SIDEARM: Black Bear: Lightest Pistol you feel safe carrying for a Backup?

TheGDog

Well-Known Member
Nov 28, 2018
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When in Bear Country, I'm looking for something lighter to carry than my Ruger Security Six .357 Mag. 4"

I'm torn because I've also had thoughts about getting a large "Hand-Cannon" revolver specifically that I could scope for the idea of Handgun Hunting. AS a way to reduce weight even further for some of the places that are tough hikes for me. Just not sure how much I'll have left for this after some needed expenses, so don't know if it's wise to go the Hand-Cannon route just yet.


But I realize if I get something lighter, as long as it meets the 4" minimum barrel length requirement by the regs , that I can conceivably try using it for taking game. So I was thinking maybe a 10MM AUTO might be a good choice? But wondering how tricky that might be to find lead-free ammo for.

So anyhoo... if you wouldn't mind either sounding off on this thread, or if privacy is a concern maybe instead letting me know via PM what you carry as a sidearm while out in Black Bear country, and maybe some of your thoughts as to why that's a good choice for you?

I'd appreciate and take all your input into consideration in weighing my decision.

P.S. - Now with the introduction of the LeHigh Extreme Penetrators and Xtreme Defenders into the Mix, does that sway your thoughts on the viability of some of the lighter cartidges such as 9MM and 40 S&W ?
 
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Truduct

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Dec 20, 2014
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I don’t carry anything for black bear.
If it was griz country then smallest I would carry is 44mag. Also revolver only I don’t want to think to much as bear is chewing on me. Just point an pull with a revolver.
 

Kellendv

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Dec 26, 2013
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Seen plenty of bears over the years in my adventures in California. Harsh language is the only deterrent I’ve ever needed. Black bears that have been educated by people (likely all of the bears in CA have had contact with people) are generally not an issue. They will try to steal your food but that’s where their courage ends. Mom and Cubs is obviously a situation to avoid but even then they generally want to escape.

A buddy and I had to bail off of Mount Williamson from 14,000 feet last May after climbing about 95 percent of it because we had elected to leave a piece of equipment behind that we didn’t think we’d need. We dropped into the Williamson creek drainage, which is trail-less wilderness. As we dropped lower and lower I was noticing all the new green growth and berries and was thinking that it was perfect bear country. Sure enough we bumped mom and two small cubs from that year. Exciting stuff! They took off real fast.

In Alaska or Canada you could find yourself facing a black bear that has never seen people though. A have a friend that lived in Alaska for all of his adult life until he retired in Texas. He was hunting black bears one time, sitting on a river where many were hanging around. He heard heavy breathing behind him and spun around to find a black bear a few feet behind him. He says he’s sure it was hunting him based on it’s body language. This is a guy that had a lot of bear contacts with both Grizz and Black bears over several decades. He shot it between the eyes with his rifle. It’s not just a story, he has the skin! I’ll take a picture of the bullet hole next time I’m there.
 

SteveHazard

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Oct 24, 2018
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Every sizeable bear I have had close contact with in huntable areas of CA or NV runs away and the majority of small ones too, they know what is best for them. The exception has been a smaller bear that had recently been on his own approached and watched me with some curiosity before taking off. My mother, daughter, and dog came face to face with a mother bear urging her cubs up a tree and the stupid dog went up try and great the bear. Bear stood up and made lots of very scary and disapproving sounds. Dog got the message and all were able to back away. That was about as close as bad as anything has been and ultimately nothing happened.

I've hiked plenty in bear country without any firearm or spray and while hunting I figure the rifle or shotgun in my hand will have to do in the the extremely rare situation of something like that happening.
 

longbowhunter2

Well-Known Member
Oct 16, 2013
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While bear attacks are reported rare,
Like shark attacks. I don't think we are ever reported truthfully.
My honest opinion is to be prepared.
Even if I don't need it. I have it.
I don't doubt ever bodies experience. I never have had issues either.
But these people did.
 

Aeon

just a dude who duck hunts
Feb 16, 2011
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If I'm in grizzly once in a blue moon areas I'll have my XDs 45 ccw pistol. In a grizzly for sure area I'll man up to the big gun. Black bears are just not a worry. I even poked one by hand with a arrow once. Your odds of getting hit by lightning are better than death by black bear.



Ps if a black bear kills me, please just say it was a griz so i don't look like a pussy
 

TheGDog

Well-Known Member
Nov 28, 2018
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West Garden Grove
I'm almost always by myself... I have less experience then most of you guys... my household depends on me... my boy is young (11yo)...I am not so young anymore (50yo on Sunday)... my body has some issues from prior Traumas and Tears and Breaks (i.e. I know I won't be able to run away or climb a tree, I must stand and face)... and Most of All??... as I tell people... "I Know My Luck!"

That having been said... I have gone with just the rifle and BearSpray. Cause this one spot is brutal when coming out of there so weight is a big concern. But then this one time while doing an overnighter there specifically for Black Bear... I feel pretty certain I strongly smelled the funk of one waft over my Tent. (I can't say for sure because I've never smelled one up close and personal before, I'd only been 20yds from one before, didn't smell him though) I cautiously poked my head out and peered around 360 with headlamp... but saw and heard NOTHING! I did not sleep hardly at all for the rest of that night.

I decided that night that I'd feel better if I had a pistol with me in the Tent. And I've learned that I really like them with Night Sights too. Otherwise they are effectively rendered useless at night with regular irons.

I'm not afraid of dying... like I said..."I Know My Luck!". The Universe ain't done playing sadistic games with my life yet. That I know. With my luck... I will be mauled to as badly as you can be malled but not yet die and survive... just so the Universe can maniacally laugh with joy at my pain and continously marvel at my resiliance and determination.

So what's the minimum caliber and barrel length you guys would opt for, for a firearm specifically to be used as a backup for that once in a Million Black Bear with a wild hair up it's butt?
 
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longbowhunter2

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Look one time, only one I had a bunch of foreign Nationals walking by my tent between 9 pm til 2 am .
There are crazy f__ks out there.
If I am camping I will be packing.
You guys do what you want..
End of story.
 
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Lungpopper

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Look one time, only one I had a bunch of foreign Nationals walking by my tent between 9 pm til 2 am .
There are crazy f__ks out there.
If I am camping I will be packing.
You guys do what you want..
End of story.
In that case you just needed a handful of border passes. Throw them to the side. While they are fighting each other over them you could just slip away.