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Posted: 10/1/2001 3:52:37 PM EDT
I am camping and hiking in the deep woods with my family (my wife and our daughter). It's not realistic for me to carry a rifle or shotgun (I'd probably get arrested by the Park Rangers).

What is THE BEST hand-gun to protect myself and my family against an aggressive grizzly, brown, or black bear.

Would it be a 6" .44 Magnum revolver? A 10mm Glock? What do you "experts" out there think?
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 3:54:53 PM EDT
44 mag will drop a grizzly
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:02:28 PM EDT
A bear? Desert Eagle in 50AE.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:04:27 PM EDT
How about a Taurus Raging Bull in 44 mag or 454 casull?
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:05:23 PM EDT
Current issue of The Accurate Rifle has an article on a .44 Magnum bear gun with ammos, by a guy who used to be a patrolman in Alaska.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:06:35 PM EDT
.44 mag definitly. or one of those new BFR 45-70's.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:07:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2001 4:02:24 PM EDT by ump45]
I hate to ask, but what is 454 Casull? What's the difference between that and 44Mag?
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:07:54 PM EDT
The largest caliber that you can accurately shoot.

"If you're not part of the Solution,
you're part of the problem"

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:07:55 PM EDT
... I'll have to agree with Renty.

A Desert Eagle chambered in .50AE is an awesome force. I load mine a little "hot" and chronograph muzzle energies surpassing the formidable .454 Casull recommended loads.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:10:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ump45:
I hate to ask, but what is 454 Casull? What's the difference between that and 44Mag?

The 454Casull is to the 44mag as the 44mag is to a 44 special.

Mucho hotter...........!

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:11:01 PM EDT

or how about the lone eagle in 30-06?

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:15:38 PM EDT
Well I don't think I want to spend over $1000 for a DE in .50AE.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:15:41 PM EDT
If it's a national forest or BLM land, then guns are OK.

But you mentioned "Park Rangers". Can't have any guns in a park. Instead carry a $30. can of bear spray, or a "big" can of peppergas.

Don't smell like food. Park bears can't be shot (except by park rangers), and so fear no man.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:16:39 PM EDT
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:20:03 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2001 4:16:33 PM EDT by hanko]

What is THE BEST hand-gun to protect myself and my family against an aggressive grizzly, brown, or black bear.

Would it be a 6" .44 Magnum revolver? A 10mm Glock? What do you "experts" out there think?

Ump, the old joke/answer to your question is one without a front sight...hurts less when the bear shoves it up your a$$.

My answer would be a .44 mag, unless you have the $$ to think about a .454; guess if you haven't by now, I wouldn't worry about it. Think large (heavy) bullets, solids are nice.

where are you headed?? Other than Denali or parts of Glacier, I'm not sure you're going anywhere where grizzly live. It's important to be aware of your surroundings, as bear will usually tend to avoid humans. The big 'unless' here is you getting between a sow & her cubs or a bear & his dinner. A grizzly in person is an absolutely awesome creature...no natural enemies & they climb tress.

If you're in a national forest, guns might be OK...call ahead. If I'm backpacking & see big bear scat or tracks, I tend to backtrack & take the long way 'round. I'm trying to say that bears will tend to avoid you, and it's best that you try to do the same; if you haven't practiced shooting a large bore handgun, trying to hit an agressive big bear probably won't be successful.

A dog is a good trail companion generally, particularly in bear country. Also, if you know you're headed for bear (brown/grizzly) country, schedule your trip so that it does NOT conicide with wife/daughter's menstrual flow. Watch your camp cleanliness...pork chops probably aren't the best choice for dinner.

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:20:37 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2001 4:17:05 PM EDT by ump45]
Is the .454 Casull cartridge reliable? I don't want to get something that is going to KB or jam.

Also what are some good .44Mag guns?
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:21:40 PM EDT
UMP45, you did not say what area you plan on camping in, and what type of firearms you already have. There are many types of handguns that will work on the biggest of BEARS, but some of them weigh as much as a good carbine. Are you hiking alot or just camping, and doing day hikes? Do not forget pepper spray, inspite of what others say from outside of alaska it does work. More then anything eles learn about bears, and you will see that the biggest problem you will have is what is standing on two feet not four.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:24:14 PM EDT
for absolute power in a hangun you should look at the .475 or .500 linebaugh magnums. the .475 holds the record for an agressive animal stop (bull elephant at 50 yards)you provide the ruger bisley frame and get in touch with john linebaugh he'll do the rest..

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:28:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2001 4:34:20 PM EDT by Santyth]

Originally Posted By ump45:
Is the .454 Casull cartridge reliable? I don't want to get something that is going to KB or jam.

Also what are some good .44Mag guns?

I'd love to see someone jam a revolver.

Keep in mind that for hiking, we're talking about something quite large to lug about here.

You can get one of these in:

.357 mag
.44 mag
.454 casull
.480 Ruger

Expect to pay somewhere between $500 - $600.

Edited because I forgot the new .480
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:29:13 PM EDT
Ump, this puts it better than I could. I usually take a month off & backpack in Montana or Idaho...I try to find trailheads that are enough off the beaten path that I see only 2-3 other humans per day. In 20+ years of doing this stuff, I've seen 2-3 grizzlies that I can remember; by the time I saw them, they'd already noticed me and were heading the other way. The .357 or .45 that I always carry are there more for 2-legged idiot animals than anything else...they outnumber big bears by a good bit.


More then anything eles learn about bears, and you will see that the biggest problem you will have is what is standing on two feet not four.

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:30:37 PM EDT
When I went to Alaska a couple of years back, I asked the same question. All the Park Rangers up there carry 12ga with 00 buck in it.

I went on a horseback packing trip, and all that guide had was a Blackhawk with .45 Colt in it. Someone asked him if that was enough to kill a bear. He answered that you don't kill the bear, you kill the slowest horse.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:33:08 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2001 4:30:47 PM EDT by ump45]
Sounds like the minimum gun would be a 44Mag. Is that right?

Let me put it this way. If you were hiking alone or with your family, and an aggressive bear was charging directly at you, what would be the minimum gun that you would expect to have a reasonably good chance at dropping the bear (assuming that you are accurate with that gun, etc.)?
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:34:42 PM EDT
*** ALERT *** ALERT *** ALERT ***In the light of the rising frequency of human - grizzly bear conflicts, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is advising hikers, hunters and fishermen to take extra precautions and keep alert of bears while in the field.

We advise that outdoorsmen wear noisy little bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears that aren't expecting them. We also advise outdoorsmen to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a bear.

It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings. Black bear droppings are smaller and contain lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear droppings have little bells in it and smells like pepper.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:35:57 PM EDT
Saw a raging bull .454 at a gun show this weekend.

If you run out of ammo, it can be used to beat the bear over the head.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:43:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2001 5:32:06 PM EDT by clinth]
.Since I live in Alaska and hunted all my life and have seen/ killed big grizzly I would say a 44 mag will not drop a griz If you think a pistol will protect you against a charging grizzly bear you are wrong. The distance he can travel by the time you can draw is vast. If a human can cover 21 ft in the time it takes to draw a pistol from the holster, figure 75ish for a bear. Now the question becomes which gun can I draw from a holster aim accurately and shoot a charging griz with. I care my daily carry weapon .45 loading with ball understanding that this is to be used as the bear is mauling me. When I hiking(not hunting)I carry a 457 magnum copilot. If any one question my belief on the 44mag will not drop a bear I have a very interesting encounter with a grizzly while skin a moose.

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:47:08 PM EDT
calling in from bear country:

Um, there isn't one. We get a bunch of tourists through here talkin' this smack.

Handgun? There isn't one. If you are shooting a Griz, or any bear, for that matter, he is charging. If you shoot otherwise you should not be out there because you don't know what you are doing. Anyhow, you will basically be shooting at his 2 inch thick skull because thats all you see from a charge, and handgun ain't gonna do it.

IME, I don't know what park you are going to, but here rifles are just fine. Most of the Horse Packers have .45s of .44 revolvers at the hip, but that is for lesser game issues and poeple issues.

So, purely hypothetical FWIW, if you were shooting at a charging bear, you are NOT gonna be able to kill it (you will probably just piss it off) probably so a power balance in favor of hits + power is your best chance. It would have to be a HiCap pistol, hi-power round. You will be betting the farm on hitting an eye or something else out of of pure luck. 10mm Glock or hicap .45 probably.

The notion that I even suggest this is a testament to my own foolishness. If you are serious about defending you family, you need a rifle. PERIOD, the hell with the FS rangers. If you just want a gun that will make YOU feel more secure...., well, there you go.

When I go into Glacier or the Marshall packing I have a 9mm for bipedal issues. For the wildlife I have a REAL high coverage can of Pepper Spay. The last thing I want is a charging (bear, cat, moose, etc) with .45 caliber adrenaline rush of pain. I want to get in the clear, not go toe to toe.

2 bits

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 4:57:21 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2001 4:55:47 PM EDT by ump45]
I've heard a whole bunch of hangun calibers recommended here. Most of which I've never heard of.

.44 Special
.44 Magnum
.454 Casull
.50 AE
.475 linebaugh magnum
.500 linebaugh magnum
.480 ruger
.457 magnum copilot
10mm glock
.45 acp

Can you list out each cartridge's bullet weight, bullet size, and velocity. And can you rank them in order of how "powerful" they are.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 5:00:00 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2001 4:59:24 PM EDT by clinth]
Since some one brought up pepper spray

Don't think that a fix all. If the bear isn't serious about getting you(just play with yea) then it general works but from most accounts when he's out to get you it doesn't work. I've came back to camp and saw a black bear rolling in my tent. after we scared him off the only thing we found in my tent was a can of pepper spray that he bite into. Didn't appear to bother him to much :)

the copilot is a rifle Look here

the 457 wild west magnum is a 350gr, 45 caliber bullet, @ 2200 fps see the above link for more info.


Just my humble opinions
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 5:01:38 PM EDT
"After chewing on my right shoulder, arm, and side repeatedly, the bear began to bite my head and tear at my scalp. As I heard the horrible crunching sound...." from a personal account of her attack by a bear - Cynthia Dusel-Bacon (Alaska Bear Tales by Larry Kaniut)
Is THIS why you want a bear handgun?

Don't get that book unless you want to start seeing grizzlies behind every bush and rock.

Seriously, I suggest you do some homework on bears in North America. Start with the web, but check into a good factual book like Stephen Herrero's, "Bear Attacks...Their Causes and Avoidance", Lyons & Burford publishers ISBN 0-941130-82-7

Be very cautious about advice on bears and guns from people who have never been close to or even shot a black or grizzly bear.

Here's what I learned living near Fairbanks, Alaska.

-Some people carry the Ruger Super Redhawk .44 mag (it seemed to be VERY popular). I never met anyone who had shot a grizzly with one.
-Some people carry a long gun like a .45-.70, or .338. I have known folks who have shot bears with these (they work well depending on the shooter)
-Some folks carry 12 ga. shotguns. I used to carry my Winchester 1200 18in. barrel, when we went out berry picking. (I have heard of people who have used these with success, again, it depends on the ability and mental coolness of the shooter)
-Bear Spray has turned away a bear(from a distance, not a charge) for at least one person I knew. ( I've also seen a demo tape where a volunteer - large male- charged the sprayor, and the sprayee still made it to the "victim")
-Then there are the hundreds (or more) of folks who travel the bush with nothing more than their "bear bells" for most of their adult lives and never have a problem with any of the bears they encounter.
-While I encountered a few bears on land (and one swimming in the Yukon river) I've only shot at the one I was actively hunting. He went down with the help of the .338 mag rounds that he absorbed. Six rounds while he ran through a small glacial stream, up an eight foot or so embankment, and got up fifteen minutes after a spine-shock shot that we thought had him down for good. It was one of the worst kills of my life (bad shooting, and too many people shooting!), but that's another story...

You might also contact bear biologists in your travel area or anywhere big bear exist. (Alaska, Montana, etc.)
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 5:03:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ump45:
What is THE BEST hand-gun to protect myself and my family against an aggressive grizzly, brown, or black bear.

ump45 - no offense, but I have three questions for you:

1. *If* it is that dangerous, and *if* you can not take and openly carry the RIGHT tool for the job, what business do you have being there with your family in the first place? If it is that bad - you are making a poor decision as a husband and father. (IMNSHO)

2. When you intend to be there - will your wife or your daughter be menstrating? If so - not a good time to be there.

3. Have you called the park to find out if you can carry the right tool for the job?

The right tool is a short shotgun. Period. End of story. Ghost ring sights, slugs and a good sling.

I know a guy that just got back from an Alaskan hunt. He and his partner got their animals (moose) but could not be flown out b/c of the 9/11/01 attack. They saw 47 bears in 10 days had a couple charges, lost ALL the meat and one of the racks. Sleeping at night was difficult b/c all they could hear were the bears fighting over the meat.

Another guy got lucky 3 weeks ago in a hunting related attack. He has a detached tricep and is missing part of his ear (thanx to claws and paws) and a snapped leg.

Contact the park - find out what the TRUE threat level is and what you can do to offset the potential problems. Also know how to behave in bear country, and the differences in behavior to different types of bears (and how you should react).

Good luck, have fun, be safe.

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 5:08:50 PM EDT
WSmac- were did you live at?

I live and work in North Pole. Hunted the rex trail till the closed it and then the Alphabet hills out side of summit.

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 5:14:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2001 5:10:31 PM EDT by hanko]
Ump45, what Six said, especially items 1 & 2. Have you done any outdoor stuff up 'til now??

No offense intended, but I'd go hike with the bells...sing or whistle as you hike & it's unlikely you'll experience anything like you're worried about.

If you like, e-mail me & I'll hook you up with rental USFS lookout cabins or firewatch stations...hike up in the morning, sleep in shelter, and back the next day. Cheap & no tents to carry.

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 5:24:20 PM EDT
Here's a pic of a grizzly in comparison with a person so we all have an idea of the size we are talking about.

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 5:29:18 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2001 5:25:35 PM EDT by zazou]

Originally Posted By clinth:Since some one brought up pepper spray

Don't think that a fix all. If the bear isn't serious about getting you(just play with yea) then it general works but from most accounts when he's out to get you it doesn't work.



Emphasis here maybe should be why is the bear pissed off and what did you do to it.

Prevention and Knowledge is the BEST weapon.

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 6:28:23 PM EDT
clinth, I lived north of town towards Fox. We were there five years then we got the hell out of that good-for-nothing loose law state and moved to beautiful Califor.....uh sorry, change that around, I was dragged unmercifully from that beautiful country known as "The Last Frontier" and dumped unceremoniously into this law-riddled state known as California (or for those prefering the PC connotation - Kalifornia).

I worked on post for the Outdoor Recreation Dept. taking soldiers and family on ice-fishing trips to Birch Lake and the like, teaching beginning downhill skiing at Birch Hill, also on Ft. Wainwright ("Hey, I saw the video, I know how to teach Skiing!"), and more stuff like that. I worked for the Alaska Fire Service, worked part-time shoeing horses, and attended UAF. For the fun stuff, I hunted, fished, canoed, and took flying lessons at the Eielson AFB Aero Club (nothing like taxiing inbetween F-16s and C-130's with a little Cessna! LMAO)
Did you ever see that guy's Aluminum Catamaran he made in his shop somewhere around Persinger Dr. (I think)? He and his family launched it into the Chena back around 94 or 95, sailing to Florida.
Man, don't get me started! Like everyone told me when we left - "You'll be back, everyone comes back!".........Someday!
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 6:39:07 PM EDT
Sounds like these guys know what they're talking about.. My logic simply was to name the most powerful handguns I could think of, as that seemed to be the requirement..

Anyway, listen to these guys. Not me.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 6:51:43 PM EDT
Didn't some of you guys who live in bear country once agree that you're only going to have time for one shot, so it better be a big one? So, if it must be a handgun, would a .454 be up to snuff?

How about a FAL carbine? Hopefully, you could get off 2-3 shots of .308 before he crushed your scull.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 6:56:55 PM EDT
Doesn't matter what size gun, just remember to save A round for yourself.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 6:57:37 PM EDT
BFG-9000 should do it. Vaporize the thing
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 7:00:01 PM EDT
454 casull.

Link Posted: 10/1/2001 7:07:31 PM EDT
Don't know if this has been said, but a .500 Linebaugh would be the best handgun round out there!

for bear that is, heh.
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 7:08:07 PM EDT
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 7:08:36 PM EDT
45-70 BFR

rifle power in a handgun size
Link Posted: 10/1/2001 7:14:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By cyrax777:
45-70 BFR

rifle power in a handgun size

I can't even imagine the muzzle blast and the amount of powder that will burn outside the barrel...
Link Posted: 10/2/2001 9:07:40 AM EDT
beekeeper, ROTFLMAO, YEAH CLINTH is the man!!! Send him off to bring 'ole Bin Ladin's head in (probably just pop it off with one hand). Looks like he rode that thing back into camp before finishing it off. Contrary to popular belief, those little Santa's elves in North Pole Alaska are some mean Bastards! (uh, no offense Mr. Clinth, sir!)

Santyth, I wasn't meaning to jump on anyone's case and I don't claim to be a bear expert and definitely not a large caliber handgun expert.

I would add to concentrate on a disabling shot such as a shoulder shot. Hitting a griz' in the heart isn't a guaranteed stop shot.
Link Posted: 10/2/2001 9:18:18 AM EDT
44 mag or larger with heavy penetrating bullets.

Best bet would be a rifle.
Link Posted: 10/2/2001 9:19:02 AM EDT
Chalk up another for the Raging bull..
Link Posted: 10/2/2001 9:33:25 AM EDT
Is everybody overlooking the obvious? The best bear gun is a Ruger Mark II .22LR and an anti gun liberal. If you see a bear charging, shoot the liberal in the legs and run like hell.

Link Posted: 10/2/2001 8:24:35 PM EDT
There really isn't a question as to a Handgun being capable of taking a bear, or anything else for that matter. If you get a well placed shot (heart or lungs) the bear will die, if he was charging from a short distance he probably won't die fast enough to help you so the only option is to break shoulders or sever the spinal column. In order to get the penetration heavy hard cast lead bullets(20-22 Brinell Hardness)become mandatory. Bullets should start at about 300 grains and be capable of about 1300 F.P.S. the 44 rem mag and the 45 colt both get you there(these loads are stout use them in strong handguns). When you move up to the 454 Casull, recoil becomes an issue, the next step to the Linebaugh cartridges it is my understanding that recoil becomes brutal. Any of these cartridges will anchor a bear they are good enough the question is are you? Being as I would rather not find out the hard way I pay attn to what is going on around me and try to avoid this type of encounter I generally carry a 45-70 Levergun and a 454 Casull and I am very comfortable in the Bush.
Have a nice day,Rabon...
Link Posted: 10/2/2001 9:05:20 PM EDT
The only good bear defense is between your ears! no handgun on earth will stop one even 75% of the time. when in the bear country the best you can do is a good 12 guage with sabot slugs...pat
Link Posted: 10/2/2001 9:21:44 PM EDT
I read an article about this little eskimo woman who killed this huge bolar bear breaking into her igloo with a single-shot .22.

For the rest of us, there's the .458 win-mag.
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