44 mag and AZ black bears


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Robert B
May 15, 2013, 09:29 PM
I have a Ruger Alaskan 2.5 inch bbl revolver. I like the snub bbl for hiking in the AZ woods. I have two 44 magnum loads for it. Help me decide which is better for an AZ black bear. I won't be hunting, just protecting myself.

Hornady XTP 240 grain at 1350 fps from a 7.5 inch bbl.

Speer 270 grain JSP at 1250 fps from unknown length bbl.

I realize my velocities are going to be much lower. What do you guys think I will get velocity wise from each load? Which will be better for penetration in an AZ black bear?

Thanks.:)

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dmazur
May 15, 2013, 09:39 PM
I gave up on hunting loads for "on top of me" bear defense and loaded 310gr WNFP TrueShots at around 1000 fps.

I have no idea if these are better than full-power loads, but I know I can recover for a second shot a lot faster.

Also, my understanding is the hard cast bullets are less likely to deform on the bear's skull.

So, I went with lower velocity and perhaps better penetration than a bullet designed for expansion.

But "bear threads" abound with multiple opinions on caliber, number of rounds to carry, semi-auto vs. revolver, the futility of a SA revolver, the futility of any handgun compared to a 12 gauge, etc. So, there may not be an easy answer to your question...

Arizonagunrunner
May 15, 2013, 09:43 PM
I live in Flagstaff. Any bear AZ has to offer will drop with a 240 grain JSP/SWC or JHP. So go hike, enjoy and be safe. If handgun hunting get a longer barreled 44.
No black bear in recent history has botherd any human in AZ.

jmr40
May 15, 2013, 09:44 PM
I wouldn't be surprised if both aren't right at or slightly under 1000 fps from a 2.5" barrel based on this.

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/44mag.html

The loads I've chronographed have come up a little faster than this site reports, but not by much.

I have a 3" 629 that I shot over a chronograph with 240 gr loads that were rated at 1200 fps. I got 1050 fps.

Black bear aren't that hard to kill. Even with reduced velocity I think either would be fine. I'd probably try to balance the load that would give the best penetraion with the load I could get off repeat shots faster with.

Deaf Smith
May 15, 2013, 10:09 PM
I have a Ruger Alaskan 2.5 inch bbl revolver. I like the snub bbl for hiking in the AZ woods. I have two 44 magnum loads for it. Help me decide which is better for an AZ black bear. I won't be hunting, just protecting myself.

Hornady XTP 240 grain at 1350 fps from a 7.5 inch bbl.

Speer 270 grain JSP at 1250 fps from unknown length bbl.

I realize my velocities are going to be much lower. What do you guys think I will get velocity wise from each load? Which will be better for penetration in an AZ black bear?

Thanks.:)
Either one.

See you have no telling how the bear will present itself to you and no doubt either load will do better on some scenarios while not as well on others.

Still both are powerful loads.

I'd pick the one that does not kick as much and just pack it.

And personally I'd be more worried about drug runners and undocumented Democrats.

Deaf

witchhunter
May 15, 2013, 10:13 PM
I would not recommend any .44 mag hollow point for bear. They have tough hides. I have seen .44 hp's only penetrate a few inches on a few occasions. They all opened up great, but for bear, you need to penetrate a lot to get to the vitals. I ran bear dogs for years, I would not use them. Just my opinion.

s4s4u
May 15, 2013, 10:15 PM
What do you guys think I will get velocity wise from each load?

I'd be more concerned with how each shot relative to my POA, and how quickly I could recover for another. How far off do you consider a "self defensive" distance, and can you hit your intended target at that distance? If you wanna know velocity invest a c-note in a chronograph, it will be enlightening.

murf
May 15, 2013, 10:22 PM
buffalo bore has a reduced load you may like. it uses a 255 grain keith bullet and scoots along at 1350 fps (5 inch barrel). may give you some ideas.

www.buffalobore.com

murf

huntershooter
May 16, 2013, 09:12 AM
Of your two choices: the 270 gr. Speer-hand down.
This would not be my first choice, but would be much better than the XTP for Black Bear IMO.

Arizonagunrunner
May 16, 2013, 09:52 AM
Witch: "I would not recommend any .44 mag hollow point for bear. They have tough hides. I have seen .44 hp's only penetrate a few inches on a few occasions. They all opened up great, but for bear, you need to penetrate a lot to get to the vitals. I ran bear dogs for years, I would not use them. Just my opinion".

I dont know what type of black bear you have hunted or seen shot with a 44 But the three i have taken were all one shot and all dropped within 10 yards of where they were hit. I use a 5.5 barrel Redhawk in 44 magnum. I took the 1st two with factory 240 SJHP Remington ammo. Range was 30 yards and 22 yards. The last one was shot at about 45 yards using a 240 grain SWC that I loaded. I loaded 9 grains Unique and hard cast SWC. Bear dropped right where it was hit. The bullet was a thru and thru. JHP will take any black bear that walks the earth. You just have to do your part as the shooter. All three weighed around the 300 lb weight mark

ArchAngelCD
May 16, 2013, 01:23 PM
Federal has a 240gr Fusion SP load.
Federal has a 240gr JSP load under their American Eagle line.

Winchester has a 240gr JSP load. ( Q4240)

Remington has a 240gr SP round. (R44MG2)

I'm sure Speer, Fiocchi, Magtech, Prvi Partizan, PMC, S&B and the others also have similar loads too.

The designer companies like DoubleTap, Buffalo Bore, Garrett, Cast Performance and a whole bunch more also make good ammo but at a much higher price. Any of the factory soft point or Hard Cast 44 Magnum rounds will stop a Black Bear when you do your part.

sixgunner455
May 16, 2013, 07:27 PM
Bears in this state aren't terribly large. Either will work, as will a hard-cast wide flat point lead alloy.

Where are you going hiking that you will encounter bears? Don't recall seeing too much bear sign, last time I was in Gilbert. :D

witchhunter
May 16, 2013, 09:03 PM
Let me clarify, both times I mentioned, the bears were big (400-500lb). One was shot in the front shoulder, didn't break it, massive wound, but fatal. Second one was shot in the ham, both penetrated less than 5 inches total. This one didn't even reach muscle, still in the fat. Both bears were shot on the ground, at close range, while fighting the dogs. I guided bear and lion hunters for many years and while I have seen bears killed with .44 magnum hollow points, my first choice and what I recommended to my clients was a lever action 30/30. I have been to 408 bear trees with my dogs while I could still walk, I have seen a few bears shot. Again, just my opinion.

CraigC
May 16, 2013, 09:08 PM
Avoid generic, old school 240gr jacketed pills. The 270gr Gold Dot is a tough bullet and a much better choice than any 240gr jacketed bullet on the market. It has a bonded core, a good sized meplat and will only slightly expand at those velocities. A good 300gr cast bullet would also be an excellent choice.

22-rimfire
May 16, 2013, 09:08 PM
I think you're just fine on your ammo choice. I would buy a couple boxes (or load them) of hard cast solids. But I often grab what's handy because I'm not too worried about bear attacks in general.

I might add that I find it comforting to have a handgun with me when I really smell a lot of "bear" in the woods.

Torian
May 16, 2013, 09:17 PM
Gold dot and XTP are both great bullets. I frequently interchange between the two in my 10mm. I personally think the XTP is more of a deep penetrating hollow point, and holds up better going through harder targets (hunting load).

If I had to carry a hollow point for bear, I would definitely pick the XTP over the gold dot. My standard load however for protection in the woods is a hard leadcast.

The 44 magnum can definitely get the job done.

CraigC
May 16, 2013, 09:40 PM
My opinion and experience has been 180 opposite. The XTP is prone to jacket-core separation and tends to be more lightly constructed. Gold Dots of appropriate weight hold together much better. I would consider the Speer 270gr Gold Dot (Deep Curl) and 300gr JSP to be superior bullets to their XTP counterparts.

AJumbo
May 16, 2013, 11:16 PM
Between the two, the gold Dot. Given my druthers, a heavy WFN cast bullet. Controllability for the second shot is more important than expansion. The Buffalo Bore load mentioned above is more than adequate for the job.

HKGuns
May 16, 2013, 11:57 PM
Neither, while not grizzly's they are still bears. My choice is 240 - 300gr hard cast lead for penetration as mentioned above.

Salmoneye
May 17, 2013, 06:25 AM
Listen to WitchHunter...

I have the exact same opinion (and experience) of hollow points and penetration on bear...

I dont know what type of black bear you have hunted or seen shot with a 44 But the three i have taken were all one shot and all dropped within 10 yards of where they were hit. I use a 5.5 barrel Redhawk in 44 magnum. I took the 1st two with factory 240 SJHP Remington ammo. Range was 30 yards and 22 yards. The last one was shot at about 45 yards using a 240 grain SWC that I loaded. I loaded 9 grains Unique and hard cast SWC. Bear dropped right where it was hit. The bullet was a thru and thru. JHP will take any black bear that walks the earth. You just have to do your part as the shooter. All three weighed around the 300 lb weight mark

And I have seen Winchester White Box fired from a Marlin 1894 barely penetrate the ribs...Beautiful mushroom, but not a round I will ever consider carrying as a 'Bear Defence' load, which is what this thread is about...

KMO
May 17, 2013, 06:35 AM
No black bear in recent history has bothered any human in AZ.

Recent history? We had two black bear attacks just last summer (2012) at a Forest Service campground near Payson, AZ. The second attack left the victim in critical condition. That particular black bear was a large male. A neighboring camper put 7 rounds of 9mm into the kill zone as the bear reared...testimony to an insufficient round for bears (no effect whatsoever). Recent history also includes a bear attack at a girl scout camp on Mt. Lemmon near Tucson, resulting in a fatality.

http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_northern_az/payson/man-injured-in-3rd-bear-attack-in-payson-area

sixgunner455
May 17, 2013, 11:46 AM
Huh. I had not heard about either of those attacks.

I did go to the Tombstone museum and see a hunter's 1886 Winchester rifle that was recovered near his corpse in about 1895. A bear had killed and consumed most of him before they found him.

KMO
May 17, 2013, 12:04 PM
Well, there was no shortage of media coverage on the two 2012 campground attacks near Payson. There was also a third attack in a local subdivision in the same area.

Barry the Bear
May 17, 2013, 12:30 PM
Id say lower the bar for blackbear and use the .357 mag but if .44 is what you have it will do the job and then some. Remember when blacks attack they are most likely attacking to kill and consume.

Certaindeaf
May 17, 2013, 01:01 PM
I'd just use a standard Keith load. no need to get all fancy and hope to Jesus that that slow SP or HP will expand and not act like an ice pick/FMJRN

2zulu1
May 17, 2013, 01:34 PM
Witch: "I would not recommend any .44 mag hollow point for bear. They have tough hides. I have seen .44 hp's only penetrate a few inches on a few occasions. They all opened up great, but for bear, you need to penetrate a lot to get to the vitals. I ran bear dogs for years, I would not use them. Just my opinion".

I dont know what type of black bear you have hunted or seen shot with a 44 But the three i have taken were all one shot and all dropped within 10 yards of where they were hit. I use a 5.5 barrel Redhawk in 44 magnum. I took the 1st two with factory 240 SJHP Remington ammo. Range was 30 yards and 22 yards. The last one was shot at about 45 yards using a 240 grain SWC that I loaded. I loaded 9 grains Unique and hard cast SWC. Bear dropped right where it was hit. The bullet was a thru and thru. JHP will take any black bear that walks the earth. You just have to do your part as the shooter. All three weighed around the 300 lb weight mark
Yes and no, a JHP may take any black bear that walks the earth, but more than likely, multiple JHPs. Regardless, JHPs are a poor choice for defensive against black bears. Black bears live in the desert and have been hit on I-10, two that I know of (Cochise County) were in the 370-400# range.

One 150# black bear that had been hit by a car took all six shots from a 357mag (JHPs) to be dispatched.

In another black bear encounter, a young man was out with his dog when it was attacked by a black bear. It was not a large bear, but it took all six rounds of 41mag/JHPs, at less than optimal angles, to stop the bear.

An attacking black bear, as others have posted, will present shooting angles that are less than optimal, thus negating the choice of JHPs for black bear defensive carry.

Heavy JSPs/WFNs in the 250gr/300gr weight range ~@1100fps are more than adequate for bear defense in Arizona. :)

kvtcomdo
May 18, 2013, 04:21 AM
Thoughtful comments all.

If the only available alternatives to you are the bullet designs you mention I would go with the SP.

I agree with a different bullet an would get the Buffalo Bore Hard cast if 4 legged creatures are what you concerned about.

Just another opinion.

cochise
May 18, 2013, 07:31 AM
Read this, I always thought Lead Hard Cast was the right choice, but this expeirenced hunter said NO.

http://www.foggymountain.com/handgunning-bear-hunt3.shtml

Salmoneye
May 18, 2013, 08:47 AM
That guy states that if you choose cast, one should use a softer lead alloy so that it:

"will deform in muscle tissue"

And then goes on later to commend someone else for choosing what amounts to a fully jacketed hard cast Sierra bullet:

"His cartridge was a handloaded .44 Magnum employing a Sierra 220-grain MCP bullet over 25.0 grains of Accurate Arms No.9 powder for about 1250 fps from the four-inch gun. It was a good choice of bullet; the Sierra 220 grainer was originally designed for metallic silhouette competition (it is commercially loaded by Federal) and has a thick jacket that curls up over the ogive and leaves only a small circle of core lead exposed on the tip of the nose. Strong on penetration, it will nonetheless deform if it encounters tough tissue or bone."

Not sure how to take that article, other than like everything on the net...

With more than a grain of salt...

:D

CraigC
May 18, 2013, 09:40 AM
The 220gr Sierra might've been a good choice for a jacketed bullet 30yrs ago but we've come a long way since then. A properly cast 250gr Keith bullet or 250-300gr LBT will outpenetrate it and do more damage in the process.

460Kodiak
May 18, 2013, 09:42 AM
Pretty sure you are well covered with either one. A .357 would be enough for a black bear with the right ammo, but I too would carry the 44 if I had one. Honestly if black bears are all you are worried about, I'd be inclined to role my own if possible. Some hard casts loaded to about 1000 ft/sec would be plenty and follow up shots would be easier.

murf
May 18, 2013, 12:01 PM
robertb,

the current issue of handloader magazine has an excellent article about shooting a black bear with a revolver. the gun used is a ruger blackhawk in 45lc, but could have easily been a 44 magnum.

murf

my bad: it's in the april 2013 issue of handloader magazine, not the current issue. you can go to their website (riflemagazine.com) and buy the article.

2zulu1
May 18, 2013, 12:34 PM
Nice video to watch on this Arizona Game & Fish website. :)

http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/urban_bear.shtml

Pointshoot
May 18, 2013, 12:50 PM
There was a fellow awhile ago who went by the forum name JJ HACK. He is/was a hunting guide and had killed and witnessed the taking of hundreds of black bears over decades. He did black bear control for his state game department. He also hunted griz and brown bears up in Alaska.

For black bears he suggested a JHP. Hardcast can just sail through them if it doesnt hit bone and the bear can run off. The bear flesh seals around the wound as the bullet passes through causing relatively little bleeding. This was a real problem since this fellow had bear hunting dogs and they could be killed by an enraged bear. He also found that black bears would tend to swat at the JHP wounds as if they were stung by a hornet and that would anchor them in place if any additonal shots were required. I use 44 mag ammo loaded with the 240gr XTP for this application.

When it came to big Alaska bears such as griz and brownies, the guide said that JHP won't do it. They are a totally different thing compared to most black bears. For that application he suggested hardcast with a wide flat meplat. Break bone / penetrate to central nervous system(tough with a revolver). Revolver is last ditch/always handy. Rifle is more appropriate.

I'm relaying this by memory as its been posted in many hunting/shooting forums. Just websearch JJ HACK, handguns, bears and you should easily find the info. He also wrote an article on this subject that was in 'Bear Hunting' magazine. The man gained his experience from witnessing many encounters, not just a few. After reading his views and doing lots of research, I carry different ammo when in black bear country than when I'm in griz country. ('Griz country' defined as places where they are in significant numbers, not where they are almost as rare as Big Foot - as in my state.)

Ive had only a few half 'interesting' encounters with bears. Most of the time black bears run away as fast as possible when they see you are human. A bowhunting buddy came on a momma and her cubs. He made noise and slowly backed out of there, but had his sidearm handy. He was very happy that he didnt have to shoot any of them, they were just doing their 'bear thing'.

HKGuns
May 18, 2013, 09:48 PM
Everyone assumes black bears are less dangerous because they aren't as large as brown or grizzlies. Black bear attacks are just as likely as Brown.

Click (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_bear_attacks_in_North_America#Black_bear)

Ex
May 19, 2013, 06:05 PM
Spending lots of time in the Az mountains above Payson, I have thought long on appropriate ammo to use in a G20 10mm. Not only do we have black bear to consider but mountain lion also. Roll my own to run 1250 fps with 180 gn bullets.

I alternate two FMJFN and then JHP etc. I feel that fulfils all requirements.

It was two years ago that the state (Az) estimated a bear per square mile in the Four Peaks area. That is certainly a high enough concentration to expect and prepare for the possible encounter and to not be a victim.

murf
May 20, 2013, 01:30 AM
ex,

the three bar wildlife area has had the greatest concentration of bears in the state for quite a while. about fifteen or twenty years ago, the bears mast crop failed and a bunch of hungry bears came down off the mountain into apache junction in search of food.

spiced up the local news channels for a while.

murf

2zulu1
May 20, 2013, 02:26 AM
Spending lots of time in the Az mountains above Payson, I have thought long on appropriate ammo to use in a G20 10mm. Not only do we have black bear to consider but mountain lion also. Roll my own to run 1250 fps with 180 gn bullets.

I alternate two FMJFN and then JHP etc. I feel that fulfils all requirements.

It was two years ago that the state (Az) estimated a bear per square mile in the Four Peaks area. That is certainly a high enough concentration to expect and prepare for the possible encounter and to not be a victim.
The 10mm is a great caliber, so is the G20. I've heard bears "huffing" near me at night, but haven't seen any. In daytime I've had fleeting glimpses of mountain lions during daylight hours. At night time I've had encounters while taking the dog out, they have come toward us at night. I keep about six acres of range grass around the house cut, and I pushed that back after my last encounter.

Had my G 20 with a laser light attached plus a ~150 lumins flash light. When big yellow eyes reflect it's either a lion or bobcat, these eyes were over 32" of range grass and it approached us from about 125 yards to 85 yards. After a tense minute or so with two lights and a red dot on its eyes, it faded off into the darkness.

What many people fail to take into consideration about defensive bear encounters is, bears will charge through brush. If one needs to shoot into/through brush using JHPs, jackets separate and bullets deflect off branches. I set up half a 1/2 size of sheetrock behind a creosote bush and all 10 rounds of 200gr XTPs/1225fps failed to hit the target, only a few hit the sheetrock. All six rounds of 240gr Lasercast bullets from a M629 hit the target.

Given the frontal profile of a charging top tier predator, I (and others who live around here) carry hardcast in 357/44mag in order to penetrate through tough bone to reach the vitals. For 10mm, I load Double Tap's 200gr WFNGC/1220fps out of a G20 with a Lonewolf barrel. There's simply too much mesquite away from the house to even consider JHPs when I see lion or hog sign activity.

Stay safe up there. :)

Cocked & Locked
May 20, 2013, 06:44 AM
I like bear threads...especially since the World Record Weight Black Bear was taken right here in my home state of North Carolina.

880 pounds :uhoh:

http://www.americanbear.org/Size.htm

dawei
May 20, 2013, 02:42 PM
The only thing predictable about Bears is they are unpredictable.
I have a very healthy respect for Bears; ALL BEARS.
I've NEVER SEEN a "Thin Skinned" Bear of any persuation.
I NEVER hunt Bears alone.
When in Bear Country here in the Pacific Northwest, my handgun caliber, and my rifle caliber; BEGIN WITH "4".
My Bear Boolits are ALWAYS Hardcast Lead.
I kill ALL my Bears TWICE.
A 150lb Blackie yearling will kill you just as dead as a 1000lb Grizzly.
More folks in the US and Canada are killed by Black Bears, than by Brown/Grizzly/Polar Bears combined.

CraigC
May 20, 2013, 03:06 PM
None of the available 10mm jacketed pills are up to the task of anything more than broadside shots on deer. A 180gr has a sectional density equivalent to a 200gr .44 and that just ain't enough beef. If you want to actually have a chance at stopping anything, you need a 200-230gr LBT.

HKGuns
May 20, 2013, 06:33 PM
Two weekends ago when we arrived in camp the outhouse had recently (within the last week) been ripped apart by a bear and the metal refuse baskets all had tooth marks in them and were tossed around camp. Because it is so remote, the DNR has been dumping "problem" bears in the area and they are seen fairly often. We had three adults and children ages 6-7-8-9. Each of us carried a sidearm at all times. One had a 10mm gLoCk and the other an XD 45ACP. I kept my 6 year old girl very close to me as I didn't exactly trust what the other two were packing.

I on the other hand felt quite comfortable. I was carrying this with 300gr hard cast lead boolits over a significant charge of powder and two speed loaders full of the same. We were lucky and didn't have any bear encounters over the three days.

http://hkguns.zenfolio.com/img/s8/v78/p1423643648-5.jpg

flylo
May 20, 2013, 07:02 PM
I've hunted bear for years in the wesy UP of Michigan with a T/C single shot or muzzleloader then a BFR in 450 Marlin with a 10" barrel. Now I don't get around very well so I bought a 4-5/8" SS Super blackhawk as a carry in the woods gun. I'd be more concerned about bullet placement at different angles than bullet choice. Any of the above will do the job if you can put it where it needs to go in a suprise panic situation. I love my barrel length & Rosewood grips & now they hold 6. My 1st pistol @21 was a 7.5" blue SBH that only held 5. You'll do Great!

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