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#257382 - 03/09/13 10:45 PM Re: A backup was needed for bear spray this time? [Re: KenK]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3309
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: KenK
Would a handgun be enough to stop a grissly? (aside from making a lucky shot) I've always wondered about that.


Shot placement, speed and situational awareness trump caliber every time.

With that said, typical defensive loads for humans are not appropriate, as they're designed to expand and limit over-penetration. Bears have much better natural armor than humans, so a large jacketed (JSP better than FMJ) or hard-cast lead bullet is better to achieve enough penetration.

The prevailing wisdom seems to be that a .357 Magnum loaded with heavy JSPs would require precision hits on the central nervous system to reliably stop a bear. Under stress, few people can make precision CNS hits on a charging bear with a handgun. As a master-class competition handgun shooter, I would be doubtful of my ability to make such a shot.

A .44 Magnum or .454 Casull is more appropriate -- for those that can accept the weight and are capable or shooting them effectively. I'd rather have a shotgun loaded with slugs.

It's worth repeating that your best move is to avoid confrontations with bears. It's also worth repeating that you shouldn't carry firearms anywhere unless it's legal to do so and you are trained to use them safely and accurately.

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#257383 - 03/09/13 10:49 PM Re: A backup was needed for bear spray this time? [Re: ]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3309
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: IzzyJG99
I recall some years ago someone in Alaska actually saying "Just bring a .22. Several shots at a bear will scare it away." Which is like attacking a battleship with a baseball bat. Not gonna work out well.


If the bear is defending food or cubs, you cannot scare it off. If the bear is thinking that you might be good to eat, firing a gun may actually cause it to decide that you are not food.

While your chances of stopping a bear with a .22 is very, very slim, your chances of killing a bear with one aren't as bad. The .22 has a lot of penetration and can cause an infection or a bleed that will eventually kill the bear. You'll most likely be bear scat before that happens, though.

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#257391 - 03/10/13 12:52 AM Re: A backup was needed for bear spray this time? [Re: chaosmagnet]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7191
Loc: southern Cal
According to the NPS account and investigation of this incident, the spray and bullets reached the bear at the same time. If that is the case, this incident is irrelevant to any spray vs. bullets discussion -the bullets weren't backup for the spray in this case.

While in theory, I prefer bear spray, when Mr. Griz is ten feet away, as he was in this case, I would probably be very happy with a slug loaded shotgun in my nervous little hands.


Edited by hikermor (03/10/13 01:33 AM)
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#257396 - 03/10/13 02:18 AM Re: A backup was needed for bear spray this time? [Re: ]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2186
Loc: Bluegrass
Originally Posted By: IzzyJG99
Originally Posted By: KenK
Would a handgun be enough to stop a grissly? (aside from making a lucky shot) I've always wondered about that.


Yes and no. Your standard pistol calibers wouldn't do much unless you quite literally got lucky shot it in the eye and it went into the brain. That being said there are handguns in calibers that can handle a grizzly bear. High caliber magnum load revolvers. Stuff like that.

Ruger makes a pistol called the "Alaskan" that is chambered in .454 Casull. So there's that. I think it also can fire .45 Colt Longs. But don't quote me on that. Seems to be a resurgence of rifle and pistols that fire .45 Colt Long.

I recall some years ago someone in Alaska actually saying "Just bring a .22. Several shots at a bear will scare it away." Which is like attacking a battleship with a baseball bat. Not gonna work out well.


REDACTED

Back on topic, yes, you can hunt bear with the larger calibers. My ... second cousin? ... used to be big into pistol hunting. I would assume that, at close enough range, a .44 mag (maybe smaller, but would you want to find out) would do the trick. Again, shot placement is KEY.


Edited by chaosmagnet (03/10/13 03:16 AM)
Edit Reason: Inappropriate political commentary

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#257400 - 03/10/13 03:45 AM Re: A backup was needed for bear spray this time? [Re: chaosmagnet]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1161
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
Originally Posted By: KenK
Would a handgun be enough to stop a grissly? (aside from making a lucky shot) I've always wondered about that.


Shot placement, speed and situational awareness trump caliber every time.

With that said, typical defensive loads for humans are not appropriate, as they're designed to expand and limit over-penetration. Bears have much better natural armor than humans, so a large jacketed (JSP better than FMJ) or hard-cast lead bullet is better to achieve enough penetration.

The prevailing wisdom seems to be that a .357 Magnum loaded with heavy JSPs would require precision hits on the central nervous system to reliably stop a bear. Under stress, few people can make precision CNS hits on a charging bear with a handgun. As a master-class competition handgun shooter, I would be doubtful of my ability to make such a shot.

A .44 Magnum or .454 Casull is more appropriate -- for those that can accept the weight and are capable or shooting them effectively. I'd rather have a shotgun loaded with slugs.

It's worth repeating that your best move is to avoid confrontations with bears. It's also worth repeating that you shouldn't carry firearms anywhere unless it's legal to do so and you are trained to use them safely and accurately.

Lots of people, most of whom who have never shot a grizzly, have theories about the best caliber. No handgun is really good bear protection. The only real advantage of a handgun is that it is lightweight (relatively speaking), and you might actually have it accesseble when you need it. Yes, people have successfully protected themselves with a 44 Mag, but truth be told a 44 Mag is pretty weenie bear medicine. Even most 454 Casull loads deliver less muzzle energy than a 30-06, which most people who have experience with bears would consider the minimum rifle cartrige for bears.

Keep in mind that a grizzly bear is a very tough animal. Big bones and massive muscle, under a thick layer of fur and fat. Their brain is actually quite small, relative to the size of their head. The skull is very thick, and the front of the skull slopes back at an angle, like the frontal armor on a tank. Unless you get very lucky, shooting a bear in the head will just mean a really pissed off bear with a bad headache.

If you choose to carry a firearm for bear protection, the best advice is to carry the biggest, most powerfull rifle you can shoot well. In Alaska, the two most popular guns for hunting big bears are the 375 H&H, and the 338 Win Mag. A 12 gauge shotgun with rifled slugs is not a bad choice for protection. On hunts I have killed a brown bear with a 338 Win Mag loaded with 250 gr Nosler Partition bullets. I've also killed a black bear with a 30-06 with 220 gr bullets.

These days however, I generally only carry bear spray when out hiking. It is much lighter weight to carry, and has been shown to be on the average at least as effective as firearms. That is my choice, and I spend a lot of time in bear country.
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#257410 - 03/10/13 06:40 AM Re: A backup was needed for bear spray this time? [Re: clearwater]
Phaedrus Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2527
Loc: Big Sky Country
I'd feel better with my 870 Remington loaded up with Brenneke slugs. As a last resort, if you do carry a handgun of the sort that you'd use for protection against humans, those who've "done it" say you should use hard cast or FMJ. Penetration is what you want; aim for the brain and hope for the best. Few handguns will enough structural damage to stop a big bear without shutting off the CNS.
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#257420 - 03/10/13 02:18 PM Re: A backup was needed for bear spray this time? [Re: clearwater]
2005RedTJ Offline
Addict

Registered: 01/07/09
Posts: 475
Loc: Birmingham, Alabama
The discussion at work one day veered onto the subject of bear attacks and guns (don't really have bears around here to speak of). A coworker asked me what kind of damage I thought my .45 would do to a bear.

I told her:

1) I'll be shooting until the gun is empty and one of us is dead, either the bear or me, and he has stab wounds and a knife sticking out of him

2) I have the .45 ON ME, which is better than the "wish I had it with me" rifles all my coworkers were talking about

3) I'll be the most painful meal the bear has ever eaten and he'll probably die soon afterward if he does finish his meal.

All said and done, a .45 may not be the weapon of choice. But it IS the weapon I have handy.


Edited by 2005RedTJ (03/10/13 02:19 PM)

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#257421 - 03/10/13 03:04 PM Re: A backup was needed for bear spray this time? [Re: 2005RedTJ]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7191
Loc: southern Cal
Both you and the bear would be better off if you carried spray. I think AKSAR has proably had more field experience with grizzlies (a very different critter than black ears) than all the rest of us put together.

I have spent all of 48 hours in serious grizzly country - an overnight trip in Denali. We were very careful because we carried --nada! This was an afterthought after a mountaineering patrol on Denali. Once you get up high, grizzlies are not a concern.
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#257440 - 03/10/13 10:35 PM Re: A backup was needed for bear spray this time? [Re: ]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: IzzyJG99

I recall some years ago someone in Alaska actually saying "Just bring a .22. Several shots at a bear will scare it away." Which is like attacking a battleship with a baseball bat. Not gonna work out well.


The last person I've heard of saying so was mauled to death by an ice bear about 10 years ago. He had ~30 years or so field experience hauling stuff to remote locations in Spitsbergen. He put plenty .22 bullets in that bear, but that only made him more angry. I haven't heard any .22 caliber nonsense since then...

Just shows that "experience" is often a nickname for "cementing poor practice". Just because something stupid usually works out doesn't mean it's a smart thing to do. He had scared bears before, that poor man, but this time the bear wasn't scared so easily.

But you don't need a .22 to scare bears: History shows a vast array of successfully scaring ice bears with basically any activity known to man: Engines, Shouts, dogs, waving, explosions, broom sticks, clanging pans and the velcro flap of polar explorer Borge Ousland's jacket (reaching for his gun after numerous attempts to scare a troublesome bear. Signal pistols didn't have ANY effect, but the sound of a velcro flaps ripped open was obviously very scary to that particular bear). Scaring is good practice and saves the life of the bear and yourself from a lot off hassle. 95% of the time it works out really well. But sometimes the bear really doesn't want to be scared... and then you need something really effective.

For the record: No, I've personally never needed to scare or defend myself from any bear.

The verdict is still out about bear spray and ice bears, though. Don't know about Canada or Russia, but in Spitsbergen the official rule is not to trust bear spray untill it's been more thoroghly tested and has a track record of being effective on ice bears. I guess it's only a matter of time untill bear spray is adopted as recommended practice there, too.

Oh, as always, Aksar has good advice, listen to him.



Edited by MostlyHarmless (03/10/13 10:57 PM)

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#257451 - 03/11/13 05:07 AM Re: A backup was needed for bear spray this time? [Re: hikermor]
Denis Offline
Addict

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 631
Loc: Calgary, AB
Originally Posted By: hikermor
According to the NPS account and investigation of this incident, the spray and bullets reached the bear at the same time. If that is the case, this incident is irrelevant to any spray vs. bullets discussion -the bullets weren't backup for the spray in this case.

Thanks for the details ... this is exactly the information needed to answer the original question!
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