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  #1  
Old 04-09-2017, 03:22 PM
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Enough gun for bear?


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I can't tell you how many times I've read forums about guys defaming the .357 magnum when it comes to black bears. I've read that the cartridge must begin with a "4" and that you might as well shave down that front sight if it doesn't...(haha) Legitimate question though: For Pennsylvania black bear, is .357 magnum enough? Let me throw in some variable before you answer. A 158gr or higher solid lead bullet with a higher bhn hardness going at least 1200fps. All of this out of a 6 inch barrel. I know that a bear can be taken down with much less with the right shot placement. Shot placement and the CNS is everything for any game; I guess my question is: would you feel comfortable with this setup when that bear steps out of the laurel? I ask because I want to take my sw 586 out next time for bear. My father has been using a Dan Wesson with the 7 or 8 inch barrel for years and I'm curious to know if we are borderline crazy or if this is something other folks do. I read about when the 357 was just coming out and they sent some guys out to take the biggest game in North America, grizz and moose. They did it, but I also read that they were using loads that were so crazy, they were lucky they didn't crack the frames of their revolvers, and I bet they made some great shots. Yes, I can just take a rifle like most folks, but this isn't about rifles. On the revolver side, obviously a .44 or anything bigger is probably better, but I have a .357 and guns are expensive (haha).
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Old 04-09-2017, 04:19 PM
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As with many posts we see from New members, you seem to have already made up your mind, but for some reason you want to cause discussion that might disagree with your idea and mindset.

Me, I say use whatever you want as long as it's legal and I'm not about to join in on the "discussion" that's about to begin. Your bear season is quite short and with the size of some bears that Pa hunters record every year, I believe I'd just take that "rifle" and hope for the best.

I'm not much into minimalist hunting techniques, but YMMV. Hope you get your bear.
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Last edited by Tnhunter; 04-09-2017 at 04:21 PM.
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  #3  
Old 04-09-2017, 04:39 PM
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I have no problem taking a rifle, and I have for years. I'm a walker though; It's not just about sitting there all day and maybe seeing a bear, I like to explore and enjoy nature. I take a lot of pictures and a rifle gets heavy after a few miles. I think that this is a valid question and if folks disagree then they can say so or hit the back button. A 357 is what I have, and I wish to know if other more experienced hunters than I would feel safe with one.
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  #4  
Old 04-09-2017, 05:55 PM
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Thirty plus years ago I hunted bear in Maine with a guide who had just moved his sidearm when guiding from a .22 mag to a .357, but I'm sure he had more experience with bear than either of us. Since the PA regulations specify only that the cartridge be center-fire, the .22 hornet is legal. I suspect the .25 ACP would also be legal for deer and bear in PA if you use one that is manually operated as the change to allowing auto-loaders has been limited to small game. Do you shoot well enough under pressure to precisely place your shots on a moving animal? On that Maine hunt one bear came down a tree to grab the dog behind guide - one shot almost straight down dead bear.
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  #5  
Old 04-09-2017, 06:56 PM
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That is correct Irv, there are no 'this caliber and up' specifications for big game except for muzzleloaders here in PA. The ramp front sight would take up like the entire bear at 50 yards, or at least over half. I just ordered a rail for my revolver and plan on buying a vortex venom soon. Or a burris fastfire,*not sure yet. That should really help with shots on vitals at any range under 75 yards I would imagine. Anything over 100 on a moving bear with my revolver and I'm just gonna go for my camera. I would hate to just wound one.
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  #6  
Old 04-10-2017, 05:53 AM
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Problem in contrasting guns for black bear in Maine with bear in PA is ...Maine bears are shot over bait or with dogs. This means the bear is fixed, not moving and shot placement is greatly improved. Bears taken in PA, legally and in the firearms season, will almost always be moving. Once bears are stirred up they walk or run all day long. Shooting at a walking or running black bear with a minimalist firearm is not for me.

With these differences I'd NOT carry a 357 mag revolver for PA bear hunting, probability of wounding a fine animal is just too high...for me. But people can and will use what they want.

I hunt bears every year in PA, Maine, and NB.
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  #7  
Old 04-10-2017, 06:16 AM
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I've taken a few bears in Canada, most were over bait. Movement is the big consideration, that combined with distance is your dilemna. If you were shooting over bait, your shots would be limited and known whereas you will be walking and encountering bears on the move. The 357 is enough gun for limited range shots at set targets, for your situation I'd definitely have a rifle. Lastly, black bears are not hard to kill, any deer rifle is adequate. The thing you have to remember is you're essentially shooting at a fur ball; it's important to read your angles correctly and make certain your shot goes into the boiler room.

Last edited by onelongshot; 04-10-2017 at 06:45 AM.
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  #8  
Old 04-10-2017, 06:25 AM
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Enough gun???

NO SUCH THING as enough gun, or depends for a bear attack IMO.
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  #9  
Old 04-10-2017, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Raymar77 View Post
That is correct Irv, there are no 'this caliber and up' specifications for big game except for muzzleloaders here in PA. The ramp front sight would take up like the entire bear at 50 yards, or at least over half. I just ordered a rail for my revolver and plan on buying a vortex venom soon. Or a burris fastfire,*not sure yet. That should really help with shots on vitals at any range under 75 yards I would imagine. Anything over 100 on a moving bear with my revolver and I'm just gonna go for my camera. I would hate to just wound one.
Not completely correct. They have a .270 caliber 130 grain bullet minimum for elk.
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  #10  
Old 04-10-2017, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by nachogrande View Post
NO SUCH THING as enough gun, or depends for a bear attack IMO.
IMO better "too much" than "not enough" .
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  #11  
Old 04-10-2017, 07:48 AM
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Valid points. I've seen many bears here in PA, and every single time it was me who sort of surprised them. I don't wear moccasins and I don't claim to be that stealthy, but every bear I've seen, I've walked up on. I would say that half of them just kinda looked at me for a few seconds, perplexed, before lumbering off. This would be ideal for a shot but I doubt it would go down that way during the season with all of the other folks traipsing around the forest. What I'm surmising is that the 357 is fine if the shooter is absolutely confident in a vitals shot, which can be achieved if the bear is not too far away, is not running, and if the angles are right. I think that's fair. It's not a penetration or an internal ballistics issue, it's a confidence issue IMO.
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  #12  
Old 04-10-2017, 08:24 AM
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Be carefull what you wish for.

You may end up finding out if a 357 (or anything in a surprise attack) is ENOUGH GUN, OR NOT.
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  #13  
Old 04-10-2017, 08:28 AM
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180gr. cast, over a heapin' helpin' of WW296 or H110. That's all I'd consider.
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  #14  
Old 04-10-2017, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Raymar77 View Post
Valid points. I've seen many bears here in PA, and every single time it was me who sort of surprised them. I don't wear moccasins and I don't claim to be that stealthy, but every bear I've seen, I've walked up on. I would say that half of them just kinda looked at me for a few seconds, perplexed, before lumbering off. This would be ideal for a shot but I doubt it would go down that way during the season with all of the other folks traipsing around the forest. What I'm surmising is that the 357 is fine if the shooter is absolutely confident in a vitals shot, which can be achieved if the bear is not too far away, is not running, and if the angles are right. I think that's fair. It's not a penetration or an internal ballistics issue, it's a confidence issue IMO.
On the contrary, it's all about penetration and ballistics with a bear cartridge.
Confidence killed the cat.
Jim
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  #15  
Old 04-10-2017, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Raymar77 View Post
I would say that half of them just kinda looked at me for a few seconds, perplexed, before lumbering off. This would be ideal for a shot but I doubt it would go down that way during the season with all of the other folks traipsing around the forest. What I'm surmising is that the 357 is fine if the shooter is absolutely confident in a vitals shot, which can be achieved if the bear is not too far away, is not running, and if the angles are right. I think that's fair. It's not a penetration or an internal ballistics issue, it's a confidence issue IMO.
Stating the 357 is fine if everything is perfect while at the same time acknowledging an actual hunting scenario is unlikely to play out that way I think answers your own question and probably explains why few are jumping on board with you. Anything can be taken with anything but that doesn't make everything a good choice.
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  #16  
Old 04-10-2017, 01:22 PM
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No,

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Originally Posted by Easternhunter View Post
On the contrary, it's all about penetration and ballistics with a bear cartridge.
Confidence killed the cat.
Jim
CURIOSITY is what killed the cat, but whatever, it's all good.
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  #17  
Old 04-10-2017, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Easternhunter View Post
On the contrary, it's all about penetration and ballistics with a bear cartridge.
Excellent point. On the Maine hunt I mentioned above I shot a treed "average" bear three times with OO buckshot before it fell out of the tree. The guide said "the bear isn't dead you need to shoot it again" - at which point I asked to borrow his .357 which I then used to shoot it behind the ear. When skinned, we found that many of the buckshot pellets hadn't penetrated through the fat.
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  #18  
Old 04-11-2017, 03:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irv S View Post
Excellent point. On the Maine hunt I mentioned above I shot a treed "average" bear three times with OO buckshot before it fell out of the tree. The guide said "the bear isn't dead you need to shoot it again" - at which point I asked to borrow his .357 which I then used to shoot it behind the ear. When skinned, we found that many of the buckshot pellets hadn't penetrated through the fat.
An excellent bit of info for those who think that buckshot is just the ticket for bear defense. While there are some modern heavy metal buckshot loads that do show good penetration in some tests, the run of the mill 9-12 pellet 00 buck load (the type I have hundreds of rounds of) is not known the penetrate well.

There's a study done several years ago by Alaska DNR that tested many seemingly good rounds as bear defense loads and the 12ga buckshot load was rated at or towards the very bottom.
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  #19  
Old 04-11-2017, 04:20 AM
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8x57JRS double with 160gr Barnes TTSX job done, the second barrel is to finish a badly executed first shot. We all have 'em if we shoot enough.
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  #20  
Old 04-11-2017, 07:37 AM
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Personally I would not use the .357 for bear. Too big of a chance for a lost bear.
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