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Thread: The "Just Right" Bear-Country Gun

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    Member Big Country's Avatar
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    Default The "Just Right" Bear-Country Gun

    Howdy, folks!

    While researching the best firearm to carry when traipsing around bear country, I decided a stainless, lever-action rifle chambered in .45-70 or a version of the .50 Alaskan cartridge. The quality of Marlin rifles is suspect these days, and a Big Horn Model 89 is quite expensive, so I steered toward revolvers instead.

    My preference would be one of the Linebaugh conversions in .475 or .500 Linebaugh, or a Freedom Arms Model 83 in .500 Wyoming Express. Since I don't have that kind of money to spend, or an entire year to wait due to the demand for Mr. Linebaugh's work, that left me with production revolvers from larger manufacturers.

    I don't want a Smith and Wesson for a number of reasons, not the least of which is my experience carrying a hefty 460 XVR while accompanying friends on a moose hunt. There are enough things in the Bush requiring one's attention, and keeping one's pants up should not be one of them. It also seems that mooning an agitated bear is not a wise tactical maneuver.

    The .44 Magnum or .454 Casull would certainly work, but from my perspective, the best alternative to the cartridges mentioned above is the .480 Ruger. But Ruger only chambers this cartridge in snub-nose and hunting-length versions of their Super Redhawk. I'm fine with a short .357 Magnum, but for this sort of cartridge, I want more barrel—just not 7+ inches of it.

    So I split the difference and had a 7.5" SRH cut to suit me. I could have gone the Mag-Na-Port route like Snyd's friend, but I want all those hot gases directed downrange. This, then, is the "just right" bear-county gun—for me at least.



    This winter I'll look for a gunsmith who can/will crown the barrel properly, and who will help me with a better solution for sights (i.e., XS Big Dot or Meprolight).
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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Here's mine......



    45 LC shooting 325 grn Buffalo Bores.

    Nothing special, but all I feel I need.......
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    If it is loaded with good ammo, you can shoot it well, and keep it where it can be accessed quickly- then it is the 'best' one for you! Sounds like a nice gun. I admit that I find 4merguides wheelgun much more aesthetically pleasing and a hot loaded 45LC is very hard to dispute. I appreciate the SRH for what it is but only like the look of the scope mounts with a longer barrel and a scope on top- that is something I hunted with quite a bit. Good luck with your build. I would recommend looking at a ghost ring rear sight (no pun intended)!

  4. #4

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    Fine choice of caliber and revolver for sure...plenty of punch for anything in North America for sure. I have the 5" Ruger Toklat .454 and love it.


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    I have ghost ring rear sights on several carry guns and once you get used to them they are point and shoot guns...front sight on target and shoot at any reasonable self defense range.
    Somewhere along the way I have lost the ability to act politically correct. If you should find it, please feel free to keep it.

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    Member .338-06's Avatar
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    I love your choice-it looks just like mine! A 400gr hard cast lead bullet going 1200fps should do the trick and still be controllable. I'm going to make some 400gr loads using Trail Boss, just for giggles. I wonder what 400grs moving at 600-700fps feels like to shoot?
    I may be slow, but I get where I'm going!

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    That should do nice.
    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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    Member stevelyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    Here's mine......



    45 LC shooting 325 grn Buffalo Bores.

    Nothing special, but all I feel I need.......

    Same here. Still playing around with my own handload for it.

    I have the article and data that Brian Pearce published in Handloader last fall that pushes it into .454 realm.
    Now what ?

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    Member 2dawgs's Avatar
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    Nice shooting irons guys. They should do just fine. I know what ya mean about chunky S&W's, I have a .500. Finally found a chest rig for it, mucho better...BTW, I still hate shooting that thing.

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    Member S.B.'s Avatar
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    Your concerns about cost puzzle me. Just how much do you have in this conversion? Cost of handgun+conversion(or is the work done in house?). IMHO when thinking of adding bells and whistles the weight goes up quickly. Therefore, I'd opt to just leave as is and carry, looks to be more than adequate now? Nice looking handgun you've got there. I've always said Ruger should chamber their Toklat in .480.
    Steve

  11. #11

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    "Just fine" is one you'll carry all the time and can shoot well.

    If you leave it home or can't shoot fast and accurate, you might as well invest your money in a company that manufactures bear spray.

  12. #12

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    Would be good to learn how bears communicate to you. Just because a bear is in camp, or close to you does not mean it is threatening to harm you. You will need to fill out the paper work for a DLP killing, skin the bear, and pack out the hide and skull to Fish and Game. A big bear hide with skull in, can weigh up to 190 pounds, or more......that is a heavy backpack load for some people. A friend paid a $1,100.00 fine for NOT skinning a DLP bear in a timely manner. The DLP was justified........his mistake was in not skinning and surrendering the hide and skull.

    Spend enough time in the wilderness, learning the ways of the wilderness, and you will be less fearful of bears, and more at one with the wilderness, and not experience wilderness as a hostile environment.

    There is a massive difference between entering Alaska wilderness as if it was your home, and entering said wilderness as if it is a hostile, dangerious environment.

    Entered one way and you have entered Heaven........enter the other and you are in a type of fearful hell.

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevelyn View Post
    Same here. Still playing around with my own handload for it.

    I have the article and data that Brian Pearce published in Handloader last fall that pushes it into .454 realm.
    I'd have to say that those Buff bores pushing a 325 grn slug at 1325 (don't know about in a 4") is more than enough for my liking.......in fact they scare the hell outta me!!!........lol. Can't really imagine going any closer to the 454.............ouch...!!!
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Member jdb3's Avatar
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    Here is mine, a 480 that Wildwest Guns worked over for me. I especially like the option for moon clips. I agree, 400 to 420 gr bullet at 1200 fps will take care of anything you are going to run into. Jim
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdb3 View Post
    Here is mine, a 480 that Wildwest Guns worked over for me. I especially like the option for moon clips. I agree, 400 to 420 gr bullet at 1200 fps will take care of anything you are going to run into. Jim
    I like the lanyard ring you have on that. Is it permanent or can you take it off and put it back on quickly?

  16. #16

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    Here's my 480 that I cropped myself. Looks kinda small next to that pile...
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    Armymark, it is from Bowan Classic Arms and yes I can take it off but have not had the need. It is out of the way when not attached but it is nice knowing the gun will stay with me no matter what happens. Jim

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    I think AGL4 gave the best advice, if new Marlins are suspect, what about old marlins or a 12ga pump....?
    A handgun for bear protection is better than nothing, but by the time you are actually pulling a trigger on a attacking bear I doubt you would need any sights... forget the scope and the ghost rings unless you are specifically hunting them with a handgun, In which case that is a completely different story...

    As far as getting a S&W and holding yer pants up, get one of these as you can then carry a pack.... if your inclined


    Made in AK too http://www.diamonddcustomleather.com/Holsters.html
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    Member Big Country's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2dawgs View Post
    ...I know what ya mean about chunky S&W's, I have a .500. Finally found a chest rig for it, mucho better...BTW, I still hate shooting that thing.
    Definitely the way to go.

    Quote Originally Posted by S.B. View Post
    Your concerns about cost puzzle me...I've always said Ruger should chamber their Toklat in .480.
    Steve
    The cost of a stock revolver plus minor machining is far less than a Freedom Arms piece or a Linebaugh/Bowen-type conversion. And, yes, a Toklat in .480 Ruger would have been great.

    Quote Originally Posted by FootedShaft View Post
    Here's my 480 that I cropped myself. Looks kinda small next to that pile...
    Right on!


    Yes, I could have chosen any off-the-shelf .44/.454/.480 revolver and worked to become proficient with it. I like to explore possibilities, and I want a revolver that I want to shoot when I can, even though I never want it to be necessary to defend myself with it.

    It took me a few months of perusing catalogs, comparing specifications, and handling pistols at stores before I settled on a daily-carry gun (which I also enjoy shooting, and also never want to have to use). This was a similar but less complicated process, and I view this gun as back-up to the bear spray which I already carry.

    Nothing wrong with an Alaskan or any other such gun that work for lots of folks. Just my solution to a question that has been answered thousands of times before.

  20. #20

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    You guys and your guns make my stainless .44 Mag. S&W Mountain gun firing 280 grain LBT's seem puny. I still yearn for a bigger and badder hand gun caliber from Bowen or Reeder. but I don't know if I would want to spend much time shooting it. I see the value in them though. Help me out here guys. What hand cannon would old Elmer choose if he was in his prime today?

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