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Thread: 20Ga or 357 Lever for Bear - a Young kids Gun

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    Default 20Ga or 357 Lever for Bear - a Young kids Gun

    Don't want to start any caliber war or a 'what about this or that' thread. My young kid is 10 years old, a great shot and a keen (and adept) outdoorsman. He goes on every hunt with me, traps and has a few successful hunts of his own (big and small game). His 2 favorite guns for general carry are his 20Ga 870 Magnum Express (shortened stock, 18.5 bbl) and his Marlin 1894 lever in 357M. He is very familiar and quick with both guns.
    Also to add, we have had a couple of bear 'huffs' close by and one bluff charge, my kid has stood his ground on my shoulder ready to back me up should I have needed to shoot at a bear in defense, so I trust and rely that he would be putting rounds down. Knowing how calm he is and how well he shoots I actually trust him to get rounds on target more effectively than me
    So the question is, what do you think would be a more effective round out of the 2; a 20Ga 1oz (437.5 grains) Brenneke Slug at 1450FPS MV (Brenneke numbers) or a 200Gr 357 LFN at approx 1800FPS (need to chrono, that is a reloading book number)?

    The numbers put the 20Ga at 2042Ft Lbs ME, SD 0.165 lb/in sq and the 357 at 1439 Ft Lbs ME, SD 0.223 lb/in sq
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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    They would both be fine choices provided the boy hits what he is shooting at (as it sounds he likely would). I would just go with the one that best fit and was easiest to handle with what I was doing out in the woods.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nbh40 View Post
    Don't want to start any caliber war or a 'what about this or that' thread. My young kid is 10 years old, a great shot and a keen (and adept) outdoorsman. He goes on every hunt with me, traps and has a few successful hunts of his own (big and small game). His 2 favorite guns for general carry are his 20Ga 870 Magnum Express (shortened stock, 18.5 bbl) and his Marlin 1894 lever in 357M. He is very familiar and quick with both guns.
    Also to add, we have had a couple of bear 'huffs' close by and one bluff charge, my kid has stood his ground on my shoulder ready to back me up should I have needed to shoot at a bear in defense, so I trust and rely that he would be putting rounds down. Knowing how calm he is and how well he shoots I actually trust him to get rounds on target more effectively than me
    So the question is, what do you think would be a more effective round out of the 2; a 20Ga 1oz (437.5 grains) Brenneke Slug at 1450FPS MV (Brenneke numbers) or a 200Gr 357 LFN at approx 1800FPS (need to chrono, that is a reloading book number)?

    The numbers put the 20Ga at 2042Ft Lbs ME, SD 0.165 lb/in sq and the 357 at 1439 Ft Lbs ME, SD 0.223 lb/in sq
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    I'd probably go with the 20 gauge until he gets a bigger rifle. Judging by where you live, the 357 magnum might be pushing it.

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    I would tilt toward the Rem 870 as being more reliable feeding, and faster feeding. Not to high jack your thread, but if it was me or the bear, my first goal would be to redirect the bear, and finish the bear later if necessary with a more appropriate firearm, for that reason if my goal was to turn the bear immediately I would choose multiple projectiles. While the slug would be more lethal, #3 buck in the face would more likely redirect the problems priority for the near term.

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    Sounds like a good smart young man so I would let him choose between the two.
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    My lever is hard to jack rounds into when its very cold, having never been to kodiac I don't know what the weather is like, but from what I under stand there is alot of wind and silt, and a lever would gum up, maybe not enough to matter for slow controlled shots, but for shooting as fast as you can it would hinder your speed, plus it hurts your hand to jack them as fast as you can.
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    Admittedly it is hard to beat a pump gun for fast follow ups. A range day with both to practice three quick shots from would likely provide the best answer.

    I tend to listen when agl talks bears as he has been following them into alder patches for longer than I have been strolling the planet.

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    I would opt for the 870 also. Bigger, more energy.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    They would both be fine choices provided the boy hits what he is shooting at (as it sounds he likely would). I would just go with the one that best fit and was easiest to handle with what I was doing out in the woods.
    Second that. I feel my 357 levers are just slightly south of my 30-30 levers in stoping power and Id put a 20g in that ballpark also. If he can hit ether will work but Id move him to a 44 or 45 lever for his next gun so he has better bullet choices and some overkill.
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    Back when I lived up just above the circle, I had a little Rossi in 357 mag which I used to zap a few caribou. It worked but the bullet construction of most 357 caliber bullets is not right for higher velocities and deep penetration.

    Between the two choices I would go with the 20 loaded with solid (not Foster type) slugs.
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    I can only SPECULATE, and I'm afeared of bars.

    In my own hands, I'd choose the 357, BUT 200 grain bullets would not stabilize in my rifle, due to the 1-30 inch twist.

    180s do, but you would need to make sure the sights are adjusted for that load.

    I also, feel that a 1 oz. slug, no matter the design would produce some heavy recoil, and the 357 wouldn't.

    Let him try both and see, which one he can shoot the best.

    Which one do you think, or know, would penetrate best?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    Back when I lived up just above the circle, I had a little Rossi in 357 mag which I used to zap a few caribou. It worked but the bullet construction of most 357 caliber bullets is not right for higher velocities and deep penetration.
    Yes very true but Im assuming he would be using 180-200g wfn hard cast so it would be like any other wfn just smaller diameter. Likely 180 because like Smitty I find that 200s tumble from my levers. I make the same assumption about solid slugs also, not soft lead like a Foster.
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    Thanks guys. Probably opt for the 20Ga as first choice. I do want to move him up to a 44 lever next then onto a 308 or 06 bolt. At his age and size he just can work the levers and pumps much quicker then he can a bolt; when he took his 2 bucks back in august I hadn't even realized he had racked the 2-round, he did it before the first deer fell!!

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    I never had a 20 gauge until recently when I obtained a Citori O/U. So I bought a few Brenneke 20 gauge magnum slugs just to have in my pocket. I have seen lots of penetration test and Brenneke is always the winner.

    Since defensive range will be within 50 yards and more likely 25 yards by the time a shot goes off, a solid 1 once (437 grains) chunk of lead at 1,476 fps (muzzle) and 1,322 fps (25 yards) should make a pretty deep wound.
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    I don't mean to sound condescending, but this post will probably come out sounding that way. Is there really a question here?

    Others have posted opinions (correctly IMO) about the ease of loading, followup, etc with the shotgun vs the lever. The 20 Ga Brenneke trumps the 357 in performance... soundly.

    Now, here's my coup de gras: Your boy shoots 20 ga against trap. That means that he is used to reactively shooting moving targets with it quickly. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

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    It's all about where you put it.

    I just spent the better part of 4 hours looking for an 8 pt that a guy shot twice with a 12 ga slug early this morning. There was blood where he hit him and for about 25 yds, then just spots for the next 125 yds or so, then nothing. 8 of us looked for that deer and nothing. He will most likely die tonight or may be dead now. I hate to loose a nice deer...or any deer.

    It's all about where you put the shot. I use an H&R 20ga rifled and Lightfield slugs and it kills deer DRT. That 20 ga with the Brenneke slugs will do the deed if it's placed properly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    I don't mean to sound condescending, but this post will probably come out sounding that way. Is there really a question here?

    Others have posted opinions (correctly IMO) about the ease of loading, followup, etc with the shotgun vs the lever. The 20 Ga Brenneke trumps the 357 in performance... soundly.

    Now, here's my coup de gras: Your boy shoots 20 ga against trap. That means that he is used to reactively shooting moving targets with it quickly. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
    That really is where the question is. He shoots both very quickly and very accurately. Only do I start him initially at static targets. I have the luxury of running our indoor range with computer controlled target carriers and a whole variety of animal targets, including bear. I set up scenarios for him (and others that want to 'play') when any of 3 or 4 targets will expose at any range, then conceal, then 'charge' him. You get the picture, makes for great training. It has sharpened both of our skills. With eaither gun he can empty 4 shots into a bear target (yes I know less fear factor) when it is moving from 40 ft to 10ft.
    The balistic numbers actually come out pretty close when you consider the SD. I carry a 45-70 and favor that way over a 12Ga, having seen a brownie suck up 6 12Ga slugs and still have fight left in him. That is why I ask the question. Being young and small, my kid is limited by what he can manage in terms of recoil and weight (of gun), he will never be primary 'defence' and I would never put him in that position. But out of the 2 choices of his guns that would have a reasonable effect on a Brownie, what do our learned posters think would be better.
    As said in a previous post I do think that favoring the pump mainly down to reliability. Ballistically the 357 (with my loads) from an an 18in barrel is putting out the same ME as some of the hottest (BB etc) 44mag loads from a handgun, so some serious penetration, but reliability may be the major player.
    AGLs thought of #3 buck or similar is interesting. Personally I would never go for buck as a bear defense round, but in this scenario with my kid as back-up, putting down diabling/distracting shots would be an interesting tactic.

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    Is the goal to avoid physical harm to you and/or your son.....? If so, then the urgent objective is to terminate the charge, then access the situation. My personal experience is that bears are not as impressed with ballistic theory as humans are. A lesson I learned shooting a charging wounded bear at less than 6" with a .458 Winchester Magnum, which resulted in a exit hole 5" in diameter through both lungs, the bear still traveled about 40 feet.

    For this reason if I want to avoid being nibbled by a unprovoked and uninjured charging bear I choose multiple pellets to the face and eyes. Will this kill the bear quickly.......NO, but that is not my goal, my urgent goal is to avoid being nibbled. I would even choose #8 shot from a 20 GA. in the face and eyes over both barrels from a .470 Nitro. Now to be clear this is strictly to terminate the charge, and remove myself from harms way.

    One of my very favorite walk'about firearms is my Remington 11-87 youth model 20 ga. which has a factory 21" barrel, and I added a slip on pad to extend the LOP. And yes I have #3 buckshot in the chamber and in the standy position. I also have slugs in my pocket to hunt down and put the bear or moose out of pain and suffering.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    Others have posted opinions (correctly IMO) about the ease of loading, followup, etc with the shotgun vs the lever. The 20 Ga Brenneke trumps the 357 in performance... soundly.
    Yes a good 20g slug will out do a 357 from rifle in internal ballistics but its a sight harder to place the shot with a 20g than a 357 lever rifle. Speed of the two platforms depends on the shooter, pumps and levers are both almost as fast as an auto in the hands of someone that can run them. This stuff makes it a toss up to me but if the lever is a 44 or 45 Id give a slight edge to the lever.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    Is the goal to avoid physical harm to you and/or your son.....? If so, then the urgent objective is to terminate the charge, then access the situation. My personal experience is that bears are not as impressed with ballistic theory as humans are. A lesson I learned shooting a charging wounded bear at less than 6" with a .458 Winchester Magnum, which resulted in a exit hole 5" in diameter through both lungs, the bear still traveled about 40 feet.

    For this reason if I want to avoid being nibbled by a unprovoked and uninjured charging bear I choose multiple pellets to the face and eyes. Will this kill the bear quickly.......NO, but that is not my goal, my urgent goal is to avoid being nibbled. I would even choose #8 shot from a 20 GA. in the face and eyes over both barrels from a .470 Nitro. Now to be clear this is strictly to terminate the charge, and remove myself from harms way.

    One of my very favorite walk'about firearms is my Remington 11-87 youth model 20 ga. which has a factory 21" barrel, and I added a slip on pad to extend the LOP. And yes I have #3 buckshot in the chamber and in the standy position. I also have slugs in my pocket to hunt down and put the bear or moose out of pain and suffering.
    I think your theory is sound for 95% of the bears out there but I worry about that 5% that wont be turned. Shot at close range makes a devastating wound but man does it take guts way beyond mine to plan on them being that close before I can be effective and then pray they decide Im not that tasty. To me this is like using a Hot-Shot on cattle, yea most will jump and run just like you planned but you better have a plan-B because some will get madder-n-hell, see red and come fight even harder so for me its not a last line of defense.
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