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Recommended Pistol for Black Bear

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Recommended Pistol for Black Bear

Old 11-27-2020, 01:40 PM
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Default Recommended Pistol for Black Bear

This is one of those fun to ponder subjects and something that would be useful for a lot of people.

For those of you who have hunted black bear with a pistol, what do you recommend and why? Also, which caliber would you recommend for carrying as a backup when hunting, changing game cams, scouting, etc.?
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Old 11-27-2020, 04:45 PM
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41 or 44 mag should do the trick. Enough horsepower to put them down yet still shoot it well. Between the 2, it's a lot easier to find 44 mag ammo. If you're reloading, no worries. if I was carrying it for hunting, I'd like a 6 or 7.5" barrel with a scope. If I was carrying it as a backup just in case while scouting or whatever, I'd want a shorter barrel that's a little quicker to draw, say 4 or 5". Some guys like those Ruger Alaskans but the barrels are too short for me.
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Old 11-27-2020, 05:40 PM
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I agree with the 41 or 44 mags. The 454 and other big bores are another option. And if a semiauto pistol is legal a 10mm with the right ammo will work for bear without any problem.
I saw a show with Razor Dobbs where he shot not one but 2 cape buffalo with his 10mm pistol. And they're a heck of a lot bigger than a blackie.
Like Elkman says though you would almost want two for your purposes. Or you can go with a 6" barrel and practice, practice, practice. Not to hard to pack around and with practice one can shoot pretty well out to 75 yards or so with iron sights. I carry a 4" barreled Taurus lightweight Tracker loaded with cast bullets for bear defense.

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Old 11-27-2020, 07:16 PM
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from my experience when talking BEAR guns, things get pretty heated at times, as some folks seem to think small calibers with RIGHT bullets are fine and then there are those that think the largest calibers are ALL that work
and I also think many times there is a big differences in what one will feel OK with for rare occasion/possible run ins with a bear, as to pure HUNTING of them
I spend a ton of time about black bears, and have for many decades, worked with and spent a lot of time with many very knowledgeable experts as well!
My 2 cents is, this, I would rather have more gun needed than not when having CHANCE encounters with bears , I would rather have a LOT of experience shooting said gun, and be very proficient with it, and that even means with BOTH hands, being able to use it well in!
all the gun in the world does little use if you cannot get to it fast enough or hit what you need to!
NEXT is Bullets, as its NOT just caliber, bullets UP to the task and again you having experience shooting them WELL, is key!
and sadly something many never do!


I am a BIG fan of bear spray too, over guns at times, as it projects a wider area and MOST times, works as well or better IMO!
won't do you any good if your HUNTING bears , but is good for rare encounters
but then again, bear knowledge is also something I wish more folks took to learning before heading into high bear area's
knowledge is power as they say
fear of bears is most time way over rated and something many over react to, bear attacks are RARE in the honest world of facts!

when hunting, be it gun, bow, or?? key is always and will always be placing a proper projectile into a vital with enough energy as needed.
tons of calibers and bullets out there, pick one up to the task and get GOOD with it gets MY vote!
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Old 11-28-2020, 01:44 AM
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Hunting bear and defense require two different things I'm thinking. I'd be comfortable carrying my ruger .44mag for hunting. But wouldn't want to try to draw and get on target in a defensive situation.

You know what I mean.

-Jake
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Old 11-28-2020, 07:30 AM
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there's a lot of good advice in the previously posted info, I just want to say I have dressed out plenty of deer, elk and hogs shot with handguns
a logical balance between impact energy , on target, consistent and repeatable field accuracy at reasonable ranges,
and rapidity of fire must be found.(this will vary due to the users skill and experience, and the handgun selected)
and I'm a firm believer in using a reasonably heavy for caliber bullet, as the lighter weight jacketed bullets while lethal expand more rapidly and don,t always penetrate well
and at least in my experience Id prefer a least 44 mag with a hard cast 310 grain lee bullet
loaded over 21 grains of H110 ,As I've shot completely through an elks chest using my 44 revolver and that load,
at about 60 yards.
and would certainly not feel a bit more power was a disadvantage,
as long as you could hit the target repeatedly and instinctively.
but added power at the expense of rapid shot placement accuracy is not the route to take,
realistically you're unlikely to get off more than at most a couple shots , at best,
on a charging bear at shorter ranges so they damn well better be effective,
and you had better be able to ACCURATELY place several rapid repeated shots at under 50 ft ranges.
so a 10mm GLOCK or a 357 mag would be preferable to something larger if it cost you accuracy,
or using something more powerful slowed your rate of fire noticeably



heres a video on a guy using a 44 mag ruger pistol supposedly handloaded loaded with 300 grain 44 caliber hornady bullets

Last edited by hardcastonly; 11-28-2020 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 11-28-2020, 11:02 AM
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yes i believe a 44 mag would do fine on a black bear . but if it was me i definitely would be using a 460 smith & wesson either in a t/c encore or a 460 s & m revolver. there is nothing in north america that the 460 won't take down.would rather use a little more gun for extra power
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Old 11-28-2020, 01:57 PM
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I'd like to add to my post. For hunting I'd opt for a t/c Contender or Encore in 7-08 or 35 Rem or even something bigger if you so desire.
But just as a carry gun I'd go with a 4" barreled 44 mag or a 10 mm semi auto
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Old 12-01-2020, 07:43 PM
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Cal, you forgot to mention your ammo limitations. In CA, you're restricted to lead free ammo. Yes, you can carry lead defensively but ya know those wardens are gonna look at the entire incident to figure out if you broke a law by shooting a bear with lead ammo. I can see what you mean by out scouting or changing cards in a game camera. You're not actively hunting per se but you are out there where you expect to get pictures of bears. I could see where you'd want a shorter barrel if you have to draw fast on a bear charging you or even just nearby and acting aggressive. That's not very likely with a black bear (no grizz's in CA) but that's not why you're packing. I could see a 44 or 41 in a 4-5" barrel but I still wouldn't want one of those short Alaskan pistols. i'm kinda on the fence about the 10. I haven't seen anything on the web about the lead free 10MM ammo. It weighs less than hardcast lead ammo but it's still a solid copper bullet and should penetrate a blackie pretty well. I'd rather have a 41 in that shorter Ruger barrel but I guess a Glock with solid copper bullets would be okay. 16 rounds oughta at least give the bear a headache, right??
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:35 AM
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I agree the OP was about hunting not self defense. In PA the handgu would have to be a revolver or single shot to be legal. Either a 44 mag or a 454 or .50 caliber would be sufficient.
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