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Joined: 01/17/2012
Posts: 14
What gun should I buy??

Alright guys,  I have never carried a pistol while elk hunting in colorado.  I think its time to carry one (just in case) Yes .  Is a 45 big enough to get me out of trouble?? (bear, lion)  Also, I will be backpacking in about 3 miles.  I want to go as light as possible.  Any suggestions??




Critter's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4422
In reality if you want

In reality if you want something to deter a cat or a bear forget the pistol and get a can of bear spray.  It has been proven to stop a bear in its tracks and you don't have to even be very close to the target for it to work.  Just a spray in the bears direction and he'll run into it. 

Also the problem with a first time purchaser of a handgun is taking the time to be able to shoot it well enough to hit a tennis ball the size of a bears brain at a close range while the adrenalin is pumping through your body.  So if you are asking if a .45 will take down a bear the answer is yes but the big question is will it stop it if it is coming after you or are you just going to make it mad.  Usually when I am up in the hills and hunting I don't even worry about a pistol even tho I own a number of them that would take down a bear.  I figure that if he gets past my rifle then I'm a goner and I have never had any problems with either a bear or a cat while packing out the meat either. 

So if you feel more comfortable packing a firearm then I suggest at least a .44 magnum or even a .454 Casull and a lot of practice.  Also don't forget that the Division of Parks and Wildlife take a dim view of someone shooting a animal when they don't have a tag for that species in their position. 

Joined: 01/17/2012
Posts: 14
Thanks Critter for the

Thanks Critter for the advice. Thumbs up  I will be bowhunting.  Im still debating about taking one or not.  The other 3 guys are taking there pistols.  They all have 45's.  I just dont want to pack the extra weight. Thanks again

Joined: 07/16/2009
Posts: 70
I would




I carry a pistol every time I get the chance to do a remote country, bow hunt. I've never had to use it or bear spray for defense, so I can't state with experience which is better. My thought is the pistol can also be used in an offensive situation, e.g. if I was hurt or lost and really needed eat something be it small or large game. (Yeah scold me for even thinking it; I'd rather walk out alive and pay the appropriate fine than starve.) Obviously if your bow is intact and working, it could be used in the same method. A firearm can be used for signaling too, not going to do that with bear spray. Two legged vermin - though I've never had an issue - would likely be more persuaded to go their own way with a pistol.


You didn't specify which "45" you were talking about - 45ACP or 45 Colt. I'd definitely opt for the latter. The ACP in terms of woods guns is on the anemic side. If you want light and compact, get a Glock 29 - that's 10mm firepower, far superior to a 45ACP, in the package that could be conceal carried (legal in CO with or without a permit assuming you are hunting). A 45 colt with modern loads in a revolver would be very sufficient though too.


I usually carry a Glock 20 with full power 10mm loads (I can regularly hit a quarter at 10 yards with it), but also have carried a .44mag mountain gun with some full power loads and some 44 specials for small game - which I also get a license for. Routinely hiking 6-10miles a day while bow hunting, I know weight matters, but I also carry a first aid kit...and I never plan on using it either. Except for some food, water, and skinning gear, most of the stuff in my pack is stuff I hope I never have to use.


Good luck with whatever you choose.


WesternHunter's picture
Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2374

I like .45's, but not out of light weight pistols, they kick with too much muzzle flip out of light framed guns.  I think they're great out of full sized service pistols.  You also quickly loose a lot of ballistic performance once you go down shorter than a 4 3/4 inch barrel though, especially using 230 grain loads.  But yes I think a .45 ACP is good for defense against black bears and lions.  Personally I never worry about black bears, they never seem to bother me.  I figure my hunting rifle will take care of any trouble I may run into with black bears if I ever do.  Personally I worry more about running into dangerous people or stumbling across sombodys grow.  Mountain lions, yes I fear them and worry about them too.  Any fighting chance with lions is likely to be a fighting chance that's very up close and personal, hand to claw combat, so in that case you're better off having your knife readily accessable.  Problem with lions is that you're more likely to already have your throat torn out by them before you realize the lion is even around. Shock!

BikerRN's picture
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Joined: 05/23/2011
Posts: 715
Good Advice

Some good advice here.

Generally a round that is good on humans will work well on mountain lions. As for bears, I like deeper penetrating rounds for them. I also like bigger calibers than what I would carry for humans.

Where I reside, and hunt, humans are the problem not bears. I select my carry handgun and load for carry while hunting based on what I consider the most likely scenario. If it's a human based problem I suggest selecting a load based on that. If, like Alaska, it's a bear based problem then I would select a load on that scenario.

The 10mm is a good compromise. It will work on both humans and bears but I consider it marginal for bears. It does give lower end .41 Magnum power but there is a reason revolvers are preferred when shooting a powerful caliber. Revolvers are stronger and the recoil and power that a revolver is able to handle will be greater than what a "bottomfeeder" can handle.

I have my choice of platforms that I can carry when hunting. Around here it's likely to be a Glock 19 because of the weight but I much prefer the 1911, P-35, or P226. For me it just depends on what is in my off duty carry rotation at the moment. These are all chosen with a human combatant in mind. When thinking of bears I start looking at my revolvers. If I had a 10mm, and considered the odds of needing to use it on a bear as, "possible but unlikely", I might opt for the 10mm.

If however I was hunting with a handgun, and I don't, then I would look at nothing but revolvers. I am hunting with either a rifle or a shotgun and the handgun is considered secondary armament.

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