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Thread: Best bear defense for a woman

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    Best bear defense for a woman

    I'm trying to advise a woman for the best defense against bears, black and grizzly. She has had minimul shooting experience. I'm currently attempting to persuade her to professional training. Being an Arizona resident I've encouraged her to look into Thunderbird Acadamy about a two hour drive.

    She's currently involved in building a house in rural Montana. Area residents have advised her black bears are common and occasionally a Grizzly. There is also danger from Mountin Lions and even aggressive territorial Elk and Moose during the rut.

    She has shoulder problems resulting from an auto accident. A 12 ga was to painful for her. At a recent outing she rapid fired a pump 20ga with buck and slugs, it was painful and she refused to continue. She handled a 44 mag Redhawk with a 7"+ barrel but only managed 3 shots from a 4" S&W 41 and 2 shots from a 4" S&W 44 before calling it quits. Her handgun shooting at 15 yards was all over the target.

    She's gotten some bad advice, an Ar-15 and a Montana gun shop almost talked her into a 7" Super Blackhawk for apx $900. I know the key is proper training but she's determined to buy a handgun.

    I'm hoping a board member has some actual experience in bear country and can relay some useful advice. Between her and her husband running a business then back and forth from Phoenix to Montana. Spare time for training and most of all practice is tight. Any advice will be appreciated. Her husband also lacks shooting skills or experience.

    Edit: Should have mentioned bear spray. Due to the almost constant wind in the area. Locals are weary of using bear spray.
    Last edited by azrednek; 10-30-2017 at 10:32 PM.

  2. #2
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    W.R.Buchanan's Avatar
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    If she isn't willing to get trained and learn how to shoot, then I would recommend some track shoes and only going out in the woods with fat friends.

    When you get people who aren't willing to spend the time necessary to learn something that they have no clue about, the best thing you can do is smile and let them find advice elsewhere.

    Been there and done that about 500 times and the results are always the same. They never listen and they always have a lame excuse as to why they won't listen.

    Randy
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by W.R.Buchanan View Post
    If she isn't willing to get trained and learn how to shoot, then I would recommend some track shoes and only going out in the woods with fat friends.

    When you get people who aren't willing to spend the time necessary to learn something that they have no clue about, the best thing you can do is smile and let them find advice elsewhere.

    Been there and done that about 500 times and the results are always the same. They never listen and they always have a lame excuse as to why they won't listen.

    Randy
    My thoughts exactly! Or simply don't move.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master kens's Avatar
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    A similar discussion went around the campfire some years ago, except it was not about bears, but rather bad guys.
    After a whole evening of talking, and a cooler of beers, the final outcome was quite simple.
    One of the simplest guns of all, so simple, even the most modest lady could use it.
    Just like in a spaghetti western.
    It was a lever rifle, .44mag.
    Think about it, .44mag is recommended in revolver for such bears, and the rifle version is even more power, and less recoil, because it is shoulder fired.
    Not to mention that a FULL tube is on the order of 14 rounds of .44mag
    That is a whole lot of firepower come to think of it. !!!!
    If .44mag is still too much recoil, then use .44special.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    A slow, fat partner.

  6. #6
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    azredneck,

    Imo, "bear country" is NO place for the untrained and/or very fearful.
    (IF I was going to face an aggressive bear & a 12/20 gauge with buckshot wasn't an option, I'd want my WWI-era Model 1917 S&W revolver with 6 heavy for caliber, lead semi-wadcutter, CBs loaded into the .45Auto Rim case.)

    yours, tex

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    12ga Binelli M3, 20ga quality auto. Bear spray is restricted to the distance it sprays out to, kinda like letting a guy wielding a knife get within 20 paces. The gas system on the M3 really takes the romp outta slug and buckshot loads.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Your student's needs--expectations--and willingness to apply herself to the task at hand are not in sync. She should stay in AZ until she gets real. That Benelli M3 x 20 gauge sounds like a fine idea to me.
    I don't paint bullets. I like Black Rifle Coffee. Sacred cows are always fair game. California is to the United States what Syria is to Russia and North Korea is to China/South Korea/Japan--a Hermit Kingdom detached from the real world and led by delusional maniacs, an economic and social basket case sustained by "foreign" aid so as to not lose military bases.

  9. #9
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    I live in black bear country and cougar country and wolf country and go hiking/hunting occasionally in Grizzly country which is about 40 miles East of my house near the Montana border. I bought a Ruger Blackhawk Bisley 5.5" in .45 Colt (my avatar pic) for Grizzly country. For everywhere else, I carry a Glock G29 in 10mm. But I'm 6'2" and just under 300lbs.

    Even with my size, I find the recoil of the bear loads in my BH to be punishing. The G29 is much more forgiving. But, it is still a chunky pistol for women.

    My dad has a Marlin lever action in .44 Mag that I shot earlier this summer and I was amazed at just how punishing it was to shoot.

    My suggestion is for her to get bear spray. I know, I know; guns are more fun, but the facts are that bear spray is more effective. For Grizzlies, that is her best option. For Cougar, wolves, and pesky black bears, then a lever action .357 Magnum. I had a Marlin 1894C and my wife and kids loved shooting it. I'd let them practice with it using .38 special rounds and it was like a .22. Even with hotter .357 Magnum rounds, it was not bad at all and totally manageable by my teens and 5'2" wife.

    Plus, cougars and wolves are smart as heck. They recognize that a human with a long gun is not to be messed with.

  10. #10
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    MY vote is for a double action revolver. Revolvers are simple to operate. Pull the trigger and they go bang.
    A buddy of mine has a Taurus Tracker in 41 mag. It's ported, has a soft rubber grip, and is fairly pleasant to shoot. It's light, handy and very packable.
    Another option might be the GP-100 in 44 Special.
    As a bare minimum, maybe think about a 357 mag loaded with some heavy 180gn hard cast...
    With the 357 she could practice with 38 spl to get familiar with the gun as long as she doesn't go afield with the 38's loaded in it.
    Make sure that she has some good hard cast bullets. Leave the JHPs alone.
    She could practice with some standard velocity stuff that is comfortable to shoot. Then load some heavies for packing. Shoot a couple of them to just make sure that they shoot to point of aim...

    I think the key is to get her something that she can handle, shoot straight and is affordable to practice with regularly.

    Here's a crazy thought. Get the 4" 500S&W and load it with Buffalo Bores light 500 JRH with the 440s at 975fps. The gun is heavy, weighs almost 5#, that will help with recoil. It's ported, that will help with recoil. That .500" 440 even at 975fps should make a hole all the way through anything and everything. Galco makes a great holster for the 4" you can carry cross draw or strong side...
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  11. #11
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    While far from ideal an AR15 with 62 grain Barnes solid coppers will do a number on all black bears and mountain loins. Three or four solid hits on brown bear are better than zero hits from a caliber that the shooter is afraid of. Her first gun needs for be something she can handle and is fun for her to shoot.

    While this is not what they carry for bear defense I know some Eskimo's that routinely shoot both brown and polar bears with .223's. Same for Caribou and Moose.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 10-31-2017 at 04:52 AM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    If the woman is anything like my wife, she could use her sharp tongue to cut the bear into shreds. Pretty sure she could make the bear regret he dared cross her path in the woods.

  13. #13
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    I think they will be alright.
    No matter where you live on this planet, they're are no safe places.
    Being observant, vigilant and cautious will go a long way to avoid many potential problems.
    They should think of themselves as a young and naive couple living in New York during the French & Indian War, 15 miles from anyone.







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  14. #14
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    I have to agree with idahoguy.

    Better a smaller caliber with less recoil that she will actually shoot enough to become proficient in than a larger caliber that she won't shoot until she has to.

    For me I would encourage rifle over pistol.
    If she wants to carry, get her a Glock in 9mm. Good enough to pop one off in the air warning the bear to back off. And still leave many ready to go.

    But really until they are ready to take the dangers seriously they really should not move into harms way.

  15. #15
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    Not familiar with Thunderbird Academy as when I lived in AZ and needed a class to get my CCW, I used Gunsite. For a $125 class fee, they taught everything a new shooter needed to be competent; drawing and holstering techniques, proper grip and stance, and trigger control. They also went over gun safety, gun laws, etc. Instructors were great and the few women in the class had a positive experience. Class included range time as well. At first I was bitter that I had to take a class to get a CCW, but it was a great experience and well worth the fee.

    But, since she is intent on getting a handgun and can't handle a handgun that will offer protection against Grizzlies, then she had better learn to avoid Grizzlies. The biggest gun I would recommend for her is a S&W 686 or a Ruger GP100 with a 4" barrel in .357 Mag. That would be fine against cougars, wolves, and black bears, be simple to use, and she can shoot .38 spl in it for practice.

    In fact, a friend of mine wanted to buy her husband a pistol for him to use while hiking and riding horses in the woods in Eastern Oregon. They are both novice shooters. I recommended a S&W 686 w/ 4" barrel and that's what they bought. They are both very happy with it.

  16. #16
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    With adrenalin, she will not even notice the pain. She managed 3 shots out of a 4", in practice, she can manage the rest in an emergency. I'd steer her toward something like a Redhawk or S&W 629, practice with some light .44 specials and a few .44 mags now and then to know the difference. With a nice chest rig, she can walk around with confidence in any environment.
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  17. #17
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    if its a handgun and she doesn't want a semi auto and doesn't like recoil id consider a single or double action 44 spec with no longer then a 5 inch barrel and some good keith bullets at about 8-900 fps. I shot a 1000 lb cow buffalo with a 4 inch single action 44 spec ruger clements built for me on an old model 357 frame with a cast 250 grain bullet at 900 fps. It went in behind the front shoulder and came out the other side. Buffalo took two steps and fell over dead. Granted its not a gun id choose to normaly hunt buffalo. I was out at the buddys game farm shooting pigs that he wanted culled and he offered me a buffalo at a price I couldn't pass up and it was the gun I had. Recoil in a 4 5/8s single action or a 4 inch da is milder then a 357 and with MUCH less muzzle blast which is what probably scares more women then recoil. Same could be done with a down loaded 44 mag, 45 colt.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    A 4" .357 loaded with a heavy solid or soft point is probably going to be her best bet, as it's something she could practice a lot with at lower .38 levels, and "come game time", she wouldn't even hear it go off or feel the recoil from the hot stuff.

    The thing she's got to understand is that it's probably going to take a shot through the nasal canal into the brain to keep her shot from being "the last great act of defiance", as any cardiovascular shot is likely to take 10 seconds plus to have any telling effect. A determined bear can do all manner of unspeakable things in ten seconds.

    A friend who worked with me in gun shops for several years spent two years prospecting in Alaska and his constant companion was a Mossberg 500 loaded with 1.25 ounce magnum slugs. He'd witnessed these animals firsthand at length, and once when asked about his "ideal" handgun for griz, he explained that a 9mm Glock is light to carry, won't rust in harsh conditions, and is reliable and powerful enough that you can count on it to end your suffering once the pain from the bear mauling becomes too much to handle. He didn't have much faith in even the big handguns for the task...
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Post #2 speaks the truth. She can't buy her way out of the issue. Many good suggestions here, but only if she gets in the game. Fear of the shotgun or pistol is nothing compared to fear she will experience when she faces her mortality. I can only assume her shotgun shooting experience was all from the shoulder fire position. Those things can be fired very effectively from the hip. A good semi, as has been noted, could end the encounter problem she fears. Cut and finish the stock to a convenient length for her size, train with sub-sonic ammo or light field loads, and fill 'er up with the good stuff for the real thing.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I seethe lady rangers in Yellowstone carrying the large size can of bear spray. I would think it would be more effective than a handgun.

    Jedman

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