Snubbie big bores
I'm trying very hard to accept the rational that just because a pistol is easy to carry, a big bore caliber, that it makes it a worthwhile piece for bear protection. Guess I'm old school, but it seems like the greater the velocity and energy available, the better the chance for a turning or even stopping shot. So, how does carrying a very short barreled revolver fill that bill? A lot of power is snuffed out when a 2 1/2 or even 3" barrel is used, compared to a 5-6 inch. When it comes to a big blackie or any griz, you need all you can get. Then there are the more difficult follow up shots if you get the opportunity. I have talked to a number of guys where I work who say literally that they probably won't shoot the gun until it is necessary. No practice, no familiarity, bad with any gun. I wonder, is it just laziness that makes some people decide to go this route.
Yes, I know some people can handle the recoil and are adept enough to make a good shot, I can handle it myself, except maybe the 329PD, but still there is the loss of power. Just ruminating here.
All guns are worthless unless you practice with them. I've shot each of my guns hundreds of times, and they feel almost like a third arm. I got a new .44 for bowhunting, and I've only shot 30 round through it, but I know there's going to be at least 80 more before moose season.
YOu'd be surprised at how efficient that the shorter barrled revolvers are like the 500 S&W still plenty of power in the shorter tube.
Shortly after the Ruger SRH .454 C. Alaskan came out, I read a fairly in-depth review of the thing, wherein the author was shooting a fairly wide variety of bullets.
I also own a 4" .500 (that actually has just under 3" of thread, by my guess-timation).
My wife's Ruger SRH .454 C. is being shortened to 4-5/8" with approx. 1" of that pipe being the expansion chamber in a machined, ported, muzzle brake.
My observations from my reading and speaking with folks 'in the know' is that the .500, shooting hot 440 grain hard cast, still carries a LOT of knock-down and penetration capacity, with surprisingly scant real loss to energy compared to the 8-3/8" bbl version of the same gun..
On the other hand, I was QUITE disapppointed by what I read about the Ruger SRH Alaskan .454 with its 2" snub bbl, when compared to the original 7-1/2" bbl. The differences were a -primary- reason in my decision to obtain a good deal on an 'as-new' used copy the original 7-1/2" bbl., and modify it to a bbl length that was commonly associated with other Rugers of similar frame size.
Not only will the muzzle brake and slightly longer length make a notable difference in recoil, but the retention of that extra 1-5/8" of thread should amount to something in the performance dept. as well.
Its a bit of a generalization, (but) all things being more or less equal - slugs of a greater weight are going to be less impacted by bbl length.
I've chrony'd some loads for my own curiousity in 357 (sp101 and DW 8") and 44 m (lew horten 629 and 14" TC). With bullets in the 'light weight for their caliber' like 110 gr 357s, or 180gr 44s I found a fairly significant velocity difference. With 180gr 357s and 265gr 44s there was still a difference but it was not nearly as pronounced.
My guess, although I'm not a ballistician, is that this tendency would become more pronounced as bullet weights increase. Especially with the new 475 and 500s over 400grs.
Why this is the case I can't say. It may be due to the slower powders typically used with heavier bullets, or the fact that heavier bullets remain in the bbl (allowing a more efficient combustion?) for a longer time than the lighter ones do.
I would absolute agree with the comments above - this terminal ballistic stuff is interesting, but it takes a back seat to practice practice practice.
I have a taurus 450ti it is a 2 3/8" 45lc +p rated in titanium....it weighs 19 oz. it shoots 360gr hardcast slugs with 20gr's 296 through 14" logs ( I have never chrony'd it) I hate practicing with it, but it is pretty accurate. I keep telling myself it is a gun made to carry and shoot in high adrenaline situations.
with 300gr bullets at more sane levels it is pretty tolerable to shoot, 45 lc standard loads are pretty decent to shoot. the 360's feel like they dissolcate my thumb even with gloves on and a very firm grip.
a buddy has a 45-70 derringer......now that is a ride! that thing actually broke the arm of a friend.....there is a fine line and that thing is over it!
I agree that it seems folks have traded off shootability for packability. I've shot enoughs short barreled handguns to realize when the sight radius get's too short, and the gun has a neutral balance from nearly no barrel, it becomes very difficult to place shots accurately. For me 4-5" is the practical minimal barrel length on a revolver that I can shoot accurately, and I'll put up with the miniscule additional weight and size vs a 2 1/2 to 3" barrel.
I keep my snubbie for the "oh crap this is gonna hurt times" the frame is light enough that it dose not really feel awkward to shoot. If I were actually planning on hunting or shooting my carry gun, I would go for a 4" gun at least. but for leaving your rifle in camp to go get a load it is a great lil' gun.
Originally Posted by Paul H
Why 454 Alaskan
It's like anything else with guns, boats, or other gear. It always comes down to money and compromises. This forum is full of discussions about how much gun is enough. The American Rifleman article that I think was mentioned earlier said that the energy imparted by the 454 with 2 inch barrel is still greater than a typical 44 mag. Plenty of guys here carry 44's. Are we going to argue about whether that is sufficient? If I knew I was going to be attacked by a brown bear on any given day I would carry the biggest rifle I could shoot well, or better yet just stay home and sleep in that one day.
Since I don't know when or if that day will come, it comes down to a question of what can I shoot well and carry every time I am out hiking or fishing and don't feel like carrying a long gun. Backpacking with a very large revolver doesn't sound like fun either. The other benefit of the Alaskan is if I am in a crowded fishery, I can conceal it and don't have to deal with "looks" from others. I'd just soon avoid that whole thing.
As far as practice goes, I shoot enough full load 454 Casull to know I can hit what I need to hit and then I shoot the heck out of the 45 rounds. That is fun. I can't imagine why anyone would have a gun and not shoot it a lot! That is unless it is just a collectable and not a shooter. But in this context I feel a responsibility to myself and others to be proficient, and as I said this is a case where the practice is an end in itself. I don't really expect to ever need most of my firearms to protect myself, but I do enjoy shooting them.
>>>Plenty of guys here carry 44's. Are we going to argue about whether that is sufficient?<<<
Nope, not arguing at all. As I stated earlier, I used to carry a (4") .44 Rem. Mag (S&W Mod. 29-2) all the time. Then I spent some time considering the ballistics, and it caused me to think a fair bit on it. For a large bear, at close range, it's often an insufficient round, imho.
The 4" 29-2 is now an in-home and in-town gun for me.
Quite a number of years ago, I heard about a Fish and Game Officer (Fish and Wildlife??) near Talkeetna, who was reportedly attacked by a black bear, and as it was biting near her ankle, she allegedly dispatched it with her service revolver (reportedly a .38 back then, from what I was told). Assuming that the report that I heard was true, it would seem to be evidence that you don't need a howitzer to make them lay down. To which I say, "Better her than me..."
>>>If I knew I was going to be attacked by a brown bear on any given day I would carry the biggest rifle I could shoot well, or better yet just stay home and sleep in that day.<<<
Indirectly, exactly my point; you DON'T know when that day's coming, so you may as well have strong medicine for it, though I think that you're right about the need to be comfortable, and to practice to proficiency.
The down-side of the .500 is that there's no real inexpensive ammunition for it, unless a person is hand-loading. And even then, if I'm lucky enough to get some hand-loads, I try to feed only the same composition of projectile (i.e., hardened lead) through mine.
>>>Backpacking with a very large revolver doesn't sound like fun either. The other benefit of the Alaskan is if I am in a crowded fishery, I can conceal it and don't have to deal with "looks" from others. I'd just soon avoid that whole thing.<<<
I carry a 4" .500 S&W Mag., especially during hunting season, and have a modified horizontal cross-draw factory holster on a custom (wide-strap) shoulder harness, with a 20 rd. ammo panel under the opposing arm, as much for counter-ballance as anything ..
It is indeed concealable in that particular configurtion, although I have a relatively deep chest/torso. (** And, possibly left out of that partilcular linked description, btw, is an adjustable elastic strap and metal slide buckle that goes from the left rear shoulder strap, near the bottom, to the same place on the right rear shoulder strap, across the mid to lower back, so that when I bend over in the canned goods aisle at the store, to retrieve something from the bottom shelf, the gun doesn't flop forward into view..
My 'fix', (as stated earlier in the handgun use poll thread), for the 2" Alaskan .454 being too short to take real advantage of that load's potential, and the 7.5" being too darned gangly (imo), is the previously described modified 4-5/8" bbl. with a machined muzzle brake, as is the course of action for my wife's .454 SRH.
(A $200.00 to $300.00 modification, depending on your machinist, making the cost of the finished piece, starting with a good, used, reasonably priced, standard 7.5" SRH, just slightly higher than most folks' quasi-wholesale prices for the 2" Alaskan .454. In my case, the finished price is about $720.00 for the used SRH and the referenced machine work, not counting a trigger and hammer job that might take it to somewhere over $900.00 finished.. complete.)
At which point it's way more comfy to shoot accurately, and repeatedly, than either the .500 S&W Mag., or either of the two factory models of SRH .454 (2" or 7.5").
Which was the original goal; for my wife to have a sufficient bear gun that performs in such a way that she won't dread shooting the thing...
And yes, .45 LC makes shooting the .454 less intense financially.
snubbie big bores
As for me, I wanted something that would offer me protection against dangerous game and something I could carried concealed in one package. My side arm is the 454 Casull Alaskan. This might be a tad much for protection against an attacker, but I could care less what an attacker thinks or how bad it hurts him. Come after me and you gonna get what you paid for.
Why should I have to buy 2 guns, one for hunting and one for self protection. I bought one gun for worst case, and everything else I don't have to be concerned about. If a gun will take down a grizz it will handle any bad guy in the night.
I agree with the practicing comments. If you pull it, you better be able to hit what your aiming at.
I bought the 454 Casull Alaskan for its reputation for killing power and ease of carry.
I figure if a grizz gets me on my back, I can pump six rounds in his gut.
I did handle the 500 SWs before I bought the Alaskan. Too much for me to lug around under my jacket, and hold steady for any period of time. Them suckers are HEAVY. Before I carry one of these, I'd just carry my 30-06 concealed. They weigh about the same. I am waiting for the bi-pod manufactures to come out with a bi-pod for the 500 SW, then we can all grin together.
Practice makes perfect, good hunting, be prepared,
My question on this "firepower"... how good is your recovery for the second shot? Having to pull the handgun from up over your head to bear (pun intended) down with the next round is important. I guess hoping that the adrenalin will impart super powers is too much.
Do we have a reliable "yard-stick" up here as to how many shots into a target area is needed to feel certain that the job is done? How many and how quickly do they have to be shot?
What is the history of shots fired and caliber for confirmed kills? This would be good to know. Not the "what if" but the "what did" counts.
I'm with Paul H on this. For me it all boils down to shootability, both inherent to the individual handgun design and the ability of the shooter to manage it. If you can shoot a 2" well enough to suit yourself, by all means carry it and enjoy the small savings in bulk and weight. If you can't shoot whatever you pack quickly and accurately, we'll probably read your sad tale in the newspaper if you ever are called on to use the gun.
I've dinked around with lots of snubbies, and while I appreciate the advantages of a 2-3" handgun, I've settle on 4" as optimum carry length for my shooting skills in almost any caliber. Sure I shoot a 6" better, but not enough better to make up for loss of convenience.
If you can't shoot it well and fast, no matter what the caliber and barrel length, may I suggest you take up golf?
This seems to be a more logical discussion of the subject than some in the past, because some really good points are being made here. I suppose it’s a matter of perspective, but my thinking is like so…..
Given the weight and bulk of Beeg Bore handguns that we would use for bear protection, how much difference can a short barrel really make?
My 357 has a 6.5” barrel and my 44, a 6” barrel. For practical shooting, and point ability, I wouldn’t want less than 5” for 357, or 4” in 44 Mag.
Barrel length is important to performance in a Magnum Revolver. I wouldn’t want to handicap a great and powerful cartridge by shooting it in a snubbie barrel.
Nor, would I want to practice with a handgun that was unpleasant to shoot.
In an actual situation, I believe that Alaska Bob’s post is worthy of some strong consideration.
I just think that snubbie barrels, create more problems than they could possibly solve, in a big revolver, but maybe I can keep an open mind.
Smitty of the North
To me the velocity loss from chopping the barrel isn't a factor I worry about. Pistol rounds loose approximately 30 fps/inch, and most factory ammo velocities are stated for 7 1/2" barrels.
So for the typical 44 mag "bear load" of 300 gr hardcast, 1300 fps from a 7 1/2" tube, 1200 fps from a 5", and 1100 fps from a 2". Even at 1100 fps, a 300 gr hardcast will penetrate very deeply.
I agree. Even with longer barrels, that's the velocity range I strive for as a matter of controllability.
In my book defensive shooting is all about fast, well-placed shots. No sense having a cylinder of 6 if you can only get off 1 or 2. Kind of like the old helicopter pilots' advice on surviving a crash: "Keep flying the bird till the last part stops moving."
Same for defensive shooting. Keep shooting till the last part stops moving.
That all adds up to double-action shooting for me. With boomers I do better with ported barrels, and a ported 4" barrel always has been much more controllable for me than a 2" barrel, ported or not. Reduce recoil a bit by holding velocities down to around 1100 fps, and you have a controllable package for fast accurate shooting--- with lots of practice of course.
On top of all that, I tune my actions for DA shooting. Careful polishing and the right spring kit makes a huge difference.
A guy named Chris Yeager who works at a Gun shop in Fairbanks was going bear baiting up on the Elliot last year and shot a Grizz that charged him as he was trying to do his business in the woods off the highway. He said that he walked out into the woods to relieve himself when he heard what sounded like a horse running, when he turned around all he saw was brown fur. Shot it once with his 460 and that turned the bear all the way around. He shot it two more times before it stopped moving, but his 460 pretty efficiently stopped the full charge at less than 10 yards. If you ask him what is enough gun for grizz, he'll tell you 460, cuz thats what he has shot one with. There was an article about it in the News Miner.
That's an interesting story.
Did Chris have his food in a bear proof container?
Smitty of the North
I'm glad to hear you say that, and I hope we're right.
Originally Posted by BrownBear
Smitty of the North
I've whapped lots of game up to elk and one moose with those loads, as well as done comparative penetration tests. Thankfully I've never had to stick a bear, but experience and testing have convinced me that penetration with a heavy bullet @ 1100 or so is plenty. You get a little more at 1300, but a lot less than you would think. I'll take the extra accuracy and speed over the extra few inches any day.