Need advice: rifle for backcountry Alaska trip?


April 28, 2004, 01:19 PM
I am planning a trip to Alaska next year, probably end of April or May. I will probably fly into Anchorage or Fairbanks and head for the wilderness. I'll probably rent a jeep and sleep in a tent. Probably doing some fishing in the streams. I'll be taking some overnight backpacking hikes too. I would like to take a rifle with me because I don't like the thought of being unarmed in big bear country. I was going to either take an M1 Garand or my FAL paratrooper carbine. A semi auto that I could shoulder quickly if I even got the chance to defend myself if I was attacked by a bear. I will probably need to stay out of National Parks but I think I can carry the rifle into BLM and National Forrest land. Please correct me if that is incorrect.

Does anyone from Alaska or someone with similar experience have some comments for me? I know I need to have the rifle unloaded while it is in the car. Is it typically OK to hike/camp while shouldering a rifle in Alaska?

I am a pretty experienced back country hiker/backpacker, having spent many summers living in my van in the mountains in Colorado and other western states. This is a little different level of wilderness up there though. I fully know the events (avalanches, mountains lions, sudden snow storm, broken leg, rock slide, fall, etc) in the mountains and wilderness can kill you very quickly and I have a lot of respect for the climate and other little disasters that can happen. You can never be too careful in the wilderness.

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April 28, 2004, 01:26 PM
I'm wondering the same type of thing, and was curious if anyone knows if a decent 12-gauge could fill this slot. Don't really need long range accuracy, so would some slugs in a shotgun be sufficient?

April 28, 2004, 02:22 PM
My friend residing in Alaska told me that many people from there use 12 gage loaded with slugs for bear protection. It has more knockdown power at close range that .30-06.

Some National Parks allow guns if they are unloaded. Big Bend National Park has that sign. Not sure about carrying them around with you on a hike however. That's probably a no-no. As far as I'm aware, National Forest land has no such restrictions against carrying. Better call or write the specific places you're going to find out for sure. Would think you'd want as light a gun as possible if you're back-country hiking due to the weight factor.

In addition, various states have knife laws that limit what you can carry.
For example Texas limits you to knives w/5 1/2" or less blade length unless on private property or actively engaged in fishing/hunting. Don't know about Alaska.

April 28, 2004, 02:58 PM
For your purposes:


Remington 870 HD.

Loaded with Buckshot. Yes, there is an internet debate on this but this is what our shop reccomends based on a lot of real life dead bears


Marlin 1895, cut down to 16 1/2, ghost ring sights. Use the 457 magnum (allright, a plug :)) or if you want to keep it at 45/70, use HSM 350 grain Kodiaks.

Ta cant have a gun in Denali, everyhwere else is cool.

If you are road fishing, you will look a little silly carrying a shotgun :) (depending on where ya are of course)...concealed handgun will do.

Stop by and visit.


April 28, 2004, 03:31 PM
I have no use for it, even if I had the money, but the Alaskan Co-Pilot takedown by Wild West Guns ( has always rung my bell.

R.H. Lee
April 28, 2004, 03:40 PM
I have never been to Alaska (but I could find it on a map, if pressed).

My dentist goes to Alaska every couple of years. He says they carry a Marlin 45-70.

April 28, 2004, 03:49 PM
It might be a good time for me to buy a 1895 Tracker Marlin 45-70 then. I've always wanted one.

Here's my question though: I had always thought you would want a semi-auto for bear protection. It would take too long to chamber another round in a lever action when you have anywhere from 2 to 8 seconds until they're on you once they charge. It seems like I would be better served carrying an over/under big bore, big game rifle. Because 2 shots would be about all I could possibly hope to get off with a level action.

April 28, 2004, 04:32 PM
Well, for one thing - you ain't going to get very far up there in a jeep, unless they have built an awful lot more access roads since I was up there in the late seventies.

It ain't like Colorado or Montana, where there are logging roads everywhere. My experience was that a 4wd was just about useless except for getting through snow in the winter. Most of the roads are surfaced or else they are non-existant. So generally if you want to go somewhere interesting you have to go by air or water.

You used to be able to get the Alaska Railroad to drop you off anywhere between Anchorage and Fairbanks. I had some friends with cabins a little ways north of Talkeetna and that is how we had to get to them: ride the train to mile XXX and then backpack from there. They even had a special car so the sweaty bush people wouldn't mix with the tourists.

And we carried 12 gauges, rifles, and revolvers around just like you would an ax or shovel.

April 28, 2004, 04:57 PM
but the Alaskan Co-Pilot takedown by Wild West Guns has always rung my bell.

Nice gun, too bad the guys there are so goofy,ask Spiff :)


April 28, 2004, 05:07 PM
you aint kidding! they got this long haired greasy fellow that putters around the store whining about how 'bored shooting has become'. i mean for crying out loud! they've got dozens of boomsticks laying around that they can shoot into their bullet traps and this quasi-liberal is bored??!!!

cant even drag the ol coot out to the range anymore, its like hes depressed or something. think it has to do with the pants-wearer of his house getting on him cause he hasnt sold enough guns to pay for his uber-tactical-sniper-rifle.

i think i'm gonna start spiking his coffee with testosterone.

April 28, 2004, 05:14 PM
That isnt true...Im only greasy when you bring one of your guns in :)

Now go back to work and get off the computer


April 28, 2004, 05:19 PM
the pays the same no matter how much work i do or how hard i try.

April 28, 2004, 06:09 PM
Going to Alaska for a backcountry trip? Read this:

1) Find out whatever rifle that guy in the story was using.


3) Make sure whatever rifle you have is dead reliable BEFORE taking it on the trip, as your life may in fact come to depend on it.

4) If you don't already have one, get a reliable, quality handgun that you will have on you constantly, especially for when you do not have your rifle on you.

IMO, if you go smaller than .45 for a trip to Alaska, you deserve to get munched on. ;) S&W just released a 3" version of their .500 S&W revolver. I'd seriously recommend that. :)

April 28, 2004, 06:18 PM
ahhhh jonesy! its all about shot placement! that s&w500 wont do a whole lot of good if your bowels have loosened from the sight of a 1200 lb grizzly bowling towards you while you are putting 6 rounds into the ground.

reminds me of a buddy who bought a bling-bling deagle in .50ae, and said 'i dont have to aim! anywhere i shoot it, it will kill it!'

a .44 magnum is sufficient.

April 28, 2004, 07:15 PM
Listen ye to Spiff, for he speaketh wisdom


April 28, 2004, 07:26 PM

from what I gather he short stroked the bolt, hence causing the jam

It wasn't the rifles fault, he messed up.

And even if it was that model, doesn't make every other rifle in that model defective.

Stuff breaks, and hopefully it won't be yours ;)

April 28, 2004, 07:46 PM

from what I gather he short stroked the bolt, hence causing the jam

It wasn't the rifles fault, he messed up.

Oh. Ok then.

I still say he should have carried a sidearm.

April 28, 2004, 08:00 PM
Also remember that there are quite a few moose (mooses?) lurking about in Alaska and a momma moose will get quite perturbed if you stumble too close to her calf.

April 28, 2004, 08:16 PM
I live in Wyoming and we have our fair share of bears around here. When I'm out in the wilderness hunting I have three methods of protction against a bear.
1. My 7mm rifle. Used mostly for elk or deer, but If a grizzly is charging this is the first thing I'll use.
2. 454 cassul. In a sholder holster in case they're really coming after you, better stopping power at close range.
3. Bear mace. The last line of defense, I'd probebly only use this if I ran out of ammo.

Now they'll slather you with so much 'what to do in case of bear' information that its likely you won't be able to carry it all. But if I were you, I'd take whatever rifle you're comfortable with and a hand cannon, .44 mag and up should fit the bill just fine.

April 28, 2004, 09:53 PM
Nobody has mentioned the possibility of a bruin looking for a Snickers bar, trying to climb into one's sleeping bag whilst inside a tent ..... in the middle of the night. Kind of restricted space for a rifle or shotgun.

Might be nice to have a .44 magnum to snuggle up with.

I think Jeff Cooper said he took 6 grizzly bears with a .30-06.

If you are really good, all you need is a bow and arrow. A guy here in Stroudsberg, PA took a 600 black bear with a single shot from his bow.

April 29, 2004, 12:55 PM
Sheesh, I never made the connection between Wild West Guns and WildnopunctuationAlaska. When are you guys going to be offering a 75% THR discount?

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