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single action vs double for bear defense

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  • 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.

  • #2
    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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    • #3
      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.
      "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
      Merle Haggard

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      • #4
        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
        Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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        • #5
          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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          • #6
            Easy?

            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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            • #7
              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.

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              • #8
                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.
                "You will never know how much it cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it."
                ~ John Quincy Adams

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                • #9
                  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.
                  "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
                  Merle Haggard

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                  • #10
                    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
                    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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                    • #11
                      Hey Smitty, when you have something of substance to say, then maybe we can chat
                      "You will never know how much it cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it."
                      ~ John Quincy Adams

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                      • #12
                        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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                        • #13
                          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.
                          Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
                          You can't out-give God.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            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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                            • #15
                              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.
                              "You will never know how much it cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it."
                              ~ John Quincy Adams

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