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Thread: 20 gauge adequete for black bear?

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    Default 20 gauge adequete for black bear?

    A simple question: Is a 20 gauge shotgun with slugs adequate for hunting black bear in Alaska?

    I've been doing some reading and it seems to work for people in the lower 48, but our bears tend to be a bit larger. Obviously, you're limited in range to ~50 meters at the best and it would be wise to throw some good sights on there. I did a few searches on here and couldn't find a similar thread, but if this has already been discussed a link would be great!

    Thanks for any info you can provide!

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    maybe over bait, from a tree.....
    if it's all you got, maybe, but it isn't suitable for any other game up here under normal hunting scenarios.
    and if you are in an area with brown bears you may as well be taking a spoon to a knife fight.
    get yourself a good rifle in the 30-06 or larger class and you are good to go.
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    Member c04hoosier's Avatar
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    If you use sabots or Brenneke slugs, I would say yes. I would not use the Foster/rifled type slugs on a bear at all, though. They do not penetrate well enough in my experience. If you limit the range, line up a broadside shot, and put them in the right place, I bet the 20 gauge will do fine. But if you shoot one and it doesn't work, and the bear mauls you, DO NOT BLAME ME!

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    Default gee-wizz value?

    Yep, I'm in agreement with homerdave and cO4Hoosier with this one.
    Your 20 gauge slug, at close to moderate range...No...at close range is adaquate.
    But do some penetration tests first. As super short range increases, you will be shhocked at the lack of penetration! Compared to modern muzzleloader projectiles and even .243 bullits, you will see why we recomment limiting shots to bear-bait-ranges/bow hunting ranges.

    Its adaquate, I guess. So is any other projectile like an arrow, crossbow bolt, or patched lead round ball.
    If ya let the air out and/or cause the blood to profusely leak out of em, they will fall over.
    As always, its mostly about location, location, location. And penetration.

    OK, my real feelings are that using a 20 gauge shotgun slug on a black bear in Alaska is sort of a "gimic hunt", or an "experts hunt". An unusual hunt that somebody might do one time for gee-wizz value.

    Get the '06 as homer-d suggested. Confidently kill more stuff.

    Dennis

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    with modern slugs you have the same FPS/FPE in the twelve or twenty shooting like loads. The twelve can shoot heaver loads but a standard 1oz. load off the shelf for both gun you would get the same power. The twelves only advantage is slugs frontal area

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    Member The Kid's Avatar
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    Yeah, what Amogo Will said. In fact some of the articles lately talk of vast improvements in slug loads for the 20, and since they are going the same speed and are skinnier they retain velocity better. I have read of late that some guys down south are using the 20 with modern loads in rifled barrels to squeeze a little extra range outta the guns in slug only areas.

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    I third Amiego.
    My only experiance is shooting Carbou right on through the neck, neckbone and on out with a 20 gauge with slugs......not a "Meat gun" by anyone measure, but if you want a BIG deep hole, by all means I know in my cold heart that you will do fine, and if you dont, then shoot it again.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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    Member Bearclaw67's Avatar
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    Get yourself some Hornady SSTslugs, they'll give you more than 100 yards of range and hit like a sledge hammer. If that's what you have use it, black bear are'nt that hard to kill.
    Paul

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    Member MNViking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nittanytbone View Post
    A simple question: Is a 20 gauge shotgun with slugs adequate for hunting black bear in Alaska?

    I've been doing some reading and it seems to work for people in the lower 48, but our bears tend to be a bit larger.
    Larger??? Much smaller up here compared to the upper midwest. According to the Wisconsin DNR the average boar weighs between 250-500 lbs in WI. ADFG says the average Alaskan black bear boar weighs between 180-200lbs. I've heard people say that the grizzly's keep black bears small but I have seen nothing scientific on that.

    I think if a 20ga slug will kill a northern whitetail (150-250lbs) it will do just fine on an Alaskan black bear. That said, I wouldn't use one. I'd at least use a 12ga if I was going the shotgun route.
    Finally, Brad Childress is GONE!

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    Are you asking because you are going to be hunting in a weapons restricted area?? Or are you asking because you already have a 20 guage and dont feel like buying a new gun??? If you are hunting in a weapons restricted area, go with a muzzleloader or a bow.

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    I think a 20ga slug (the sabots as mentioned) will do fine. I shot a 20 back home for deer and killed a lot of them (with devastating effects). With the new high velocity slugs out there you should have no problem out to 100yds. I would not take a shot beyond that, but I think you should have no problem killing a bear with a 20 loaded down with a good high velocity sabot.
    Alaska: We're all here cuz we're not all "there"

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    As one that has skinned plenty of them... a 20 will be fine with good slugs.. keep you range under 40 yards and you should have no problem at all breaking a few ribs and lungs.
    "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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  13. #13

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    Sure, with the right restraints on your part and the right circumstances- good clean shot inside 50 yards.

    Lots of folks take them with 62 caliber muzzleloaders and round balls. A 62 cal muzzleloader is a 20 gauge. A .610 lead ball weighs 342 grains or roughly 3/4 oz. And it's a rare muzzleloader shooter that pushes them past 1400 fps. Given the better ballistics of modern 20 gauge slugs, no sweat. The color of the powder behind the hunkalead isn't going to matter to the bear.

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    Member Toddler's Avatar
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    A 20 GA shooting good quality slugs (say Brennekee) through a rifled barrel will give you roughly the same performance as a 45-70. I donít think anyone would question if a 45-70 is big enough for black or even brown bears. Shooting Times did a fairly big write up on this very subject a couple of years ago claiming sub MOA beyond 150 yards.

    It would not be my preferred weapon for a spot and stalk but if I were shooting out to 100 yards I would not hesitate. I think it would be great for shooting over bait. Get a good set of slugs and see how well you shoot your shotgun.

    Just my nickel
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNViking View Post
    Larger??? Much smaller up here compared to the upper midwest. According to the Wisconsin DNR the average boar weighs between 250-500 lbs in WI. ADFG says the average Alaskan black bear boar weighs between 180-200lbs. I've heard people say that the grizzly's keep black bears small but I have seen nothing scientific on that.
    A couple reasons given for bears being smaller up here then in most of the lower 48. The first is our bears seem to have to hibernate a lot longer which effects their growth. The second is food sources. One of the biggest black bears I ever saw taken was in southern PA.

    20 ga? With premium slugs, if I had to, then yes at ahorter ranges but it would not be my first choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    with modern slugs you have the same FPS/FPE in the twelve or twenty shooting like loads. The twelve can shoot heaver loads but a standard 1oz. load off the shelf for both gun you would get the same power. The twelves only advantage is slugs frontal area
    Thanks Amigo, and all the others that weighed in. The numbers on the new slugs look good and I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing something!! It sounds like the 20 gauge -- within its range limitations -- will work just fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by homerdave View Post
    maybe over bait, from a tree.....
    if it's all you got, maybe, but it isn't suitable for any other game up here under normal hunting scenarios.
    and if you are in an area with brown bears you may as well be taking a spoon to a knife fight.
    get yourself a good rifle in the 30-06 or larger class and you are good to go.
    I'm not planning on hunting brown bears, and this isn't a DLP gun. My wife and I are hunting together; we'll have bear spray, I'll have a .30 caliber bolt gun, and we'll have the revolver too.

    Quote Originally Posted by B-radford View Post
    Are you asking because you are going to be hunting in a weapons restricted area?? Or are you asking because you already have a 20 guage and dont feel like buying a new gun??? If you are hunting in a weapons restricted area, go with a muzzleloader or a bow.
    My wife and I are putting together a spring black bear hunt. Believe it or not, it is hard to find guns in "youth" (compact/women's sized) stocks for lefties, so we were considering a shotgun as a reasonably priced alternative to a rifle for her. She's going to get a rifle for the fall but wants to shop around, take her time, and make a good decision before dropping the scratch (you can get leftie guns... but not the cheaper entry level models, so pick wisely the first time!). We want a shotgun anyways, and we'd prefer a 20 gauge unless the 12 gauge is really absolutely needed -- much easier to find smaller stocks in 20 gauge, and why lug an extra 2 lbs of gun that you don't need?

    Plus, it allows us to work in the restricted areas closer to town, which is certainly convenient for shorter weekend trips.

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    Good clear thinking all the way around.

    On the lefty rifles, they won't be fancy, but if you're saving buxx check out the Savage lefties. You can always hack the stock if necessary. A 308 with 22" barrel might be just her cup of tea.

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    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    My brother shot his first black bear with a 410 HR single shot and paper wrapped slugs back in the day. In Northern Maine the blackies are just as big as any blackie in Alaska and his was a big bear. Shot placement and closer shots 20-40 yards, I think your 20 gauge is plenty.

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    Member Toddler's Avatar
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    I am wrestling with the same problem - a lefty daughter. Some of the weapons I am looking at are a Browning BPS because it is a bottom eject and a Thompson Contender with the interchangeable barrels. I am looking at 6.5X55/260/7-08 as far as rifles for her.

    Just my Nickel,
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    My daughter is left handed however she is right eye dominate. she shoots right handed prefers a right handed fishing pole but plays golf and guitar left handed. Make sure before you buy. I have a nice left handed abu garcia 6500 that rarly gets used. 20 guage should work fine. no matter what she uses I would recommend a back up shooter for black bear as they are very hard to blood trail and can easly disappear in the thick alaskan brush. My daughter uses a rugger fronteir riffle in 7mm-08 works great for a smaller frame person.

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