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Thread: Bear Backup Pistol

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    Default Bear Backup Pistol

    Looking for some guidance, I drew a bear permit for Afognak for this fall and right after congratulating me my said that I had to get a new pistol. Normally I carry a 45 ACP, but she feels that is a little under sized and wants me to upgrade to something with a little more kick. After researching and picking up a few guns I've kind of narrowed it down to three different options based on price and feel. The three contenders that I've narrowed it down to is: Taurus Raging Bull in 454 Casull; Ruger Redhawk in 44 mag; and S&W 621 in 44 mag.

    Based on personal experience what which one would you buy?

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    keep the 45, if not which one do you shoot most accurately and are able to get quick target aquisition.

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    Personally I would stay away from the Taurus. The guy at the gun shop told me out of all the pistols, the Taurus is the one he sends back to the factory the most. Seeing you already have a 45, you might consider the Ruger RH in 45 Colt. Larger slug, and can be loaded with Bufflao Bore rounds that hit harder than the 44. Plus you can shoot cowboy rounds to plink with.

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    IMO - Depends on the primary weapon you're hunting with. I'm less inclined to pack heavy secondary guns unless hunting with archery or muzzleloader equipment. If that is the case, my secondary weapon would be a large caliber rifle.

    For Afognak ... I'd go with the 454 out of the cartridges listed.
    Edit: I have no experience with the Taraus.

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    Opinions are like noses...everyone on this forum has one and they are all different...so here's mine...Ruger Redhawk Alaskan Stainless in 454 casull with 2 1/2 barrel...also shoots 45 LC for practicing with...its a great piece...add a diamond d chest harness and use for fishing, fits outside the wader straps, and with a short barrel not too heavy...it's a backup piece for up close and personal self defense for bear..

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    Thank you all for the replies. My main weapon is 338 Mag but I like having the security another gun and also in the tent I find having a pistol is handy. My original focus was the Raging Bull but while doing research I've heard some iffy things but it always seems to be a "friend of a friend". First hand information would be great. I'm also looking for a 4-5" barrel for the pistol.

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    44 mag will be ridiculously cheap to shoot and you won't have a "jump" in recoil like you would going from plinking with 45 colts to hunting with 454's
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    Member AK375HH's Avatar
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    I have the .454 super redhawk alaskan. I wouldnt have anything else...but...being 6'3 260...I can hang on to the **** thing. It does jump a little. But when u have to use it for protection, it's a 6 shot .454 (raging bull is 5 I believe) and you wont be paying attention to the recoil. why not have the bigger side arm? is it going to hurt you somehow to have a larger caliber when a bear is trying to kill ya? no way. I don't know why people can get .454 .460 .480 and .500 and still buy .44...just my opinion i guess...
    It's not skybusting if you fold em'.

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    jonmzak I am one of the few hunting guides who carry a pistol as a back up.I like carrying one as there are lots of times when I choose to leave my rifle behind. I carry a freedom arms model 83 475 linebaugh simply becacuse I got a good deal on it. I do like the fact that it is not excessively large or heavy. I am a big fan of the 454 caliber as a side arm here in alaska as a back up. It can be loaded heavy for bears and also lesser loads for plinking.Lots of great info on here on 454 loads and stuff. I have owned and carried a raging bull in 454,never shot it much so not sure on performance but it was a boat anchor and quality seemed to be lacking. Rugers seem to be pretty popular and I have heard good things on them and having a gun like a 454 you may even consider getting into handgun hunting,,, could be a lot of fun.

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    I am not big on carrying a pistol for backup when I have a rifle on me but thats just me.

    If you have never shot a 454 before go borrow one and try it on for size before spending the money on one. Yes it is a great cartridge but it does not suit everyone. I had grown up shooting 44 mags and thought a 454 was needed, picked up a raging bull 5" in 454 and after a few rounds down range it was very clear to me that I needed to go back to the 44 mag.

    Out of the pistols you mentioned the Redhawk normally is the first choice here in Alaska with the Smith second and the Taurus last. There is a lot of internet talk about the Taurus being junk but the one I had was a great pistol. Maybe I got lucky?

    I have owned a number of Redhawks and Blackhawks in 44 mag and one Smith 629 in 44. All of them were trouble free and handled well.

    Whatever you decide on take a hard look at the Diamond D chest holster or the Alaska Guide series Sportsmans carries. They allow you to carry your pistol in an easy to reach location that does not intifere with anything else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonmzak View Post
    Based on personal experience what which one would you buy?
    you may note that there is very little, if any, advice based on "i used this, it worked" when discussing handguns for bears.
    that is because given the huge numbers of hunters in the field with bears, the odds of an encounter, let alone one where a pistol has made any difference, are ridicullously tiny.
    save your money, resist the hype, and get something useful, a new jetboil, a better tent, take your wife to a nice dinner.
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    I agree. the 454 is a great caliber for bb, but you can afford to shoot more with the 44. I would like the s and w as it seems a little lighter and quicker handling. I also prefer the revolvers which are more problem free to the semi autos guys like these days.
    I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear

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    Another option is the S&W 500. Great feeling gun, decent price, decent recoil, but the barrel is ported on most guns, so it helps considerably.

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    A lot of what you hear good, bad, ugly is extremely relative to what people were firing in said handgun. My wife fired my second RSRH Alaskan with the Winchester Super-X Freedom Arms clone 300 grain load @1625 and it comes back hard and fast. It's hard to keep your weak hand on it every time without paying attention. She didn't care to do it again, but she handled it with grace. But then you can fire everything from extremely weak 45 Colt loads up to 45 Colt loads that will eclipse the 44 max loads and then up through the ranks of 454 (which can be extremely mild plinking loads or 300 grain fast snappy loads or heavy slower loads that push more and snap less). (watch this lame Youtube video and see what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihlPQHVGmls )The weak loads recoil mildly, the fast heavy midweights recoil hard and fast, the bigger loads recoil slower but push harder back. Or better yet watch this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fq-fCNY-UMo )

    Folks that complain about the 454 for recoil haven't tried all loadings (some of which aren't bad at all for recoil but still pack a punch). Folks that complain about the cost haven't considered that 45 colt is as cheap or cheaper than 44 and can be loaded slightly hotter (with a much larger diameter .429 vs. .452).

    An argument can be made for the 460 but then you step up to a whole nuther size handgun as pictures here have shown side by side, and let's face it it's hypocritical to complain about the recoil of the 454 and then turn around and recommend a 460. And an argument can be made for smaller lighter 44's but again why complain about recoil and then push for smaller lighter but then argue similar power?

    When you look at it logically you can scale up or down to what you are comfortable with in terms of size and power. If you scale down size and scale up power of the 44 then you can't argue recoil against the 454. If you scale down the 460 you can't argue power against the 454. If you have a raging bull you can't argue size with the 454 vs. 460.

    In the end, the comfortable balance of power and size for most ends up being somewhere near a properly loaded SRH in 454 or 480. Some will go slightly up, some slightly down, but the comfortable middle is there nevertheless.
    Science has a rich history of proving itself wrong.

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    If you like semi aautos why not look at the 10mm? Eight hits with the 45acp is always better than six misses with the biggest handgun JMHO
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    If you want a Semi AUTO Nothing beats an XD45 with a 460 Rowland conversion you get 14rds of mid power 44 mag performance in a well proven platform. A Glock 10mm would be a close second in my Semi Auto book. If you want to spend a ton of cash you have the LAR GRIZZLY option in you can find on in 45 Win mag, or a Desert eagle, but **** they are heavy.

    I usually carry a Ruger Super Blackhawk with a 4 5/8" barrel loaded with Buffalo Bore 340gr +P+. If you want a double action look no further than the Ruger Super redhawks, nothing is stronger
    The Ruger super redhawk comes in the nice a compact alaskan version with the 2.5 inch barrel, another option is get a 7.5 inch barrel and have it cut to around 4-5 inches.
    a heavy 44 mag will run right on the heals of a 454 casual all day plus you get a huge selection of ammo with the 44 mag.

    Good luck getting a new pistol and have a great time on your hunt this spring, BEAR TIME IS NEAR
    RLTW
    HUNT HARD HUNT SAFE
    WILL

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    Default an oldie but a goodie....

    .... Ya have to carry a goddarned hand-cannon everywhere you go up here, for protection-- I personally pack a .577 Tyrannosaur Trinitrotoluene Super Magnum Express +P. It shoots groups of less than MOA, like little four-leaf clovers, really, at (insert completely overestimated yardage figure) charged with 740 grains of Varget Aluminum Oxide Dry Solid Missile fuel behind a 1000 grain, armor-piercing-incendiary-high-explosive-Teflon-coated-Ballistic Tip Partititon Trophy-Bonded Gold semi-wadcutting,.....
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  18. #18

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    I don't often carry a handgun when I am rifle hunting. I do usually have one in the tent. If I am going to carry a handgun it has to be packable, powerful and shootable. There is a fine balance in that mix. I don't like Super Redhawks due to their weight. I also don't like the ultra light S&W's. The perfect packing handgun has a barrel of 4-5.5 inches and is chambered for as powerful a round as the owner is able to shoot accurately. The S&W N frames and Ruger Redhawks fit this bill nicely. Some can shoot the 454's and 500's with ease, some cannot. Often those rounds are housed in guns that exceed my criteria for packability. Most shooters can learn to shoot a 41, 44 magnum or 45 Colt with reasonably heavy loads. A 300 grain hard cast lead bullet at 1100-1200 fps is a force to be reckoned with and will provide ample stopping power in most situations. A good hard lead bullet will penetrate like a chunk of steel rod and penetration is paramount in a handgun for the purpose of bear defense. I just picked up a Ruger Redhawk 4" 45 Colt after drooling over it since the day they were introduced. I expect it to be my belt gun for many years to come as it meets all of my requirements for a packing handgun. It will replace my old Blackhawk 41 magnum I've carried for 15 years. I still have the 41 and won't get rid of it but am looking forward to carrying the Redhawk. Just my humble opinion for what it's worth.

    Mart

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by homerdave View Post
    you may note that there is very little, if any, advice based on "i used this, it worked" when discussing handguns for bears.
    that is because given the huge numbers of hunters in the field with bears, the odds of an encounter, let alone one where a pistol has made any difference, are ridicullously tiny.
    save your money, resist the hype, and get something useful, a new jetboil, a better tent, take your wife to a nice dinner.
    +1. Handguns are great for home defense (but I'd bet the numbers of "I used this..." posts on home defense are as few as the ones you mentioned on bear defense). For guiding I carried a Winchester model 70 in .375 cal. I had the barrel cut down to 20" for ease of use in heavy alders, but admittedly never had a situation where I had to kill a bear in an up-close defense situation. I never saw a need for a handgun in the field, so I never carry on on my hunts. In a pinch, the Winchester would do just fine shooting through tent walls if I should find a stovepipe-sized snout pushing in on the material too far for comfort, and I do sleep well with that rifle tucked alongside the sleeping bag...

    But if the man wants a short gun, so be it. Yes, shot placement is paramount, but so is a large projectile pushed along by an adequate quantity of propellant. In that context, the .44 is not enough.

    Mike
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  20. #20
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    +2 on that my Rifle is my Bear pistol.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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