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Handgun for Bear...What Would You Choose From These?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by DT Guy, Nov 21, 2020.

?

Which Caliber for TN Woods?

  1. 357 Mag

    40 vote(s)
    80.0%
  2. .45 ACP

    5 vote(s)
    10.0%
  3. 9MM (I know, I know)

    3 vote(s)
    6.0%
  4. .40

    2 vote(s)
    4.0%
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  1. DT Guy

    DT Guy Member

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    If things work out right, we'll be walking our new acreage in TN next month; heavily wooded and far enough from population centers that medical help will likely be some time out.

    In addition, we'll be visiting some smaller cities and maybe Chattanooga, so normal SD will be important some of the time.

    I know *nothing* about bear; I've been a suburbanite for 30 years, and before that was a city kid. I've heard TN can have them, and wanted to be sure what I carried on our trip could at least give me a chance against a bear, as well as the two legged critters that we might encounter. From these choices, what would you carry, and with what ammo?

    357 Mag in a 4" S&W Performance Center SSR
    .45 ACP in an XDs or Commander
    9 in a variety of choices
    .40 in a S&W Shield

    Should I even worry about bear in TN? If not, are there any other 4-legged unfriendlies to be aware of?

    Thanks,

    Larry
     
  2. entropy

    entropy Member

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    None of the above. .44 Magnum is what I had with when I used to bear hunt, using a hot load with 240 gr. XTP's. But I was hunting in nothern MN where 500 pounders are not unheard of. A friend of mine's son shot a 535 lb. boar black bear with a bow in MN last year. In TN, they probably don't get that big; in that case, the .357 with 180 gr. Buffalo Bore JHP's or hard cast lead.

    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1021550166?pid=569909

    Usually when I carry a handgun while rifle hunting it's as much for 2 legged vermin as 4 legged ones. I do carry a CCW snub .38 in addition to my .45 ACP during rifle season.
     
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  3. tomrkba

    tomrkba Member

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    I would choose hot hardcast 357 Magnum from that list. However, my actual choice is 44 Magnum.
     
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  4. mcb

    mcb Member

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    Where in TN? I believe only eastern most end of TN in the mountains has bears. I own property in middle TN and we have no bears. I carry a model 10 in 38 Special that is currently on my hip as I write this post from hunting camp. Today was opening day of rifle season. No bears seen and unfortunately no deer worth shooting, just a heap of squirrels as usual.

    Of the guns you list I would probably take the 357 Mag if only because that appears to be the only full size handgun you have. That said against TN black bear any of those would get the job done assuming you do your part.
     
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  5. Hog huntin Harry

    Hog huntin Harry Member

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    I'd feel safe against any black bear up to 400 lbs with a .357 mag and some Underwood 180 grain FN hardcast boolits at 1,400 fps.
     
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  6. Omaha-BeenGlockin

    Omaha-BeenGlockin Member

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    I went from a .44mag to a Glock 20 10mm----mainly because of weight---the custom loads can be very powerful plus the gun carries 16 shots with an easy reload----another option to think about.
     
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  7. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    I moved from a .44 Mag 629 to a Sig p226 9mm mk 25 for my field gun. 15 rds of 147 gr. 9mm HST +P will be fine for black bear or anything else you're likely to encounter in the Smokies. Quickness and shot placement will be the factors you need and you won't run out of power with a top tier 9mm load. I chose the Mk 25 because it is phosphate coated internally for better moisture resistance. I carry 2x 20 rd magazines for reloads. .40 Strong and Worthy as well as 10 mm are also fine choices. The two legged critters are far more dangerous than the four legged kind.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020
  8. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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    Underwood and Buffalo Bore make loads that can do amazing things, with any of the service/duty cartridges, on up. The .357 Magnum is less needful of exotic and premium loads, but of course, best practice would be the Magnum with the absolute best bullet technology.

    Personally, long-stroke DA is my most stress-proof trigger skill, as well as the least-perishable trigger skill set, in this panic-demic era of no formal range time, so I load with deep-penetrator .357 Magnums in my Rugers, when appropriate, because feral hogs are what kill folks, in these parts. Bear or boar; similar problem, with same practical solution. This was in the next county, to our east:

    https://abc13.com/christine-rollins...d-dead-animal-attack-death-wild-hogs/5716849/

    I have used .357 Mag for defense against a feral human, too, though deep-penetration ammo is not a best choice for town/city.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020
  9. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    Of what you have listed none, but I will play along. The .357 magnum with the hottest hard cast bullets buffalo bore sells. Which is a 180 grain bullet. I would not recommend the hollow points even though they deliver more muzzle energy than the hardcast solids. A lot of that energy could be dumped upon impact depending where you hit, I would prefer the slower moving solid bullet that will give more penetration...just my 2¢. Do not care what you tube videos show with gel test blocks. They are lacking fur, fat, muscle, and bone. If the fur is matted and wet it's like armor plating.
    Just me but if I am going to be in bear country I want a rifle not a gun even if the gun is a 1000 caliber magnum.
     
  10. EccentricInTexas

    EccentricInTexas Member

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    I would go with the .40 S&W out of those choices.
     
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  11. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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  12. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    index.jpg
    CAN PREVENT BEAR THREADS
     
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  13. DT Guy

    DT Guy Member

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    I have plenty of FS guns, actually; 9MM and .45 ACP, mostly. They're just harder to carry concealed, which will be what I'm doing for the vast majority of this trip.

    The property is White County, East of Sparta. The TN DNR website says there are bears near the Cumberland plateau, which I think (?) is the area we're in, or near it.

    Larry
     
  14. Ru4real

    Ru4real Member

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    Definitely the 9 is best.

    When you see the bear, take yourself out with the first shot.
     
  15. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I'd choose to stay at home.

    On the other hand, the odds of being attacked by a bear in Tennesse have to be pretty low. If I didn't have an adequate handgun - which to me begins with a Ruger-only .45 Colt load and ends with a .500 S&W - I'd probably get myself a canister of bear spray and call it good.
     
  16. Mike .45

    Mike .45 Member

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    I picked .357 of the options in the poll But .44 magnum is the real answer to your question.
     
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  17. Pat Riot
    • Contributing Member

    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    There’s more danger from slipping in a pile of bear crap and injuring your back than that of a black bear attacking you. Heck, I would be more afraid of insects than the animals in Tennessee or any other eastern state.
     
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  18. jrmiddleton425

    jrmiddleton425 Member

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    As long as you are not standing between a mother and cubs, wait a minute or so and the bear will go on its way. Generally, if a bear knows you are there, it will stay as far away from you as it can get.
     
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  19. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    There is no substitute for cubic inches.

    .45 acp. Black bear are not nearly as big or hard to kill as internet lore would have it. .45 acp was adopted to duplicate the 45 Schofield load that the Army thought was suitable to disable horses. 230 grs at 850 fps will do for bear. I would prefer 300 grs at 950 in 45LC. And having spent the last week not filling my bear tag for lack of even seeing one, I would add that while insurance is a good thing, black bear attack is a pretty tiny worry.
     
  20. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    There are old wives tales, and there are facts. This is the most comprehensive list of bears vs handgun encounters that I'm aware of. According to this it just doesn't matter much. In fact they were not able to find many instances where a handgun didn't stop a bear, brown, black or grizzly.

    Update: Handgun or Pistol Against Bear Attack: 93 cases, 97% Effective (ammoland.com)

    If you've never spent a lot of time around bear it is easy to get the impression they are huge. The ones we see on most TV shows and movies are trained brown bear that are truly huge. In the wild, most black bear are 150-200 lbs. No bigger, nor tougher, than a typical adult human male. A typical grizzly is only 100 lbs or so heavier, but they do tend to be more aggressive. But bear certainly do get bigger. Some black and grizzly can exceed 600 lbs., but those are rare and they don't get that big by hanging around humans. Brown bear along the Alaskan coast, 1000-1200 lbs. Unless you're planning to visit that area your choices are numerous.

    For years my carry gun of choice when in bear country has been a Glock 20 or 29 loaded with 200 gr DoubleTap hardcast @1300 fps. I've carried those guns all over the north GA mountains, Smoky Mt NP in Tennessee and slept with them in a tent in Yellowstone NP. I left the 357 and 44 mag revolvers at home because the Glocks are lighter, smaller, easier to carry, and take a mounted light to use at night. And even in bear country the greatest threat is still 2 legged varmints. Make your choice based on that with bear defense secondary.

    But lately I've tried some of the heavy for caliber hardcast loads from both Buffalo Bore and DoubleTap in my 9mm and 45 pistols. I've seen enough to feel comfortable that it will work. No experience with 40, but it shoots the same bullets as 10mm about 200 fps slower. No reason it won't work as well as the others.

    A 9mm still wouldn't be my choice where Coastal Brown bear roam even though it did work for Phil Shoemaker. But the fact that it did stop a charging brown bear makes me feel a little better about using it on a 200 lb black bear. The last time I hiked in the Smoky's I carried my Sig 365 loaded with the same 147 gr ammo Shoemaker used.

    The Story of the Alaska Man Who Killed a Charging Brown Bear with a 9mm Pistol (wideopenspaces.com)
     
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  21. Oldschool shooter

    Oldschool shooter Member

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    I chose the 40, only for the extra capacity. I think they are all a bit weak. 45 Colt, 41 mag, or 44 mag would be better options. This pic was taken in Sept. While setting up trail cams on my friend's property in upstate NY.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
  22. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    Fantastic photo! Especially after I got skunked on my bear tag :rofl:
     
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  23. psyopspec

    psyopspec Member

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    For being innawoods in TN, I'd say just carry whatever you normally would.
     
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  24. drobs

    drobs Member

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  25. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    My knowledge and experience with bears is limited. I spent 8 years at Ft Campbell Ky/Clarksville, Tn (1 hour west of Nashville) and there are no bears there. There are lots of bears in the eastern part of the state in the mountains. There are also lots of bears here in the Fl panhandle and in the central Fl/Ocala area. When they come around us when we are deer hunting we can usually scare them off by clapping. My hunting sidearms are a Glock 23 (40) or a 1911 (45). When I was bear hunting in Maine, most of the guides carried some type of 45. One carried an old star 9mm. What is funny is the 9mm guy actually put down a wounded and treed bear with his pistol after they tracked it to the tree it went in. I think there are hogs in many places in Tn too now. Contrary to popular opinion, they are not hard to kill either.
     
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