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357 black bear loads question

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

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  1. Big JJ

    Big JJ Member

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    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.
    Thanks
     
  2. RalphS

    RalphS Member

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    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 Member

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  4. Denada

    Denada Member

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    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 Member

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    The fireball will scare him off. :D

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

    xXxplosive Member

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    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 Member

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    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 Member

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    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 Member

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    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.

    http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/67414-5.html

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

    montanaoffroader Member

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    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 Member

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    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 Member

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    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

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    I'd go with 125 grain JHP.

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

    http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/lion/attacks.html

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

    rc
     
  14. BossHogg

    BossHogg Member

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    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 Member

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    Not true.
     
  16. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    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.

    rc
     
  17. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    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 Member

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    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 Member

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    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 Member

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    Our bears must be bigger around here.
     

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  21. ACP

    ACP Member

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    I've shot that Buffalo Bore load out of my S&W 686 -- the world did not come to an end, as I had expected, and it was very accurate.

    I'd sight it in at 20 yards or so.

    The .357 will be more controllable in rapid fire than the .44, but it does give up foot/lbs., so study your bear anatomy.
     
  22. BossHogg

    BossHogg Member

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    Nice job, what it weigh in at and what did you shoot it with.
     
  23. hogshead

    hogshead Member

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    430 pounds 35 rem 6'3 from its nose to it's tail
     
  24. Waywatcher

    Waywatcher Member

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    I'm with rcmodel on this one. Worry more about cougars and crackheads and get a load accordingly.

    If you can handload, there is a valid argument for a hardcast big meplat 158 SWC. They're really cheap for how decent they are.
     
  25. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Also study your bear behavior and psychology. Good woodscraft is your your best, first line of defense.

    With all due respect to Skidder, on the subject of bear spray, here is some reading that might interest you. For the record, spray has a better track record across the Arctic Tier than firearms at keeping humans from serious injury. Firearms, not so much. Without a CNS hit, most bears, even fatally shot, have enough steam to eat your lunch pretty good before they expire.

    And remember, (in Alaska, and, I suppose, where you are the laws are not much different) if you kill a bear in self-defense, you are obliged to skin it, preserve the cape and skull and turn everything over to the State of Alaska, leaving you with nothing but the story. That's a lot of trouble to go through for a trophy you can't keep. If you DON'T kill it, you have left a VERY dangerous animal in your wake.

    These are anecdotal, but real.

    Read this thread, especially post #18 The 44s and 45s used by Murphy on Black Bears in Maine and North Carolina all had considerably more energy, momentum and mass than any .357 Magnum.

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/showthread.php?t=54852
    or if the link does not work, paste this into your web browser
    forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/showthread.php?t=54852


    Then read this newspaper story from 4/18/08, Anchorage Daily News,

    http://www.adn.com/bearattacks/story/147318.html
    or if the link does not work, paste this into your web browser
    adn.com/bearattacks/story/147318.html

    "Bear spray stops charging sow .. SAVED: Couple hiking Peters Creek Trail used Counter Assault."

    This was not an advertisement. Craig Medred is an outdoor writer on staff at the Anchorage Daily News.

    A followup story ran on 4/20
    http://www.adn.com/bearattacks/story/381252.html
    or
    adn.com/bearattacks/story/381252.html

    http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=505401

    Read the post on the fifth page of posts about 2/3 of the way down the screen. But don't overlook the picture of the bear skull. Then imagine what a narrow aperture that bullet has to go through so it doesn't just slide out around the skull under the scalp.

    The most persuasive testimony I ever read was from this Montanan, dubbed Windwalker:

    But here is more evidence:

    In the study for the Wildlife Management journal, scientists examined 83 bear-spray incidents from 1985 to 2006 involving 61 grizzly bears, 20 black bears and two polar bears.

    "Ninety-eight percent were uninjured by bears in close-range encounters," they concluded. The few that were injured suffered minor wounds.

    Clearly, Smith said, the stuff works.

    Now a professor of wildlife science at Brigham Young University, Smith spent years working in Alaska as a bear biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and still owns a cabin on the Kenai Peninsula's Skilak Lake, where he regularly retreats on vacation.

    His co-authors are widely recognized authorities on bears.

    Herrero, now at the University of Calgary in Alberta, authored "Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance," now considered the essential handbook for people wanting to learn about bears. DeBruyn heads up bear research for the National Park Service in Alaska. Wilder now works for the National Marine Fisheries Service.

    Collectively, they represent a storehouse of knowledge about bears, and they gave pepper spray a clear endorsement.

    "Bear spray represents an effective alternative to lethal force," they wrote.

    But it is not without drawbacks, and there are other things people can do to minimize dangerous wildlife encounters. Ramm believes if he and Alexander had made more noise hiking through thick brush along Peters Creek, they would have avoided the grizzly.

    And Smith notes there have been problems with bear spray in the wind, although its biggest drawback may be the one-shot limit. Once used, Counter-Assault cannot be reloaded.

    As for the wind, Smith reported that in "7 percent of bear spray incidents, wind was reported to have interfered with spray accuracy, although it reached bears in every case."

    First developed in the 1960s as a means to ward off aggressive dogs, red-pepper spray is noxious stuff that leads to painfully swollen eyes and nasal passages. Ramm, who has experienced tear gas, called pepper spray far worse.

    "Bear spray diffuses potentially dangerous situations in the short term by providing the user time to move out of harm's way and allowing the bear time to reassess the situation and move on," Smith wrote. "When food or garbage is involved, bear spray is effective initially, but one can expect bears to (return) until these attractants are removed."

    But bear spray is not quite perfect. Smith notes some problems:

    • Spray residue has been found to attract brown bears rather than repel them. Someone who sprays a bear in a camping area could inadvertently turn the campground into a bear-baiting station.

    When I am in bear country, I carry both spray and gun, but if only one, the spray.

    Lost Sheep
     
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