View Full Version : What bullet for hunting sidearm?

September 11, 2009, 08:54 AM
After my previous question I think I have settled on bringing my .40 as a sidearm on my elk hunting trip this fall. The purpose of the gun is defense against black bears. And the options were a .45, the .40, or a .357. I easily shoot the .40 better than the .357 and from what i understand that the .40 will be a better penetrator than the .45 so that's why I settled on it. Now to my question...

What would be the best type and weight bullet for this purpose. I am thinking a basic FMJ for type but don't really know what weight is good. Let me know what you guys suggest, thanks.

September 11, 2009, 09:03 AM
The 40 was designed as a human stopping round. So I don't think you will find to many (if any) Hunting ammo for it. The 357 has hunting applications and with it you should find good bonded bullets. IMHO that would be the better choice. ;)

September 11, 2009, 09:04 AM
If i have a good rifle then no side arm is going along. Any rifle that would be used for elk would have 2 or 3 times the energy of a 40 or 45 round. Use a bonded or copper bullet like barnes for that elk and it would do just what you need for a bear . Also if the bear scare is real to you carry a oc bear spray instead.

September 11, 2009, 09:11 AM
I'm really not sure where we get the idea that the penetration of a full metal jacket bullet is a good thing for defense or hunting. These rounds exist solely as a result of the Geneva Conventions mandate that signatories use small arms projectiles designed to prevent excessive damage, or untreatable wounds. They are intended to wound rather than kill, whenever possible. I never met anyone in my time in the wars who wouldn't rather have some kind of expanding ammunition in a gunfight (FMJ is a handicap). To further answer the question posed, be realistic, and smart. Would you go bear hunting with a .40 S&W? If it wouldn't make a good choice as a primary weapon for hunting a large, potentially dangerous predator, it is foolish to think it would make sense under the condition that the predator is aggressive, and intent on mauling, killing, and/or eating you. A bear with no slugs in it, even if it is aggressive, is far less dangerous than one with several slugs in it that haven't managed to kill it yet. Use the .40 to finish off the elk if it isn't dead when you find it, but don't risk making a large animal with weapons on every appendage with it.

Art Eatman
September 11, 2009, 09:41 AM
I've never shot a black bear. I've read a bunch of writeups about shooting them.

Overall, penetration is a key. However, round-nosed anything isn't regarded as the way to go. For handguns, almost everybody who regularly hunts with one says that lead bullets with large meplats are the best. I'll pretty much go along with guys like Seyfried, e.g.

I dunno nuttin' about a .40 and ammo availability, but lots of folks use a 160-grain lead bullet from a .357 for deer hunting...

FWIW, if anything. :)

September 11, 2009, 10:12 AM
I'm with greensteelforge. I think that you are way way under gunned with the 40 let alone debating which rounds to use. The 357 is a better choice (still borderline IMO). I would want a 41 or 44 at my side.

Here's the best alternate plan.........stay the hell away from he bears while you're going after elk.

Good luck on the hunt.

September 11, 2009, 10:26 AM
44 magnum or 454. I tend to lean towards 44 mag.

September 11, 2009, 12:48 PM
sweet guys, thanks for totally ignoring the question. I told you why i was picking the gun i picked and yes i know it isnt the OPTIMAL choice but given the current inventory its the one i currently feel most comfortable with. And I'll take my chances with the 13 hits with the .40 over the 2 hits and 3 misses with the .357. And yes I know the chances of seeing a bear are slim, and the chances of actually being attacked are slimmer, and the chances of having a chance to get a full 13 rounds off is even slimmer, BUT I know I can shoot it better than the .357. I also agree that generally speaking expansion is good but everything i've read about bears talks about penetration. And yes bear spray would probably be a good idea but it would end up in the pack where it would be useless. And FWIW the point of the pistol is for during the hike in and out and while cleaning when the rifle is not going to be at the ready (strapped to back). In addition my dad will be carrying a .44mag and we stay close so should it be necessary any bear will be perforated by a multitude of bullets...well at least we will shoot at it a lot...

September 11, 2009, 01:00 PM
No offense meant, but you are asking a question with no good answer. If you want sufficient penetration on a black bear with a .40 S&W, you need full metal jacket. If you want any stopping power at all in this cartridge, you need a good hollow point. The problem is, the hollow point won't reliably penetrate the large bones and heavy tissue in this animal to reach the vitals, and the FMJ might go clean through without doing enough damage to even slow the attack. Your question is ignoring a big hole in your premise, and if you insist on taking this gun with you, I'd strongly advise that you don't shoot it at any real bears. I'd suggest using it to make some noise, if that doesn't dissuade the animal from attacking, give it a well placed slug from your elk rifle. This is as serious as it gets, and playing with it like it's a matter of opinion could get you seriously hurt, crippled, or killed. Do it right, or not at all.

September 11, 2009, 01:09 PM
I don't plan on looking for trouble. And I know the .357 is a better choice, and I am hoping to practice more with it to feel comfortable shooting it, but as it stands right now the .40 is the best option available to me. I don't mind people offering other suggestions and opinions but it does get really old when you ask a very specific question and people offer nothing BUT alternatives, especially when at the very beginning of the question I specifically said the 3 guns that WERE an option. The exact same thing has happened to me numerous times on here and its just really dumb. If you don't have a specific answer to the specific question, why post? I mean if you want to offer your alternative WITH an answer to the actual question, great but seriously i got like 12 answers and 1 of them was even remotely applicable to the question.

September 11, 2009, 05:44 PM
given that we are 'stuck' using the .40 cal here my suggestion is the heaviest FMJ bullet you can get, that cycles reliably in it. i would write off any hollow point bullet for the task at hand.

September 11, 2009, 08:14 PM
Hey Verti,

I'm sorry that I was trying to be humorous....no harm intended. I think that I did give you a legitimate alternative to your plan (taking the 357). I searched your original posting as to the selection and the first four answers were the 357. However, I also saw that your 357 is a 5 shot 3" revolver. I still think that would be my choice. Maybe it's because I know the round better than the other two. I still think you are under gunned. If you are staying close to your dad, take the one you're comfortable with.....13 shots is going to put a serious cramp in a bears style.

That said, I would go with Bandit's suggestion. I would rather penetrate than just lodge a couple against the shoulder.

September 11, 2009, 08:31 PM
A good cast bullet in the .357 Mag would be minimum, ideal in a wheel gun,but I would like something bigger.

September 11, 2009, 09:21 PM
I've carried a Super Blackhawk as a backup since '76.

IMO your B/U should be nearly as serviceable as your rifle or more so as the range is going to be shorter.

The most important factor is YOU! Can you face a charging bear and take the time to place a shot or just spray lead all over the place and hope for the best? Most dead people panicked.

September 11, 2009, 09:34 PM
I think .30-30 is plenty for hunting sidearms. :D

September 11, 2009, 10:21 PM
I'm a revolver / hard cast lswc guy. However, I have seen this http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/250-rds-fiocchi-40-sw-170-gr-fmj-ammo.aspx?a=247315 ammo shot / in minor testing and was very impressed. For autoloader round it hits hard and penetrates well, would not hesitate to carry it afield.
If reloading I'd use that style of bullet or similar that fed reliably and had the largest meplat possible.

September 12, 2009, 12:38 AM
]I'm really not sure where we get the idea that the penetration of a full metal jacket bullet is a good thing for defense or hunting. These rounds exist solely as a result of the Geneva Conventions mandate that signatories use small arms projectiles designed to prevent excessive damage, or untreatable wounds. They are intended to wound rather than kill, whenever possible. I never met anyone in my time in the wars who wouldn't rather have some kind of expanding ammunition in a gunfight (FMJ is a handicap).....

What you say is true for a gun fight but you don't get into gun fights with bears. If they are armed now I'm staying out of the woods :). Expanding ammo is preferable in handguns when defending against humans. When it comes to 4 legged predators penetration through lots of dense muscle and bone is needed and unless you are using .44 magnum or larger calibers handguns just don't have enough power to penetrate with expanding ammo. Hardcast lead or fmj is the way to go.

The advice about the bear spray is right on. The stuff is proven very effective. It's expensive but I would rather have a bottle of that than a .40 S&W no matter what ammo was in it. Since you're dead set on taking the .40 I'd load it with the hottest and heaviest (heavier weight gives better penetration) fmj or hard cast lead bullets you can get. Check the offerings from Double Tap and Buffalo Bore. The 40 would be my third line of defense with number 1 being the pepper spray and number 2 being the rifle.

Unless you slather yourself in bacon grease before going to bed you have a better chance of being struck by lightening than having a problem with a black bear. Grizzlies are another story but black bears are closer to a big Labrador retriever in temperament than they are to grizzlies.

Good luck on the hunt! Worry more about mountain lions than black bears. The 40 with hardcast or fmj should do ok for cats. They aren't as large or densely built as the bears.

September 12, 2009, 10:09 AM
Thanks guys I appreciate the input. I do plan on practicing with the .357 but the issue is i needed to order some .40 bullets in case i don't get comfortable with the .357 and with supplies the way they are right now i needed to order immediately. Anyhow thanks again.

September 16, 2009, 01:47 AM
If its between a .40 S&W and .357 mag then .357 for sure but my personal wildy type sidearm is a Ruger super redhawk in .44mag, In my opinion cant beat it...

September 16, 2009, 06:48 PM
After talking with many bear guides and reading many articles by bear guides their universal opinion is that penatration is THE key to reliable bear stopping. Most every guide has nothing but bad experence with hollowpoint handgun bullets. They expand too fast and as a rule wont break a bears skull. So the only reliable way a handgun can be used in a DEFENSIVE situation against a bear is to use a bullet that wont expand thus the fmj or heavy hard cast is their chioce. Again this is not from my personal experence but from many proffesional experenced guides.

September 16, 2009, 06:58 PM
... if I remember correctly, it was strongly suggested to you that you should trade in one or two of your pistols toward something more suited to your intended purpose.

That advice still stands.

Of the three you have, I couldn't recommend any. 180gr hardcast BB would be brutal out of a 3" revolver. There really are no loads I'd recommend in .40 or .45acp for bear.

A Ruger SBH can be had for fairly little money on the used market. For a couple hundred more, you can find a used Redhawk or S&W 29. I'd trade in one of the autos or the .357 toward a good .44 in any of those three flavors.

September 16, 2009, 07:03 PM
What is not understood about no ammo available for the intended purpose? Carry the 40 and I hope you don't have to stake your life on it with any bear.

September 17, 2009, 05:52 AM
Not a good choice.

9mm +p+ and even .45 acp with well placed shots are not even good enough to stop a feral dog dead in its tracks, let alone a bear.