Pistol for backpacking

Hudson69

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Hola all,

I have taken to backpacking in the Colorado Rockies. I have seen bear, with no issues and have seen moose (mean are the moose). I am looking to start carrying a .357 mag. The only thing I am looking for is at least a 4" barrel and six shots. Having said that does anyone have an suggestions: I am on a budget and the gun will be for backpacking/camping only. It won't be a gun to hunt with unless something has really gone wrong.

Gracias
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Here is an excerpt from an article by Chuck Hawks.

"If you must rely on a handgun for bear protection, go with a magnum revolver with at least a 4" barrel. (Ballistically, a 6" barrel is better.) This magnum revolver should be at least .357 caliber (.44 or larger caliber is preferred) shooting a heavy, deep penetrating bullet."

Full article here: Firearms for Defense against Bears
 

Dirty Dog

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Bears are big. Get a .44 mag or .500 mag.


Sent from an old fashioned 300 baud acoustic modem by whistling into the handset. Not TapaTalk. Really.
 

elder999

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Bears are big. Get a .44 mag or .500 mag.


Sent from an old fashioned 300 baud acoustic modem by whistling into the handset. Not TapaTalk. Really.
People have all made some good choices here.

Facts, though: in Colorado, the bear you're going to encounter is the black bear.....which can top out at close to 700 lbs., but averages 200-300 lbs. in Colorado, same as here in New Mexico...
After lots of research, sure, the .44 mag is the best caliber for black bear, and what pistol hunters often carry, but not necessarily something everyone can shoot under the pressure of a bear encounter....not really something everyone can shoot, even with practice-hand size, and all....

Same things kind of apply to a 10mm Glock, my favorite field bear prevention...if your hand isn't big enough, it's not really a good choice..bringing us to the .40 S&W, which comes in some smaller-hand friendly platforms.....and that brings us to load: penetration is what you need for a bear encounter, and this is really load dependent.-.357, .44 (or .41-a .41 magnum is a good choice as well, if, like the .44 mag, you can handle it.) 10mm or .40 S&W : all have to be loads that are made for penetration.

Almost all of those are available in hunting loads-this is what you want, not the common anti-personnel (high expansion) rounds, but something that's going to get through a bear's thick fur and skull -and you'll be aiming at the skull, or rather, pointing at the skull......what you want is a central nervous system disconnect, and the bear will be coming at you head-first, anyway....
 

Dirty Dog

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People have all made some good choices here.

Facts, though: in Colorado, the bear you're going to encounter is the black bear.....which can top out at close to 700 lbs., but averages 200-300 lbs. in Colorado, same as here in New Mexico...
After lots of research, sure, the .44 mag is the best caliber for black bear, and what pistol hunters often carry, but not necessarily something everyone can shoot under the pressure of a bear encounter....not really something everyone can shoot, even with practice-hand size, and all....

All true enough. But I want a S&W .500 Mag, and I'm trying to rationalize it. :D
 

ballen0351

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454 casull. Because well same as DD I want one and need to rationalize it. I tried to get my work to buy one in case a hippo escapes the circus but that didn't fly
 

Chrisoro

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As I would guess most people would have a rather intense adrenaline dump when being confronted with a beer, I would prefer a gun that would allow me to make fast second shots, while still being potent enough to penetrate a beers skull.

As a smaller diameter bullet will penetrate deeper than a larger caliber bullet within the same energy range, I would probably go for a 4" or 6" .357 revolver with Buffalo Bore's heavy .357 ammo with a 180gr. LFN hard cast bullet. These have a muzzle energy of about 750ft./lbs. from a 4" inch revolver (or about the same energy as a standard velocity .44 mag from a revolver with the same barrel length), but are easier to control and get back on target, and are also likely to penetrate deeper.

As for what revolver, personally I love the trigger on S&W's 686 revolvers, but have more confidence in the build strength of a Ruger GP100. The latter is also cheaper than the S&W's. I have almost no experience with other revolver brands, so cannot make any recommendations of other brands.
 

elder999

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454 casull. Because well same as DD I want one and need to rationalize it. I tried to get my work to buy one in case a hippo escapes the circus but that didn't fly

I've shot one...it's a BLAST.....and not for the weak, or trim of wrist.

In fact, I haven't seen many people fire the thing without a bench rest.....though there's one guy who claims to hunt with it-even has a scope......

As I would guess most people would have a rather intense adrenaline dump when being confronted with a beer, I would prefer a gun that would allow me to make fast second shots, while still being potent enough to penetrate a beers skull.

As a smaller diameter bullet will penetrate deeper than a larger caliber bullet within the same energy range, I would probably go for a 4" or 6" .357 revolver with Buffalo Bore's heavy .357 ammo with a 180gr. LFN hard cast bullet. These have a muzzle energy of about 750ft./lbs. from a 4" inch revolver (or about the same energy as a standard velocity .44 mag from a revolver with the same barrel length), but are easier to control and get back on target, and are also likely to penetrate deeper.

As for what revolver, personally I love the trigger on S&W's 686 revolvers, but have more confidence in the build strength of a Ruger GP100. The latter is also cheaper than the S&W's. I have almost no experience with other revolver brands, so cannot make any recommendations of other brands.

And my choices in this regard-all semi-automatics-they have as much to do with where they're meant to be carried. I've nothing against revolvers-in fact, I prefer them for some applications-but the Glock, S&W 99 and Springfield XD all are, generally lighter to carry, easier to affix to a variety of hiking gear and deploy.

Most of the revolver platforms mentioned shouldn't be crippled with a shorter barrel, anyway, even if you are going to be shooting the bear in the face.....
rolling.gif


I've known people who hunt black bear with .45's.....it's all about penetration, and shot placement-or multiple shots, depending upon how you define "hunting." :rolleyes:

(Naturally, your mileage may vary in numerous instances-geography might have some bearing as well.Can you carry an auto in Norway, Chris?)

As I would guess most people would have a rather intense adrenaline dump when being confronted with a beer, I would prefer a gun that would allow me to make fast second shots, while still being potent enough to penetrate a beers skull.

Two things-much as I'd hate to have to shoot a bear, I decided a long time ago that if it comes to it, the procedure is to empty the magazine....
.....second, I know yer a Norwegian viking. 'n'all, but what kind of beer comes with a skull that needs potent penetration?
rolling.gif
(I've never been confronted by a beer, either-'cept maybe when my host is serving up some hog-swallop like PBR or Budweiser....
rolling.gif
)
 

Chrisoro

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Have you seen the actual size and thickness of a brown bears skull, as well as the shape of it? To reach the brain, especially because of it's shape, you would have to penetate quite a bit of bone and tissue, and I would not expect most standard pistol ammo to be able to penetrate that much bone reliably, especially if you hit it at an angle.

elder999 said:
I've known people who hunt black bear with .45's.....it's all about penetration, and shot placement-or multiple shots, depending upon how you define "hunting." :rolleyes:

When you hunt something, even bears, you are rarely presented with the same challenge as you would have when an agressive bear is heading straight for you at high speed. While it is not that challenging hitting a slow moving or still standing bear in the heart/lung area at a side angle, when you have the advantage of the bear being unaware at you, doing the same from the front is a completely different ballgame.

Here's a picture of a fairly standard size adult brown bear skull.
brownbearskull.jpg
 
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Flying Crane

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Yes, but there is a big difference between a black and a brown bear. The comment so far, I think, were mostly about black...

But hey, a big black can be a good sized bigger than a smallish brown. Either way, no bear is something to be trifled with.
 

elder999

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Have you seen the actual size and thickness of a brown bears skull? I would not expect most standard pistol ammo to be able to penetrate that much bone reliably, especially if you hit it at an angle.
rolling.gif


My First, and ONLY Bear Hunt. | MartialTalk.Com - Friendly Martial Arts Forum Community

The likelihood of having to actually shoot a black bear is slim-they are mentally different from grizzlies, and pretty shy. Generally, they'll run away from a bit of noise, most of the time.

However, black bears do attack people, and you really don't want to "play dead" when they do-unlike grizzlies, they won't rough you up and bury you for later, they'll kill you and eat you on the spot. These sorts of attacks are based upon several conditions:

Time of year: black bears are more likely to attack during hyperphagia , that period preceding hibernation, when bears eat and drink excessively to prepare for hibernation ( a black bear in this phase will eat up to 20,000 cal a day, given an unlimited food supply)....in New Mexico, this is generally from the end of August to late October....in parts of Colorado, it can start earlier. In Alaska, it is pretty much all the time the bears aren't hibernating...

Sows with cub(s). Sows trying to escape males. Sows defending kills. Sows. Sows. Sows.

Funny, though- a sow and I were on grudging neighborly terms for years, so your mileage may vary.

Mine did.
rolling.gif


As to the whole "bear skull" thing,almost any center fire cartridge of 357 bore or larger with a very hard non-expanding bullet will pierce a bear's skull (including grizzlies) with direct /frontal (between the eyes) hits. From the side angle, shoot them right at the bottom of the ear canal. These two shots are instant death, if you are using correct ammo. The MYTH that bullets will slide off a bears skull is pure hogwash, when using modern ammo featuring bullets that will not mushroom when fired out of a powerful handgun.In any case, we're talking about black bears here. There are no more grizzlies (brown bears) in Colorado......at least, that we know of.....

Oh, and I did say one had to carry the correct load for bears, and that it was different than most common loads. A good "hunting" load will do the trick.
 
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Chrisoro

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elder999 said:
As to the whole "bear skull" thing,almost any center fire cartridge of 357 bore or larger with a very hard non-expanding bullet will pierce a bear's skull (including grizzlies) with direct /frontal (between the eyes) hits.

Penetrating the skull is not the same thing as penetrating enough to reach the brain. The brain of a bear is positioned in a way that, unless the bears snout is facing downward, you have to penetrate a great deal of bone and other tissue before reaching the brain, if you take the shot directly from the front.

I have seen a brown bear be hit in the head with a .308 and still continue to run, as the bullet didn't hit the brain. Bears, at least brown bears, are incredibly robust, and while it is theoretically possible to kill a bear with a .22 with the right shot placement, if we are talking bear defense with a handgun (which, I wouldn't do anyway. I prefer to carry bear sized canisters of pepper spray, or a rifle) I would like to carry something that I know can penetrate as much as possible, while still being controllable. To me, a heavy .357 load like the Buffalo Bore I mentioned above, is what I would have the most confidence in then, and what would recommend to others looking for hand gun sized bear protection.
elder999 said:
In any case, we're talking about black bears here.

My mistake. I was thinking brown bears the whole time, as we don't have any black bears in Norway, and I automatically think brown bear when people are talking about bears, except when we are talking Svalbard. I have no clue what kind of bears are in the different states of the US.
 
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Kong Soo Do

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Agreed. A can of bear spray is quite effective, more so than a handgun. Even against black bear a revolver wouldn't be at the top of the list. To be sure, a revolver 'can' be effective particularly if we're talking a caliber from .44 magnum and up. However, as mentioned above, having a .44 (or .454 or whatever) is one thing, being able to shot it is another thing and being able to shoot it well under duress is quite another thing.

Now having a firearm in the woods is prudent. Be mindful that there are other dangers more pressing than black bear such as a rabid animal or snakes. It would behoove you to have some snake shot as well. As for a woods gun, the heaviest weight-for-caliber is advisable. As Chrisoro mentioned, 180g for a .357 magnum (you'll pay for it though through BB). Basically heavy-for-caliber is 'generally' as follows:

9mm - 147g (.357sig I believe is the same as far as weights generally available)
.40S&W - 180g
.357 magnum - 158g (but 180 is also available)
.45ACP - 230g
10mm - 200g (they may go heavier)

If it's of interest, there is a thread specifically about actual encounters people have had, what they used and the results. It's currently three pages deep and quite interesting, funny in parts and an eye-opener in other parts.

Examples of why one should always be armed in the woods
 

Dirty Dog

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So I guess if you're limiting your choices to handguns, what you really need to do is carry either a Taurus Judge or a S&W Governor loaded with 410 birdshot for snakes, a high capacity 9mm for rabid chipmunks, and a S&W .500 magnum for bears.
Oh, and with silencers on each, so you can hear the rabid chipmunk approaching after killing the bear.


I'm feeling the urge to go down to the gun shop and check out that .500 magnum again... it's used, and it's been there with a tag that says $1250 for like a year... surely I can talk them down to $1000...
 

ballen0351

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So I guess if you're limiting your choices to handguns, what you really need to do is carry either a Taurus Judge or a S&W Governor loaded with 410 birdshot for snakes, a high capacity 9mm for rabid chipmunks, and a S&W .500 magnum for bears.
Oh, and with silencers on each, so you can hear the rabid chipmunk approaching after killing the bear.


I'm feeling the urge to go down to the gun shop and check out that .500 magnum again... it's used, and it's been there with a tag that says $1250 for like a year... surely I can talk them down to $1000...
See



See if the price match
 

ballen0351

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Sorry the link won't paste but Gunbroker has them for $1000
 

Dirty Dog

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I was actually planning to go look there tonight. :)

They've price matched in the past. I buy ammo 1000 rounds at a time. 2000 at a time for 9mm. I've shown them online prices, and they've matched them.
 

Brian King

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Hola all,

I have taken to backpacking in the Colorado Rockies. I have seen bear, with no issues and have seen moose (mean are the moose). I am looking to start carrying a .357 mag. The only thing I am looking for is at least a 4" barrel and six shots. Having said that does anyone have an suggestions: I am on a budget and the gun will be for backpacking/camping only. It won't be a gun to hunt with unless something has really gone wrong.

Gracias

I second the recommendation for the Ruger GP100. One of the benefits of a .357 is that you can also fire .38's for cheaper training rounds. GP100's have been made for years and are very rugged and having been around nearly forever the chances of finding a good used one (pawn shops, online, gun shops) for a reasonable price is pretty good. Lots of after market stuff as well. Cleaning and storing very easy.

Good luck Hudson69. Let us know what you end up choosing.

Regards
Brian King
 

Kung Fu Wang

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In Glacier National park on the Swiftcurrent Trail, I had encounter a brown bear within 10 feet distance. I had my right hand holding a 44 magnum revolvers while my left hand holding a "giant" bear pepper spray. I truly don't know what the chance that I might have at that particular moment.

Next time I intend to carry a hand grenade when I hike in any national park.

Can you buy hand grenade in US?

Best Answer: Yes you can. They will be expensive and you must have a tax stamp for each item you own. To get the tax stamp you have to make an application through local law enforcement including fingerprinting, and pay the tax fee of $200. The FBI will do a background check on you and notify the ATF. Once approved the ATF will send you the stamp and required paperwork. You can then go to a dealer and purchase your hand grenade. Want 2 of them? You must have a tax stamp for each destructive device you purchase.

Can you carry hand grenade in US national park?

Answer: Not sure but at least you can hide it.

hand_grenade.jpg
 
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