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Old September 24, 2016, 03:43 AM   #1
jimbocarrey
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Bear Defense Penetration Standards

Just curious if there is any consensus on what is considered adequate penetration for bear defense, Grizzly bear in particular. A ballpark number of inches in ballistic gel is really what I'm looking for. I remember reading of a 400 grain 454 casull hardcast penetrating over 45" inches of gel. The brenneke maximum barrier penetration had been tested to penetrate 42" in bare gel. Just curious how much is enough and how much is too much. Thanks in advance!

James
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Old September 24, 2016, 09:43 PM   #2
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Even the government does not trust gel tests. A bear(Black) coming at you exposes very little that is not thick hide, muscle and bone. I am guessing a grizzly is even worse.
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Old September 24, 2016, 10:16 PM   #3
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What works in gel and what works on bone are not always the same thing.
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Old September 24, 2016, 10:31 PM   #4
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Yeah I'm aware of that, however I'm not saying 45"inches of gel equal 45 inches of bear. The FBI uses the 12-18 inches of gel to include bones, skin, etc. Obviously 12 inches of gel doesn't equal 12 inches of human but it'd the best standard we have to go by. I'm just curious as to if there is a ballpark number for bears.
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Old September 24, 2016, 10:50 PM   #5
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There's a Forest Service study for Alaskan bears, what rifle the agency would procure for work crews. It's on the web. Discusses requirements, I think reliable penetration of 18" was imperative as well as sufficient energy so a non-vital or peripheral hit would break up the attack to allow the shooter to place a killing second shot. You might review the details against your handgun ballistics and see how you fit.

I would think a second shot could be a crucial factor in your choice. Lots of one-shot rounds out there, but absolutely no guarantee you won't need another.
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Old September 25, 2016, 09:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
how much is too much
Is that really a consideration, especially with a grizzly bear?
There are claims of folks downing bears with a .22 rimfire.
There is a documented case of a starving black bear attacking a police officer being stopped with a 9mm.
It was during the infamous mass animal escape from a private zoo in Ohio a few years ago.
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Old September 25, 2016, 09:59 AM   #7
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There is even a case of a bow hunter being attacked by a grizzly, and killing it by repeatedly STABBING (not shooting) it with one of his broadhead hunting arrows.

At the time, the Grizz was a protected animal, and yes, the hunter was brought up on charges. Weeks (maybe months?) later, he was in court, and the judge, seeing him STILL in casts and bandages (as well as pics of his original injuries) threw the case against him out.

Elmer Keith used to say that any handgun of decent caliber (.38 & up) would end a bear attack, IF YOU KEPT YOUR NERVE. His advice was to shoot the bear through its open mouth (they ALL open their mouths during an attack), breaking the bear's neck.

He never said it would be easy, nor did he ever claim that you wouldn't get clawed and "chawed" a bit, only that if you kept your nerve, it could be done.

Penetration is important, but placement matters even more. An African express rifle (or a 155mm howitzer) shot in the wrong place is useless.
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Old September 25, 2016, 12:59 PM   #8
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You gotta love that "A case" information. How is this for "A case": Years ago I read an article in either OUTDOOR LIFE or FIELD AND STREAM. A guy shot a black bear and wanted a rug made. The bear had a leathery patch on it's forehead that he assumed was a rub mark. The taxidermist skinned it and there was a hole about 2 1/2" big right through the skull, with scattered shot in the bone around the hole. The photos were in the magazine. They figure a turkey hunter called it in and shot it from a few feet away. This is not an internet story or "A guy told me" case. I have an old GAME NEWS magazine with a story of somebody shooting a bear with a .222 while hunting. Plenty of stories of undergunned people hunting and killing bears, but they usually do not fair to well with an attack.

Anything is better than nothing. I used to keep a .45 Auto on me when I camped out near Yellowstone. Over the years there were quite a few people being drug off in sleeping bags. I figure if you stick it in their ear and empty the clip, it has to better than nothing.
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Old September 25, 2016, 01:26 PM   #9
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There's no such thing as 'bear defense penetration standards'. Certainly not the FBI's ideas. Those have nothing whatever to do with Yogi. Unless the criminal miscreant is named that.
Which flavour of Yogi matters. A griz is a whole lot bigger than a blackie.
In any case, the whole thing depends on you being able to recognise the threat, being able to draw(or get a long gun ready), aim and fire accurately in less than 6 seconds. If Yogi is PO'd at you and is coming from under 100 yards you have far less than 6 seconds as well.
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Old September 25, 2016, 07:15 PM   #10
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"I remember reading of a 400 grain 454 casull hardcast penetrating over 45" inches of gel. The brenneke maximum barrier penetration had been tested to penetrate 42" in bare gel."

Those levels of penetration would only be required if you happen to be shooting a northbound bear in the south end.
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Old September 25, 2016, 07:23 PM   #11
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I used to make a 44 caliber bullet that when shot with a stout load out of a 7 1/2" SBH that penetrated thru 20" of willow tree.

I wonder how many inches of gel that equals??
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Old September 25, 2016, 07:32 PM   #12
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It doesn't. I used to test fire guns in a special vise on a bench. I shot into tied newspapers about 2 feet from the muzzle. You would not believe how far a soft point penetrated with only blunting the nose. Same with pine boards. The same bullet would blow a ground hog in half at 100 yards.
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Old September 25, 2016, 10:17 PM   #13
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I shot into tied newspapers about 2 feet from the muzzle. You would not believe how far a soft point penetrated with only blunting the nose. Same with pine boards.
I proved a long time ago that newspaper and boards are really crappy expansion media.

No wonder you were surprised. You were just learning.

You are still young and have much more to learn.
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Old September 25, 2016, 10:59 PM   #14
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Well the Canadian government considers the .303 British and .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO adequate for bear and other dangerous predator defense.

That is what they issue the Canadian Rangers in their .303 Lee-Enfield rifles, soon to be replaced with the C19 .308 rifle.
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Old September 25, 2016, 11:24 PM   #15
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See to me 18 inches seems incredibly low for a Grizzly/brown bear. Considering most Alaskans say a 44 magnum is minimum. Buffalo bore makes a hardcast 45 acp that would penetrate way over 18 inches and no one would say that's adequate for brown bears. And 45 acp is a slightly bigger diameter than 44 magnum so what's the difference if youre going by 18"? Don't tell me energy I don't believe any handgun shooting hardcast Bullets dumps enough energy to kill a bear by energy alone.
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Old September 25, 2016, 11:29 PM   #16
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Big bears are not dangerous until they come at you. When they come at you the parts you need to hit are in front. Brain, jaws, shoulders, spine/neck and the heart and lungs. So if you can get a bullet to penetrate 2-1/2 to 3 feet, going deeper only gets more guts, and if you are lucky, may hit the spine farther back or even a hip joint or pelvis.

Good bear guns are mostly about good bear bullets.

A bullet that holds together and breaks big bones and still goes 36" or more is going to do what you need.

Bigger is "better" as long as you can shoot it well, but a man with a 458 who doesn't shoot it well and fast is going to be worse off then a man with a 270 with good bullets who does shoot well and fast. My experience with men who get big guns to come out west to hunt is not all good. Many get a gun a year or less before their hunt, and don't shoot it near as well as the rifle they have used on deer for the last 10-30 years.

Any gun you may have to shoot in defense should have at least 500 round through it before you can call it familiar. Many men get a new rifle and "fumble the ball" on a hunt just because the rifle is not familiar enough to them, and when they feel pressure they don't do so well.

Now just imagine how much more pressure you will feel when you are not trying to hit a big horned bull elk, but instead trying to hit something coming at you as fast as a charging horse, and it's full of teeth and claws.

I like big and I like powerful, but I like accuracy a lot better. if I have to choose.

A man with a 30-30 he has used for 30 years if going to be a lot better off using that against a mad bear than the same man with a rifle he doesn't really know.

Best guns/loads for bear defense is a subject that is hashed over all the time, and it may be fun, but the truth is that any big powerful gun with a bullet that holds together is fine, if it's used well.

No gun and no load is fine if it is not used well.

I hunt around grizzlies every year. I have never been charged. I have had a few hair raising times, but so far I have not shot one.

I carry a 44 magnum or a 454 Casull on my body at all times when I am around them, and I hunt with a 375 H&H or a 9.3X72R unless I am carrying my muzzleloader.

When I use my flintlock I still carry the 454 Casull, and my flintlock is 62 caliber and loaded with a hard ball and 140 grains of powder. I only have one shot, but that first shot is a real killer. I dropped a large moose with it one time, and he hit the ground like it's front legs disappeared.

I am pretty confident I would be fine if I needed to shoot and I had my 270, or a 30-06, 308 or 8MM Mauser, but if I know I am going into their back-yard I have a tendency to take my biggest guns. Just makes me feel better, and I shoot those rifles well enough to hit running rabbits with them more time than I miss.

I am not paranoid about grizzlies, but I am not foolish enough to trust them either.
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Old September 25, 2016, 11:47 PM   #17
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Great post wyosmith I agree completely. And what I'm getting at its in line with your thinking. How about I ask you this question instead. Which would be a better bear load? A 340gr hardcast 44 magnum at 1400 fps, or a 305 gr hardcast 44 magnum at 1300 fps? Let's say they both penetrate over 36 inches, the 340 obviously a lot more. If they both penetrate past your minimum requirement, what is gained with the 340gr load, aside from extra recoil? It's just going to make hitting your target all that much more difficult.
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Old September 25, 2016, 11:54 PM   #18
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Quote:
how much is too much
Is that really a consideration, especially with a grizzly bear?

I think it absolutely should be a consideration, because of one load will do the job, a hotter load going to make it more hard to shoot accurately.
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Old September 26, 2016, 12:01 AM   #19
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Which would be a better bear load? A 340gr hardcast 44 magnum at 1400 fps, or a 305 gr hardcast 44 magnum at 1300 fps? Let's say they both penetrate over 36 inches, the 340 obviously a lot more. If they both penetrate past your minimum requirement, what is gained with the 340gr load, aside from extra recoil? It's just going to make hitting your target all that much more difficult.
I believe Wyosmith already answered that in his previous post. The difference in recoil for you may make a difference in accuracy, but it might not for me. The difference in accuracy may not be a factor of recoil, but just your guns preference. The only way to know is to shoot them outta your gun enough times to tell if there is a difference. I think the real point Wyosmith was trying to make is that there is no one best caliber/gun for bear defense. Just as much depends on the person pulling the trigger as the size of the slug.
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Old September 26, 2016, 09:57 AM   #20
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Yeah, buck hit it on the head.

If we are looking at it from a standpoint of science, I can give you my best answer.
I was the CEO of Cast Performance and also it's chief ballisticion for several years. In our tests of bullet weight VS case capacity we found the 44 magnum was maxed out at 320 grains. We tested loads up to 345 grain bullets but found that once we went past the 320 grain mark the case capacity was compromised to a point that velocity of the heavier bullet was slowed to a point that cavitation and penetration both were reduced. Heavier bullets were quite effective and also accurate, the the "flagship 44 bullet" was the 320 grain Wide Flat Nose with a Gas Check.

But please take some advice. Use the best combination you can SHOOT well. A 357 Mag with a 187 Gr WFN is a far better anti-grizzly gun in most hunters hands than the best 44 or 454 Casull. It is FAR less powerful and effective round for round, but many hunters can actually shoot a 357 well. Our 187 Gr WFN-GC would shoot through 32 inches of wet cotton wood with a good load of WW296. Cavitation was far less then the 44s and 45s, but the hits are usually faster and better in 8 out of 10 shooters firing them. If you make a lung hit with a 458 Winchester mag on a mad grizzly you are not going to stop it from completing it's charge, so NO handgun is going to drop a charging grizzly if you don't break it down. That means you need accuracy and a bullet that will break bone. ACCURACY is far more a function of how well you do, not how well the gun and ammo does.

I am asked very often what I carry. I can give you precise answers.
I carry a 44 magnum with 320 grain WFN-GC bullets loaded on 21 grains of WW 296, or a 454 Casull loaded with 370 grain WFN-GC bullets loaded on 25.5 gr of WW 296. However I also need to point out something that I hope will not come across as bragging.
I am a good shot. I have had to rebarrel my Super Blackhawk because I shot the rifling out of the throat. I have had to brace and rebuild the action of my M629 S&W because it has been fired so many times.
My Freedom Arms 454 I got in 1988. It has had about 8,000 rounds through it.

I am loosing my keen eyesight, so I do not say I can shoot like I used to, but at close range I can still hit small targets and do it fast with these guns.
So I use big guns.

But I am animate about HITS. If you cannot or will not shoot a gun to a point you can make good hits in short period of time, you can get any gun you like because no gun is going to help you much.

Bottom line----- men shoot guns better if they kick less, about 19 men out of 20.

When I had the shop in Nevada I made a "charge machine" that was pretty cool. I took an old flat spring from a car at a junk yard. it was long and slim compared to may new ones, but any spring you can flex by hand will do.

I bolted together a frame out of railroad ties and put the spring in it so it stood up pointing towards the sky more or less. I screwed a basket together out of wood and hose clamped it to the spring. That basket would hold a basket ball or soccer ball or even cantaloupes and small melons.

The whole thing was put into a ditch I made with a tractor so only the basket could be seen when the spring was unflexed. In effect I made a catapult that throws balls at the shooter. It has a simple metal latch and a chain to pull it off.d
The shooter stands 30 yards in front of the catapult. I pull the chain and the ball is thrown at the shooter. I mean right at him!
If it hit him he is not hurt, but it hits pretty hard. The students could dodge if they wanted, or stand and shoot, but all that dodged missed.

I had my staff and several other men, including a lot of cops from the area try my test. Using everything from handguns to rifles to shotguns.

The results were revealing.

(#1) about 1 man in 10 could make hits on the ball in the first few tries. Most got hit by the ball without ever hitting the ball, even with shotguns.
(Keep in mind if you have never been charged and you get charged by a bear, you will not get any practice. You will get only one change per lifetime)

(#2) Everyone learned how to hit the ball within about 250 round of practice. Men women and young teens included.

So I stand on my belief that shooting the guns you own to a point you really learn them well is the answer, not necessarily more power, or some new weapon.

If you can use a more powerful weapon well you should absolutely do it. But if you have limited time and/or limited money for ammo you are probably better off to use what you have, and get to be as proficient as you can with it. You are not starting "from the bottom up" in that case, but you are extending the skills you already have.

The question is not about the best gun or the best load, but about the best man.

Last edited by Wyosmith; September 26, 2016 at 10:05 AM.
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Old September 26, 2016, 11:48 AM   #21
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Wyosmith, your "charge machine" reminded me of one my son made a few years back with a tetherball and a 100' cord reel. Big difference was, while it came at you on a direct path, it would bounce and change directions slightly, similar to a real animal. Over the years we used it, that tetherball took relatively few hits from our handguns and was a real eye opener to folks that didn't shoot their handguns much. This, even tho the ball wasn't going to kill them. Add the pressure and adrenaline of a real attack and one's skills would be really tested. Similar to pheasant hunting. We have a rule in our group about only having only two shells in your gun(since I only use SxSs it's not a problem). It's amazing how the excitement of that first rooster jumping up in front of you will make you take your two shots well behind the bird and before your shot charge has a chance to open up. A few more birds and your lead is on and you wait till the bird gets out a ways. I'd assume this would be similar in a Bear charge, as the excitement and fear would have one pulling the trigger and emptying their gun before the animal is at point blank range. I personally hope I never find out for real.
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Old September 26, 2016, 01:33 PM   #22
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Those charge simulators are pretty neat ideas I might have to build something like that. That's a lot of good information. The question regarding the 44 magnum loads was more hypothetical, and I agree that big bore handguns are very hard to tame, I know I need more practice to feel comfortable. However the ammo I had in mind when posting this is actually for a 12 gauge. Because I've done my share of deer hunting with slugs and turkey hunting with 3 inch magnum shells with 2 Oz of lead, I feel comfortable saying I'm quite proficient with hard kicking 12 GA loads. Handguns are another story as I don't have much experience with them. The two loads in question are a 600 grain hardcast slug at 1650fps and an 870gr hardcast slug at 1200 fps. The 600 grain is supposed to penetrate 42 inches and I think the 870 grain is closer to 50 inches. So my question was asked with these two in mind, whether 42 inches would be "enough" I feel like I can handle either but the 870 grain would probably be a little slower on follow up shots and it's a 3 inch shell as opposed to a 2 3/4" which I've had a few hangups from short shucking with 3 inchers because of the length of the fired shell. Not a big deal when hunting but could be bad in a self defense situation.
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Old September 29, 2016, 01:32 AM   #23
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I've never heard of any standard of penetration for bears, although we have it for humans. Obviously there has to be a happy medium. You don't want something that penetrates 10" but you also don't want something that penetrates 90" because that would be too much at the cost of controllability. That's theoretical of course but I catch your drift. Wyosmith and buck I don't think you quite understand the question, it would be easy enough to just say "I don't know"
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Old September 29, 2016, 09:20 AM   #24
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Really?
Here is his question
"Just curious if there is any consensus on what is considered adequate penetration for bear defense, Grizzly bear in particular. A ballpark number of inches in ballistic gel is really what I'm looking for."

Now go back and read my posts. I think I understood very well.
Here is one of the 1st things I wrote
"Big bears are not dangerous until they come at you. When they come at you the parts you need to hit are in front. Brain, jaws, shoulders, spine/neck and the heart and lungs. So if you can get a bullet to penetrate 2-1/2 to 3 feet, going deeper only gets more guts, and if you are lucky, may hit the spine farther back or even a hip joint or pelvis."

You know a 350 pound mad grizzly sow is a very dangerous animal. So if a 750 pound mad grizzle boar. Both will hurt or kill you quite easily. But there are more inches through the boar than the sow.

So would a set number of inches be a good answer, considering that a thin and narrow wound that comes out the bears butt may not do the job, but a 11 deep wound for a hollow point 20 gauge slug may drop it in it's tracks.
hummmmmmmm.................
Things to think about huh?

Do you think if an answer of "20 inches" were given it would be satisfactory, without any supporting information as to why "20" is a magic number?
Or 30"? (no reason given)
Or 50"? (no reason given)
Or how about "42.6 cubic inches of permanent cavitation". ? (but again with no reason given)

True, I or anyone else could just write any number of inches down, and it would answer the question as asked, but it would also be an insult to the man's intelligence.

American hunters tend to over-annalise such things and try to come up with mathematical formulas to answer these questions. But that is not going to help much, if at all. Keep in mind that the largest Grizzly ever killed in Alaska was killed with a 22 pistol,(at the time the article was written anyway, back in the 70s) and many of them have been killed with arrows that penetrated up to the fletching and in many cases less then that. But simply listing how deep the bullet or broad head went into the bear doesn't address the reason for him asking the question in the 1st place.

Last edited by Wyosmith; September 29, 2016 at 09:30 AM.
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Old September 29, 2016, 12:46 PM   #25
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Wyosmith you did answer my question, but I guess my follow up question would be why folks say a 10mm is worthless for Grizzlies if 3 feet is all you need. The 10mm hardcasts will penetrate 3 feet or more in gel so I guess I'm confused as to the benefit of a hard kicking 44 magnum load with 320gr bullet that will probably penetrate closer to 4 feet. But I do know that a 10mm is many times easier to put rounds on target than the heavy 44 loads, even for a very proficient handgun shooter. Even someone that can handle the 44 is still going to get faster follow up shots with the 10mm. Also what do you personally think about the two 12 gauge loads I mentioned in my last post? Thanks for all the info I really do appreciate it.
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