gun, then I would suggest a bit of review on what constitutes scientific evidence. To say the least, the science of pepper spray is not very high caliber at all and ranks at the lowest levels of scientific evidence pyramids. All we can say is that pepper spray does appear to be effective in "some" cercumstances. Technically, these are retrospective, observational studies that utilize first and second hand information from anecdotal recall. Sorry, that is not at all hard science.

You truly do not have hard scientific facts to make a direct comparison or state dogmatically that pepper spray is better than a gun. Just ask the 7 kids who were savaged by the grizzly last year how well pepper spray worked for them. Remember, you have to be able to deploy your bear deterrant and simply because these kids did not deploy the pepper spray does not in any sense remove the fact that their planned defense failed, due to pilot error. Funny how that case doesn't make it into the data banks, but failure to deploy a gun does.

Shadow 7D
April 27, 2012, 07:25 PM
I'd rather not debate polotics
the fact is, bear spray can work and usually has much few consequences, it has been shown to break off bear charges.

WOODS SENSE, training, not surprising a bear etc, are better than any defensive weapon, lethal nor not.

BUT to say "only high caliber rifles" or some such (I can post a story about the guy who shot his buddy trying to save him from the bear just as quickly as you can post the 7 kids, and with both there were failures)
Better to learn the basics of being bear safe, understand that you may be hunted (paranoid) and try not to do anything stupid. There is a plan to be safe. How many times do people plan for it all to go to hell, before they plan how NOT to have it go to hell. I can post plenty of videos of bear spray on BROWNS (for some reason less effective on black bears, and yes they do studies) breaking a charge, but then that's a "controlled" environment, it was just a bluff charge etc.........

In S&T they have a saying
Mindset
Skillset
Equipment
IN THAT ORDER.

So please don't go wondering around in bear country tripping daisies thinking thinking that since you have the "perfect bear gun" you don't have to worry about a bear. Those often end badly, either in jail or in pieces, Remember, when you defensively shoot a bear, F&G will be around to do a Colonoscopy.

So before this reverts to the previous equipment fight, please take a moment and think about bear safe practices, simple things like bear bells, understanding posture, and how NOT to feed them.

Alaska444
April 27, 2012, 07:51 PM
The USGS had a great study on 100 years of bear attacks in Alaska a couple of years back that I haven't been able to find since. They noted that attacks were most common with only 1-2 people and very rare with 4 or more in a group. The second most common factor was poor visibility in dense brush for instance.

Those are very controllable in many instances. However, you run around in the dense woods in Idaho with new growth, you can't see at all past the end of the trail. Makes for interesting travel through the woods with all the young trees bordering the trails.

As I mentioned on another thread, pepper spray is not that effective on male predatory black bears which are the most common types of black bear attack. If you use pepper spray on an aggressive black bear, be prepared that he won't go away and that he will attack again. Quite a few cases on record for that behavior. In that circumstance, you must have lethal means of defense. That is one of many instances where pepper spray isn't your best choice. High velocity wind which is common in many parts of Alaska is another especially when you are downwind.

wwace
April 28, 2012, 03:09 AM
As a side note I know one of the gentlemen who survived a mauling on Kodiak, the famous one with the Buck knife. And the mauling about a week before killed an aquaintance, it can go either way.

I have attempted to clarify hunting vs self defense as they are two very different things. All of what I write is only my opinion or the opinions of others with whom I have discussed the subject. My gear selections are just what I would choose, nothing else, although I do not like several firearm types I feel any firearm is better than none. I recommend people have both bear spray (regardless of how effective it may be) and a firearm, if you follow this advice you will be looked on favorably in certain situations.

Alaska444
April 28, 2012, 08:00 PM
Today, 12:09 AM #39
wwace
Member

Join Date: November 25, 2011
Location: Anchortown
Posts: 62
As a side note I know one of the gentlemen who survived a mauling on Kodiak, the famous one with the Buck knife. And the mauling about a week before killed an aquaintance, it can go either way.

I have attempted to clarify hunting vs self defense as they are two very different things. All of what I write is only my opinion or the opinions of others with whom I have discussed the subject. My gear selections are just what I would choose, nothing else, although I do not like several firearm types I feel any firearm is better than none. I recommend people have both bear spray (regardless of how effective it may be) and a firearm, if you follow this advice you will be looked on favorably in certain situations.
Last edited by wwace; Today at 12:19 AM.


No argument there wwace, I also believe in multiple layers of bear self defense starting with avoidance as the primary defensive layer, followed by more than one in a group, avoiding dense brush, IF YOU CAN, and then proper armament including a good handgun and a good rifle depending on your circumstances.

Idaho is now under the menace of a new predator, the Canadian Mackenzie Valley wolf. There are many tales of wolves harassing hunters and pack horses. In such a situation, the amount of ammo was just as important as the type of gun. I consider at least 50 rounds of total ammo per person needed for Idaho if you are one of the rare unfortunates who must also deal with a pack of wolves. A pack of wolves is the apex predator in the woods that even grizzly bears give way to. There are actually accounts of wolves running down a grizzly bear, killing and eating them. The griz isn't always at the top of the heap.

Bear pepper spray may be an important adjunctive defense. For my wife who is recoil shy and not able to shoot even the smallest effective rifles such as a .357 for instance, pepper spray is her best line of defense as long as she is with someone with a lethal backup alternative. There is power in numbers and using bear camping skills to keep them out of camp is probably the most important part of bear country hiking and camping.

Lastly, tent camping was always a way of life for me in my younger years, but no more. I want something solid that gives me time to get my gun in hand at least should we encounter a bear while we are sleeping. If you do go the tent route, a tent without a floor is the best way to go so that you don't become entombed inside of a tent as a bear drags you off. Blankets are better than a mummy bag and a clean campsite is the most important part of bear defense.

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