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Hi all, I'm going on a week long backpacking trip in the heart of the Big Sky Country and I sure as #### ain't gonna be without stopping power.  I'm a little new to this so...which one is best?  I can't afford the 454 Raging Bull(####!).  Is there anything affordable out there that can prevent me from becoming a grizzly bear's meal?  Thanks -Vance
 

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I would also suggest a Blackhawk or Super Blackhawk as an affordable, effective solution. I live in black bear country. Common sense tells me that I'll likely never need the firepower, but my SBH is still comforting!           IDShooter
 

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Well.....
I have never been attacked and I know it is unlikely that I will be, BUT...
Both my Grandmother and Uncle were killed by the same grizzly.....unfortunetly no firearms were invloved. The bear got off scott-free. I do not go "into the woods" w/o my .44 mag(328 gr over 20 gr h110) I also generally carry a .45/70 1895G. I would recommend the most powerful revolver that you can accurately and quickly "double-tap" with. I was taught to do this with human targets and see no reason why to change tactics w/ a bear. However one must remember that w/ a bear your shots need to be structurally placed. i.e. targets like:
the onside shoulder or hip
the spine
base of skull
the heart---but only as a last resort--it takes too long for them to bleed off--very slow heart rate.

and then, keep shooting until he no longer moves.
You may ask why I insist on "double tapping" instead of using the most powerful revolver period....
Capstick tells a great story of how he shot a charging hippo/rhino? at very close range w/ his double rifle. pulled the rear trigger so both barrels shot at the same time. Upon inspection of the carcass, however, only one bullet hole could be found, and only one bullet recovered......

anyhoo,
stay safe
Trackdog
 

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Trackdog brings up an excellent point. Sorry folks, but I still cannot consider a handgun which requires thumb cocking for each shot to be a viable self defense gun. This is why double action revolvers were invented. My vote: a Ruger RedHawk in 44 magnum, stainless steel, 5-1/2 in. barrel. Cor-Bon or Buffalo Bore heavy loads with 300 grain or heavier bullets. And pray you never have to use it. Personally, under the circumstances, I'd prefer something like a LAWS rocket.
 

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The previous two respondents make an excellent point in my opinion- the need for trigger cocking (double action) in bear defense guns. I love the thumbusters as much as the next guy. I've owned them in .22LR, .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .45ACP/.45 Colt convertible. Super general purpose hunting and target guns, but I wouldn't want to rely on my ability to thumb the hammer as I'm getting chewing by a bear or other large animal.

My vote solidly goes for a S&W Mountain Gun in .41 or .44 Magnum. Either loaded with hardcast or FMJ heavyweight bullets would in my opinion be your best last ditch defense against large carnivores.
 

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Vance,
I tend to agree with the double actions.  You probably won't ever bring this gun into play under the circumstances you buy it for, but if you do, more than likely it will be very quick.  I love the single actions, especially the Ruger Bisleys, they are a delight to shoot and carry, but a missplaced thumb and you are a spectator.  The S&W mountain is a wonderful firearm, no doubt about it, but I just cannot bring myself to buy a new one because of S&W's policies.  The Ruger Redhawk or Super Redhawk is a high quality double action that has no peers.  It is a little bulky and heavy, but still carries well in a good holster.  If it were me, given you live in Montana (or that is where you will using it), I'd go with a 45 Long Colt with heavy loads.  If you ever decide to up the ante, several gunsmiths can convert it to one of Linebaugh chamberings or the Casull.  I'm not sure how big ol' Groaner grows in your neck of the woods, but the purpose of these types of guns is to stop the bear (not necessarily an instantaneous kill).  You need to break bone and stop the charge.  A heart/lung shot still leaves an awful lot of fight in a bear.  Above all, STOP the charge.  If that kills the bear - fine, if it doesn't, kill it with the second or third shot, the first shot is a stopper.  To break bone on a big bear takes heavy bullets, the heavier the better in my opinion.  Several companies offer heavy bullet loads in the 44 mag and 45 LC, usually with the LC having the most potential.  Either the 44 or 45 will suffice, but I would personally go with the 45LC.

Having said that, I do a lot of work in remote areas of coastal Alaska and while in high brown bear concentrated areas, I carry a short barreled 12 gauge shotgun.  I do carry a handgun when fishing or at times when the 12 gauge would, in all likelihood find itself leaned against a tree and me being out of reach, but I do feel more comfortable when I have the 12 gauge.
 

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Vance,
One other issue deserves consideration here.  I'm sure many bears have been taken with 357 Mag, 44 Special type cartridges and you may be considering those.  The difference between a hunting gun and a fighting gun is the fact that the bear is aware you are there and in it's primal fight or flight decision has chosen to fight.  This means that when it comes down to you having to use your firearm, you are not dealing with an unsuspecting animal.  You will be dealing with an enraged, adrenline pumped, full fledged hating animal that wants do nothing else but to take you out of commission.  This is completely different than shooting animal that is tossing rocks looking for rodents.  This animal has already preceived that you are a danger to it, it's cubs or it's food and has chosen to fight to the death to protect itself.  Your first shot may be your only shot and it has to be a shot that will not allow it to continue to advance.  A head shot on a grizzly or brownie that is coming straight with it's head low in charge mode is tricky at best, due in part to the dished forehead and due to the copious amount of fur that makes it hard to figure best where to put a bullet.  It takes a lot of bullet to break a bear down.  I am personally convinced that taking out the shoulders is the easiest and most efficient way to stop a charge.  I've had both bluff charges and full on charges, but have never had to shoot because of one.  I've managed to stop the charge before the trigger was pulled.  In every case, I recommend do whatever you can to avoid shooting the animal.  Climb a tree, wade into a lake, holler, wave your arms, command it stop, whatever.  Once you pull the trigger, it's on.  Usually after the trigger is pulled death is the only outcome, sometimes people win, sometimes the bear wins.

That's about it from this side of the snowbank.
 

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Gentlemen,

On my second day in ALaska, i was having a beverage at the Elemendorf Air Force O club, and struck up a conversation with a retired warrant officer who made his residence on Kodiak island.  

We talked about hunting,  of course, and big bears, and he asked me if i intended on hunting this year (91) and what i was planning to hunt with.

I told him that i did not, as it would take a full year for me to become an alaska resident, but i planned on scouting this year, and hunting the remainder of the time i was in country.  For my scouting chores, I intended on carryng my well used and quite accurate mod 29 smith.  The old timer gave me some advice that i think is appropoatte for the forum:

"what you need to do with that smith, is cut off  the hammer spur, remove the front sight and file it down flush to the barrel, take off the back sight and file it down as well, get the softest most pliable grips that you can and put them on, and make sure there are no rough or sharp edges on that gun whatsoever"

Impressed with his knowledge of firearms, i assumed that it was for easy employment from the holster, and inquired to that effect.

"not at all partner"  he said with a grin, "its so when the bear sticks that pistol up your a**, the docter won;t have such a hard time pulling it back out"

I opted for the shotgun.

Be careful out there.

Steve
 

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Steve's tale is a colorful and humorous one but it reinforces common sense. If all you have is a handgun, I think the best choice is a DA Magnum. But even the best sixgun pales in comparison to a 12 gauge Brenneke slug or 400-grain+ .45-70. I personally wouldn't travel very far in big predator country without a substantial longarm.
 

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While a handgun may not be the ideal bear medicine, sometimes circumstances do dictate either carrying a handgun or bear spray.  There are times carrying a shotgun or lever gun just isn't going to happen.  It is far better to carry a large bore handgun that you are capable with than to carry bear spray or nothing at all.  While I do recommend a 500 Linebaugh or something similar, if all you have is a 44, don't be afraid to go into the woods.  A 44 on your hip is much better than a 458 that is leaned up against a tree 20 feet away.  If you carry a rifle or shotgun and have it slung over your shoulder, you may as well assault the bear with a handful of daisies.

No matter what you carry, avoiding a close encounter with bears is by far and away the best.  The most important thing you can carry when in bear country is common sense and your most important weapon is between your ears.
 

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Hi guys,
I have read for a while, the advice on carrying a da handgun for protection against bears.  The logic is that in a personal upclose encounter (something I have never had) that it is easier to shoot by just pulling the trigger that by cocking each shot.  Frankly, it just does not make much sense to me.  That is, if the challenge is about hitting rather than shooting.  A while back I spent a couple of years to get good with double actions revolver shooting.  It is great and the things you can do with enough practice are amazing.  The problem is that if you practice with your Redhawk or 629 in single action  your emergency  da shot under pressure will, most likely be a miss. Not only that but your grip will be all wrong and repeat shots would be even harder....to the point of loosing control of the gun (try it and see).    It sounds to me like all the advice is to practice one way (sa) but expect to get into a bear altercation (it's the same for personal protection against 2 legged critters too) and use a technique you are not practiced in.  All I'm saying is, if you buy into to da theory, you better do many hundreds of rounds of practice shooting da with full power loads before you have a chance of hitting anything quickly or under pressure.  

Though I shoot both Redhawks and SBH's for pleasure and hunting, there is one that I am simply a lot better with.  That is my 4 5/8" SBH.  No matter if I am hot, cold, tired, refreshed, bleary eyed or what, I simply shoot it the best under all conditions where speed and accuracy might be important.  When the chips are down and hitting quickly is everything, my choice is simple.  Your choice my be different but it seems hitting with speed and accuracy should count for more than using a technique that most folks can't hit with under pressure.

By the way, if it's stopping power you want, the Redhawk is (in 44 and 45) a potentially much more powerful weapon that a BH or SBH.  Of course, that's at a considerable increase in weight and bulk.  

As long as you have adequate power, carry what your are the best with under pressure.  I would agree that the da Redhawk is a great choice.... but only if you learn to shoot da with the same skill and consistency you do with sa.  With the boomers that's a pretty big order.  With my SBH's and BH's, I learn exactly one shooting technique and it never varies.  You can do the same thing with a Redhawk or 629 if you only shoot it one way.  Shoot with what you are best with when the chips are down!  It may be a da or sa revolver but it needs to be your own personal lightning rod.

Just my 2 cents worth... and try not to bother the bears.

God bless..............  Bill M
 

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Okay, here's my take on the scenario. You were very, very careful. But you did it anyway. You pissed off a bear. This would likely be a very close encounter, from what I've read. Probably contact distance, because you cannot out run one, and you cannot out climb one. He's got you on the ground, standing over you, biting and clawing at you. You manage to get the revolver between the two of you, pointed at the under side of his chin, angled towards the brain. How many single action shots can you make under these circumstances? One? Possibly two? Remember, you have to reposition the gun in your hand twice for every shot, once to cock it, once to fire it. This is no time for deliberate, slow fire. With the double action, you have the choice between single and double action, you can use the feature that best fills the needs of the situation. 25 yards? okay, single action. Remember, this guys about as fast as a freight train, and his vitals are really tough to hit when he's running at you. By the way, all you double-action afficianados out there, when's the last time you practiced shooting double-action only? It's a perishable skill, believe me.
 

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I can honestly say I don't remember the last time I thumb-cocked a DA revolver even at 25 yards. For me there is no discernable improvement in offhand accuracy using a SA stroke until the target is beyond that distance or exceptionally small.
 

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Bill- I know what you mean. I "stage" the DA shot on the bolt stop, which is the most common way, I believe. Once you get used to it, it's almost second nature, and really quick too. I usually only shoot single action when I play "chase the bullet hole", while practicing.
 

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please forgive me for being stupid...i shoot single actions only these days, but i did practice a lot and get fairly fast once with a da revolver and am curious...why would anybody shoot their da in single action mode considering how inconvenient it is? i think when i used to practice with a gp100 i never once shot it single action no matter what the range...and same with a S&W 629. also i noticed with the 629 that with heavy loads that gun wasn't any faster for repeat shots than a blackhawk with heavy loads...also i think that anyone who plans on using a handgun to protect themselves from anything should use what they shoot best without thinking about it. also if some critter is gnawing on your hand it seems to me you won't be using that hand to shoot anything at all unless he spits your hand back out, so the concept of only having your thumb indisposed is fairly moot, it isn't even possible to hold a sixgun unless you're a dextrous creature with an opposable thumb.
 

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There is an old saying that opinions are like as*^%*) and I have mine.  Am I an expert. NO WAY.  I am a serious novice in the field of handguns and hunting.  I hunt with a 7.5 SBH and 2X scope.  Many guides carry revolvers becuase as one of you mentioned it is availble.  I have a Reeder Alaskan Survivor and would carry it and feel that properly loaded would handle the situation.  I feel that in a bear attack you have a high probability of getting hurt.  Keep pulling the trigger till the bear stops or you hear a click, click.  Great forum...
 

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Ruger Super Redhawk 454 Casull. 300 gr. cast performance bullet. Problem solved. <!--emo&:D--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':D'><!--endemo-->
 

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I've had run-ins with two grizzlies here in the lower 48. One in the Bob and the other not too far from Casper, Wyoming. The 1st I was fishing and a young bear got curious. I did everything possible to avoid confrontation and received two bluff charges. He got my creel and the contents. The second was being driven from an elk carcass. In a lot of places where the grizzly is protected, a gunshot is just like a dinner bell. I came back and salvaged what I could later which wasn't much. Both times I had a M57 4 inch with 250gr. LFNGC ahead of a mega dose of H110. I drew a line in the sand and if either had crossed, I would have done my best to break them down at the shoulders. It still raises the hairs on my neck when I think of it. Now, I'd probably use my 5.5 inch .475Linebaugh even if it's a SA. RKBA!
 
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