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Old June 19, 2011, 08:41 AM   #1
Rustle in the Bushes
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What to look for in a bear defense shotgun?

Hi all,


I went and bought me a benelli supernova last year, this was my first gun and I was going on the recommendation that it was "a good gun". While I love the benelli and the quality/look/feel and everything im not sure if I made the right choice.

I live in Canada and one of the main reasons I bought a shotgun was for bear defense with slugs. The benelli has a smooth bore barrel though, something I didn't consider when I bought it. As well it has a bead sight vs a ghost ring on the remington 870 express tactical I would likely buy to replace it. the express is also alot shorter. So what do you guys think? Would it be worth it to sell the benelli at a $100-$150 loss, the gun is like new barely fired, or is there no significant improvement? what sight would you rather have in the bush, bead or ghost ring?
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Old June 19, 2011, 09:48 AM   #2
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I don't understand the problem with a smoothbore. It's what you want for a foster or Brenneke slug, preferably with an IM choke give or take 1 size. As for sights its a matter of what you like not what any of us like, I have some with rifle sights, bead sights, scope but not ghost ring. They all work for me, The scope and rifle sights keep me on target easily out to 100 yards The bead sight works fine out to 35 yards for me.

If you are wanting a slug gun then you are limiting yourself to expensive sabot slugs, lighter slug but higher velocity and longer range. Not much of an advantage if you are thinking about protecting yourself with an up close and personal bear. I'd keep what you got and load up on Fosters and 0 or 00 buck.

Alternative is to buy a replacement barrel for the gun you have now and you can interchange them for different uses without having to get rid of a gun you like. Get an 18.5" barrel with rifle sights or ghost ring on it for bear duty and the other for turkey, duck, quail, rabbit...
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Old June 19, 2011, 10:20 AM   #3
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+1 if it ain't broke don't fix it. Get your self a new barrel and call it good.
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Old June 19, 2011, 10:52 AM   #4
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Smoothbore will shoot a slug semi accurately. At the range you start to notice accuracy trouble, it is no longer "bear defense" but "bear poaching"
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Old June 19, 2011, 02:37 PM   #5
Dave McC
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Peep (GR) and open sights do work better for slugs than beads do, but how far away do you think a bear will constitute a "Clear and Present Danger"?

I'm sure that most game wardens would regard a dead bear shot at more than 20 yards away as a violation of the game laws, more than a narrow escape on your part.
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Old June 19, 2011, 03:17 PM   #6
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Aim? Accuracy?
If you are using a shotgun for bear defense, I would surmise he would be so close you would only point and shoot. Sights? Wat fer? Point and shoot or die.
Your Bennelli is a very good shotgun. Load your slugs and go hiking.
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Old June 19, 2011, 04:31 PM   #7
Rustle in the Bushes
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@hardworker yeah youre totally right. Hows this though

Bear shot at 120 yds.

Me- "he was comin right at me!"

Yeah I dont see that going too well.

I was actually trying to get a thread going on the merits of the benelli supernova vs the 870 tactical. Ill start another post cause I goofed that!

Rifled barrel is no longer an issue for me though, thanks.
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Old June 19, 2011, 05:08 PM   #8
hogdogs
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Quote:
What to look for in a bear defense shotgun?
Ummm... Bears?

Brent
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Old June 19, 2011, 05:34 PM   #9
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Okay, so dismissing slug barrel and ghost sights issues...

Bear defense isn't something I deal with personally, but I believe that handy, lightweight guns are often preferred, (whether it's short-barreled shotguns or lever-action rifles). Most of the time, these guns aren't fired, and are no more than extra weight while you're out and about, but when they ARE needed, they are often needed in a hurry.

For this reason, I would say the 870 tactical may be a slightly better choice due to its lighter weight and shorter length. It would just be a little more maneuverable and easier to tote around than the Nova.

If I'm seeing the same 870 tactical that you are, I would ditch the breacher-style choke tube. It would provide no real benefits and just adds extra length and a jagged surface that is more likely to get snagged on something at a bad time.

Last edited by idek; June 19, 2011 at 06:17 PM.
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Old June 19, 2011, 05:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
What to look for in a bear defense shotgun?
The best shotgun to defend yourself from bears is the shotgun that you have lots of practice with.

If you don't like the barrel that's on your Supernova, order a new one and a pile of slugs.

practice practice practice.
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Old June 19, 2011, 06:37 PM   #11
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I have Bears on my land & lean toward an 870 for defense. My rules are KISS & reliability! An 870 works for both.
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Old June 19, 2011, 07:56 PM   #12
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Last in Alaska I carried the same .44 Mag most bushpilots have been gravitiating towards (a mistake as it is a Taurus). Far and away, as far into the interior as you go, and I mean deep, there were as many 12 ga. pumps mostly with rifled slugs as everything else combined. Like my 24" smoothbore Mossberg 500 with rifle sights but I actually took an 18-1/2" with a bead and 3" Magnum plated 000 Buck as backup.

As for the Benelli, I would DEFINITELY keep it over a new Remington!
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Old June 19, 2011, 07:58 PM   #13
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Besides what's already been said, I am no expert on anti-bear loads, but I would think that tri-ball would stop a bear, I think #0000 Buckshot would probably stop a bear too.

I don't think the .44 magnum is more powerful than a 12ga spewing quadruple ought buck, but... for the price of you taking a loss on your shotgun and buying a slug gun, you could just keep your current SG and buy a used .44 magnum to take with you.
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Old June 19, 2011, 08:50 PM   #14
Rustle in the Bushes
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All good things to think about. I'm not gonna worry about selling the Ben Eli it's a pleasure at the range anyway. Maybe I'll pop into a gunsmith and see if I can get rifle sights on this sucker.
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Old June 19, 2011, 09:50 PM   #15
Lee Lapin
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What to look for in a bear defense shotgun?

I'd look for somebody I could outrun to carry the shotgun .

Seriously, the only bears we have to worry about down here (when we visit my wife's parents in Western NC) are black bears, and they usually only get so big. We make do with a 12 ga. 870 Express Magnum with a 20" smoothbore barrel with factory rifle sights, shooting Brenneke rifled slugs. Having bears on the porch looking in the windows tends to upset the household, but so far none of them have tried coming inside. My wife likes having 'her' 870 handy anyway, though, and won't leave home to visit her folks without it.

As to your 'Nelli, I see no reason to part with it so soon, unless you just can't hit with it shooting slugs. A bead sight should work just fine at shorter ranges. How long is your existing barrel, anyway?

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Old June 19, 2011, 10:41 PM   #16
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Recommend using the ...

Brenneke slugs, good for both the black bear and the grizzly.

Search for a side mounting scope mount and use a 1.5X RECOIL capable scope on it and you should have no problem.
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Old June 19, 2011, 11:10 PM   #17
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I would load up what you got(smoothbore) with 000 buck, IMO. I look at it the same as a burglar with a gun at close range. You need a pattern of lead flying into the target at close range 20 yard(t or -) so you can be sure you don't miss. That's me you decide.
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Old June 19, 2011, 11:47 PM   #18
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Whatever you decide to use, forget buckshot for bear defense and use slugs.
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Old June 19, 2011, 11:50 PM   #19
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I guess if you have no slugs just "play chicken" and empty as many as you can because you're f*&$@#
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Old June 20, 2011, 12:02 AM   #20
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A Mossberg 930 or FN SLP or Benelli M2 or M3 or M4 would be way better for what you describe. If you have a .730" bore then the Dixie DGS Slug is by far the best, i.e. most destructive, you can get followed by the Brenneke Black Magic. The Dixie is hard cast so you must have at least .730" bore. It was designed for use in Alaska on bears. The Black Magic will go through a choke as it is not hard cast. It will kill anything on earth. Otherwise, the Tri-Ball is awesome - almost 1,000 grains of hard cast lead which will go 29" in wet news paper. By contrast 00 buck shot will go around 8 to 10" which gives you some perspective on the Tri- Ball. For me, a plain jane short barrel 930 with the Tri- Ball would be my choice. In the end, nothing compares with the Dixie Dangerous Game Slugs. Buffalo Bore will soon have some serious 12 guage medicine. Will be interesting to see what they come up with.
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Old June 20, 2011, 10:17 AM   #21
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There's buckshot and then there's buckshot.

I don't know if #0000 will stop a grizzly, (I am guessing it will), but there is a huge difference between it and #00 Buck

And there are quite a few documented reports of people in Alaska repelling bears with #00 Buck. The ones that I've read - they've been coming in the house when they've been shot, and the shot wounded but didn't kill the animal, which had to be tracked down and destroyed.

If you don't think #0000 will do the job, there is always tri-ball.

I would definately sound a note of caution though. If I remember the last few incidents where people shot bears and it didn't involve the ber actually coming into the home - there were fairly resource intensive investigations done to determine if charges could be filed against the shooters. I would think it would turn out badly if it looked like you went gunning for bears. Last year, June 1st, in Denali National Park a hiker shot a charging grizzly with a .45. It garnered a fair amount of media attention and he had to wait until July 30th to find out that no charges would be filed against him. And there were quite a few people inside the National Park Service and without - that wanted to see some kind of charge, any charge, filed against the hiker.
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Old June 20, 2011, 12:00 PM   #22
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Quote:
I don't know if #0000 will stop a grizzly, (I am guessing it will), but there is a huge difference between it and #00 Buck
Also, there is 000 buckshot readily available online in 2 3/4 or 3 inch loads. 000 buckshot, 36 caliber shot v/s 00 buckshot, 33 caliber shot size. 0000 buck, to my knowledge is only sold for reloads.
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Old June 20, 2011, 08:11 PM   #23
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And there is 000 commercial buckshot loads and better ones. I carried Winchester in Alaska as backup. Any 00 buck and Remington is good for buck and Black bear. But for Black bear front head-shots and everywhere on bigger Brown bear you especially need penetration!!!

By the way, a .357 mag with hard-cast loads is fine for Black bear defense (if you hit them). My first choice for Alaska carry was a medium/large frame in .41 Mag made of titanium. Couldn't find one at the time so ended up with a .44 Mag. So, better than Remington's common stuff, Federal makes copper-plated 000 Buck loads. Woo hoo! Charging grizzly better watch out. But Winchester?

They make one that's copper-plated AND buffered. Double woo hoo!! Mr. Grizzly, now YOU'D better be running away from ME!!!
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Old June 20, 2011, 08:38 PM   #24
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Smooth bore is fine, peep sights are a non-issue at very close range, no buchshot on the big bears big slugs only. i think your Benelli with a short barrel and the biggest white bead or fibre optic you can find for it. The only fault i can find w/the Benelli is that it's pretty expensive to drag around and beat up for bear protection.
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Old June 20, 2011, 10:53 PM   #25
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Quote:
Federal makes copper-plated 000 Buck loads. Woo hoo! Charging grizzly better watch out. But Winchester?

They make one that's copper-plated AND buffered. Double woo hoo!! Mr. Grizzly, now YOU'D better be running away from ME!!!
Not to steal any of this great info from a veteran member(my respects to knowledgeable input) to all the folk listening in please don't underestimate the power of 000 buck at point blank range with a raring Kodiak charging at you at short ranges. This is not about a person still hunting a grazing beast it's about your life! Like I said in an earlier reply, I want lead in the air give or take a few inches I might swagger the gun barrel off target to save my skin!
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