The Best Bear-Defense Guns and Cartridges – MeatEater

It’s an age-old question most hunters will never answer from personal experience: what’s the best gun for bear defense?

Selecting the right firearm requires careful consideration, but the question usually generates more uniform, strong opinions than helpful advice. Fortunately, the MeatEater crew has logged their fair share of miles in grizz country, so I caught up with a few of them to get their thoughts.

You’re unlikely to find yourself staring down the barrel of an angry grizzly, but as with most things in life, it’s best to follow the Boy Scouts and be prepared.

Jump to: The Bear Defense Guns We Use

What We Look for in a Bear Defense Gun

Since carrying two long guns is cumbersome and impractical, the traditional bear protection gun is a handgun carried alongside a hunter’s bolt-action rifle. But there are many scenarios in which a person might want the firearm with regard to bear defense. Hiking, camping, fishing, plus scouting all allow an individual to carry a rifle or shotgun, so our list includes those as well. If you don’t see anything you like, here are a few criteria to keep in mind before making your decision:

  1. Reliability
  2. Power and Penetration
  3. Rate of Fire
  4. Capacity
  5. Shootability

Jump to: What Makes a Good Bear-Defense Firearm

The particular Bear-Defense Weapons We Use

What Makes a great Bear-Defense Gun

1 . Reliability

A life-saving firearm should be reliable above all else. In past decades, that’s why backcountry hunters have opted for revolvers, lever-action rifles, and pump-action shotguns. These days, semi-auto firearms rival the reliability of their analog predecessors, and most of the crew’s go-to firearms feature that type of action. Whatever you choose, it is crucial that you test your gun’s reliability with the exact ammo you plan to use… and then test it again. It’s also not a bad idea to clean and oil your gun before every trip. Moisture and dirt from a previous trip can gum up an action (whether semi-auto or otherwise), so it’s important to get that crap out before you pull the particular trigger.

2 . Energy and Transmission

When targeting game animals that aren’t trying to eat you, it’s easy to overestimate the importance of a cartridge’s power (i. e., the amount of energy the cartridge produces). You don’t need a whitetail to pile up on the spot. It is enough in order to damage the lungs or even heart and let nature take its course. A bear encounter is different. You want the bear to stop immediately, and you need a cartridge that can make that will happen. There’s no specific number that guarantees success. Grizzlies have been killed having a. 22 Long Rifle, plus magnum cartridges have failed to do the same. But each of the cartridges on the crew’s listing has the power to kill a bruin using a well-placed shot before it gets to the next lunch (i. e., you).

3. Rate of Fire

Price of fire is another criterion that isn’t on most hunters’ radar. Statistics vary, but most police officers do not exceed the 50% hit rate . Even if you train regularly, you might not hit a bear on your first, second, or third shots, especially if the bear is charging. “If you think you’re gonna go out and shoot the moving target with 100% accuracy, you’re one brick short of a full wheelbarrow, ” said MeatEater’s Clay Newcomb.

The firearm with a high rate of fire will increase your odds of achievement by getting more rounds downrange in the space of time it takes for the bear to reach a person.

4. Capacity

Using a gun with a large magazine capacity can also increase your chances of surviving a bear attack. If you strike the carry on each third chance, a five-shot revolver gives you one hit while the semi-auto holding 16 models gets you at least three.

five. Shootability

A high price of open fire and a large mag capability won’t do you much good if you can’t keep the weapon on focus on. The. 500 Magnum would be a great bear-defense cartridge if it wasn’t painful to shoot and difficult to control. A 9mm you take every week is going to do more great than that will. 500 Magnum you capture once a year, so your bear protection gun should have a recoil manageable enough to keep on target plus painless enough to sustain extensive practice. The goal, as in every self-defense situation, is to get as many rounds on target as quickly as possible. If you have to step down to a smaller caliber, that’s the way to go.

Field notes from the MeatEater Crew

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