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dosghooter's picture
Location: Wyoming
Joined: 08/23/2003
Posts: 28
mo Power is Betta!

I live in Wyoming and as yet have not had to shoot a bear in self defense but do know a couple of guys  that did. Both used magnum caliber rifles which are a giant leap above ANY handgun cartridge and both ended up getting mauled anyway. If there is only 10 ft lbs difference, I opt for the bigger one. Is your life worth a little more recoil?

jaybe's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: S.E. Michigan
Joined: 10/19/2010
Posts: 825
Thinking Practically . . .

.... I have a Ruger Blackhawk in .41 magnum and have taken it on a few deer hunts with me - just in case I got a good chance at a deer within pistol range.

 After a couple days of carrying it, I quit carrying it, simply because it was not comfortable and added a lot of weight to my belt (perhaps a shoulder holster would have been a better idea).

 But I think if I were concerned about a bear, I wouldn't even consider a single action, just because of the mechanics involved in getting off a shot - and that's probably all you would get off (maybe not that) if you were actually being charged. Talking about recoil going from horizontal to nearly vertical sounds like good Dirtty Harry stuff, but not very practical when a mad animal is intent on killing you.

 I would give serious consideration to the 10mm in a semi-automatic. I realize it doesn't pack the raw power of any of the magnums, but if a bear was coming at me, I would feel a whole lot more confident in just being able to flip off the safety and keep pulling the trigger until either the bear stopped or my gun was in his mouth.

 Besides that, I'd still have a gun that could be used for a variety of other purposes.


Joined: 02/23/2013
Posts: 3
41 magnum vs 44 magnum revolvers

That is a very good idea but do you think the intense cold could be a problem with an automatic weapon?

Joined: 02/23/2013
Posts: 3
41 magnum vs 44 magnum revolvers

I read an article about backup weapons, for bears and I was shocked to find out that the .357 was the weapon of choice over the 41 magnum and 44 magnum.  The reason given was penetration vs knockdown.  I have hunted for years and have used all the above mentioned calibers but I am still undecided.  I researched handgun loads for all the above calibers and found the .357 magnum to be very impressive but from what I read it is all about penetration and I am not sure I am sold on that.  Surely someone makes a .41 magnum or a .44 magnum that has been designed to give both, penetration and knockdown.  I hope someone will comment on this and help me make a decision that I can litteraly live with.


Critter's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4151
I'm not sure if anyone is

I'm not sure if anyone is making .41 magnum ammo that would fit the bill for penetration and power. I know that there are a few loads for it but it is starting to die out. Sad to say since I love my .41. But for a hand loader your options are still there. Either with hard cast lead or jacketed bullets you can still load them up quite hot to get just about any type of penetration that you want from a plain hunting load to a bear stopper.

Now the .44 magnum the options are wide open. From light loads that equal the .44 special and Russian to a full bore hand cannon. I have some loads with a 240 grain Nosler bullet at just over 1500 fps that would put any animal down in its tracks. You can also buy factory loads that would do just the same. Also the .44 and .41 magnums pack more energy at both the muzzle and down range that the .357 mag just can't obtain just because of the bullet sectional density. So in my book the .357 comes in third in this list.

This last spring I took a bear hunting trip into Canada. Guess what the guides had for close combat bear guns? It was the .44 magnums. I asked my guide one time about his pistol hanging around his neck and he said that his plans were to put it into the bears mouth and pull the trigger 6 times if he ever needed to.

In the long run if I needed a backup gun for a bear I would pick the .44 or something larger such as the .50 S&W. If it was for a defense gun in bear territory I would pack a 12ga shotgun loaded with slugs.

Joined: 02/23/2013
Posts: 3
41 magnum vs 44 magnum revolvers

Thanks so much, I purchased a single action 44 magnum today and I can't wait to shoot it.  I will look for ammo that has good penetration and try not to lose to much knock down.  I hope I am never in that position but murphy's law says different.

Location: Southern NH
Joined: 09/13/2006
Posts: 380
41 vs 44

Well I guess I can put in my .02 since I own a couple of .41's and I truly love them. Mine are S&W Model 57 DA revolvers, both blued. One is 6", factory mint, wood grips. The other is 8-3/8", Aimpoint 1000 scope and Hogue rubber grips. They are used mostly for deer hunting although I don't carry the 6" gun anymore. A couple of things to consider that have already been mentioned but I'd like to reinforce. Weight (size) and ammo. The 41 and 44 are both big guns. Since this is supposed to be a sidearm, ease of carry should be important. There are some lightweight options out there for the 44 but not much, if any, for the 41. I woulodn't want to carry my N frames around as a just-in-case sidearm. Ammo is, and always was, a bit of a problem for the 41. There is a limited variety of factory loads for the 41. The 41 is what got me into reloading. Forget finding any on sale or at a hardware store or Wal-Mart. It's just not popular enough.....and it's EXPENSIVE. I buy what I find, when I find it. I don't handload as much as I should but at least I have plenty of brass. You handload, so once you get a pile of brass, you should be OK. Just don't think you're gonna run out for a box of ammo because you aint.

I am looking for a SS revolver for use as a sidearm for CO elk hunting. No griz, just black bears and cats. I've seen quite a few bears, some more surly than others but I've never felt threatened or scared. I've never seen a cat but I'm pretty sure they're seen me. No problems so far. I am currently on the hunt for a Ruger SP101 with a 4" barrel. It's SS and comes in .357 Mag. It's a small 5-shot revolver that I think would be fine to have on my hip for a week. Last year when we packed out my cow it took three trips after dark. There was a big cinnamon bear hanging out in that drainage. I didn't reload my muzzleloader because we were packing meat and I really didn't want to haul the gun a mile up the hill and pack it back out on each trip. I would've felt a little better with something on my hip. For peace of mind, I would feel comfortable with a .357. That's just my opinion. It'd been a far site better that hitting the bear with my hat.

FWIW, a guy at work had a .44 Mag Ruger Super Redhawk with 7-1/2 barrel for sale but I passed because it was too big for a sidearm. I really liked the gun but I would only be a buyer if it was really cheap.

BikerRN's picture
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Joined: 05/23/2011
Posts: 714
Interesting Topic

Being that my idea of a back up gun comes from a different perspective I'll throw my $0.02 in.

A BUG should be smaller than the standard, or duty, handgun. Often lighter weight, shorter barrel, and may, or may not, use the same ammo as the duty gun.

With that said I'll pack my Model 58 fixed sight revolver for bears. It's for when I can't use my rifle, for whatever reason. My .44 Mag is a single action with adjustable sights and the .41 Mag is a double action with fixed sights. I believe fighting / defensive handguns should be of fixed sight.

So for me, being a reloader, I'll carry the .41 Mag and think of it like the 38 Special I used to carry in my pocket, not optimal but sufficient enough to do the job if I do my part.