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Thread: Shotgun or Handgun for bear protection?

  1. #1
    Member woodman6437's Avatar
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    Default Shotgun or Handgun for bear protection?

    Not sure if this has been covered in this forum before, but I have been up here for almost 4 years now and I have somehow gotten by without owning any sort of firearm. Every bear encounter I have had the bear either took off in the opposite direction or completely ignored me. That being said, I got a gut feeling that I may not be so lucky in the future. I am debating between a large caliber revolver (such as a .454) or a shotgun. Here are the pros and cons of each as I see it:

    Handgun:

    Pro: easier to pack, easier to carry, quicker to draw
    Cons: not as much stopping power as a shotgun. Recoil can make it harder to aim. More expensive

    Shotgun:

    Pro: More stopping power, easier to aim and shoot, cheaper
    Con: More difficult to carry and pack, slower to draw

    I have some experience with firearms but I am not a pro like a lot of guys on this forum, so what do you think?

  2. #2
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    You are going to have to spend a lot of time practicing with your pistol to be effective against a charging bear. I say go with the shot gun. There are models out there that are very short and portable. I saw some in Walmart the other day not much bigger than some of the really big pistols. I carried a .44 Mag for bears up here for 2 years until I had a close encounter with a brown bear near Hope. I did not have to shoot the bear to change its mind but I made up my mind right then and there that I was not comfortable with just a pistol. I sold my .44 and bought a short barrel .45-70. I usually carry that or one of my shotguns with slugs now. Pistols can be effective with a lot of practice but when it comes to saving your life in a shot or 2 I'd put my money on the 12 guage. This is just my opinion so take it for what it is worth.
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  3. #3
    Member Diesel Nut's Avatar
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    Do a search of the hunting and shooting threads for "bear+protection" and you'll see a lot of information to help make your decision.

    To summarize all the threads you'll see in your search: The shotgun is thought to be more effective and easier to use in a stressful situation, but the large revolvers are adequate if you devote the time to practice, and more likely to actually be available should you need one.

  4. #4
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    in 40 years up here the only bear encounters i have had were the ones i asked for...as in I HUNTED THEM...

    above all you brain is your best weapon and knowledge of the bears in the area...

    for instance... heavy fishing areas. lots of fish.. less likely to be aggressive.

    for the most part a bear will not fight for his meal..

    a hunting bear on the other hand is a different story.. IE... North slope

    few salmon and not a lot of fishing.. those guys hunt for a living. bou, moose, musk ox... rabbits ground squirles... etc etc...MEAT
    .


    your meat when they are hungry


    i think allot of people put to much faith in a side arm for bear protections, and allow themselves to do stupid things. or at least, not pay attention to the signs around them... Bear trails, bear scat, bears in area... heavy brush, only hiding area around.... hmmmmm time to GO some where else?

    you Will have to get what YOU are comfortable with.. but keep in mind... you will use it inside 15 foot. as out side that your prolly not in any real danger as you haven't seen it yet..

    you will need to use it well and securely.

    and possibly while it is on you if it comes to that.

    my last wife's ex husband fought off a bear in Chitna area, with his .44 while he was being chewed on....

    IMO.. .MOST DLP's are avoidable and unnecessary fear of bears with out proper education...


    i typically DO not carry a side arm while out side of camp... UNLESS hunting with it...

    i do keep one under my cot for night time security while i sleep.
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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  5. #5

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    If I feel the need for bear protection I almost always carry both: a handgun and a long gun, whether it's a rifle or a shotgun.

    Why?

    Because the long gun may be easier to hit with and more powerful, but it's also so cumbersome and in the way while I'm doing something else, that I usually lay it down to get it out of the way. No, a handgun isn't my first choice for bear protection, but in the "back up" sense it's better than nothing.

    And it seems like most of the times I've been in trouble with bears, the !@#$%!@%! rifle or shotgun is leaning against a tree or laying on the ground somewhere out of reach.

    If you're not going to shoot a powerful handgun enough to get good with it, why bother. Just reconcile yourself to the fact that a rifle or shotgun is going to get in the way. And you're going to lay it down or leave it in camp. And that's when you're going to have a close encounter and really wish you had SOMETHING in your hand besides a fishing rod.

  6. #6
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I would go with the shotgun if you have use neither before.Good slugs will do the trick with good shots

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    If I feel the need for bear protection I almost always carry both: a handgun and a long gun, whether it's a rifle or a shotgun.
    I vote with BB. I say yes to carrying both when there is a real possibility of danger, but the handgun never stays home. I agree with Vince that the best action is to prevent any kind of confrontation, but even with a concerted effort this cannot always be done. Where we live/hunt/hike my real concern centers on sows with cubs. They are unpredictable at best.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Yep, take both. Does no good to have a shotgun/rifle in camp, if you are 100 yards from camp getting firewood or taking a dump when you see a bear. Does no good to have the long gun in your canoe or raft, if you are 50 yards away fishing when the bear comes along. I always take the Marlin Guide Gun and S&W 500 when in areas of concern. Why choose? Take both.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member woodman6437's Avatar
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    I looked at a Mossburg 500 with a pistol grip (military folks in here might recognize it as the one most commonly used for breaching). I think that might be a good option. It's compact and fairly cheap. You can also install a folding stock on it if you need to fire from the shoulder. With a proper sling I think I could get accustomed to carrying it around. Trying to avoid buying both a handgun and a shotgun, but I am sure at some point temptation will get the best of me and I will end up owning both.

  10. #10
    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodman6437 View Post
    I looked at a Mossburg 500 with a pistol grip (military folks in here might recognize it as the one most commonly used for breaching). I think that might be a good option. It's compact and fairly cheap. You can also install a folding stock on it if you need to fire from the shoulder. With a proper sling I think I could get accustomed to carrying it around. Trying to avoid buying both a handgun and a shotgun, but I am sure at some point temptation will get the best of me and I will end up owning both.
    Love my 500s they are dang good and many guys pack them here as well as the Rem 870. I think it's the model 590 Mossburg they use for door breaching now days.
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  11. #11
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Take a look at the Marlin Guide Gun before dropping dough on a shotgun. Unless you specifically want a shotgun of course. Pretty awesome little gun in 45-70. Loaded with the hot stuff from Buffalo Bore, it is pretty potent

    37" OAL and only 7 lbs makes it pretty easy to carry. With a good sling, I find it very comfortable. Food for thought at any rate.






    http://www.marlinfirearms.com/Firear...ore/1895GS.asp




    .
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of the 500's. The mariner series will stand up to quite a bit of abuse.

    That being said, I hardly ever carry a firearm while out. If I do, it's almost always the .44 because it's light and accurate enough.

    Dan, how fast can you unsling that thing and get off an accurate shot?
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phish Finder View Post
    Dan, how fast can you unsling that thing and get off an accurate shot?

    Don't know man, hope I never find out

    The 500 S&W is not seen in the pic, but is on the right hip. Truthfully, it would likely be my first reaction if time didn't allow the rifle to be of use. But like I said, I hope never to find out.


    .
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  14. #14
    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    My neighbor's trying to talk me into buying his 45-70, I just can't figure out what I'd use it for.

    Do you use it for anything other than floating?
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

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  15. #15
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Not a darn thing...

    Awesome gun, the Guide Gun that is. Unfortunately it is of little utility other than float trips (for me anyway). I get it out a few times a year and run a few boxes through it, especially when a float trip is nearing. But to be honest, don't get much use out of it otherwise. Same goes for the S&W 500. Ammo for these guns is so high too, makes it easy to keep them cleaned and put away. Nice to have on the gravel bars though, that is for sure.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  16. #16
    Member S.B.'s Avatar
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    Get yourself something you'll have with you and on your person 100&#37; of your time in the outdoors. Whatever it may be, it won't do you a shout in hell worth of good if it's in your truck or at home. I don't know your personal build, only you can determine what your capable of carrying every day and where.
    Steve

  17. #17
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Good point Steve. If you don't have it with you, it is a moot point which gun one buys.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Default A lesson in relativity

    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Take a look at the Marlin Guide Gun before dropping dough on a shotgun. Unless you specifically want a shotgun of course. Pretty awesome little gun in 45-70. Loaded with the hot stuff from Buffalo Bore, it is pretty potent

    37" OAL and only 7 lbs makes it pretty easy to carry. With a good sling, I find it very comfortable. Food for thought at any rate.






    http://www.marlinfirearms.com/Firear...ore/1895GS.asp




    .

    NOTE!! This gun looks so small and portable because this man is HUGE!...at first I thought it was a Chipmunk or some other survival rifle....Dear god man, at that size, you shouldn't need no stinkin firearm....just fists and a growl

  19. #19
    Member sdi's Avatar
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    Default bar gun

    Quote Originally Posted by Catch It View Post
    NOTE!! This gun looks so small and portable because this man is HUGE!...at first I thought it was a Chipmunk or some other survival rifle....Dear god man, at that size, you shouldn't need no stinkin firearm....just fists and a growl
    LOL (catch it) just about pee'd my shorts!!

    I have a guide gun 4570 love this gun!
    had WWG cut and port the bbl to 18"
    And under 100 yards will work for moose!
    Just my two cents.

  20. #20
    Member sdi's Avatar
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    Default Bar gun

    Quote Originally Posted by sdi View Post
    LOL (catch it) just about pee'd my shorts!!

    I have a guide gun 4570 love this gun!
    had WWG cut and port the bbl to 18"
    And under 100 yards will work for moose!
    Just my two cents.
    make that a 16"barrel not 18"

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