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Best Gun for Tent Camping in Bear Country

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Alaska444, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

    This thread was suggested by a commenter on another thread, perhaps a bit tongue in cheek, but an interesting issue and variation of self defense in bear country.

    With the changes in bear population, human population and degree of habituation, the question was, what is the best gun for tent camping while hunting in bear country.

    Should it be a rifle in various calibers, pistol or revolver for ease of access?
  2. Clean97GTI

    Clean97GTI Well-Known Member

    Bear mace backed up by a shotgun with slugs. Used to have a camping buddy who swore by cherry bombs dipped in glue and coated with BBs. Light it, toss at a bear or wolf and the stinging pop of steel scares them off without serious injury.

    I only ever saw it work on a coyote though. Scavenger vs predator could make a lot of difference.
  3. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    Where legal if I'm camping around bear I have my Glock 20 loaded with Doubletap 200 gr hardcast bullets. These chronograph at 1315 fps in my gun and are plenty for any black bear.

    Any 357 or 44 magnum revolver, properly loaded will also work well. The 454, 460 and 500 revolvers are much more than needed and I'd just as soon carry a rifle up the mountains as one of these. A rifle is better out in the open, but if something happens while in a tent it is not practicle. Often I'm hunting while camping in bear country and also have a rifle. If practical it would be the one i'd reach for, but not while actually in a tent.

    I own 357 and 44 mag revolvers in both 3" and 4" versions and still prefer the 10mm. The Glock is an inch shorter and almost a full pound lighter than the 3" gun. Over a pound lighter than the 4" guns and almost 2" shorter. Anyone who has done any serious backpacking in mountains will understand that saving 1 lb is huge.

    And I don't lose that much performance over magnum revolvers. The hottest 10mm loads are about equal to the hottest 357 loads, but only when the 357's are fired from 6" or longer barrels. A hot 10mm from a Glock wll slightly beat the best 357 loads when they are fired from 4" or shorter barrels. And the difference between 44 is less than many think. The 44's quoted velocities are from 8" barrels. When fired from 3-4" barrels you can take 150-300 fps off the advertised speeds. It will still better the 10mm, just not by as much as many realise.

    Remember, SD from predators is different from hunting them. If I were handgun hunting bear, I'd make different choices. A long barreled magnum revolver, even the monster 460 and 500 start making sense. But in the mountains, just as on city streets we make compromises. Few, if any of us would walk down mainstreet with a tactical shotgun or AR slung over our shoulder. Instead most of us discretely carry a small 38 revolver, 380 or 9mm handgun concealed.
  4. azwizard

    azwizard Well-Known Member

    Inside the tent? It would have to be a pistol .357 or larger loaded heavy for caliber with hard cast bullets. More than likely you'll be in your sleeping bag and I'm thinking it would be really hard to deploy your rifle or shotgun from inside the bag. Since your talking a hunting trip you probably already have an appropriate Rifle Shotgun for outside the tent use. It's how I've always gone.
  5. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    Bear mace backed up by a large bore magnum revolver. You ain't gonna maneuver a shotgun in a tent quite as easily. Of course, this assumes proficiency with said revolver.
  6. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    makes you more paranoid, paranoid keeps you sharp and makes you LEARN not to do stupid things like sleep with snacks in your tent/bag...

    there is no great gun, there are those guns that will perform adequately, and of those the FEW you are good/comfortable with. Better to walk around naked with no gun than have one and walk around with the magical talisman of confidence. Most bear encounters happen either out of ignorance (overconfidence) or surprise, and learning how to handle and avoid bear is MUCH better than any gun.

    OH and bear spray, while maybe not as effective (works better on Griz/brown bear than blacks) does prevent the rectal exam from F&G.

    OK, NEXT
    so you are in a tent with XXXX many people
    and XXXX many are armed with a gun under their pillow
    and a bear does come for the twinkie you keep for the 2am snack.

    You wake up to your tent collapsing, everybody unlimbers and lets loose - me thinks this is not well thought out.
    who are you shooting over/around, do you see what you are shooting (golden 4...)
    plenty of guys shot by a buddy trying to 'save' them from a bear.
  7. danweasel

    danweasel Well-Known Member

    Not a gun, a load:

    Brennake Black Magic.
  8. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

    I always liked a 4" M-29 and a little growler dog. That thing can hear a cat through the house walls on a windy night in a rainstorm.
  9. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

    Ha. Serious business but you made me remember/laugh.
    A long time ago, down at Big Trees CA, me and a bunch of friends were ground camping overnight. We were all heavily armed. Racoons were being little bastards.. groups of them trying to get a little baby in one of those swings just out of the Coleman light unbeknown to its parents.. denying us free travel down a lane at dusk.. (we would have/wanted to waste them all but it was Big Trees).
    Anyway, we made a joke that if anything happened in the night, just kinda bounce up like six inches and start stitching the nap of the earth. that kinda got a laugh
  10. 06

    06 Well-Known Member

    My personal tent has velcro sealed doors on each end with double foyers. Unless the tent is collapsed on me I can get out either end quickly with pistol in hand. Like that Velcro.
  11. hogshead

    hogshead Well-Known Member

    I would lean towards a 44. I don't think pepper spray would be a good idea in a tent. Probably just spray yourself and having to get eaten by a bear with your eyes full of pepper spray would have to be worse than just being eaten.
  12. azwizard

    azwizard Well-Known Member

    Ha, lol, I think the pepper spray inside the tent just makes for a preseasoned snack for the bear.
  13. X-Rap

    X-Rap Well-Known Member

    I still want to see how one trains and what you shoot at when in a crowded camp/campground. So much talk about over penetration in a defensive scenario in a public place like a resturant, mall or home but very little on campgrounds, predator attacks, and being half asleep.
    Are there good light rails for 44+ revolvers?
  14. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    I don't care if it it's me or him, as long as he decides it's too spicy to eat, I'll take a dose of spray any day over 3 guys spraying lead.

    What do you call a tent/sleeping bag in bear country:
    candy wrapper....

    point is, tents tend to fail when stood upon by a couple hundred pounds of animal.
  15. T.R.

    T.R. Well-Known Member

    The number of bear attack threads is amazing to me.

  16. splattergun

    splattergun Well-Known Member

    Clean camp = top priority. Gat = 2nd or 3rd.
  17. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

    +1 , the .44 magnum is a great woods/bear gun and it is my first choice when not carrying a rifle.
  18. a-sheepdog

    a-sheepdog Well-Known Member

    I don't care for bear sprays too much. If you own a large bore pistol/revolver, that would be my first choice. When I am in bear country, I generally carry my 4" Smith 44 mag with stout loads, which I do practice with. Not sure what you now own, but I would want something that I was used to shooting. If you get awoke in the middle of the night and under bad circumstances, things may go south quickly and you will be dumping adrenaline so something you are familiar with would be best. I agree that a shotgun may be unwieldy, especially if its a smaller sized tent. A dog is a good alarm, which may give you a little more reaction time to get your bearings and decide what action you need to take.
  19. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Ignorant people have been turning wildlife into monsters forever so "if your only tool is a hammer all your problems get treated as nails" folks overreact.

    I grew up in the mountains around black bears. There were any number of times someone ignorant of them would comment on the "big black dog" and I'd point out it was just another black bear. Prevention is the solution to just about every encounter, and not smearing yourself with bacon and Ho-Hos is pretty vital as well.

    Keep food out of camp. Keep garbage out of camp. Keep all waste out of camp. Don't smell like junk food and grease and you won't get attention from black bears. Try not to loose your mind about them.
  20. Lloyd Smale

    Lloyd Smale Well-Known Member


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