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.357 Magnum and the Bears

This is a discussion on .357 Magnum and the Bears within the Ruger Double Action forums, part of the Pistol & Revolver Forum category; Alright, I want to buy a revolver for use when out in the bush. Size isn't so much a concern, but I'm thinking in the ...


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Old January 3rd, 2010, 09:54 PM   #1
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.357 Magnum and the Bears

Alright, I want to buy a revolver for use when out in the bush. Size isn't so much a concern, but I'm thinking in the medium range like the size of a 6" GP100 or so.

I was musing over what caliber would be best for the application. The obvious choice is .45-70, but I cannot afford a Magnum Research BFR. I am curious about the larger .357 magnum rounds and just how effective they would be against black bear, or the occasional brown bear. Everyone I talk to recommends .44 magnum or better. Some recommend .454 just to be on the safe side.

I would like to be able to add another gun to the collection without having to add another caliber to the pile. I have all the calibers I really want, so my objective is to buy guns that don't require me to stock up on another type. However, I'm open to the idea of buying a larger caliber gun if that's what it takes to be safe.

I met a hunter and his wife while out on a hike one day and they were both packing Ruger GP100 6" revolvers. I asked about the effectiveness of the .357 mag and they responded by saying they were custom loads. I'm assuming they were pretty hot - otherwise they wouldn't be packing them. Or it could have been the fact that they had .270 rifles on them, or so it seemed.

Does anyone go humpin' in the woods with a .357 magnum? I have my SP101 on me, but it's more for defense against weirdos than animals. I've never actually had to draw on an animal, although I've had my hand on my rifle a time or two.

Should I just get a .44 or better, or is there a .357 mag round that is up to the task? We are talking 6" barrel here - no less. I see 180 gr mags at the local shop and the counter guys say they are for hunting, but I'm not sure whether they mean for hunting human prey or animal, or even how big said animal is supposed to be.



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Old January 4th, 2010, 03:25 AM   #2
 
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I have a GP100 I carry in the woods. I have some 180 grain Buffalo Bore for it, which is about the heaviest load i know of for a .357. I live in Florida where we do indeed have black bear, but not huge ones.

I would readily use mine for deer, feral dogs, coyote, smaller hogs, and in a pinch for defense against a small bear.

Buffalo Bore lists their 305 grain .44 Magnum ammo as good for "big game up to 1,000 pounds".

For your use, i think a .44 Mag sounds like a much better choice.

Last edited by Tater; January 4th, 2010 at 03:31 AM.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 04:29 AM   #3
 
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Shot placement is paramount in anything. A charging bear to me does not mean I will place a shot too well while trying to run like a scared whore from the old church ladies! The 357 magnum would do the job but I have to be honest, if your in a bear heavy environment.......get a .44 like a Ruger SUper Blackhawk. A bear will certainly respect that beast of a gun.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 05:01 AM   #4
 
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Raminator; Many (many) years ago, a famous gunwriter who's name I forget (I believe he wrote for Shooting Times) wrote of being attacked by a bear while scouting for deer. As the bear charged, he unloaded his 357 Mag. It took a shot into the ear canal at point blank range to stop the bear...too close!!! After he regained his composure, he had found that the bullets he had previously shot at the bear had "glanced off of the skull", and had NOT stop the bear charge! 44 Mag is the minimum...with heavy for caliber, deep penetrating bullets. Killing a bear under hunting conditions, and under a charge condition are two different scenarios. Under hunting conditions, the bear has time to bleed out and die. Under a charge condition your bullet must penetrate the skull, or make it to the central nervous sytem to stop the bear dead in its tracks.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 07:41 AM   #5
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I got the ruger blackhawk in .45 colt for this application. I think you should consider a .44mag or a .45 colt. both are available in the single action blackhawk or the double action redhawk.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 07:48 AM   #6
 
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"against black bear, or the occasional brown bear."

Very big difference there. I'd be happy packing the .357 in black bear areas, but not in grizzly range. .44 for that.

And of course avoid the light-weight hollowpoints. Not built for bears at all.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 08:40 AM   #7
 
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I carry a Sp101 with the 180 Buffalo Bore in town and the 454 Alaskan in the woods
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Old January 4th, 2010, 08:56 AM   #8
 
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I would go with a .454 if it was me. Hell maybe even one of those new .500 S&W. They offer that in a shorter barrel now.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 10:27 AM   #9
 
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You'll get as many opinions and reasons as there are subscribers. Personally, I'd be ok with a .357 and some good ammo if I knew that the average black bear was my biggest threat (it wouldnt be my first choice, but I wouldnt lose sleep over it). But if you're anywhere that you might run into a brown bear or an upset moose then if you can go bigger, I'd do it.

Its pretty difficult to beat a Ruger Alaskan in .454 Casull for this purpose. The short barrel makes it very comfortable to carry (if you aint carrying it, it wont do you any good), yet still allows you to set off ammo with double (or more) the energy of a .44mag from a gun with twice the barrel length. Recoil is certainly a factor here though. And if you're recoil sensitive, .454's are mighty in the that department and if you imagine trying to control that one handed, on your back, with a bear trying to eat off your scalp, something along the lines of a .44mag or a hot .45 Colt might be a better choice.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 03:38 PM   #10
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We have a lot of black bears where I live, and I've only seen a brown bear once, from a distance. I've never seen any moose around here, but from what I understand, it's not impossible. We are near Canada out here. My original though was for the .454, and recoil isn't an issue. My wife thinks I'm insane because I love big recoil weapons. I guess I'll just have to buy something either in .44 mag or .454 and keep enough ammo on hand to keep it fed as needed. no sense in stockpiling a ton of ammo for a gun that will have but one purpose in mind.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 06:50 PM   #11
 
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I had the occasion to discuss what is the best bear pistol with a native Alaskan on a fishing trip several years ago.
He smiled and advised make sure it has a small front sight blade. That made me wonder so I asked what difference a front sight blade would make.
He replied when the bear sticks it up my rear end it would not hurt as much.
He carried an 20 inch barrel 870 with the slugs. He also had a Marlin 450 in the raft. He had a quiver type device on his back he would put the gun in barrel down so he could draw it like an arrow.
I feel I was not the first or the last person whom he schooled up on bear guns.
The only grizzly we saw was a mounted display at the Anchorage Airport.

Also remember you do not have to outrun the bear, just the other people you are with.

Last edited by DILLIGAS; January 4th, 2010 at 07:55 PM.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 07:14 PM   #12
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Minimun of 44 mag and a can of bear spray.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 07:17 PM   #13
 
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If there is even the remotest chance of a grizzly encounter, I'd pack at least a .44. Actually, I doubt I'd even go there!
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Old January 4th, 2010, 08:31 PM   #14
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I'm giving some serious thought to the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan in .454 Casull. Given the ballistics characteristics of the round and the fact that a .454 coming from a 2.5" barrel is more powerful than a .44 mag out of a 6" barrel, I'm tending to believe that the .454 is the better of the two. But I need to do some more research. Either gun is going to take me nearly all year to save up for, so I'm not in a rush. Until then, I still have my .45-70 carbine to take out camping in bear country.
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Old January 5th, 2010, 02:37 AM   #15
 
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Lotsa good advice here, but i have one comment about the bear spray. Please read the sign below:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Grizzly Bear..jpg (86.2 KB, 141 views)
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