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Best Gun for Black Bear Defense

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by 4Freedom, Feb 5, 2009.

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  1. 4Freedom

    4Freedom member

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    Hi, I am reading lot of posts online about guns to use for defense against Black Bears. I am planning on doing backwood hiking and will be in black bear and cougar country. I have had few bad run-ins in the past that made me nervous. I will use pepper spray for my first defense, but many dont realize that pepper spray is not always a reliable defense tool, especially on windy days and in the even you are ambushed at close range.

    I have been reading about several guns. I am starting to think perhaps a .500 Smith & Wesson would be a good answer. I see Taurus makes some good priced high caliber guns, like the .454 Casull type. I am not sure which caliber woudl be best for me. I know there is many out ther.e

    I am a novice shooter, but what to have a powerful gun in the woods, regardless. I woudl also carry a 9mm pistol for backup and probably get some hunting type rounds for my 9mm in the wods as well.

    Some have suggested a 10mm Glock as a good potion for black bears, because it can take some good loads of bullets and has high round capacity. However, I am not sure if a 10mm will have enough knock down power. I also fear a gun like a .500 S&W may have a bit much recoil. I see they make some pretty large size and heavy barrel .500 S&W, so Iam wondering if the recoil is less?

    I guess I would like a gun that has least recoil and would be most effective to use against a charging bear. I like the idea of having a high round capacity, but if a 5 or 6 shooter has low recoil and a more powerful punch, maybe that would be a better option.

    I would say my budget for a black bear gun will run at $700-900 max. So, if someone can give me a good suggestions, I appreciate it. Also, if anyone has any knowledge about the high caliber Taurus .454 and .500 revolvers or the 10mm Pistols, I liek to know what they have to say.
     
  2. Oro

    Oro Member

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    I would suggest you use the search function and type "black bear" or "bear defense" - you will find many, many very contentious threads to amuse you. This comes up every three weeks it seems. Here is one raging in the Revolver section right now:

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=425057
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009
  3. owlhoot

    owlhoot Member

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    Black bears really don't pose much of a threat. But there are cases of them attacking, primarily, children.
    I used to hunt them extensively with dogs. I have killed several with .45acp FMJ, but I was in close and the bear was always busy with the hounds. I'm not touting that as the ideal bear gun, but I would certainly be comfortable with a .45 in black bear country. But primarily because I just wouldn't worry much about an attack.

    For your purposes I should think a .44 mag would be quite adequate. Your marksmanship is going to be far more important that the caliber of your gun. And you can practice with .44 special. The S&W Mountain Gun would be a sweet choice. Cheaper and very reliable would be a Ruger. I've no experience with the Taurus.

    This is just personal opinion but I think when a handgun gets as large and heavy as a .500 S&W, it makes more sense to carry a light rifle such as a Marlin 94 in .44mag or even a Marlin or Win. .30-30. But that is your call.

    I gather from your comments that you really aren't ready for the recoil of the bigger and hotter calibers. You should try shooting them and then determine if you can handle the recoil sufficient to gain mastery.

    You need not be too concerned about a high round count. In an emergency situation you would have time for one aimed shot or a couple of quick less precise shots at which point you would have suceeded or else would be in a world of caga. A black bear can cover a short distance very quickly. But unless cubs are involved and you are perceived as a threat, there really isn't much to worry about.

    Your 9mm should stay at home. There is little point in having two handguns on the trail. With leather, ammo, and gun you are talking about three pounds of extra weight.
     
  4. moooose102

    moooose102 Member

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    44 mag, 454 casul, 460 S&W, 500 S&W, 45/70 t/c contender, there are lots of good rounds out there. what does matter i how much recoil you can handle. if you are shaking like a leaf from recoil fear, you wont be able to hit the bear until it is 5 feet away. and that is just to close!
     
  5. jonnyc

    jonnyc Member

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    Preferably one attached to a helicopter.
     
  6. JImbothefiveth

    JImbothefiveth Member

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    A revolver is probably better than an auto for bear defense, because they are, I believe, less likely to jam if you have to fire at contact distance. (Such as if a bear's clawing you.)
     
  7. Redhawk1

    Redhawk1 Member

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    45 Colt, 44 Mag, 454 Casull, 480 Ruger, 475 Linebaugh, 500 Linebaugh, 460 Mag, 500 Mag, 510GNR.

    You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a good black bear defense handgun, a Ruger Blackhawk, Redhawk or Super Redhawk or the Ruger Alaskan. A S&W 629, 460 Mag or 500 Mag in the 4 inch version.

    Magnum Research has a few good handguns as well, with the short cylinders or even a long cylinder.

    Also a good hard cast bullet for penetration, and practice with the gun a lot to get proficient, and used to the gun and how it functions. I can shoot my single action revolvers as quick as I can a double action revolver.

    Black bear are more afraid of us, than we are of them. The chance of getting attacked is very low, but it is good to be prepared for the 3% chance it could happen to you. It does not take a lot to kill a black bear, but if I run up agents a bad one, I want a big gun that makes big holes and with penetrate from end to end, and all the rounds I mention above will do it with the right bullet and load.
     
  8. arizonaguide

    arizonaguide Member

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    Redhawk is right, but I would stick with the higher numbers...454+.

    Also it should be noted: good pump12ga, pistol grip, solid slugs can be had for around $150.

    Further read and consider bear spray: http://www.yellowstone-bearman.com/b_spray.html
     
  9. 4Freedom

    4Freedom member

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    Hi thanks for the advice. Yeah Arizonaguide, I remember I think it was you who I chatted with before on the debate of grizzly bears on a previous post. We both knew that using handguns was not useful for them. However, where I live we do have alot of black bears and I like the gun as a last resort, SHTF, save my butt kinda gun.

    Yes, I know all about bear pepper spray and have been carrying a can of it everywhere I go in the wilderness. However, bear pepper spray has some flaws. First of all, if there is a lot of wind, especially coming back towards you, pepper spray is not only worthless, but very dangerous, since you can end up spraying yourself and giving the bear a nice spicy dinner. Also, if you are ambushed and the bear is on top of you, pulling a can of spray is much less feasible than pulling a gun. At this point, you will not be able to get a shot of the bear or even cougar for that matter.

    Pepper spray is my first defense, handgun is my second. And I don't want a handgun that won't work, so I want to carry the best I can for under $700. As far as carryign a shotgun, I think it is illegal to possess any type of firearm in the national forests that I hike through, so I really don't want all the people to freak out, cause some guy is carrying a giant gun on his back. Also, once again, shotguns are big and if you get ambushed, you may not have the time to pull out your shotgun.

    Perhaps a .454+ is what I need. Some say a .500 is just too powerful for most people's hands, but I am not sure. I am a new shooter, but if I am being attacked by a bear, I would have lot less fear of my gun's recoil than the beast that wants to chomp me to death. I had a close call one time in my life and I know I am more cautious than most now.


    Can you suggest me any good brands that are under $700? I was hoping to score one in $500 or less range, but maybe can go $700 if it is a real spectacular gun. Just some of your personal preferences that you would advise to a newer shooter like me. Which gun can I find powerful hunting type rounds for and have the least recoil? Weight is not as much of a problem as size and concealment. Most handguns are not so heavy and I have lugged a 50lb backpack up a mountain 10,000 ft tall starting from 4000ft., so I don't mind an extra couple pounds.
     
  10. dmazur

    dmazur Member

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    IMO, you're going to have a problem finding powerful hunting type rounds without accompanying recoil. That said, a lot of folks consider a .44 Mag to be a good compromise between controllability and power. (There are more powerful calibers, but they are generally considered harder to control when shooting due to recoil.)

    I'm sure this is true in some National Forests, but most National Forests permit firearms, though you may get some worried stares from other hikers if you have a shotgun slung over your pack. I believe even the National Parks have a new rule that permits concealed carry of a pistol, provided it is allowed in State Parks in that state (and you have the appropriate pistol permit.)

    Back to the "which one" part of your question, I believe you can get a Ruger SBH for under your stated limit. You can read the other posts about bear defense and I'm sure the SA/DA argument is mentioned. If you prefer DA, they are available from Ruger as well, but tend to be a little more expensive.

    Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Mag, 4-5/8" barrel
     
  11. Redhawk1

    Redhawk1 Member

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    You can get new Blackhawk for around $500. The 45 Colt will work as well as a 44 Mag, and do it with less recoil.

    You can get a used Redhawk or Super Redhawk in the high $500 range.

    But if you are a new handgun shooter, I will advise you to stay in the 45 Colt or 44 Mag but use 44 specials to get use to the gun.

    Anything over a 44 Mag should be used by a seasoned hand gunner in my opinion. Jumping to a heavy recoiling handgun is going to cause you accuracy problem, because you "will" develop a flinch.

    A good 45 Colt with a hard cast bullet, will penetrate a black bear from head to tail. Don't let anyone tell you different. You can practice with cowboy loads, and then move up to buffalo bore loads. Do not get the new Ruger Vaquero, they will not handle the hotter loads, they are designed for cowboy loads only.

    The Ruger Blackhawk would be you least expensive route, and a good used one can be had for $350 to $400. That will leave you with money for a lot of ammo to practice with.

    I go to the range and set up bear size target, cut out of cardboard. I put them at different distances, I practice drawing my handgun, and shooting at the targets. Not just to hit the target, but to hit the target in the kill zone, head or in the vital area. I do this at a private range, so I can turn my back to the targets and then turn around draw my gun and shoot the target. We also have set up targets in the woods and shot at them.

    If you are going to carry a handgun for bear defense, you better practice pulling the gun from the holster and shooting. I find a single action great for this application, as you are pulling the gun, you can cock the hammer and then acquire you sight and target and then shoot. The same can be done with a double action, but the hammer does not have to be pulled back.

    But whatever you get, shoot it a lot, and get use to that gun, and become a proficient with it as you can. I hope I did not leave out "You need to practice, practice, practice.

    Also you can save money by reloading, and work up the most accurate load for you gun.
     
  12. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Howitzer is probably the best gun.

    A shotgun is probably the best practical gun.

    If it has to be a handgun and you are new to shooting a 357 magnum in a larger framed revolver may be just what you need.
     
  13. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    I would get a Super Blackhawk, not a Blackhawk.

    If I needed to cock a single action really fast, I'd take the SBH hammer hands down over any other I've tried.
     
  14. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Member

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    Me too, Armed Bear.

    And, if I were going to use one, I'd practice using it with both and only one hand.
     
  15. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    I have no idea why Ruger didn't switch to the SBH hammer on every New Model single action.

    The Montado has it, and AFAIK a good number of CAS shooters use them in whatever Rugers they have.
     
  16. arizonaguide

    arizonaguide Member

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    I would go with one of Redhawks rec's as I know from previous posts he's experienced with this, but I would stick with a double action for quick followup shots. That could be important: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMbnmLLnsfw

    I appreciate the idea about starting with a smaller caliber for accuracy, but I would also consider that your adrenaline will dump, and this will be a SHTF scenario where you will be lucky to draw, point, and fire a few times at a moving target, so I would still go with a 454 or better, in a double action. And ALWAYS use solid NON-EXPANDING / NON-HPoint AMMO for bear protection!

    Redhawk, do the .454 usually also fire the .45 colt that he could get some light loads for practice, but carry the full .454's?
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2009
  17. Hhrshooter

    Hhrshooter Member

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    My father always said don't go in the woods without a gun, and always carry enough gun. That said, a .44 Mag will just about cover what I need done. Yes, a .44 will take a black bear down. Providing you do your part and actually hit it. (Stress) Black bears are not known to be as big or as tenacious as your brown or grizzly bears. Would I recommend a pistol in bear country? Yes! I would highly recommend a rifle of good caliber too!
    Dave
     
  18. eye5600

    eye5600 Member

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    Somewhere in the past week or so, I saw a video of a bear charging a group in a rubber boat. The bear was dissuaded by the blast of a pistol shot into the water. It does suggest that a caliber/load with a lot of noise and blast has an advantage.
     
  19. Logos

    Logos member

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    Actually, though it's a fairly new idea, the 10mm Glock would be an excellent choice.

    You are more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a bear......and, sorry, the Glock will not help you there.

    ;)

    The weight of a substantial handgun in the woods is a comfort rather than a burden, however.....so I say, go for it.

    Make it a priority to get or do some training about the legal repercussions of carrying and using a pistol in the woods or wherever else you may go.

    It's getting more and more complicated all the time.

    Good luck.
     
  20. Redhawk1

    Redhawk1 Member

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    Yes most 454 Casull will shoot 45 Colts, the reason I say most is, FA does not recommend shooting 45 Colts in there 454 Casull's.

    As for single action, double action, some guys can shoot a single action just as quick and accurate as a double action. I have carried both in the woods.
     
  21. ahpd1992

    ahpd1992 Member

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    The Glock 10mm is an excellent choice. I will not let this drift into a "10mm is the best of the best of the best" tirade, but if you look at the different loadings being offered out there you will see there are an awful lot of choices in this caliber for a lot of different applications.

    I have a 610 revolver, 3 3/8" which is my hunting sidearm, loaded w/ Double Tap hard cast 200 grain (known as the bears tooth). It will do what needs doing. The upside is if I cant find 10mm then I can load up 40 S&W in the gun.

    My 1st choice however is my trusty old 12ga 870, plug removed, w/ 1 ounce remington copper solids. I dont know many land based animals that this combo wont take care of inside of 15 yards. Reliable, accurate, and very cheap
     
  22. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Well, I reload, but I still don't care for a 10. I'd rather get a 41 magnum, much more capable, I mean, if you're going to use it in a revolver. To me, the 10 is the auto lover's answer to the .357 for an automatic. The .41 is chambered in the same N frames and can do anything the .44 can do. I don't have a .41, like the caliber, but I do have a .45 Colt Blackhawk I can push 300 grain bullets out of rather swiftly with a healthy charge of 2400.
     
  23. kgpcr

    kgpcr Member

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    I live with black bear and they are not like Grizz. they are MUCH smaller and i would be fine with a .41 or a .44 or in a pinch my .357. Avg for a black bear is 200lbs. Also Blacks are not nearly as ornery as their Alaskan counter parts. With all the time i spend in Alaska i always pack my .454. You dont need anything that big for blacks in my opinion.
     
  24. Travis Bickle

    Travis Bickle member

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    Well, if you're willing to consider a long gun, it seems to me that you could do a lot worse than a Ruger .44 carbine. The recoil of .44 magnum out of a long gun is not nearly as bad as from a handgun.
     
  25. Gun Slinger

    Gun Slinger member

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    Ideally; a .375 H&H

    If forced to use a handgun; .44-.45 caliber revolver using a "heavy for caliber" SWC profile bullet with a large meplat cast of the hardest alloy that you can get loaded as fast as you can get it to go.
     
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