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.44 Mag too Weak for Black Bear in Oregon?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Evergreen, Aug 3, 2010.

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  1. Evergreen

    Evergreen Member

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    Hi, me and a more experienced, former marine, friend of mine have been going shooting with each other for the last few months. The guy has a considerable knowledge about guns and has also experienced combat. I, myself have had a few run-ins wiht black bear, which he has not had. I spent a lot of money and have purchased the best ammo possible for my S&W 629-4 .44 magnum. From doing a lot of research, I know that the .44 mag seems to be quite an effective round for small game.

    Well, my friend and I had a short discussion where he told me that a handgun is completely useless on a black bear. I said, "WHAT? You mean a brown bear, right?" He said "No, A black bear." He told me that a .44 magnum is not powerful enough to penetrate a bear's skull and would have a hard time penetrating the fur and cause enough damage to the bear to kill it quickly. In Oregon, we do have some really big black bears on the coast, some weighing in around 400lbs. The ones in the valley are more around 200-300lbs for the males. He also made the point that bears do not respond to pain like humans. His point was that, a human when hit will panic and stop trying to attack you based on the fact they are hurt, whereas an animal will not understand to the degree it is hurt and will keep trying to attack.

    I guess I was always under the impression that a .44 magnum could take care or seriously injure a black bear to the point where it is immobilized. I understand that no handgun, save for the 500 S&W is effective for a grizzly/brown bear. And also, I understand that shot placement is always key. If I am going to shoot a black bear, he will be very close to me.

    Is my friend wrong? Partly wrong? right? He claims the only gun that could kill a black bear in enough time to prevent injury is a shotgun loaded with a slug. He even claimed rifle rounds would be ineffective. I suppose against a grizzly bear this may be sound advice, but against an Oregon black bear, I really am skeptical.

    I am interested to hear people's view about my friend's claims. He said pepper spray is the only way to save yourself from a bear attack. Yet, I have heard of cases where pepper spray failed to deter a wildly angry sow with cubs.

    In the woods I carry 44magnum 320gr Corbon hard cast rounds. My friend claims this is not enough power to stop a black bear. He says their bone and fur would probably minimize its damage. I was under the impression, that this round could even lay a grizzly bear on its back, if I manage to score a decent enoug shot. However, I was hoping that with a black bear, I would have even an easier time stopping them with this round.

    Oh before you reply, please don't tell me stories of a .380ACP or .22LR killing a black bear. I understand any round can kill almost any animal on earth. I am talking about probablity and what is practical to use. Not special cases or miracles.


    P.S.
    FYI, I will be carrying a .44 mag on my chest for the 4-legged predators and a .45ACP on my hip for the 2-legged pedators and the oversized kitty cats.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  2. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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  3. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    A 44 magnum out of a pistol may or may not be enough, but may be enough out of a lever action rifle since muzzle energy will be increased. Though you have had run ins with black bear how many times have you had to fight one? My question to you would be how well can you keep it together when your pucker factor has increased enough to squeeze a diamond out of coal, while your heart rate is at 190 beats per minute, and the pucker factor has now failed and stuff is running down your leg. Can you put 5 or 6 well placed rounds into a 300 or 400 pound bear charging you at 40 mph in a matter of a few seconds with a revolver? At minimum I would carry a 35 remington but something is still better than nothing.
     
  4. Kitchen_Duty

    Kitchen_Duty Member

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    you could always bring a 500 NE chambered in a handgun.

    Is this a troll though? I mean there's a ton of threads just like this one asking about calibers on all different types of animals. And if it's me personally: i wouldn't carry two guns while walking about the woods: too much weight.
     
  5. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    I have NO bear hunting experience but a LOT of experience with the .44 Remington magnum and in MY opinion...your friend is all wet!
     
  6. jnyork

    jnyork Member

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    That.
     
  7. gun guy

    gun guy Member

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    if you are determined to do combat with against a bear, with a handgun put me down as the beneficary on your will, however a well tested handload, with a large charge of slow burning powder, from a long barrel, pushing something like a 300gr hornady xtp bullet would improve your odds. a ruger red hawk or black hawk is strong enough to push a hot load, a S&W model 29 isn't. I haven't worked with the Taurus raging bull series, they look stout, but with no personal data i can't make an informed opinion. i do know a friend and his partner were able to stop a grizzly that attacked with a 44 magnum pistol, and a 30-30 rifle working together. barely. if you plan to attempt this i would have a friend with a 300 weatherby backing you up. good luck
     
  8. Hammerhead6814

    Hammerhead6814 Member

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    All I read was ".44 Mag to Weak" and I knew someone wasn't being serious when they started that sentence. :D
     
  9. Evergreen

    Evergreen Member

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    I have almost 150 posts, asking a legitimate question and your calling me a troll? Personally, I think people should be warned/banned who so liberally call people trolls, but thats my opinion. To me the use of the word "troll" is a real insult to another high roader. It is a great word to use in legitimate cases.

    Well, I am sorry that you cannot handle the weight of a .44 and .45. I hardly even can tell I am carrying the extra weight. Try lugging a 60lb backpack up 4000ft of elevtion, if you think weight is an issue. I'm a mountain man, so it doesn't bother me.


    Yes, I know there is many bear threads on high road. There is also lots of threads asking about guns for self-defense. If threads about bears, or asking the best round for this and that offend you, why even bother replying, you are not contributing.


    THanks for all those who have posted some serious advice here. I was followed by a black bear on a trail and in fact there was a bit of piss in my pants. I still had enough guts left to jump up and down scream at it as well as having my pepper spray can poiinted at it. One thing I have ingrained in my mind is that running is useless. If you know you cannot run, the only other option in your petrified mind is to shoot or spray it before it gets too close.

    I know a shotgun or a high caliber rifle would be ideal, but unfortunately I go hiking in areas rife with gun-hating libs and I cannot openly be carrying a shotgun or rifle. Oregon is not MIssisippi. If you're hiking in the Mt. Hood, Rainier NP, Columbia Gorge or the Oregon coast and someone sees a large rifle on your back, you very well will freak people out. Freaked out people have been known to make phony calls to law enforcement about so-callrd madmen running in the woods with a gun. LOL

    I think for pratical reasons I will be carry a .44 mag concaled under my shirt in a chest holster. The .45 is IWB on my hip and I am use to carrying it like that all time.

    What I am still trying to figure out, is if the .44 mag with 320gr hard cast round is enough gun to stop most bear attacks, assuming I hit the bear center mass. I'm aware shot placement is key. There is no guarantees I won't get killed in a car accident on my way to go hiking in the woods. However, I am just taking the best precautions I can.

    But, if most people think a .44 mag will in most cases just piss a black bear off more than stop an attack, then I guess I will resort to pepper spray and keep the .44 for myself if that fails.


    My friend has had zero encounters with black bears, which makes me question his claims. He has had a lot a experience with fighting humans, which makes me respect his claims. Since, I am not sure what to believe I have posted my question here.
     
  10. Evergreen

    Evergreen Member

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    Freggin Typos..
    TOOOOOOO weak.

    Well, would you use a .44 mag on an elephant? They can be tooo weak at times.. This question relates to black bears.

    I hope one of mods can do me a favor and fix the spelling of my title... Thanks
     
  11. JellyJar

    JellyJar Member

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    Anybody here actually ever shot a bear with a handgun?

    I haven't.
     
  12. Jaybird78

    Jaybird78 Member

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    FROM WHAT I HAVE READ

    Minimum .44 mag for black bear country in a handgun

    Rifle should be primary weapon


    A old friend of mine had purchased a .454 Casull redhawk in the hopes of going black bear hunting.

    My advice is don't piss off the bears.
     
  13. jleyring

    jleyring Member

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    I live at the base of the Blue Mtns in Oregon. They hold more black bears and cougars there then in the rest of Oregon. A 44 mag will do enough for any black bear i have ever seen in Oregon. I wouldnt worry to much with 320 gr bullet from a 44 mag. Should be plenty to take a black bear down or at least it think twice about attacking still.
     
  14. gun guy

    gun guy Member

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    in alaska, tourists are encouraged to wear bells on their shoes and carry pepper spray in case of bear attack. you can tell the difference between black bear scat, and grizzly scat eaisly im told, the gizzly bear scat usually has tiny bells in it, and smells like pepper.
     
  15. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    Not one mention of any bear scat containing .44 magnum handguns.
     
  16. thunder173

    thunder173 Member

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    I carry a Ruger SBH,...yes,..I know,...that's a single action,.... in .44 mag. Do so up here in Northeast Michigan. Bears come in from 300 lbs and up,...some easily exceeding 400 lbs. I have never felt undergunned with the .44

    My opinion is that your pal is off base. Others may disagree.

    And btw,....I too like my .45 ACP,..but I wouldn't carry both at once.
     
  17. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    No the Late Elmer Keith killed Black Bears with a 357 Mag.
     
  18. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    not a bear,but i shot a large steer(1200lbs) between the eyes with a ruger blackhawk 44 mag. and a hard cast 250 keith style bullet (at eight feet) with a heavy load of imr 4227 and the bullet was recovered about 18 inches in the neck after going thru the skull, the skull had a 44 cal. hole thru it and quite a few neck vertabre were smashed and it fell strait down dead. eastbank.
     
  19. Leanwolf

    Leanwolf Member

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    With that 320 grains bullet... you might shoot all the way through the bear. Certainly a .44 Mag. will -- with the proper bullet placement -- stop a Black bear.

    Several years ago I killed a 400 pound Black bear with my S&W 57 in .41 Magnum with 220 grains hardcast in front of a healthy dose of Blue Dot. Went in the upper chest, through the heart, and out the back by the spine.

    I have a friend who stopped a Black bear here in Idaho at about 20 feet when the bear was in his camp and came at him. .44 Magnum with standard factory 240 grains JHP load. Remington, I think. Practically blew half the bear's upper skull off. (Yeah, I saw the pictures.)

    If you shoot well, don't worry about that .44 Mag. It'lll do just fine so long as you do your part.

    L.W.
     
  20. gun guy

    gun guy Member

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    as to trolling, as long as what you have to say, or your question concerns firearms, is well put,with no profanity, etc, who cares how many posts you have. the administrators should be thrilled there is such interest. Sadly, once in a tiny position of power, become instant water cooler dictators deciding what they personally think the rules should be. its called the first amendment, even if a post conflicts strongly with your opinion, or your religion, it doesnt matter, this is an open chat room, you opened it, deal with it, if you can't respect the first amendment, you dont deserve the second.
     
  21. Kentucky_Rifleman

    Kentucky_Rifleman Member

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    There are other, more powerful handgun cartridges around (.454 Casull, the Linebaughs, S&W 460 & 500 to name just a few...) but the .44 Mag is still a brute.

    It's easy to get caught up in Magnum mania and forget just how potent the old standby .357, .41, and .44 Magnums are.

    I hope I never cross paths with any bear or cougar while in the wilderness, but we have both here in KY. When I'm out in boondocks these days, I'm carrying the .44. I feel perfectly safe.

    Black bears aren't grizzlies or Kodiaks. We had a black bear attack a hiker near here this past spring. The man being attacked and a couple of good-Samaritan hikers who heard the ruckus fended off the bear with sticks, rocks, and persistence. A .44 would have ended the whole affair rather quickly.

    KR
     
  22. Idano

    Idano Member

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    Evergreen,

    You can tell your friend that he's full of it. Here is a 6-1/2 footer I took in Island Park with a Colt Anaconda in 44 mag using a 240 grs. JHP bullet that was driven with 23.4 grs. of H110 for a velocity of 1366 fps. I was archery hunting and had just sit down and let out a calf call and this boy came in on a dead run straight toward me. I aimed for the center of his chest and fired one shot at 30 yards that folded him and he never got up. I have no doubt that the 44 mag will take down anything in the lower 48 and is the only side arm I'll carry in the Northwest
     

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  23. OYE

    OYE Member

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    "Anybody here actually ever shot a bear with a handgun?"

    Yes, 44 mag. 240 grain Rem Flatpoint ~ 1350 fps, ~35 yds. one shot kill. Problem black bear.
     
  24. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Your friend is simply wrong. The .44Mag has been used to take every head of game on earth, including the African Big Six. Your Corbon 320gr will in all likelihood exit just about any black bear in existence from just about any angle.
     
  25. Evergreen

    Evergreen Member

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    Wow, nice rug thear Idano.. Nice to walk upon the very beast who may have had you for supper. Well, your story does boost my confidence. Really, I have heard of many stories of the .44 doing the job, but my friend kind of raised my fears once again. The last thing, I wanted God forbid, was another bear thread. I am just trying to see if my friend, who is a gun expert, is perhaps overstepping his boundaries. A lot of "gun experts", have the habit of thinking they know everything. I think from what you have said and others, that his assessment of black bears resistance to the .44 mag is way off. Of course, shot placement is key. There have been even humans who keep on going with a .44 mag in them. God forbid, I am ever in a situation where i have to shoot a bear. However, if I do, I have to know whether I go for the pepper spray or the .44. I think the .44 is still the best option.


    Well, the member Kitchen Duty, a fellow Pacific Northwesterner, sadly enough, made insulting comments. Calling people trolls I think qualifies as a personal attack. I did read some of the forum rules and it says personal attacks/name-calling of other members is not allowed. There was nothing trollish about the post; rather he just didn't like the topic or felt it was repetitive and decided to stick his tongue out at me :neener: .

    Ok, enough drama.. I really am enjoying reading the comments and they are helpful. As well, even with 2000 bear posts, each one supplies its own good information. FYI, I have read tons of them and never get bored of them.



    Well Gunguy, I take it you agree with my friend on the issue. However, you are only giving me examples of encounters with brown bears. Brown and black bears are two totally different types of animals. At the distance you will usually be shooting, lets say you get jumped, you probably can grab your pistol quicker than a rifle. In the case of my last bear encounter, I stumbled onto the bear and didn't even realize it and we saw each other face to face, he jumped in the bush and started trailing me. Had he decided to just charge, I would have had no time to grab my rifle/shotgun.


    My S&W 629 can handle most of the loads the Ruger Redhawk can. The only difference is that these hotter loads can be shot more often without any risk of malfunctions in the Ruger gun. I have contacted S&W, Corbon and talked to various people who told me that the S&W can handle the hot loads, but that these loads should not be plinked with on a daily basis. Do I really need a load that is hotter than those packed in my 320gr Corbon's, at 1175fps / 981ft/lbs? If I really need a load hotter than this and to shoot it often, perhaps i should move up to a .454 Casull or .460SW. I've been shooting the .44 mag 240gr at 1310fps without any problems. S&W said this load would be safe enough to shoot. Is this round not sufficient for black bears? Somehow, I think it is.



    Thanks Craig.. I am taking yours and the others advice here as fact. It's always daunting when a guy who is a weapons expert and has experienced combat comes and tells you something that so much contradicts everything else you heard. However, I will simply accept he is wrong on this subject. I will still feel safer with my .44 mag revolver than my can of pepper spray.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
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