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Old 06-28-2015, 08:05 PM   #41
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A perfectly legal spray can of wasp repellent will shoot 30', blind whoever you hit (at least for 15 minutes) and you cannot be arrested for defending yourself with insect repellent. Bear spray, as I understand it, is actually a fog and will hit you the same as who you spray it at. Once they're screaming in pain a fish billy will quiet them down.
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:08 PM   #42
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Well, no matter what anyone thinks I always carry on my person and onboard. While I have carried for the last 24 years I have never had the need to pull my weapon. If it happens I don't want to lose my life or not be able to defend my family because I haven't needed it prior to that.
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Old 06-28-2015, 09:04 PM   #43
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I was taught never to go into bear country without someone slower than I was.
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Old 06-28-2015, 09:12 PM   #44
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I was taught never to go into bear country without someone slower than I was.

That's why I always wear my running shoes backpacking with the guys.

As far as the question of which gun is best for boat use: If you have to ask the question you need basic defense training that won't come in the box with the firearm you buy.
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Old 06-28-2015, 09:21 PM   #45
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I feel safer being accompanied by those carrying because I can't due to my anti-citizen-gun sheriff.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:43 PM   #46
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I believe this well-written article covers the subject fairly and accurately.


Firearms for Defense against Bears
By Chuck Hawks

Model 1895GS Guide Gun. Illustration courtesy of Marlin Firearms Co.

Let me start by saying that, for defense against bears, practically any firearm is better than none at all. Marauding bears have been killed by .22 rimfire pocket pistols; not very often, but it has been done by an Eskimo woman I happen to know about. However, the purpose of this article is to suggest far better and more reliable firearm choices for protection in bear country.

Next, let's be specific about what we mean by "bears." In North America, we have four species of bears. These are the black bear, grizzly bear, brown bear (a sub-species of grizzly) and polar bear. Based on the rather extensive research conducted by Edward A. Matunas, the average adult male black bear is estimated to weigh about 300 pounds. The average adult male grizzly bear is estimated to weigh about 700 pounds, with large Alaskan Brown bears scaling 1,000 pounds or even more. The average adult male polar bear weighs around 900 pounds.

In some areas, including most of the lower 48 US states, the black bear is the top of the food chain predator. Black bears attack more humans than the other species combined, undoubtedly because they live in areas where they are much more likely to encounter people. They cannot be taken lightly, especially around campgrounds and other areas where they forage for human food and trash. Although they are omnivorous, black bears are still predators, well equipped to kill animals our size.

However, in the areas they inhabit, grizzly, brown and polar bears are the apex predators. They will, in fact, kill and eat black bears, as well as moose, elk, deer, marmots, fish and, in the case of polar bears, aquatic mammals. For our purposes, grizzly, brown and polar bears can be taken as a group, as their sizes overlap considerably and all three must be taken seriously by anyone trespassing in their domain. They are used to having their way and they naturally prey on animals that are often much larger than human beings. It can be taken as a given that firearms that provide adequate protection from the great bears will also provide adequate protection from black bears of any size. That being the case, the firearms that concern us here can be judged adequate for protection from all four North American bear species.

The ideal bear defense gun needs to be 100% reliable, shoot accurately out to at least 50 yards (protection from bears does not involve long range shooting) and be capable of a fast repeat shot with loads that have adequate stopping power. Adequate stopping power requires that the projectile have sufficient caliber (cross sectional area), penetration and deliver sufficient energy to get the job done. It is ideal if the bullet is of the controlled expansion type to maximize shock and tissue destruction, but it must not break-up on heavy bones.

An exception to the desirability of controlled expansion bullets might be the projeciles sometimes used in big bore handguns, shotguns and low velocity rifle cartridges, such as the standard pressure .45-70. These are sometimes used with "solid" (non-expanding) bullets to maximize penetration. When push comes to shove, adequate penetration is more important than expansion, although both are desirable to maximize stopping power. Note that there is no need to use solid bullets in high-pressure .45-70 loads, as these essentially equal .450 Marlin ballistics.

Men have been shooting bears with cartridge firearms in North America for about 150 years now, so it is no secret what kind of firearms and loads work well. Some researchers get lost in arcane theoretical models, when there is no need for a theoretical approach. Remember, human beings have killed a great many bears with firearms and we know, empirically, what works.

The reality is that several approaches work satisfactorily. A medium or big bore rifle (.33+ caliber) offers good protection against the great bears. So does a 12 gauge slug gun. Ditto for the ubiquitous .30-06 and the various .300 Magnums shooting ammunition loaded with 180-220 grain bullets.

A family I know fishes commercially on a river on the remotest part of Kodiak Island. They regularly encounter brown bears at close range and always carry a bolt action .30-06 rifle for protection. They carry it with them at all times, including to the outhouse.

Jack O'Connor once wrote about watching a hunting companion shoot a coastal Alaskan grizzly bear with a .30-06 rifle using Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt factory loads. The bullet went through both shoulders of the bear and kicked-up dirt on the far side. Another interesting fact is that rifles shooting the common .338 Winchester Magnum cartridge are the number one choice of professional Alaskan grizzly and brown bear guides for stopping charging bears aggravated by their tenderfoot clients; rifles shooting the .300 Winchester Magnum are the second most popular choice. The point is that exotic rifles, cartridges and bullets are not required.

Keep in mind that in much of Alaska, Canada and other remote areas, exotic ammo and bullets are usually not available. People there are often limited to Remington, Winchester, Federal or (sometimes) Hornady factory loads, and then only in the most popular calibers and bullet weights. Many stores in such areas only sell one brand of ammunition. The same often applies to rural areas in the lower 48 states.

While powerful rifles are probably the best bear medicine, other choices are possible. The usual alternatives are 12 gauge shotguns shooting slug loads or powerful handguns, usually in the form of magnum revolvers. In a pinch, either can get the job done.

Let's consider shotguns first. A shotgun is approximately as heavy as a carbine and similar in length, so it has no particular advantage in either size or weight over a rifle. A shotgun shooting slugs is typically less accurate than a rifle, although adequate for close range bear protection. The common 12 gauge/437 grain (one ounce) rifled slug has a SD of .117, which is low. However, a 12 gauge slug is heavy and measures about .72 caliber, which is certainly impressive. Most manufacturers of repeating shotguns offer carbine length slug guns.

A correspondent who has been a big game guide in the far north for 30 years and who has far more experience with bears and shotguns than I wrote to inform me that a 12 gauge shotgun with slugs is an effective weapon for protection against bears, popular with both guides and fish and wildlife officers. To quote from his e-mail, "The 12 gauge with slugs is ideal for crawling through the puckerbush after a big bear, but it's not the best tool for a 150-yard shot at a fleeing bear heading for the thick stuff." He also mentioned in the same e-mail that his favorite guide rifle is a .45-70.

Magnum revolvers have one major advantage over rifles and shotguns: they can be carried in a holster, leaving both hands free for other purposes. In some cases, such as for those who work in the wilds, that may be a deciding factor. Heavy for caliber handgun bullets are inferior to most rifle bullets in sectional density. The SD of a 180 grain .357 Magnum bullet is .202, the SD of a 250 grain .44 Magnum bullet is .194, the SD of a 260 grain .454 Magnum bullet is .182 and the SD of a 325 grain .475 bullet is .206. For comparison, the SD of a .30 caliber, 180 grain bullet is .271. Keep in mind that no handgun has the stopping power of a high power rifle or a 12 gauge slug gun and a handgun cannot provide the same level of security.

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.) Preferably, this magnum revolver will be .44 or larger caliber shooting a heavy, deep penetrating bullet and you should aim for the central nervous system (usually the brain). This will work, but you have to be able to hit the central nervous system 100% of the time under stress, which not many people can do. If you are not an experienced handgunner and/or are not willing to practice regularly with your bear gun, I suggest that you forego choosing a handgun. Remember that accurate bullet placement is the key to stopping power!

If you choose a rifle for bear protection, go with a repeating or double-barreled rifle in a recognized bear stopping caliber. Mainstream choices range from .30/220 up to .45/500.

For stopping an aggressive bear, a projectile with a high SD is generally recommended. Examples of common rifle calibers and bullets that are recommended for shooting the great bears include the .308/220 (SD .331), .338/250 (SD .313), .358/250 (SD .279) and .458/350 (SD .238).
I
prefer a compact, medium or big bore rifle/carbine for bear protection. There are a number of good choices on the market, the most widely available of these probably being the Marlin, Browning and Henry lever action carbines in .45-70 or .450 Marlin calibers. They kick hard with heavy loads, but if you can shoot them well despite their recoil and muzzle blast, they will do the job.

In addition to the lever action guide rifles, examples of other appropriate rifles include the Merkel 141 Petite Frame double in 9.3x74R, bolt action Remington Model Seven in .350 Rem. Magnum and autoloading Remington Model 750 Carbine in .35 Whelen. Remember that these are just examples, pick the action and type of rifle that best fits your wants and needs. A large magazine capacity is not a requirement, since bears do not hunt in packs. In the event of a bear charge, you will probably have time for only one shot, or two at the most.

Controlled expansion bullets are preferable to other types, as long as the rifle/cartridge combination achieves adequate velocity and energy to power bullet expansion. That usually means an impact velocity in excess of 1800 fps. A controlled expansion bullet will deliver deeper penetration than a bullet designed for rapid expansion and more stopping power than a solid. Partitioned, homogeneous expanding and bonded core bullets are very popular for shooting heavy animals. Here are some examples of good controlled expansion bullets that are proven bear medicine in appropriate calibers and bullet weights: Nosler Partition, Remington Core-Lokt Ultra, Barnes TSX, Hornady InnerBond, Speer Trophy Bonded, Swift A-Frame, A-Square Dead Tough and Woodleigh Weldcore. Again, these are just examples; there are other suitable bullets. Whatever cartridge and bullet you choose, remember that accurate bullet placement saves lives.

Please note the emphasis on accurate bullet placement throughout this article. ANYONE is better off with a .30-30/170 that they can shoot accurately and with confidence than with a .338 or .450 Magnum that they cannot. Scandinavian explorers and wilderness adventurers have successfully used 6.5x55 rifles to protect themselves from polar bears in the far north for well over a hundred years, because they penetrate deeply and don't kick much, so they are easy to shoot accurately. The lesson is that what matters most in stopping a bear attack is to deliver a perfectly placed bullet with the first shot. As long as the gun/cartridge/bullet combination is reasonably adequate and offers sufficient penetration, the odds are on your side.
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Old 06-28-2015, 11:20 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by LarryM View Post
I believe this well-written article covers the subject fairly and accurately.


Firearms for Defense against Bears
By Chuck Hawks

Model 1895GS Guide Gun. Illustration courtesy of Marlin Firearms Co.

Let me start by saying that, for defense against bears, practically any firearm is better than none at all. Marauding bears have been killed by .22 rimfire pocket pistols; not very often, but it has been done by an Eskimo woman I happen to know about. However, the purpose of this article is to suggest far better and more reliable firearm choices for protection in bear country.

Next, let's be specific about what we mean by "bears." In North America, we have four species of bears. These are the black bear, grizzly bear, brown bear (a sub-species of grizzly) and polar bear. Based on the rather extensive research conducted by Edward A. Matunas, the average adult male black bear is estimated to weigh about 300 pounds. The average adult male grizzly bear is estimated to weigh about 700 pounds, with large Alaskan Brown bears scaling 1,000 pounds or even more. The average adult male polar bear weighs around 900 pounds.

In some areas, including most of the lower 48 US states, the black bear is the top of the food chain predator. Black bears attack more humans than the other species combined, undoubtedly because they live in areas where they are much more likely to encounter people. They cannot be taken lightly, especially around campgrounds and other areas where they forage for human food and trash. Although they are omnivorous, black bears are still predators, well equipped to kill animals our size.

However, in the areas they inhabit, grizzly, brown and polar bears are the apex predators. They will, in fact, kill and eat black bears, as well as moose, elk, deer, marmots, fish and, in the case of polar bears, aquatic mammals. For our purposes, grizzly, brown and polar bears can be taken as a group, as their sizes overlap considerably and all three must be taken seriously by anyone trespassing in their domain. They are used to having their way and they naturally prey on animals that are often much larger than human beings. It can be taken as a given that firearms that provide adequate protection from the great bears will also provide adequate protection from black bears of any size. That being the case, the firearms that concern us here can be judged adequate for protection from all four North American bear species.

The ideal bear defense gun needs to be 100% reliable, shoot accurately out to at least 50 yards (protection from bears does not involve long range shooting) and be capable of a fast repeat shot with loads that have adequate stopping power. Adequate stopping power requires that the projectile have sufficient caliber (cross sectional area), penetration and deliver sufficient energy to get the job done. It is ideal if the bullet is of the controlled expansion type to maximize shock and tissue destruction, but it must not break-up on heavy bones.

An exception to the desirability of controlled expansion bullets might be the projeciles sometimes used in big bore handguns, shotguns and low velocity rifle cartridges, such as the standard pressure .45-70. These are sometimes used with "solid" (non-expanding) bullets to maximize penetration. When push comes to shove, adequate penetration is more important than expansion, although both are desirable to maximize stopping power. Note that there is no need to use solid bullets in high-pressure .45-70 loads, as these essentially equal .450 Marlin ballistics.

Men have been shooting bears with cartridge firearms in North America for about 150 years now, so it is no secret what kind of firearms and loads work well. Some researchers get lost in arcane theoretical models, when there is no need for a theoretical approach. Remember, human beings have killed a great many bears with firearms and we know, empirically, what works.

The reality is that several approaches work satisfactorily. A medium or big bore rifle (.33+ caliber) offers good protection against the great bears. So does a 12 gauge slug gun. Ditto for the ubiquitous .30-06 and the various .300 Magnums shooting ammunition loaded with 180-220 grain bullets.

A family I know fishes commercially on a river on the remotest part of Kodiak Island. They regularly encounter brown bears at close range and always carry a bolt action .30-06 rifle for protection. They carry it with them at all times, including to the outhouse.

Jack O'Connor once wrote about watching a hunting companion shoot a coastal Alaskan grizzly bear with a .30-06 rifle using Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt factory loads. The bullet went through both shoulders of the bear and kicked-up dirt on the far side. Another interesting fact is that rifles shooting the common .338 Winchester Magnum cartridge are the number one choice of professional Alaskan grizzly and brown bear guides for stopping charging bears aggravated by their tenderfoot clients; rifles shooting the .300 Winchester Magnum are the second most popular choice. The point is that exotic rifles, cartridges and bullets are not required.

Keep in mind that in much of Alaska, Canada and other remote areas, exotic ammo and bullets are usually not available. People there are often limited to Remington, Winchester, Federal or (sometimes) Hornady factory loads, and then only in the most popular calibers and bullet weights. Many stores in such areas only sell one brand of ammunition. The same often applies to rural areas in the lower 48 states.

While powerful rifles are probably the best bear medicine, other choices are possible. The usual alternatives are 12 gauge shotguns shooting slug loads or powerful handguns, usually in the form of magnum revolvers. In a pinch, either can get the job done.

Let's consider shotguns first. A shotgun is approximately as heavy as a carbine and similar in length, so it has no particular advantage in either size or weight over a rifle. A shotgun shooting slugs is typically less accurate than a rifle, although adequate for close range bear protection. The common 12 gauge/437 grain (one ounce) rifled slug has a SD of .117, which is low. However, a 12 gauge slug is heavy and measures about .72 caliber, which is certainly impressive. Most manufacturers of repeating shotguns offer carbine length slug guns.

A correspondent who has been a big game guide in the far north for 30 years and who has far more experience with bears and shotguns than I wrote to inform me that a 12 gauge shotgun with slugs is an effective weapon for protection against bears, popular with both guides and fish and wildlife officers. To quote from his e-mail, "The 12 gauge with slugs is ideal for crawling through the puckerbush after a big bear, but it's not the best tool for a 150-yard shot at a fleeing bear heading for the thick stuff." He also mentioned in the same e-mail that his favorite guide rifle is a .45-70.

Magnum revolvers have one major advantage over rifles and shotguns: they can be carried in a holster, leaving both hands free for other purposes. In some cases, such as for those who work in the wilds, that may be a deciding factor. Heavy for caliber handgun bullets are inferior to most rifle bullets in sectional density. The SD of a 180 grain .357 Magnum bullet is .202, the SD of a 250 grain .44 Magnum bullet is .194, the SD of a 260 grain .454 Magnum bullet is .182 and the SD of a 325 grain .475 bullet is .206. For comparison, the SD of a .30 caliber, 180 grain bullet is .271. Keep in mind that no handgun has the stopping power of a high power rifle or a 12 gauge slug gun and a handgun cannot provide the same level of security.

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.) Preferably, this magnum revolver will be .44 or larger caliber shooting a heavy, deep penetrating bullet and you should aim for the central nervous system (usually the brain). This will work, but you have to be able to hit the central nervous system 100% of the time under stress, which not many people can do. If you are not an experienced handgunner and/or are not willing to practice regularly with your bear gun, I suggest that you forego choosing a handgun. Remember that accurate bullet placement is the key to stopping power!

If you choose a rifle for bear protection, go with a repeating or double-barreled rifle in a recognized bear stopping caliber. Mainstream choices range from .30/220 up to .45/500.

For stopping an aggressive bear, a projectile with a high SD is generally recommended. Examples of common rifle calibers and bullets that are recommended for shooting the great bears include the .308/220 (SD .331), .338/250 (SD .313), .358/250 (SD .279) and .458/350 (SD .238).
I
prefer a compact, medium or big bore rifle/carbine for bear protection. There are a number of good choices on the market, the most widely available of these probably being the Marlin, Browning and Henry lever action carbines in .45-70 or .450 Marlin calibers. They kick hard with heavy loads, but if you can shoot them well despite their recoil and muzzle blast, they will do the job.

In addition to the lever action guide rifles, examples of other appropriate rifles include the Merkel 141 Petite Frame double in 9.3x74R, bolt action Remington Model Seven in .350 Rem. Magnum and autoloading Remington Model 750 Carbine in .35 Whelen. Remember that these are just examples, pick the action and type of rifle that best fits your wants and needs. A large magazine capacity is not a requirement, since bears do not hunt in packs. In the event of a bear charge, you will probably have time for only one shot, or two at the most.

Controlled expansion bullets are preferable to other types, as long as the rifle/cartridge combination achieves adequate velocity and energy to power bullet expansion. That usually means an impact velocity in excess of 1800 fps. A controlled expansion bullet will deliver deeper penetration than a bullet designed for rapid expansion and more stopping power than a solid. Partitioned, homogeneous expanding and bonded core bullets are very popular for shooting heavy animals. Here are some examples of good controlled expansion bullets that are proven bear medicine in appropriate calibers and bullet weights: Nosler Partition, Remington Core-Lokt Ultra, Barnes TSX, Hornady InnerBond, Speer Trophy Bonded, Swift A-Frame, A-Square Dead Tough and Woodleigh Weldcore. Again, these are just examples; there are other suitable bullets. Whatever cartridge and bullet you choose, remember that accurate bullet placement saves lives.

Please note the emphasis on accurate bullet placement throughout this article. ANYONE is better off with a .30-30/170 that they can shoot accurately and with confidence than with a .338 or .450 Magnum that they cannot. Scandinavian explorers and wilderness adventurers have successfully used 6.5x55 rifles to protect themselves from polar bears in the far north for well over a hundred years, because they penetrate deeply and don't kick much, so they are easy to shoot accurately. The lesson is that what matters most in stopping a bear attack is to deliver a perfectly placed bullet with the first shot. As long as the gun/cartridge/bullet combination is reasonably adequate and offers sufficient penetration, the odds are on your side.
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Old 06-28-2015, 11:24 PM   #48
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Here is a review of individual state laws. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_la...tates_by_state
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Old 06-28-2015, 11:25 PM   #49
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I've found even the 22 rimfire (the world's most often civilian-used cartridge) unavailable here. Finding the particular cartridge for one's firearms is hit or miss.
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Old 06-28-2015, 11:52 PM   #50
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Lucas McCain was pretty fast with his lever action rifle.Name:  ImageUploadedByTrawler Forum1435549940.319303.jpg
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Old 06-28-2015, 11:58 PM   #51
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It was designed to fire at the closing the breach. Trigger not required. Not the best for accurate fire. Find Steve McQeen's super accurate fire from his truncated lever-action rifle (reproduction available from Henry Arms) shot from the waist to be unbelievable.
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Old 06-29-2015, 12:24 AM   #52
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Old 06-29-2015, 12:28 AM   #53
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Mark, as a fan of TV westerns, did you ever notice that the cartridges McQueen had in his belt looked too long for the gun? They must have been three inches long and the Mares Leg gun couldn't have held more that about three of them in the magazine. I once counted at least six shots without him reloading.
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Old 06-29-2015, 12:30 AM   #54
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Thanks Ray! That it. See how long the cartridges are? The Henry reproduction is chambered for pistol rounds.
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Old 06-29-2015, 12:32 AM   #55
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Steve's truncated firearm would at the most hold three rile rounds as shown on his belt. More realistic would be pistol rounds, most often used on the early lever actions, justifying his volume of fire. (Edit: Hopcar you beat me to it.)
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Old 06-29-2015, 01:15 AM   #56
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The defense rests
You forget one thing. I am not talking theory or what we would do. I am talking what we have had to do in confrontations with brown bears on our floatplane trips deep in the Coast Range of SE Alaska and BC. Fortunately only a couple of times.

And what we were originally advised to do works very, very well. I'm certainly not proud of it and we did everything we could to discourage the bear (this was before we'd learned about the horns). But when you've got an incredibly pissed off animal coming at you at full tilt through the brush you do whatever you can do.

A good friend who lives in Soldatna, AK had been one of our survival gun advisors. He'd been charged a couple of times after shooting a moose on the Kenai. He, too, is a total believer in the shotgun as opposed to a rifle because he'd seen a rifle not do anything to a charging bear at close range. He tried to describe to me what being charged is like, but until it happens it cannot be imagined. It is a sight and sound I will never forget the rest of my life and I am still amazed I reacted affectively. And I and my wife are very, very glad we took our friend's and the F&G folks' advice as to the best survival firearm to have given where we were going.

Shooting a charging bear with a .45 caliber rifle bullet makes a hole. Shooting it at very close range with a 3" shotgun slug is like slamming it across the chest with a steel beam.

Something I learned a long, long time ago is that reality trumps theory every single time. Dealing with a hopped up charging brown bear is no exception.
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Old 06-29-2015, 01:23 AM   #57
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...

Something I learned a long, long time ago is that reality trumps theory every single time. Dealing with a hopped up charging brown bear is no exception.
This reminds one of anchor discussions. ... Personally, I like the 12-gauge for its versatility and the modern 45-70 for its power. Have neither; having no immediate need.
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Old 06-29-2015, 01:24 AM   #58
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Let`s not forget the usefulness of a shotgun on board to "encourage" a wedding. Now the US Supreme Court has widened the scope of marriage, maybe some bears might want to participate.
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Old 06-29-2015, 02:28 AM   #59
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Another reason a shotgun Is the best all-round survival gun is that it is not only superior in the unlikely chance of a bear problem, but with light loads of birdshot it is far superior to a high powered rifle with regards to a true survival situation, where one is reduced to shooting small game or birds for food. Not an issue in recreational boating, but it can very much be one in back country flying. A survival firearm is required when flying in the back country of Alaska and is highly recommended in Canada. It makes far more sense to carry a single firearm that can serve multiple purposes than carry a couple of them or one that is good for one purpose and not the other. A short-barrel 12-gauge with an extended magazine fills the bill perfectly.
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Old 06-29-2015, 02:49 AM   #60
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Marin

Just because you have been involved in a bear shooting or two does not make you an expert on the subject.

Nor does it make everybody with a different method wrong.

Please remember that we here in Alaska actually survived quite well before you came around and told us how how wrong we are.

Oh, and Bruce anchors were safely holding our boats in place long before you told us how wrong we were about them as well!

I have no clue how we and me made it all these years on our own.
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