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Better woods carry - heavy .40 or heavy .357mag?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by ShooterMcGavin, Jan 26, 2010.

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  1. ShooterMcGavin

    ShooterMcGavin Member

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    I hike/backpack in the Pacific Northwest and I want a gun with great penetration. We have bears (even some grizzly), moose, and cougars. Of course, I am only trying to prepare for the very worst encounter. Yes, I know the more likely threat comes from humans, but I'm not going into the woods with a .380 because of that.

    As options, I have a S&W M&P40 (15+1 capacity) and a Ruger SP101 in .357 magnum with 2-1/4" barrel (5 shot). I have some 200gr Double Tap ammo for the M&P40 and I was planning on buying some 200gr Double Tap for the .357.

    I know the .357 magnum has a reputation for great penetration and it has taken down every animal in the lower 48. The SP101 is tough and dependable. The M&P40 carries 16 rounds (MUCH more than I can envision needing) and recoil is more easily controlled. With those two guns/calibers as options, which would you choose and why?
     
  2. REAPER4206969

    REAPER4206969 Member

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    Neither are a good choice in grizzly country. .44 REM MAG minimum.
     
  3. REAPER4206969

    REAPER4206969 Member

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    Is there really that big of a grizzly threat in WA/OR/ID?
     
  4. ShooterMcGavin

    ShooterMcGavin Member

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    I don't believe so. I think a moose encouter would require the advantages of a heavy, hard-hitting bullet more than the typical bear I'd run into.

    Grizzly are pretty rare here. Those are my options and I do not have any extra money.
    Also, I am trying to keep weight down at least a little. I don't really want a 40oz. gun if I can avoid it. A rifle would be the real answer :)
     
  5. REAPER4206969

    REAPER4206969 Member

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    I would carry the M&P. 16 rounds of modern bonded 180gr. .40 out of a fullsize service pistol beats 5 rounds of .357 MAG out of a compact, heavy revolver with poor sights. I carry my Glock 23 (.40) everywhere.
     
  6. Boats

    Boats member

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    You stand a better chance of getting struck by lightning in Washington State than you do of encountering a grizzly bear. USFWS estimates there are fewer than 20 grizz in all of the northern Washington Cascade range.

    There are no grizzlies in Oregon, the last confirmed one having been killed in 1930. Oregon is now black bear country.

    If you expand the "PNW" to include Idaho, you'd probably know whether you were hiking/camping in the Bitterroot Recovery Zone in east central Idaho, the only place you'll likely encounter grizz.

    A .357 Magnum will cover the contingency of facing off with humans, cougars, and black bears.

    I don't trust loads in auto pistols that push the theoretical maximum for bullet weight because those loads are usually close to max acceptable OAL. They can also pressure spike if the bullet is set back when chambered. While these issues can also effect revolvers, (recoil causing crimp jump tying up the cylinder) the .357 magnum's case is more generously dimensioned for its heavier loadings than is the .40S&W's. The revolver's heavier rounds can also be shaped with flat points with no regard given to a feeding friendly shape.

    I trust revolvers for the woods more than any auto. Then again, mine is not a snubby, which aren't exactly great trail guns in anything less than .44 Magnum.
     
  7. REAPER4206969

    REAPER4206969 Member

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    We're talking about an SP101 here. The M&P with 180gr. bonded load is a far better choice.
     
  8. Boats

    Boats member

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    Yeah, I did make a note that mid caliber snubbies suck as trail guns. Still I don't like the max loads in .40S&W, which has a rather limited margin for error in OAL and bullet setback. I also wouldn't want the M&P along if it has a mag disconnect because then five shots are going to easily beat no shots if the mag becomes unseated and hits the dirt on a draw.

    Chances are extremely good that he won't encounter anything in need of shooting if he exercises even a little bit of common sense regarding hiking and using smart camping practices with regards to food handling.
     
  9. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Shooting a moose? That's totally uncalled for. Anyway I'm not sure what good it would do. They don't usually realize they've been shot for about a minute. Just run away from a charge, you'll be fine.

    As far as the choice, it really comes down to what platform you want to carry around with you. I like my Speed Six in a chest holster for trail carry, loaded with 200 grain hardcasts. Cast Performance makes them now and you can fine tune your loads for the weapon you're using. You don't have to crank up the FPS to get fantastic penetration from them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
  10. cz85cmbt

    cz85cmbt Member

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    Geez, a full size .357 would be great but not a snub. The .40 is tough because most light bullets expand fast for effectiveness on human attackers while 180 grain loads lack serious foot pounds. So go to buffallo bore they have a heavy 180 grain load with a gold dot has 484 foot pounds at the muzzle, problem is with an auto loader you trust your life with, you want to put a minimum of 100-200 rounds through it to make sure it is reliable. They also make a short barrel tactical .357 load with a gold dot that will do about 400 foot pounds or more with about a 2" barrel and revolvers you can get away with shooting a cylinder and you know you are 100% reliable. Both of these are solid for cougars and most black bears but pushing it for a grizzly.
     
  11. ShooterMcGavin

    ShooterMcGavin Member

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    I'm not sure why I even need to explain myself here. Are you trying to make me out to be some blood-thirsty lunatic or did you not read my post very closely? I clearly stated "I am only trying to prepare for the very worst encounter".

    What do you plan to do when you are hiking, in a thinly wooded area, maybe some snow on the ground, with your girlfriend (who isn't the track-star runner that you are), and you crested a hill a little too close to a moose or its cub? I can tell you that ONE OPTION is to hope and pray that the moose doesn’t trample and kick her too hard.

    When I go hiking with a girl next, I suppose that's what I should tell her. :rolleyes:
     
  12. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    ShooterMcGavin,
    The advice for a moose charge is correct. He's not telling you to act like a girl, he's telling you either handgun will do no good on a moose until you are hanging from it's rack. You will be safer avoiding the charge than shooting at the moose with a handgun.

    I'm guessing the M&P 40 is your daily carry so why not carry both so you have a backup.
     
  13. Oro

    Oro Member

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    I'd take the Sp101. I take a 2.5" S&W K frame .357 when I feel like going "light" in the woods. While the 2.5" gives up a little bit of muzzle speed vs. a 4" gun, it by no means makes it an ineffective cartridge, don't let anyone tell you that.

    Also, you aren't going to engage in squad-type "fire-and-manuever" tactics with the animal. A revolver will carry enough fire-power and offer the reliability you need. I have spotted only one possible grizzly in WA - it was not as massive as the stories go, but the ragged brown coat and hump were present. But it was also not running away from human activity as all the blacks I've encountered universally did.

    Generally I take a 3.5" or 4" full-size (L or N frame) .357 or a 3" (N-frame) .44 magnum. The .44 when I go on trails far from human habitat. But the 2.5" gets the nod occasionally and any serious study of ballistics will show you it will do just fine in comparison to a 4". If you don't have a chrono yourself to experiment, look at older Speer manuals (like 7,8, 9, etc.). They give comparable load data for multiple guns - 2.5" up to 6.5" - for .357. And in guns, not test barrels. The difference is not what casual internet chat would have you believe.

    Another point for small guns as trail guns is that the small-yet-powerful gun you have at hand is 10 times more useful than the large gun you leave in your pack because it's awkward to carry, or the shotgun across your back you fail to reach in time in a sudden encounter.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
  14. REAPER4206969

    REAPER4206969 Member

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    He's more likely to drill a meth head or weed farmer than a bear or moose. Take the M&P.
     
  15. jackpinesavages

    jackpinesavages member

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    +1 w/Reaper

    That's more of a growers operation territory than grizzly country-M&P with 2 extra mags.

    The moose advice is correct per running unless you'll carry a .300 Win Mag or a .375? I love your neck of the woods out there. Have a great hike.
     
  16. kanook

    kanook Member

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    Since you're thinking worst case, keep thinking that. Animal jumps you, you're struggling for your sidearm, you get it out and shove it inbetween you and the animal and pull the trigger. The firearm goes bang and then goes click and the second pull because you didn't have enoough room for the slide to cycle.

    Or you drop it and the girlfriend grabs it and click, click, click. The girlfriend forgot how to take the safety off under stress because it's not like hers.

    Guess which one I'm voting for.

    And Reaper brings up a good thing also
     
  17. JEB

    JEB Member

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    i like the sp101. when it comes to woods carry i almost always o for a revolver, and when i choose the 3" sp101. in the woods i hunt im more worried about trespassing poachers than dangerous animals
     
  18. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I've never been much of a runner, but it's not difficult to back off from a moose. If you crest the hill a little too close to a cow and her CALF (not cub) she will let you know and you just need to back away. That's what she wants you to do. She's not trying to actually attack you and she doesn't want to. If you ignore her and try to push your way past her to the calf you're in deep trouble, but it would be your own fault.

    My point is simply that shooting a moose isn't really a viable option so put it out of your mind. The response to a charge is to run and if need be dodge off the trail. Moose aren't out to get anyone. They're pretty amiable ungulates. Encounters with people are very, very common around here. I've been charged many times. Nearly got entangled with a bull on Sunday while riding my bike. In no event is it proper to throw down. The situation is completely different from a predator encounter.

    In the extremely unlikely event that a moose is actually attacking you it's unlikely you'll be able to draw or that a shot will do you much good. Plus it's the equivalent of shooting a bull or cow on someone's ranch because it scares you. Only in this case the ranch belongs to all the people.

    Like this moose I nearly ran into on Sunday. I turned around, backed off and eventually had to find another way across. I had my handgun and a Mosin, but the idea of *SHOOTING* him never occurred to me, even when he bolted up from his sleep and stomped at me. If he had been a bear (though obviously this is the wrong season) things would have been a lot different. A brown bear stomping at you and stalking around a few yards away is a very different issue. But in this case the big guy was upset that I'd woken him up and was looking around for some browse.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
  19. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    So you just ward off an angry moose with your convenient hammer and sickle, then?:D

    Seriously, around here, I anticipate shooting a badger, a rabid coyote, or a rattlesnake, before a moose. And yes, we do have moose.

    I wouldn't want to shoot a badger, because they make me laugh. And rattlers keep the rodent population down, so I don't look for them to shoot, either. Coyotes tend to be very hard to approach, unless they are rabid or something, so I'm not too worried there.

    Just carry what you want, in case you need it. I'd lean towards the revolver, myself, just because.
     
  20. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I should specify--the moose belong to all resident Alaskans. We all have a claim to them. That fella is just part of the herd.
     
  21. Water-Man

    Water-Man Member

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    Take the Ruger and load it with some 180gr. Buffalo Bore.
     
  22. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Hiking around the Northwest, you should probably carry an oxygen mask, though.

    Some people don't know that "bath" isn't spelled "patchouli", so they think they're the same thing.

    Of course, they seem to hang out in hiking clothes around town, not actually hike...
     
  23. huntme

    huntme Member

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    i live in oregon,so i understand the need to carry a hand gun.the 357 would be a better gun,except your barrel is to short,the bullet needs a 5 inch barrel or longer to burn off all the powder.so i would go with the 40,it is equivelent to a 38.grizzle is another story,i would not want to take on a grizzle with nothing short of a 44 mag.357 would work in a pinch,but you will need to be with in arms reach.the 380 is definitly to small to want to carry in the woods.cougars are thined skined annimals,coyotes are thined skined annimals,so the 40 would work well. use hollow points,do more damage.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
  24. Oro

    Oro Member

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    Let's see, in my last two/three years in the Cascade range of central and northern WA:

    Grizzlies - 1
    Black bears - 3
    Cougars - 0
    5' rattlers - 1
    Meth heads - 0
    Pot growers - 0

    I really think he needs to think about dangerous wildlife and not MSNBC or Fox News scareHysteria reports.

    You might want to read the whole thread, and footnote or cite why your ballistics results are different from Speer and others. The .357 has been shown to be highly effective from shorter barrels.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
  25. dom1104

    dom1104 Member

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    I agree with Oro.

    Much more likely to encounter wildlife than humans in the woods.

    Is that wildlife going to kill you? not likely.

    Would it know the difference between those two handgun rounds? probably not.
     
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