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Old 04-01-2012, 05:09 AM   #1
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Default Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

Need some help. I'll be hiking solo this summer in the appalachian region doing camera trapping to track animal populations. The key here is solo. In bear country.

In all of my years of scouting/camp/etc. I've only run across a couple black bears, who were far more afraid of me than I was of them. Though I still feel like the more responsible thing would be to be able to defend myself.

Which brings up my question - what should I be looking into? A friend of mine was talking about a .44 magnum, but my brother encouraged me to run hollow points through a .45 instead, so as to not be using a revolver.

I'm going to be carrying a pack with camera trapping gear, my own camera gear, and food, so I don't think a shotgun is terribly feasible.

If anyone experienced in this sort of thing has any pearls of wisdom to offer, I would love to hear them.

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Old 04-01-2012, 05:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

I can't say what firearm will stop a bear but, as you may already be aware, the best way to avoid bears is to make a lot of noise while hiking (whistling or the like) and to store and eat food several hundred feet away from your campsite.

I would contact the trail/park ranger station and ask them what they recommend.

BTW it sounds like a fun project. I love hiking.
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Old 04-01-2012, 05:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

If you have to use a handgun, between the two you're looking at I'd go with the 44 mag. The 44 can have 2 to as much as three times the energy per round as a 45 auto, that more than makes up for the slight edge in capacity of the auto. And besides, as reliable as modern semi autos are, if you have a round that doesn't go bang, you don't have to rack the slide on a revolver, you just keep squeezing the trigger. That's the way I see it anyhow. Of course if you can, I'd go with something bigger like a 454 casull or something along those lines.

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Old 04-01-2012, 05:37 AM   #4
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

Get a can of bear spray, & a .454 Casull Revolver
no need to play with death and dismemberment.

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Old 04-01-2012, 05:40 AM   #5
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

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Originally Posted by RA_pierce View Post
I can't say what firearm will stop a bear but, as you may already be aware, the best way to avoid bears is to make a lot of noise while hiking (whistling or the like) and to store and eat food several hundred feet away from your campsite.

I would contact the trail/park ranger station and ask them what they recommend.

BTW it sounds like a fun project. I love hiking.
Yeah, I definitely plan on talking to the professor in charge of this project about what to do here. And I definitely would rather avoid bears.

Basically I'm getting research credit and a stipend to play in the woods for ten weeks. I'll be doing a lot of data collection and crunching, but I'm a fairly technical person so fortunately that won't take long. But along the way I'll be leveraging my new 1DX (if Canon ever ships it...) to build my portfolio as a landscape and wildlife photographer.

I'm really, really excited.

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If you have to use a handgun, between the two you're looking at I'd go with the 44 mag. The 44 can have 2 to as much as three times the energy per round as a 45 auto, that more than makes up for the slight edge in capacity of the auto. And besides, as reliable as modern semi autos are, if you have a round that doesn't go bang, you don't have to rack the slide on a revolver, you just keep squeezing the trigger. That's the way I see it anyhow. Of course if you can, I'd go with something bigger like a 454 casull or something along those lines.

Jim
Really useful info here, thanks. Very helpful. I hadn't thought about the idea of a round not going off... definitely something to consider when this is a gun I'm potentially going to need to use while under duress (SHIT, ANGRY BEAR!). I was thinking that running 45 hollow points might help to make up for the loss of kinetic energy by going for a 45 instead of a 44 mag?

The only thing that concerns me with a 44 magnum is that recoil is a bit of a bear (har har). Fortunately, I'll have about three weeks between when my exams end and when the project starts, so that I can get fully acquainted with whatever I decide to go with.

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no need to play with death and dismemberment.
My thoughts exactly...

Trevor

Last edited by Trevor; 04-01-2012 at 05:44 AM.
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Old 04-01-2012, 05:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

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Originally Posted by Trevor View Post

The only thing that concerns me with a 44 magnum is that recoil is a bit of a bear (har har). Fortunately, I'll have about three weeks between when my exams end and when the project starts, so that I can get fully acquainted with whatever I decide to go with.

Trevor
You definitely need to practice a lot. If you haven't handled handguns much, you should find someone to coach you and go through basic safety with you. Three weeks isn't much time to get familiar with a tool that your life may depend on. And as far as the recoil, you can start out with light loads and work you way up to the more powerful rounds. Like I and LED also mentioned, the 454 casull would be even better, but it would also have more recoil.

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Old 04-01-2012, 06:05 AM   #7
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

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Originally Posted by pakrat57 View Post
You definitely need to practice a lot. If you haven't handled handguns much, you should find someone to coach you and go through basic safety with you. Three weeks isn't much time to get familiar with a tool that your life may depend on. And as far as the recoil, you can start out with light loads and work you way up to the more powerful rounds. Like I and LED also mentioned, the 454 casull would be even better, but it would also have more recoil.

Jim
I'd consider myself pretty proficient with my brother's Sig P226, but to be fair that's only 9mm. So, I've worked with handguns, but not as much as I'd like to have.

To be fair, I do go to school in southwest Virginia, so finding someplace to shoot (so as to get a jump on practice) won't be a problem at all. I'll start hunting around tomorrow, actually.

Thanks.

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Old 04-01-2012, 06:06 AM   #8
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

Trevor, My go to handgun is always going to be a revolver. They are seriously easy to shoot and take care of. Also if you think about it, the last thing you want is complicated if you have a bear charging at you. It will hold fewer rounds, but if you get to round 5 or 6 and it's still coming at you, you have much bigger issues to worry about.

You just can't beat point and pull the trigger.

I assume with a bear you want as big a round as possible. I might be tempted to look at a Tarus Judge. It's a revolver that takes both .45s and 410 shotgun rounds. It's one of the next handguns I want to get.

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No idea if that's really big enough to take out a bear though. Also you might want to check the laws in the areas you are going to be in. Some parks have more strict regulations on what you can bring in as far as weapons or at carry conceiled.
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:16 AM   #9
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

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if you get to round 5 or 6 and it's still coming at you, you have much bigger issues to worry about.
Yeah. At that point I prettymuch deserve to die...

You're actually the second person that's pointed me in the direction of something that will run .45 and .410... I'll give those a good look when I'm a bit more awake than I am now.

I was looking up Virginia gun laws tonight and I discovered they're really lax. Like, go-out-and-buy-a-handgun-and-do-nothing-else lax. I'll be consulting my professor on specific regulations for where I'll me.

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Old 04-01-2012, 06:39 AM   #10
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

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Yeah, I definitely plan on talking to the professor in charge of this project about what to do here. And I definitely would rather avoid bears.

Basically I'm getting research credit and a stipend to play in the woods for ten weeks. I'll be doing a lot of data collection and crunching, but I'm a fairly technical person so fortunately that won't take long. But along the way I'll be leveraging my new 1DX (if Canon ever ships it...) to build my portfolio as a landscape and wildlife photographer.

I'm really, really excited.

Ugh... I wish I could afford the 1DX. Right now I'm trying to collect a good array of lenses before I get a new camera.

I'd love to see some photos when you get back. I've always wanted to hike the Appalachian trail. It's just so far away from CA. I plan on visiting the Sierras this summer. Wildlife and landscape photography is something I am trying to practice as well.
Nothing is more peaceful than spending some time in the wilderness.
I'm jealous... it sounds like a really fun project. What is your major?
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:44 AM   #11
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

Trevor, the .44 Mag would be the minimum safe level of power I would go with. Forget about the .45 (ACP, I assume is what your brother is talking about) this will just piss off a bear, even a small black bear can kill you if it decides to! If I really thought I was going to come across a bear and I tend to be safer than sorry I would be looking at the .500 S&W Magnum. But you need to be familiar with whatever you decide to carry, you need to be able to deploy it very quickly and try to not miss it because you won't be reloading during a charge!
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:50 AM   #12
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

I thought about that .500 as well. I've never shot one but I bet it has a heck of a recoil. Might be hard to get a few shots off quickly if it's jumping around after every shot. On the other had its big enough that it might only take one shot. .
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:51 AM   #13
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

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Ugh... I wish I could afford the 1DX. Right now I'm trying to collect a good array of lenses before I get a new camera.

I'd love to see some photos when you get back. I've always wanted to hike the Appalachian trail. It's just so far away from CA. I plan on visiting the Sierras this summer. Wildlife and landscape photography is something I am trying to practice as well.
Nothing is more peaceful than spending some time in the wilderness.
I'm jealous... it sounds like a really fun project. What is your major?
I'm in business information technology, but one of my major loves is embedded systems design - so I'm BIT with a whole lot of engineering thrown in the mix.

There's a minor here in interdisciplinary science and engineering, eloquently called "Scieneering." Science-type majors who take it delve into the engineering discipline, whereas the engineering-types delve into the life sciences. This research is part of me getting the minor.

I've been working my ass off for months now, so as to get rid of my Nikon gear and pick up a 1DX, 16-35/2.8L, and 70-200/2.8L. With any luck I'll have a 400 2.8 by the time next semester and sideline-football-shooting start again. Hokie football!

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Trevor, the .44 Mag would be the minimum safe level of power I would go with. Forget about the .45 (ACP, I assume is what your brother is talking about) this will just piss off a bear, even a small black bear can kill you if it decides to! If I really thought I was going to come across a bear and I tend to be safer than sorry I would be looking at the .500 S&W Magnum. But you need to be familiar with whatever you decide to carry, you need to be able to deploy it very quickly and try to not miss it because you won't be reloading during a charge!
Okay - I think a friend of mine has a .44 mag, I'll see if I can make it out to the range to see how it goes.

Trevor

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Old 04-01-2012, 06:59 AM   #14
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

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I thought about that .500 as well. I've never shot one but I bet it has a heck of a recoil. Might be hard to get a few shots off quickly if it's jumping around after every shot. On the other had its big enough that it might only take one shot. .
Yeah, you are right about that! You would have to be used to the weapon for sure. Hey, I just thought about something else that could kill a black bear and that's a 5.56mm. Sig makes a pistol that you could have 30 rounds ready to use. The 5.56mm is small but very destructive.
I'm not sure if the 5.56mm would be legal to use for black bear in that region or any other for that matter.
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:56 AM   #15
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

Your correct in saying a bear will be equally as frightened as you if you were to cross paths. The black bears native instinct
would be to attack, if threatened. OR he's starving and you are the appetizer. Not sure if any of the folks here have seen a fully grown male black bear but i can say with little doubt a projectile from any handgun on this planet cant create enough velocity to stop a pissed off charging black bear. That said i suggest you lighten your load and bring a proper long gun that will give you a fair chance against mother nature. I would seriously consider a long barrel 12 gauge with 6-8 rounds and a small 4 round clip. And don't go cheap on the ammo , its key when you need to remove as much flesh as necessary to disable this size of target. I would go with Black Hills double 00 shot staggered with lead Sabot Slugs. If your not the best shot stagger in a few incendiary rounds ( they scatter and will burn most any material).

Now you can pack a pistol like some of the folks here suggest but i would take that pistol and shoot small game or beer cans. If your spending time where you say and your cooking, carrying, or eating food outdoors and a black bear catches a smell from 10-15 miles and hunts you ? With some luck a few surgically placed rounds should stop dead or make Mr bear look for another food source.

Good luck and talk to locals when you arrive.
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Old 04-01-2012, 05:43 PM   #16
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

Go big. The last thing you're going to be worrying about is recoil when a freaking bear is about to chew your head off.

Seriously though, best to check on a hunter's forum for this type of thing.
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:02 PM   #17
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

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Go big. The last thing you're going to be worrying about is recoil when a freaking bear is about to chew your head off.
Recoil will definitely play a part if you have to get off more than one shot. It makes it hard to bring the gun back into line for a follow up shot if you can't handle the recoil. The 45 colt or the 410 should not be considered as they won't have the energy required. As far as the 12ga with slugs, that's what the guides in Alaska were using some years back. The large slug from a shotgun is enough to shatter major shoulder bones which is what you need to do to stop a charge. A head shot will mostly glance off a bears skull and a body shot won't do much to slow a charge either.
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:17 PM   #18
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

^^ oh yeah, it makes a difference for sure. The OP sounded nervous about the recoil though.

Whatever you decide to use, practice practice practice until you're comfortable carrying it.
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:27 PM   #19
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

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I did not intend to appear as if trolling when I posted earlier above about the S&W 460. After reviewing my post this morning I can see where it could be interpreted as such.

I have a close friend that is an astute gun collector and he chose to purchase the S&W 460 versus any one of the other extreme magnum revolvers based on both the ballistics and the gun’s relative size to weight ratio. The 5 inch barrel is 11.25" OAL and 62.5 oz. He is also a gun rep and salesman for CDNN online.

And if I may add my humble responses below to the previous recommendations:

It may be destructive to people and to people wearing body armor; however it would have a miniscule effect against the muscle and bone mass of a bear. The 5.56mm bullet weight is only 23 to 28 grains as compared to 250+ grain weight of magnum calibers.


I would recommend at least a .44 Mag (especially if you can borrow one rather than purchase one for what appears to be a one-time need), and I would argue against the use of a shotgun for a hiking endeavor. A revolver in a belt holster is way quicker to deploy than a rifle or shotgun, not to mention less threatening than a long gun would be to other hikers.


When I hike I like to enjoy nature with as little intrusion into the environment as possible, as I am sure any hikers that I may meet along the way would not appreciate hearing what would seem to be a disturbed person if following such advice. There again in my honest opinion if you need to make noise to thwart a threatening bear encounter, a magnum revolver is the only sensible means of providing the stopping power and incidental noise.



I would argue that if a S&W .460 or a .500 S&W Magnum will not stop a charging black bear then neither will a shotgun with solid slugs.
[Federal® Truball® 12 ga.- 2 3/4" - 1 oz. Slugs - Velocity: 1,600 ft/s - Muzzle Energy: 2,485 ft-lbs]

.460 S&W Magnum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Whatever you choose it goes without saying the need to determine the applicable gun "carry" laws for your planned hiking route.
I beleive you are a little light on the 5.56mm and its capabilities. The bullet weights go into the 70gr range and even lighter hollow points are destructive to almost any thing on this continent while it is NOT the proper choice for even deer, it can do the job if needed in an emergency especially with up to 30 rounds in the magazine.
The .44 Mag to .500 Mag is appropriate for black bear protection and hunting, if you have experience hunting.

I don't mean to be trolling or off topic here either, sorry if it appears that. I do like the topic of firearms and get carried away blabbing!
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Old 04-01-2012, 10:04 PM   #20
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

I've been in your situation before.

My suggestion would be a Smith and Wesson 629, stainless steel finish, rubber grips, in either the 5" or 6" barrel (depending on your personal preferences):

Large Frame (N) - Smith & Wesson

You can't beat the reliability and endurance of a revolver, or the stopping power of the .44 Magnum.

Buy it used, absolutely buy it used. New guns are very expensive, used guns are a much better value.

Practice like crazy. These tools are not for the faint of heart, and you'll need to have practiced a lot to be comfortable, and *SAFE*, with it.

I have no clue as to what to suggest for ammunition. If you expect to be good enough to focus on head shots, I'd probably suggest FMJ loads, but if you think you might be making wild-ass body shots, a hollow point might be more in order. Hopefully someone else will have good advice on these lines.
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Old 04-01-2012, 10:28 PM   #21
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

LOL, it's so strange to me that in the US you can just go *buy* a handgun - let alone actually carry it places. There is probably some way to legally buy a handgun in Canada, but I wouldn't have the foggiest idea what it is. I've never met a single person in Canada who actually owns a handgun. I don't even know if we have gun stores that sell handguns, so I'm not sure where you'd actually buy one (assuming there was some legal way to do it).

We have lots of bears in Canada, and we use this:
Counter Assault CA-18H-Bear Deterrent 10.2 oz with Belt Holster

Anyone who has ever played with pepper spray (from those little 18 gram bottles) will know how deadly the stuff is, and why a giant 230 gram bottle of it is a lot more useful than a handgun at stopping a bear
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:15 AM   #22
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhd View Post
LOL, it's so strange to me that in the US you can just go *buy* a handgun - let alone actually carry it places. There is probably some way to legally buy a handgun in Canada, but I wouldn't have the foggiest idea what it is. I've never met a single person in Canada who actually owns a handgun. I don't even know if we have gun stores that sell handguns, so I'm not sure where you'd actually buy one (assuming there was some legal way to do it).

We have lots of bears in Canada, and we use this:
Counter Assault CA-18H-Bear Deterrent 10.2 oz with Belt Holster

Anyone who has ever played with pepper spray (from those little 18 gram bottles) will know how deadly the stuff is, and why a giant 230 gram bottle of it is a lot more useful than a handgun at stopping a bear
Yeah... I hadn't even considered purchasing a gun until a local friend of mine brought up that it would probably be a good idea. I didn't realize that since I'm 21, I can just go pick up a handgun and open-carry here (as opposed to concealed carry).

I do plan on carrying bear spray. But since I'll be spending the better part of ten weeks solo on 2600 acres, I think erring on the side of extreme caution is wise.

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Old 04-02-2012, 07:05 AM   #23
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

You make some valid points. My reccoemendation does not take into account others such as Hikers or personal comfort. Like most here i never have had to navigate past a black bear in the wild. If Trevor is familiar with the territory he's working in then its uncommon or unlikely he will see or run into another human. Thats if he's in North or North West territory, and if he did run into a human it would likely be a ranger. I would carry both a handgun .44 S&W and a rifle. And maybe just maybe i would get a few hours sleep. That twelve i recommend would be the only legal as viable firearm to stop a black bear.
Tonga - Not very fare . I agree a 5.56 could slice a good chunk of skull, meat, and fur from a black bear but the shooter would require a fair amount of skill. And i don't think this an option or desire of the person asking the question. No chance of getting a full auto AR-15 into Canada at least by our buddy here. Otherwise i'll join along with the AR in my Avatar, although its a .308 I would choose a 5.56 if my purpose a long distance disembowelment of a adult black bear at say, 500 yards with one bullet. That's not the case here or would it be fair to a black bear, jeep, two elephants walking side to side.


Quote:
Originally Posted by madmacmo View Post
I did not intend to appear as if trolling when I posted earlier above about the S&W 460. After reviewing my post this morning I can see where it could be interpreted as such.

I have a close friend that is an astute gun collector and he chose to purchase the S&W 460 versus any one of the other extreme magnum revolvers based on both the ballistics and the gun’s relative size to weight ratio. The 5 inch barrel is 11.25" OAL and 62.5 oz. He is also a gun rep and salesman for CDNN online.

And if I may add my humble responses below to the previous recommendations:

It may be destructive to people and to people wearing body armor; however it would have a miniscule effect against the muscle and bone mass of a bear. The 5.56mm bullet weight is only 23 to 28 grains as compared to 250+ grain weight of magnum calibers.


I would recommend at least a .44 Mag (especially if you can borrow one rather than purchase one for what appears to be a one-time need), and I would argue against the use of a shotgun for a hiking endeavor. A revolver in a belt holster is way quicker to deploy than a rifle or shotgun, not to mention less threatening than a long gun would be to other hikers.


When I hike I like to enjoy nature with as little intrusion into the environment as possible, as I am sure any hikers that I may meet along the way would not appreciate hearing what would seem to be a disturbed person if following such advice. There again in my honest opinion if you need to make noise to thwart a threatening bear encounter, a magnum revolver is the only sensible means of providing the stopping power and incidental noise.



I would argue that if a S&W .460 or a .500 S&W Magnum will not stop a charging black bear then neither will a shotgun with solid slugs.
[Federal® Truball® 12 ga.- 2 3/4" - 1 oz. Slugs - Velocity: 1,600 ft/s - Muzzle Energy: 2,485 ft-lbs]

.460 S&W Magnum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Whatever you choose it goes without saying the need to determine the applicable gun "carry" laws for your planned hiking route.
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:29 AM   #24
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Lightbulb Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
Need some help. I'll be hiking solo this summer in the appalachian region doing camera trapping to track animal populations. The key here is solo. In bear country.

In all of my years of scouting/camp/etc. I've only run across a couple black bears, who were far more afraid of me than I was of them. Though I still feel like the more responsible thing would be to be able to defend myself.

Which brings up my question - what should I be looking into? A friend of mine was talking about a .44 magnum, but my brother encouraged me to run hollow points through a .45 instead, so as to not be using a revolver.

I'm going to be carrying a pack with camera trapping gear, my own camera gear, and food, so I don't think a shotgun is terribly feasible.

If anyone experienced in this sort of thing has any pearls of wisdom to offer, I would love to hear them.

Trevor
Actually a .44 magnum will work against a bear, however a Winchester 12ga 3.5" magnum slug round will drop a bear dead instantly. This is our standard round for going out to the bush in B.C. bear country. I wouldn't suggest anything else. If a bear charges you fire a warning shot. 99% of the time, this will scare the bear off running... If it keeps getting closer and appears to be heading towards you quickly, aim for the head.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:33 AM   #25
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Default Re: Question for the firearms afficianados out there.

I wouldn't trust myself at close range with pistol and 3500lbs running at me. Watching a black bear on its hind feet will scare the ---- out of anyone. Few years ago you had problems with a few bears getting very close to neighboring towns? Mounted police pulled out some heavy artillery



Quote:
Originally Posted by Seoul_lasers View Post
Actually a .44 magnum will work against a bear, however a Winchester 12ga 3.5" magnum slug round will drop a bear dead instantly. This is our standard round for going out to the bush in B.C. bear country. I wouldn't suggest anything else. If a bear charges you fire a warning shot. 99% of the time, this will scare the bear off running... If it keeps getting closer and appears to be heading towards you quickly, aim for the head.
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