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Old October 1, 2001, 06:37 PM   #1
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Best handgun to protect against aggressive bear

I am camping and hiking in the deep woods with my family (my wife and our daughter). It's not realistic for me to carry a rifle or shotgun (I'd probably get arrested by the Park Rangers).

What is THE BEST hand-gun to protect myself and my family against an aggressive grizzly, brown, or black bear.

Would it be a 6" .44 Magnum revolver? A 10mm Glock? What do you "experts" out there think?
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Old October 1, 2001, 07:10 PM   #2
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this may be the one and only actual practical use for a Desert Eagle 50

Actualy if you aren't going to carry a high power rilfe, I recommend everyone carry big canisters of anti-bear pepper spray. Will be effective for getting rid of the bear without you spending time in jail for killing an endangered bear.
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Old October 1, 2001, 07:34 PM   #3
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What is the highest quality reliable and proven revolver in either .44Mag or .454Cas?

I know basically nothing of revolvers. I am looking for what Sig (or HK) is to semi's, but for a revolver instead.
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Old October 1, 2001, 07:47 PM   #4
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I've read, from someone with scars to prove that he's been there and done that, that you should have a double-action revolver. If a bear attacks, it will be on you so fast that you are unlikely to be able to manipulate a single action revolver. There was a thread here within the last month on bear maulings that had some good info. Try this:
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Old October 1, 2001, 07:50 PM   #5
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Ill be the first to admit...

Im pretty new to the revolver scene.

That being said, tho, There seems to be some concensus on revolvers in that any of hte quality brands are pretty darn reliable. The differences between say Ruger, S&W, and Colt are virtually insignificant so far as reliability goes.

The main difference is in accuracy (like an inch or two difference at 50 yards), weight, and in power handling. Certain frame types are able to handle more power than others, and certain grips are better able to handle hot loads than others.

It would seem to me, and again, I am somewhat new to the revolver scene (although I have owned several for over 10 years) that if I was to be looking for personal protection from bears, I would be looking for a 44mag stainless in 5-6" trim from Ruger or S&W. 454casul is a MONSTER gun and unless you REALLY want that, I think the relative power gain (as compared to say a high-powered rifle) over the 44mag is not worth the tradeoff in MASSIVE weight of the gun (usually over 3+ lbs) and complete lack of handleability for the average shooter.

As far as quality manufacturers go, if you are looking for something more exclusive and marginally more accurate than a NIB Ruger or S&W, I would have to point you to the more custom guys like Freedom Arms, Thompson Contenders, or Linebaugh. I think its questionable if you are getting more reliabiltiy with those tho, maybe even less as their tollerances are quite a bit tighterin order to raise the quality of fit and accuracy.

Please be aware, I really am not entirely qualified to be answering this question, but that is where I would start looking. Taurus has made some fine revolvers lately, but I think I would stick to the decades old, proven designs of S&W or Ruger.

Hope this helps!


PS: a lot of the custom guys build their guns off of the Ruger platform to begin with, so that will let you knbow what they think of the strength and reliability of that basic package.

as usual, IMHO, FWIW, YMMV, and all that...
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Old October 1, 2001, 07:53 PM   #6
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I always figured that if you had even a 1911 style pistol that emptying about half of a magazine into the face of a bear would make it go away. Or, a 9mm handgun might work too, but you'd just have to use a lot more rounds. Keep in mind, though, that I have no practical experience, seeing as I live in the suburban jungle. The worst thing we have here is some punk high school kids.
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Old October 1, 2001, 08:08 PM   #7
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This subject has been beaten to death,and certainly more wieght in ink has been used to discuss this than weight of actual lead dispensed in defense.

A handgun not the best weapon one can use. But as you've said its portable.
That handgun NEEDS to be a magnum. Bear spray isn't a bad idea either, but its hard to use inside a tent with a predatory bear.

The least expensive option is a single action Ruger 44 mag. Vaquero. Load it heavy. At least a 240 gr. SP, up to a 300 gr. hardcast solid.

The best option may be a DA revolver, like a SW mod. 29 with a 4 inch barrel, again load it heavy.

read this site:

Keith Rogan, our resident Bear expert wrote it. Your likely hood of getting eaten by a bear is remote. But if you still want a firearm, by all means get one, and PRACTICE with it.
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Old October 1, 2001, 08:31 PM   #8
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The worst thing we have here is some punk high school kids.
Those are much more dangerous than bears!
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Old October 1, 2001, 08:43 PM   #9
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.357 or .44 for black bear. If you run into a grizz......handgun ain't gonna help a whole lot unless you're extremely lucky!!!!
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Old October 1, 2001, 08:45 PM   #10
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You want a LAR Grizzly in .45 Winchester Magnum

Just like this

1400 fps with a 250 grain bullet

and it's Quality.. Like a Colt Gold Cup on steriods.

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Old October 1, 2001, 09:45 PM   #11
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The Ruger Redhawk in .44 mag or the Taurus Raging Bull in .454 will serve well. Along with the sage advice, "Four inna chest, two inna head, an' RELOAD!"

Apeach, if you are lucky it will, but counting on luck is a good way to make sure it runs out at the wrong time. I know what we see on TV, but the truth is, a .45 will not make a man fly back against a wall. It MIGHT stop him with the first round, if you hit a vital organ.

I'm a big 1911 fan. But against an enraged bear - you'd probably be dead meat with a .45.

That Grizzly Mag sure looks like fun! Yeeee hah!

I love big guns!

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Old October 1, 2001, 10:53 PM   #12
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Ruger 44 Magnum.
Old October 1, 2001, 11:24 PM   #13
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For most black bears (small and less agressive in general), I would be ok using heavy .357 magnum or 10 mm loads as a mininum. Preferably, use 41 magnum to .44 magnum. .

For Brown Bears, only .454 Casull and similar performing cartridges. Unfortunantly, these are very hard to control for most shooters. Note that I really do NOT trust even .44 magnum on brown bears, unless its fired from a rifle length barrel (there are a few .44 magnum rifles out there).
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Old October 2, 2001, 12:03 AM   #14
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.44 mag with a hot load using heavy FMJ bullets.
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Old October 2, 2001, 12:07 AM   #15
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Whatever gun you decide on, make sure you file off the front site nice and smooth. That way, when the bear takes it away from you and shoves it up your a**, it won't hurt so bad.
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Old October 2, 2001, 12:18 AM   #16
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First, check out Your wife and daughter will also be able to use it.

I have a S & W Trail Boss (3" barrel) and my shooting partner has a 4" S & W Mountain Gun, both in 44 mag. They'll launch a 320 gr. hardcast Cor Bon at about 1075 fps and 1150 fps, respectively (chronographed). They are double action, which some experts prefer. However, I must admit that I also have single actions in 454C and 500 Linebaugh. Nonetheless, they are all just backups for a long gun.
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Old October 2, 2001, 01:01 AM   #17
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Anyone interested in grenades??
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Old October 2, 2001, 01:01 AM   #18
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As someone said earlier this subject has been well flogged. I live in bear country, SW Montana. I am no expert and have never had that kind of close encounter. There have been enough accounts of local attacks that I really want to caution anyone who thinks any handgun should give one peace of mind in bear country. There is no peace of mind in bear country. Pepper spray, while not infallible, seems to be the best 1st line of defense, inside a tent or not. Carry a handgun as backup, whch is also handy in two-legged country. We've had 3 maulings in the MT/WY area that involved elk hunters with rifles: one with a .270 and two with 7MM Rem. mags. They lived, a couple of the bears didn't. But the bears expired only after chewing the stuffing out of their shooters. For more enlightening, detailed gore, pick up a copy of Bear Attacks, written by an expert researcher on the subject. I like a good tekkie argument as much as the next guy/gal, but this is way too serious to be advising people without a solid body of knowledge behind it. Don't settle on just enough information to get yourself killed. If you are in serious bear country and you've taken your family along, you really owe it to everybody to do a little research on the subject. Contact your F&W folks, too. They keep exhaustive records and stats. Be careful out there.

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Old October 2, 2001, 02:38 AM   #19
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Desert eagles are not good bear guns they are slow in to action. How are you going to carry it condition one. The safety is hard to reach. Condition 2 the hammar is akward to cock. Condition 3 the slide is heavy as heck to rack. Get a powerfull compact 6 gun with no more than a 5 inch barrel. You need to be able to shoot the gun one handed so forget single action revovlers. Only one shot will be while your standing. The rest will be while he is chomping on you. Get a 4 inch 629 and load it with some heavy hard cast lead bullets. Or better yet get a 5 shot conversion on a redhawk in a real caliber like a hot rodded 45 colt or a 475 or a 50 ae or 500 limbaugh mag or a 454.
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Old October 2, 2001, 02:41 AM   #20
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1400 fps with a 250 grain bullet

Thats not good enough. You need a 300 grain bullet at around 1200 or so as a minimum. My 5 shot 45 colt sends 350 grian lbt lead slugs down range at 1350.
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Old October 2, 2001, 06:03 AM   #21
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I prefer my 5.5" 45 Colt Redhawk, but wouldn't feel naked with my 44 version.

They WILL have my ammo in them LOL.
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
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Old October 2, 2001, 06:17 AM   #22
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I was thinking about a 20mm with 60 round drum magazine but since high capacity magazines are banned now and using factory high explosive rounds is probably illegal also, I choose to stay out of the woods.

I'm a firm believer in "There ain't no such thing as a Bear pistol".

But then again I have an aversion to being around anything that wants to eat me for dinner.
Neil Casper
"I AM my brothers keeper."
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Old October 2, 2001, 08:19 AM   #23
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Raging Bull 454 with a custom 4" barrel

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Old October 2, 2001, 09:01 AM   #24
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In previous discussions of this topic, I pointed out that on a number of occasions, bears, including grizzlies, have been killed with 357 magnum revolvers. Obviously, a big game rifle would be a better choice, but a 357 might do the job if you can manage a couple of head shots. I think the key is not to wait until the bear is charging. If the bear seems aggressive, get off a couple of shots from a distance. Bears often track people before attacking.

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Old October 2, 2001, 10:04 AM   #25
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Just a thought.
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