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Thread: Rifle Vs 12 Gauge For "Discouraging" Large Bears

  1. #1
    Boolit Man
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    Rifle Vs 12 Gauge For "Discouraging" Large Bears

    I'm planning a trip out west, and plan to do some hiking, knowing what i do about the bears out there I've decided it a good idea to take a precaution of the lead dispensing variety. I've narrowed it down to a very nice Model 70, 300 Win Mag, "Sporter Magnum" with 220gr Silvertips, or my Mossberg 535 with either hard cast .69 balls at 1600 fps, or a hard cast double .600 ball load at 1300 fps. For those of you who are more familiar with these animals than I am, what would be better suited to remedying a problem of the Ursid variety?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Your chances of getting struck by lightning might be better then a deadly bear encounter.
    But, I'd take the shotgun with heavy slugs.

    PS, If you're hiking in the mountains and a thunderstorm shows up, ditch the lightning rod you have for a gun.
    Last edited by Hickory; 07-02-2018 at 03:15 AM.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    You're going to receive a lot opinions.

    I think a 1 oz piece of soft lead that is travelling over 1300 fps will do a lot of damage. There would be little need for long ranges in that application and the large frontal area of the projectile may also be an advantage.

    There is a small increase in reliability with metallic cartridges when dealing with wet weather conditions but I think most shotgun loads can be waterproofed reasonably well for extended field use.

    If a rifle was selected, I would gravitate towards slow & heavy, like .45-70. Again, the ranges are short and you need to inflict as much devastation as possible if you want to stop bad things from happening in very close quarters.

    All of that being said, I'm with Hickory, the odds are very much in your favor.

    As an all-around tool, I think a shotgun is a more useful device than a rifle.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master clintsfolly's Avatar
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    More people die from worrying about bear attacks then bear attacks!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    I agree with Hickory. Your chances being attacked by a bear while hiking are up there with getting eaten by a shark while swimming in the ocean. I'd just carry a handgun, pepper spray and if I thought a bear was around a bell or something to make noise all of which I did while cruising timber out west. Walked a ton of miles and never saw a bear. Your more likely to get attacked or robbed by a fellow hiker than mauled by a bear.

    Keep your eyes open and be alert then just enjoy your hike. Take average precautions like storing food away from the tents, clean the dishes away from you, don't wear meat smelling cologne, etc
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  6. #6
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    Good morning
    I would also carry a 12 bore with slugs. But not the hollow type that work OK on deer. Use the solid types that penetrate much better.
    We ran tests 25 years ago due to Forster types slugs that will not penetrate large crocodiles at very close range out on jungle rivers. Round ball cast of wheel weight out penetrated all. But the solid slugs did very well also and you can buy them near everywhere.
    They penetrate reliably, deep and put a horrendous "thwap" on target.
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  7. #7
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    I agree about the chances of its happening. Imagine going on an expensive trip with a bear tag and someone who isn't an experienced and recognised bear guide, and you can imagine what your chances of coming close to a bear might be. If you aren't hunting you have the added advantage of being able to make human noises as you go.

    Bears are only dangerous when you are close to them, and I can't see any meaningful distinction in value between the two weapons under consideration. Both are about as good as they come. Unless you are a lot more familiar with the workings of one than the other, that is. My ancient friends in childhood were still poking fun at one of their number who cannoned into a German officer on a trench raid in Flanders. The officer dropped his Luger, and the soldier handed it back to him with a polite apology. The German very understandably dropped it again, cracking one of the grips.

    The moral of the story is that people make silly mistakes under sudden stress. You need a firearm you can operate as surely as you use a knife and fork.

    That sounds like good advice about the solid ball or solid slug. Perhaps in most shots the hollow-based Foster slug would be just as good. But there are some in which it may fail, and you are playing for higher stakes than a moose carcass.
    Last edited by Ballistics in Scotland; 07-02-2018 at 07:49 AM.

  8. #8
    Boolit Man
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    The heavyweight ball it is. Thanks. I'm not paranoid about a bear attack, we have bears here too, just not the grizzly and brown variety. An old friend of mine who spent a couple years living out in Stewart B.C cautioned me that unlike the bears here in Ontario, the big ones out west tend to hunt you right back. Now, I'm not going hunting, but I am going to be about 2500 miles from home, in entirely new (to me) territory, so I just want to have my bases covered.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    For what its worth I would also suggest the shotgun, my preference would be a short barreled pump with slugs.
    jim

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I have carried 12 gauge for bear discouragement while trapping bait (leeches commercialy) at nite. This involves carrying a pail or two of raw bait in the bush to and from ponds in the dark of night, trust me when I say you haven't experienced a surprise till you set the pail down and a large black bear sticks his head in it the second you let go of the handle. My circumstances are probably different than most but if you have a 12 gauge it will certainly intimidate a bear and IF you have to defend rather than scare it will most likely give the best chance with a slug or 00 buck. I haven't had to kill a bear yet but I certainly have had to evict them from my boat and my truck, black powder blanks work well if you chance up on a bear and want to send him away, but carry pre loaded with buck or slug when unsure while walking. Mostly they don't come looking for you, you usually walk up on them they don't prefer your company either. If he follows you, you wont have a lot of warning, figure on muzzle contact with him.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    If I’m ever worried I carry my S&W 329 pd 44 mag titanium with a 2” bbl. Its so light i forget I’m carrying it. Its accurate enough to hit pop cans at 30 yards. If I really wanted to lug a heavy rifle I’d take my 375 RUM. My pick between your two would be a shotgun with some heavy shot 00 buck. I think federal still makes it. I’m never lucky enough to have a close encounter I can’t get out of when carrying. I had a small black bear walk up to me when I was bow hunting. It was about a foot away from my cocked crossbow with the arrow aimed at its head. Neither of us were paying attention and that’s how we ended up so close. I was on my knees looking at an arrow that passed though a 7’6” blackie that had a 19 3/16” skull. The little bear came up the path coming to the bait and I was in his way. It had its nose to the ground and looked up at me, I said hey! We both turned around a ran in different directions. I headed to my tree stand. I wasn’t more than 7’ in the air and a 250 lb blacking was walking under me going to the bait. I stayed in my stand till the guide came to get me and retrieve my bear. Pretty exciting 2nd trip to Canada. I’ve had a few drop out of the trees within 10-15 ft running dogs after being shot And they’ve gotten up and run the opposite way. Most black bears are more afraid of you than you are of them but I’m sure grizzlies are another story.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 07-02-2018 at 10:53 AM.

  12. #12
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    So the obvious question to ask our resident actuaries is whether they own insurance. I bet they do.

    The Mossberg. Your round ball, or Brenekke slugs, for daytime and 00 Buck for camp at night. A far more concerning risk lies with predators of the two legged variety - much less predictable and substantially more vicious than bears.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master



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    There around 3 deaths by bear a year (2 to 5 each year). I would not want to be one of the three. I would just go with a handgun and pepper spray in the fire extinguisher size. With a shotgun Brenneke make sense. The Green Lightning are the same as the Red Special Forces. The Penetrator, Black Magic, or Magnum Crush would work well. The recoil of the Magnum Crush is crazy. I would just get the green ones if I picked a shotgun.
    Last edited by jmort; 07-02-2018 at 10:51 AM.
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    I live in bear country in the West Kootenays, B.C. We have lots of black bears and increasing numbers of grizzlies. I am not much of a hunter but do spend a lot of time in the bush. I have had many close encounters with black bears but they are normally quite timid locally and will run off if they spot a human. Grizzlies likely not so much but so far I haven't been close enough to worry about them.

    Contrary to the black bears locally, I also lived in Kemano on B.C.'s North coast and the black bears there were very aggressive! There were large grizzly population there so I think the black bears had to toughen up to survive. I suspect you'll find similar minded black bears in the Stewart area along with large grizzly populations. I'd go prepared.

    While .300 Win mag is a powerful round it wouldn't be my choice for close up bear protection. My take is that there could be a significant chance of bullet blow up or fragmentation at close range if a big bone is hit. My opinion only.

    As stated above, I'd go with slow and heavy rather than ubermagnum relatively lightweight (180 gr.) high velocity bullet. I think a solid slug like Brenneke or hard cast round ball is a far better choice. The Lyman sabot slug or 1 oz. Lee Drive Key slug cast from wheelweights should be good too.

    Another good option could be Dixie Tri-Ball though I'm not sure if they are commercially available now and home load development could take some time. I think Tri-Ball would be a good bear stopper though.

    Again, just my opinion to throw in the mix.

    Longbow

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    Boolit Master



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    Dixie is not only selling the Tri Ball, but the IXL Dagerous Game Slug as well. Those are the two best options. I was trying to keep it simple. But for sure, Dixie is the best of the best.
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by jmort View Post
    Dixie is not only selling the Tri Ball, but the IXL Dagerous Game Slug as well. Those are the two best options. I was trying to keep it simple. But for sure, Dixie is the best of the best.
    Given the 2 options you mention I concur with jmort.

    As mentioned the chances (odds) of getting attacked by a bear are slim. However, bear in mind (pun intended), that those who have been attacked and didn't have a gun probably would wish they had a gun........
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    If you are practised up, either a big revolver (.454,480), or a short lever .45/70, as long as you are comfortable using them under stress.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I'm in the 12 gage crowd; plenty of power and a little less weight for the hike.
    Warning: I know Judo. If you force me to prove it I'll shoot you.

  19. #19
    Boolit Man
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    I would go for a handgun, just for convenience sake, but keep in mind that Canadian law does not allow a person to carry and handgun in the woods for defensive purposes, unless you're licensed to do so on your own trap line.

  20. #20
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by longbow View Post

    While .300 Win mag is a powerful round it wouldn't be my choice for close up bear protection. My take is that there could be a significant chance of bullet blow up or fragmentation at close range if a big bone is hit. My opinion only.

    Longbow
    Exactly why I'd go for the 220gr Silvertip, they go at about 2800fps, and don't suffer from the same issues as their lighter counterparts. I think what I'll do is load up some double .69 ball loads, at 475gr a ball, the total payload will be less than 2 1/4oz. If I can get that much shot to 1200fps no problem, the two balls should be able to do about the same.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check