9MM Pistol for bear protection?

Dalko43

Explorer
"Luck" doesn't even begin to cover this. And shots taken from 6-8 feet away? Few people will wait for the bear to get that close (or come that close to it). I suspect most folks would empty the clip, reload and empty the second one before the bear even got to 20 feet... and it would be an attempt in futility.

I once considered the idea of carrying a shotgun w/ slugs for bear protection. Came to the conclusion that while it sounds great in theory, in practice, unless it's already in your hands, you'll never get it out/cock/aim/shoot in time. I carry bear spray on my belt now - had to quickly pull it off and aim just a few weeks back when a massive grizzly showed up near my campsite, but luckily didn't have to use it. I've got pretty solid nerves, and even so, with my heart racing as fast as it was, not having a firearm in my hands at that time was a good thing.
This topic has been covered to death in other threads. Bear spray is a very effective deterrent, but it's just that: a deterrent. At the end of the day, nothing will replace a firearm in terms of finality and lethality. Yes, yes, you need to have the firearm on you and ready in order to use it effectively, but the same applies with bear spray.

Incidentally, 12 gauge slugs are noted for being one for the more effective rounds for dealing with brown bear. It's not necessarily an easy platform to carry around 24/7. But if I knew I was going to be camping long term in grizzly country, or making short hikes to guide clients to a fishing site, I'd certainly opt for carrying that in lieu of a small caliber pistol.

This story has been making ripples in the firearm community. All it proves is that any firearm has the potential to be lethal against an aggressive animal. However, it doesn't mean that 9mm is the optimal sidearm for bear defense. I would hope that most firearm owners would already realize that.
 

chet6.7

Explorer
"I decided to take my Smith & Wesson 3953 DAO 9mm, rather than the S&W 629 .44 Mag. Mountain Gun I have carried for the past 25 years, as the larger boars are usually less of a problem than sows with cubs."

I wonder if he will rethink his caliber selection.
 

bigskypylot

Explorer
As a professional guide, the guy should know better. I used to carry a S7W 629-6 with Bear loads. Now, I carry a G40 MOS 10mm on a chest rig with bear spray right next to the pistol. Have only ran in to one down by Taylors Fork and we went separate ways. I'm currenty using HSM bear loads but making the switch to Underwood 200 or 220gr. In camp, an 870P with some good slugs works just fine. Although, would love to have a 45-70 :) Too bad I sold my BLR 450 Marlin lol
 

bigskypylot

Explorer
"Luck" doesn't even begin to cover this. And shots taken from 6-8 feet away? Few people will wait for the bear to get that close (or come that close to it). I suspect most folks would empty the clip, reload and empty the second one before the bear even got to 20 feet... and it would be an attempt in futility.

I once considered the idea of carrying a shotgun w/ slugs for bear protection. Came to the conclusion that while it sounds great in theory, in practice, unless it's already in your hands, you'll never get it out/cock/aim/shoot in time. I carry bear spray on my belt now - had to quickly pull it off and aim just a few weeks back when a massive grizzly showed up near my campsite, but luckily didn't have to use it. I've got pretty solid nerves, and even so, with my heart racing as fast as it was, not having a firearm in my hands at that time was a good thing.
I used to do on the hip but since a friend's friend called in one while calling in Elk and the spray and pistol got pinned between him and the ground. He managed to get the spray out and deploy it.
 

Dalko43

Explorer
I used to do on the hip but since a friend's friend called in one while calling in Elk and the spray and pistol got pinned between him and the ground. He managed to get the spray out and deploy it.
I've heard that elk calling has become more, shall we say, interesting out west as more and more bears have come into the area.
 

rayra

Expedition Leader
Lot of room between 'better than nothing' and 'a good idea'. The given scenario is closer to the 'better than nothing' end of the scale.
 

bigskypylot

Explorer
agreed, but deciding to choose to take a less-than-optimal caliber out in the bush when you know what can be encountered while out there and doing it in a so-called "professional" capacity as a guide is just plain foolish. Glad he had something at least.
 

jadmt

Well-known member
best story ever. Guy who delivered a storage shed for me (from St. Ignatius MT in the heart of the Mission mountains and thick with grizzlies) works for Amish builders said he got a call from his boss that a mountain lion was seen lurking around. The guy said he was walking in the area that the cat was last seen and up popped a full grown grizzly. He said he had left his rifle in his truck and the Griz charged him and ran smack into a fence that was between them and then just started postering. He had photos on his phone to prove it. He said that he has encountered 52 Grizzlies in his life, did not say how many he had buried.....
 

DieselRanger

Well-known member
10,000: 1 kill shot with a charging bear with a 9mm. Feel lucky? Bear spray is your best option
If you're in a developed campground, sure, bear spray is fine - you're usually going to have some warning, either from other campers or just by looking around - the bear wants what's in your cooler or on the grill, not you. But in that case, unless it's an exceptionally hungry bear, a crowd of people banging on pots and pans will usually suffice (otherwise known as the sweet serenade of a Yosemite Valley evening). In the bush? Hell no, especially not if you're traveling alone or in a pair, in August/September when bear are eating everything they can put their paws on to fatten up for winter. That's when and how most predatory bear attacks occur.

Bear spray has the potential to incapacitate you and not the bear if deployed incorrectly, and may be utterly ineffective if there's more than a mild breeze blowing the wrong way when the bear charges. If you've ever been in the military and had the good fortune to experience tear gas in the course of chemical warfare training, let me just say it makes touching your wee-wee after cutting up habanero's feel like happy fun time, but tear gas wears off faster because pepper spray is oil-based and doesn't wash off easily with water. If you accidentally get a face full of bear spray while he's coming right at you, you'll be one spicy meatball for Mr. Bear.

Good friends of mine were bluff charged twice by a young Grizz feeding on berries in Glacier NP - the second time, the friend of mine carrying the bear spray deployed his spray, but the wind took the spray stream away from the bear and some of the finer mist blew back in his girlfriend's face. It was enough to sting and make all of her facial orifices run like a faucet, but she could hike out. The rangers told them they see more injuries due to bear spray than they see bears deterred by it - canisters being activated inside a tent by accident, people clipping them to their packs by the safety ring like a grenade pin and then knocking it off, and accidentally pulling the trigger when they retrieve it, etc. Sure, a firearm has the potential to cause unintended injury or death as well, but a firearm in trained hands is less prone to wind effects at ranges under 20 yards, which is where either will be deployed against a threatening bear.

Large caliber, short-barreled firearms do the trick. Anything less than a .454 is for 2-legged predators or hunting things with antlers.
 
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