I hunted for years with a 44 mag before I decided to move up to a 500 mag. Loved the 500 mag, extremely accurate firearm. Maximum ear protection for the decibels it produced but another factor is the blast. I ruined a couple of bench rest shooting it at the range. It would routinely kick up stuff that would come back to me. Lastly, big weight / bulk difference between an X frame and a Ruger SBH. I went back to 44 mag in a S&W N frame.
Pistol gripped Serbu 8.5" AOW ($5 transfer fee) in 12g is not much heavier than the above and MUCH more effective in this neck of the woods. I only wish that it was available when I was a bear management ranger in GNP ... the 44mag on my chest always left me feeling lacking and the two pieces of 12g / 870 in my pack was slow into action !
Most bear threads are not about hunting, but more about what is the most common, easily portable handgun round choice considered acceptable for the task. The 44 mag simply has the size/power/availability that meets the task. If the question was more along hunting lines, then the 500 would get more mention, as would others.
I think 44 mag has just been the go to for awhile, it’s an easy pick when somebody doesn’t have a handgun for bear defense yet.
As has already been said those 460 and 500 SW revolvers are huge, I’ve known a few guys who have chosen them but not many. The 454 is fairly popular where I live in AK, those Ruger Alaskan snubby revolvers are here and there but 44mags outnumber them by a lot.
I’ve switched almost exclusively to the 10mm, have for awhile. I like the Glock 20, don’t care if I get it wet while jet boating or getting rained on.
As for the “most people recommend a shotgun” I call bullshit, I’ve known all of one person who totes around a 12g rather than a handgun. Shotguns and 45-70s are cool when you’re in a boat but not great for hiking around with.
Nope. These words are typical of people who don’t know what they are talking about.
I'd go .454 if I thought a 44 mag wasn't enough.This message has been edited. Last edited by: ruger357,
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Do you know what a Serbu modified 870 is?
you might want to reconsider calling BS on it ...
It worked great for me as a leo and I would have carried it daily instead of the SW 44 for serious bear encounters as a ranger in MT. Most folks would not consider "hunting" bear with a 30-30, but they think that a 44 mag is adequate for protection. The Serbu is an AOW only slightly larger than the above discussed hand cannons but with much more energy and *controllability* with the fold down additional front grip.
And, yes, I have been face to face with grizzlies more than once ... and sent in after folks who had their own encounters... tremendous respect for bears and anyone who survives their attacks.
Weight, blast, & recoil factor in. Then it depends where one will be & doing what?
The quintessential bear defense firearm is a bolt 375 H&H, not always handy to carry though.
I know exactly what a derby shorty is and in my years of hunting and living in bear country on the Alaska peninsula I never saw anybody using one. Glad it worked for YOU but to claim that it’s the standard is ridiculous.
I hunt them with a 375, no way I’m carrying that thing around “just in case” though.
I will admit to not having read all the posts. At a S&W Day at the local range I shot both a .500 and .460. I liked the .460 a lot better. Both were the shorter barrels. A friend with his own outdoor range and a revolver nut has a .460. When shot things rattle outside. All that said if I was going into Grizzly country I would suffer the recoil and extra weight.
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My job for a government agency took me to extremely remote wilderness areas, often alone. I would drive as far as possible on jeep trails and then hike in to a site. There were potential encounters with survivalist squatters on government land, marijuana farmers, bear, cougar, and moose.
I carried a Glock G20 SF and two spare magazines on my right hip for two-legged encounters. In black bear or cougar territory, I carried a 4" S&W 29-2 and two speed loaders on my left hip. In brown bear or moose territory, I carried a 5" S&W 460 magnum and two speed loaders on my left hip.
I am left-handed, but very right eye dominant. I have carried and shot right-handed since 1969. I can shoot a handgun equally well with ether hand and both eyes open. I have left-hand and right-hand holsters for most of my carry handguns.
After I retired, I sold my S&W 460 magnum revolvers since I rarely go into brown bear or moose areas now. There are black bear and cougar sightings where I live.
The S&W 460 and 500 magnums are expensive to shoot. I have a Ruger Super Redhawk .454 Casull in case I go to brown bear or moose territory. It is cheaper and more fun to shoot and it can also shoot .45 Colt.
U.S. Army, Retired
If you look at the Ruger Alaskan, you'd notice the same thing - 44 mag is heavier than the 454 and bigger calibers. It's because the 44 mag version has more metal in the cylinder due to the smaller holes for chambers.
BTW, that is also something I notice on some of my revolvers when comparing comparable .22lr to .38sp or .357- the .22 seems heavier in the same sized frame.
Sig P226, P220 Carry Stainless Elite, and a bunch of non-sigs.
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I've posted these before but this thread begs for pictures.
Here is a photo of the S & W .500 that I use for hunting.
IMG_20190405_101705659 by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr
And here is the S & W .500 for protection.
IMG_20190405_101812628 by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr
IWB holster a local guy did up for the short barrel .500
It's heavy and a bit bulky and certainly requires a really good gun belt.
But it sure out powers the typical J frame.
S&W 500 011 by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr
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I have never been bear hunting. That said, you can’t spit in this area without hitting a bear hunter. The only ones that don’t carry a 44 as a backup are the few that carry a 357. Several of my friends spend almost every day of bear season in these mountains so when they say a 44 is the right tool for the job I tend to believe their years of experience.
I've hunted, and taken medium to big game with .357, .44 magnum, .454 Casull, and .460.
The .454 Casull was a Ruger Super Redhawk. Shooting it was similar to catching a hardball, barehanded. I sold it. A friend MADE me shoot his .460. Just shooting it over the hood of a truck, I was impressed that it shot a 3" group, for me at 100 yards, and with less felt recoil than my Mag na Ported S&W 629, .44 magnum. I found a "Custom Shop" model, on Gunbroker, that I thought I should have, and it will shoot inch groups at 100 yards. I took it deer hunting, last season, and it hits as hard as a rifle. I'm considering getting a short one for carry. Yes the muzzle blast is BAD, and you NEED to watch where your thumbs are. Lucky for me, I have small hands, but, lost the end of a leather glove to the blast that came out of the rear of the cylinder. Others haven't been so lucky. I did a search, and found several people that lost the tip of their thumbs to the .460
My vote would be for the .460. Not impressed with any other caliber, but, usually only carry a 9mm, which, according to Peter Capstick, if you are being mauled by a lion, put a 9mm, loaded with ball ammo in it's mouth, and keep pulling the trigger.
I have a S&W 460V. Fun to shoot but definitely not a range gun where you're going to run a couple of boxes through it.
One nice "feature" is that it can chamber 45LC, 454 Casull, and S&W 460. Funny thing about it? 454 Casull, at least to me, has more felt recoil because it is "all at once" or snappy where S&W 460 has a more progressive recoil. Does that make sense? By the way, double hearing protection should be a requirement.
I never tried any.454 through my.460, but, I have been searching for a reduced power load, so that I might actually practice with it, without all of the muzzle blast/concussion that it puts out, but, for the huge case, so far, I’ve only found loads with Trailboss recommended, and the accuracy is horrible
In my opinion any of those huge revolvers are better suited for hunting bear than protection from them. Especially the smaller bears in Montana. The really huge brown bear along the Alaskan coast might change my mind, but something much smaller and compact would be my preference. I'd find a short barreled carbine in an adequate chambering easier to carry around, more effective, and something I'd actually keep on me.
If I were to carry a handgun for such purposes it would be a 3-4" S&W 629 or a Glock in 10mm. They are small and light enough that they will actually get carried all of the time and both have proven to work. The bigger guns just work at longer ranges.
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