357 Magnum for bear…?

Interesting Q for this thread is, did the OP intend us to chat about Black bears or G Bears which are generally two different critters in many ways..........
 
In one of the previous handgun for bear defense threads, I posted an article with actual real world data on handgun defensive shootings of bears, and in it, their were various types of successful situations involving various calibers/cartridges including the 357.

 
It was years ago, and I know little to nothing about bears as I have never hunted them. My plan is to never hunt anything that can eat me lol. Anyway, I heard a conservation officer from Alaska say one time he did not know of a single incident where anyone survived a coastal brown bear attack with a pistol smaller than 44 Mag. Like I said I know nothing about it, but I do remember him saying that. They have a ten-foot stuffed one at the Basspro in Tulsa, and I'm thinking 50 cal might be a starting point.
In the 80’s I was on a pretty big crew of guys cutting old growth timber in the Gifford Pinchot out of Randal Washington and some guys came down from Alaska during the off season and said they had been working on Kodiak island and everyone carried sawed off 12 gauges and that was the only real safe defense. I guess the bears were really bad and I know from experience for whatever reason that running a saw and falling giant trees doesn’t seem to scare the wildlife as I’ve seen them feed right in my strip more than once
 
Handguns are piddle poor 'stoppers', bears don't watch movies to know they should drop when shot either. That said, my claws and teeth are worthless in a defensive situation so a handgun is worlds better than nothing and a 9mm or 357 would be the minimum. Commercially there is very little effectiveness difference between premium 9mm and 357 options. If I had paws as big as a bear my choice hands down would be a Desert Eagle in 50 but they aren't. I would also recommend an expanding bullet unless you are in grizzly likely country, even then I am using an expanding bullet but I would choose an expanding bullet known for going deep like the XTP. Having shot elk, deer and hogs with handguns the conventional wisdom to use a hardcast bullet has led to really long really poor blood trails and minimal damage internally on recovery with absolute perfect shots. Far less tissue damage than a 50 caliber flintlock using a round ball. Until you get to 44 and up WFN bullets driven really really hard the internal damage is far from impressive with a hardcast bullet. A 45acp with a commercial 230 JHP kills mule deer and big hogs far far better than a 357 with a 158-180 hard cast WFN pushed further past published loading data than most would attempt. WFN in soft lead is dramatically better than hard cast and they still penetrate well, 44 or 45 soft lead WFN pushed hard makes wound channels that are very similar to muzzleloaders with round ball. SWC hardcast are awful, don't use them unless you bowhunt with field tips and rifle hunt with FMJ. Counting on breaking enough bone to stop a bear that intends to harm me with a handgun is silly in my opinion.
 
Handguns are piddle poor 'stoppers', bears don't watch movies to know they should drop when shot either. That said, my claws and teeth are worthless in a defensive situation so a handgun is worlds better than nothing and a 9mm or 357 would be the minimum. Commercially there is very little effectiveness difference between premium 9mm and 357 options. If I had paws as big as a bear my choice hands down would be a Desert Eagle in 50 but they aren't. I would also recommend an expanding bullet unless you are in grizzly likely country, even then I am using an expanding bullet but I would choose an expanding bullet known for going deep like the XTP. Having shot elk, deer and hogs with handguns the conventional wisdom to use a hardcast bullet has led to really long really poor blood trails and minimal damage internally on recovery with absolute perfect shots. Far less tissue damage than a 50 caliber flintlock using a round ball. Until you get to 44 and up WFN bullets driven really really hard the internal damage is far from impressive with a hardcast bullet. A 45acp with a commercial 230 JHP kills mule deer and big hogs far far better than a 357 with a 158-180 hard cast WFN pushed further past published loading data than most would attempt. WFN in soft lead is dramatically better than hard cast and they still penetrate well, 44 or 45 soft lead WFN pushed hard makes wound channels that are very similar to muzzleloaders with round ball. SWC hardcast are awful, don't use them unless you bowhunt with field tips and rifle hunt with FMJ. Counting on breaking enough bone to stop a bear that intends to harm me with a handgun is silly in my opinion.
I guess your experiences aren't the same for many of us other handgun and lead bullet hunters. I've killed numerous game with hard cast LWFN, SWC, LRFN and other, and so have many, many hunters of old before there ever were jacketed bullets. - YMMV
 
My ten inch contender barrel in .357 will push a 140 XTP to around 1700 FPS. No bear hunting in Alabama, but that is lethal on whitetails.We do see one around here in the summer, young and old males wandering in from Ga. But in the last five years I've seen none on trail cam.
 
I would think some testing on some really big wild hogs would be a good way to compare if possible to get close enough? I know a few slaughter guys that use the 44 magnum rifles but no idea what bullet they’re using. I’m in the process now of teaching a friend to reload and we have been working on his 10mm and he has bit on the lead cast for bear. It just doesn’t sound right to me but what do I know. A friend up in Alaska killed a big one in defense with a 454 casul and had a rug made out of it. He said it was charging and he waited till it was close and dropped it. He was a huge hound hunter when we were growing up and those hound hunters are a different breed. I’m not sure I would have had the testes to wait or the control to be accurate
 
I guess your experiences aren't the same for many of us other handgun and lead bullet hunters. I've killed numerous game with hard cast LWFN, SWC, LRFN and other, and so have many, many hunters of old before there ever were jacketed bullets. - YMMV
I've killed plenty with the lead bullets too, I am not saying they don't kill or anything of the sort, I am saying I get way better and way shorter blood trails using expanding bullets.
 
I get suckered into all the "what handgun for bear" discussions and will likely continue to thinking about it until my dying breath.
Handgun protection from bears is just a fascinating topic, especially with the experiences I've had hunting bears with rifles!

I've read the story of Phil Shoemaker and his encounter with a coastal brown and the 9mm Buffalobore "Outdoorsman" round.
9mm appears to work.

I've also read many have begun flocking to the 10mm over the past decade as a viable bear defense round.
10mm also seems like a healthy choice.

This leaves me very curious about the 357 magnum. With the 120gr Extreme Hunter from Underwood, they're claiming 1700fps from a copper solid. That's wild! Buffalobore has a 180gr hardcast that's pushing 1400fps as well. When comparing these loads to the top end 10mm, it would seem the mighty 357 mag should easily be able to hang in the acceptable for bear defense crowd.
I'm curious to hear if anyone hunts bears with a handgun chambered for this round?
Don't get wrapped around the axle over ultra high velocity. Shot placement, bullet weight, construction and design are more important factors.
 
I have been face to face with a Grizz,many years back but I still smell his breath.
I had a 44 mag but left it at the bottom of the mountain side along with my backpack as I had a long uphill walk and didn't want extra weight.
Looking back I would rather have that extra weight than nothing.
I now carry a 15 shot 10mm as it's lighter than a 44 mag but still a proven defense against Grizz.
 
When it comes to the big bears, expansion IS NOT your friend....penetration is. You also want something that provides enough of a "smack" to deter the charge. I generally carry a 10mm 1911 in Alaska however I have also carried a 45 acp 1911 using the now unobtainium Speer Lawman 45 acp +p 200 grain flat points. Out of a 5" gun those provided me with 38" of straight line penentration through my normal test medium (1# bologna pack, 1/4" leather, 1/2" pine board and then water jugs). The 10mm load from underwood only makes it to 42" but is a bit "spicey" for rapid fire.

I agree though that handguns are not the ideal choice for bear defense. I will take a 12g all day, everyday.
 
Full disclosure I have not read each and every post here.
I know one person that has shot a bear with a 44 magnum. It was a black bear. He was rooting around outside his tent and the bear getting into the tent was imminent. I said, did the 44 kill it. He said, no but it was moving real slow away and I had plenty of time to grab the 338.
That is my knowledge of shooting a black bear with a 44. I would imagine 357 would be on par or similar.
 
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