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Thread: 44 mag/Bear

  1. #1

    Default 44 mag/Bear

    What the best factory ammo, for 44 mag for bear.

    Jim

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    Member alaska bush man's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Ammo

    tend to stick to heavier bullets than the 240gr. for bears

    The 270 Speer GDSP is excellent.......(Favorite)

    Win 250 Platium HP is good

    Hornady 300gr HP is good.

    Fed Cast Core 300gr (Hardcast is excellent but do not expect expansion)

  3. #3

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    Cor-bon "Hunter" .44 mag has a good reputation, as does Garret's .44 mag. Garret has several choices depending on your gun make - some are too long to fit in certain cylinders. I haven't yet shot either ammo, though, so I can't vouch for them.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by alaska bush man View Post
    ...Fed Cast Core 300gr (Hardcast is excellent but do not expect expansion)
    +1 for 300 grain Cast Core. No expansion but yes to penetration. Also, Buffalo Bore has some ammo that they claim will penetrate a bear's skull. Don't know for sure, I guess you have to take their word for it until you have done it yourself.

  5. #5

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    Just shot my Double Tap 320 Gr WFN stuff today..... it is impressive to say the least. It would be downright unpleasant to shoot a full box in one session, but I definitely don't feel under-gunned with it. 320 hardcast at 1250 or so out of the 5.5" barrel.... good stuff for any application that required deep penetration..... and at $40 per box of 50 it's much more reasonable than a lot of the hot/heavy loads out there.

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    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    I use the 340 grain Buffalo Bore. I have never had to use them on a bear, but they seem like they will do the job. I would also take into account what kind of revolver you are using. Some guns won't hold up to heavy rounds like others will. I would never shoot those 340 grain bullets out of a taurus, but have no problem shooting them through my redhawk.

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    This a very old and often well worn subject.

    "I have a new 44 mag and want the best loads for bears".

    Jacketed soft point bullets regardless of the name or manufacturer are not the best choice for any tough, thick bodied animal. They tend to expand, deform, rivet, flatten out at impact and almost never get deep enough to find the vitals.

    Hard, tough non expanding bullets will penetrate much better than ANY soft point. It is this penetration that helps assure the marginally powered handgun round to get to the vitals.

    Heavy for caliber bullets have greater momentum than lighter bullets and momentum helps with penetration.

    In the 44 mag the various 300-325 grain hard cast bullets loaded to max are you best bet. Almost all the bullets are made to be very similar. They are loaded with about the same amount of the same powder (H110). The are mostly loaded to the same velocity by the various ammo makers. Some makers use catchy names for their loads such as 'cast core' but they are just hard cast lead alloy bullet with a flat nose and typically are LBT style WFNGC bullets of 300 or 320 grains. Almost all of the bullets are made by Cast Performance. Any of these are about the best performance you can get with the puny 44 mag for bear loads.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Default 300 gr jacketed soft point

    I use a 300 gr sierra bullet. About 1250 fps. It shots really well out of my gun and recoil is not to bad

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    Quote Originally Posted by swapdonkey View Post
    I use a 300 gr sierra bullet. About 1250 fps. It shots really well out of my gun and recoil is not to bad
    That really wasn't the question, but that's good to know. Yes the Sierra bullets are the jacketed bullet for accuracy and for frail ungulates like deer, but what do you think of that load for brown bear?
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Default 44Mag for Bear?

    I thought it would be interesting to see how the energy levels compare with various catridges/bullets

    Typical energies I found in a quick survey from an easy source are shown below. If I had a lot of time I would have done an exhaustive search for the best anti-bear defensive loads for each cartridge, but, alas, I have to eat.

    energy
    ft lbs Cartridge

    156 38 Special
    280 38 Special
    336 44 Special
    570 357 Magnum
    1040 44 Magnum
    1100 41 Magnum
    1828 475 Linebaugh
    1925 454 Casull
    2870 500 Smith
    3550 300 Winchester Magnum
    4600 600 Nitro Express
    4660 375 H&H (Holland and Holland)
    5327 416 Remington Magnum
    6050 416 Weatherby Magnum
    6062 378 Weatherby Magnum
    6660 577 Nitro Express
    14404 700 Nitro Express

    Note that the 500 Smith delivers 10 times the 38 special. The 41 Mag delivers virtually the same (though usually in a lighter bullet) as the 44 Mag, the Smith delivers 3 times the energy as the 44 Mag and my firearm of choice (which does not exist to my knowledge) for defensive work against a charging bear would be the 700 Nitro Express, probably in a double barrel over/under pistol. The only question is, "Which is worse, to be mauled by the front end of a bear or the back end of a 700 Nitro?." Out of a rifle, it delivers a 1000 grain bullet at 14,400 ft lbs of energy. It was developed to be used as the BACKUP gun for when the primary hunter using something like the .577 Nitro doesn't do the job. 12 Guage Brenneke slug is something like a quarter of that and the 375 H&H one-third.

    Remember also that there is no substitute for mass. And frontal area. Energy may determine penetration, but momentum breaks bone.

    Lost Sheep (Larry)
    Last edited by Lost Sheep; 01-14-2008 at 23:44. Reason: paragraphing

  11. #11

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    Interesting chart, Lost Sheep; it might deserve a sticky. I'd like to see .480 Ruger slipped in there just before .475 Linebaugh. I've read energy ratings of about 1100-1400 ft-lbs. for various loads.

  12. #12

    Default My $0.02 on the .44 mag.

    Larry's list of energies makes the .44 mag. appear woefully inadequate for brown bear defense. However I think some people have used it successfully and some unsuccessfully. Still, I have made a personal decision to always carry a minimum .30-06 rifle (about 2900 ft. lbs. at the muzzle) when worried about bears. If I can't carry my rifle, I probably won't go. Otherwise, I will do what I can with my .44 mag. I have shot larger caliber handguns and I find some with tolerable recoil and weight but none that I enjoy shooting on a regular basis for practice other than the .44. I really liked the Taurus Raging Bull in .454 Casull but I started damaging my hearing with the muzzle blast and I didn't think it was worth the permanent hearing damage to keep shooting that hand cannon.

    I always used ear plugs and ear muffs for protection but it was never enough. It's nice to be able to just shoot your weapon for spontaneous target practice while out in the wilderness. I wouldn't dare do that with the .454 and I don't carry ear protection on hunting or hiking trips. With the .44, I feel free to just fire off a few rounds without having my ears ringing for the next week. For this reason, the .44 is my favorite wilderness handgun round. That's also the reason I don't like ported barrels. I would rather have the recoil than the muzzle blast.

    The .44 may be inadequate for a first response bear weapon so make it the second response and go to a rifle first. As a backup weapon, the .44 is extremely versatile and trustworthy.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfeye View Post
    Interesting chart, Lost Sheep; it might deserve a sticky. I'd like to see .480 Ruger slipped in there just before .475 Linebaugh. I've read energy ratings of about 1100-1400 ft-lbs. for various loads.
    Might as well insert the .460 S&W into the list at about 2400 ft. lbs.

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    Default Hard Cast

    I used to be a fan of hard cast bullets until I saw a black bear hit with two of them (320 hard cast something or other brand).

    The first one put a .430 dia. hole going in and a .430 dia. hole going out. No expansion, shoulder blade hit and that was it. Clean hole in the blade. No energy expended in the animal at all. Just one really, really mad bear.

    Second hit, a little farther back. Caught a lung, .430 going in and .430 going out. How she was really mad. If it was not for the lung, I feel that a third shot would have been required. It still took another 2-3 minutes for it to expire.

    My son caught the whole thing on tape. He was looking at me to see if I wanted to shut the camera down as it was not pretty.

    Black bears are not that hard to kill. I switched to soft points for my back up. Broadheads for the primary.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    I used to be a fan of hard cast bullets until I saw a black bear hit with two of them (320 hard cast something or other brand).

    I know where you're coming from. Black bear and deer should be hunted with good soft points in the 44. When I suggest bullets and calibers for bears, I'm only talking about browns and grizzlys. I assumed our poster was also.

    The first one put a .430 dia. hole going in and a .430 dia. hole going out. No expansion, shoulder blade hit and that was it. Clean hole in the blade. No energy expended in the animal at all. Just one really, really mad bear.

    The bullet did exactly what it was supposed to do, not make him mad, but poke a hole all the way through. Now let me ask, did the bullet hit exactly where you wanted it to? I would think a hole all the way through the vitals on the first shot, even of just .430" in diameter would have done him in. Rarely does a 30 caliber bullet from a 30-06 expand to that size. What did you think would be different with a softpoint?

    Secondly, expending energy in the animal does what? How much energy is expended in the animal with your sharp pointed stick? It isn't about expending energy in the animal it is about doing all the tissue damage inside with whatever instrument is used. The energy is necessary to push the arrow or bullet through the tough stuff. An arrow is a sharp knife, it moves through easily and doesn't need as much energy to do damage. A bullet is a blunt instrument and needs lots of energy to push it through.

    Expanding soft points will do more damage than any solid. But if they expand too quickly, they will do all their damage on the near side and not reach the vitals, that creates problems to sort out also. This is the reason for solid hard cast bullets in a handgun, to be assured of maximum penetration. A deep .430" wound cavity is better than a shallow .600" cavity. Remember at handgun velocities, there is very little permanant cavity beyond that of the actual path of the bullet.

    Second hit, a little farther back. Caught a lung, .430 going in and .430 going out. How she was really mad. If it was not for the lung, I feel that a third shot would have been required. It still took another 2-3 minutes for it to expire.

    2-3 minutes, that's pretty normal for a rifle shot blackie. What would a third shot have cost you? I understand it wasn't pretty to watch but a soft point would not have been faster with the same hits.

    My son caught the whole thing on tape. He was looking at me to see if I wanted to shut the camera down as it was not pretty.

    Black bears are not that hard to kill. I switched to soft points for my back up. Broadheads for the primary.
    Absolutely not, they are killed with 30-30's every year. That's why they are not treated with the same attention as grizzlys. A grizzly is a much different animal than a black when wounded. Even of comparable weight, a grizzly is a much tougher beast and much more difficult to shoot through. And if you do not shoot through and out the other side, there is a good chance loosing the bear or worse, because of an over expanded soft point that caused only superficial damage on the near side of the animal. Shot placement, as always, is of utmost importance.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    I used to be a fan of hard cast bullets until I saw a black bear hit with two of them (320 hard cast something or other brand).

    The first one put a .430 dia. hole going in and a .430 dia. hole going out. No expansion, shoulder blade hit and that was it. Clean hole in the blade. No energy expended in the animal at all. Just one really, really mad bear.

    Second hit, a little farther back. Caught a lung, .430 going in and .430 going out. How she was really mad. If it was not for the lung, I feel that a third shot would have been required. It still took another 2-3 minutes for it to expire.

    My son caught the whole thing on tape. He was looking at me to see if I wanted to shut the camera down as it was not pretty.

    Black bears are not that hard to kill. I switched to soft points for my back up. Broadheads for the primary.

    Thats exactly why I like hard cast bullets. Who needs expansion when it starts out at .430? Breaking down bones, causing huge blood loss, or taking the central nerveous system out is what stops or kills animals, not some puny energy level.
    .430 coming out is like a rifle bullet expanded.
    Peyton, Colorado

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Just relating

    Guys. The poster said "bears". I know of no one that purposefully hunts brown bears with a .44 magnum. If he was seriously going to hunt browns with a .44 magnum, I would hope it was .445 Super Magnum. Mention carrying a .44 for browns and someone will usually tell you to file the front site off.

    Just relating what I saw. A hole in and a hole out with a blunt force object if it hits nothing, does nothing. The emergency rooms are full of people with them every day. It was a shoulder blade shot, centered. A bears vitals are behind the shoulder blade and lower in the body more-so centered in line with the first leg bone junction so no vitals were hit.

    An arrow does not kill the same as a bullet. Trying to compare the two does not work. A wound channel with an arrow is much bigger than a blunt bullet. I would much rather have a 300 grain bullet with a jacket that expanded to .500 or more, with sharp cutting edges ripping through than a blunt bullet for black bear.

    "If it was brown bear", I'd take a 720 grain, hard cast, 3" 12 gauge magnum slug. They kill on both ends.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    Guys. The poster said "bears". I know of no one that purposefully hunts brown bears with a .44 magnum. If he was seriously going to hunt browns with a .44 magnum, I would hope it was .445 Super Magnum. Mention carrying a .44 for browns and someone will usually tell you to file the front site off.

    Just relating what I saw. A hole in and a hole out with a blunt force object if it hits nothing, does nothing. The emergency rooms are full of people with them every day. It was a shoulder blade shot, centered. A bears vitals are behind the shoulder blade and lower in the body more-so centered in line with the first leg bone junction so no vitals were hit.

    An arrow does not kill the same as a bullet. Trying to compare the two does not work. A wound channel with an arrow is much bigger than a blunt bullet. I would much rather have a 300 grain bullet with a jacket that expanded to .500 or more, with sharp cutting edges ripping through than a blunt bullet for black bear.

    "If it was brown bear", I'd take a 720 grain, hard cast, 3" 12 gauge magnum slug. They kill on both ends.
    Thanks for responding Dave, and you're right there was no species or gender specified. And I'm one of those guys and the front sight was still attached. And a 44 hardcast will exit even a large grizzly.

    Both an arrow and a bullet kill by damaging vital tissue, an arrow by cutting and a bullet by tearing and in the case with the jacket edges by cutting. And that's a good point, jagged jacket edges do shred soft tissue and I won't deny that a good expanding soft point when it expands and when it penetrates, is a better killer than any solid, but it does have to get there. In my experience a soft point in a handgun is an uncertain performer.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  19. #19

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    I've only seen one bear killed with a 44 mag, and that was a black. And the shot was made with a lever carbine rather than a revolver. A lung shot at about 70 yards with a jacketed softpoint, and dead bear. That doesn't really prove anything more than the guy's marksmanship and the reaction of a completely relaxed small bear.

    By the same token, I don't know of anyone who's killed a puffed up eat-you-for-lunch irritated grizzly or brownbear with a handgun. Any handgun. It's all theory as far as I know.

    But you have to find your own information to build your own answer to the hypotheticals in case someday you'll become the first to turn theory into fact.

    While I haven't shot any species of bear with a 44 handgun, I have shot a whole mess of game with one. Mostly deer, but also two elk and one moose. With very, very rare exceptions (only one in fact, and that was a rag-horned little spike buck deer that I gut shot), all have been one-shot kills. Some took longer to die than others, but they all died pretty quick. But when that puffed up pizzed off grizzly or brownbear is close and pointed your way, quick kill takes on a new dimension. I've been charged half a dozen times or so, and there's just no way a keyboard and computer screen can tell you how fast it happens and how limited your options are if you don't already have the gun in your hand and anticipate the charge.

    The game shots I've made with a 44 mag handgun included just about every variety of bullet you can name and some you probably wouldn't even think of. And results were highly variable with each type, almost down to the individual animal, even on deer.

    Sometimes hollow points (both jacketed and cast) expanded as advertised while still penetrating well. Sometimes they over-expanded. Sometimes they didn't expand at all. Same for soft points. And I'm wrapping soft lead cast bullets in the same blanket with jacketed soft points. Even the much-vaunted hardcast flat nose has produced highly variable results. They often drop a deer in its tracks if it's relaxed and doesn't know you're around. But with amped up ready-to-bolt deer or running deer, even a perfect lung or heart shot is going to let the deer make 50 or 100 feet before dropping. And if a deer can do that, I have to guess that an amped up bear is going to do the same thing better and faster.

    The ONLY drop-it-in-its-tracks shot on amped up deer with any bullet disrupts the central nervous system. If it's true for deer, it's even more true for bear. And considering that if you're in trouble with bear it's inside 50 feet, that's my only consideration with a bear load in 44 mag or even 944 mag super magnum whenever someone gets around to making one, and anything in between. You will have to hit them exactly where it counts if you are going to stop them reliably.

    For penetrating bone to get to the CNS, I want a hard cast, and it doesn't matter to me a whit how much cutting or tearing of flesh. I want it to get where it needs to go without veering and whack on through whatever bone is between it and nerve tissue. That generally means a long-for-caliber bullet that's not going to change shape when it trades air for tissue.

    But I need to be able to put that hard cast right where it belongs---- on a fast moving, eraticically moving, and low down target that's coming toward me faster than a thorobred race horse. I figure that's going to be a tough target to hit, and I'll probably have to shoot several times and fast to have a small hope of connecting just right.

    So I need to practice lots and use a gun/load combo that lets me shoot fast and accurate. That means double action shooting. Fast and accurate double action shooting.

    I've tinkered lots with the shooting end of the ballistic challenge in addition to the terminal performance of various loads. I know for darn tootin sure that I CANNOT shoot fast, accurate double action with max loads using the heaviest bullets. Sorry Garrett and all your clones but your loads are more likely to get me hurt than save my bacon.

    Based on my take on the penetrating ability of long hard cast bullets, I don't think they need to be moving out at 1300+ fps to do the job. I'm betting on 1100 fps because that's about as fast as I can control them, but in fact I'm pretty sure that lots slower will penetrate bear bone to reach the CNS. I've shot 300 grain hardcast end to end through deer, launched at around 700 fps from a 44 special, but the nervous side of my nature would like them going faster when pointed at a leaked off brownbear.

    All theory, but based on as much field data as I've managed to collect myself. I shoot lots, almost exclusively double action, and some folks would call me good. But I never feel good enough for my own nervous nature, so I keep on practicing. One charge will make you that way. Accumulate half a dozen of them in 30 years, and you should invest in a lead mine.

    If you want practice that approaches real life and a chance to feel even a little of the escalating nature of a bear charge, you need a moving small target coming right at you. I use a 12" hard styrofoam crab buoy rigged to roll downhill at me from about 50 feet. Too big for what a real CNS shot will require, but heavy enough to get some momentum coming downhill. The first time that thing bangs into your shins without a single bullet hole, you will be "enthused" about more practice, as well as finding a sufficient load you can shoot accurately. Try it!

  20. #20
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    BrownBear,

    That's a fine job and explanation. I tip my hat to you. You have put your experience and knowledge together well.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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