View Full Version : Black bear: .45ACP or Broadhead arrow?

February 21, 2006, 06:53 PM
There has been a thread on Glocktalk.com where a fella asked about taking a black bear with a Glock 21 .45ACP handgun. Unbelievably to me, the thread actually gained more than one person who supported the idea. I've included a link to the entire thread, and have highlighted one particular post below where he says that if arrows can take black bears, then the .45ACP ought to be just fine.
OK, so please take a moment to vote for your choice. I will take the results back to Glocktalk.com and hopefully educate some of these potentially dangerous and undoubtedly unethical hunters.


G36's Rule
Senior Member

Registered: Dec 2001
Location: Spring, TX.

First off, hundreds of Black bear are taken every year with a bow and arrow. So the 45ACP is quite capable of doing the job. And you would not be the first to do it. I'm pretty sure George Nonte and Lee Juras did it.

I've not read all the post here as I'm 100% certain that there are quite a few that have no clue what they are talking about, but are quite confident they know everything.

A good 230gr. JHP, preferably in a stout loading like from Double Tap would be a good load for a bear. You will want to make you shots less than 25 yards and aim for the heart/lung area.

I've shot several deer with a standard Win. SXT in 45ACP and have never had a bullet stay in the animal. On the other hand, I've shot one Javelina with a 40S&W 165gr. SXT and it stopped on the opposite shoulder. The Javelina weighed maybe 50 pounds. The deer were over 90 pounds. The 45 will beat the 357 or the 40 in penetration.

February 21, 2006, 07:02 PM
IMO, it sounds like a buncha folks swooning over their favorite firearm's awsome abilities... (It is a discussion about a glock, on Glocktalk, afterall...)

On the other hand... Unlike a bow and arrow, you might get a few shots more with the glock, vs the bow... Hmm...


February 21, 2006, 08:15 PM
Without putting TOO much of my own opinion into this poll, thus influencing it.......the .45ACP is very rarely advised as even a backup gun in bear country, let alone as the PRIMARY hunting weapon. It's plain stupid, in my opinion. Carry on......................

Art Eatman
February 21, 2006, 09:28 PM
I've been messin' with the .45ACP since--hmmm--1970, as far as loading for one and doing a bunch of shooting. I got into IPSC in 1981. Nowhere some sort of super-duper-shooter, but did okay.

From a tree stand at typical bowshot distances, a .45ACP COULD be used to kill a bear. Good odds of a wounding shot, also. So, from the standpoint of a clean, ethical kill, I'm pessimistic.

Lemme say this about that: I wouldn't let somebody try that on land where I control the hunting.


February 21, 2006, 09:44 PM
I am sure that I have seen well over one hundred black bear taken. I hunted Michigan's Upper Penninsula during and after the quota days. We used to take 15 or 20 a year, prior to quota. I have never seen one taken with a 45 pistol. I took one with a 357 and deemed it inadequate. I saw one aggrevated by a 44 mag. It was not the cartridge but the lousy soft bullet choice in a crummy handload. I am sure that the 45 is adequate.

Bow hunters lose lots of Black Bears every year. IMO they are dead, but not able to be followed. Most bowhunters are afraid of a bear and climb too high in a tree for a proper double lung hit. A fall Black Bear has a bunch of body fat that will close most exit wounds and stop blood trails. This is a fact, I have spent many hours trying to recover bears. Mostly a waste of time. By the time a bow hunter is disgusted and ready to call in a hound it is a day or two later. The trails are typically too old by then. A bear has heavy round ribs that will severly damage a weakly constructed broadhead. They have a shoulder bone that can stop all but the beast broadheads on a heavy shaft.

A bear hunt is a rather expensive hunt for many people. Do yourself a favor and use a well constructed bullet out of a 7 mm minimum. Make sure you are comfortable with your gun. Break the bear down through the shoulders.

Capt Charlie
February 21, 2006, 10:12 PM
Ya know, I'm a big fan of the .45 ACP, but it's the last thing I'd want as a primary weapon for hunting. Hell, for that matter, as a secondary weapon as well. The .45 ACP, regardless of FMJ, SP, HP, etc., wasn't designed as a hunting weapon; dear Mr. Browing intended it to be a defensive weapon against people.

If you have to resort to a secondary handgun during a bear hunt, you're already in deep do-do, and whatever you choose better be 100% capable of doing the job. I'm thinking a minimum of a .357 mag. stoked with 180 gr. hard cast Buffalo Bores.

Comparing the .45 to broadheads pushed by a 70# or more draw compound bow is apples and oranges. Broadheads are designed to kill large animals, and they do it very well. The stops may not always be quick, but any hit COM will result in death eventually.

I don't even have to think about this one; leave the .45 at home and take a few extra arrows.

--Capt. Charlie, who own & uses 3 .45's AND a compound bow ;) .

February 21, 2006, 10:17 PM
I don't get it. Not only is the .45 going to be easier to get good shot placement with, it should create a larger wound volume as well. And better penetration, at least in black bear.

Someone tell me I'm wrong here... Any animal you're willing to hunt with a bow (in the sub grizzly category because in the larger animals the bow and arrow does have better penetration) you can hunt with a handgun...

February 21, 2006, 10:19 PM
There is no comparison. An arrow with a sharp broadhead, placed well, is far more deadly than a .45 acp placed well. A sharp broadhead NOT placed ideally is far, far, far more deadly than a .45 acp not placed ideally. The folks that voted otherwise are sorely mistaken. Anyone who thinks a .45 acp is good for bears is wholly unfamiliar with hunting. Arrows have taken moose, bison, and even elephants. Not so for measly defensive handgun ammo.

Not only is the .45 going to be easier to get good shot placement with, it should create a larger wound volume as well. And better penetration, at least in black bear.

Not a chance, man. The sectional density of an arrows is several hundred PERCENT higher than a .45 acp bullet - it will outpenetrate times 10 any day of any week with a 40 lb draw weight, let alone a 70 lb. The wound volume will also be much larger with an arrow, which is usually about 1" wide, over twice that of a .45 bullet, not to mention much much sharper than the .45 acp bullet, making it cut arteries, veins, and organs that a slow moving pistol bullet would move aside (as those tissues are quite elastic). Also, with arrows/broadheads, tracking is usually easy. With a handgun, likely *impossible*. This is apples & carbuerators.

As for likelihood of good shot placement, it's about a wash between a handgun and an arrow, with a slight edge to an arrow, in the hands of a skilled archer. Now if you're talking a .45 acp carbine, then I'd give the edge to the carbine in getting better shot placement.

February 21, 2006, 10:21 PM
Out of curiosity how is a broadhead more deadly when placed correctly? I understand why its more deadly when not placed correctly because it will continue cutting and whatnot right? But thats a matter of semantics because it will probably take hours or weeks for it to die if you shoot it with an arrow in the leg.

February 21, 2006, 10:34 PM
Primarily because it will penetrate better, which is due to extraordinary sectional density, relative to a bullet. Most arrow shots on thin-skinned game like deer are easy pass-throughs. Not so with rifle bullets, and certainly not so with handgun ammo. And if you don't get a pass-through, the broadhead continues to cut internally as the animal moves trying to get away. But also because it will cut more blood vessels all along its path.

PS. All bets are off if the broadhead is not razor sharp, or you're using one of those self-opening broadheads, which use arrow energy to open that could have been used to penetrate instead. They still work well against thin-skinned game however.

Quick anecdote about elk, which are about as tough-skinned as black bear: My buddy has gone to Colo for elk hunts several times. As for hitting elk with arrows, he is 2 for 2 in recovering hit elk. He drew in for a muzzleloader hunt last year, but came back empty-handed, despite having HIT 2 different elk with a .50 cal muzzleloader and 295 gr bullets, with what he describes as good hits. He cannot believe that he couldn't track them, and neither can I, but the bullets from the ML didn't cause exit wounds (apparently), and elk bleed very little with no exit wounds - they are extremely tough. So he's 0 for 2 with .50 cal hits, which of course are significantly more powerful than a .45 handgun round. Another guy who went with him shot an elk in the flank (rear leg, in the femoral artery, luckily) with an arrow, and he was able to track it and find it dead - it bled out, even with that very poor shot which he probably should never have taken. I'm a believer in sharp broadheads.

Capt Charlie
February 21, 2006, 10:48 PM
CC, unless you hit a major bleeder with a bullet, there isn't that much hemorrhage. Death comes from major organ destruction and shock. A razor broadhead causes extensive and rapid hemorrhage almost anywhere COM. Also, the depth of penetration by today's carbon fiber arrows /w broadheads pushed by a well-tuned Martin rivals that of most high powered rifle rounds.

February 21, 2006, 11:03 PM
youp, I am almost positive that what you wrote is a typo: "I am sure the .45 is adequate." Didn't you mean to say that you are sure it is INadequate, given that you just said you saw a .44 mag hack one off, and you consider a .357 inadequate, not to mention the lengthy explanation of thick blubber and tough rib bones?

I am quite sure bowhunters lose a lot of bear due to what you describe. But I am doubly sure that the recovery rate would be even abysmally lower if they were using .45 acps instead of a bow. The exit wound would be non-existent, rather than quickly closed up. Sure a 7mm rifle is a better choice, but that's not the subject - it's which of these other 2 choices are more effective. Tell me that was a misprint there.... ??

February 22, 2006, 09:07 AM
Thanks for the votes so far. Please keep them coming. I'd like to take as many votes over there as possible. :)

February 22, 2006, 09:13 AM

You are right, I miss proof read that post. This is my third try to repost and Have hunted and pecked to no avail. So here is the short version.

Do yourself and the hunting community a favor, use enough gun. There are few accolades from knowledgeable sportsmen and women for successfully pulling off some stunt like a 22 deer or a 45 ACP hog or bear.

February 22, 2006, 12:55 PM
"I don't get it. Not only is the .45 going to be easier to get good shot placement with, it should create a larger wound volume as well. And better penetration, at least in black bear."

Cobraycommando, I can consistently shoot 1" groups at 20 yds with modern archery equipment and sights. I no longer shoot modern archery equipment, but rather hunt with a longbow. I would say that from 20 yds or less I am more accurate with the longbow than off hand with a iron sight revolver. Beyond that distance, the drop or trajectory comes into play and the handgun wins out. No question the hemoraging and penetration will be better with a sharp broadhead and heavy arrow.

Wild Bill Bucks
February 22, 2006, 01:48 PM
Back several years ago, I watched Fred Bear kill a Polar Bear with a bow and arrow on some TV show. I don't recall his back-up weapon being a 45.

I bet he new something that a lot of people, evidently, don't know.:p

February 22, 2006, 03:50 PM
Thanks for the votes everyone. Keep them coming. I'm surprised the Glock has any votes, but that's what the poll is all about.

February 22, 2006, 04:08 PM
Ok I get it now, in that case then a broadhead is definately better.

February 22, 2006, 05:13 PM
Another vote for the broadhead. .45 ACP is not a hunting cartridge.

February 22, 2006, 08:00 PM
But it does what it was engineered for well eh!

February 22, 2006, 09:03 PM
Unbelievably to me, the thread actually gained more than one person who supported the idea.

Well the majority of Black Bear are not much bigger than a large human male. So if something works well on humans there is a good chance it will work on a black bear. We really have to define if we are talking hunting or self defense. When hunting bears we are going for the vitals. You will need a lot of penetration to reach the vitals on a bear. In a self defense situation you are going for a head or shoulder shot as the vitals will not be visible on a charging bear. With a 45ACP you will want to use FMJ to ensure adequate penetration. Since it is ball shaped to feed in semi-autos it isn't going to leave a very impressive wound channel. It has been said that round nose FMJ bullets leave a wound channel about 70% of their size in actual tissue. In the meantime a HC 44Mag bullet with a massive meplat is going to leave a much better wound channel and also penetrate better. Even a HC 357 load is probably going to leave a larger channel and it will undoubtedly penetrate better. Flatnose HC revolver hunting loads typically leave "full size" wounds. A broad-head arrow would be much more effective than a .45ACP slug. It is going to cut a lot of tissue and cause major hemorrhaging.

February 23, 2006, 08:31 AM
I have been charged by two different bears. Most want to leave the area and will if given a chance. Both bears were wounded and somewhat aggrevated.

One was wounded before we started after it. It had a 12 gage slug wound in a front shoulder. Please reread that part. The plastic sub base was in the shoulder. The upper shoulder bone was broken. The wound was green. If you think a 45 is superior to a 12 ga slug be comforted in the fact that most bears only want to get away from you.

The other was wounded by a 308 win. The hit was low in the front shoulder. The bear charged me upon seeing me. (A fact that you will not see on Animal Planet is a bear can unhinge its jaw during a charge, or so it appeared. I believe his jaw spread was in excess of 24 inches.) The first shot was at a range of 15 feet, it took the bear just under the chin and traveled through the bear and was recovered under the hide at the hip. Innards were trashed. He got up and needed to be shot again. You have to ask yourself, is a 45 superior to a 308 Win? Are you feeling lucky?

Use enough gun.

February 23, 2006, 01:42 PM
But youp, did you answer the poll?

February 23, 2006, 03:37 PM
Which Sword For Black Bear

If you can use a broadhead for black bear and your man enough you should be able to use a katana right?

:) Only halfway joking here.

February 23, 2006, 04:55 PM
Yeah, but with a broadhead, you have a dead/POed bear over there, enough room/time for maybe a second shot, and the bear can't retaliate. With a sword, you have a dead/POed bear right here at your fingertips. :eek:

Of course, you can't cut a bear's head off with a broadhead, though.

February 23, 2006, 05:09 PM
Sure I answered the poll.

February 23, 2006, 06:31 PM
OK, thank you. :) I just didn't want the thread to go too far off-topic is all.

Capt Charlie
February 23, 2006, 06:34 PM
TJ, We'd be interested to see the response from the "other" forum when you post the results there.

February 24, 2006, 08:57 AM
I've shot through every animal I've ever killed with a bow up to caribou. I know bear hunters that have had complete pass throughs on their kills.
There is no comparison between the penetration of a broadhead tipped arrow and a .45ACP. Most of the time they don't even realize they're hit.

February 24, 2006, 11:35 AM
In retrospect I was confused about the arrow penetration thing because I've only seen a single bowhunt and it was on TV (OLN). A lady shot a deer about 50 feet away and the arrow was going so slow you could see it sliding into the deers side. The trajectory was like a rainbow.

But when I think back she had the build of Chris Rock and I don't think she was using a powerful bow.

While I've got bowhunters here, does anyone know how composite bows and modern yew/fiberglass longbows compare to compound bows?

I was sort of interested in either a composite Mongol style bow or a Pacific Yew company longbow.

February 25, 2006, 04:42 PM
Cobray, you have to have more strength/stamina to shoot a longbow at the same velocity as a compound bow. You probably knew that. A compound bow has a "let-off" which is at the end of the draw. It feels like you're holding next to nothing at full-draw, when actually the limbs are holding a LOT of energy. The cams on a compund bow allow you to achieve this let-off. A longbow is a different animal altogether.

Yes, you CAN see an arrow do the "rainbow" into an animal or target. This is seen regardless of who is shooting the arrow, although it is more observable at longer distances. As has been said before, arrows don't fly at anywhere NEAR the velocity of even the relatively SLOW .45acp. In fact, they fly at around 3X slower!! The difference is the slicing and cutting power of the modern broadhead tip. These are razorblades. Literally. It doesn't take a whole lot of velocity (240 fps?) for a triple or quadruple razorblade to FULLY penetrate the body of a deer, bear, elk, etc. causing immediate and immense trauma and blood-loss. With an ideal double-lung shot (not particularly difficult given the correct positioning of the animal before release), death is often ten or fewer seconds away. As hunting goes, that is very humane.

**I'd love to get a few more responses to this poll before I take it back to the folks at Glocktalk.com and show them that not EVERYONE believes that the Glock 21 is the deadliest weapon ever invented. I should add that I myself own a G21. It is an excellent handgun and I LOVE mine. I just wouldn't go bear hunting with it. Please vote.

February 25, 2006, 10:05 PM
Just an interesting off topic experiment.

Get a two sandbags. Shoot one with a field tip arrow. Shoot the other with a commercial 150 gr 30-06. See which one passed through. You will find that the lowly arrow with its rainbow trajectory out penetrates the 06.

February 25, 2006, 10:25 PM