Recommended 44 mag ammo

sandfly

Well-known member
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
12
Location
Grand canyon of Pa.
In his book Elmer Keith would kill a grizzly at 250 yards, long way for a 44 mag but he liked it alot. good reading for sure.
 

Brewmaster

Well-known member
Messages
327
Reaction score
4
Location
St. Louis, Missouri
My realistic choice for that environment? A 590A1 Mossberg loaded with 2 3/4" high-brass #00 buck. Multiple instantaneous hits will flat disconnect the CNS and require a complete reboot. By the time the system comes back on, hypovolemic shock has set in and, well, game over.

There's my $.02 :D
I have to disagree with you ghostdncr - shooting buckshot at a large bear sounds like a great recipe for the bear eating "hunter du jour".

Buckshot is usually made from soft lead pellets, and even when coated, the coating is just a thin layer of copper or nickel to avoid damaging the pellets while traveling through the barrel of the shotgun. 00 Buck is only .33 caliber - so the net result would be shooting a heavily muscled bear 9 to 12 times with a .32 ACP loaded with soft lead balls (e.g. - not even as hard as a normal FMJ). Granted you would probably get several hits, but would they penetrate enough to either break bone, damage organs or penetrate enough to disrupt the CNS? Highly doubtful. Would they stop the bear? "Good Luck!"

I will stick with my original recomendation, a 12 gauge shotgun with 1-1/4 oz hard cast slugs (like the Brenneke Black Magic) either 2-3/4" or 3" shells. Actually, I recommend the 2-3/4" shells to make sure you do not accidently short-stroke the pump before the hull clears the receiver and causes a jam. Only use the 3" shotshells if you have a gun with either a 3-1/2 chamber (has a longer ejection port) or with a gun that has had the ejection port relieved for additional hull clearance.

BTW - my friend further modified his carry gun for Yellowstone, a Mossberg 500 with a 16" cyl barrel, then installed a synthetic pistol grip on both receiver and fore-end. Net weight less than 5 lbs, carried on a cross shoulder sling. I got to test fire it with a full power 1oz deer slug, recoil was stiff, but definitely manageable.
 

ghostdncr

Well-known member
Messages
145
Reaction score
1
Location
Louisville, KY
I have to disagree with you ghostdncr - shooting buckshot at a large bear sounds like a great recipe for the bear eating "hunter du jour".
Inside ten yards, I'm thinking a bear won't recognize the difference between a slug and a solid wad of #00 buck but once inside, the buckshot is going to splay off in all different directions. That's the multi-point wound dynamic I based my statements on.

Looking at it from a real-world perspective though, a 590 Mossberg is heavy and a PITA to carry and fly-cast around. In line with the OP's original question, my choice there would likely lean toward S&W's M29 Mountain Gun using a hardened Keith-style SWC gas-checked at 1150-1200 fps (~11.5 grains of Unique) and LOTS of practice. Not a perfect solution by any means, but one I'd be likely to have with me should trouble arise.

I had a Winchester 1300 with the pistol grips fore and aft. It was an impressive weapon after a bit of training and practive. Perhaps the most elegant solution to the pistol vs. shotgun argument? I couldn't agree more with your statement regarding the 2 3/4" shells. In a situation like we're discussing, 1/2" of stroke would be catastrophically easy to overlook.

FWIW, two rules that have served me well and could easily apply here: 1. You can't miss fast enough to win a gunfight. 2. The perfect weapon is the one you actually have with you, not the one back home in closet because it's too heavy/long/expensive for everyday carry.
 

Brewmaster

Well-known member
Messages
327
Reaction score
4
Location
St. Louis, Missouri
Inside ten yards, I'm thinking a bear won't recognize the difference between a slug and a solid wad of #00 buck but once inside, the buckshot is going to splay off in all different directions. That's the multi-point wound dynamic I based my statements on.

FWIW, two rules that have served me well and could easily apply here: 1. You can't miss fast enough to win a gunfight. 2. The perfect weapon is the one you actually have with you, not the one back home in closet because it's too heavy/long/expensive for everyday carry.
Inside 10 yards? maybe, but I would sure like some evidence that soft lead balls at 10 yds would be strong enough to smash through bone to get to CNS and vital organs. Remember, just killing it is not the objective, stopping it really fast is!

I double checked the weight of the Mossberg 500 with the 16" bbl and the dual pistol grips - slightly less than 5lbs empty, 5-1/4lbs fully loaded including the side-saddle ammo clip, and the sling. My friend carried it in a cross shoulder sling (butt toward left shoulder) so all he had to do is reach down with his right hand and grab the barrel and pull it around front to a horizontal position and it was ready to grab and fire - could even brace it against the sling. I tried it and it works pretty smoothly.

I agree with your 2 rules.
 

vanceinak

Well-known member
Messages
127
Reaction score
1
Location
Kenai, Alaska
BTW - my friend further modified his carry gun for Yellowstone, a Mossberg 500 with a 16" cyl barrel, QUOTE]


Hope you don't get caught carrying your friends shotgun... Minimum shotgun barrel length by federal law is 18" (If he has a special federal destructive devices permit I am wrong).
Minimum barrel length on rifles is 16".
 

Brewmaster

Well-known member
Messages
327
Reaction score
4
Location
St. Louis, Missouri
BTW - my friend further modified his carry gun for Yellowstone, a Mossberg 500 with a 16" cyl barrel, QUOTE]


Hope you don't get caught carrying your friends shotgun... Minimum shotgun barrel length by federal law is 18" (If he has a special federal destructive devices permit I am wrong).
Minimum barrel length on rifles is 16".
:icon_redf

OOPS! My bad! I guess that was just one of your basic senior moments! Twice!

My friend's Mossberg definitely has a very legal 18" barrel on it. Thanks for catching my error in flight!
 

nerka

Well-known member
Messages
215
Reaction score
1
Location
Alaska
This is an ongoing debate that will never come to a full conclusion. If you choose a gun for bear protection, make sure it is something you are comfortable with and competent enough to shoot. While a short barrelled shotgun is probably ideal...let me know how effective your cast is while it is shouldered.
A 500S&W that someone is afraid to shoot normally without the stress of a bear encounter is pointless.
Whatever caliber you choose to carry...practice, practice, practice. Not just standing a shooting a round at static targets but think about the situation that most bear attacks happen. Surprise by both human and animal parties, very short notice and if it does happen you will be lucky to get a shot off regardless. The important thing is to make that one count.
The heaviest hard cast projectiles you feel comfortable shooting is the best IMHO.
 

jsquires

Well-known member
Messages
251
Reaction score
4
Location
San Ramon, CA
I float and fish in the AK wilderness every year. I bring a 44 along and bear spray. Frankly, I'm not a big believer in my ability to slow down or stop a charging bear by shooting it with a 44. However, I will say that the considerable sound made by a 44 can disuade a bear - I know this from personal experience when I got in a pretty dicey situation that was neither my fault nor the mom and cubs' fault.
That being said, if given a choice between bear spray and a 44, I'd take the spray. The spray covers a heck of a lot more area than a bullet - especially when you're shaking like hell.
 

akruss

Well-known member
Messages
65
Reaction score
2
Location
Central Florida
I'll throw in my experience and advice but the final decision is up to you, of course. I worked in Alaska all of my adult life and until fairly recently spent 3 to 5 months a year in remote areas where I generally had to rely on myself and rarely others for my well being. I also gave firearms and bear protection classes most years to resource types. The classes consisted primarily of bear behavior and how to peacefully coexist. When working alone I always carried a S&W .44 in a shoulder holster under a surveyor's vest. I carried handloads that consisted of full house magnums with hard cast Keith style semi-wadcutters. There are lots of newer factory loads that are probably just as good or better but that's what I carried. I practised drawing the revolver with either hand and shooting it with one or both strong and weak hands. A friend once suggested that reaching a level of expertise required shooting some 2,000 service loads, magnums in this case, over a period of 2 or 3 months. This practise consisted of slow and rapid fire, reloading drills and coming from the leather with full gear on. This rule of thumb seemed to work fairly well. The real trick was having ammo and keeping up the practise while remaining in the woods for months. Not shooting for even a few weeks seriously reduces your effectiveness. This sounds like a lot of trouble but if you really think you're going protect yourself with a revolver, you need to have a high level of expertise. I guess you have to be somewhat of a gun nut and have enough rubles to play.

If I was really concerned about bear problems, I carried a .375 H&H rifle with heavy bullets in addition to the .44. I tried having assistants carry the rifle but we generally wound up with the bear on one side, the assistant (read that somewhat lacking experience) on the other and me in the middle. This situation made me more nervous than just dealing with the bear. It would be nice to have an experienced hand holding a rifle and watching over you.

I know everyone likes the idea of an inexpensive and relatively lightweight shotgun. I'm not very fond of these guns for a number of reasons. We use to make burn barrels in our main camps to incinerate garbage. This required making holes in 55 gallon barrels. The youngsters would line up with buckshot and let loose at the barrel. The shot would make dents but no holes. My .44 made a hole going in and another coming out. This was child's play and a waste of ammo for a .375. I never tried hard slugs. Maybe they do better. Lastly, pump shotguns are difficult guns to handle and require practise which means lots of ammo - again. I took a shotgun class with the local PD and shot 3 cases of ammo in 3 days. While I was a bit sore, I felt like I knew how to handle my shotgun. You still have to practise to maintain your skills.

I always carried bear spray. Make sure you get a few cans of the stuff to spray off for practise. Try to imagine being close enough to a bear to be able to spray it in the eyes - the only place it works. It's scarey close. Make sure you try spraying the stuff up wind and side wind. I've never found spray to be a confidence builder. I carried it with a gun for backup.

Everyone likes to talk about stopping a charging bear. A real predatory charge from an adult bear would be tough to stop with anything. Same with an enraged sow protecting her cubs. With any luck at all your confrontations will be with a smaller/younger bears who are somewhat unsure of themselves. Your best weapon is your brain and maybe your buddies, assuming there are some around. Staying alert and cautious is everything. Going for your gun is like hiring a lawyer - you've already lost on some level.

Sorry for the long post but it's a complex subject. This is only my humble opinion and I don't mean to argue with any other post.
 
Last edited:

grassonfly

Well-known member
Messages
775
Reaction score
10
Location
south florida
Wouldnt an fn 57 be good for this just use uranium tipped rounds if you can get them. if not fmj. or what about the Taurus bull? thats for pistols. if youre willing to carry a rifle why not one of those elephant guns :) the nitrous expresses
 
Last edited:

plecain

Well-known member
Messages
3,092
Reaction score
196
Location
Southern NH
I don't understand the .44 Mag mystique. I have a .44 Mag pistol and rifle. I've shot deer with both, and a black bear with the rifle.

As a rifle cartridge, the .44 has about the same muzzle energy as a 30-30. As a pistol cartridge, it has about half as much.

How many people recommend shooting grizzlies with a 30-30?

Use something a lot bigger.
 

akruss

Well-known member
Messages
65
Reaction score
2
Location
Central Florida
A few other thoughts and I'll stop writing. Noise generally has no affect what so ever on Alaska bears. You can try a warning shot but I think you'll find it has no affect and you have one less round at your disposal. If you're in the act of chasing a bear away, lots of noise works great. If they're intent on investigating you, it just doesn't work at all. This has been my experience - yours may differ.

If you're not seriously good with your weapon(s) you might want to consider leaving them home. Poorly executed shots can do you or your buddies in and have no immediate affect on unruly bruins. Bear spray may be just the ticket to turn away curious bears but don't expect it to have any affect on charging/enraged bears. Airlines and even bush planes don't allow bear spray inside, so you'll have to purchase the stuff at your destination.

Assuming you're going on a guided trip, check with him. It's pretty unlikely a professional guide is going to want a cheechako weilding a deadly instrument while both scared by a bear and stumbling around slippery rocks. If available, take a bear safety class. Sharpen your finest weapon - your brain.

Lastly, you really have to get over the psychological dominance thing. When you're in bear country, you're not at the top of the food chain. Inexpertise with weapons when under severe stress is a recipe for disaster. As stated above, you're brain is your greatest asset. Read up on bear behavior. Learn how to identify male versus female grizzly/brown bears. Learn their body language. Learn safe camping and fishing practises. Learn what responses are appropriate for grizzly/brown bears versus black bears - it may surprise you. Ask your guide to point out points of interest about bears and their habitat along with warning signs. Learn to sing loudly in brushy areas. Enjoy seeing bears and being in their neck of the woods. They may be part of the last remnant of wildness we'll get a chance to see and feel. You should be looking forward to experiencing the Alaska wilderness and getting a chance to be around bears and wolves and lots of big fish. It doesn't get much better ...
 

nickj

Well-known member
Messages
838
Reaction score
17
Location
Mid-coast Maine
I have an acquaintance who teaches Bear School for USGS. It's for their people who will be working in big bear country. He teaches NO HANDGUNS.. Short 12 ga, as has been discussed here. He has a charging bear prop, says it's like stepping into traffic moving at 35 mph. He's not opposed to handguns, per se, is a local action pistol competitor, but is adamant regarding the shotgun. Also teaches awareness/avoidance.
 

akruss

Well-known member
Messages
65
Reaction score
2
Location
Central Florida
I've shot his charging bear target and it's a good one. I largely agree with his take on handguns. Very few develop and maintain any degree of practicle expertise with a handgun. I discussed the practise I use to do every year to illustrate the level of commitment needed. Even then a .44 is a pea shooter. The Government has gone to shotguns. I'd rather have a rifle any day but that's just my opinion. Having taught both weapons to students, it seems it's easier to teach shotgun but I think the rifle is the better weapon when handled well. Actually, now that I've retired and moved to central Florida, I guess it doesn't matter and I've sold my .375. I still have my .30-06s - which I'd still rather have than a shotgun. A .30-06 bolt gun with a heavy bullet is a mighty weapon. I can't remember who said it first but a handgun is useful for fighting your way to your rifle, LOL.

All this discussion suggests some level of paranoia that is really unnecessary. If you insist on bringing a gun, I'd suggest you bring one you're familiar with and can use well. Beware the man who owns just one gun ...

Actually, I'd recommend that a visitor to Alaska do what nearly everyone does and simply rely on your guide for bear information and safety. You're a lot safer in the woods with the bears than flying in a jet or driving down a highway. If you're going camping or drifting in a remote area without a guide, then it's another story. I know several people who worked their entire adult lives in the Alaska wilds that never carried a gun and they did just fine.
 
Last edited:

gutterpunk

Well-known member
Messages
323
Reaction score
7
I'm not going to say anything that hasn't already been said, but...

My dad told me a story when I was a kid of a guy who was going to Alaska and ask the guide if he should bring his .44 mag for the bears. The guide said, absolutely, bring the .44, just make sure to file off the front sight before you come. Why would I ever file off the front sight on the gun, he wondered? Well, the guide answers, "So it doesn't hurt so bad when the bear takes that gun away from you and shoves it up your ass."

This is a very old story--people have known what doesn't work on bears for a long time. Some years ago Guns and Ammo did a test and said the only thing that would matter is a 12 gauge with rifled slugs (buckshot is useless). Rifles are completely useless in most cases--they don't have the stopping power and you can't hit a charging grizz from 50 feet anyway (which they cover in literally 2 seconds).

Like Ard said...learn about bears, and have a can of bear spray that you've practiced using. Except for rare instances, guns don't do ****.
 

Frank Whiton

Most Senior Member
Messages
5,412
Reaction score
33
Location
Central Florida
does taking a dog help out at all..
The best thing is to take a buddy who runs slower than you do.

gutterpunk, back in the 70s the Alaska Fish and Game did some test and decided that Double "0" buckshot was very effective. The problem is the shooter can't wait for the bear to get close enough for it to do its job. If you can wait until the bear is 15 feet away then double buck shot is very effective.

Frank
 

gutterpunk

Well-known member
Messages
323
Reaction score
7
The best thing is to take a buddy who runs slower than you do.

gutterpunk, back in the 70s the Alaska Fish and Game did some test and decided that Double "0" buckshot was very effective. The problem is the shooter can't wait for the bear to get close enough for it to do its job. If you can wait until the bear is 15 feet away then double buck shot is very effective.

Frank
Yes, that's fair. At close range I suppose that's the case, but as you say, most guys would be wetting' the drawers at 15 ft (myself included)--I think Guns and Ammo made a similar point--and a mad bear that close is already on you. As a purely defensive measure its better than nothing--but if one has gotten to that point then something has gone horribly wrong.
 

kodiak338

Member
Messages
6
Reaction score
0
gutterpunk, I had a sow Brown Bear with cubs charge me from about 20-25 yards. No I am not talking about a grizz north of the Alaska Range. My guess she was well over 600 pounds and had two two year old cubs almost as big as her. You do what you have to do. I had a 300 Win Mag. One in the tube, three in the mag. Still dark but enough ambient light to see outlines and contrast. I was moving to a clearing to scope for moose. Hearing what sounded like a corn thresher I turned around and my movement startled Mama bear and she stood up on her hind legs. I clicked the safety and slowly started moving back. She then dropped to all fours and charged. I put the first one over her head. Reloaded and then a second one. She was still coming and I was still backing up. I then tripped and fell backwards into some bushes. I’m sitting on my butt the bear is still coming. I then lowered the muzzle to point at the center of her chest. I was just about ready to pull the trigger and she turned and ran the opposite way with cubs in tow leaving a trail of bear **** for the effort. Could I have had the same outcome with a 44 mag maybe but after that experience my preferred firearm in bear country and I’m not talking about black bears is a Mini-30. JMHO.
 
Top