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.357 against bears

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by abrink, May 20, 2008.

  1. abrink

    abrink Well-Known Member

    .357's have proved themselves againts many creatures. How would it do against a bear? Would i be wasting my time if i were to shoot an attacking bear with a .357. I understand bears can be killed with .22's but my question is how reliably would approx. 4 shots to a bears body "stop" it?
  2. Bearhands

    Bearhands Well-Known Member

    by asking :
    "4 shots to a bears body "stop" it?"

    If it's in his ass....... NO... if it's in his mouth, probaby...... if it's in his heart.. YES.... There is no caliber that will work effectively if the shot placement is not in the "kill range". Bullet choice will always be contested, as will placement. If you're going into "bear country" and are suspicious of an encounter.... take a gun that will make you feel safe!...... or don't go.
  3. wuchak

    wuchak Well-Known Member

    If you're talking about black bears then the .357 should do the job if loaded with 158, 180, or 200 gr bullets) but your chances of being attacked by a black bear are about the same as you discovering a diamond mine while out on a hike. Attacks are so rare they are not even worth worrying about. I'd be more concerned with running into rabid racoons and coyotes and the .357 will take care of them just fine.
  4. wnycollector

    wnycollector Well-Known Member

    I carry 100% of the time when hiking/camping mainly for 2 legged crazies and not 4 legged critters! I carry a .357 with either 158gr SP's or 180gr hard cast flat points. both loading are probably only marginal for black bears. If I was in grizz country, 45 colt +P's and a ruger blackhawk would be my minimum!
  5. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Who knows. Brown bear have been stopped with 9x19's and in other cases seem to ignore having their entire heart shot out with a magnum rifle. There are no guarantees. As a backup gun it's better than nothing and easy to tote. But if you're up here use a long gun first and foremost.

    I'd go with 180 or 200 grain hardcasts for maximum penetration of course.

    CYANIDEGENOCIDE Well-Known Member

    black bear attacks are far more common than brown, grizzly, panda, teddy, and kodiak bear attacks. most of the outfitters in PA, and ME recommend the .357 as good medicine for bears or bad for bears depending on your point of view or the bear's. bottom line .357 will work on east coast blackies which are typically under 400#.
  7. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Beats the socks off a sharp stick.

    Personally, I carry a .44 magnum in bear country.
  8. Oro

    Oro Well-Known Member

    Better than nothing. And loading with 180gr or 200gr hardcast is thoughtful and prudent. Double Tap has an offering in each size at very affordable (by modern measure). Buffalo Bore and Grizzly Ammo also seem to be used by many.

    Having got close to a very big black last year, and had a few maulings in our area last summer, I "up-gunned" to a .44 for this purpose - I use it in serious bear country. Probably unnecessary, but it was a reason to get a very cool revolver. Sometimes I find myself toting a .357 with the above load, though, if I'm not out in the "far" wilds.
  9. Confederate

    Confederate Well-Known Member

    The place to shoot any bear, if you can, is the nose. If you aim at the eyes, or in betwixt the eyes, a bullet can richochet off the bear's thick frontal cranium. And though the brain appears to be where they eyes would be, I've had a lot of outdoors people tell me that shooting for the nose is your best bet.

    I'd have to disagree about the chances of being attacked are the same as finding a diamond mine. Actually, attacks by black bears are on the rise. I've heard of a number of people being attacked by black bears and being mauled and killed, but no one that's found a diamond mine.

    Just last year in Ely, Minnesota, Nick Ruberto wandered into the woods to relieve himself. The following morning, his friends found his mauled remains 60 yards from the cabin. The black bear was later captured and killed by the Minnesota DNR.

    The trick is finding a good heavy bullet that can burrow in and not expand too fast. Your heavier bullets would fit that bill well.
  10. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    Effective against a small bear is a strong "maybe".

    It is better than wagging a finger but obviously not as good as, say, a 454 Casull.

    I do not yet own a 44 magnum (or larger). I carry a .357 when I am on the trail.

    The bottom line is that the trail is just like carrying anywhere. You should carry as much gun as you can shoot well.
  11. ColdChili

    ColdChili Well-Known Member

    1987 Grizzly Vs .357 - Pics


    Point blank, but it did the job.

    On the otherhand, I recall reading an older outdoor life or field and stream about handgun hunting for black bears and it basically recommended nothing smaller than a .41 mag...I'll see if I can find that article again.
    Last edited: May 20, 2008
  12. Oro

    Oro Well-Known Member

    Yes, I've read that, too, and the CW about handgun hunting for bears is a .44mag, with a .41 mag acceptable if you must. This was the "wisdom" I listened for selecting a .44mag as my baseline gun. But, this is HUNTING, not a SD scenario - and one shot kills and ethics apply. The idea is to take the bruin down at a distance, with one shot, and that is where they draw the .4x magnum baseline. I took advice from hunters and guides - one Maine, one Montana, one Alaska, and then one local (Washington). All were uniform about .44 magnum being the minimum they carried or in the case of guides, allowed clients to carry. There was some wriggle room about using a .41, and of course the Alaska guys preferred even more (.454, .460, .500) given their larger sized population. Even in WA, we have a large variation in bear size based on the different climates east/west - with the coastal ones getting much larger because of a richer, more varied diet.

    I think that for SD, in an up-close situation, a 4" .357 with "bear" loads like from Double Tap is going to work as Chili's photos showed. Mainly, it would give me enough peace of mind that I could feel I wasn't undergunned (like with a .40, 9, or .45acp) and actually make me worry. Just having the peace of mind you stand a chance to protect yourself, your livestock, and party members is enough to let you let the worry go and then enjoy the trip.

    It's not like these bears are hard to find - the park in Redmond, WA (home of microsoft and a 100,000 people or so) where we ride horses weekly has a population of three bears. This is a few miles from downtown Seattle, not the wilderness. I go there weekly and have for the last two years, but never seen them. But I have come across others on weekend rides - but never a confrontation.
  13. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Well-Known Member

    I'd say .357 is enough to carry, depending on the circumstances. Talk to the fish & game office in the area you plan on carrying to see what the bear population is. If bears are uncommon and browns are non-existant, .357 is plenty. If all you have to worry about are 2-legged creatures, wild dogs, cougars and the like, even .38+p would be enough.

    If there are lots of blackbears in the area, .44 would be sufficient while .357 would be pushing it. With lots of browns, something bigger is called for.
  14. smee781

    smee781 member


    It's better than a sharp stick!:rolleyes:
  15. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    I normally carry a .357 in New Mexico. It'll kill ANYTHING in that part of the world quite efficiently with a well placed shot or three. I've killed hog and deer with it, not a problem. I like a 4" medium frame gun because it's light on the hip and powerful and accurate. It can hunt small game or large if needed and is an effective gun in a gun fight with drug growers or such, though I'd rather have a rifle in that instance, but a .357 can reach out there if you know how. Heck, I can hit a 12" gong at 100 yards consistently with my snubby .38! the .357 is a natural by comparison, much flatter shooting. Unless you're one of the five people that live in Alaska, the .357 magnum is all you'll ever need in the woods. Truth be told, you probably won't need THAT. I've gone hikin' with nothing more than a .22 kit gun. I mean, rabbit for camp meat is a nice change from Dinty Moore beef stew. :D But, my medium frame. 357 is very accurate with .38 wadcutter loads. The beauty of the medium frame 4" .357 is its ease of carry and versatility afield. Neigh on perfection IMHO.
  16. rgs1975

    rgs1975 Well-Known Member

    I carry 158 grain .357's in a 4" wheel gun when in the mountains. Only bear I'd come across in my area is black. Haven't had to fend one off yet but if I do, and the 158's work, I'll be sure to post about it.

    If they don't work you'll probably hear about it in the news lol
  17. If you do shoot a bear with a .357, be prepared to dance around a tree for a while until it dies.

    You could get a lucky shot that kills it quickly but I wouldn't bet my life on it, and that kind of bet is exactly what we're talking about.

    Like other's have mentioned, brown bear are a whole different ballgame. Rifle calibers such as .338 Win are usually recommended for hunting them, and the .357 doesn't come even remotely close to that.

    180 gr @ 1145 for the .357


    225gr @ 2780 for the .338

    You can see there is a very serious performance gap between what is recommended for killing bear, and what has been suggested here.

    Another factor is hunting vs defense against bears. Hunting is usually done at a distance of relative safety. Defense is you trying to kill a bear while it's eating you.
  18. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    My 180s push 1400 fps from a 6.5" barrel. I ain't skird of no black bear. Heck, Davy killed one when he was only 3 years old! :D

    Seriously, black bear are not armor plated. If you HAVE to shoot one, a miss with a .44 ain't gonna work, either. Some Alaskan type says that often .357 is preferred in Alaska figurin' you're going to have to hit the head with ANY handgun caliber on a big brown and the .357 is easier to hit with for most shooters. Makes sense to me. A head shot is all that is going to stop one of those things if you have less than a 155mm, from what most tell me that have never been to Alaska. LOL! I reckon that if I ever went, I own a 12 gauge. My side by side is pretty light, easy to tote, fast to the shoulder, pretty accurate with foster slugs, and if you ain't hit him in two shots, you'll be bear scat in two hours anyway.

    Many a big bear has been killed by the inuit and other outdoor types in Alaska with the good ol' .30-30. Ain't the arrow, it's the Indian. I even read about two Indian girls out with a .22 rifle that killed what at the time was Canada's record book black bear with one shot to the head at about 15 feet. Hit the head and the fight is over. On a 1500 lb bear, even a .460 is weak and a head shot is the only sure stop.

    I, frankly, worry more about getting struck by lightening than being attacked by a black bear. :rolleyes: I mean, put this into the risk management perspective. I've crashed motorcycles at over 100 mph, intentionally been on bikes at over 170 mph on an asphalt road course, ride on the street (far more dangerous than racing) even! I've wade fished amongst sting ray and shark, hunted teal with the gators, and GOT MARRIED FOR CHRIST'S SAKE! You think I'm worried about a bear?! :rolleyes: :D
  19. bigmike45

    bigmike45 Well-Known Member


    I can always count on you for a good laugh when my day is going downhill. I still plan to get by and buy you a cup of coffee while we talk guns. Or I might just hollar at ya and have you meet me at the Bay Area gun range during lunch one day. I'll bring a couple of burgers, you bring the targets.

  20. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    I'm a javahaulic. :D Ready for a range trip about any time, too.

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