14 replies [Last post]
Offline
Joined: 09/17/2002
Posts: 1
Best bear hunting sidearm

Looking to buy a new handgun as a bear hunting backup. It seems that everyone suggests a 44 mag, but i was thinking of a gun that would be more pleasant to shoot (and more likely to be practiced on). i was thinking about a .45 or a 41 mag. Would these be adequate for knockdown power? i was also thinking of getting a pistol over a revolver, but was worried about reliability in the field of an auto. Would an auto be a bad idea in the field? All comments would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
d

Offline
Location: SOCAL
Joined: 09/04/2002
Posts: 13
Best bear hunting sidearm

I don't know about knock-down power against a bear, but as a law enforcement officer I carry a handgun (H&K compact 40cal) and the primary criteria used by our agency in thier research included a combination of stopping power, reliability, conceilability/weight. I practice regularly, and although I have seen an occasional jam, in the thousands of rounds I've fired, mine has never jammed or miss-fired in any way. There are 12 rounds in the mag and 1 in the chamber. I regularly practice emergency reloading and jam clearing proceedures. On a timer controlled turning target I can draw and fire 5 rounds from the hip accurately at close range in 2 seconds. My first russian boar was taken with a 5 shot .38 revolver at 15 feet. I had to reload in between and dropped more rounds on the dirt than I got in the gun. (I'll never do that again)

I am not a gun expert and I am just learning about bears, but in my experience an automatic can send more lead to the target with good reliability. You may want to continue your research on what to buy, but I believe it's most important to practice for the situation to the point where your reaction would be second nature. After all, a big gun won't do any good if you don't get a shot off.
BTW I hope I don't sound too arogant, it's just an opinion.

Offline
Moderator
Joined: 01/27/2002
Posts: 7916
Best bear hunting sidearm

Hey Psycho D, welcome to the board!

I think Blastmaster hit the nail on the head.

Only thing I would add is that just focus on laying down that first good shot with a bow or rifle and you won't have to worry about the backup.

Offline
Location: pennsylvania
Joined: 10/11/2002
Posts: 15
Best bear hunting sidearm

YOU POSED A VERY GOOD QUESTION. I WONDERED THE SAME THING ABOUT 5 YEARS AGO. I PERSONALLY USE A 44 MAG. HOWEVER IF YOU ARE NOT USED TO SHOOTING SOMETHING THAT BIG I WOULD NOT USE IT FOR A SIDE ARM. AFTER ALL YOUR SIDE ARM IS FOR A QUICK USE IF NEEDED. A .45 SHOULD BE FINE AS FAR AS KNOCK-DOWN IS CONCERNED. A 44 MAG IS A GOOD SIDE ARM BUT MAKE SURE YOU ARE PROFICIENT WITH IT BEFORE YOU TAKE IT OUT.

Offline
Location: Ga.
Joined: 10/24/2002
Posts: 1
Best bear hunting sidearm

Folks, if you are using a handgun for backup in bear hunting your not going to get a chance for very many rounds to be fired before your in real trouble. The .44 mag is a good round, but the reason more powerfull handgun rounds have been created is because it has been found that it is not powerfull enough to stop dangeros game at close quarters. The 454 is at the other end of the power curve and is way uncomfortable to shoot. The new 480 ruger seems to fit the bill just fine and I have gone to it for my bear hunting. It also seems to be very accurate. My advise is to get one of the big boars and practise enough to become comfortable with it. Your life could be in the balance. As far as use of a 45....just enough to piss him off!

Offline
Location: Exeter,CA
Joined: 12/08/2002
Posts: 6
Best bear hunting sidearm

I would go with the 44 mag. I also would make sure it was Double action like the S&W 629.

Thats my .02

Ed
http://www.highsierrafirearms.com

Location: Saranac Inn, NY
Joined: 01/26/2003
Posts: 17
Best bear hunting sidearm

I have limited dealings with brown bears but two of my buddies are from Wyoming and one has been chewed on twice.

they say a 44 will get a sow off your head, but you've been bit already. first hand experience there.

all around choice was go ruger 480 or 454 practice making one shot at 5 feet.

incidentally both times the bears were on him before he knew they were there. he got the gun out both times but that was luck as much as anything, if he'd been pinned on his face instead of back he wouldn't have got it out.

just their 2 cents.

Offline
Location: Alberta
Joined: 01/16/2003
Posts: 11
Best bear hunting sidearm

I work for law enforcement agency also and we carry the Glock model 22 .40 cal. and if it comes to the point that you are pulling your handgun to stop a bear...well good luck because you'll need it. I have seen a bear shot in the head at very close range with a .40 cal and well you better just kiss your butt good bye.

I see S&W has now come out with a .50 cal. that they claim will stop a charging bear...like to talk to the guy that tested that one.

Offline
Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2003
Posts: 394
Best bear hunting sidearm

Stopping a man is not the same as stopping a bear. Bears have a lot more hide, fat and muscle between the outside and the inside, for one thing. For another, they have much thicker and heavier bones. So, what is quite adequate as a sidearm against human aggressors may be completely inadequate against a bear.

There are "medium" loads available for the .44 mag. Perhaps you would find these more comfortable to shoot. They would still deliver more punch than a .45. The other question is, are you talking about .45 Long Colt (as in a typical SAA) or .45 ACP? I would consider the ACP to be unacceptable for bear defense, but the .45 Long might be just enough--it's a pretty potent load.

expatriate's picture
Offline
Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3207
Best bear hunting sidearm

I always thought "bear sidearm" was an oxymoron. There are some good points made here about employment. I've been told a grizzly can cover 50 yards in three seconds -- not much time to draw and put rounds on target. As for accuracy under such circumstances, the kill zone for a handgun against a bear is pretty small, and gets even smaller when you're startled and a large bear is snarling and charging you at 30 mph.

That said, though, I'd much rather have a .44 mag or better on hand rather than simply hope the bear stops chewing soon.

Offline
Location: Alberta
Joined: 01/16/2003
Posts: 11
Best bear hunting sidearm

Another thing to remember is if you make that choice to try and shoot a bear with a handgun and don't kill it right away and it gets ahold of you...the chances then that your going to live through it are probably nil.

The best defence is to use your head out there and be aware of what is going on around you. And ya sometimes things happen out of your control.

Related Forum Threads You Might Like

ThreadThread StarterRepliesLast Updated
Question regarding sidearmshawn0915309/03/2009 09:25 am
legal/illegal? Sidearm in NMVP709/04/2008 22:32 pm
Dangerous Bearsjim boyd1301/01/2011 15:50 pm
How many guns do you bring?mountain10mm810/12/2012 13:17 pm
Colorado Sidearms?kansasity110/16/2012 20:29 pm