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Thread: Stopping a bear

  1. #1
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    I know this is a weird question but I am just wondering if my glock 23 (.40 cal) handgun would be enough to either kill a bear, stop a bear attack, or deter him from attacking me. This is all theoretical, I do some hiking and I was just wondering if I could rely on 14 rounds to stop a huge animal such as a black/brown bear since we have both here in the Sierras.

    Also what would be the better ammo choice? High grain personal protection rounds or target rounds? I would think you need the most penetration possible, and I'm not sure a hollow point would offer that.

    Thanks for the comments!

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    Regular Member reefteach's Avatar
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    I wouldn't want to be in that situation, and If I thought I was going to be, I would get no less than a .44. In my opinion, high capacity won't matter much. Assuming he is in close range and charging you, only the most skilled of shooters would be able to expend 14 rounds accurately. But maybe you're that good. I know I'm not. I would mess myself after the first3 rounds.

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    Kill a bear? Sure. But the uncertainty would be about how QUICKLY it might do it. Maybe quickly, with good shot placement (which would not be that easy with an enraged bear who's not in a negotiating mood.) Or, maybe it would die an hour after it tore you to shreds.

    I've seen video of police killing an elephant with (I believe) .38 special shots, but it took many many shots to do the job. Conventional wisdom is that a .44 mag is the MINIMUM for going up against a bear, and something more powerful would be advisable.

    As far as whether it would deter the bear, that's unpredicable. A shout and clap of the hands might deter a bear, a load of buckshot might not. Fortunately most bears are no more interested in tangling with you than you are interested in tangling with them. Polar bears might be an exception, LOL.

    A .40 is certainly better than a .22 and way better than nothing.

    Choice of ammo in .40? Well, I'd probably be carrying hollowpoints because the greater danger is from another human being than a bear. But if I was anticipating trouble from a bear and had the option, I'd carry the hottest 180 gr FMJ I had. Maybe you'd want to "dutch load" a magazine with both (alternating hollowpoints and FMJ.) And carry plenty of reloads!


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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator longwatch's Avatar
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    I'm no hunter or expert on bears, but I think a .40 S&W is not up to the job. .44 magnum is iffy against Kodiaks from what I have heard, but it seems to be the minimum for the task. In fact for a long time I had heard and believed that everyone who had killed a bear defensively with a handgun had died themselves. That is until an incident a few years ago. Note story #4 in link, lucky shot I think.
    http://www.geocities.com/alaskanativ...enuf.bear.html


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    I would agree that the gun is not what you would use to "hunt" a bear, It is just the gun I carry daily and bring with me on hikes. I have never seen a bear in my life, and definately dont "plan" to but I'm just wondering if it would be enough. I usually hike with a friend who carry's the same gun in a .45acp so I guess we would hopefully both be defending ourselves.

    I also agree that it would in fact kill the bear, but I wonder how long it would take. Where would you want to shoot the bear? I'm no hunter but I've allways heard shoot for the heart, but I dont think that would stop a charging bear, I think he would still eat me before dying. Would a .40 penetrate a bears head?

    Again this is all just a "what if". Just wondering.

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    I think the .40 would penetrate a bear's skull, and up close that's what I would aim for, although bear's are capable of very fast movements, and a moving target is obviously more difficult. Even if one managed a good shot into the heart, just as with a human (even more so) there could be enough "fight" left in the bear to do tremendous damage.

    It is good that you hike with a friend. The greater the number of humans, the less likely a bear will attack. (Besides, as the adage goes, you don't haveto outrun the bear, just the other guy.):P




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    A true story ... although hearsay evidence from a friend who keeps a cabin on the Rappadan.

    He heard a booming noise from the living room one evening. Upon investigation found a young brown bear standing on its hind legs, batting at the sliding glass door. The bear would lean forward - boom - then back and forward again - boom.

    My friend quickly retrieved a .357 revolver and approached the door, jerking it open just as the bear leaned back. One shot just over the bear's head convinced it to leave. More shots kicking up gravel at its heels kept it moving in the right direction.

    Personally, I would have a new rug.

    To your question, why not try a 'box o' truth' test with a couple racks of beef ribs? I think the bones would be of a scale for a bear. Similarly try an uncooked/uncured ham. Of course, neither of these has the hide on - may need a layer of leather for a good test. In either case you can barbecue the subjects after testing .

    Maybe a few experimental shots on a fresh deer carcass would be more informative?

    I've no idea if ballistic gellatin results are relevant.

    I've seen video of professional bear-chasers using something that looks like a flare-gun. The projectile shrieks as it flies and then detonates.

    The park service carries 12-gauge shotguns.

    Sorry I can't be more definitive - enjoy the hike.

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    Shotgun wrote:
    I think the .40 would penetrate a bear's skull...
    Everything I have read on the subject says NOT to shoot at the bear's head, even with much more powerful rounds than a .40. Because of the hardness and slope of the skull, the bullets tend to ricochet off, and do little more than give the bear a powerful headache and piss him off that much more.

    Most recommend to take out a shoulder to cripple and slow the animal, hopefully convincing them not to continue the attack. A 44 magnum (minimum) or 454 Casull are normally effective for this purpose. Center mass shots will kill the animal, but probably not quickly enough to stop the attack in time to save you. This is just information that I have read from varoius sources while researching my Alaskan 454. I have no firsthand experience.

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    I hate to say it, but, if a bear were comming at me, all I would be praying for was to hit it. If you have ever seen a bear charge, you wont get time to pick and choose your shots. That is a very scarry thought.

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    cs9c1 wrote:
    I hate to say it, but, if a bear were comming at me, all I would be praying for was to hit it. If you have ever seen a bear charge, you wont get time to pick and choose your shots. That is a very scarry thought.
    Thats pretty much what I am thinking, Just shoot as fast as I can, Hope they hit the right spot is all you can do really. I'd much rather hit him 10 out of 14 times in random spots than 2 "well placed" shots...Do as much damage as you can in that 5 sec you have.

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    Here is an ineresting thrad from a shootig forum in Alaska where they talk about bea charges and defense. Interesting. My favorite is the story of the guy who uses a 300 Win Mag, and discovers "I need a bigger gun".

    http://www.outdoorsdirectory.com/akf...ting/69694.htm

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    When I'm hiking I carry a .357 with soft point loads, some expansion but still deep penetration. I feel confident in this, although I have never actually had a bear charge me so I'm really not sure how I would react. Keep in mind that I am in WV and we only have black bears around here and the biggest ones are usually only 300-maybe 350 lbs. If I was in brown bear country I would carry no less than .44 magnum if I was actually afraid there was a chance of confronting an angry bear. Or you could always pull out all the stops and go with the .500 magnum Ohh I want one of those...but thats another story....

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    I had a real close encounter with a brown bear in New Mexico while I was hiking. The problem was it got about 5-10 feet away from me ... I didn't notice it since we were hiking down a steep rocky path off a mountain and I was focused on the grown. When I noticed it, I quickly pulled out my 3 inch knife and tried to maintain a steady pace. Luckly for me ... it had no interest in me what-so-ever. It simply was flipping over rocks heading down to a creek.

    Still scare me shitless, and thinking back on it ... that knife would have done absolutly nothing. Still, I was too young to own a gun but from the bear encounter ... I can honestly say your at little risk (unless there are cubs).


    I would be more worried about humans than bears .... A bear never shot at me like some stupid Turkish kid did while I was in Germany.





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    I'd agree, I am more worried about people than bears. I just started this topic to see if my gun had the capability to stop a bear. Personally I feel very confident in stopping a black bear. I really think just the sound of a .40cal glock going off would change the animals mind, and even if the shots didn't instantly kill it, they would sure make an impact. Brown bears I think would win the fight though. But at least I carry the 40 and my friend carries the 45. Maybe between the two of us we could stop one??

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    I seem to recall that the Lewis and Clarke expedition underestimated the ferocity of the grizzly bears the Indians had warned them of. But using muzzleloading weapons it took something like 22 rounds to take down the first one they crossed. And that was a whole bunch of guys.

    Here in VA we only have black bears to worry about. I would never go looking for bear trouble with only a .45 auto, but if trouble finds me at least it's better than a 3" pocketknife!

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    Tomahawk wrote:
    I would never go looking for bear trouble with only a .45 auto, but if trouble finds me at least it's better than a 3" pocketknife!
    Agreed

    I dont think we have a "high population" of brown bears, I think they are much less common to bump into. But I do think its a possibility

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    jimwyant wrote:
    Shotgun wrote:
    I think the .40 would penetrate a bear's skull...
    Everything I have read on the subject says NOT to shoot at the bear's head, even with much more powerful rounds than a .40. Because of the hardness and slope of the skull, the bullets tend to ricochet off, and do little more than give the bear a powerful headache and piss him off that much more.

    Most recommend to take out a shoulder to cripple and slow the animal, hopefully convincing them not to continue the attack. A 44 magnum (minimum) or 454 Casull are normally effective for this purpose. Center mass shots will kill the animal, but probably not quickly enough to stop the attack in time to save you. This is just information that I have read from varoius sources while researching my Alaskan 454. I have no firsthand experience.
    From what the African PHs tell us, there is much in what jimwyant says, I believe. Like bears, lions have no forehead to speak of, hence break a shoulder and slow the charge, if possible. Sounds bloody, but eminently sensible! Maybe a howdah pistol would be a good choice of sidearm in bear country!
    TrueBrit( calling for his topee,bearers and double 8 gauge elephant rifle!)

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    badmonkey wrote:
    When I'm hiking I carry a .357 with soft point loads, some expansion but still deep penetration. I feel confident in this, although I have never actually had a bear charge me so I'm really not sure how I would react. Keep in mind that I am in WV and we only have black bears around here and the biggest ones are usually only 300-maybe 350 lbs. If I was in brown bear country I would carry no less than .44 magnum if I was actually afraid there was a chance of confronting an angry bear. Or you could always pull out all the stops and go with the .500 magnum Ohh I want one of those...but thats another story....
    Have you ever seen a bear in you area, badmonkey? I'm from over in Mingo Co and have never seen anything other than some possible scrapings. (although I know a few people who have)Other than people, I'm more worried about feral dogs and coyotes. I carry a .45 Colt S&W Mountain Gun loaded with Corbon+P200g JHP's. I want to find a heavier load when I get a chance though.

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    Agent6-3/8 wrote:


    . I carry a .45 Colt S&W Mountain Gun loaded with Corbon+P200g JHP's. I want to find a heavier load when I get a chance though.
    Speer makes a gold dot 230 grain.

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    Believe it or not I have heard that pepper spray works VERY well against bears. Bears have an excellent sense of smell and pepper spray is supposed to be WAY more effective against them than humans. I guess PETA has been fighting use of pepper spray on bears because of it's effectiveness.

    Just a thought.

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    gsh341 wrote:
    Believe it or not I have heard that pepper spray works VERY well against bears. Bears have an excellent sense of smell and pepper spray is supposed to be WAY more effective against them than humans. I guess PETA has been fighting use of pepper spray on bears because of it's effectiveness.

    Just a thought.
    You also have to take into account that bears don't hop up on cocaine.

    I have heard the same thing about OC spray, and that they actually make a less concentrated versionspecifically for animals (see reason above).

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    reefteach wrote:
    Agent6-3/8 wrote:


    . I carry a .45 Colt S&W Mountain Gun loaded with Corbon+P200g JHP's. I want to find a heavier load when I get a chance though.
    Speer makes a gold dot 230 grain.
    Thanks!

    After researching so data I've decidedtogo with a 265g hard cast at around 1000+fps. When it comes to shooting at a charging bear I want to make sure penetration isn't an issue.

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    gsh341 wrote:
    Believe it or not I have heard that pepper spray works VERY well against bears. Bears have an excellent sense of smell and pepper spray is supposed to be WAY more effective against them than humans. I guess PETA has been fighting use of pepper spray on bears because of it's effectiveness.

    Just a thought.
    "Warning: In light of the rising frequency of human/grizzly bear conflicts, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is advising hikers, hunters and fishermen to take extra precautions and keep alert of bears while in the field.


    We advise outdoorsmen to wear noisy little bells on their clothing, so as not to startle bears that aren't expecting them. We also advise outdoorsmen to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a bear.


    It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear manure: Black bear manure is smaller and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear manure has little bells in it and smells like pepper."




    LoveMyCountry

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    I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the pepper spray idea. It seems to me that by the time the bear gets close enough for the pepper spray to work he'd be on top of you. I think if its all the same, I'll stick to a 45-70 or 450 Marlin lever gun in grizzly country.

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    I think the only handgun calibers I would even consider close to the task for protecting me from a bear would start with the 454 Casul Mag. and go up from there. Handguns simply are not up to the task.Here is a link to a thread on handgun rounds used to kill feral dogs. The main poster in this thread has been tasked to kill numerous feral dogs on a couple hundred acres of ranch land :http://www.10mmtalk.com/index.php?showtopic=3741

    He is using mainly 40 S&W, 10mm Auto, and 45 ACP and good quality, factory JHP’s.

    He states that most hits through the torso don’t even slow the dogs down. Often they don’t appear to be hit at first and usually run off and die after running a few dozen meters. About the only hits that drop them in place are those that hit and break the shoulder.

    This thread shows bullets that he has recovered from these shots and explains how the subject reacted, where the round hit, and how far it penetrated. It is quite an eye opener on handgun performance for their lack of immediate stopping ability.

    The onlypossibility I might try if given no other choice would be a round put through the bear's snout and up into the cranium. Trying to hit the cranium through the skull is a bad idea since the bone thickness and angle it is normally presented make it nearly impossible to punch through.

    If this is all the performance he is getting out of handgun ammo on dogs I would not expect much of anything on wild bears. Pepper spray would be a much better idea.

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