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  #1  
Old 03-21-2004, 04:25 AM
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30-30 Winchester Cartridge - Best for Black Bear Defense?


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Presently I own only one lever action, a Winchester Model 94 in 30-30 caliber. I've been shopping around for a second lever action, but honestly don't know just what caliber I want. Hope to make that decision in the next 6 or so months.

I know the "black bear defense" topic comes up from time to time but please indulge me. I am freqently in areas where there is a rather large concentration of black bears. Until I find a more suitable firearm I plan to pack the Win 94 with me.

I would very much like the thoughts of this expert group on what is the best "off the shelf" 30-30 Win cartridge for black bear defense. And yes I know there are more effective calibers for bear.

By bear defense I mean just that.......... up close and personal, not hunting or shooting a black bear at 150 yards or so. What weight bullet (that is 150, 170, etc) and what style bullet? Any particular ammo manufacturers you would suggest?

I'm fairly knowledgeable when it comes to handgun personal defense ammo but totally unfamiliar with the 30-30 Win round. Any help or thoughts would be most appreciated. Thanks.......
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Old 03-21-2004, 07:16 AM
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Fastdraw,

I'm a HUGE 30-30 fan. They're far and away my favorite lever action cartridge. However, there are better lever action cartridges for the task.

If the 30-30 is what you've got to work with, though -

The only factory load I use is the Federal 170 grain Nosler Partition, (with the exception of plinking - then I'll try anything at least once).

If you've got a cool head and a steady hand, the Federal NP load will work for you in this situation - remember, it is incumbent upon you to aviod unwanted confrontation with bears, especially a sow with cubs.

Good luck.
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  #3  
Old 03-21-2004, 07:36 AM
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Definitely go with a 170gr bullet. The Federal 170gr Nosler Partition, as recommended by Nathaniel, is probably as good a round as any as far as off-the-shelf ammo goes. Even if you buy the cheapest ammo you can find, pick the 170gr variety over the 150gr.

It is highly unlikely that you will ever have to defend yourself from a black bear. I've never felt threatened by a bear and generally consider myself lucky when I get the chance to see one. I live in the middle of Pennsylvania's black bear country, and my county and the bordering county #2 and #1 in black bear harvest every year. There's lots of bears around here. I also spent 5 years in Alaska and never felt threatened by a bear.

If you are looking for another lever action and want a more appropriate bear cartridge, look into a big bore. I prefer Marlin but Winchester makes 'em too. 444, 45-70, 450 Marlin - all would be better bear medicine that the 30-30.
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Old 03-21-2004, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathaniel
Fastdraw,

I'm a HUGE 30-30 fan. They're far and away my favorite lever action cartridge. However, there are better lever action cartridges for the task.

If the 30-30 is what you've got to work with, though -

The only factory load I use is the Federal 170 grain Nosler Partition, (with the exception of plinking - then I'll try anything at least once).

If you've got a cool head and a steady hand, the Federal NP load will work for you in this situation - remember, it is incumbent upon you to aviod unwanted confrontation with bears, especially a sow with cubs.

Good luck.

Thanks Nathaniel the advice on the Federal ammo. And I do understand there are better cartridges than the 30-30, but this in the only one I have at the moment. Also, avoiding bears is a number one priority. Thanks again.

Stay Safe
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  #5  
Old 03-21-2004, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom G
Definitely go with a 170gr bullet. The Federal 170gr Nosler Partition, as recommended by Nathaniel, is probably as good a round as any as far as off-the-shelf ammo goes. Even if you buy the cheapest ammo you can find, pick the 170gr variety over the 150gr.

It is highly unlikely that you will ever have to defend yourself from a black bear. I've never felt threatened by a bear and generally consider myself lucky when I get the chance to see one. I live in the middle of Pennsylvania's black bear country, and my county and the bordering county #2 and #1 in black bear harvest every year. There's lots of bears around here. I also spent 5 years in Alaska and never felt threatened by a bear.

If you are looking for another lever action and want a more appropriate bear cartridge, look into a big bore. I prefer Marlin but Winchester makes 'em too. 444, 45-70, 450 Marlin - all would be better bear medicine that the 30-30.
Thanks Tom for your reply. Sounds like you've had lots of experience with the black bears. I believe my next lever action will be a Marlin, but I'm not sure about the caliber just now. BTW, I have in-laws who live in the Pittsburgh area. Do you happen to live near Pitt?

What would your confidence level be with a 30-30 against a charging black bear bent on making you his next meal? (Hopefully, I will have a big bore lever soon!)

Thanks again.


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Old 03-21-2004, 02:22 PM
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30-30 is a very good ambush cartridge for anything with hooves that walks in North America. We have both a Marlin and Winchester in my family.

But for stopping an enraged bear, a cartridge with more diameter and energy would seem helpful. I've never faced this situation and can not not offer first hand information. 358 Winchester, 444 Marlin, and 12 gauge slug come to mind as good choices.
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  #7  
Old 03-21-2004, 06:21 PM
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Fastdraw, I wouldn't consider my experience all that extensive, though if you've only seen a bear once or twice from a car window, I guess that seeing a few in the woods would seem pretty spectacular.

I'd imagine that a charging bear would make me pretty confident about needing to change my drawers. Seriously, you are much more likely to be struck by lightning (most likely: attacked by a human) than attacked by a black bear. Trying to predict how you might react to a charging bear is like trying to predict how you'd react to any other life threatening situation--there are so many variables to consider that your real-life reaction is rarely the one you would have imagined.

I saw a sign in Canada (BC, Yukon?) that had recommendations for dealing with bears. For brown bears, they had lots of advice: get big, get noisy, back away slowly, if attacked: play dead, etc. For black bears they had mostly the same advice but for one important exception--if attacked: fight back vigorously. If you shoot a charging bear with your 30-30 and it doesn't stop 'em, continue fighting--poke eyes, bite off toes, whatever it takes--if you don't fight back, you are food.
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Old 03-21-2004, 06:32 PM
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Fastdraw,

At the risk of sounding a little ornery, my response differs somewhat from the others.

a. The need to defend yourself from a black bear that is intent on doing you harm is very unlikely. Out here in the West the most likely scenario is to be grabbed in your tent while sleeping in an established campground. And that possibility is remote. On your feet in the daylight the chances are even more remote.

b. IF you can shoot your Mdl. 94 well and IF you have it in your hands at the time of need, any factory loaded ammo will do the job at "up close and personal ranges." Just pour on the lead until hostilities cease. If 170 gr. bullets or Noslers seem more lethal to you, then keep your carbine stoked with those for the confidence factor.

c. If you just want to buy another lever action, and I can relate to that impulse, go for it.

For the cost of another rifle you can buy enough ammo to develop exceptional familiarity and effectiveness with your 30-30. Proficiency,not caliber (within reason), is the key to defending yourself.

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  #9  
Old 03-22-2004, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naumann
Fastdraw,

At the risk of sounding a little ornery, my response differs somewhat from the others.

a. The need to defend yourself from a black bear that is intent on doing you harm is very unlikely. Out here in the West the most likely scenario is to be grabbed in your tent while sleeping in an established campground. And that possibility is remote. On your feet in the daylight the chances are even more remote.

b. IF you can shoot your Mdl. 94 well and IF you have it in your hands at the time of need, any factory loaded ammo will do the job at "up close and personal ranges." Just pour on the lead until hostilities cease. If 170 gr. bullets or Noslers seem more lethal to you, then keep your carbine stoked with those for the confidence factor.

c. If you just want to buy another lever action, and I can relate to that impulse, go for it.

For the cost of another rifle you can buy enough ammo to develop exceptional familiarity and effectiveness with your 30-30. Proficiency,not caliber (within reason), is the key to defending yourself.


naumann, thanks for your reply.
I live "out here in the west", in the state just south of you. There is a place in the western part of Colorado, just north of Douglas Pass, which has a large concentration of black bears. I like to hike and jeep there. It's really quite a remote place. However, for what ever reason the bears have become "unafraid" of humans and are known to charge and challenge. This has never happened to me, but who knows what the future holds. Like I said in my original post I'm not there to "hunt" black bear but do want to defend myself in the unlikely event a bear does charge/attack. I normally carry a .357 revolver (I don't own a .44 Mag or any larger revolver cailbers). My Win Model 94 is quite easy to carry, but I wasn't sure just how effective the 30-30 cartridge whould be.

I've got a house full of guns and definitely don't NEED another firearm but I've been saying that for many decades. You bring up an excellent point about practicing with the lever action. I can shoot the thing well but don't really "practice" shooting while under duress. I do that all the time with my handguns, but quite honestly never thought about firing the 30-30 a lot. Following your advice I will "practice" more.

And yes even while I typing this I KNOW I will end up with another lever action. Older guys never will grow up!

Thanks again, and stay safe.
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Old 03-22-2004, 04:46 PM
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Fastdraw, at bear defense ranges I'd be nearly as comfortable with a heavy bullet out of the 357 as I would with the 30-30. Certainly would make for easier hikin' and jeepin'. Besides, you are already "practiced" with the 357.

Hopefully, you'll never have to defend yourself from a bear. With luck, you'll see one now and then without ever feeling threatened.

When it comes to that new lever action, go for the big bore!
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  #11  
Old 03-26-2004, 05:10 PM
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fastdraw,

As nauman said "proficiency, not caliber (within reason), is the key to defending yourself." Here are two stories where
men armed with fast handling .30-30 Winchesters used them with proficiency and saved their lives.

Back in May of 1965, Jack Turner found out that it was just the gun for him to dispatch a charging grizzly that turned out to be the largest one on record.

In his story, "Killer Grizzly at Six feet", he recounts that he had moved his family up on the Atnarko River above Lonesome Lake in British Columbia. There were bear in the area and not one to take any chances, he always carried his faithful '94 .30-30 with him when away from the homestead.
He said "You never know when a grizzly will decide to pick a fight, so I rarely venture beyond the cleared fields around our house without hanging the old .30-30 over my shoulder. That precaution has saved my skin, or my family's at least twice."

On that particular day he left his house on a 2 mile walk to repair a fence. It was a fine spring morning. He recalls, "I came to a place where the trail, winding through cedars and cottonwoods, opens into a sunny glade no bigger than a house. I rounded a bend, and there in the center of the glade stood the biggest grizzly I had ever laid eyes on (and I have seen more than 200, in just about every part of British Columbia, in the last 20 years.) He was staring straight at me, and he was just 40 feet away."

"Our eyes met and locked and he was on his way. I saw him in one instant and he was coming for me in a savage rush, running like a dog after his prey. He was drooling as he came, and a low growl was rumbling in his throat. I whipped the Winchester off my back and, since I carry the rifle
loaded in the magazine but none in the chamber, I had to lever in a shell. The bear was almost on me when I slammed my shot into him, and I recall thinking, in that brief flash of time, that I'd only have time for one."

I was using 170 gr. Soft point factory loads. I hit him dead center between the eyes and that soft point bullet blew his whole brain out through a hole in the back of his skull. He was still running full tilt when I shot, but his head went down between his forelegs, and he fell almost straight down. I backed off a few steps, held the rifle on him, and waited until I was sure there wasnt a spark of life left in him. He was a buster, by far the biggest grizzly we had ever seen.

Jack goes on to say that if the skull would have been intact, it would have scored 27 in the Boone and Crockett Clubs book according to them. The largest score on record at the time was 26 10/16.

Thank goodness he had a very dependable, handy, .30-30 rifle and knew how to use it when the chips were down.

the following by Goosegestapo posted on the Marlin Talk forum 2003
My brother got a newfound respect for the .30-30 while investigating a self-defense kill on a grizzly on an A-F base in the early'80s. Fella had killed a Moose and had gone back next day to finish packing out carcass. A 700-800lb Griz had found it and took offense at being disturbed. Two quick shots from .30/30 ended the argument with one shot (second fired) hitting griz in nose and exiting back of skull. First shot fired at charging bear had struck neck left of cheek and penetrated length wise lodging in paunch of Griz! and would have been a fatal shot, but would have taken a few too many moments to take effect. Ammo was Federal premium 170gr partitions.

The hunter related he could never have made either shot with the .338 WinMag. he had used the day previous to kill moose as gun didn't "handle quick enough!". He also talked to some of the local's (native indians) who used an old rusty '94 and whatever ammo was around for killing whales and seals during seasons.

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  #12  
Old 03-27-2004, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Kort
fastdraw,

As nauman said "proficiency, not caliber (within reason), is the key to defending yourself." Here are two stories where
men armed with fast handling .30-30 Winchesters used them with proficiency and saved their lives.

- snip ----

John

John,

Couple of fantastic stories.......... I could actually sense the bear coming at me. Makes me feel better about my old Model 94 .30-30 Win.

Thanks much and stay safe.......

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Old 03-27-2004, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom G
Definitely go with a 170gr bullet. The Federal 170gr Nosler Partition, as recommended by Nathaniel, is probably as good a round as any as far as off-the-shelf ammo goes. Even if you buy the cheapest ammo you can find, pick the 170gr variety over the 150gr.

It is highly unlikely that you will ever have to defend yourself from a black bear. I've never felt threatened by a bear and generally consider myself lucky when I get the chance to see one. I live in the middle of Pennsylvania's black bear country, and my county and the bordering county #2 and #1 in black bear harvest every year. There's lots of bears around here. I also spent 5 years in Alaska and never felt threatened by a bear.

If you are looking for another lever action and want a more appropriate bear cartridge, look into a big bore. I prefer Marlin but Winchester makes 'em too. 444, 45-70, 450 Marlin - all would be better bear medicine that the 30-30.
I live in bear country also, I carry a Marlin .50 Alaska Guide Gun. Why play with them!
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Old 03-28-2004, 02:53 AM
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Hello from Scotland~

We have no bears left ! My ancester,s wiped them out long , long ago ......

If i ever end up in "Bear country" my .444 would be with me

Im surprised no one has mentioned heavy (180-200gn) hard cast bullets in .30-30 for bear ?? My Lyman 173 gn mould drops water quenched bullets of 179 gn

I have been very impressed we hard cast penatration in my .444 even out at 200 yards !

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Old 03-28-2004, 03:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fastdraw
Presently I own only one lever action, a Winchester Model 94 in 30-30 caliber. I've been shopping around for a second lever action, but honestly don't know just what caliber I want. Hope to make that decision in the next 6 or so months.

I know the "black bear defense" topic comes up from time to time but please indulge me. I am freqently in areas where there is a rather large concentration of black bears. Until I find a more suitable firearm I plan to pack the Win 94 with me.

I would very much like the thoughts of this expert group on what is the best "off the shelf" 30-30 Win cartridge for black bear defense. And yes I know there are more effective calibers for bear.

By bear defense I mean just that.......... up close and personal, not hunting or shooting a black bear at 150 yards or so. What weight bullet (that is 150, 170, etc) and what style bullet? Any particular ammo manufacturers you would suggest?

I'm fairly knowledgeable when it comes to handgun personal defense ammo but totally unfamiliar with the 30-30 Win round. Any help or thoughts would be most appreciated. Thanks.......
Fastdraw,
There are several of the local bear hunters around here who use the 30-30 for taking bear. Shots are close, usually to the head. It is legal here to run bear with dogs, so as stated the shots are close. Some of the folks are also using 44 mag rifles. Either should get the job done if you can.
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Old 04-13-2004, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naumann
Fastdraw,

At the risk of sounding a little ornery, my response differs somewhat from the others.

a. The need to defend yourself from a black bear that is intent on doing you harm is very unlikely. Out here in the West the most likely scenario is to be grabbed in your tent while sleeping in an established campground. And that possibility is remote. On your feet in the daylight the chances are even more remote.

To be sure Nauman, I was on my feet in broad afternoon daylight when that black bear stalked us last summer out near Arlington. The drought probably isn't helping. The sound of gunfire didn't bother him either, he just sloped left and started working the flank from some cover. We left.

Then I went back to get the can I'd been plinking and forgot to pick up, because i am sick of the mess shooters are leaving around here. Went off 200 yards and glassed the aspen grove, and that bear stepped out right where the can had been.

I agree with your remarks otherwise, though the one thing that is difficult to practice is controlling, or shooting through, the physiological response to fear, accompanied as it is by a dump of adrenalin and other bodily responses not conducive to accuracy. That and most of us can't practice on targets that are clocking 30 mph, moving low to the ground, and providing a demonstrable intent to do grievous bodily harm to our sorry hide.

I reckon I can buy the dog time to get away though, regardless of calibre.
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Old 04-13-2004, 09:28 AM
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FastDraw, and Gents,

I think your choice of caliber is fine. I thought Englander's recommendation of using a heavy hard cast bullet is very sound, and believe that if I were armed as you in this application, that is the direction I would opt. As you have specified factory loads, only, all are capable of giving good service, and heavier is better, as stated previous.

The utility of your choice goes well beyond caliber, though, as the wonderful handling qualities of a 94 Winchester would more than compensate for any other slight improvement in ballistics. This rifle is so easy to point fast, that it almost has military application, and if a fellow can learn to crank without upsetting his shoulder weld, you are a force to be reckoned with, for both the two and four legged varieties of threat.

As such, you could almost give brother bear more time and oppurtunity to egress, before issuing multiple lead injections. If he could not be persuaded to leave peacable like, it would be a mistake that he would make only once.

Good luck, be careful.

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Old 04-13-2004, 10:01 AM
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The 30/30 will do the job,but I think its a light cart for bears,I know many bears have been shot using the 30/30 but not the best tool in the shed for expiring bears, shot placement is too critical using this cart, with the type of confrontations he is having with bears, the good old 12 Gauge with slugs would be just right for up close confrontations. Just point shoot, Understanding the 30/30 bullets of today far surpass what was on the market even ten years ago, a good worked up load using the Nosler Partitions would fit the bill if any.Factory loads are are not the top choice Not sure any one wants to be tracking a wounded bear for miles Aim small hit small. RAMbo.
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Old 04-13-2004, 10:41 AM
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I tend to agree with Tom G. about the .357 Mag. If you are well equiped mentally and physically to be proficient with the revolver, then that would be the choice for hiking and such, though believe me, I understand the desire to pack along a carbine!

And I would mention the oft quoted, "Beware the man with only one rifle" - make that '94 an extention of yourself!

I have a Win 94 in .32 WS that I am very comfortable with at 100 yards and less. I would be happy with just that. But I have a 336 RC in .35 Rem. that I would CHOOSE to have with me should the situation warrant it. I also have an 1895, and I am just not comfortable with it yet (haven't shot it enough) though friends say that if worst becomes worse - I can always club something to death with it! I am most comfortable with the .35 Rem as a caliber, but I trust me and the .32 WS enough to not shun it from my woods walks.
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Old 04-14-2004, 04:20 AM
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I had a black bear charge me after my 14 year old daughter shot him with a 30-06 165 gr. Remington and knocked him down. After that every thing happend so fast I couldn't beleive it. I shot him two times with my 12 gauge as he came at me before he turned off at the bottom of my tree stand and put another into him as he crawled off and I'm ashamed to say that we lost that bear. The point being a fast moving bear is very hard to hit at least for me and if I had not been in the tree stand I would have had a very angry bear on top of me. This year we are going back together to try again except this year I take the first shot at the bear and I replaced my Remington 1100 with a 45/70 Guide gun and I put a Leupold 2x7 scope on it. My intentions where to use my longbow but after this experience I think I will go after them with big bullets instead.
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