Bear protection advice needed

Help Support Ruger Forum:

annasophia

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 4, 2010
Messages
68
Location
Northwest
I live in serious black bear country...and the grizzly population is on a definite rise. I also do lots of hiking in surrounding areas of high grizzly density (around Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, etc.) and am trying to decide on a practical bear protection carry rig. I own a stainless Ruger Super Blackhawk with a 5.5" barrel (.44 mag) and a LOT of different .357 mag revolvers both double and single actions (.38/.357 is my favorite cal to play with). I've always carried a .357 Mag with heavy loads in the past when I'm out hiking/fishing/camping but I'm starting to feel a bit under-gunned when it comes to hearing about some of the resent bear attacks that have occurred in my part of the country over the last couple years. I also own a full-sized Glock 9mm that is super accurate and it has a hi-cap magazine that holds something like 18 rounds. I am a decent shot with my .357s and the Glock...but have really only put maybe 50 rounds through the .44 since I've owned it....so my experience with this caliber is really quite limited. Recoil has not been a problem with the .44 mag....it's just that I've always had the most fun with my .38/.357 revolvers, so I use them the most by far.

QUESTIONS: Would I be better off using the Super Blackhawk (single action = a little slower to reload) or possibly the quick-into-action 9mm with LOTS of ammo in the magazine or just stick with my usual .357 six-guns? I use a short barreled .357 Blackhawk a quite a bit so I’m experienced enough with a Ruger single action to not always be fumbling all over the place during a reload….but who knows how cool I’d be under the kind of pressure I’d feel when a big bear is chewing on my leg??!!! I'm thinking that any of them would probably be fine regarding black bears (although I did have a close “run-in” last fall with the largest black bear I've ever seen...no shots fired… but I was REAL close to start throwing hot lead!). My worry really is the possible grizzly “run-in”....I'm wondering if 6 rounds of .357 mag would be enough in such a case. I should mention that I am going to purchase and start carrying some bear spray as my first line of defense as of this week. I should also mention that I always carry openly in a strong-side belt holster when hiking/camping. Please give me any opinions you can offer that might help me out with my dilemma. Thanks!

--Anna Sophia
 

TiteGroups

Blackhawk
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
513
If it were me nothing less than a .44 mag. and the bear spray. The bear spray may be more effective. I hear if you travel with a partner all you need is a .22, shoot them in the knee and run. Old joke. LOL. I would feel under-gunned with a heavily loaded .357.
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2002
Messages
7,947
Location
Ohio , U.S.A.
well we all have our likes, as well as our opinions.........from what we always carried, ( never had to use)and having family around Montana, and as also up in Quebec, who do that sort of thing all the time, other than an old 30-30 standby, they use 357 mags..Uncle Bill was the only one had to use his old carry gun ,(MANY years ago, a P38 he brought home from the war.....finally got treed by a moose, unloaded it into the moose and it still went off, over a half mile before dropping dead......oh well.....)
anyway, use what YOU feel comfortable with, that which you are adept at using and accurately ( but this is NOT target shooting, it will be instantaneous,spur of the moment.......)
like they say in the Boy Scouts, "be prepared..." today they say , the 'spray' does work and is effective,BUT again, what do you "immediately reach for" Is there time??
then of course, there is the "old whistle" story.... but we will stay serious.

We know they say "bigger is better" but look at all the drawbacks, from various situations ( scenarios) heavy to carry,recoil, muzzle jump, muzzle flash ( at night)......all in all, a very GOOD question.
Good luck, stay safe, and always make sure someone else knows where you're going to be.....................
 

Longrange

Bearcat
Joined
Sep 18, 2008
Messages
35
For a grizz I would not go below a 44mag! and would rather have a 12 ga. with slugs! and plenty of them! The bear mace does work but it can be a problem if the wind is not right! If it is blowing back to you then all your doing is spicing up the bears dinner!

Don't use hollow points they will open up on the skull and not penetrate! Saw a skull once that had 357 mag rounds stuck in the skull that they found after skinning the bear killed by a rifle, the slugs had been there for years!
 

mran1126

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
28
Location
Renton , WA
I'd go with the .44 mag. Bigger bore.....more lead.......more damage. Just do a little more practice with it. I would feel more comfortable with a .44 mag if I met a grizzly.
 

COR

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 7, 2007
Messages
847
Location
Pittsburgh, Pa
I'd take whatever you feel most comfortable shooting accurately, you are not familiar enough with that 44 to bet a life on it, bigger is not always better, One hit with a 357 always trumps 6 misses with a 44. All were adequate for black bear if in a hunting situation but Grizllies are another story. No handgun is really recommended but whatever you have with you is better than nothing. In hunting situations black bear die every year to the 357Mag. In a defense situation it is better than your fists but still not the best option if a 12ga is handy loaded with slugs. Use good common sense and food/trash discipline and you'll enjoy a few nice pics of those bears mostly. Your head is your best defensive weapons against bears. I personally enjoy seeing black bears. Grizzlies are a bit unnerving, but still a beautiful sight (from afar).
 

Dale53

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Messages
925
Location
Hamilton, Ohio USA
The answer is really pretty simple. You already have the .44 Magnum. If you don't reload, NOW is the time to start.

I thoroughly recommend a lead cast bullet. The Lyman 429421 or H&G #503 ahead of 24.0 grs of H110 and LOTS of practice. It WILL do the job if YOU do yours. Even better would be the Lee C430-310- GC RF ahead of 21.5 grs of H110 although the recoil is considerable.

There is not a bear in the world I would be concerned with if I had some warning and a good .44 Magnum. Don't worry about a quick reload - worry about good placement of the first shot!

Dale53
 

dlh38or45

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 13, 2007
Messages
105
Location
Eastern Idaho
I am normally not a fan of single action revolvers as bear defense, and I normally think carrying two handguns is overkill. I live 80 miles from Yellowstone, and have been to the campground where the bear attack occured. I usually carry a 44 Mag Redhawk for bear defense. In your situation, I would take the 44 mag as well, but I would also consider a smaller DA 357 (like my 3 inch GP100) as backup.

The best defense, which I keep in my vehicle when camping, would be a 12 guage or a 45-70.
 

BearBio

Buckeye
Joined
Oct 22, 2009
Messages
1,826
Location
Eastern Washington
As you can tell from my "tag", I have a little experience from bears. Take my experience or leave it. I know what works for me. I have seen almost 2 dozen WILD grizzlies and likely~200 WILD black bears, certainly 100+ black bears. I have tranquilized almost a dozen bears (and elk) and been charged once. Where I live, we have blacks and we have grizzlies. I work in the endangered species recovery program, and that includes grizzly bears.
1. Do not listen to anything that someone from east of the Mississippi tells you. Black bears are not grizzlies
2) Repeat: Black bears are not grizzlies and there is no correlation in how the two will act.
3)Black bears evolved in forests and natural selection favored mothers (sows) that sent their cubs up trees.
4)Grizzlies evolved in open areas (i.e. plains) and natural selection favored mothers that AGGRESSIVELY defended their young. Those were the genes that survived and were passed on.
5) Both species will hunt you and eat you. Black bears do this the most often. It is rare in grizzlies but does happen.
6) A black bear can beat a race horse for the first 400 yards. Believe it. I've seen it.
7) What ever you use for defense, it has to be in your hand. Having been charged (bluff), I will tell you that you DO NOT have time to draw from a holster (unless you are Bob Munden), or take a shotgun/rifle from your shoulder.
8) Shoot a bear with a pistol and it WILL make contact with you. Better hope it is dead! (and that it doesn't land on top of you!).
9) I've been trained with pepper spray and it comes out in a stream, not a spray. Wind doesn't affect it as much as you think.
10) My buddies on the refuges in Alaska carry 12 gauges with Brenneke slugs. No buck shot, just slugs. We have to hit a 5" circle at 20 yards to qualify. These guys face KILL as many as 20-30 bears a year in defense of life and property. Forest Service used to recommend .458 or .375 mags. .338 was considered "likely adequate". They carried 30-06 with heavy steel jackets for bears and I know of at least two that were eaten.
11) It's YOUR life=you choose for yourself.

Me===I carry pepper spray (will be flyfishing in Yellowstone this fall). MAYBE backed up with a 45 Colt Vaquero loaded hotter than a 44 mag. If I was WAAAAYYYYY out in the bush, I'd think about a hot 45-70 or 45-90 for camp and the 45 Vaquero under my pillow.

Oh, also: Carry 2 pepper sprays. What if you use one and meet another bear on the way to your car?

Hope I didn't step on anyone's toes!
 

DogBone

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 7, 2010
Messages
42
Not the Glock.

If the SHTF and you are pinned and still alive, you need something that will still go bang while making full contact with the animal. A semi will go out of battery at full contact.

A .357 with hot hardcast rounds (no hollowpoints) that you are comfortable with and can rapidly deploy all six into the snout would probably be your best bet, verses missing with the .44 single action.

And all this is mainly for your peace of mind of course. An angry grizzly will make both a .357 and .44 seem VERY small and puny. :)
 

BearBio

Buckeye
Joined
Oct 22, 2009
Messages
1,826
Location
Eastern Washington
COR":revi012f said:
Belay my last...I live in Pa and clearly am not qualified to answer. Could someone show me where all the ignorant yankees are supposed to post their thoughts. :lol:

Every time one of this threads comes up, people start talking about feral dogs, mountain lions, alligators, and their local brand of vicious wombat=mostly by people who've never seen a grizzly or a brownie. The good lady asked about bears in the west and northwest. I only expressed my OPINION based on a limited amount of actual real-life experience=feel free to express yours.

Again, apologies if I offended.
 

bigbore45colt

Hunter
Joined
Apr 9, 2005
Messages
3,532
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Do a quick google search on the Montana Wildlife officer that was mauled by a grizzly he was relocating. This is the one where the bear turns around and pulls the cage off of the back of the pick up truck with the ranger on top of it. He draws his S&W 66 and empties it on the bear and ended up still getting mauled before the bear died.

I would postulate that a 357 is not enough for what you are intending. You want something that is 44 or bigger and loaded with heavy for caliber hard cast bullets going around 1100-1200 fps.

Now, since you do a fair bit of hiking, you probably want something light. Take a look at the S&W 329PD. It is their Airlite and weights 25.5 oz empty. Now, it WILL recoil fiercly with hot loads BUT, since the odds of needing to use it are low and you probably won't feel/see the recoil when you do need it, it might fit your need. If you reload, then there is a great article by Brian Pearce on loads for this gun, including a load with a 300/310 gr bullet going ~1100 fps, if I recall. if you don't reload, Buffalo Bore makes some great heavy bullet but reduced recoil loads that will work equally as well.

The SBH in 44 mag is also a great gun but is going to be much heavier than the 329PD. It will provide for less felt recoil with the same load, due to its weight, but if it means it ends up sitting at home or in the truck because it's too heavy when you're hiking, then it is worthless...

Just my East of the Mississippi $0.02 :D

BB45C
 

Rclark

Hunter
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
3,332
Location
Butte, MT
the 45 Vaquero under my pillow.
+1 . Either that or the .45 Colt Blackhawk.... When I was growing up, my biggest worry was running into mama Moose and calf (usually fishing). Now we have large Grizzly, Black Bear, Cats, Wolves populations (thanks to tree/bear huggers) ... and even more people out there in the wild..... I used to feel comfortable carrying a .357 BH on my belt while hiking as a kid.... Not anymore.... Each to their own though. Hey a .22 is better than nothing.... My grandfather made it to a tree while armed with a .22 rifle, before his partner came over the hill and dispatched the black bear with '06. All 22 bullets just smacked the skull and rang his bell for a few seconds, none penetrated. But it did allow my grandfather to get to and up a tree! So the story went.

Oh, never did hike in Yellowstone or Glacier. Didn't allow guns .... so hiked the wilderness areas and perimeter of parks instead. No, never had a run in.... Moose several times, but no conflicts.
 

s4s4u

Buckeye
Joined
Dec 16, 2006
Messages
1,891
Location
MN, USA
Carry what you can deploy quickly and accurately. There is a story in the Armed Citizen section of this months American Rifleman that tells of a hiker killing a Brown with a 1911 in 45ACP while the bear was headed troward his hiking partner. I'm not advocatring the 45ACP, but it did get the job done in that situation. Any 40-something that will send a 300 grain pill along at 1200 or so FPS would be my preference in a handgun, better yet a 12 guage with slugs. Mostly, be aware.
 

Glupy

Blackhawk
Joined
Jan 7, 2010
Messages
563
Location
Kuna, Idaho - a sparkling jewel in a park-like set
BearBio":1r1gc0x2 said:
Every time one of this threads comes up, people start talking about feral dogs, mountain lions, alligators, and their local brand of vicious wombat=mostly by people who've never seen a grizzly or a brownie. The good lady asked about bears in the west and northwest. I only expressed my OPINION based on a limited amount of actual real-life experience=feel free to express yours.

Again, apologies if I offended.

Don't sweat it BearBio. I didn't perceive the deep potential threat from grizzly bears when I lived in Wisconsin either. I've been a 20-year resident of beautiful Idaho and I am with you 100%.

I too felt safe with an SP101 and hardcast 180 gr bullets until I crossed my first grizzly bear. Now the Colt sits in my hoster and increased caution is in my mind. You get 200-ft from a road in most of Idaho and you start being the prey instead of the hunter.

Let the people east of the Mississippi carry their inadequate firearms. Their decendents can stand over their graves and say "I wonder why he didn't take a bigger gun?"

Dave
 

dlh38or45

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 13, 2007
Messages
105
Location
Eastern Idaho
I will say this...you cannot believe how big and strong a griz is until you have been with one.

I have been 15 Feet away from a big boar (I was in the back of my pickup) while in Yellowstone, and I watched one pick up an elk (500 lbs+) in its mouth and walk off like it was nothing. It was amazing and awesome.

I would hate to take on one with a handgun...no matter how large--unless my life depended on it.

I would much rater have my aforementioned 45-70 or 12 guage.

DLH
 

Jaybirdjtski

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 15, 2010
Messages
17
Location
California Sierras
I'll add that a friend had a big brownie charge and die at his feet after taking a total of 14 hits from a 375 H&H and a 12 gauge with slugs. Adrenelin will do crazy stuff!

Then a week or so ago, that nature guy on TV, Jack somebody, came won the contest with pepper spray. Guess it was his lucky day.
 

roaddog28

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
260
Location
Winchester, CA
Hi,
Having not had any experience with a bear attack I can only suggest what I would do. First off a handgun is a weak weapon against a bear (black or grizzly). A 357 will work on a small black bear. Anything bigger and your at disadvantage. A 44 mag is much better if you can get hits. If you empty your 44 mag and the bear is still coming at you, reloading won't matter anyway. The bear will eat you for lunch. Personally, I would carry a 30-06 loaded with the best hunting round available along with pepper spray. Also, a 12 guage with slugs would be good to carry if you don't have a 30-06. What ever handgun you have would be only a backup. Its better than nothing. I have heard time and again where a hunter has taken a large black or grizzly with a 44 magnum or some other handgun. Too me, a person chances of surviving a Bear attack are slim and none.
The only thing I can say is be well prepared and hope you never have to face a angry bear.
Good luck and be safe,

roaddog28
 

annasophia

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 4, 2010
Messages
68
Location
Northwest
I do have an older 870 Wingmaster pump 12 gauge that I was considering turning into a home protection type set-up. I got it cheap at an auction a few years ago....some dope hack-sawed the last few inches off the barrel so there's no choke (just a straight pipe with a vented rib). I thought about getting a new barrel for it, but they want something like $250+ for a replacement, which is probably close to what the gun is worth in the first place. I really don't think I'll ever hike much with it on me (just simply too heavy and bulky!)...but it does sound nice to have in the car when just car-camping. How would a sawed off barrel with no choke work with slugs or heavy buckshot? Would it really need a new barrel or screw-in choke to hit the broad side of a barn....or bear?...or would it be fine as is? I patterned once it along side another shotgun with a fixed modified choke on a big piece of paper with No. 7 1/2 shot right after I got it and it was a pretty large spread at 30 yards.....probably about twice as large as the mod choked gun.

Today I called all around and there's no place near me that even has so much as one box of .44mag ammo in stock that's not lighter weight hollow points. I'm heading out on a week-long camping/hiking trip around the Idaho/Montana boarder and Glacier NP this next week and need to get something quick. If I can't find anything, I might be stuck with just the bear spray and a .357.

Any thoughts on the sawed off barrel? If I were to use it as a cut with no choke tube...would I be better off cutting it a bit shorter (it's now about 26") for the sake of ease of use in a quick situation and in possible tight cover?

--Anna Sophia
 
Top