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Thread: single action vs double for bear defense

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    Default single action vs double for bear defense

    I've read some opinions that hi-power double actions are about as effective (for cycling rounds) as singles due to muzzle flip and recoil. I realize that with sufficient practice either action will yield best efficiency for an individual, but are there any strong negative opinions on the use of single actions for a bear defense wheel-gun? I like the feel of the BFR 480/475, but I'm also a big fan of SRH's.

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    I think the only dis advantage would be it takes one more step. It is just another thing that you will have to think about in a tight situation. beyond that I think it is what you are comfortable with. I am sure you can get good enough to successfuly defend your self with a single action revolver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Porterwagner View Post
    I've read some opinions that hi-power double actions are about as effective (for cycling rounds) as singles due to muzzle flip and recoil. I realize that with sufficient practice either action will yield best efficiency for an individual, but are there any strong negative opinions on the use of single actions for a bear defense wheel-gun? I like the feel of the BFR 480/475, but I'm also a big fan of SRH's.
    There's no advantage to a double action if you can't hit with it, or if you have to slow down a bunch to use it. If you don't invest the time to learn how, you may as well shoot single action, rather than rip off a bunch of misses DA.

    On the other hand, when you learn how to do it and tune your gun and loads well, there's a considerable advantage.

    I shot DA handgun competition of all sorts for many years- PPP, falling plate, bowling pin, and some more we invented ourselves. Especially for the pins and our own invensions you needed lots of horsepower, precise aiming and fast cycle times to clear 5 pins with 6 shots in competitive time. My preferred load for that was a 240 grain bullet at 1150-1200fps from a 4" ported 629. At my best with that load and gun I could sometimes do the job in practice in under 4 seconds. Other folks were faster, so that's why you never heard my name.

    Following that era, I continued shooting DA, but graduated to 300 grain hardcast @ 1100-1150 fps from the same gun and it's twin. I doubt I could break 4 seconds for five or six hits on the 2" x 3" kill zone on a pin, but I bet I can do it on a bear brain. Lots of folks want more horsepower from their guns. I don't, figuring accuracy to put shots in the CNS quickly is a fair tradeoff for bragging sized bores and loads registered with NASA.

    Aint no one going to shoot a SA that fast without fanning the hammer. And if they do that, they sure aren't going to be hitting bear brains.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I think useing what you can shoot best is the way to go.Grip shape makes alot of difference.Single actions are made to roll the grip in your hand when fired and double moves your arm. The gun stays alined with your arm with a double action but the single rolls so the hammer is right there to cock again.Some say double is better in case your thumb gets messed up but just try holding any revolver without a thumb.When I can I'll cock my double action every time before I shoot unless I'm just praticeing D/A which most always comfirms to cock first.JMHO

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    Hey, if they [in the movies] can shoot a cowboy hat off the ground and keep it in the air while fanning the hammer, I would think hitting a bear's CNS should be easy with a little practice!

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    Default Easy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Porterwagner View Post
    Hey, if they [in the movies] can shoot a cowboy hat off the ground and keep it in the air while fanning the hammer, I would think hitting a bear's CNS should be easy with a little practice!
    I will conclude that the movies comparison is tongue-in-cheek and focus on the difficulty of hitting a moving target approximately 6 inches wide which is behind the cover of thick skin, tough meat and resilient bone

    Shoot what you can hit with, single action, double action, semi-auto, whatever. As long as the bullet is adequate in size and energy commensurate with your ability to place it where it willl be effective.

    One poster on another thread suggested this as a practice session:

    Find a backstop consisting of a piece of bumpy ground slped towards a central point. Set a basketball about 50-60 feet up the slope, held by a block of some kind. Position yourself where the basketball will roll to.

    Shoot out the block. Wait until the basketball gets witin 30 feet or so and has some speed on (and bounce). When you can put four out of 5 rounds into the basketball, switch to a smaller ball.

    t ain't what actors in a movie can do. It's what you can do, under pressure, likely surprized, perhaps closer than 10 feet carrying a pack or with a fishing pole in your hands.

    Good luck.

    Lost Sheep

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    That sound like a good idea I will have to try that.
    I might have my wife shoot out the block with a riffel though.
    What about a soft foam ball instead of the basketball? It seems like it would be best to use some thing you can shoot multiple times.

  8. #8

    Default Hitting a charging bear with a handgun

    This past summer I had 7 back country bear encounters. One resulted in a full out charge. Fortunaely the charge was away from me instead of toward me as I was not carrying a firearm or any other defense measure. The way and the speed in which that animal (about 400 lbs guess) moved was unbeleivable. This is the first time I have seen a bear move like that. It was maybe about 50 yds away when I startled it and it in turn startled me. I saw it for about a half a second as it dsappeared very quickly downhill into the brush. Bears can move at about 40 mph, or about 50 ft/sec. If you can hit a softball sized object launched at you at 50 ft/sec bouncing along over uneven ground, then you can hit a charging bear in the brain and you are probably the best shot in the world. And dont forget about factors like surprise and fatigue. In my situation I was packing out and had just traveled about 4 miles in mountain country with a 50 lb pack on my back. If that bear had come toward me instead of away, I'm not sure I could have pulled a revolver and fired anything close to a well placed shot. I would have had about 3-4 sec at most, to react, clear the holster, aim and fire.

    Not all bear encounters are like this, but this is the reallity of shooting a charging bear. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Sheep View Post
    I will conclude that the movies comparison is tongue-in-cheek and focus on the difficulty of hitting a moving target approximately 6 inches wide which is behind the cover of thick skin, tough meat and resilient bone

    Shoot what you can hit with, single action, double action, semi-auto, whatever. As long as the bullet is adequate in size and energy commensurate with your ability to place it where it willl be effective.

    One poster on another thread suggested this as a practice session:

    Find a backstop consisting of a piece of bumpy ground slped towards a central point. Set a basketball about 50-60 feet up the slope, held by a block of some kind. Position yourself where the basketball will roll to.

    Shoot out the block. Wait until the basketball gets witin 30 feet or so and has some speed on (and bounce). When you can put four out of 5 rounds into the basketball, switch to a smaller ball.

    t ain't what actors in a movie can do. It's what you can do, under pressure, likely surprized, perhaps closer than 10 feet carrying a pack or with a fishing pole in your hands.

    Good luck.

    Lost Sheep
    We do a variation on it that's easier to set up. Just find a rise that someone can safely stand behind while you're downhill. Get one of those hard foam round crab buoys laying around on all the beaches and have your buddy toss it over the crest of the hill so it rolls and bounces toward you. The two things I like about it are that it's erratic coming at you and it's low to the ground just like the bear charges I've experienced. The whole experience is really humbling.

    If the range isn't far and your buddy isn't warning you when he's gonna throw, it will teach you a whole bunch about what's effective carry and what's not. Basically no matter what you are carrying, if it's not in your hands and you're not looking in the right spot when the "charge" starts, you don't stand much of a chance. And that ball is moving bunches slower than all the bears I've been charged by.

    For actually hitting, there' s probably nothing better than a 12 gauge loaded with OO buck. Not saying it's a reliable stopping round, just that it's the easiest hitting round. Next easy is a rifle, and practice shows that bolts are just about as fast as levers. Handguns are just downright tough, no matter what you shoot and how you shoot it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    This past summer I had 7 back country bear encounters. One resulted in a full out charge. Fortunaely the charge was away from me instead of toward me as I was not carrying a firearm or any other defense measure.
    If he was goin "away from" you, why do you call it a "Charge"? That sounds more like an ESCAPE to me.

    So, why didn't you mention your Beloved Pepper Spray?

    Oh, I betcha you had it with you, and the bear smelled it. That's why he hauled Arse.

    Hyuk, Hyuk.

    Smitty of the North
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    Hey Smitty, when you have something of substance to say, then maybe we can chat

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    If he was goin "away from" you, why do you call it a "Charge"? That sounds more like an ESCAPE to me.

    So, why didn't you mention your Beloved Pepper Spray?

    Oh, I betcha you had it with you, and the bear smelled it. That's why he hauled Arse.

    Hyuk, Hyuk.

    Smitty of the North
    Bear spray is great on eggs

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    Hey Smitty, when you have something of substance to say, then maybe we can chat
    I had hoped to give YOU the opportunity to say something of substance.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
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  14. #14

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    While some people may think SA is as good as or superior to DA for defense, I'll always stick with DA. The only time I fire in SA is for long range aimed shots. DA means one less thing for the body to remember while the milliseconds are ticking.

    I'm not sure even a trained, practiced shooter could make a CNS shot during a charge. It's known that coordination falls apart during stressful situations; imagine trying to hit a moving target while you're weak & shaking with the chills. It's a lot like that. You can't even breathe properly, and your bowels feel loose. I once got this stressed during paintball, and it was very humbling... the body takes over while the ego watches.

    I'll submit that while it's unlikely a person could hit a bear running at full tilt, it's still a good idea to have a gun. If a bear knocked down my wife or parents and started playing with them like a ragdoll, I'm not going to say "well I'm glad I left my gun at home because I couldn't have hit it while it was charging anyway". I'm going to want to use anything I can to stop the attack, even after the charge. Same goes if it knocks me down. I know not all "charges" are fast, either, though I suppose I'd be curious to try spray instead of a gun if a bear trotted too close while I was watching.
    Tsimshian tribe, wolf clan, the house of Walsk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I had hoped to give YOU the opportunity to say something of substance.

    Smitty of the North
    OK, let's se If I can be more substantive (is that a word?). This thread is about SA vs DA in defnding against a bear. I really don't think it matters a whole lot. A DA an be fired SA, at least my Redhawk can. Then come the posts about practiing for shooting a bear with a handgun.

    There are two most likely scenarios when encountering an aggressive bear. First, the bear makes his way slowly and deliberately toward you. In theis case there is usually ample time to draw and aim. Next, the charge. Until this last summer, I had only read and heard about how fast bears can travel, even over rough terrain. Last summer I actually witnessed a bear moving at the speed of blurr like a freight train, through brush and branches. It is an awesome sight to behold. If a bear is coming at you in that mode and all you have is a holsterd handgun, then you might as well just be preparred for the colonoscopy he is going to give you with your handgun and file down the front sight a little so it doesn't hurt as much.

    I always get a kick out of these "which is the best hangun for bears?" threads, because years ago I got a Redhawk for peace of mind in griz country, all the while knowing full well my chances of stopping a good sized bear with a handgun were very marginal and pretty much nill in a charge. That's why most Alaskan guides pack 375's, 416's and such. They know what it sometimes takes to put down a bear and they plan for the worse senario.

    If you want to carry around a gun in the field and woods and practice shooting at tires and bouncing balls coming down a hill, great. But facing a charging bear is a different story.

    It's all fun stuff to shoot the breeze about but often, reallity is a little different than what we imagine. Fortunately, bear attacks are very rare and being smart goes a long way in preventing one.

    Back to the question... single action or double action? IMO, it doesn't really matter, I think a DA wuld be more versatile, that's why I bought one. Good luck.

  16. #16

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    Here's one insight, and the reason about 90% of my handguns are DA's:

    I find it easier to shoot DA's accurately in single action than true SA-only handguns like the BH or SBH. The shorter hammer fall and faster lock time just suit me better for shots at game. I practice and tune all the time in DA with my RH's and 629's and 686's, but when it's time to shoot game, I do that SA. I don't use the DA in Smith's K-22 and J-frame 22's at all, but I vastly prefer them to for mushing bunny heads than any SA 22 I've ever shot.

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    All I ever carry is a Ruger Vaquero birds head grip, 4 5/8” in 45 Colt. I guess its about as single action as they come……..

    I like to think I am pretty darn good with it and have pulled off some amazing shots from time to time. Even used it during my concealed carry class much to the amusement of the instructor and my classmates…….. until I out shot each and every one of them…..

    Do I think it is the “ultimate” bear stopper? Nooooo! And frankly I have no idea if I could brain a charging bear while fatigued and under pressure and I hope I never have to find out, but it does make me feel better than carrying a stupid can of bear spray.

    I used to believe that the single actions were a bit more rugged due to their more simple design and that did factor into my purchasing decision. I don’t necessarily believe that anymore.

    I do prefer the “feel” of the single action though and they seem to point more naturally for me so I will probably just stick with what I know…..
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    I own a SRH and other DA's and have no trouble cycling rounds down-range. Very little experience with SA though. I recently groped the BFR 480/475 at a local shop and wondered about SA's defensive application. Thanks for the opinions.

    I usually carry a cyanide capsule when I hike in bear country.

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    Default Yep, substantive is the proper word.

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    OK, let's se If I can be more substantive (is that a word?).
    Yep, substantive is the proper word. I cut off the rest of your post to save space and because it is entirely correct. (in my insubstantial opinion)

    Shoot what you can hit with. Use a handgun only if a long gun is not available.

    Lost Sheep

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    My 44 is DA, but I’m so used to shooting SA, that in the excitement of fending off a bear with it, I’d probably go on automatic, and pull the hammer back before pulling the trigger. I’m familiar with my Ruger Blackhawk 357, and had planned to get one in 44, but choice is often “The Art of the Possible, I ended up with a S&W.

    I don't claim to be some kind of a brave expert, but I think it’s good to practice, and shoot often, so IF the moment comes, you will react to that training.

    I shot a Goat one time when I was hunting with another guy, and he had missed the first time and only got some hair on his second shot. That caused the Goat to turn around and leave, and I shot him in the shoulder as he was topping the rise.

    Now, I KNOW that I was carrying my rifle with an empty chamber like I always do. I DON’T REMEMBER chambering a round before I shot, but I did. It was my only hunting rifle, and I was always playing around with it, and was very familiar with it. I just went on automatic. Something could have gone wrong, but it didn’t.

    Some people seem to think they don’t stand a chance of stopping a charging bear with a handgun. That could be the case, of course, but I believe the odds are, that I can react in time to get ahold of my gun, and if I do, it’s the bear that has the bigger problem. If I didn’t I wouldn’t pack my 44 with me when I don’t have my rifle.

    I don’t think I could learn to shoot anything bigger than a 44 or 45 well enough to have confidence, let alone afford the ammunition. I do use heavy hard cast bullets, because reportedly they have some real advantages.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

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