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Thread: side arm/ bear protection

  1. #1
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    Default side arm/ bear protection

    ok the question is I am looking for a new side arm, and am curious about your inputs. My biggest dilemna is the fact that with the training i have received i am much more comfortable and accurate with a compact semi. I am looking at either glock or sig's .357. do you think that will suffice?


    v/r ET3 wade

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    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Default




    Check the Archives..this topic has been debated ad naseum...no offense..

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    Thumbs up Archives

    As AlaskaHippie says, there really is quite a bit in the archives. You can search the archive material from the past few years by following the "old forums" link at the top of each page. There is a google or database search. You'll find lots there on this topic, and hundreds of others.

    David

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    Member alaska bush man's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Glock 20 in 10mm

    I have a Glock 20 in 10mm with Hornady 200 gr XTP makes a good black bear pistol. Don't suggest any 357 Sig.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default My Take

    I have absolutely no opinion on this whatsoever...

    Heh.
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    I know there is tons of info on this in the archives, but I'll tell you what I have just done. I backpack quite a bit, hunting and camping, and after a close encounter with a bear last year my wife told me to carry a sidearm, which I have never done. I wasn't looking forward to the weight so I bought a S&W 329PD, a 44 mag which weighs only 26 oz. I carry it on the backpack hipbelt in cross-draw and don't even know its there. It's not much fun to shoot, especially with 300 grainers but at a few feet it will do the job, I think. Just in case, I took the sights off it.

  7. #7
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Advice on bear protection

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskajim
    I know there is tons of info on this in the archives, but I'll tell you what I have just done. I backpack quite a bit, hunting and camping, and after a close encounter with a bear last year my wife told me to carry a sidearm, which I have never done. I wasn't looking forward to the weight so I bought a S&W 329PD, a 44 mag which weighs only 26 oz. I carry it on the backpack hipbelt in cross-draw and don't even know its there. It's not much fun to shoot, especially with 300 grainers but at a few feet it will do the job, I think. Just in case, I took the sights off it.
    Jim,

    As was previously mentioned, this subject has been hammered to death here many times. But your post intrigued me because it illustrates the value of all the advice that's already been given. This might seem a little harsh, but please understand that it is with the best of intentions that I now ask, "If you have already decided to completely ignore the advice against using the .44 as a primary backup weapon for bears, why tell us about it?" We're trying to give out the best, safest advice on this subject that we can come up with, and it's pretty much a universally-held view that the .44 is not an adequate weapon for this purpose. Here are some other phrases I've read here over the years in defense of lighter calibers, none of which address the inadequacy of the weapon itself.

    "It's all about accurate placement of the first shot"
    "It's the biggest gun I have / can afford"
    "I use it for fighting my way back to my rifle"
    "It's better than nothing"
    "Fred Fritzsimmons killed one with a .22"
    "I just use it for a noisemaker"
    "I can't handle the heavy recoil of a larger weapon"
    "It doesn't weigh much"
    "It's small, therefore I'm more likely to carry it"
    "I can really shoot it well"


    A bear doesn't care how much practice you've had, whether you've worked on shooting it on your weak side, whether you carry it in a cross-draw holster, or whether you look like Clint Eastwood or John Wayne, or a total Cheechacko with that thing in your hand. None of the above statements have anything to do with the inherent effectiveness of a .44, nor are they an adequate defense for carrying one in large carnivore country. There might be a handful of folks out there that could consistently git 'er done with a lighter handgun (right now about a thousand guys reading this think it's them), but the average guy out there needs something larger. Here's the bottom line:

    If you're going to carry a firearm for bear protection (and most long-time Alaskans don't), you need to carry a large-caliber rifle or shotgun. There are 2-3 handguns out there that will do the job, but recoil is such that you're only going to get one well-aimed shot out of them.

    All the .44 is gonna do is imbue you with a false sense of security, and make you look like an over-cautious greenhorn.

    None of that is intended as personal, and I apologize if it upsets you. What concerns me is that thousands of folks read this board, and some will take your words as evidence that some Alaskans use the .44, so it must be adequate. It's not. There's a slight chance that one of these people may find themselves under a bear some day, wondering how come all those little .44-sized holes aren't slowing down his efforts to chew on their arm...

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    New member Longbow's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan
    ...All the .44 is gonna do is imbue you with a false sense of security, and make you look like an over-cautious greenhorn.

    ...that some Alaskans use the .44, so it must be adequate. It's not. There's a slight chance that one of these people may find themselves under a bear some day, wondering how come all those little .44-sized holes aren't slowing down his efforts to chew on their arm...
    From today's ADN ... seems adequate ... sure a rifle would have worked too ...

    "Gillespie drew his .44 revolver, just as a pair of adult bears burst from dense brush 15 yards away, he said.

    The roaring grizzlies, hackles on end, lowered their heads and charged. He said he thumped warning shots into the ground before them, scaring one off.

    But the bigger bear, about 400 pounds, kept coming. Gillespie fired three rounds, hitting the grizzly with a death blow to the temple. The animal collapsed with a sigh about 12 feet away, he said."

    http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/wildl...-7769246c.html

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    Default Bear guns..

    Mike, I've seen your views on bear protection time and time again and know where you stand with them, but in this post I just have to disagree with you. A lot of people are simply not going to carry a long gun on every outing while backpacking, hiking, etc....that's their decision. What they might be more apt to carry is a handgun and whether you think it's enough gun or not, it is better than NOTHING at all. Some friends of mine stopped a charging sow grizzly down on the Kenai at 7 yards with a 10mm...and killed it. They accidentally got between a sow and a cub as they were walking down the trail. The cub on one side, the sow on the other...they had no idea that either the sow or cub was even there. Had they not had that gun one or both of them might have had some serious problems. Something is better than nothing and I bet 9 out of 10 readers on this forum do not carry a long gun every time out. Just my .02.

  10. #10
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    Lightbulb Considerations

    If your only idea of protection is KILLING a large bear before it reaches you, then a pistol isn't the best choice I bet. A large bear on adrenaline probably won't be stopped by the force of a 357, 44, etc. Carrying a pistol is not as good an idea as things like making noise while your in the woods (but that ain't gonna happen if your in the woods hunting), keeping a clean camp, not travelling alone, staying off bear trails, away from salmon streams(assuming your not fishing), etc. However, there is more to protection than killing the animal. A pistol makes ALOT of noise. It has to be effective, used at the proper time, in deterring a bear that may be thinking of charging you. If you think that carrying a pistol at east gives you another option in deterring bears and protecting yourself from them, I would agree. Just be aware that it may not be the best form of LAST minute self defense.

    I would also say that grizzlys are not the only bears you may need protection from. Blacks can also pose a threat. 357 and 44 size pistols do offer decent protection from black bears. Heck, there's a thread on this forum right now about hunting moose with a pistol. It seems odd to be reading about dropping large bull moose with a 41 mag, then telling folks they shouldn't carry a pistol for bear protection.
    Here's a link to a story in the Anch newpaper where a guy DID drop a bear with a handgun.
    http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/wildl...-7769246c.html

    Bear protection entails much more than having a sidearm available. I think I'd rather go into bear country with an extra human or 2 at my side than just with a pistol. But I don't think we can argue the options a gun of any size offers those who venture out, even if that gun won't kill the bear.
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    Default Other options

    I think the reason everybody automatically says handgun is due to weight and size. Something a lot of people overlook are the "smaller" long guns.

    I have a Winchester Model 94 Timber in .450 Marlin that I carry when in bear country. Just a hair under 6 lbs., compact, factory ported (an added bonus as now it's the loudest rifle I have, should add to the scare factor), and with the ghost ring rear and peep front it points quicker than my finger.

    The outfitter on my Saskatchewan black bear hunt, after seeing what it did to my bear and how it handled, offered me twice what I paid for it to leave it when I left.

    I don't think anybody can deny that the .450 Marlin, developing almost 3500ft/lbs at the muzzle, using a 350gr bullet is great bear medicine for up close.

    I've carried it fly fishing and had my fishing partners have to remind me not to go in too deep because it was strapped across my back and I had forgotten about it.

    I guess what it all boils down to is to carry as much of a weapon as you can. It doesn't do any good if it's left at the truck because it's too heavy, and by the same token if you can't hit anything with it (because you're afraid to shoot it in practice because you're afraid of the recoil), it doesn't do you any good to have it with you.

    Listen to everybody's advice, and then do what you think is right (and feel comfortable with it).

  12. #12
    Member jmg's Avatar
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    Default Bear Protection

    Most of the advice I see on this forum from Mike Strahan is very good advice. On this topic, however, I guess I would just have to say be careful Mike. Your post tends to read as though one would be far better off without a gun at all than they would be with a 44 strapped on that they have practiced with and can safely and adequately shoot. You say it is a "universally held view" that a 44 is inadequate. As the post linking the ADN article would suggest, others obviously disagree. I have only been in AK for two years so I cannot say I have the experience to preach on this topic by any means. But since I have been up here, there have been a couple of bears killed in the Anchorage area with these weapons. Just after I arrived in AK there was a story in the ADN about a man walking his dog, bear came out of the brush at about 15-20 yards. He plugged it with either a 357 or 44 round, that he had often practiced with, and they bear took off. Fish and game came and they found the bear in the brush a ways off, badly injured, and they finished it off. About 10 minutes later, the local high school cross country team came running up that trail. Luckily this guy did not hold to your "universally held view."

    Does that mean a 44 will always work? Of course not, it would be silly to say such a thing. Many people carry pepper spray (I believe sportsman's wharehouse sells a lot of this stuff). Will that always work? Of course not. But it is universally held that it will never work? Of course not.

    I think the only "universally held view" is really to make as much noise as you can and avoid bear encounters at all cost. When that doesn't work, use what you have, whether it be pepper spray, a 44, a 30-06, or just your arms flailing in the air to scare it off, and then hope for the best. I understand your views on this subject Mike, and certainly respect where you are coming from - if a bear really wants to get you, it probably has a better than not chance of doing so even if you hit it with a 44. But, to say it is totally inept as bear protection seems silly. As demonstrated in the posts here, someone fired near the bears and one ran away. I would think the loud boom would have some impact at scaring some bears off. Additionally, although it might not kill the bear on impact unless very well placed, a shot from a 44 has got to not feel good, and will at least give the bear something to think about before it actually takes the last 10-15 steps.

    Personally, I have practiced with my own 44 by shooting hundreds of rounds through it, and carry it on every fishing trip in the backcountry. My plan - make lots of noise and never get into the situation where I have to use it. But if this situation came up, it will sure as hell beat poking the bear in the eye with my fly rod.

  13. #13
    Member jdb3's Avatar
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    Default Handgun efficacy

    I too carry a handgun when in the woods. I've lived in Alaska for a long time, first time in Kodiak in the early 70's. While there we experimented with 357 and 44 mags. Kodiak bears did not even acknowledge us when the 357 went off. They did, however, take notice when the 44 went off.

    Here in Southeast I usually carry a 44 special. I live on a black bear island and have very little chance of running into a brown bear. In brown bear territory I carry a Super Redhawk in 480 Ruger caliber (Wildwest Guns Wolverine). I know it will get me out of trouble if I have time to employ it.

    One of our local guides had that kind of encounter last year and said if he had a pistol, or even a knife; he would have had time to use it as the bear was chewing on him. You are really under armed and out gunned when you try to beat a bear off of you with your fists.

    It all boils down to how well you use the firearm you have with you. If I know I'm likely to encounter a bear I will be carrying a suitable rifle or shotgun. Otherwise, I normally carry a pistol I have complete confidence in. After all, a noted gun writer killed an American bison with a 475-caliber pistol from 60 yards away. He was using a 410-grain hard cast LBT bullet at 1000 fps. I can achieve that with my 480 Ruger. It went completely through both shoulders of the bison and that is all the penetration I need to kill any bear that walks the face of the earth!

    Enjoy the out of doors and take all precautions you can. As Teddy Roosevelt said, "speak softly and carry a big stick". My stick goes bang. Jim

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    Thumbs up Right on Jim

    I couldn't have said it better JIM. The .480 is the way to go. I have done a lot of experimenting with this large caliber hand cannon. I find it very easy to shoot, with devastating results. I shot an old junked out car using 365gr bullet. It went through the front side quarter panel, through the entire “big block” engine and out the side panel on the other side. The exist hole was almost twice the diameter of the bullet. It retained its mass and near shape. Thats massive penetration...The only other caliber that I have seen do something similar to this is the .50 cal 695gr TMJ (Fired from the BIG rifle). The .454 and 44mag never made it all the way through… I am absolutely sure if I were to hit a big bear, in the head with this thing. It would be similar to hitting a watermelon, it would just explode…. But I pray that I never have to do it.

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    Default Bear Protection non-leathal measure

    Bear Protection generally ends up in violence done to some poor bear just looking for a modest morsel of food. Imagine if you went to McDonald's and some crazy animal opened fire on you?

    Well, there is a safe, effective and enviro-friendly solution to keep you and mother nature's teddy bear free from conflict.

    When entering Mr. Bear's playground, carry some spare cats along.
    Yes, cats are a great source of Bear Protection. When approached by Mr. Bruin one can simply let the cat out of the bag and punt, pass or kick it straight away at the Bear. The Cat on a Javilen or the shot put cat toss are effective too, but my favorite and most effective use is the 40 yd HAIL MARY pass!! FORGET muzzle velocity, fps, bullet weight or even caliber when you could have 20 sharpend claws attached to a totally freaked out cat falling from a perfect punt coming down on the bear like a fur comet!! Triple the firepower with the effect of a kitty 3 round burst. That bear will be out of there.

    Everyone wins! the bear leaves you alone, no more stray cat getting in your garbage, what could possibly be more effective?

    CAT vs 44mag
    free to a good home Federal paperwork, lots of money, need expensive bullets
    makes noise while in carrier While holstered, just rides on your belt
    less crap in kids sandbox needs to be stored in locked box away from everybody
    easy to carry dangerous to carry when drunk or very angry

    God, Guns and Guts is what made America Great

  16. #16
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    Default bigger handguns

    I went on a caribou hunt with a guy last year who had a S&W .500 and the gun is huge and heavy. So much so that he didn't even pack it with him when he hunted and didn't have it on him when he shot a black bear and had to go track it into the aulders. (Lots of grizzlies here too). So I would have to say that if you are going to use a pistol for bear protection you might as well have one that you don't have a problem packing. the 329 is a superb gun for this reason.
    On another note Taurus has made a similar pistol to the 329 (and lots cheaper)however I've been told by a few smiths that they do not feel that it is built strong enough to stand up to shooting the heavy bear loads. Not a good combination.
    Just my .02
    Justin
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  17. #17

    Default My two cents!

    "I am looking at either glock or sig's .357. do you think that will suffice? "

    v/r ET3 wade[/quote]

    I've never been to Alaska but I do hunt and guide for black bears. There was a time I carried a Glock #32 in .357 sig. It is a great gun if you're going to a gun fight in the back alleys of New York City... BUT not enough gun for black bears. I've also gotten rid of my .44 in favor of the Smith & Wesson Model 500 with a 4 inch ported barrel. As handguns go, it's not light (3.5 lbs empty) but it carries well on the hip or cross shoulder. It is the most powerfull production handgun you can buy, it's very accurate (4 shots in 10 inch ring in under 5 seconds at 50 yards.) The real benefit to me is I can buy loads from ultra lite (no recoil) all the way up to a 700 grain load. For black bear I carry a 350 gr XTP with 2116 ft. lbs - energy at 1650 fps. On grizzly, (never hunted them) I'd carry the 535 gr. Keith Style hardcast bullet with 2008 ft. lbs - energy. You can get all types of loads through: www.ballisticsupply.net.

    That being said, I must add my two cents worth. IF I ever find myself in grizzly bear country, I'm going to follow the advice of the experts - such as Dr. Stephen Herrero or Dr. Smith and carry several deterents... including pepper spray and all the "bells & whistles" I can find. That includes the biggest gun I can accurately handle!

  18. #18
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Okay, let's go with this...

    Quote Originally Posted by whateveri8
    ...carry some spare cats along.
    Though I disagree with nearly everything you said (after all, I have my reputation to keep up), I'm liking this cat idea. Of course I've always maintained the view that there's nothing wrong with a cat that cannot be fixed with a 12 gauge shotgun, but I digress...

    It's widely known that cats and bears are mortal enemies (when was the last time you saw the two together?) Therefore, this idea has merit on biological grounds alone. You no doubt have noticed few cats in bear country, and few bears in cat country. Bears are totally intimidated by cats, whether they be Persian, Siamese, or any of the many mixed breeds developed specifically for running bears in the thick stuff.

    This idea could serve several purposes simultaneously (which is the Italian word for "at the same time"). Any cats that escape will reproduce in the wild, which provides yet another species of vermin to hunt from the air as a winter pastime, or to run down on snowmachines. Everyone knows that cats are capable of reproducing even without a member of the opposite sex... I don't know if they go through a hermaphroditic transition or if they're self-fertilizing, but one cat quickly becomes a dozen if left to itself. I read somewhere that they go into estrous every three or four days, and with a gestation period of something like three weeks; anyone with even a moderate ability to count (that's me) can see that one cat is capable of producing 16,000 offspring in a year's time. This is bound to provide lots of hunting enjoyment for years to come.

    The downside is of course the tendancy cats have to urinate on your shoes, if left outside (the shoes, not the cat- though it would be difficult but not impossible for a cat left inside to urinate on shoes left outside), their affinity for clawing waders, and the way they leave cat hair all over your clothes. Speaking of cat urine, if somebody could bottle it (go ahead, you know you want to try this), and mix it with cow moose urine, you might have something there. A concoction with the aroma of cow-in-heat and the staying power of cat urine (which has a half-life of 78 years)... brother, you've got a money-maker there. You'll have bull moose trying to get into your gear shed in the off season.

    On a more practical side, you've got to find a way to propel the cat in the bears' direction. You might have to bring along a cat wrangler (hard to find, because of the high demand), who usually handles them with long-gauntlet leather gloves and a leather blacksmith-type apron. Alternatively you could go with a large slingshot. Of course everyone knows that the best way is with a cat-apult. But this takes time to set up. Works best in a base camp situation where you have time to cover the entire perimeter. The trebuchet will get you even more distance, and could be useful at ranges over 100 yards, but at those distances it's hard to tell if the bear is actually charging or if he's paying cash. By the way, the term "trebuchet" is the French word for, "big wooden thing that slings cats a long ways". Weerrrow!

    Intriguing idea.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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  19. #19
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    Default Provide supporting data?

    Just out of curiosity, what is the real percentage of failure when using a handgun for bear protection? Some proclaim the foolishness of using a handgun for bear protection but can you please support your opinion with data?

    Can someone please post a few links to situations in recent history (10 years) where a person in possession of a handgun was actually killed, Alaska or otherwise? How commonly does a bear kill someone when they have a handgun? If a person was killed while in possession of a handgun, the fact that they were carrying a handgun would be vigorously reported. A lot of people carry handguns in Alaska. It is well documented that some people are killed without any gun and some people are killed with long guns in their possession. How many and at what average frequency does a handgun totin woodsmen meet their demise from a bear attack?

    I did a little internet searching and compiled a few links involving cases over the last few years where handguns were used against bears to preserve life. These are cases officially reported and investigated. I know many, probably most cases of defensive action with either a handgun or rifle go un-reported because human life is not lost and/or the individual wants to avoid the inherently messy legalities if the bear is killed and reported.

    The below linked incidents involve firearm trained individuals, individuals with no obvious training, small (22) through large (44) calibers, semi-auto and revolver. I have more links but I chose these for the variety of calibers, variety in type of handgun, and apparent variety of individual’s training. Some but not all are from Alaska.

    http://www.shewolfworks.com/wolfsong...events_882.htm

    http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/...511280308/1009

    http://www.wmsa.net/news/FoxNews/fn-..._bear_head.htm

    http://www.nrapublications.org/tah/closestcall.asp

    Partway down under subject: “Handgun Stops Bear Attack!”
    http://www.canfirearms.ca/archives/t...99/v01n312.txt

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNew...s_name=&no_ads

    http://sleepless.blogs.com/george/20...illed_wit.html

    Manitoba RCMP account,
    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNew...hub=TopStories

    So please post the unsuccessful handgun cases so we can compare data rather than opinion on the effectiveness of a handgun in saving your life in bear country. IMHO successful means the person survived, I don’t care if the bear dies, is wounded, or is even hit. My definition of a bear backup gun is the one that keeps ME alive!


    Just a couple links of interest for a chuckle:
    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNew..._name=&no_ads=

    Check out item 8 of “How to avoid bear attacks:”
    http://www.blackbearheaven.com/bear-...-on-humans.htm

  20. #20

    Default S&W 44 Mag

    I carry a S&W 329PD with me at all times when I venture into the woods. I believe the holster is an Alaskan Outfitter chest holster with two pockets for speed loaders. I load the handgun and the 2 speed loaders with 300 gr. Federal round. This handgun is notorious for its recoil, so I purchased the S&W 500 mag grips for added control and reduction in recoil. I still need more practice but I can unload 6 rounds while holding an ok pattern. My wrist might sting a tad afterwards, but the light weight package is well worth the wrist pain. I know adrenaline rushed circumstances are different but the more practice the better chance you will have.

    The fact of the matter is carrying a shotgun or long rifle isnt always practicle. I have carried long rifles, shotguns, spray, and handguns in the past and the 329 is by far my weapon of choice. The rest stay in my safe %90 of the time. My previous handgun was a heavy 6 1/2 44 mag in a side holster that tugged on my pants to reveal a half moon. My wife was sick of starring at crack so she bought me the 329. :-)

    I have a hard time believing a 44 mag in the hands of a well practiced shooter is completely inadequate for bear protection. Yes, there are better choices but no one can convince me a 44 isnt worth carrying. To me this seems like one of those internet over exaggerations. Something is better than nothing, and I know a lot of people who do just that. Carry NOTHING. Also there are a few instances where I would rather carry a handgun than any other type of firearm. How effective is a shotgun or rifle if a bear is directly on top of you?

    I have heard the argument many times. "For bear you need a high powered rifle with an expanding bullet to hit as many vital organs as possible." "What you really need is a handgun with a heavy slow moving non expanding bullet to break down the bear at the shoulders." "The best bear protection is a shotgun with buckshot and slugs." I am sure there is some valuable info in all of those arguments but I will stick with my 44 mag until my mind is drastically changed by a close encounter. In my time spent in the woods people are more potentially harmful than any animal that I have encountered. By far, there are more triggy happy *****s on the trail than dangerous animals. I am sure a 44 mag would work well on a two legged predator as well.

    EDIT: On top of my general opinion, I know a few people who have killed bears with .223, 25-06 and one guy I ride with hunts bear with a 50 cal black powder rifle. They may not be the best of choices for bear protection, and I am not saying you should run down to Boonies and buy a 25-06, but what I am trying to say with enough practice you dont need the largest caliber rifle or shotgun on the market.
    Last edited by Water_Gremlin; 06-19-2006 at 20:49.

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