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Old February 21, 2021, 11:28 PM   #1
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About to Buy a Heavy Duty Handgun

I have an AR15 so the natural tactical choice for a handgun is a 1911 or Glock. But I live in the country and many days I am in the forest. I have been doing this for 30 years and never had a problem but if I am going to get a handgun I want it to handle and potential problems.

There is always a lot of talk about handguns that will stop a grizzly. This is not a pleasant thought for me. We don't have grizzly bears here, only black bears but we do have mountain lions.

So if I get a handgun I want it to have a chance of stopping the aforementioned creatures. If it will do that, a human should be no problem. I really don't care if it is a revolver or semi-auto.

What would you recommend?

Last edited by JohnKSa; February 21, 2021 at 11:38 PM. Reason: .
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Old February 21, 2021, 11:43 PM   #2
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There is no perfect answer. Handguns lack the power of rifle rounds. That said, .44mag would be a logical starting point for further debate.
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Old February 21, 2021, 11:44 PM   #3
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Not a hunter nor do I play one the Web, recall Jeff Cooper answering a reader :
"As much as I favor the .45, I wear a .44 in bear country".
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Old February 21, 2021, 11:48 PM   #4
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If you don’t have grizzly bears, a 10mm should work for you. Glocks are not fancy, but they are incredibly reliable and corrosion resistant. 15+1 rounds of 10mm is a lot of firepower. If you prefer a wheel gun, a 4” .357 should work for you. You only get 6 shots compared to Glock’s 15+1. I think semi-autos are easier to carry so I’d go with the Glock.
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Old February 21, 2021, 11:57 PM   #5
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Pretty much anything will take care of a mountain lion but even with a black bear I'd want a .357 or .44 mag.
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Old February 22, 2021, 01:40 AM   #6
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But I live in the country and many days I am in the forest.
The answer is simple: Ruger Blackhawk or Super-Blackhawk; caliber would have to be 357 Magnum, or 45 Colt, or 44 Magnum. Any of those will do fine, but the 357 is probably the best choice for most. Me? I'm a 45 Colt guy, myself, but it ain't for everybody; neither is the 44 Magnum.
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Old February 22, 2021, 03:40 AM   #7
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I would definitely get a magnum, not for anything, they are LOUD, more likely to scare off the animal even if you miss.

Last edited by Alan0354; February 22, 2021 at 04:42 AM.
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Old February 22, 2021, 06:18 AM   #8
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I spend a lot of time hunting, and a lot time scouting all year round. A lot of swampy areas. I have run into dozens of Black Bears. But never a problem and they always take off like a rabbit once they get my presence. One thing about a lot of time walking/hiking is weight. Things get heavy. Especially a firearm. I just carry a LCR9mm. And I do not carry for the bears, but for any Bad Humans I may encounter.

Sometimes, I will spend the night if I am going really far in and I will carry a water tight container with three moon clips. (I get wet a lot in that mess). Probably not necessary, but just gives me peace of mind.

Last edited by Carl the Floor Walker; February 22, 2021 at 06:54 PM.
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Old February 22, 2021, 07:22 AM   #9
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What you chose, should also be accompanied by ammo. Not much out there right now. An Empty gun is useless.

I bought a Glock 20 10mm last year and was able to purchase all the ammo I wanted online at a reasonable price. That was last year... everything's gone up since.

A Glock 10mm will also function with .40 SW in a pinch. A .357 is also a great choice (and also shoots .38's)... IF you already have ammo. If you don't have ammo, the gun, no matter how well made, is just a paperweight.

Just something to consider, as the ammunition shelves may not replenish anytime soon.

Last edited by shurshot; February 22, 2021 at 07:28 AM.
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Old February 22, 2021, 07:56 AM   #10
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I am going to agree with the 10mm Glock recommendation. They are weather resistant. They can shoot .40 ammo. With full power ammo they are good enough for large animals.
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Old February 22, 2021, 09:17 AM   #11
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5 1/2" stainless .44 Mag Ruger Redhawk.
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Old February 22, 2021, 09:38 AM   #12
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Best option, Amazon or Walmart flavor.
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Old February 22, 2021, 09:47 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by wild cat mccane View Post
Best option, Amazon or Walmart flavor.
^^^ This

+ the 10mm pistol that can also shoot 40 s&w and can do double duty as every day conceal carry if you ever wish to do so. Glock 20 (full size) or Glock 29 (compact).

If you prefer DA/SA with safety, Witness polymer compact also has a 10mm model and in addition you can purchase conversion slides for other calibers.
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Old February 22, 2021, 10:01 AM   #14
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3rd the spray option.

Effective against both black bear and mtn lion (assuming you know the kitty is there first).
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Old February 22, 2021, 12:53 PM   #15
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The .44 Mag. would be my choice. The 240 gr mag load is pretty stout and a 629 ain't too heavy to carry in a holster.
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Old February 22, 2021, 01:19 PM   #16
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Bear spray and/or a good .357 mag with heavy bullets or a .44, either Special or mag. These should get any problem solved if you don’t have brown bears or grizzlys.
Say when.....
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Old February 22, 2021, 01:55 PM   #17
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Under stress making good hits might be a challenge on a moving target.
Sure would suck to fire off all 6 rounds in a revolver and the threat (attack) not be stopped.
10mm Glock 20SF or 29SF if under a 10 round mag limit.
A 10mm 1911 wouldn't be bad either.
Even with the 1911 you get 50% more capacity than a 6 shot revolver.
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Old February 22, 2021, 05:28 PM   #18
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Here's a good video on the .45 acp where he tries some different brands/loads on an animal sized "meat target" in order to get an idea of the rounds' effectiveness on the big critters.

For the tl;dr version, start watching at 20:00.

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Old February 22, 2021, 05:49 PM   #19
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If I'm planning to be in the woods, I usually carry my Judge, loaded with .45 Colt or with slugs. I've been wanting to pick up a .357 Henry rifle, but the idea of a Henry in .45 Colt is starting to appeal to me as a nice match for the Judge.
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Old February 22, 2021, 06:40 PM   #20
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Since statistics recorded, about one person is killed in the USA per year by a black bear.

You’ve been in the woods a long time, ever had a lot of problems with bear or lions? “Yeah, it only takes one” you might say, but you’d be safer losing 10 pounds (or more in my case, eating healthier or for the love of pete quit smoking!

My opinion is that as you walk distances, weight matters. Something like a Glock 19 isn’t a bad field gun. Honestly, if you don’t live in grizzly or polar bear country, bears are simply not as dangerous as driving your car to the supermarket.

On the other hand, a .44 magnum revolver is much heavier but most likely legal for deer hunting if you get the itch. I have a real nice one and great holster and it’s really heavy after 5 miles. You can hunt elk or bear with that cannon.

Me? I carry a Ruger LCRX 3” 5 shot revolver in .38 special which just drops in my jacket pocket. It weighs about the same as a can of cola. You might forget it’s there. Other fellas may have more horsepower, but here I am, still alive.

My pistol is small, light weight, can suffer a swim in a creek without me worrying too much, and is not too much to whack a suicidal rabbit or squirrel. Yum.

My opinion is carry what you love in the woods. For me, light weight wins the day. When grizzly or polar bears... long guns and a buddy are just common sense.
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Old February 22, 2021, 06:53 PM   #21
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Ok, I know I'm going to get flamed here. But as an option a G19, loaded with Lehigh extreme penetrators.

2nd choice would be a 44 wheel gun, probably a super redhawk

3rd choice, Glock 10mm with full power loads (underwood)
I don't believe in "range fodder" that is why I reload.
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Old February 22, 2021, 07:13 PM   #22
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Cats are easily killed with 38s so any 357 and up should meet your needs. That said, finding ammo is pretty hard to do right now so this might be a case of finding the ammo first and then getting the gun.
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Old February 22, 2021, 07:41 PM   #23
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I suppose your shooting experience is a relevant question. A 4 inch 44 model 629 might be a good choice or a Kimber Target II 1911 10mm. A 357 mag is also an option and the GP100 would be my suggestion for that caliber. I would avoid 45 ACP, 40 S&W or 9mm for what you want. Even 38 super would be anemic for bear.

10MM ammo is very watered down for most loads so you have to plan on buying a more premium ammo for true 10mm ballistics. Most people should be able to handle a 10mm. An auto can jam if you are in contact with a bear.

357 mag 158gr Soft Points at 1250fps may be the max recoil a newbie can shoot well and you can learn to shoot the gun with cheaper 38 special ammo. A revolver isn't going to jam when the muzzle is in contact with a bear.

The typical 44 mag ammo is going to be plenty powerful but may be too much gun for a novice especially in a lighter 4 inch gun. You can shoot 44 specials out of a 44 mag but they are still expensive so there is no significant cost benefit there like 38 special vs. 357 mag.

So for woods use I think you have 3 good choices. A glock is very light but it would also be pretty snappy with 10mm.
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Old February 23, 2021, 02:21 AM   #24
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An auto can jam if you are in contact with a bear.
Generally speaking only if you are concentrating on the big deposit you're about to make in your pants and you limp-wrist your pistol.
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Old February 23, 2021, 03:44 AM   #25
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No matter what gun you choose, make sure you go and shoot the gun to get use to it. You don't have time to think when you see a bear, you can only rely on muscle memory and do things automatically. Practice is the only way. If you buy a magnum, make sure you shoot until you are comfortable with the loud pop and the big recoil.

Practice, don't just buy and carry.
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