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357 black bear loads question

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Big JJ, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. Big JJ

    Big JJ Well-Known Member

    I have a S&W model 19 2 inch. I am going to use it for a trail gun in California black bear county this spring.
    I would like your recommendations for the best factory black bear loads for this gun.
    Yes I know that I should go with a 44 mag or up but this is what I have for now.
    I also reload so if you have any reload recomendations for this use please send them over if you have tested them.
  2. RalphS

    RalphS Well-Known Member

    Try a 180-185 grain hardcast lead bullet. Buffalo Bore sells a 180 grain bear load if you don't reload. Only costs about $1.50 per round.

    My handload is a 185 grain Beartooth Bullet going at an average of 1293 fps out of a 4 inch barrel. Reloading data can be found at loadswap.com. Look for the load that Marshall Stanton (the owner of Beartooth Bullets) has entered. It's a very hot load so work up carefully. I shoot it in a GP-100 which is a very strong 357. You decide if you want to beat up your Model 19 with this load. I only beat up my Rugers.

    If not, try some 2400 instead of H-110. I don't have load data for 2400 yet but eventually I'll get around to it.

    Missouri Bullet Company sells a 180 grain hardcast which is cheap and can be used for load development and practice. They cost $38 for 500 plus shipping.

    I like Missouri Bullet Company but their bullet is not designed for bear protection. The meplat is too small. Get the Beartooth bullets or something similar for your carry ammo.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  3. skidder

    skidder Well-Known Member

  4. Denada

    Denada Member

    Second Ralph's and Skidder's suggestion of a lead hard cast bullet load from Buffalo Bore, though it will certainly be a handful out of a 2 inch gun. This load should serve you well as an emergency load, and it sounds like you are well aware of the limits of this gun and caliber for any intentional bear hunting.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  5. skidder

    skidder Well-Known Member

    The fireball will scare him off. :D

    Right on the money Denada.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  6. xXxplosive

    xXxplosive Well-Known Member

    It's been my experience over the years, if you don't drop a black bear with the 1st shot, they can absorb a lot a lead once the addrenelin starts flowin'...........a .44 Mag. would be a much better choice......also the last bear I skinned had three .38 Cal. rounds under his skin that never penetrated into any vitals.....they were just loged there like splinters.
  7. Big JJ

    Big JJ Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info team.
    Ya I am awear of the limitations of the gun.
    With that in mind do you guys think that the gun will have any issues with the Buffalo Bore hot loads considering that I am only using them as a carry load and not going to use them for practice.
    I will reload slower range rounds for practice.
    It is is mint condition and made in 1998.
  8. skidder

    skidder Well-Known Member

    If that's the only handgun you have for hiking, you might as well go out with a bang. :D

    I'm just being a smart *ss. You are way better off with your 19 2" than just a can of pepper seasoning. Let me tell all of you, that pepper spray is overrated. I think it would work fine in perfect conditions, but just make sure you ask the cute little teddy bear to stand down wind. I fired my can of UDAP into a slight breeze to test it out, and you can keep that S**T.:cuss:
  9. Weedy

    Weedy Well-Known Member

    You could try the Federal CastCore 180 grain hardcast rounds as well, if you're concerned about the BB rounds being too "hot." The Federals don't have quite as much stank on 'em, plus they are quite a bit less expensive than the BB's.


    And if I were you, I'd feel adequately armed for black bear with a .357 and good hard cast rounds.
  10. montanaoffroader

    montanaoffroader Well-Known Member

    I hiked all over Humboldt and Trinity counties with a Colt SAA .357 loaded with 180 grain hard cast bullets over 12 grains of 2400. Never actually had to shoot a bear with it, but I felt better knowing it was there if I needed it.

    Now that I live in Montana, I carry a .44 in the woods. Bigger bears around here.....;)
  11. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    I clocked my 180 JHP/XTP out of a 2.25" SP101 at over 1300 fps 662 ft lbs IIRC. The heavier bullets accelerate slower and catch more of the pressure peak. Lighter bullet loads are more negatively affected by the shorter barrel. Same load in my 6.5" Blackhawk clocks 1400 fps for 785 ft lbs.

    It's the 110 and 125 grain stuff that's hard on forcing cones. The heavier bullet loads are easier on the gun, actually. I'd have no fear for the gun, it's tough enough, so long as you don't shoot 100 rounds a day in it. And, could you AFFORD that with Buffalo Bore? I am stingy with my handloads and all I'm buying is powder, primer, and bullet. :D I mostly shoot a hot 165 grain gas check SWC that I cast myself from a Lee mold if I'm not shooting .38 in my .357s and it's been my carry load in bear country many times. I've shot hogs and deer with it with great success, never had to shoot a bear. Around the areas I've hiked, I'm more worried about drug cartels than bear. Always good to be prepared, though. I carry a 4" Taurus 66 now days out there, concealable in a fanny pack. Must be concealed in a national park. Up in New Mexico, I usually open carry.
  12. huntershooter

    huntershooter Well-Known Member

    I run a CP or Beartooth 180 gr. WFNGC with 2400 @ 1250 FPS+ out of a couple 4" N frame S&W's.
    Lot of penetration, great accuracy from my revolvers.
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I'd go with 125 grain JHP.

    Far more hikers get attacked by cougers & crack heads then black bears in California.


    And the 125 JHP will work much better on a couger or crack head then a 180 grain bear load.

  14. BossHogg

    BossHogg Well-Known Member

    I've seen plenty of black bears in the woods. The majority will keep well away from you. They are not very aggressive. Stand tall make yourself as big as you can and they will give ground. I've come up on them with cubs and don't know who was spooked the most, me or them, but they always gave ground and run off. Now the big Brown bears is awhole different story, but where I live it's not a problem.

    I do carry my 45 colt because I know they're there, but haven't came close to having to use it. During bear season I've not seen any, seems to be the way it works.
  15. S&Wfan

    S&Wfan Well-Known Member

    Not true.
  16. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sure it's true.

    The 125 JHP has the best police shooting record of any .357 Mag load.

    And cougars are relatively small, lightly constructed creatures, even less so then humans.

    A 180 will shoot a .357 dia hole through them.
    A 125 will expand and dump some energy inside, while tearing up more internal parts.

    The result would be a faster stop on a couger, or a human.

  17. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    The hottest round in the world ain't worth squat if you don't hit what you aimin' at. If it's something that you are depending on to save your life, you need to practice with it, enough to become proficient with it. Problem with those big "Bubba Bore" loads is they are generally not pleasant to shoot outta snub nosed guns, so folks practice with something else, but then load them when they perceive the need. Truth is, you need to practice with what you are gonna use. A heavy for caliber hot load will most certainly print differently than a standard 158gr load. If one does not know how much or have the sights adjusted appropriately, they are probably just as well off to just throw the gun at the danger. Black bears are not that big, nor are they a great threat to humans. I'd be most comfortable with a 158gr/180gr JSP or hardcast that shoots where I put the sights, doesn't make me flinch from just the thought of shooting them and that I practice with all the time.
  18. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    In a 2" gun, I'd NEVER load the anemic 135 grain stuff. You'll barely get 400 ft lbs with it IF that. A 180 puts up over 600 (as previously mentioned, I think) from a 2.25" barrel. Done the chronographing myself. 125 grain bullets need 4" barrels to do ANYthing. I suspect all those police shootings were with 4 and 6" barrels. I carry a 140 grain JHP load in my 3" Taurus 66 for social occasions. I'll carry my 9x19 Kel Tec in preference to a 125 grain .357 from a 2" barrel. It makes 410 ft lbs with a 115 grain +P XTP and has no where NEAR the flash/bang.
  19. JaxJim

    JaxJim Well-Known Member

    I have too bumped into quite a few black bear in the woods and they have all pretty much turned and run. I had a female give me the "stink eye" because she had a couple of yearling cubs with her, but when they ran away she just snorted and ran too.

    I've never shot a bear with a .357, but have a hog, and a 150 pound sow hit the ground pretty quick with a 158 gr SWC pushed pretty hard with Unique out of a 4" King Cobra.
  20. hogshead

    hogshead Well-Known Member

    Our bears must be bigger around here.

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