View Full Version : Self defence with handguns

January 24, 2006, 03:54 AM

This if my first post at this forum and hopefully it's in the proper spot.

My question is this: What caliber of handgun would you carry if you were in the bush a lot and came across a lot of predatory animals (bears and mountain lions, wolves)?

Here's the criteria:

Mainly bear country - black and grizzly.
My budget is limited - I have a choice between .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 9mm and some 7.62X25mm round I've never heard of.
The weapon needs to be light and compact - otherwise I would carry my shotgun loaded with slugs.
The .45 only holds 7 rounds all the others carry 10.

Here's the scenario:

We do a lot of back woods dirt bike riding in the mountains of Alberta. Last year while riding one friend hit the dirt and a grizzly came out of the woods right at the same time. The bear did not charge and the friend was able to start the bike and ride away. One of the people with us carries his desert eagle .50 cal and another carries a revolver, I'm not sure of the caliber. I do not ride with these people all the time and I think it's a good idea to carry at least some form of protection. Confrontation is the last thing I want but is a very likely possibility.

I'm worried that none of these rounds will penetrate a bear hide?

I appreciate any and all feedback, if you don't mind letting me know what caliber you think is best from my list, then you could add what you think is the best caliber to have (probably .44 or .357?).



January 24, 2006, 07:12 AM
I am not too sure that you want to be in Canada with a pistol. If I am not mistaken the border police up there have issues with them.

Art Eatman
January 24, 2006, 10:00 AM
1. Talk to your pistol-owning buddies about the laws and paperwork.

2. From what experienced "bear people" say, a .44 Mag is a starter pistol; a .454 Casull is more appropriate.

3. A belt-held (for ready access) high-strength pepper spray can be effective.


January 24, 2006, 10:57 AM
I would say go for the .44 mag, .357 is a no no for grizzly bears even though a well placed shot would do him in, if you want the best a nd you are used to recoil get the new .500 smith and wesson magnum in the snubby version. That will down any bear that has ever lived.

January 24, 2006, 11:09 AM
460 for grizzys and coastals

454 for black bears

45 for everything else

all in the same gun (what a concept)

January 24, 2006, 11:20 AM
As the others have said, .44 mag is about the minimum acceptable standard for reliable protection. However, if you truely are limited to the cartridges you listed, then I would go with either the .40 or the .45, and find the hottest FMJ I could. You don't by any chance reload, do you? If you do, I know that at least the .40 can be given .357 magnum ballistics.

Wild Bill Bucks
January 24, 2006, 11:24 AM
Fix a quick-out scabard on your four wheeler and fill it with a good short barrel shotgun with slugs. If you are in a position where you really need to stop a charge it is about the most stopping power you can get.
Unless you have had extensive practice with a pistol, I would imagine it would be a pretty nervous shot to take, and I would want something that no matter where you hit the animal it would make him pause, and iI would think a good 12 gauge slug would be about the ultimate at close range.
Just a Thought.

January 24, 2006, 11:29 AM
Another consideration: if you are wearing a gun on your person, fall off a bike, and fall on top of that gun, it is gonna hurt!

January 24, 2006, 11:31 AM
It's hard to disagree with Bill on this one.

Wild Bill Bucks
January 24, 2006, 11:49 AM
I'm sure you would think of this but, If you decide to mount a scabbard be sure to mount it BARREL DOWN and not across your handle bars, this might save another riders life if the gun were to go off while riding next to you.

January 24, 2006, 02:00 PM
...and fall on top of that gun, it is gonna hurt!
Well, I know it does coming off a horse!:o

January 25, 2006, 12:49 AM
Here's a link to a really short shotgun: http://www.hatchergun.com/NFA/Serbu_AOW-2.JPG

I don't know what the legalities are for the "Super Shorty 12ga. 3" 6-1/2" Bbl. Pump 98%+ On Form 3, AOW" It's made by Hatcher gun company who has it listed for $500.00 If a shotgun with slugs really is the final answer for a Grizzly but you worry about size of a regular shotgun this seems to be a good option.


January 25, 2006, 01:22 AM
1. Pepper spray

2. 12 gauge shotgun with hard-cast slugs (pump or semi-auto)

3. If you MUST try to use a handgun as a last resort vs. a grizzly, you'd better have a .454 casull or better. Even then you're probably toast. A .44 magnum or your friend's .50 AE are just a smidge better than nothing. A 9mm or .45 acp is really no better than being unarmed vs. a charging grizzly, IMO, and certainly less desirable than relying on a big can of pepper spray.

January 25, 2006, 01:53 AM
I'd have to agree with the .44 Mag as a minimum if you are talking about grizzlies. I think a 4 inch barrel would be the handiest and stainless steel would be best for corrosion resistance. The S&W 629 (http://froogle.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=42865967) is a good model to consider. If you want to go up to a .454 Casull, the Taurus Raging Bull (http://www.taurususa.com/products/product-details.cfm?model=454SS5M&category=Revolver) is another consideration, but it isn't cheap. If you really want o go up to the .500 S&W, its going to cost you a pretty penny. Ammo won't be cheap either... although .44 mag and .454 Casull aren't cheap by any means.

I would carry the gun in a shoulder holster (http://www.copquest.com/14-2910.jpg)such as this one rather than on my hip since I feel there is less of a chance of snagging the gun. You can wear a light vest to conceal the gun if desired. You can still get injured if you fall on it (broken ribs?) but your arm can break some of the fall.

Good luck and let us know what you got.

January 25, 2006, 03:02 AM
Just remember that as power goes up, 'controlability' goes down. The .500 S&W is about the best out there powerwise for handguns (excluding Magnus's handcannon), but if you can't get off more than one shot every ten seconds, you had better hope that your first one does the job. None of the cartridges you list are particularly hard kickers. Have you fired any of the big-bore handguns?

john in jax
January 26, 2006, 05:49 PM
A 4"bbl Smith or Tarus in .44 mag would make be feel better, but as in many tactical situations your brain could prove to be a more powerful asset.

I like and am trying to build a .460 Rowland = .44mag power out of a modified 1911. Plenty of links from the below sight will lead you to all kinds of info on this pistol and round:

January 26, 2006, 07:00 PM
Mainly bear country - black and grizzly.
My budget is limited - I have a choice between .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 9mm and some 7.62X25mm round I've never heard of.
The weapon needs to be light and compact - otherwise I would carry my shotgun loaded with slugs.
The .45 only holds 7 rounds all the others carry 10.

I have a cz52 and I luv it. (7.62x25)
But the ammo is not cheap.
A .44 mag would be better.

January 26, 2006, 07:30 PM
Maybe a used Ruger Redhawk 44 mag in 5.5", That gun will fire the +P 305gr Buffulo Bore. It's a pretty powerful combo.
Just my 2 cents.

January 26, 2006, 09:59 PM
This one is a very small, packable size for a .44 mag, and is a budget gun:


I plan on getting that gun myself, but for defense vs. hogs and for hunting, not for brown bears.

This is what I have for my hopeful future Canada/Alaska trips in the event I can't reach my 12 ga or pepper spray for some reason, and also for spits & giggles:


Drawback of the latter is that the trigger is too far for comfortable rapid double-action operation for my small hands. But at over twice the muzzle energy of a .44 mag, I'd still pick it over the latter in a more ergo gun if facing a P.O.'ed griz.

Remember, if you wound the animal but don't hit the CNS or vital organ, all you're going to accomplish is making it madder, after which he will take it out more on you. This is what would happen with a .45/.40/9mm/.357 mag/10mm, IMO.

Long Path
January 27, 2006, 11:32 AM
Your biggest danger in the back country is still other people.

Understand that there's a significant trade-off that you're going to have to deal with-- you want power, and you want light weight.

I don't know what kind of pistol availability you'll be able to deal with in handgun-unfriendly Alberta, Canada. Frankly, your posts makes the Total Titanium Taurus .41 revolvers (http://www.taurususa.com/products/product-details.cfm?model=425SH4C&category=Revolver) sound pretty good. Understand, though, that you must practice to become at all proficient with such lightweight (24 oz !), powerful revolvers.