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Outdoor Emergency Pistol Needed

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Saturnine, Nov 22, 2006.

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  1. Saturnine

    Saturnine Member

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    I am/still training to be a wildlife biologist. I'm out in the wilderness a good deal of the time. I favor working with large mammals, which can be dangerous, so I'm looking for a handgun primarily for defense against large animals. I'm aware that bear attacks and such are infrequent, but I plan on being in areas that may have a higher risk. I own rifles and some shotguns, but they wouldnt be as easy to carry and would attract much more attention. Is there a pistol or revolver strong enough to stop a bear or other large game? Any relevant information would be appreciated.
     
  2. RON in PA

    RON in PA Member

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    If you are going to be in a situation where you might encounter a bear I would suggest nothing less than a .44 Magnum, check both Smith and Wesson and Ruger. These are not the easiest handguns to shoot so you do need to practice. There are some more powerful revolver cartridges available such as the S&W 500, but I have no experience with them and quite frankly think they are a bit much for a handgun.

    However if it was my ass on the line, I'd rather put up with the inconvenience of a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with slugs.

    There have been many threads on this website on this topic, do a "search".
     
  3. Croyance

    Croyance Member

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    From what I have seen with the .500 S&W, you better hit where you intended to with the first shot, because even with the right grip the recoil gets out of hand.
    What kind of bear? I we talking kodiak or polar bear sized?

    I think a .44 Magnum is reasonably controlable. People have gone with smaller for black bears, but if you can carry it all day, I'd say go with that. S&W has lightweight models that make lugging it around easier.
     
  4. MPanova

    MPanova Member

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  5. chaim

    chaim Member

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    In bear country I'm not sure I'd want any auto. Maybe the 10mm with hardcast lead handloads.

    As for what revolver caliber- what kind of bear are you talking about. Are you in black bear territory, grizzly, or do you live in (or travel to) Alaska?

    If east coast black bear is your worry you have more options. Some people say a stout .357mag load will do it, and if you get one of the 7 or 8 shot models the extra ammo might be reassuring. Personally, I like .41mag- more power than .357mag, less recoil than .44mag. In brown bear/grizzly territory I would want a .44mag at minimum. An advantage of the lighter caliber is lighter recoil means faster follow-up shots should your first shot not put a stop to the bear attack (it probably won't). Of course, you don't want to get too small a caliber for the job. If you are talking Alaska on the other hand- .454 seems the minimum and a high powered rifle seems preferable (attention or not).

    All that said, from most of what I've read you are much better off with bear strength pepper spray than a handgun. Handguns to defend against an attack from a person are a bit underpowered. Against a bear and you better be a praying man. The bear strength pepper spray supposedly disorients the bear- their eyes get swollen shut (at least partially blurring their vision) and their sense of smell is greatly diminished- giving you a much better chance of escape. Maybe both the spray and a revolver would be your best bet (cover all bases).
     
  6. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Member

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    I'd kind of go with what Chaim replied...

    .44 Mag revolver in a 4 inch Stainless Steel and Strong Peper spray.... (That way if a bear does get you, he'll have some flavoring..... Sorry, could not resist:evil: ) With the right wind, peper spray could effect you as well....

    The only other that I might consider would be the new XD45... Big bullet and 13 more behind it for a quick follow up shot. Plus fairly maintence free, like the Stainless steel gun. It sounds like you will be in close with the creatures, so having a high round count for repeat shots maybe what you want.

    A revolver will be more reliable than an auto when subjected to low or no maintence. It also sounds like you do not want a big gun, so I'd stay with a 4 inch barrel. Easy to carry and not too heavy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2006
  7. chaim

    chaim Member

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    I'm not sure I'd agree with the XD-45 suggestion. Bears are really tough animals (I don't mean can take it tough, I mean their muscles and bones are tough) and you really need penetration. Most auto calibers don't penatrate enough, and .45ACP is far from one of the best for penetration (though I admit it is near an ideal auto caliber for human defense). Due to penetration I'd feel better with a 9mm loaded with FMJs than with a .45ACP (the 9mm penetrates deeper). If I had to have an auto I'd go with the 10mm- .40cal hole, high velocity (which means deeper penetration) and with hardcast lead you will have a tougher bullet that aids penetration. If you really want high-cap, the capacity of the Glock 20 is 15 and it has a marginal instead of wholly inadequate round for bear defense (I'd still rather have a 6 shot .357mag or .41mag revolver, let alone the .44mag, versus bear).
     
  8. Phenom

    Phenom Member

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    The Desert Eagle in 44mag is a good choice. The Desert Eagle in this caliber has a 8+1 capacity and lower recoil then even the heaviest revolvers.
     
  9. chaim

    chaim Member

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    I think Phenom has me- an auto in a revolver caliber may be sufficient. Higher capacity and the same rounds (8 rounds of .44mag sounds reassuring). This is assuming it is 100% reliable and the rimmed revolver rounds never hang it up.
     
  10. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

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    Where are you and what type of bear are you concerned with?

    My woods carry pistol always used to be a S&W 686 with some fairly stout 357 magnum loads.

    Sounds like you are new to the game. If you get a heavy pistol make sure you go to the range and PRACTICE or it won't do you any good when you need it.
     
  11. Steve H

    Steve H Member

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    One revolver not mentioned above is the Colt Anaconda in .44 mag. The 6 inch stainless version IMHO (with the right load) might fit your needs.
     
  12. Phenom

    Phenom Member

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    Desert Eagles use a "floating" magazine design to feed revolver rounds reliably. As long as you do not use the cup&saucer hold there shouldn't be any problems.
     
  13. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

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    First, Welcome to THR
    Second, DO A SEARCH, RE; BEAR + HANDGUN

    There are quite a few threads on which handgun for big bad animals.
    Third, I will never recommend an Auto for bear or other dangerous game.

    Fourth, I will recommend a few revolvers for them
    Ruger red hawks
    S&W 500 4"
    most anything in .41 or above.

    I my self would find a S&W 58 and load up some 210gr hard cast RNFPGC at a good 1100 fps or more and practice a lot.

    If you are not going to practice with a big bore handgun and get VERY proficient with it, the second shot will be very lucky, if the first one even hits.
     
  14. EdLaver

    EdLaver Member

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    S&W 500....nothing else necessary.:)
     
  15. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    Speed and Accuracy > Caliber

    I agree that the minimum against a loarge bear would be a .44 mag. and against brown bears / grizzlies the larger the better. That said, speed and accuracy are way more important than caliber.

    There seem to be two general categories of attacks: Ones where the bear is surprised and ones where the human is surprised. The first category would include people walking up to carcasses (killed by themselves or otherwise) or coming across momma bears with cubs. The second category includes bears hunting for food from people or hunting people for food.

    Only a minority of the attack reports I have seen (maybe 25%) show that there was or would have been enough time for the victim to bring a firearm into play. One man was attacked so quickly he only had time to bring his lever gun to half stroke. many people were ambushed from behind.

    Bears, cougars, etc. stalking people are ambush predators. Spray is best for an initial response in these cases. It will probably be quicker and does not require great accuracy to be effective. It may allow enough time to vacate the area and/or retrieve / unholster a weapon.

    Coming across a surprised bear may turn into a scenario as above but many of these situations can be avoided by making noise and being observant.

    JMHO
     
  16. larry_minn

    larry_minn Member

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    Your job is not to harm wildlife. I assume you will be in state/Federal parks? Just wear small silver bells to warn off bears and carry pepper spray. (like the rest of us) That way it is easy to tell if its a good bear or bad one.
    You just take a stick and check its "droppings" If it smells like pepper and there are silver bells in it then its a BAD BEAR. (sorry old joke)
    What do you mean "working with large mammals?" Observation? tagging? relocation?. Are you solo or in group? I likely would carry .357mag and not give it another thought UNLESS it was when young are around, I needed to get close.
    Course I only (ran) into a bear once in wild. (not counting Yellowstone which was a semi tame/sick diseased thing) It was almost midnight and we both went back the way we came as fast as possible. (I do think he was as scared as I was) I (thought) he was a juvinile that had escaped @8hr earlier and I was going to tackle him hard. Glad I made ID before I physically contacted him. (Yell/blind with flashlight and tackle) Got the first two then I ran (and thankfully he ran as well) (could have been a she and it was fairly small but plenty big for me.
     
  17. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    The big .454 and .500 wheelguns are actually more annoying to tote in the field than a full powered carbine, and FAR more difficult to shoot accurately in a pinch. Carry what you're most familiar with, and be able to deploy it within a few seconds at most. And carry what you will carry. I usually go with a Mosin and a .357.
     
  18. UglyGlock

    UglyGlock Member

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    considering that you will be carrying this gun a lot, and using it very little, and you say you don't want to attract attention, I would recomend something medium-small and light. in auto i recommend 10mm: glock 20 or 29, EAA witness, or 1911 style. in revolver the ruger alaskan would be about perfect.
     
  19. pablo45

    pablo45 Member

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    I would recomend a glock 23 in a .40s&w. It is light accurate and holds 13 rounds so you have plenty of fire power in a small gun that wont be uncomfortable to carry and the ammo is powerful enough for most all animals in the wild unless you go over seas. It is simple to use and very reliable.
     
  20. Lone_Gunman

    Lone_Gunman Member

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    I think the concern about bears is over-rated, and over discussed on the internet. I have done a good bit of hiking in the Appalachians and in the Rockies and Yellowstone. Bear encounters are few and far between.

    I am MUCH more worried about running into weird people than man-eating animals.

    Since I think bear encounters are rare, and human encounters more common and probably more dangerous anyway, I am not so much a fan of the 44 magnum as other people. Yes, I think the 44 mag would be better if you have an encounter with a grizzly, but that is unlikely even in the west, and impossible in the east. I think you should have a gun that is better suited to the type of hostile encounter that is most likely, and that is with other people. I have done most of my hiking with a 9mm or 10mm auto (Glocks). In the Appalachians, I am very comfortable with 9mm. Out west, I would rather have the 10mm. I think a G20 is a wonderful compromise between power, weight, and ammo capacity.

    If they ever find the bear-eaten remains of a guy armed with an empty, slide-locked Glock in his hand, its probably me, and you better believe the last thing I was thinking was how much I would rather have had a 44 mag.

    To those that advocate the .500 S&W, I would ask, have you ever actually hiked with one for a long distance? It would seem to me that it would be difficult to keep concealed from other hikers, and in many areas you pretty much have to keep it concealed to keep from getting reported. Also, the sheer weight of the weapon would be prohibitive to most back packers.
     
  21. Thefabulousfink

    Thefabulousfink Member

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    I have done a lot of camping, hunting, and hiking here in the Pac NW and have come in close contact with black bear, brown bear, deer, elk, moose, wolf, and (most recently) a mountain lion. I have never had to use a gun defensively against any of them, but I still cary one just incase. With the exception of moose, most of these animals have seen me and headed the other way (do a search of my posts on moose to find out just what it did).

    A good .357 should be more than enough for general walking through the woods. Smith and Wesson, Ruger, or Colt all make fine accurate guns. Since you will probably be working with the animals and shooting them is not desired, I would also recomend a big can of bear spray.

    If you hit a bear with a hot .357 and it doesn't stop, chances are good that a .44mag wouldn't have stopped it either. Use hard nosed bullets that will punch through thick skin muscle and bones. If you are going to be working around a lot of grizzlies or polar bears I would recomend a partner to watch your back and rifle or 12ga with slugs.

    I am sure that you will learn that while bears are dangerous, they are also very predictable. If you pay attention to the bear, most encounters can be ended without needing to fire a shot.
     
  22. DoubleTap007

    DoubleTap007 Member

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    Desert Eagle .50 AE.
     
  23. CornCod

    CornCod Member

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    I would carry the pistol grip version of the 12ga Mossberg Model 500 loaded with slugs.
     
  24. Cowboybootnut

    Cowboybootnut Member

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    Why have a handgun? Just have a friend go with you that is overweight and slower-footed. :evil:

    Actually, my vote would be for a .44 Mag FMJ for penetration.
     
  25. UglyGlock

    UglyGlock Member

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    each of these weighs four and a half pounds, empty.
     
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