I'm just curious. When someone asks about what pistol for Bears or Bear country. Everyone seems to always recommend .44 MAG (and I agree it's a great stout cartridge) for bears. But, you never see any mention of S+W .500, which is even stouter. Why is that?
Because .44 mag ammo is cheaper and more readily available.
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Yep. .44 Mag ammo and guns are widely available and commonly owned, while .500 ammo/guns are not.
Guessing that the 44 Mag is easier to carry and more common.
While the .500 would do three times the damage to the bear, it would also be a heavier sidearm.
A 460 S&W would be a good candidate with less perceived recoil than the .500, but you'll are usually limited to five rounds.
50AE would be my personal preference between those mentioned. 8+1 rounds would be a bit more reassuring. It also works on armadillos.
My other Sig is a Steyr...
I just looked on S+W's website. I shot a S+W 500, ran into a buddy at the range that had the 3.5" barrel one. He let me put ten rounds through it, this is going back about 5 years. It was a hell of a lot of fun. Just looked and it's 56.2 ounce, versus 43.8 ounce for a 4" model 29. Guess the extra pound would be a bit more cumbersome carrying it all day long, plus they're about $600 cheaper than the .500.
Oddly enough the 3.5" .460 is 2 ounces heavier than the .500 and the same price.
It bears mentioning that which type(s) of bears you might encounter might affect which caliber or gun you choose to carry. Where I live black bears, mountain lions, and coyotes are the 4 legged critters I'd most likely have a problem with and after studying the issue some I'm completely comfortable with a .44 mag...
...now, if I lived in Griz, Polar, or Kodiak country I'd be more inclined to carry something a bit bigger.
I've shot .480 Ruger before and would be comfortable carrying it in the right platform...but .44 mag is readily available and cheaper.
Although I don't notice the phenomenon anymore, when the S&W 500 was first released I used to get a chuckle out of how often I would see a bearly used example come up for sale on the used market. Shooters with more money and testosterone then experience would buy the expensive revolvers and expensive ammo, shoot a couple cylinders through them...and only then realize that they had spent waaaay more money and suffered waaaay more recoil punishment than they needed to, and the shine started to wear off their brand new penny acquisition. The early ones commanded a decent used price, but the longer they were out, and the longer the word got out, I used to see quite a few S&W 500 packages sit for sale for long periods of time and the seller invariably lowered the prices to the point where, if someone were so inclined, they could have landed themselves a decent deal on them.
The .500 is a very fun gun if you like a lot of recoil once in a while. I didn't feel any pain when shooting it. But would also never need (or WANT) to carry more than a box of 25 rounds to the range if I owned and brought a .500 along with other pistols.
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The .460 and .500 magnum revolvers are huge, 5 round monsters, with punishing recoil. They also get their best results from long barrels, and are usually configured as scoped hunting guns. The exception to this is is 3.5 inch barrels on both the .500 and .460, and a 5.5 inch .460.
The X frame guns with the shortest barrels weigh 56 ounces. My 4" 629 .44 magnum weighs 42 ounces, and is 6 rounds, so I get one more round of ammo for a pound less to carry.
MSRP on the X frame guns is $700-$800 more than MSRP on the 629, with street prices pretty much following that formula. Ammo for the .500 is very expensive. You can shoot .45 Colt, .454 Casull, and .460 through the .460 guns, so ammo isn't so crazy, but if you want the full power stuff, it's still expensive.
I am not particularly recoil sensitive, yet when I get .44 mag running over 1300 fps, I notice it, even though it is still controllable. I have never shot the X Frame guns, but I imagine that they are pretty awful for both recoil and blast, particularly with barrels short enough for chest carry in bear country.
I would offer that the best compromise of all of this for one seeking more power than the .44 is go with the Ruger .480. It's a bigger bullet than the .44 or .460, but runs at a lower pressure. It's best to think of it as a .475 Linebaugh Special. Pressure has a lot to do with perceived recoil, and the .480 is designed to work at a lower pressure than the Casull or the X Frames. Another excellent choice is a Ruger in .45 Colt using Garrett or Buffalo Bore ammo.
As all things in guns are a compromise, carryability, ammo availability, firearm cost, ammo cost, recoil and blast, and ammo capacity all favor the .44 magnum. While it is the least powerful of the choices, it is regarded as being acceptable as a bear country cartridge. All of the X Frame offerings are less advantageous in every category except for power. As such, in most cases, the .44 is the recommended caliber.
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|10mm is The|
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If a bear is eating your leg, I suspect that you will hardly notice the recoil.
I have a 500, but to date, I have shot no bears.
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What ArtieS said.
I am no expert, but based on what experts say, when I recommend .44 mag it is as the MINIMUM for bear.
Also, the Ruger Bisley Superblackhawk is available in a 6.5" five shot version in .454 or .480. The .454 could be loaded with .45 colt loads that are more powerful than the .44, but less recoil than the .454.
Personally, I would be ok with a .44 with at least a 6 inch barrel.
Better question, how many rounds can you get off and hit charging target? Can you do it with a 9mm, 10mm, .44mag or .500S&W? You carry what you can shoot effectively. Just because you may have a .500S&W handy doesn't mean you can hit anything with it nor does it mean you can get more than a single shot off. A few people I know who live in Alaska swear by a Glock 10mm. Simply put, they can put 15 rounds down range quicker than they can get 6 down range from a .44Mag. It also weights a lost less and is easy to carry all day.
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I’ve never felt comfortable traveling / hiking through Big bear country on foot without a rifle.
Preferably something chambered in the 45-70 Govt. with a 300- to 350-grain bullet..
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Many years ago, I was in the LGS looking for cleaning supplies.
Two young guys came in carrying on and laughing like hyenas.
Turns out they had been pitching overripe watermelons into the canal, and blowin' them up with their new S&W .500. It must have looked like an old WWII Navy movie with destroyers depth charging Nazi U-Boote.
They were back for another couple boxes of ammo.
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I shot an X frame. 5 rounds. That was enough.
Blast and recoil was excessive. For me. YMMV.
Ammo cost was prohibitive, as I would want to be able to practice enough to be proficient with it.
I did not feel I could control recoil enough to make quick, accurate shots in case of emergency.
Gun weight was a factor for all day carry.
So for me, .44M has the performance, ability to practice reasonably cheaply, gun size and control to do what I need it to do in the woods.
And loaded with slightly warm (Callahan had it right) .44 Specials, it makes a great gun for use on two legged varmints, too.
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I hike in Appalachian black bear country regularly. We're almost overrun with bears but they aren't very big.
I always have a Glock 20 with me. 16 rounds and a reload should suffice.
Bear spray is still the way to go.
"You have the right not to be killed..."
The Clash, "Know Your Rights"
10mm hard cast lead or .41 magnum for me.
I think .44mag is the 'norm' due to the ease of availability of ammo, the relative ease of recovery between shots [vs X-Frame S&W rounds, or .454Casul], and the relative ease of packing it- compared to others.
IF I were HUNTING bear, I'd want one of the X-Frame calibers.
However, the benefits don't outweigh the negatives for me.
I like to enjoy shooting my firearms- not be 'good enough' to save my life, but hate to shoot it.
Sig P226, P220 Carry Stainless Elite, and a bunch of non-sigs.
Can we get a video please of you shooting the armadillos?
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