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Old 04-21-2010, 05:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
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40 cal vs. Black Bear

It didn't work.

I was talking to a friend last night and we were talking pistols, and effectiveness.

He said, "The reason I got a 45 was because I talked to Tony about shooting that bear with a 40 cal".

Tony removes problem bears. He has live trapped many (hundreds), and shot quite a few problem bears.

Tony got a call about a bear being agressive at camping area. When he showed up the bear was still there tearing up the camp and was aggressive. The campers had been trying to run it off, and it was snapping its teeth to keep them at bay. Tony moves in between the campers and bear. The bear snapped his teeth a few times and charged. Tony proceeded to empty his 40 cal at the bear. He had 3 center of mass hits and the bear was uneffected until his partner smoked the bear with a 12 ga 00 buck. The bear piled up within 6 feet of Tony while he was on the run.

I don't think any non-magnum caliber would have done any different, and the results are exactly what I would expect. You aren't going to drop a bear with a non-magnum handgun unless it is a central nervous system hit.

The bear was average size, probably around 250#.

I'll probably meet Tony this summer and get a first hand account. What ammo, shot placement, etc.
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Moving up to a 45 isn't going to make that much of a difference. Unless you're talking magnum handguns, I wouldn't trust it to stop a bear. A 10mm may fit the bill in a pinch. 45/70 guide gun or 12 ga with slugs or 00/000 buck would be my choice.

The other thing with the 40 the guy was carrying is that he probably had hollow points. I don't think they would give you enough penetration on a bear to be effective. Anyone else load a few FMJ on the bottom just in case?
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by sometoyotaguy View Post
Moving up to a 45 isn't going to make that much of a difference. Unless you're talking magnum handguns, I wouldn't trust it to stop a bear. A 10mm may fit the bill in a pinch. 45/70 guide gun or 12 ga with slugs or 00/000 buck would be my choice.
Moving up to any handgun that doesn't end in the words, "Casull" or "Magnum" isn't going to get you far and I don't even know that I would trust a .357 or 10mm and I'm a big 10mm proponent.
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I don't think HP vs. FMJ would make a difference.
The mechanics of a handgun kill are bleeding out. There is no hydraulic shock like there is with a high velocity rifle round. Simply punching a hole. A .45" hole wouldn't made any more difference than the .40" holes that he plugged.

The moral of the story is don't walk into a situation like that undergunned. He knowingly walked toward an aggitated bear. At least between the two of them, they were prepared. I don't think he had any illusions to the effectiveness of his 40 cal, however once the bear postured he knew he was going to get attacked. So he drew, the bear charged, and he started shooting.
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Props to him for standing in there long enough to empty a mag.
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:46 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Moving up to a 45 isn't going to make that much of a difference. Unless you're talking magnum handguns, I wouldn't trust it to stop a bear. A 10mm may fit the bill in a pinch. 45/70 guide gun or 12 ga with slugs or 00/000 buck would be my choice.

The other thing with the 40 the guy was carrying is that he probably had hollow points. I don't think they would give you enough penetration on a bear to be effective. Anyone else load a few FMJ on the bottom just in case?
I mix in some FMJ's in my carry mags and have a tracer as the last round. When I see the tracer I know I am ready for another mag and not a jam/malfunction.
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Old 04-21-2010, 07:08 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Kinda tangent to the topic...


How many rounds in the magazine?
How many hits (any hits count - not just center mass)?
What was the distance when he started firing?
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Old 04-21-2010, 07:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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After seeing what .357 magnum rounds don't do to a large hog versus what a little .223 round does: I'd be carrying an AR anytime I could if I had to knowingly approach a bear.
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Old 04-21-2010, 07:22 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Kinda tangent to the topic...


How many rounds in the magazine?
How many hits (any hits count - not just center mass)?
What was the distance when he started firing?
The range from the bear when he drew was about 10 yards.
I don't know how many shots, other than 3 center of mass hits.
From what I understand, he had already started to side step and run when the other guy shot it with the 12 ga. It piled up about 6 feet from him as he was taking off.

I figure the guy is like me, you don't ever turn your back on a threat. Just like a charging cow, you stand your ground until they are committed and you cut past them at the last second.

I'll likely meet the guy this summer, so I get more details when I do.
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Old 04-21-2010, 08:11 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think you meant "hydrostatic shock".


I wouldn't want to HAVE to defend myself from a bear with a pistol unless it was a .500 S&W Mag. A .41 or .44 would be my bottom line intentional choices. If it was me, a 1911, and a bear, I'd feel better than being stuck with a .40, but I'd want back up. FMJ vs HP does come into play since most HP people carry are for self defense and are designed for people or light skinned game. Bears are fat, tough critters and their vitals are well protected compared to people, deer, and varmints. Choose the right bullet.
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Old 04-21-2010, 08:31 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I agree. I carry a .45 ACP in the backcountry and in the backcountry, I'm always loaded with this:

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php...t_detail&p=214

255gr. flat nosed hard cast loaded at +P
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:55 AM   #12 (permalink)
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The "hydraulics" I refer to about the wound ballistics are the result of a large impact of high velocity energy dissipation.

When you shoot a deer with a muzzle loader, 44 mag, 45 colt, 45-70, or other slow moving bullet, the wound channel is generally a hole through the carcass. Very little tissue damage outside the initial channel the bullet cut through the carcass.

When you shoot one with a high velocity rifle round like 22-250, 243, 270 win, 7mm mag, 300 mag, etc. with an expandable bullet the wound channel is much different.
The shock of the impact bursts blood vessels much further away from the point of impact than slow moving bullets. You can see tissue torn much further away from the point of impact, blood shot meat, and separated muscles.
What occurs is that the high velocity impact pushed the liquid (blood) away from the point of impact. This raises the “blood pressure” in those vessels and tissue so dramatically that it shreds vessels and tissue. Even out of the bloodshot area, the circulatory system is disrupted. It causes so much trauma over such a large area that it is devastating.

As far as a 45 acp, I might go as far to say that it may be less effective than a 40 cal because the extremely low velocities that it shoots.

If anyone thinks a 45 ACP is far superior to any other non-magnum round because it is 0.05" bigger in diameter - they are ignorant.
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Old 04-21-2010, 10:03 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Between bears and steers you West Virginny boys seem to have alot of trouble not havin' enough gun.

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Old 04-21-2010, 10:30 AM   #14 (permalink)
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If anyone thinks a 45 ACP is far superior to any other non-magnum round because it is 0.05" bigger in diameter - they are ignorant.
I think you're the one that's ignorant thinking like that.

Unless you are a doctor that knows the internal organs of a bear, it's hard for you to judge the difference of a .4 and .45 perforation through any organs and the outcome of such.

I've seen too many of those real ER shows, and read too many newspapers and known too many people personally that have been shot by .45 and all other rounds. It's my observation, and I'm certain a doctor would agree with me - that while .357mag or .38 or .40 may create a bad hole in a human organ, it remains reparable most of the time. Anytime someone takes a .45 into a critical organ, despite doctors help, they usually die. Not being a doctor, I can only imagine this is due to that tiny bit of extra size that makes it too hard to fix. Maybe they can only put it back together and at .45 it just doesn't close completely? Consider the concept of sticking yourself with a tiny needle and how your skin closes around it. The bigger the hole, the less closing possible. Get even bigger and you need a bandaid, even bigger and you need stitches, even bigger than that and what? They have to graft skin. Well, what if we're talking about an internal organ? Again, I'm not a doctor but after years of reading and listening and watching this is my observation.

How this applies to a bear and whether it makes the same huge difference it does in humans I do not know. But I know it's damn ignorant to think a .45 is not a much greater threat for a human to survive a gunshot wound.

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Old 04-21-2010, 10:35 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I am not talking about once they hit the ER, I am talking about stopping effectiveness.
It is not much energy.
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Old 04-21-2010, 10:37 AM   #16 (permalink)
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The hydraulics you referred to is hydrostatic shock and yes, a rifle will provide much more of it than a pistol. The reason I prefer the .45 to the .40 is versatility. A heavier bulle will have more momentum and penetrat deeper than a lighter bullet travelling marginally faster. A .45 loaded with 230s or, in my case 255s, is a much better option if you're faced with having to shoot a bear compared to a .40 shooting lighter, faster 185s or the like. If you want more speed, grab some 185 .45s. 185 +Ps in a .45 will get you up over 1100fps.
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:12 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I think you're the one that's ignorant thinking like that.

Unless you are a doctor that knows the internal organs of a bear, it's hard for you to judge the difference of a .4 and .45 perforation through any organs and the outcome of such.

I've seen too many of those real ER shows, and read too many newspapers and known too many people personally that have been shot by .45 and all other rounds. It's my observation, and I'm certain a doctor would agree with me - that while .357mag or .38 or .40 may create a bad hole in a human organ, it remains reparable most of the time. Anytime someone takes a .45 into a critical organ, despite doctors help, they usually die. Not being a doctor, I can only imagine this is due to that tiny bit of extra size that makes it too hard to fix. Maybe they can only put it back together and at .45 it just doesn't close completely? Consider the concept of sticking yourself with a tiny needle and how your skin closes around it. The bigger the hole, the less closing possible. Get even bigger and you need a bandaid, even bigger and you need stitches, even bigger than that and what? They have to graft skin. Well, what if we're talking about an internal organ? Again, I'm not a doctor but after years of reading and listening and watching this is my observation.

How this applies to a bear and whether it makes the same huge difference it does in humans I do not know. But I know it's damn ignorant to think a .45 is not a much greater threat for a human to survive a gunshot wound.
A. Shooting a charging bear and shooting the average human being are two VERY different things.

B. Stopping power and killing power are two very different things.

C. I'm guessing the only thing having to do with bears in those "real" ER shows is related to people who shot them with a killing power gun and not a stopping power gun that end up in the ER with their bowels hanging out.

D. Nearly 30 years ago when I worked for a hunting guide in Montana the backup handgun of choice was a .44 Magnum - chosen for its stopping power, but still much less effective than a rifle.

E. If I worked for, or as, a hunting guide today I would carry the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan shooting .454 Casull ammunition or the new .480 caliber.
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:20 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I am not talking about once they hit the ER, I am talking about stopping effectiveness.
It is not much energy.
Ok. For the purpose of stopping, isn't it better to have a slow big moving projectile(like a bowling ball) rather than a small fast moving one(like a dart)?

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A. Shooting a charging bear and shooting the average human being are two VERY different things.
As I said above, things are different with a bear, I'm sure.

Good points, I understand and fully agree.
I'd also rather have a .44mag or Casull for anti-bear in field. But I still think a .45 is better than .40, .38, .357mag, 9mm, etc.

If limited to the above small caliber choices, for stopping purposes I would rather hit them with a bowling ball .45 than a highspeed dart .357mag. Disagree?
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:21 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Too bad one of us didn't just get back from a successful black bear hunt. We could put a round of .45 into it along side a round of .357mag. Open it up and see what happened in there...
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:34 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I know what you meant,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrostatic_shock

http://www.fieldandstream.com/answer...ve-read-alot-c
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:41 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I would opt for the one with the most energy, therefore from the list you included I would go with the 357 mag.

357 mag with standard 158 gr JHP 1,400 ft/s 688 ft·lbf
45 acp with standard 230 gr FMJ 830 ft/s 352 ft·lbf
That is why I always state "non magnum" handgun cartridge.

As a rule of thumb in rifle hunting, a bullet loses effectiveness when it drops below 900 ft/lbs.
So you are under gunned with either one in a hunting situation.

On a similar note, I got to talk (first hand) to a vietnam vet that was in special forces. He served in Cambodia and was in some fierce fire fights, some where he had to resort to a pistol.
He was talking about being over run and shooting people with a 45 acp. He said they went down and "popped back up shooting".
He later switched to a 357 magnum revolver which he stated "they went down and stayed down". Granted this wasn't a series of controlled tests, but a guy who has actually shot people with both cartridges.

Comparing ballistics, I agree with what he stated.

So as this digresses, you can keep thinking that a 45 acp is the best handgun cartridge in the world. I will keep emphasizing that non-magnum handgun cartridges are "less than lethal, and you better shoot until empty and prepare to fist fight or run a foot race"

This is coming from a guy that owns and loves to shoot a 1911 in 45 acp.
I also own 357 mag, 44 mag, 45 colt, 32 cal, and have owned several 9mm.
I'll be picking up a 22 mag for a pocket gun this afternoon. I am fully prepared to shoot 5 and commence to either fighting or running

There are plenty of references to "bear country handguns" on this forum. While the chances of ever having to shoot a black bear with a handgun are very slim. If you are going to try to run an aggressive bear out of camp. You are better off doing it from the inside of a vehicle and/or with a firearm that will deliver enough payload to drop a bear.
Also preferably with a buddy that can shoot fast and run slower than you.

I was simply posting a story second hand from a guy that deals with bears for a living that carries a state issued 40 cal.
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:43 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Ok. For the purpose of stopping, isn't it better to have a slow big moving projectile(like a bowling ball) rather than a small fast moving one(like a dart)?


As I said above, things are different with a bear, I'm sure.

Good points, I understand and fully agree.
I'd also rather have a .44mag or Casull for anti-bear in field. But I still think a .45 is better than .40, .38, .357mag, 9mm, etc.

If limited to the above small caliber choices, for stopping purposes I would rather hit them with a bowling ball .45 than a highspeed dart .357mag. Disagree?
For the purposes of stopping, you need a relatively large, relatively fast moving projective with major hydrostatic shock.

I'll grant you, in general terms, that the .45 is MARGINALLY better than most of the smaller calibers you mentioned. Still, if I'm not already face-to-face with a bear and I don't already own a backup gun, I'm not going to spend money on any of those guns because none of them are likely to do the job. The .357 Magnum is the one POSSIBLE exception. But, again, if I don't already have the .357 and I seriously expect to be running into angry bears on a regular basis, like SilverZuk's buddy, I'm not going to spend my money on anything less than the best possible gun out there.

Right tool for the job and all that ....
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:43 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Not sure if handguns really get into the realm of pressure like rifles, but from the chart above it's showing slow big rounds creating more pressure than light fast small rounds?
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:45 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I believe your chart is showing chamber pressures. That can be greatly influenced by powder and bullet selections.
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:46 AM   #25 (permalink)
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It's from PDs link about shock on wiki.
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