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Old January 19, 2020, 02:16 AM   #1
bamaranger
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9mm v. grizzly

I hate to start another bear pistol thread, but I just became aware of this story, which apparently happened earlier last fall, and the facts are a bit noteworthy.

Known and respected Alaskan guide for over 30 yrs, Phil Shoemaker was forced to shoot and kill a grizzly bear to protect himself and his clients while guiding a fishing trip. His handgun in this episode was a 9mm S&W 3954, loaded with Buffalo Bore 147 grain RNFP hardcast ammo. He likely fired 8 rds, obtained hits with all. There are at least two printed articles on the episode.

Shoemaker's the real deal, no tinhorn by all reports. I've read some of his stuff over the years, seems very well thought out. What lead him to carry the 9mm 'Smith would make for an interesting conversation. Likely has been around and in contact with bears as much or more than anybody. I wonder, would he carry it again? Is he still carrying it?
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Old January 19, 2020, 05:41 AM   #2
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You wouldn't think an experienced Alaskan guide, which Shoemaker obviously is, would arm himself with a Semi-Auto 9mm in Grizzly country!

The cartridge/bullet combination would be all important as would the proven reliability of the handgun ..... Penetration would be the factor I would be most concerned about in the bullet construction. I wouldn't trust anything less than a Ruger Blackhawk single action or possibly a Smith 29 or 25 chambered for a heavy 44 Mag or 45 Colt load.

Where did he hit the bear? You would think a couple of the eight shots must have been close range head shots to be really effective.
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Old January 19, 2020, 06:30 AM   #3
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I wouldn't trust someone to protect me in grizzly bear country with a 9mm.
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Old January 19, 2020, 07:17 AM   #4
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Old January 19, 2020, 07:40 AM   #5
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It wasn't a grizzly it was a brown. Had it been a griz the outcome would have probably been very different. https://www.wideopenspaces.com/alask...-a-9mm-pistol/
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Old January 19, 2020, 08:01 AM   #6
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It was not a charging grizzly. This guide was incredibly complacent and is only lucky with the outcome.

Not that I would need a guide in AK, but if I was on some fishing trip and some guide told me that all he had was a 9mm, which i'm sure he doesn't advertise, we would have a problem. He's lucky nothing worse happened. Lucky... plain and simple. I don't understand how he isn't embarrassed by telling this story.
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Old January 19, 2020, 08:10 AM   #7
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He should have rushed to a Airport and headed for Vegas.
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Old January 19, 2020, 08:16 AM   #8
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It wasn't a grizzly it was a brown. Had it been a griz the outcome would have probably been very different.
Brown bear and grizzly are the same species. But grizzly live inland and have to work much harder for their food. Brown bear are the same animal, but live along the coast where food supplies are much more plentiful. The bear he killed was larger than most inland grizzly.

Quote:
You wouldn't think an experienced Alaskan guide, which Shoemaker obviously is, would arm himself with a Semi-Auto 9mm in Grizzly country!
Shoemaker has been guiding hunters and fishermen for 40 years. He knows what it takes to kill a big bear. He also writes articles that are published and contributes on another hunting forum. He answered questions over there and went into much more detail 2 years ago when this happened

He regularly tests different firearms and had been testing the Buffalo Bore load he used and had already determined that it would would work as well as the bigger guns he usually carried. That load has penetrated over 5' of gel which was as much or more than he could get from magnum revolvers.

Based on the location where they were fishing the bear were normally not aggressive. He did not expect any issues that day. His go-to rifle to back up hunters is a 458 WM. Stopping a big bear that has been wounded is a lot harder to do.
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Old January 19, 2020, 08:42 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jmr40 View Post
Brown bear and grizzly are the same species. But grizzly live inland and have to work much harder for their food. Brown bear are the same animal, but live along the coast where food supplies are much more plentiful. The bear he killed was larger than most inland grizzly.



Shoemaker has been guiding hunters and fishermen for 40 years. He knows what it takes to kill a big bear. He also writes articles that are published and contributes on another hunting forum. He answered questions over there and went into much more detail 2 years ago when this happened

He regularly tests different firearms and had been testing the Buffalo Bore load he used and had already determined that it would would work as well as the bigger guns he usually carried. That load has penetrated over 5' of gel which was as much or more than he could get from magnum revolvers.

Based on the location where they were fishing the bear were normally not aggressive. He did not expect any issues that day. His go-to rifle to back up hunters is a 458 WM. Stopping a big bear that has been wounded is a lot harder to do.
Trouble always comes when you least expect it.
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Old January 19, 2020, 10:12 AM   #10
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Those who commented negatively of this man's actions, equipment, experience, intent, mindset, etc...., tell us about the bears you've killed in self(or others)defense with whatever firearm you've used. Perhaps we all could learn a thing or two.
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Old January 19, 2020, 10:23 AM   #11
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Grizzly Bears have been successful killed at least once by just about everything, including .22LR.



That being said, if I planned on going anywhere Grizzlies roam, I would be packing my Mossberg 590 Shockwave loaded with Brenneke Black Magic Magnum Slugs.
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Old January 19, 2020, 11:02 AM   #12
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These types of threads, along with the caliber, expansion, and gel threads....
Always reveal those that have never put metal into meat.


Here is one of my favorite vintage photos, showing a tiny sliver of the real world before the advent of the internet flame wars, magazine hype, and expensive boutique bullets.



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Old January 19, 2020, 11:05 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by GarandTd View Post
Those who commented negatively of this man's actions, equipment, experience, intent, mindset, etc...., tell us about the bears you've killed in self(or others)defense with whatever firearm you've used. Perhaps we all could learn a thing or two.
+1000


PS... You may want to specify real experience versus internet tales
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Old January 19, 2020, 11:15 AM   #14
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I'll just leave this here. Not a technically scientifically valid analysis, but at least data based.

https://www.ammoland.com/2018/02/def...ts-by-caliber/

Maybe the guide knew what he was doing? (You can't miss fast enough...)
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Old January 19, 2020, 11:25 AM   #15
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In our younger days many of us might have been more adventurous and would have ventured out with a .22 / .25 . 9mm, but now are just happy to read about it here and speculate vs. having a real-life Oh ---- moment facing a realistic existential threat as Shoemaker did above.
Thanks for sharing.
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Old January 19, 2020, 11:32 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by TBM900 View Post
+1000


PS... You may want to specify real experience versus internet tales
The fact that he had a 9mm says it all. You can be mesmerized by the incredible stroke of luck that fell upon him that day and call it skill, but it was luck. 40 years of guiding and this guy brings a 9mm?

And you want to make sense of it and justify what a brave intelligent man he is. And maybe some of us are still alive cause we're even smarter than this guide, by not only staying alive in grizzly territory, but not having to kill one and not putting ourselves in situations to be surprised by one.

So lets go over the checklist that day for a 40 year guide in Alaska and if anyone thinks this checklist is what they would do, by all means let us know that this plan is just fine:

Fishing Poles, Check
Tackle Boxes, Check
Cameras, Check
Some chow for snacks, Check
First aid kits for a thousand things that can go wrong, Check
9mm and 9mm ONLY for Brown Bear defense, Check

Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from those that agree with this plan. So you would have no problem with your family or friends about to take off to the river knowing what you know now about this situation?

I don't expect these people in these groups to know better, but if for some reason they explained to you over the phone that morning that the guide briefed them on him only having a 9mm, would you tell your family or friends, "hey, that sounds great, a 9mm is just fine" or would you say, "hold on a minute, put this guide on the phone right now"?

And another thing, this bear practically posed for him just before it seemed he was going to attack Other people in his party... it stopped and stood up. How much more luck could have gone this guy's way?
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Old January 19, 2020, 12:35 PM   #17
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Yes, Shoemaker killed an aggressive coastal brown bear with a S&W 3953, single stack, 7+1 capacity DAO pistol, using hard cast Underwood ammo, as I understand it.

But, let's put this in perspective. Shoemaker is not a Timmy Treadwell. Compared to normal outdoorsmen, Shoemaker is a:

Mohammed Ali,
Sugar Ray Leonard
Mike Tyson,
Tom Brady,
Arnold Palmer,
Vince Lombardi,
Chester Nimitz,

David killed Goliath using a slingshot.

I lived in AK for 15 years and loved hiking, hunting, fishing. Carried a Taurus Raging Bull .454 Casull in a cross draw holster, loaded with 340 grain Buffalo Bore hardcast flat nose bullets. I imagined all of the scenarios and considered that if I was back packing out a fresh moose hindquarter, dragging a stinking stringer of salmon, etc. and I heard the alder tree branches popping near me, I'd be lucky to get one good shot.

Bullet penetration (velocity versus sectional density / mass / momentum / hardness) and profile (Keith SWC versus, LBT LFN/WFN, versus JDJ truncated flat nose designs) was more important than capacity.

Of course, the subject here is huge quadrupedal predators...
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Old January 19, 2020, 12:46 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by muzzleblast... View Post
Yes, Shoemaker killed an aggressive coastal brown bear with a S&W 3953, single stack, 7+1 capacity DAO pistol, using hard cast Underwood ammo, as I understand it.

But, let's put this in perspective. Shoemaker is not a Timmy Treadwell. Compared to normal outdoorsmen, Shoemaker is a:

Mohammed Ali,
Sugar Ray Leonard
Mike Tyson,
Tom Brady,
Arnold Palmer,
Vince Lombardi,
Chester Nimitz,

David killed Goliath using a slingshot.

I lived in AK for 15 years and loved hiking, hunting, fishing. Carried a Taurus Raging Bull .454 Casull in a cross draw holster, loaded with 340 grain Buffalo Bore hardcast flat nose bullets. I imagined all of the scenarios and considered that if I was back packing out a fresh moose hindquarter, dragging a stinking stringer of salmon, etc. and I heard the alder tree branches popping near me, I'd be lucky to get one good shot.

Bullet penetration (velocity versus sectional density / mass / momentum / hardness) and profile (Keith SWC versus, LBT LFN/WFN, versus JDJ truncated flat nose designs) was more important than capacity.

Of course, the subject here is huge quadrupedal predators...
It was BB 147gr +P Outdoorsman. It's a great round, I still have a couple cases of it.

Not sure why this guy is idolized so much. I would not approve of JM with a Glock 17, and a 33rd magazine full of the BB Outdoorsman... but if you know in advance that the bear will stand up for you and that you will have time to watch it's decision making process... yeah... great idea I guess. But most people aren't that LUCKY!!
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Old January 19, 2020, 12:53 PM   #19
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Brown bear and grizzly are the same species.
This made me curious, so I looked it up, on the Internet. It appears today, that they are the same species, sort of, by current classification.

I know, time marches on, science marches on, but sometimes I wish it wouldn't. Because sometimes, in stead of going in a straight line it seems to make sudden left turns.

When I was a boy, believing and trusting in the science I was taught in school, Pluto was still a planet (and a Disney dog), rabbits were still rodents, and Brown bears and Grizzly bears were different species. We were taught that the Brown bear and the Kodiak bear were the same species, and the dividing line was a coastal mountain range in Alaska. Brown bears living on the coast side were Kodiaks those living inland were Brown.

The Brown bear was Ursus Arctos. The Grizzly bear was Ursus Horribilis. This made them different species.

Today, on the infallible Wiki, the brown bear is still Ursus arctos. The Grizzly bear is now Ursus arctos horribilis.

50 years ago they were different species, today, apparently, they aren't. I guess that's like how I went from being just being "overweight" to being "obese" without gaining a single pound.

Changing how you define something does not change what you are defining, it only changes what list you put it on.

As to 9mm killing "grizzly"?? so? SOME people have killed grizzly with pointed sticks. "Karamojo" Bell killed a number of elephants with a 6.5mm rifle. Does this mean it is a good idea for the rest of us?

TO be sure what he thought, you'd have to ask the guide, but my guess would be the 9mm wasn't there with the primary intent being bear defense. The fact that it was used, and used successfully doesn't prove he carried it intending to use it on grizzly.
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Old January 19, 2020, 12:55 PM   #20
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Ah, yes. Buffalo Bore 147 gr. Thanks for the reminder.

In many ways Shoemaker's victory over this particular brownie is not unlike the New Orleans Saint's Tom Dempsy's game winning, record setting 63 yard field goal against the Detroit Lions in 1970.

:-)

Shoemaker (and his clients) lived to tell about it!!!
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Old January 19, 2020, 12:59 PM   #21
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Among other things, we know for certain that eight rounds of 9mm will kill a large bear.

A bullet that will penetrate five feet of ballistic gel is likely adequate to penetrate the thick skull of a grizzly or brown bear. I suppose the fact that it took eight rounds is notable.

Seems like I read recently that for many years, the largest bear ever killed was killed with a .22LR. Which always raises the timeless question: is caliber the most important element? The answer is a clear, "No."

So what is the most important element? That should be the real discussion.

--Wag--
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Old January 19, 2020, 01:08 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by TBM900 View Post
These types of threads, along with the caliber, expansion, and gel threads....
Always reveal those that have never put metal into meat.


Here is one of my favorite vintage photos, showing a tiny sliver of the real world before the advent of the internet flame wars, magazine hype, and expensive boutique bullets.



Looks like a 10/22 Sorry, maybe an M1 Carbine?
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Old January 19, 2020, 01:27 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Wag View Post
Among other things, we know for certain that eight rounds of 9mm will kill a large bear.

A bullet that will penetrate five feet of ballistic gel is likely adequate to penetrate the thick skull of a grizzly or brown bear. I suppose the fact that it took eight rounds is notable.

Seems like I read recently that for many years, the largest bear ever killed was killed with a .22LR. Which always raises the timeless question: is caliber the most important element? The answer is a clear, "No."

So what is the most important element? That should be the real discussion.

--Wag--
The most important element is to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

To me, that is the bear charging You at extremely close quarters and Not other people.
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Old January 19, 2020, 01:50 PM   #24
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"...obtained hits with all..." That'd do it if Yogi was close enough and all 9 went into his head. Everybody gets lucky.
As I recall, .44 Mag is the minimum suggested for keeping yogi away though.
No amount of ballistic gel equals the skull of a big bear. No amount of BG equals any part of a PO'd bear. Ballistic gel supposedly mimics people, not critters.
Oh and a Buffalo Bore(who re busy using this story in their marketing) 147 grain 9mm is +P at 1100 FPS. There's a lot of conflicting data on their site.
https://www.buffalobore.com/index.ph...t_detail&p=389
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Old January 19, 2020, 01:51 PM   #25
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So when arguing over whether 9mm is effective at stopping criminals is no longer entertaining, we can move to grizzly bears?

I have been close to a grizzly only in zoos. That's plenty for me. Those are big freaking animals.

I looked up a few articles about ammunition for hunting grizzly bears. Here's one such:

https://goneoutdoors.com/recommended...s-8308851.html

Others seemed to echo the recommendations of these rifle calibers. Looking up their ballistics, all of the recommended calibers generally have muzzle energies in the 3000 ft-lb and up range.

Even the .44 magnum cartridge hovers in the 1000 - 1300 ft-lb range. And that's pretty much tops for handguns, right?

Seems arguing over which handgun cartridge to use against a grizzly bear is something like asking which size pebble you should throw at a tank.

Now, I have never hunted a grizzly, and never killed any except for with my bear hands (GET IT???). So I'm just going off of numbers on ballistic reports. But I guess I'd wonder, if someone seriously thought they could encounter a grizzly bear in the woods, whether packing any handgun would be cause for a lot of confidence. Of course, hiking with a rifle sling is inconvenient.

I dunno, then, I guess it seems 9mm (or even .40 or .45) is shockingly weak, even the popular 10mm cartridge isn't much vs. the kind of rifle recommended for taking down a bear, but carry the biggest thing you can and pray like crazy you don't actually have to defend yourself?

Pepper spray in the eyes is said to be effective against bears...although one guy in Canada told me pepper spray just gives you something to do while the bear is eating you...
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