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Thread: Sidearm for bears?

  1. #1

    Default Sidearm for bears?

    When hunting moose with a rifle, would you recommend carrying a pistol as a last means of defense for bears? I have a .45 ACP with a 13 round clip packed with 230 grain FMJ's. Seems like that would have an effect even if I had to unleash half of them. I hate carrying it if I don't have to.....or if it's not worth it. I thought it might be nice to have one in the belt holster especially when in thick stuff or when dressing out a bull where the rifle isn't as handy. I guess the question is....would that caliber be more effective than a fly swatter for brownies, making the inconvenience a worthwhile, or should I leave it in Montana?

    I also have a .44 mag but it has a long hunting barrel and is a real pain to carry.

  2. #2
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default .45 Acp

    If you want the best chance of being effective when you shoot a bear, take the .44. If you want to carry something for confidence, take the .45. The way I understand it, you'd like the handgun handy for when you're dressing out a moose. Get a good shoulder/belt holster combination, and it will be quite comfortable (the .44) I carried an 8 inch Smith 629 this way.

    That said, a .45 at close quarters will do some damage. I shot a small black bear in the neck to finish it off a couple days ago, with FMJ, 45 ACP's. The bullet made it through, but lodged in the hide. It fell out when I was cutting out the skull. So with a 4 foot shot, it traveled through about 8" of meat, bone and fur and hide. It shattered the vertebrae, as it should have, but I'm not really confident that it would do the damage needed to a charging griz. With that penetration, it would just barely make it into the chest cavity, and a shot to either shoulder, depending on muscle mass and shot angle, may not break bone or break it dramatically enough to knock the bear over. Of course, I also shot a larger bear last year with a .300 Win Mag, and the bullet didn't make it through. But I have full confidence in the .300. Go figger!

    Just my thoughts, and my opinion, based on one shot that did do the job I asked it to.

  3. #3
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    I would leave it at home. Just keep your rifle handy.

  4. #4
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    To add a little to akdd's post- which of the two are you most likely to keep on your person at all times- the .45 or .44? The rifle will still be nearby, and usually handy, so the .45 would buy time to go grab the rifle. Rifles and shotguns have a nasty little habit of leaving themselves 10 feet away from you when you really need them.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by akdd View Post
    I would leave it at home. Just keep your rifle handy.
    Me too.
    Joe (Ak)

  6. #6
    Member pike_palace's Avatar
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    Default I'd bring the pistol.

    I'd definetly have that pistol if your dealing with a moose. Before you know it that rifle might be a tad farther away than you need it to be.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

  7. #7
    Member Mountain Man Jack's Avatar
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    Bring the pistol. Either one will do. A lot of times even a shot in the air or near the bears ear will cause them to stop and unwillingly trot away. If they don't stop coming toward you, unload all your rounds in the vitals and pray to god. Did I say who's vitals.

  8. #8
    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Just curious, why do you hate carrying it? What make/model?

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    Default Holster

    Yea why do you hate carrying? If you use a shoulder holster you hardly know it's there. I agree I don't like it hanging on my leg or stuffed in my waist.

  10. #10

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    .The 45 acp will work fine just be sure to carry salt in your pocket though.

  11. #11
    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by futurerancher View Post
    .The 45 acp will work fine just be sure to carry salt in your pocket though.
    Is this along the same lines as him needing to shave his front sights off?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hhounds View Post
    Yea why do you hate carrying? If you use a shoulder holster you hardly know it's there. I agree I don't like it hanging on my leg or stuffed in my waist.
    I agree, a hunnert percent.

    Take the 44.
    Be glad you got one.
    Carry it where it don't hang up in the brush, and enjoy it.

    It'll give you that extry margin of safety.

    You can also leave it in camp, and when you return with the first pack of meat, by that time, you'll know that carrying a heavy pack and a rifle too, is a BEEG PAIN, so you can trade the rifle with the 44 for succeeding trips. That's usually the way it goes for me, when I'm lucky enough to bag a WhatchaBoo.

    Smitty of the North
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    You can't out-give God.

  13. #13

    Default No, the salt

    is to throw another direction once the bear is on top of him after he 'inconvenienced' the bear with the .45. The bear will go after the salt and start licking on it while he crawls away.
    .45 acp is an 'anti-human' round. Developed for the sole purpose of trench warfare, and from having an ineffective pistol round when Teddy went to Cuba.
    The .44 mag is going to serve you much better. Leave the .45 at home for burglars. The reality of it is IF you have to fire on a bear, (grizz), you will be lucky to get off more then 2 or 3 rounds out of the .45 - and the bear won't feel a thing.
    The best would be to go pick up a $300 coach gun....little double barrel 12 ga and drop 3.5" mag slugs in the barrels, and keep it at your side while you cape and quarter the moose...

  14. #14

    Default Holster for the .44

    David Johnston with Diamond D leather makes a GREAT holster that has the pistol positioned on the front of the chest at a 45 degree angle. It's called the guides choice holster, here is the website: http://www.davidjohnstonleather.com/
    He has a leather shop in Chugiak and his holsters go for $140.

  15. #15

    Default Or for $60

    There is the guy out in Wasilla that makes chest/under arm holsters for about $60 - can pick them up at SW.

  16. #16
    Member RMiller's Avatar
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    Your right the bear wont feel a thing with a shattered vertabrae.
    "You have given out too much reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later".

  17. #17

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    I carry a Ruger Redhawk 454, an longer version of the 45 cal. I used it Memorial day on a big black bear. I shot him in the head at 15 feet while I was kneeling against a fallen log after getting his attention. The 250 grain hollow point did it's job and stopped his advance at once.


  18. #18

    Default As do I...

    Quote Originally Posted by alaskabowhunter View Post
    I carry a Ruger Redhawk 454, an longer version of the 45 cal. I used it Memorial day on a big black bear. I shot him in the head at 15 feet while I was kneeling against a fallen log after getting his attention. The 250 grain hollow point did it's job and stopped his advance at once.
    I have the Taurus Raging Bull .454 Casull. Ballistically, this round has just about twice the energy of a .44 mag.
    As another poster wrote, a .45 acp, from 2-3 feet and a well aimed shot broke a vertebrae, but not much more than that. That seems to be quite a different scenario than carrying one for protection. From 10-20 feet, the .45 acp just isn't going to be powerful enough to matter. The .44 mag would work on a blackie, but I question its ability on a grizz. The smallest pistol I carry now is the .454; If not that, the 45-70 guide rifle, or not that, the coach gun double barrel shotgun. (**** those choices )

  19. #19
    Member Montana Native's Avatar
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    Default Pistol dilema...

    This topic seems to always rear it's ugly head. Obviously the larger the caliber, the bigger the bang. Same applies to what you're fending off. I too pack a 44 Mag after trying one of those heavy T-Rex killers, the 500. To me, the 500 was an awesome eyebrow raising pistol. I think of it like a 5 lb sledge with enormus velocity. Those large bores are swift at delivering fatal blows, but do come with their own respective issues. The only problems I encountered was recoil management, weight and cost of ownership. I know a 44 will drop a grizz, I have seen it happen twice (2 shots arose from a charge; dead as a doornail, the other was issued as final rights in some real thick alders to nail down my partner's bear.) It's lighter/smaller, offers one hand/off-hand shooting, and won't kill your wallet when you stock up on ammo. Just some things to consider. I think we could all agree, get something with a minimum of a 44 Mag. Whatever you choose (44, 454, 500) just make sure you're comfortable with packing it, un-holstering it QUICKLY, and being able to use it. So many people carry, but seldom never get the chance to un-holster when needed. Practice, practice, practice. Again, whatever you consider, just know that it is intended to save your arse in the event that a big brown/black fur ball comes slashing your way, be prepared! Nuff said...
    Respect what you do not own but are privleged to enjoy, Mother Earth thanks you...

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    Is this along the same lines as him needing to shave his front sights off?
    Well of course, that way when the Bear is eating you at least you will taste better. As far as the whole gun thing, if you are comfortable with the .45 then bring it. Lets face it, if you do get attacked you will likely only have one shot bfore the bear gets to you and big bears don't usually die after one shot anyways. My wife loves to walk and hike with the little guy in a back pack. She carries a Kel-tec 32 acp to ward off bears, dogs, and bad dudes. She is comfortable shooting it and takes it everwhere. Will it kill a bear? Maybe, with a one in a million shot. But it can be used to signal for help, make noise to run off a curious bear and make a "bad guy" think twice before attempting to do something stupid. She won't carry a 500 S&W and has no desire to. If your comfortable with your .45 then bring it. Its better than no gun at all. I carry a .454 and even that is limited. With the stiff recoil, there is no way I could get more than one shot on a bear that is charging full out. An old timer once told me if that situation arises you should aim for the top of the back, squeeze her off and hope to God that you clip the spinal cord. A full stout 45 acp could bust through the top of the bear with no problem. Have you ever seen those videos of that guy who does all those last second kills in Africa. That is all he does, except he is shooting a .470 Nitro express!

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