The US forest service has done extensive study on bear behavior, OC for bears, and guns against bears. I have been involved in all aspects of that from the beginning.
Almost everything you hear or read is personal opinion based on either no or very limited data points.
Looking at all the data for 100 years presents a very different story.
For bear defense it cannot be shown that the type or caliber matters, people that shoot back with anything win, people that don’t shoot back many times lose. All calibers and action types have been used. Handguns are almost always used at mauling distance. Longarms at 25 yards to dead at your feet.
There is no evidence to support 44 over 357, revolvers are more reliable at contact distance but people have won with semi-autos (but the data pool is very small, as it grows we would at some point start to see malfunctions).
A good revolver in 357 or 44 with powerful solids made to go deep and not deflect is probably the best answer for carry. The pump shotgun still has more kills of grizzly than anything in defense, believe it or not with OO buck, though common wisdom nowadays is use brenneke slugs. Pre WWII 90%+ of the kills were OO.
June 04, 2009 5:15 PM
Handguns for Bear?
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[Very interesting! Data is always better than speculation. But I have to wonder how many “lost” data points there are. Cases where someone shot the bear and still ended up as snack food might not be represented in the data set.–Joe]