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Old June 7, 2012, 09:21 PM   #1
HALL,AUSTIN
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What are some grizzly calibers?

I was just talking to a buddy and we got to talkin about griz. What are some calibers you would feel comfortable taking brown bear with?
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Old June 7, 2012, 09:31 PM   #2
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Rifle or Handgun? I'm assuming you're talking about stalking the bear versus a surprise the other way around.

More ft-lbs of energy is one possible guide: .50 BMG, 45-70, .416, any of the Nitro's over .450, Weatherby .460 Mag and Weatherby .458 Win, even the .338 Lapua has some pretty good qualities for a stand-off.

Reach-out-and-touch the bear at a standoff distance would also bring in some higher velocity / smaller calibers, but I'd leave it to the guys who have actually taken game at close range for anything any smaller, not wanting to hack off the bear and switch the roles.

In the pistol arena, there are some very serious cartridges .44 Mag and up, particularly the .500 / .577 / .600 / .700 rounds that have significant energy. (I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has intentionally taken a grizzly with a 9mm Glock.

Many others would feel comfortable with a .300 Win or .308.
Heck, there are some that can probably consistently drop the big bears with a .243, God bless them.
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Old June 7, 2012, 09:33 PM   #3
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45-70 458 300 win mag 308 Norma Mag 300 Weatherby Mag
and up. In a pinch I'd use a 30-06, but certainly not a first choice.

Shot placement and knowing the Grizzly anatomy is most important.
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Old June 7, 2012, 09:35 PM   #4
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.338 Lapua, .416Barrett...
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Old June 7, 2012, 10:20 PM   #5
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Hunting big browns, I would be fine with a .270 Win, but for defense I would want my 870 12 gauge or a 9.3x62/.375H&H+ rifle. I doubt I would go to big, show a .460Wby a long time ago, won't do it again. It would be good griz medicine, though!
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Old June 7, 2012, 10:35 PM   #6
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3000 ft-pds of muzzle energy is one measure many "experts" on bear defense recommend. That sets the 30-06 and other rifles in that neighborhood as minimum bear guns. My .444 Marlin is in that range.

Most guides recommend .338 magnum as the minimum rifle and go up from there but some will accept the 30-06 as a minimum as well. Since out of state hunters in Alaska must have a guide, securing the guide and then getting their advice/recommendations is probably the place you should go first to answer your question. For me in Northern Idaho, I feel secure with my .444 and Buffalo Bore 335 gr ammo. The .444 has stopped large grizzlies in at least two documented cases in the last few years. Anything smaller than these calibers is not likely to have any support from your guide.

Lastly, another rule a lot of "experts" go with is to take the largest rifle you can confidently and accurately shoot well. If you are recoil shy, hunting grizzlies is probably not a wise hobby to consider.
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Old June 7, 2012, 10:51 PM   #7
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Ursus horribilus is dangerous game, I use the African standard for that category. .375 H&H minimum, or a rifle caliber starting with a "4". There is a reason why the .375 H&H is the minimum in Africa for the unarmored big cats, you can get killed not using enough gun.
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Old June 7, 2012, 11:35 PM   #8
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Definately the 375 H&H. Unfortunately I've never seen a bear while hunting for one. They always seemed to pop up during the most inconvenient time, but honestly that 375 is the very least I'd use and they're not bad to shoot either.

A friend of mine many years ago went bear hunting in the Adirondacks and his friend shot a bear 3 times with a .338 mag and it grunted after each shot while walking towards a stream. My friend finished it off with a .44 mag blowing it's jaw apart. I'm sure it wasn't pretty and I'm glad I wasn't there to see it.

Last edited by Mike Irwin; June 12, 2012 at 11:33 AM.
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Old June 8, 2012, 12:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Today, 08:51 PM #7
kilimanjaro
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Ursus horribilus is dangerous game, I use the African standard for that category. .375 H&H minimum, or a rifle caliber starting with a "4". There is a reason why the .375 H&H is the minimum in Africa for the unarmored big cats, you can get killed not using enough gun.
+1, that is the minimum for many guides as well in Alaska. Folks have killed grizzlies/browns with much less, but the issue is a hunt turned into a defensive action after the first shot. Many accounts of hunters killed by the bear that they killed.
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Old June 8, 2012, 01:32 AM   #10
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.30 Calibers (minimum entry)
.30/06, .300 WSM, .300 Win Mag, .300 Wby Mag, .300 RUM, .30-378 Wby

.338 Class
.325 WSM, .338 Win Mag, .340 Wby Mag, 8mm Rem Mag, .338 RUM, .338-378 Wby (.338 Lapua intentionally left out of this list. The guns chambered in that cartridge are far too big and heavy for bear hunting.)

.35 Class
.35 Whelen, .358 Win, .350 Rem Mag, .358 Norma Mag. Add in just about any of the 9.2/9.3mm rifle cartridges.

.37 Class
.375 Ruger, .375 H&H Mag, .378 Wby Mag

.40 - .45 Class
.450/.400, .404 Jeffery, .45/70, .416 Rem Magnum, .416 Rigby, .416 Wby Mag, .450 NE, .458 Win Mag, .458 Lott, .460 Wby Magnum and .470 NE.
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Old June 8, 2012, 02:49 AM   #11
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I'm not a bear guide nor do I have any claim to "The Truth"

But I do have an opinion.

Based on a long ago American Rifleman test article,a .308 is as good up close on a bear as a hi-vel 30 magnum.This may have changed a little as bullets have evolved,but,bullet for bullet in the tests the .308 delivered the most dependable,deepest wound channels at close range,in media.Bullets can perform in a more reliable manner at .308 velocities than a .300 ultra mag velocities at close range.

The message was the difference between a .308 and a .300 Win mag is range,not the class of beast you will effectively take.

I will assume you will have a guide.I suggest contacting the guide and discussing it.Experience counts.

Seat of my pants,no experience,by reputation,a .338 Win Mag might come in on the lower end.Proper bullets,guide says "Shoot him here"

Hard to argue with a .375 H+H or equiv.Shooting well is important.For a lot of folks,the .375 is as large of a rifle as can be shot well.The bullets/loads have been sorted out and proven.


IMO,I would not pursue the long range high vel versions of the larger cals.

Will you be shooting at 300 yds?I would guess not.No need for the recoil of 2900 fps.

Big bullets work well at 2000 to 2400 fps.

I have never even held a .404 Jeffries,it would be tough to find ammo,etc.I'm not suggesting a .404 Jeffries is the way to go.Probably not!Just from reading,I have the idea it is enough without being too much.

Once again..talk to the outfitters.I'm having fun,writing here...but like most ,I don't have any big bear experience.

Last edited by HiBC; June 8, 2012 at 03:02 AM.
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Old June 8, 2012, 05:43 AM   #12
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There have been many tests done with very similar results. A 30-06 or 300 magnum when loaded with 200-220 gr Nosler partitions proved to be very effective. They actually outperformed such rounds as 338 win mag, 350 mag, 45-70, 12 ga slugs 338-06 and 35 Whelen. The 308 was not included in any of the tests I've seen, but I wouldn't be surprised it it were equal to the 30-06 and 300 mags when loaded with the same bullets. Like HiBC stated the differnce is range, not close range power. The 300 mags shooting the same bulles 200 fps faster did not perform any better than the 30-06. Dropping down another 100-150 fps may not matter either. These results were only with the heavy Partitions. 180 gr Partitions were included in the tests, they were still acceptable, but no where nearly as good as the heavy bullets. Especially the 220 gr Partition.

The testers had to move all the way up to 375 H&H mag to see any measurable improvement in performance over a 30-06. The Alaska department of wildlife conducted one of the tests and concluded that a 375 mag was the caliber of choice for large bear protection if someone could handle the recoil. A 30-06 was their 2nd choice, and their 1st choice if the recoil from a 375 was too much. The 30-06 also offers the advantage of more rounds available in the guns magazine over magnum chamberings.

I'll include a link to the Alaska test. It is a bit dated, from 1983, but the same tests have been duplicated by several gunwriters more recently using some more modern loadings with almost identical results.

http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/gtr152

This takes a few minutes to open and is a long document, but a good read.
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Old June 8, 2012, 08:39 AM   #13
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Bullet selection is going to be as important as cal. I would want 375H&H out of a rifle and 454 from a handgun. I'm sure you could and I'm sure people have taken brown bear with 357 mag and 30-30s. With good hard cast bullets I'm sure most any magnum handgun and rifle round would get the job done.
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Old June 8, 2012, 09:18 AM   #14
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Well I live near ranges where there are LOTS of grizzlies, and I hunt around them every year and have for many years.
I know what I know about bears from learning it from bears, not from books.

If I were to be hunting the bears I might use calibers that I would not recommend for hunting AROUND the bears.

Let me clarify.

When you are hunting elk deer or moose around here you will see grizzlies often.
They are doing what bears do. In most cases if you see one and it sees you, it runs away.

However about 1 time in 5 or 6, it come back around you on your flank or comes up behind you. I believe most times they just want to see what you are, because when they do that then don’t often seem aggressive.

However a bear is the most unpredictable animal on the planet. I sometimes think the bear doesn’t know it is going to be aggressive until 4 seconds before it gets that way, so if IT doesn’t know there is NO WAY for you to know.

And they may “show up” behind you, or around the horses, or in your camp--- that’s the kind of scenario you’ll want a heavy hitter.

A 45-70 lever rifle with heavy tough bullet, a 375 H&H, a 416 or a 458 Win Mag are all excellent for being “around” grizzlies. If you are not hunting anything, but are just around where they live, a good 12 gauge with slugs is good too.

Another 2 guns that have a LOT of merit for such country are the AR-15s in 458 SOCOM and in 50 Beowulf
Of course the 44 magnums and 454 Casulls are “standard apparel” when you go ANYWHERE out of your truck in that kind of country, because they are worn, not “carried” like a rifle.

Like old jack O’Connor, I would not think myself underarms with a 270 and 150 or 160 grain Nosler Partitions in it, if I were hunting the bear.

When I am hunting I am the one for the bear to fear. I only would take shots when I wanted to take them, and only when I KNOW I am going to kill with them.

The bear that you hunt is not the dangerous one, as a rule.

It’s the bear you are not hunting.
The one that may hunt you, or maybe just decides he doesn’t like the color of your eyes.

Those are the ones you need to worry about.
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Old June 8, 2012, 09:42 AM   #15
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Wyosmith, good summary. It's right in there with what I read from folks like Russell Annabell and Jack O'Connor, back some sixty-five years ago.
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Old June 8, 2012, 02:04 PM   #16
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to myshoulderissore
You said; "Hunting big browns, I would be fine with a .270 Win,…"

Are you serious or where you just joking around?

A .270 is far too light of a bullet, (IMHO) a 30.06' is at the bottom end of spectrum. A 300 winchester or above is a better choice.
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Old June 8, 2012, 02:30 PM   #17
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If I'm hunting mr. grizzly I'd be fine with 6.5x55 on up. If mr. grizzly was hunting me, I'd like a four bore double.

The difference a couple hundred yards make is significant.
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Old June 8, 2012, 03:16 PM   #18
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The Forest Service Safety in Bear Country from 1983 was a great study IN 1983. However, if you look at the details, the ammo used in each category is quite different than the loads available commercially today let alone that of hand loads. Just about every category of caliber has much more powerful ammo available today. I would be careful about applying out of date data to the current situation today.

For instance, they didn't have BB 335 gr in my Marlin .444 back in 1983. They were limited to only the 240 gr pistol bullets of that day. Today, hand loads with 405 gr bullets in the .444 push this caliber to a much higher level.

Jgcoastie has a great summary of the most widely used bear guns today a few posts above. I am hoping that we will soon have 405 factory loads available for my .444 but I am secure with my BB 335 grainers right now up here in Northern Idaho where we do have grizzly, lots of black bear and a whole lot of mountain lions and way too many transplanted giant wolves. All of these calibers in common use have evolved dramatically in the last 30 years since the 1983 study.

It would be interesting to see the study repeated, but sadly, I doubt it will since the Forest Service is stuck completely on pepper spray alone. It works in many situations well, but not all. However, if you are looking at penetration studies, lots of internet information available to show that todays choices are dramatically better than in 1983.
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Old June 8, 2012, 04:35 PM   #19
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Good point about the evolution of ammo, Alaska444.

My two cents worth: if I was hunting around grizzly bears or hunting grizzly bears (either way), I don't think it would hurt to carry a 375 H&H (other than the weight of the gun). That way you would be ready for any eventuality, whether you are hunting the bear or vice versa. Talking about the cartridge's power is all fine and dandy, but heavy hitters are also just plain heavy. You have to hunt in pretty rough terrain to meet a grizzly, and packing a 13 lbs 460 Weatherby is typically not in the equation, so I would pick a rifle with a good trajectory, good energy, and not extremely heavy. Most 375s fit that description.
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Old June 8, 2012, 04:59 PM   #20
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If I were buying a rifle special for Grizzly or Alaskan Brown Bear, it would be one chambered in 375 H&H. Not my favorite deer caliber, but I want something larger.

I would then probably pack a 4" M57 with 250 gr solids for a backup depending on how far I was going to be packing.
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Old June 8, 2012, 05:28 PM   #21
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In regards to .270 not being enough for big bear, I believe it would be. If it is what I had, a 150gr Partition, A-Frame, or TSX would be my choice. If I were able to afford a new rifle specifically for a griz hunt, truthfully I would probably go for a Ruger M77 in .338 Federal or a CZ550 in 9.3x62. As it stands, my hunting rifle is a 7mm Rem Mag, so that would be my choice.

Would I want a deer-centric bolt action .270 with light construction 130grs in my hands while being charged by a furry flurry of anger in griz country? Hell no.
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Old June 8, 2012, 07:15 PM   #22
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To hunt .375 H&H on up and to kill this:
12 Gauge - 3” Mag
DSIXL - Dixie IXL-DGS - .730” – 870 gr. – 1200’/” – 20” barrel
From the Dixie Slugs Site
"The Dixie IXL-DGS is .730" and weighs 870 grs. It is designed for rifled barrels and .729"/.730" bore smoothbore with cylinder chokes. The velocity in the loaded rounds is 1200'/" from 20" 12 gauge 3" Hastings rifled barrels. Dixie designed his slug as requested by experienced shooters in Alaska. It is a true Dangerous Game slug/bullet that will stand up against the most severe tests! It is cast from our standard bullet alloy and heat-treated.There are other offerings that call themselves DGS (Dangerous Game Slugs) that are nothing more than swaged lead. They will never stand up to the severe situations that the Dixie IXL-DGS is designed for."
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Old June 8, 2012, 07:34 PM   #23
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The bigger the better when it comes to brown bears and grizzlies. But most important as is stated over and over again on these bear threads is shot placement. If you can't hit it, no sense using a gun, better off to pray pepper spray will send them on their way.

Muzzle blast alone at times is enough as this BC photographer demonstrated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bx-0Jg3tX0
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Old June 8, 2012, 07:53 PM   #24
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+1 Alaska444 / no such thing as overkill in this scenario

+1 Alaska444

In a possibly rapidly changing role reversal scenario, I don't believe there's such a thing as overkill. I'll pay the price to hump the .50 in.
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Old June 8, 2012, 09:08 PM   #25
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Ahh... I knew it couldn't be a real "bear gun" thread without jmr40 posting inaccurate, 30 year-old data.

The study was not done by the Alaska Dept of Wildlife. It was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest region.

The data in that study is 30 years old. It is no more applicable to this scenario than the price of a gallon of gasoline 30 years ago. Every piece of information in that study is inaccurate when compared to modern-day factory ammunition.

jmr40, please stop posting that study. It has zero relevance to today's modern factory ammo.
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