4 replies [Last post]
Location: Indianapolis
Joined: 02/02/2013
Posts: 1
Bear protection while camping

Hey Guys, great forum.  I read some great posts and have a question.


I plan on camping in the souther Rockies of Colorado in either June or July.  A few specifics... I'll be alone.  Hiking mostly and fishing up in the high lakes.  Camping for about a week in my tent.  I grew up in those moutians and spent a lot of time as a teenager. However I haven't been there since (I'm 40 now).  I'll be carrying my glock .45 as a sidearm and thinking about buying a .30 06 for the trip.  These are for protection from unwanted attention of bears.  

Looking for some real advise here.  Am I fooling myself by taking my glock?  Can I shoulder a rifle if a bear is heading my direction in a hurry?  I've spent some time looking at kill zones on bears and keep coming to the conclussion that a charging bear is an extremely hard target.  Set aside the nervres here, the kill zone of a charging bear is terribly small.  And having seen black bears (and hearing that grizzly, albeit only a few, are in Colorado) as a youth, they are much faster than most people think.  

Am I taking too much risk by going alone?  Is the .45 enough to protect me?  Thanks for all of your thoughts and experience in your replies.   


expatriate's picture
Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3206
Bear protection while camping

The big thing with any bear in terms of handgun rounds is penetration.  A .45 could be anemic, depending on the bear.  Black bears are not as tough as grizzlies.  However, your best investment would be a can of bear spray.  You don't have to be as accurate and statistically, the success rate is a lot higher -- something like 90% vs 66%.  Besides, you don't have to explain a sprayed bear to F&G.  All that said, I still carry both when in bear country...I'd rather be 156% successful.

buffybr's picture
Location: Montana, USA
Joined: 11/15/2007
Posts: 358
Bear protection while camping

Like expatriate posted, "your best investment would be a can of bear spray" is good advice.  Carrying a rifle on a summer fishing trip would be just a lot of added unnecessary weight.  Keep a clean camp, and if you can, hang your food in a tree away from your camp.

I have camped for about 50 years in the mountains of both Colorado when I lived there, and here in Montana.  In all of those years, I have only been bothered by two bears in my camps.  Once by a black bear, and once by a grizzly, and both times it was because I had an elk hanging near camp.  I chased off the black bear by yealling at it and the grizzly by hitting it with a rock. 

As for the effectness of a .45 acp on a bear, here's the results of one 220 gr home cast lead bullet from my 1911 on a black bear, on a spring fishing trip, many years ago...

BikerRN's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Joined: 05/23/2011
Posts: 715

Others in this forum have a lot more bear experience than I but I'll share my $0.02 anyway.

1) No food in tent or sleeping bag!
2) No clothes in tent/sleeping bag that you cooked in.
3) Bear Spray
4) 10mm at a minimum. (other calibers work but I think it has a little more margin for error when dealing with bears)
5) Keep a clean camp with food hung from a tree.

Have fun and give us a report when you get back.


Don Fischer's picture
Location: Antelope, Ore
Joined: 03/24/2005
Posts: 3206
Welcome to BGH! I'd go with

Welcome to BGH!

I'd go with the bear spray also. And keep all food well away from camp. Carrying a rifle will mostly give youn extra weight to carry and the likelyhood of trouble with a bear is remote. Doubt a run in will be with anything other than a black bear. Grizzly is awfully awfully unlikely. I heard of one seen back in the 70's when I lived out there, nothing since. A heavy caliber hand gun is also gonna add unneeded weight and even a 10mm may not be effective unless your using a hard cast bullet. Given the choice between a handgun and a rock in your situation, I think I'd take the rock.

I don't think Colorado is all that big a bear state. In Montana we'd run into bears all the time. Lot of bears up there. Same with Idaho and Oregon and Wash. Origionally for hiking around Montana when I first got there I got a Ruger Blackhawk in 41 mag and a 338 Win Mag to carry. I sure did get tired of packing all that extra weight just to protect myself from bears that left long before I saw them.



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