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Old October 22, 2009, 08:24 PM   #1
brmfan
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Best long gun for bear defense... the verdict is in!

I always see discussions about what is the best rifle/ caliber for a defensive long gun in bear country. Well, I was just watching that new show about Alaska State Troopers, and one guy had the unenviable job of checking (by himself) the bear bait stations out in the sticks. If you watch the show, you will have noticed that this agency has the latest and greatest of all equipment at their disposal. So what did he end up choosing for his personal protection against hungry Kodiak brown bears? An 870 stuffed with slugs! I respect the you-know-what out of those folks, so if that's what they rely on then to me that settles the debate!
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Old October 22, 2009, 11:01 PM   #2
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I'd rather have a 18.5" barreled Marlin lever action with either a 45-70 loaded up to max or a .450 Marlin loaded with 400 grain hard cast slugs at about 2000 fps.
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Old October 22, 2009, 11:41 PM   #3
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I'd rather have a 18.5" barreled Marlin lever action with either a 45-70 loaded up to max
+1
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Old October 23, 2009, 12:58 AM   #4
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i watched that too. i don't remember if they said what they were using for shells.

either way, a 1 oz slug is about 430 grains. so if you get some strong rds, you'll have about the same as the 45-70 anyway.
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Old October 23, 2009, 01:46 AM   #5
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I'd rather have a 18.5" barreled Marlin lever action with either a 45-70 loaded up to max

+2
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Old October 23, 2009, 02:04 AM   #6
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Not all shotgun slugs are created equal.The old standard,pure soft lead ,common rifled slug is a poor penetrator.When I really needed some to work on Mr Bear,I was disappointed.
Properly loaded,I'll agree his 870 is an OK choice,Words like "Best" always inspire comment.
Seems I recall some form of Cov employees in AK being issued Sako .375 H+H's
It might depend on the moment you need one.
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Old October 23, 2009, 02:19 AM   #7
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Take a "friend" and all you'll need is a pocket .22lr.

.22lr bear defense

1) See bear coming at you and friend

2) Draw your .22lr

3)shoot 'friend' in the thigh

4)leave area asap
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Old October 23, 2009, 03:15 AM   #8
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Friends, a 1 1/4 oz. slug weighs 547 grains--which is right about the weight of the old 45-70 round. Now, the slug has a muzzle energy of 2805 pounds--which is actually equivalent to the full load of a .45-120 Sharps.

Step up to the 3 inch slug at the same weight, and you're throwing over 3000 lb of energy at Brother Bear. That beats a .45-70 all to hell and gone.

I'll take a semi auto, chambered for 3" slugs, with a CompStock on the back, and Vang-Comped on the front, thank you very much. Actually, for Bro Bear, I believe the ideal arm would be a Saiga 12, loaded with full power slugs and a couple of 10 round mags. If not that, then a Remington 1100 with an 8 round capacity will fit the bill well.
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Old October 23, 2009, 04:02 AM   #9
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i feel safe with my ruger sbh in .44mag, load 'er up hot with 300gr hard cast full wad cutters.
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Old October 23, 2009, 05:21 AM   #10
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375 H&H.
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Old October 23, 2009, 05:57 AM   #11
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I've heard soft slugs are poor penetrators as well. What would constitute an excellent high quality slug/excellent high quality penetrator?
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Old October 23, 2009, 06:25 AM   #12
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What about those 300 gr jacketed Hornadys with the SST Ballistic Tip
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Old October 23, 2009, 06:25 AM   #13
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You know the Parks service did a study on long arms for bear country in Alaska a few decades ago, and their choice for "best stopper" was the 458 Win Mag.

Evidently a 500 grain pill at 1950 fps is a good choice.

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Old October 23, 2009, 06:38 AM   #14
brmfan
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I think the total package is more important than caliber alone. Like Powderman alluded to, speed of follow ups, overall handling, and reliability are key just like any other firearm. I guess my point was when these folks have every kind of gun & catridge imaginable (including those mentioned) at their disposal, it's interesting that they opt for the 870.
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Old October 23, 2009, 07:08 AM   #15
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Old October 23, 2009, 07:51 AM   #16
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A 12 gauge Foster style slug would absolutely be my choice. Forget .45-70's, up close and personal the 12 gauge rules.
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Old October 23, 2009, 08:23 AM   #17
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Dutchman, the Brenneke slugs are considered to be very hard. Kent cartridge loads them for a decent price.
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Old October 23, 2009, 08:29 AM   #18
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+1 on .375 H&H
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Old October 25, 2009, 12:00 AM   #19
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NPS bear defense

Don't know about Park Service study regards .458. Certainly could have been done.

Have worked w/ one guy who stated he kept a Rem 870 folder on his person when working afoot in Alaska in the early 90's, loaded w/ slugs, but he did not advise load.

During a big oil spill a few years later, a number of NPS LEO were detailed to Alaska to act as bear guards for personnel actually doing the cleanup.
A guy assigned to that detail told me they took 870's which are agency std loaded w/ slugs, again I never thought to inquire regards load. Agency std is 1 oz, 2 3/4 inch, but there may be exceptions in bear country. There is for carry handgun.
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Old October 25, 2009, 12:06 AM   #20
.300 Weatherby Mag
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I have family that live in bear country... The preferred weapon is a shotgun with slugs.. Centerfire rifles, a .375 works well and so does a hot .45-70 load from a guide gun... No matter what you guys think, unless it's an extremely lucky shot all a .44 mag will do is make the bear mad... If confronted by a bear, a double rifle .470 nitro express would be my choice....
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Old October 25, 2009, 01:01 AM   #21
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When I hunt Alaska ...

+2 .375 H&H Magnum

YMMV
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Last edited by blhseawa; October 25, 2009 at 01:02 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old October 25, 2009, 01:04 AM   #22
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The Alaska State Troopers use Brenneke slugs. The soft Foster style are poor performers on large game where penetration is required. Troopers are issued two long guns, an 870 and either an AR-15 or M16. Given those choices, which would you take into the brush in bear country ? Some of the wildlife Troopers do use a variety of different rifles they take from the stockpile of weapons confiscated in wildlife cases. I have a friend who is a wildlife Trooper, he took a Remington 600 .350 Rem Mag to use on duty and I know of another who uses a Pre-64 Model 70 in .338 Win Mag.

Personally, I would agree with those who say 45-70. My favorite 45-70 handloads throw a 405 grain bullet at 2060 FPS, giving 3815 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle and deeper penetration than slugs. This combined with a trim, lightweight lever rifle is a hard combination to beat.
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Old October 25, 2009, 01:14 AM   #23
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i watched that too. i don't remember if they said what they were using for shells.
AST uses Brennekes same as us.

I've done 3-4 DLP kills in the last 8 years all but one were done with Brenneke slugs. They leave and innie and an outie.

The one I did with a .375 last fall was a complete waste of a good 300 grain Nosler Partition.

Quote:
A 12 gauge Foster style slug would absolutely be my choice. Forget .45-70's, up close and personal the 12 gauge rules.
Fosters are fine for back bears since there isn't as much to them as you think, but you aren't getting me to crawl around in the alder bushes with them for brown bears especially late in the fall after they've fattened up and there is more mass to penetrate. Fosters are nothing more than lead thimbles and flatten out quick.

Quote:
What about those 300 gr jacketed Hornadys with the SST Ballistic Tip
Too frangible. Hardcast is best.
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Old October 25, 2009, 01:43 AM   #24
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I still prefer my 378WBY.
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Old October 25, 2009, 02:34 AM   #25
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Famed Alaskan hunting guide Andy Runyan's caliber of choice was the 416 Remington magnum loaded with 300gr Barnes X bullets at 2800+ fps.
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