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Thread: Smallest caliber for Black Bear...

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    Default Smallest caliber for Black Bear...

    Hey everybody...i'm new to the forums. Its been several years since I've hunted anything...Elk in the lower 48. I've got the bug to get back out and hunt again, and I'm wondering what would be the smallest caliber rifle to use for Black Bear? I'm a pretty good shot, but I've never hunted the creature before. Thanks in advance for any info.
    JM

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    Default It really depends

    I do alot of black bear hunting here in colorado and ive seen people fill their tags with one shot with a .270 (IMPO thats too small) but then on the other end of the spectrum I myself use a .460 S&W with a 20" barrel on my encore just open sights It mostly depends on what you feel comfortable shooting, A good shot with a small caliber rifle is better than a bad shot with a large caliber rifle thats just the way it is. but one cant beat a 30-06 with 150-180g bullets

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    The .243 is the smallest I would use for a black bear. They're not difficult animals to kill - just hit them in the lungs and they'll go down. That being said, why go with the smallest possible caliber? Unless you're really adverse to recoil, go with something like a 30-06 and you'll be adequately gunned for most Alaskan big game.

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    Smallest I would recommend, is the .243 Winchester, Smallest I would feel comfortable using Remington 6.8 SPC.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Thumbs up bear guns

    Black bears are made of flesh and bones and blood and berries.
    Gun calibers as small as a .243 are fine, and I have watched some good-shooting-kids kill black bears with a .243 that has a cut-down kid size stock. And bigger guns are better IMO, only because I like bigger bullets. Or any good arrow or patched round ball.

    All that really matters is that you shoot them where most of their blood is at, and avoid shooting them where most of the berries are at.

    In New Mexico or in Utah or in Alaska, they all die the same if whacked in the heart-lung area.

    Dennis
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalinejunkie View Post
    I'm wondering what would be the smallest caliber rifle to use for Black Bear? JM
    Good question. I am not a big fan of the "all around" calibers that most hunters use - .270, 30.06, 7mm etc..so I don't own any of these. However, I do think that the .270 with a good quality 140gr bullet could be the ultimate black bear caliber but since I don't own one of these, I use a 25-06 hand loaded with either 120gr Partitions or 110gr Accubonds for black bear.

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    The .243 and .270 are fine, but a quality, well built bullet is a must. A freind hit a bear in the chest with a .270 at close range and it ran off never to be seen again. The problem was a 150 grain ballistic tip. Hair, hide, and little blood.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Cool Huh?

    Tombo,
    Lets be serious.
    A 150 grain bullet from a .270 rifle, at close (?) range, hits a black bear in the chest and Mr Blaclie runs off never to seen again.
    Was it a super bear?
    Was it an armored bear?
    Dude, if your friend shot the bear and it ran off, never to be seen again, then your friend simply failed to kill the bear. He failed to kill the bear because he did not shoot it in the right place.
    If a black bear bleeds from a heart shot or a lung or two, or from a bunch of other internal organs, then how can the bear continue to be alive?

    We are not talking about a brown bear or a cape buffalo, both of which can absorb remarkable punishment...it is but a common black bear, even if it was a huge one.

    A ram or a black bear or a pronghorn will die quickly if a projectile, any reasonable projectile, opens up some "boiler room" arteries.
    If your friend brings up that story again, then show him how to shoot, or teach him how to track.

    (Note that your friend did not want to admit his poor shooting or tracking skills. Sorry, but clearly the case.)

    Dennis

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaTrueAdventure View Post
    Tombo,
    Lets be serious.
    A 150 grain bullet from a .270 rifle, at close (?) range, hits a black bear in the chest and Mr Blaclie runs off never to seen again.
    Was it a super bear?
    Was it an armored bear?
    Dude, if your friend shot the bear and it ran off, never to be seen again, then your friend simply failed to kill the bear. He failed to kill the bear because he did not shoot it in the right place.
    If a black bear bleeds from a heart shot or a lung or two, or from a bunch of other internal organs, then how can the bear continue to be alive?

    We are not talking about a brown bear or a cape buffalo...it is a black bear.

    (Note that your friend did not want to admit his poor shooting or tracking skills. Sorry, but clearly the case.)

    Dennis

    HUH? me too...


    my kids use .243 with Ballitic tips all the time. bear, hair hide... BLOOD every where, dead bear right there... all done...


    your friend missed.




    (DID I JUST AGREE WITH DENNIS?)
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    .243w is FINE, and so is .223.....been there, done that,MYSELF, several times, so this is mearly a personal observation.....

    If you dont hit them in the right place(shot placement) would someone here tell me just how anything bigger in caliber would kill any animal???
    what factors would kill the animal...is it noise? the fuzzy good feeling of shooting a monster magnum? Some sorta "shock' the Bear is to die from? I just dont see any other way to kill a Bear or any other animal without placing the bullet in the right place.

    My dad was in Viet Nam, '67-'70 with the 101st Abn, in Headquarters co. supply, first as a gunner on a Huey, later as a crew cheif on Chinook helocopters 'Flying Pachederms" and hes well founded that only "misses" count with handgrenades, and even that isnt always a done deal During Tet, he chucked his only grenade at a fellow shooting at him in a park with concrete benches , and to get at him, gave his best pitch(and he did.)...Said it looked like someone hit the fella in the back of the head with a bat and his eys were hanging out, yet he was still alive.
    Good thing we dont hunt with horseshoes.

    Bears and all other animals are gonna scoot ,if possible, from a badly placed shot, I dont care "What" its shot with, never to be seen again.....hair, hide and little blood sounds like a flesh wound, even across the chest.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    If you insist on the minimum be **** sure to use quality bullets and be diciplined about waiting for idea shot angles. Swift A-frames and Barnes TSX would be good.

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    Member mit's Avatar
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    I have heard of them being killed with one shot from a .22
    Tim

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    Default calibers for bear

    Theres alot of variables here when it comes to ballistics, but the bottom line is "SHOT PLACEMENT" , my kid took a nice Grizz in the Brooks range last season (pics in the gallery) with his .260 Kimber Montana shooting 120 grains Barnes TSX's, we were mainly sheep hunting, but we both had Grizz tags also. Yes, I was backing him up with my rifle, but that little .260 did the job first shot, and dropped it in it's tracks.

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    .22lr is about as minimal as it gets..

    ~~LOL!!~~ were starting down that road again, about bullets and Bears.....~~LOL!!~~

    No, im just joking but I seriously wish I could lob a grenade at a Bear, if only once....<---(might look like this?)LOL!!


    .223 soft points made by Reminton out of a Mini-14 have done the job for me, back in the 90's, quite a few times.
    I use a Mosin now, for its accuracy, because thats what matters most.

    Anyone hunt them with a .218? or .17rem? Oh wait....Geeeeeeeeze, that will lead to the "speed -v-weight" debate.....maby I should shut up.....
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Default Even a bullet in the RIGHT place would have to penetrate beyond surface.

    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalinejunkie View Post
    Hey everybody...i'm new to the forums. Its been several years since I've hunted anything...Elk in the lower 48. I've got the bug to get back out and hunt again, and I'm wondering what would be the smallest caliber rifle to use for Black Bear? I'm a pretty good shot, but I've never hunted the creature before. Thanks in advance for any info.
    JM
    Smallest Caliber??
    [ 6.5 ], the 260 Remington, for example, using heavy for caliber, bullets. IMO, that's minimum for all big game. I'd prefer 7mm, (7x57 or 7mm-08.)

    If you're talking minumum power, I'd say 30-30.

    I feel that shooting an animal as big as a Black Bear, with a 223 or 243 would likely require a head or neck shot, or some angling into a vital area. I wouldn't want to try a chest shot.

    Smitty of the North
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    Here's a list of the minumum calibers that I would consider for black bear:
    243 winchester with 100 grain bullets
    all the 25 caliber cartridges with 100 grain or larger
    of course the 260 and 6.5 swedish mauser
    7-30 waters
    7mm-08, 7mm mauser
    30-30
    300 savage.
    45 colt rifles
    357 magnum rifles
    Those are sensible bare minimum cartridges that will be more than plenty enough for bad angles and minimal chances of wounding/causing suffering of the black bear. All the cartridges listed have their own unique attributes and advantages. With that said.......my ex father in law was a bear guide and uses a .270 winchester.

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    Member c04hoosier's Avatar
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    Adrenalinejunkie, you said you have hunted elk previously. So assuming you still have the rifle you hunted them with, just use it to shoot your black bear. If it will kill an elk, it will kill a blackie.

  18. #18

    Default Shot placement

    with smaller caliber rifles is even more important that with larger caliber rifles. After baiting bears for about 15 years now, I simply will not let anyone take a frontal chest shot. That is the ONLY shot that I have had black bears get hit and run off to never be found. I take those shots with my 8mm mag, or my .375 ultra, but not with a smaller rifle and not with my kids shooting. Just last season we had a young lady take that shot with an .06 and the bear went down, jumped up and ran away never to be found. If you are baiting, there is no reason to "wait" until there is a perfect broad side shot. Put the bullet in the lungs and the bear is/will be dead. Frontal shot IMO leave much to be desired. If off even a few inches either way, you end up with a wounding shot.

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    Lightbulb No response on cartridges... yet here are some good insights -

    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalinejunkie View Post
    Hey everybody...i'm new to the forums. Its been several years since I've hunted anything...Elk in the lower 48. I've got the bug to get back out and hunt again, and I'm wondering what would be the smallest caliber rifle to use for Black Bear? I'm a pretty good shot, but I've never hunted the creature before. Thanks in advance for any info.
    JM
    You really have to to give an enhanced portrayal of what you endeavor to accomplish by defining minimums as well as better specify expected conditions or potential circumstances. Without this info... kind of a mindless critter vs. cartridge post that bears no great response.

    In other words, why would you look to minimum cartridges for getting a job done proficiently and successfully?

    For examples:
    Does the firearm need to be ultra-lightweight?
    Is it that you posses or can only get a hold of smaller caliber rifles?
    Is it a youngster, or somebody of small stature sensitive to recoil and practice?
    Is it someone inexperienced or possibly afraid of larger calibers?
    Will the minimum gunned shooter be backed up by a suitable gun as a stopper?

    What are the expected conditions?

    For examples:
    Are we up on stand?
    Are we combing then stalking the lake or sea coastline?
    Are we right in front of the den-site?
    Are we mountain hunting?
    Are we on the tundra?
    Are we on the river?
    Are we in the thick brush?
    Strategies/Tactics?
    Weather/Winds?



    What are the potential circumstances?

    For examples:
    How close?
    How far?
    What if critter does not go down easily?
    What if critter runs away… distance, into brush, off some cliff, etc.?
    What if critter does not run away!!! Runs at you?
    Time of day?
    Weather/Winds?
    Strategies/Tactics?

    Let's also face facts that every bear is a unique and individual bear... no two alike... all shapes and sizes... all strength, yet some a little less tough and tenacious than others.

    Much more can be added to these lists… but you get the suggestions. If you can respond to these questions within yourself and beyond doubt justify all these factors in your mindset --- I firmly believe in your complete analysis that you’ll discover very little reasoning for taking up minimal cartridges on an outdoor experience that can leave a lasting imprint on your soul.

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    Most center fire rifles will kill black bears. I would have little problem nailing one w/ a 22-250 or even a 223. I like the 45-70 though for alpine hunting. We will be taking a 375 ruger and perhaps a 416 ruger if I decide I can't live without it any longer this year. Why the monster calibers? There are two reasons one is if we spot a Brownie it is ON! The other and more likely is because we are fairly lazy! It is an insurance policy of sorts, it assures that the bear will die RIGHT THERE! If you have spent anytime busting alders then you know it sucks! If a well shot bear can still get up some shocking seed running down hill and punch a stupid distance into the alders before comming to rest, usually in a mud hole! The big 45-70 makes the tracking easy, they usually roll about 10-15 feet from the point of impact.

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