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Is there a big difference in velocity between a .357 2" barrel and a 4" barrel, I haven't found any numbers on it. The idea is I'd like a light .357 in the unlikely event of meeting a cranky bear (hopefully even so a blackbear of smaller size than a kodiak). Where I usually pack in Idaho, I've never heard of a grizzly being in the area, but I have heard of black bear being around. The only reason I like the 2" is its weight and cost. On a 5 day pack trip, everything, including that extra roll of film you packed seems to add up.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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If it's short range bear repellent, velocity is going to be the least of your worries.

There's umpteen hundreds of posts on bear defense and such on this forum, or at least it seems that way. Do a little searching and find more opinions than you ever knew existed....

I sometimes carry a 2" .357, and not for bear defense, but for the less-civilized humans among us, and frankly I'd rather take my chances with the bears.
 

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MarkPaul;
I lived in Idaho for 5 years and carried a 6" .357 everywhere. It was a Ruger Security-six and the weight was not a problem for me. I worked on the Clearwater and in the Panhandle (St. Joe) every summer and saw bou coup black bears and only 1 Grizzly track. The black bears all took off when they saw me, but a couple of guys I worked with over the years were put up trees by sows with cubs. I agree with MikeG, I was more concerned with humans than critters, and on one occasion, just the presence of the gun served to aleviate any problems. I'd say go with what you are most comfortable with.
J.P.
 

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Good morning MarkPaul,

The bear defense thing is a big stinky debate I'm not interested in. I would, however, like to mention that light weight handguns are not limited to 357's. The Tarus Trackers come in everthing from 357 to 45 Colt and they are quite light. Not very expensive either. Personally, I have a lot more experience with the Ruger Blackhawk series of handguns. They come in 357, 41 mag and 45 Colt. If you stick with blued guns, the gripframes are aluminum which is a nice weight savings. By the time you get all the way up to 45 colt, they have drilled out a lot of metal to make those holes so big that the gun in 4 5/8" is both very strong and very light. You might want to go into a gun shop and do some weight comparisions. Longer barrels with better sights are also profoundly easier to hit with.

Good luck............. Bill M
 

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I have both 2" and 4" .357s and the 4" is defitely easier to shoot with heavy bullets (bullets more capable of dropping an angry black bear ie 158 - 180 grainers) than the 2".

I usually carry one of them when hiking, but more for two-legged vermin than anything else bigger than a coyote.

Here in the NorthEast, most blackbears will leave you alone if you do your part. Hang your food, clean and store your cooking utensils away from your tent and so on.

Most non-gun hikers carry some-sort of bear-pepper spray.

If you are truly worried about a brown, I doubt if either will drop a big bear before he can do damage to you. There have been numerous posts on this and other forums about bear protection and they usually start at full-blown .44 mags and go up from there.

What-ever you carry make sure you can hit something withit and practice shooting quick double-action shots and reloading.

If not, anything you carry is just added weight.
 

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You may find the following muzzle velocity information for .357 mag useful. It is from the Speer reloading Manual 13th Edition. As numerous people have pointed out to me there are a lot of other variables in addition to bbl length (cylinder gap being one of them). Speer does not identify exactly what the loads were that the data is based on:
bbl length/bullet wt........125........140........158 grains
2.5".............................1201.......1123......1013 fps
...................................(10)........(8).........(23)
4.0".............................1365.......1237......1135 fps
...................................(23)........(34).......(21)
6.0".............................1465.......1338......1203 fps
...................................(129)......(94).......(91)
Numbers in () are standard deviations. Study included 3 firearms for 2.5 inches, 7 firearms for 4.0 inches, and 10 firearms for 6.0 inches (all revolvers of course).
PLEASE! If anyone can return the favor I am looking for similar data on .38 special and .44 special.
 

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MarkPaul, I know you are concerned about carry weight, but shouldn't you be more concerned about STOPPING power? I've been to Alaska and when the 'B' word is mentioned regarding surviving an attack, the ONLY handgun mentioned was a 44 magnum. I mentioned a 357 or 41 and was immediately corrected...44 is the minimum. I know some guys on this forum are from Alaska and probably know a lot more on the topic. Hopefully, they'll respond to your question. Don't forget to attach a bell to your pack when walking in bear country. They will hear you coming and flee the area. Stay alert!
 

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How about a guide gun? Marlin makes several "big bores" in light weight short barrel versions. I agree that a 41 or 44 mag is a good choice but the rifle is for sure. If you stick with a short barrel 357, make sure you can out-run the slowest person in your group! :D
 

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Beartooth Regular
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I've tried 2" .357s and a bear would have to be sitting on my head before I could hit him with one! But that's just me...I'm definitely not the world's best handgunner.

IDShooter
 

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.357 revolver for defense

A .357 is marginal as bear medicine, regardless of the barrel length or load If you want bear protection, I'd opt for a standard 12-ga. riot gun loaded with Breneke slugs over any handgun.

However, if the handgun is mostly for deterrance of 2-legged varmints, and the mere presence of the handgun is probably adequate, then the .357 should be OK. Most people shoot a 4" barrel better than the 2-1/2" due to the longer sight radius, but if you are an experienced combat DA shooter, and normally carry daily and will carry the duty gun that you qualify with, then go with the carry gun which is instinctive.

Forget expansion on bears, you want maximum frontal area and penetration. I'd opt for the 170-gr. Speer Gold Dot SP in the factry load or equivalent. This will not expand at all at handgun velocities, but has a large flat point and will penetrate deeply, which is what you need if using a marginal weapon on a large animal.

Unless you can draw the gun from leather and empty it quickly DA putting all shots into a 5" paper plate at 25 feet in 10 seconds or less, you have no business carrying it. Buy the shotgun and quit kidding yourself.
 

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If you really need to make the 357 work as well as possible, go with the 4 inch and alternate 180 gr Hornady JTCs with Nosler 180 gr partitions in your cylinder. Plan on multiple shots...start shooting and don't stop. Practice this with cheap ammo at 15 and 7 paces.

The name of the game will be penetration, and these will do the job...one will max penetration and the other will give a good wound channel.

The above advice on the Blackhawk with 4 and 5/8ths bbl is very good. This is not a heavy hand gun and develops a lot of power with handloads, which can safely go to 30,000 psi in this revolver. There are some outstanding loads with Lil'Gun on the Hodgdon web site that actually generate more power from a short bbl than the 44 Mag.

I have this gun, and the loads work over my chronograph. A Cast Performance 360 gr LGC does 1040 fps with Lil'Gun, so its up to the task. Go with rubber grips for the big loads, and you will be fine.

For very little more cost, you can get a 45 ACP cylinder along with the 45 LC, which is great fun to shoot with cheap ball ammo. I even have some ACP handloads that push 255 gr lead SWCs to 1150 fps at very low recoil, and even this is good bear medicine.
 

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I have both lengths of barrel and find the 4 inch much easier to shoot. they both seem to carry about the same so there is no choice there for me. very true that a .357 is not your ideal bear medicine, but it's gonna be more useful than the ultra-magnum, wizz-bang, stinger missle handgun that's so miserable to shoot and carry that it's sitting in your gun safe when you really need it. i have a shotgun, and several big bore levers as well as larger bore handguns and carry them all from time to time. i always have a ruger gp with a 4" bbl. with me. try some of the heavier stuff from speer or hornady. federal makes a 180gr. cast core that should be a good load, never shot it personally, though. if your a handloader heavy for caliber (180-200grains) cast loads are the way to go. good luck.
 

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I'll leave the subject of wether a 357 is enough for bear to someone else and focus on velocity between the 2" and 4" gun.

Recently I've been doing a lot of shooting with the 44 Special in 3 guns, a 3" M24, 4" M29 and 6" M29 mostly with H110 and Lil'Gun but a couple loads with 2400 and Blue Dot.

With 10 different loads:
Between the 3" and 4" the average was 76 fps, largest 108 smallest 53.

Between the 4" and 6" the average was 45 fps, largest 82, smallest 17.

Between the 3" and 6" the average was 120 fps, largest 135, smallest 82.

So if you're shooting loads with a fairly slow powder I'd guess you might see 100-120 fps difference between a 2" and 4" gun, on average, if you use a faster powder you could see significantly less difference.
 
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