View Full Version : Grizzly Bear Rifle/Shotgun

March 6, 2007, 03:50 AM
I plan on doing some hiking in bear country probably alaska or in the lower 48. Anyway my question is i'm looking at getting a 12ga Pump Shotgun(Moss 500 or Rem 870)or a Marlin 1895 Guide Gun in 45/70. Which do you think would do the best against a Grizzly? I know the 45/70 gov is a known bear cartridge, but what I don't know is how many shots it takes to put a bear down. I'm just trying to gather some info, also i'm not buying these for hunting just protection in bear country. I've heard that the 12ga with the right ammo is also effective but is it as effective as the 45/70(or is the 12ga more effective?).

March 6, 2007, 04:11 AM
If price is not a factor, my choice would be the 45-70. The reason being, if I have a bear charging down the mountain after me, I would like to have a rifle with a little more range to take it out before it gets right on top of me. The shotgun should work ok at close ranges, but I would rather have a shot at it before it gets into shotgun range.

March 6, 2007, 09:00 AM
I agree with what Trooper said, Bears are not easy to take down and are very quick when attacking. +1 for the 45-70.

March 6, 2007, 09:24 AM
I voted for the marlin .45/70 but i guess it really boils down to whichever one you can shoot accurately and fairly fast under pressure. Only you can answer that...

The energy levels of a 12 ga slug are comparable to a .45/70 load but the .45/70 will out penetrate the 12 ga and with ammo like buffalo bore it will do even better.

March 6, 2007, 11:14 AM
Now I havent been in the situation myself where I needed to stop a charging grizzly, but from the articles, books, and surveys I have read the shotgun is the number one bear stopper out of all firearm types. The best deterent is pepper spray, then followed by the shotgun. I believe Outdoor Life or Field & Stream did a extensive survey on the subject and researched bear attacks. They worked closely with the Alaskan Fish and Game Dept in the investigation. The shotgun in the cases it was used out-performed all the cases of rifles and pistols being used. People using a rifle or shotgun had a better chance of being maimed or killed before the bear expired from the wound or the bear turning away from the impact. Im not at all saying the 45-70 isnt enough to stop a bear but shot placement is the critical factor, which can be quite difficult under the stress of the situation. A shotgun slug if I remember right is around a .72 caliber(12gauge) compared to the .45 diameter of the 45-70,almost twice as large a frontal diameter creating a larger wound channel and greater spread of energy transfer. I agree with trooper3385 in wanting to shoot a bear before it gets in shotgun range, but there may be legal problems, because until it gets close you will not know if it was a legit charge or bluff and you may not be allowed to fire unless you were in imminent danger.

March 6, 2007, 12:03 PM
Years ago a Hudson bay Trader was in an Inuit village to do business, the men were coming back from trapping when a large Grizzly came into the village. It made for a hut with a woman and child in the doorway, the womans husband was one of the returning hunters. He was about 20 yards away and threw up his springfield 30 06 and emptied the full clip into the bear, it turned and charged him ripping of his head and right arm before collapsing.
When they skinned it out all five rounds had gone through the heart area killing the bear, but not instantly enough to save his life which he gave for his family.
45-70 no way, 12g with slugs or even double ought buck every time and at least a five shell mag.
Even then could you realistically do what that guy did, he was a professional hunter, who had lived all his life in the wilds?
Take a Mace spray with you , leave the macho stuff to Hollywood and most of all remember you are in the wilds not the local park and keep your eyes and ears peeled, give them all the room they want. just my 02 worth

March 6, 2007, 01:20 PM
Here's a quote on the weapons of choice from the Outdoor Life article I mentioned earlier.

How to Outrun a Grizzly...
By Christopher Batin

What to do when you're face-to-face with North America's most dangerous predator.

February 2007

Weapons of Deterrence

“Encountering a bear without a means of deterring it horrifies people and causes them to run, which is a mistake,” Smith says.

Always carry at least two deterrents in bear country. One should be bear pepper spray, the other a flare pistol, air horn or firearm. Carry one deterrent in your hand; the other should be available immediately, like a handgun in a holster or a shotgun slung over your shoulder.

Bear pepper spray might not be as macho as a firearm, but it provides the confidence to stand your ground and has a proven track record in Alaska. Pepper spray is effective because the sudden, loud hissing sound of the spray and the sight of the billowing cloud of red-orange mist frighten bears.

Smith maintains a database of more than 500 bear-human conflicts in Alaska. Bear pepper spray was used in 65 cases and deterred 61 curious or aggressive bears, for a 94 percent success rate. Of 258 incidents in which firearms were carried or used for bear defense, they were effective in 175 of them, for a 65 percent success rate.

While the .458, .375 and similar big-bore firearms are recommended to slow or stop an attacking bear, a U.S. Forest Service study shows that people have a problem handling the severe recoil of these larger calibers. Smith’s records demonstrate that victims carrying large-caliber firearms often have no time to get off a shot at an attacking bear.

Smith suggests a shotgun and rifled slugs when lethal force is required. “You want stopping power and accuracy. Although buckshot gives you a wider pattern, it divides that energy too much.” Also, unlike some specialized rifle ammunition, shotgun slugs are easily replaceable if you run out of them or your luggage is lost.

“Don’t mix rounds when walking afield,” says Smith. “Always chamber slugs. Only in camp, when you might need to deter a curious bear walking an outside perimeter, should you be loaded with shot. Load one shotshell directly into the chamber. If you suddenly need to use slugs, your remaining shots are lethal loads.”

However, a firearm is no guarantee that you’ll escape an attacking bear unscathed. “Many people carry firearms of insufficient caliber, while others are ambushed so quickly they have no time to fire an accurate shot,” says Smith. “All too often, when attacked suddenly, even the most accurate and experienced shooters miss their mark. While the same elements of fright apply to people carrying pepper spray, the spray’s widespread multiple effect can’t be overlooked."

March 6, 2007, 06:15 PM
I've whacked three bears in three years using the 870 with Brenneke slugs. Worked for me.

moose fat
March 7, 2007, 04:32 AM
Thats what I carry also, an 870 w/18" rifled slug barrel and or a .44mag Mountain Gun.

Never have shot a bear but I have shooed away a brown bear with my .44mag. My wife wakes me up at four in the morning and goes " There's a bear out there." It had just visited the neighbors smoke house full of salmon. Our dog was freaking out under the house, so like a numbskull I grab my .44 and go look out the porch door.

So I'm standing up in the porch, with a zillion mosquitoes, a freaking out dog and a young brown bear walking towards me, and I just opened my eyes about a minute ago. So I pop off a round up and over towards the Yukon.
Mr. Bear stops but the shot didn't phase him. He turns broadside, perfect shot and the hammer comming back when he walks away. I called or local cops next and they said they would watch for it. He hung around for a few days on the edge of our village and then left. A lucky bear!

Another time we were picking berries and I hear my wife screaming something about a bear. We're on a small hill near the top so I run over to her and she points up the hill and there is a black bear. It was just picking berries too. I had my .44 out and started yelling and waving to get its attention. It saw me and turned and bolted.

My bear stories.

March 7, 2007, 11:38 AM
Any thoughts on bringing a pistol instead? Those shotguns can get awful heavy and cumbersome after a while on long hikes?

March 7, 2007, 12:45 PM
I think any pistol even a large caliber like 454 Casull, 460 s&w and 500 s&w are insufficient as a rapid means of putting a grizzly bear down. Granted there are people out there that hunt bear with these pistols, but i'm looking for something thats gonna put a threatening bear(one that is charging me, i'm not looking to go hunting just hiking)down in as few shots as possible.

p.s. NEWTOSA i'm not saying what you said has no merit, just stating that pistols are not an effective anti bear firearm, thanks for posting though.;)

March 7, 2007, 01:08 PM
You should have at least a 44mag as backup to whatever longgun you have.

Capt. Charlie
March 7, 2007, 01:37 PM
Well sir, the .45/70 is more than enough for black bear, but for those big Alaskan grizzlies, you might want something like this (http://www.break.com/index/biggest_shotgun_in_the_world.html). ;) :D

March 7, 2007, 03:31 PM
While the .458, .375 and similar big-bore firearms are recommended to slow or stop an attacking bear, a U.S. Forest Service study shows that people have a problem handling the severe recoil of these larger calibers.

A 45/70 has very similar recoil to a SG firing slugs.

March 8, 2007, 03:55 AM
Thats Tom Knapp, never mind the gun Ill just take Tom along with his!

"A 45/70 has very similar recoil to a SG firing slugs."
Whats that got to do with high recoil pistols?
An 870 with slugs is a small weight to carry to save your life, if you can use it! Pepper spray is good too as backup.
But get real, most times the bear comes out of bushes close to you, there is no time to use anything, your best off lying still on the ground you may live through it.
If you get warning like has been said, make enough noise it knows your there, at the same time you can go for the slug gun, for if it doesnt work ( especially if its a female with cub/s) you would probably need to defend your self.
Not so long since a guy wounded a grizzly in Alaska, his professional guide went to finish it off leaving him with the truck, it ambushed him from behind a fallen tree and even though he emptied his 458 mag pistol into it it ripped him up terribly. Luckily another giude was out close to the area and heard the multi shots,knew ther had to be trouble and came and found him and got him airlifted to hospital, he just lived.
You cant do better than follow the advice given by the the Alaskan Fish and Game Service and it is free!

March 8, 2007, 05:17 AM
+1 on the legalities of shooting a charging bear off in the distance, a grizz anyway. Here in NW Wyoming, where we have a few grizzlies, the game & fish department are quick to inititate full investigations whenever a grizzly bear is shot and/or killed. They're so protected that I've heard many game wardens say that if you kill a grizzly bear, you had better have marks on you to prove that you were truly in danger of losing your life. To make it even worse, they have said that even with marks on you, the grizzly bear should have been pepper sprayed before you shoot it. It's pretty much rediculous that you have a better chance of getting away with murdering a human being in cold blood, than to get away with shooting a grizzly to save your own life. That being said, most of the guides and outfitters around here use 12 guage shotguns with a combo of slug & buckshot ammo as bear deterrent.

March 8, 2007, 12:19 PM
"A 45/70 has very similar recoil to a SG firing slugs."
Whats that got to do with high recoil pistols?

:confused: Nothing.

I responded to thread title, first post, and boltgun71's post.

March 8, 2007, 02:34 PM
If you are using the gun for hiking size and weight will make a big difference. If protection from bears is all you are after then maby consider a big bore revolver. You can get a ruger redhawk or similar for around the same price as the marlin guide gun.

March 8, 2007, 08:10 PM
I'm thinking .45-70 just because the sectional density (and therefore penetration ability) is better than MOST slugs. But then you've got DixieSlugs & the like, which are known hammers. But it'd be tough to top a 500-gr Buffalo Bore .45-70 hardcast load, in terms of penetration ability, and that's what you need for big bears, in case you hit skull or other big bone on the way in. .50 Alaskan or .500 Phantom might be better than either, however. Seven rounds semi-auto, of a 570 grain, .510 cal load from a .500 Phantom AR10, at around 1688 fps, or a 750 grainer at about 1,120 fps, would make for a serious bear-stopper.


March 12, 2007, 01:30 AM
As far as the Fish and Wildlife Dept. being quick to initiate an investigation when a Grizzly is shot or killed, they can have at it. If I have a charging Grizzly coming at me, I'm not going to wait till it's in pepper spray range to see if it is going to stop or turn around. If I have a gun, I'm going to be tossing some lead at it. I'm a police officer and I'm all about following the law, but when it comes to a situation like this, I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6. You know the old saying, "better wrong and alive than right and dead."

March 12, 2007, 01:59 AM
44 magnum will suffice, but if I had a 480 Ruger that would be what I would use. A shotgun with a Dixie slug is a thought. I would not go out and buy a Marlin 45-70 just as a back-up gun unless you are guiding hunts. Wasp spray works better than pepper spray, but they will not advertise using that. It will probably best deter a bear unless it has already started attacking.

Art Eatman
March 12, 2007, 07:39 AM
If you could make a spray that works like the wasp deals, with that range, but uses formaldehyde...

:D, Art

March 12, 2007, 01:58 PM
As far as the Fish and Wildlife Dept. being quick to initiate an investigation when a Grizzly is shot or killed, they can have at it. If I have a charging Grizzly coming at me, I'm not going to wait till it's in pepper spray range to see if it is going to stop or turn around. If I have a gun, I'm going to be tossing some lead at it. I'm a police officer and I'm all about following the law, but when it comes to a situation like this, I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6. You know the old saying, "better wrong and alive than right and dead."

Trooper, I am in 100% agreement with you. That being said, people who are out in the woods, and may be exposed to Grizzlies need to seriously think about what may happen to them if they kill a protected bear. I made that decision a long time ago, and I am prepared to go to jail to protect my life. Most likely, if you kill a Grizzly without it having touched you in any way, you will serve time over it. Those are just the facts that we hunters and outdoorsmen have to deal with and prepare for. It is a good idea however, to carry the pepper spray and if you do have to shoot the bear, empty the pepper spray on it after you have shot it. There is really no way to tell which was fired first. This way, at least it LOOKS like you did not want to kill the bear right off.

March 12, 2007, 07:11 PM
JAXX, that is exactly what I was thinking, just didn't say it. I think I could make the "crime scene" look pretty good as well

March 14, 2007, 07:27 AM
If I were in grizz country I would be carrying a 12GA SG as well as pepper spray and most likely a 44mag too. I also would fire on a charging griz the minute I knew he was coming for me no matter what the laws said. My life will come before any critter that walks the face of this earth.

March 15, 2007, 12:55 AM
45/70 or 12 ga big bore pistol or spray the question you have to ask is what will I carry everywhere I go.If you don't have it it ain't no good .bears are found everywhere you don't have to be a hundred mi back.what ever you decide if you don't shoot it a lot don't bother if you go for spray be willing to buy 2 use one to practice so you have some Idea just how close they have to be.Lots of people wander around this state totaly clueless don't know don't want to the angels watch over them to.

March 15, 2007, 01:48 PM
Not that the shotgun gun won't get the job done.The new sabots or rifled slugs are pretty nasty.But you gotta go with the penatraton factor.Shotgun slug expand a bit to fast.45/70 is better for grizzly.

March 16, 2007, 08:16 AM
Brennekes don't expand.

March 16, 2007, 01:05 PM
If hunting and price is no factor, the rifle. I have no idea on the balistics or performance but if hunting grizzies rage is better in my opinion. if you are just hiking the shotgun is better since it can be lighter and shorter hence easier to draw a bead at close range. Lead slugs I have heard can be used but some of the new sabots are more accurate and can pack more punch (My experiencs is with the winchester supremes, 350 gr at 1900 fps and you can hit a 8' gong 400 yds. Not saying it's a kill shot but they havfe range on them too.

March 16, 2007, 04:38 PM
If I didn't want to buy another more suitable gun, could I get away with an M1A loaded with something appropriate? Or maybe a remington 760 30-06?

March 16, 2007, 07:36 PM
or you could get a 458 Lott and let the bear know who's boss.:D

March 16, 2007, 10:14 PM
I forgot to mention my backpack mounted rear firing 12 ga minigun :D

March 16, 2007, 11:34 PM
First of all, it is very illegal to "hunt" Grizzly bears, I would advise against it. Second, range really shouldn't even be an issue because if you a kill a grizz that's even 50 yards away, you're going to wish you were dead because of the grizzly cell mate that you'll be sleeping with:barf: BTW, if you are out "Hiking" in the woods with a .45 caliber rifle slung over your shoulder, forget about it, you were convicted before you even fired the first shot:D

The Terminator
March 17, 2007, 06:55 PM
I have both, and if I walked out the door, expecting to meet a grizzly, I'd opt for the 45-70. With modern loads, it is very capable. I really don't think that the 12 gage comes close. The research is easy to find. Also, Buffalo Bore, www.buffalobore.com has some +P 44 mag loads that easily rival the 454 Casull. Also, if you do decide to carry a 12 gage, why not just get a 10 gage instead? I have one of those too, but as a single shot, I don't think I'd want to face a bear with it.

Down here in Georgia, I do take a 44 for bears and hogs on my backpacking trips. Good luck with your decision, and, don't let us read about you in the paper. Best -

March 18, 2007, 02:45 AM
I walk in griz country every time we go outone of our favorite trails lies within 500 yds of a hill side where I know a 9' + griz was killed,if conditions are good you can see tracks on all the trails we hike,my carry gun is a ruger redhawk 44 mag with 300 gr hard cast lead bullets load max , never had to shoot a griz and only shoot one bb with it but the bullet passed through it front to rear, when I go to places that I know have muitiple bears using the area right now , I carry a marlin gg in 45/70 with the 44 in cross draw position .The most important details are an awarness of what going on around you,being willing to walk around trouble , being confident with what ever you chose.

March 20, 2007, 11:07 PM
Check out Dixie slugs. I used the 20 gauge with good success on hogs. The 12 gauge might be a good bear defense, that site is friendly and you might ask the owner, Gates his opinion.

roy reali
March 20, 2007, 11:16 PM
Ever think of using a pellet gun?;)

March 23, 2007, 11:31 AM

This discussion just became much more important to those who hunt big game animals in the Northwest USA.