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#961244 - 08/10/06 Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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Which of the following bullets would be your top choice(s) for black bear hunting in Maine this fall. I will be using a .45 caliber Ruger Bisley, and most likely buying my loads from either Buffalo Bore, Conley Precision Cartridge or Grizzly Cartridge (depending on the bullet I choose). Here are the bullets I am contemplating (in no particular order):

335 Grain Cast WLN
300 Grain Nosler Partition
300 Grain Hawk Flat Point (.035 Jacket)
300 Grain Hawk Hollow Point (.025 Jacket)
300 Grain Speer Plated Soft Point
300 Grain Hornady XTP-Mag
300 Grain Hornady XTP

Any help greatly appreciated, especially from those with experience with any of these bullets on game or in penetration tests, etc. Thanks a lot.

(Also posting this under Handguns forum.)

300 BP

#961245 - 08/10/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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#1-Hard Cast 335 WLN

#2-Partition.

I would buy those two, see what shoots best, and go forth.

Good Luck.

BMT


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#961246 - 08/11/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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an article I wrote a few years ago. The most relevence to you question is near the end regarding hardcast bullets.

Hunting bears with handguns

I have had quite a few guys over the years ask about handgun cartridges for bear hunting. I really like hunting bears with handguns. I have likely taken more with a handgun then by any other means myself. Handguns have some limitations and some, even though referred to as handguns are more like little handheld rifles then handguns. The general term of handgun seems to stretch the definition quite a bit to include these single shot cannons!

When I think of a handgun I see a revolver or semi-auto pistol in my mind. However today the Thompson Contender and other single shot
handguns seem to have taken over as the handgun of choice for serious big game hunters. I have owned many contender barrels and several contender actions in my life so I’m quite familiar with them.

During my early years as a Professional Hunter I was using dogs to hunt lions and bears. I took out a number of guys from the mid-west and eastern states for bears during the spring Idaho hunts and the fall Washington hunts. It was not unusual to take 20 or 30 hunters out per year and shoot 30-40 bears per season. The Idaho regulation allowed 2 bears per hunter per year and the Washington regulations allowed only one fall bear per person.

We booked a hunter from Ohio early in our guiding business. He was a police officer that wanted to hunt using his on duty carry gun. In Idaho any gun .22 center-fire or larger was the minimum for big game. Washington State had muzzle energy minimum requirement at that time. We took the policeman out on the hunt with his 45 ACP shooting 250-grain soft point bullets. His first bear was treed and shot without much trouble. The bear was in the tree about 20 yards above us. We caught our breath, took a couple photos and then he prepared for the shot and fired. The impact was solid, smoke could easily be seen coming out of the hole in the bear’s chest. The bear was angry and peeling bark from the tree after being hit! He began to climb further up the tree when I yelled hit him again. I did not want the bear coming down with the dogs tied up and unable to escape from this angry wounded bear. He was about 225-240 pounds. A nice brown colored typical Idaho spring bear. At the second shot which hit nearly the same place as the first the bear really started going up the tree fast and I yelled to shoot again. I think the third shot missed but the forth hit him solid sounding like a baseball bat hitting a homerun.

The bear was barely visible up in the branches of the tall fir tree when all of a sudden we heard him crashing down and falling to the ground. When he hit the ground he was up in a flash and rolling and running down the hill. He was dead when he came to a stop on the flat, about 100 yards below us.

This experience was really educational for me. I saw this bear shot quite a few times with little effect from that 45 ACP shooting good 240 grain soft point bullets. The hunters accuracy was great, the bullets were big and heavy, and the bear was close. Why would this combination not be a much better killer? The hunter was thrilled and excited to go shoot another bear! This time he loaded his 240-grain HP’s for the hunt. We had a conversation regarding the lack of “crumple power” his gun had shown. He was surprised I felt that his gun was weak, or exhibited a lack of power. He asked what I was expecting from a handgun. I said I expect a bear shot in the center of the chest with a bullet to die in seconds, not continue to climb a tree and growl or be in a fighting mood. I also said if the bear comes out of the tree alive next time, I would also have to shoot him to protect my dogs. The hunter, although he understood the issue with the dogs, was still surprised by my opinion of his guns performance. He also respected my need to guard the dogs should a problem occur with the next bear.

The second bear was bayed and running and bayed and running all day. It’s a trait big bears have so I was quite worried about the gun he had. Eventually this bear also treed and we were able to get to the base of the tree before he jumped out again. It was a big bear of at least 300 pounds. I also carried my .44 magnum revolver this time, as backup. At the shot, which the bear took in the center of his chest all he did was growl and slap the tree with his paw. I said keep shooting until he falls, if he comes down alive I’m going to have to shoot him too.

This bear started to come down the tree. At the next shot he stopped and began to climb further up the tree but fell dead when he hit the ground in a moment or two. The Ohio policeman was thrilled again and really excited to see that his carry gun was so good at killing a big animal like this bear. Far-be it from me to ruin his feelings on the hunt or his gun, but I thought the performance was pathetic! He returned home amongst the most satisfied of all the clients I have ever had. He must have done a great sales job too, because for the next several years the majority of my hunters were mid western police officers using their carry guns for hunting. During this time I relived many of these types of multiple shot hunts at close range with various types of handguns. I suppose it’s where my opinionated feelings have come from regarding handguns for bears or other big game. I also have to laugh when I hear guys talking about “back up” guns for hikes in bear country, or while fishing in Alaska. I also see this kind of chat on the Internet hunting forums. Many of the guys who really believe their handgun is the “be all-end all” choice for protection. They would likely be leaving the dead weight of their gun home if they saw it’s pathetic performance on a 300 pound black bear, much less an angry 1000 pound brown bear or grizzly!

There have been a lot of handgun cartridges used over the years that I would consider worthless hunting guns for big game. The first is the 38
special. It’s lack of penetration and poor bullets are not meant for hunting. A human being is a very soft and mentally weak animal. A Human shot in the leg will go down for the count screaming for help. A deer or bear shot the same way will be a 100 yards away or more before you realize you made a bad shot. I have seen 30 pound coyotes shot with a 357 magnum run a long way before falling down. A man shot the same way would be praying for his life. There are so many drug induced mental problems with humans that those dopers who are shot might be as hard to stop as a bear or deer. The drugs would likely make them more worry free and likely to flee or fight with a serious wound. If I were a policeman watching how my carry gun performed on a bear that allowed him to climb a tree, after a perfectly centered chest shot I would certainly consider a bigger gun! It seems to me many criminals are on dope and they would be like shooting an adrenalin filled bear!

So what are the cartridges which are failures, and the cartridges which are gems in the handgun world according to my experience with hundreds of bears killed? The bad choices are the 38 caliber the 9mm, and the 40S&W. These three should be strictly police work, targets or plinkers. The 40 S&W, and 9mm need cleaning and attention daily. I have seen plenty of these semi-autos fail to cycle with pine needles jammed into them and leaf mulch or dirt in the action. They seemed to have the highest level of cleaning and maintenance needed by far. Revolvers on the other hand seem to be trouble free and made for hunting!

The next group of guns can kill bears but I would certainly not consider them hunting guns. The 357 magnum is able to kill a bear much better then the 9mm and the 38 special even though they actually shoot the same bullets. The 357 mag is much better then the 40S&W as well. The 357-magnum case is just a bigger capacity shell able to provide much better performance. If I were a cop it’s likely what I would carry based on what I saw it do to bears of all sizes. Don’t mistake me here, I don’t like it as a hunting gun for big game especially bears. The 45ACP is another gun which worked but not what I would like in a bear, or big game crumpling handgun. I think soft point bullets with maximum loads would give you a false sense of security for bear backup as well. I don’t see the hard cast bullets in 357 mag being enough better to trust 100 percent of the time. They are not what I would carry and I would never suggest anyone hunt even the smaller black bears or deer with one. The .44 special was a decent performer but again it fell short of the crumple effect I like to see in a bear hunting gun.

This next group is where I think the minimum line is drawn. The 41 magnum and the 10mm seem to have the power to really make an impression
on a bear. I have seen both these cartridges knock bears down and break leg bones. Something the others just don’t seem to be able to manage
consistently. These guns shoot over 1000 fps with bullets well into the 200-grain weight category. They seem to have nearly equal power and
accuracy as well. This is where I would suggest a minimum bear hunting handgun for close range start. They are certainly less than 50 yard guns but a great tool for bait and hound hunting. I would not suggest this cartridge as a backup or self defense against bears, only for hunting.

Finally the best group of guns. These are cartridges, which have never failed to decide matters and have the ability to crumple a bear in his tracks most of the time. The .44 magnum, the 45 long colt, and the 454. I have killed dozens of bears with the .44 magnum in my life and I don’t recall a single one running off after the first shot. I have recovered very few bullets and have broken the bones of the shoulder and legs countless times. These guns are more like rifles in performance then the typical police handguns I’ve seen so often. With a 240 grain hollow point going 1200 or more FPS the .44 magnum revolver is at the top of the heap as a commonly used hunting handgun. With Randy Garrett's hard cast ammo it will whistle though the shoulders of any bear in America. My .44 magnum was a Ruger Red hawk with a 7.5” barrel. It was an easy to shoot gun with plenty of crumple power. The same gun in 45 Long colt or 454 would be as good at getting the job done. I also have a 4” barrel Smith and Wesson Mountain gun that is as good but do to the lower Velocity of the short barrel it has a distance limitation of about 40-50 yards in my opinion. I consider these the proper size handguns for hunting the big game of the world.

The final “sub-category” are the wildcats, the contenders, and the new big bore revolvers. There is now a whole host of big bore revolvers like the 480 Ruger, the 50 caliber S&W, and the 50 Linebaugh. There is even a 45/70 revolver available now! Clearly all these are excellent bear killers if you decide to pack the additional weight and handle the massive recoil forces.

Keep these three factors in mind when deciding on a handgun for big game or bears. Make certain it has 1000 fps impact velocity, not muzzle velocity. .40 caliber or greater diameter, and finally, heavy bullets in the mid 200-grain weight range or bigger. With handguns so long as the impact velocity is about 1000 fps the best way to improve power and visual effect is by increasing diameter and weight of the bullet.

Remember also there are ways of having an effective increase in bullet diameter without changing caliber. Make sure if you use hard cast bullets you have the largest flat nose on the bullet possible also known as the “meplat”. Randy Garrett loads a bullet in his ammo which has a large flat nose which is almost bore diameter! This has an enormous effect on bullet impact over a pointed or rounded nose bullet. Granted the over all diameter has not changed but the bullets impact diameter has improved by a whole bunch with such a big flat nose.

One other thing to consider, don’t think that just because you load a heavy hard cast bullet you have the most powerful load for your gun. This is a very common mistake. Those big heavy bullets will often whistle clean through a big bear like a field tipped arrow. The bears will die but often show little bullet impact reaction. They also tend to run off and die a great distance away. In my experience a high velocity hollow point bullet will cause a significant impact reaction and almost always allow an additional shot while the bear is stunned. The bullets about 240-260 grains in weight as fast as you can drive them will always show a greater impact effect then the heavy hard cast bullets do. They don’t penetrate as well or break big bones as well, but they don’t need to on a black bear. I have shot clean through many many black bears broadside with a 240-grain hollow point bullet at 1200-1300fps muzzle velocity. Upon impact the bears will stop and spin around biting at the wound and struggle to move away. With the many I have shot using a 300 plus grain hard cast bullets, they have launched out of sight like a rocket. Showing little if any reaction to being hit.


Don’t mistake those big heavy hard cast bullets for the most powerful ammunition your gun can use. They are when matched to the proper game, like buffalo, moose, elk, and many African species. However for the typical 250 to 500 pound soft skinned black bear they are a mistake to use.

Consider what works better on a deer shot through the lungs. A 375HH with a 300 grain solid having 4500 foot pounds of energy, or a 270 caliber rifle shooting a 130 grain soft point bullet with only 2400 foot pounds of energy? Clearly you see the energy is far greater and the bullet weight and diameter is bigger on the 375HH. Upon impact the 300-grain solid blows a hole right through and you cannot even tell if you hit the animal. With the explosive 130-grain bullet from the .270 the deer will launch into the air with a nerve reaction and fall within a few steps. It’s the projectile that decides the result much of the time, not the perceived, or calculated power your gun has.

Don’t focus so much on muzzle energy, or the hype surrounding heavy hard cast bullets. The hard-cast bullets do have exceptional penetration, but at the cost of small diameter wounds which don’t often have the same effect as the bigger diameter hollow point wounds which have much more of a shocking or stunning effect. The benefits an explosive soft point or hollow-point will provide you with is a certain visual reaction, and significant tissue trauma. The heavy hard cast bullets are designed for exceptional penetration only. Randy is a friend of mine we have sat and talked about this paradox of bullet choice many times. Black bears absolutely realize more trauma from higher velocity soft bullets, or hollow points. The super hard-cast heavy bullets pass through so quickly with so little transfer of bullet impact that the reaction is poor. Yes both designs will kill bears, but the faster pass through of the solids will make your effort to locate the bear much longer. Often I have seen hunters consider their shot a miss because the bear will show no reaction at all to being hit. If this kind of bullet is chosen the best solution is to break bones and hope the fragments of projected bone will assist in the penetration of important organs like the lungs and heart. If brown bears are the main target then the heavy hard cast bullets make sense. They can be 4-6 times the weight of a black bear and you will likely be shooting for shoulder bones on these big bears. Then the big hard cast bullets are the perfect choice.

I have not come to these conclusions by seeing one or two bears killed, but by seeing as many as several hundred killed. Anyone can see a bear shot with spectacular results once or twice and assume the cartridge bullet combination is perfect. However seeing the same combination twenty, thirty, or more times really starts to give you higher resolution repeatable results. The results that carry the most weight are the ones with the greatest resolution or highest numbers. I have heard countless hunters claiming that their XYZ caliber and bullet is the perfect choice. When asked why they think this, the reply is that they shot a bear with it one time and it worked perfectly. Well in my opinion one time does not make for a very scientific or credible set of facts! This works the other way as well. Plenty of people will make or see a bad shot on game and assume they need a bigger gun. When in fact they only needed to make a better shot!


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#961247 - 08/12/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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250 grain Hornady XTP first, 300 grain XTP second. Partitions work like wad cutters in their pistol loads and you sure as heck don't need hard cast for bears. JJ put it well in that respect. My results echo his.

JJ, the .45 ACP doesn't fire a 240 or 250 grain bullet. You have your facts wrong on the police officers bullets. The biggest common factory load is a 230 grain hollow point at about 850 fps in .45 ACP. There are few good performing 230 grain .45 ACP loads on the market that penetrate animals, since they are engineered to kill humans, which are wimps by comparison. I am willing to bet he was shooting Speer "flying ashtray" 200 grain hollowpoints, which are engineered to penetrate about 6 inches, like most .45 ACP "personal defense" loads. Were you able to recover any of the bullets? Had he used a bullet designed for expansion and penetration for critters and not humans, the round would have performed better....much better in my
experience.

One other correction you may want to make is, 9mm bullets are not the same diameter or weight of .357 bullets. 9mm's are .356/.357" diameter (depending on the use, mostly .356" diameter) where .357 bullets are .358" diameter.

The .357 performs extremely well with 158 and 180 grain Hornady XTP bullets. I have shot other soft points into critters fired from .357's and they go clear through like wad cutters with very little tissue trama. Hollow points work the best with deer and black bears in all pistol calibers. Leave the cast and hard cast bullets for extreme penetration in big tough critters. Black bears as JJ stated, are not hard to kill and have very soft, thin skin. Their bones are not large and heavy either. Good hollowpoints driven as fast as possibly safe work extremely well.

My favorite load is a 240 grain Hornady XTP moving along at 1,500 fps out of my 10.5" barreled Ruger Super Blackhawk. It simply crumples everything. A 250 grain XTP in your .45 LC at 1,200 fps will be the ticket for sure. Flinch


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#961248 - 08/12/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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When a hunter like a cop comes to hunt with me and has loaded his ammo himself for the hunt, or is using factory loads I have no choice but to believe his statements on what he has with him. I did not disassemble the loads or weigh the bullets to check them.

Regarding the diameter of the 357 and 9mm well you're absolutely right..........They are about .001 difference I stand corrected they are not EXACTLY the same. However for the purpose of the article and the intent of the description they are absolutely equal in size


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#961249 - 08/12/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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Quote

During my early years as a Professional Hunter I was using dogs to hunt lions and bears. I took out a number of guys from the mid-west and eastern states for bears during the spring Idaho hunts and the fall Washington hunts. It was not unusual to take 20 or 30 hunters out per year and shoot 30-40 bears per season. The Idaho regulation allowed 2 bears per hunter per year and the Washington regulations allowed only one fall bear per person.



JJ,

What did you feed your hounds so they could tree that many bears? Is this hunting both the spring and fall season?

The best houndsmen/guides around here have treed/killed up to near 20 bears per fall season for their clients in a good year but these are exceptional houndsmen/guides who have great hounds that won't run trash. A great "strike" dog is a must if one wishes to be successful and consistent in treeing bears. These houndsmen also rest their hounds so they are top notch for each outing. At best their hounds might tree up to 4 bears a week but they would have to do it consistently for at least 7 weeks to kill 28 bears which would be an incredible pace for the best pack of bear hounds. Even doing everything right with the right conditions, high bear densities, great hounds etc the best houndsmen around here would be darn lucky to kill over 20 bears in the fall season.

I know you are a "Professional" hunter so share your secrets for killing 30-40 bears a year. Did you run bears started off bait? Surely you had more than one pack of hounds to tree bears?

Sorry if I hijacked this thread a little (grin).

MtnHtr

#961250 - 08/13/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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Between myself and the guys working the business we had around 30 dogs at any given time. I had the fewest at either 4 or 5. Keeping the same dogs functional for years was a challange to say the least. We all had more then normal "turnover" as dogs come and go over the seasons.

Many guys here with 9-5 jobs that had dogs would literally beg you to use their dogs to keep them tuned up and in shape for the weekends they wanted to hunt with them. Having the dogs to run bears or getting a friend to help with his dogs during the spring damage season was just a phone call away. No self respecting hound hunter would turn down the chance to hunt his dogs during the spring damage season! Even if he could not go himself he would want you to use his dogs!

We also baited the bears to start the dogs from baits. I did not have a good strike dog, because they were so expensive and had similiar mortality to any other dog. Just not worth the expensive risk for me. I'm not sure where you were hunting but here in the state of Washington it was never a real struggle to run a bear every single day, many times we could run and kill two per day.

When we hunted Idaho the dogs would be in a long race and get pretty tired over the weeks we hunted. However in the cascades the race was quite short due to the reprod thickets the bears would just bay on the ground. Getting a bear to tree was less then 50% of the time along the coast and the west side of the cascades in the tree farms. The race there might be an hour or two at most.

There were plenty of times you could walk 100's of yards from laying tree to laying tree never touching the ground. Sometimes 4-6 feet above the ground. The bears would bay up under this stack of 10-12" diameter "pick-up sticks" and fight in one direction facing the dogs without having to run.

I cannot even tell you how much easier it was to hunt in Idaho because the bears would nealry all tree. In western Washington we had hardly any of them tree for weeks at a time.

We also have a general spring and fall season in Idaho and a spring permit season in Washington with a general hunting season in the fall. So this was 4 seasons in two states. The fall season in Washingting was and still is from August first til Sometime in November. Four months of hunting, minus the dear and elk seasons when hound hunting was closed. This 120 days was just during the fall season! During that period we hunted the baits because we could not use the dogs.

One other thing to consider is the rules when hunting in the damage control program. Every bear had to die. We could not trophy hunt. This was not my choice but the policy of the landowners and the F&G to reduce the damage to the tree farms to an acceptable level.

Just for the record we had a lot of 2 bear days, and quite a few 3-4 bear days in the early to mid 80's.

****************************************************
I answered this within the thread but it's not part of the original post. If you need more then this please PM EMail or start a new thread. I don't want to head this in another direction off topic any further.
*******************************************************


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#961251 - 08/13/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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[Quote] by Flinch

JJ, the .45 ACP doesn't fire a 240 or 250 grain bullet. You have your facts wrong on the police officers bullets. The biggest common factory load is a 230 grain hollow point at about 850 fps in .45 ACP. There are few good performing 230 grain .45 ACP loads on the market that penetrate animals, since they are engineered to kill humans, which are wimps by comparison. I am willing to bet he was shooting Speer "flying ashtray" 200 grain hollowpoints, which are engineered to penetrate about 6 inches, like most .45 ACP "personal defense" loads. Were you able to recover any of the bullets? Had he used a bullet designed for expansion and penetration for critters and not humans, the round would have performed better....much better in my
experience. [Quote]

Both Corbon and Buffalo Bore load 230 grain 45 acp's that are capable of 1000+ fps. They are advertised at 950 fps, but I have chronographed them out of 2 different 1911's and they were 1017fps and 1015 fpe respectively. As far as bullet wieght in the 45 acp many hand load the 240 and 250 grian 45 slugs. I have a friend that loads and shoots 260 grainers at 900 fps and a while back in one of the gun rags there was an article on shooting 300 gainers out of the 45 acp at around 800 fps if memery serves..... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />



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#961252 - 08/13/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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JJ,

Thanks for your reply, I could see 30-40 bear kills with an operation that big over two seasons. That many dogs would sure eat up alot of dog food and meat scraps!

We only have a fall season here in CA, and a dog training season that starts in August. No bait allowed so a great strike dog is a must and a good one will fetch up to several thousand dollars. Some of the good houndsmen do experience a few 2 bear days if the conditions and terrain are right. Most run a 4WD PU with the hounds on a rear platform (and front hood) and cruise the dirt roads until their dogs "strike" a bear (the telltale scent left by a bear).

Its pretty labor and time intensive to maintain a good pack of hounds, not to mention the gas, wear and tear on the 4WD rig. Vet bills too if a good hound suffers a serious injury.

The saddest hound tale I heard was up in Modoc Co. A group of fellas with hounds were running a good bear that bayed up in a cave and by the time the houndsmen got there the bear had killed and ate one of their best hounds. After killing the bear, the houndsmen erected a cross above the cave, hung the hound's collar on it and tearfully said a few good words in honor of their killed hound.

MtnHtr


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#961253 - 08/13/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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JJ:

Thanks for reposting this article. This completely changed my thinking about hardcast bullets. The hardcast theory always sounded logical but your experience clearly shows otherwise in the case of defense. I've never shot a bear with a HG and don't plan to. Then again, on some remote fishing hikes.....well ya never know.

I've been tempted by a Glock 10mm to replace my 4" .357 but now, I'm thinkin' that maybe a Taurus Ti 44 mag is the way to go. In fact, I'd think your 1200 fps threshold would be doable in the 3"-4" barreled versions with no starin.

Plus....I might even be able to shoot it........ <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

JimF

Bravo

#961254 - 08/13/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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My chioce would be and is the "335 Grain Cast WLN" I have killed killed quite a few head of game with LBT style hard cast both large and small game and have never found the LBT style hard cast to be wanting in terminal performance. I specicaly mentioned the LBT as all hard cast shapes are not equall in on game terminal performance........... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />



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#961255 - 08/13/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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Ah, Jim, you want to shoot one of the standard 4 inch .44 Mags first. I've got one if you want to try it. They are a bit of a handful. My current hiking "bear guns" are my 1006 Smith and my 3 inch M60, .357. The .44 I use for serious big game chores. E

#961256 - 08/13/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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Touchet Wa. & Ellisras South ...
My 44 mag Smith and Wesson Mt. Gun is my absolute favorite carry gun for screwing around in the mountains when I feel the need to carry one.

240 grain XTP bullets at 1200fps are not that bad in the recoil Dept and shoot great on bears. Never failed to decide matters for me, and never felt the need for more. You could load this down to just above the 41 mag load level and still have a hella powerful black bear cartridge with comfortable recoil levels.

That 4" Mtn Gun is no bargain with Garrets 310 grain loads as I think it would start to rattle loose after a few hundred. Factory level loads are nice and work like magic to 30-40 yards.


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#961257 - 08/14/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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curdog4570 Offline
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curdog4570  Offline
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North texas usa
I've got Blackhawks in 41 and 44 mag and a Taurus Titantium Tracker in 41 mag .

Not sure about the tracker in 44, but in 41 the heaviest bullets can't be used . Cylinder is too short . My tracker is for CC . With the porting , effective barrel length is 3 in . Hard to get velocity up there .

I really like the Tracker , but don't use it on hogs .


Never holler whoa or look back in a tight place
#961258 - 08/14/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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Carson Offline
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Carson  Offline
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Tennessee
I'd use the 45/325gr. LFNPB from Cast Performace Bullets. I've used the Hornady XTP 300 grain on a mountain lion. Half (two of four) failed to exit on left shoulder to right hip shots. This was perfect deer load performance but leaves me wondering if a big, tough bear would prevent proper penetration on a less than perfect broadside lung shot. My second choice would be the 300 grain Speer soft point. They should expand some but not radically like the Hornady XTPs. I did see one that had been shot through a bear and it was opened up some but not completely upset to the point of lacking pentratiion. It was pictured in an article by Rick Jamison in Shooting Times, if memory serves. The subject was a game control officer out west who favored heavy, large caliber soft cast or soft point .45 Colt loads for his control on bear and lion. I've shot a 250 pound pig with conventional .44 Magnum Winchester 240 grain "soft point hollow point", by their description. They tended to come apart on difficult raking angles and didn't penetrate on back to front shots. They did work fine on broadside shots however. Cast bullets penetrate but don't seem to offer the shock of a well placed hollowpoint. Trouble is, what animal is going to let you pick your shots?

Last edited by Carson; 08/14/06.
#961259 - 08/15/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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logcutter Offline
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logcutter  Offline
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Central Idaho
Quote
Which of the following bullets would be your top choice(s) for black bear hunting in Maine this fall. I will be using a .45 caliber Ruger Bisley, and most likely buying my loads from either Buffalo Bore, Conley Precision Cartridge or Grizzly Cartridge (depending on the bullet I choose). Here are the bullets I am contemplating (in no particular order):

335 Grain Cast WLN
300 Grain Nosler Partition
300 Grain Hawk Flat Point (.035 Jacket)
300 Grain Hawk Hollow Point (.025 Jacket)
300 Grain Speer Plated Soft Point
300 Grain Hornady XTP-Mag
300 Grain Hornady XTP

Any help greatly appreciated, especially from those with experience with any of these bullets on game or in penetration tests, etc. Thanks a lot.

(Also posting this under Handguns forum.)


Rayco-All good bullets and some are to tough in my opinion for the 45LC.There is the neverending Cast/Jacketed debate that goes on and on then the Meplat size in cast.Penetration wise..The cast will win everytime.I have tested them in about everything.Does Meplat size matter?Heck,I don't know but garrett's ammo doesn't pack the largest Meplats around yet score game every year.Buffalo Bores 430 Cast for the 45-70 only has a .295 Meplat and is very well thought of as a big game killer.

My choice of the bullets you mentioned would be the standard XTP not Mag or the Speer Unicore.I have used both alot at all velocities in my .454 Casull.Infact,because of our new predator here in Idaho I just got through loading my .454 down to 1250 fps with 2400 and chose the 300 XTP(Not Mag) for the expansion and destruction it causes.A very tough bullet as is the 300 grain Speer.

Even though I have some 360 grain cast with a .370 Meplat,my choice would be the two I mentioned for Black Bear.My family won't eat them anymore so I quit hunting them in a State and area that is loaded with them.

Good luck on your choice and hunt and this is only my opinion from testing all the bullets you mentioned(except the Hawk) in my 454 at different velocities.I am not a fan of the Hawk only from test I have seen in the 45-70 with both jacket thickness's but that's the 45-70 not the 45 LC as you mentioned.

Jayco

#961260 - 08/15/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
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logcutter Offline
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logcutter  Offline
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Central Idaho
Rayco-I forgot I had this stashed away from McPhearson testing the 454 bullets.If you notice at the bottom in his handloads the 300 Hornady XTP at 1,000 fps(45-LC velocity) actually outpenetrates several of the full power 454 loads, including equaling the full house 454 Hornady XTP Mag in wet telephone books.
[Linked Image]

Jayco

#961261 - 08/15/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 8,310
Leanwolf Offline
Campfire Outfitter
Leanwolf  Offline
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Joined: May 2003
Posts: 8,310
Idaho
M.M., when I lived in Los Angeles, I booked a Black bear hunt with two guys who were professional bear guides and partners. They lived in Fontana, but hunted all over the State, plus had licenses to guide hunters in Arizona, and Nevada, for Mountain lions, etc. That was in 1984.

When I was in their camp, not too far north of Johnsondale, in Tulare County, they kept 28 dogs in camp, plus three top strike dogs. I killed a 400 pound boar their dogs had finally treed. It was a four hour chase up and down canyons and over some very rough mountains.

They'd also had dogs killed by bears before, when they could not get to where the dogs had bayed the bear, quickly enough. One of the partners had also been chewed on by a bear. That man had some awesome scars to prove it, too!!

(Anyone who takes Black bears for granted is a fool, in my opinion.)

There are, as you know, plenty of big Black bears, in Kalif. Lots of them in Idaho, too.

FWIW. L.W.


"Always go straight forward, and if you meet the devil, cut him in two and go between the pieces." (William Sturgis, clipper ship captain, 1830s.)
#961262 - 08/15/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
Joined: May 2003
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Leanwolf Offline
Campfire Outfitter
Leanwolf  Offline
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Posts: 8,310
Idaho
GENE WILLIAMS - "I've got Blackhawks in 41 and 44 mag and a Taurus Titantium Tracker in 41 mag .

Not sure about the tracker in 44, but in 41 the heaviest bullets can't be used . Cylinder is too short ."
___________________________________________________

G.W., I've been shooting .41 Mag. for many years, both S&W 57 and Blackhawk. (Plus in a Marlin 1894S, but that doesn't count for this conversation.)

Why do you want "the heaviest bullets" in a .41 Mag.???

I guarantee you that a Beartooth Bullets, 265 grains G.C. LBT bullet, or the Cast Performance 255 grains G.C. LBT bullet, will efficiently down virtually anything in the lower 48, and both will fit nicely in your Blackhawk.

On the Beartooth Bullets site, you can read about how one hunter killed a Musk Ox north of the Arctic Circle. Used a .41 Magnum and the 265 grains G.C. bullet. Shot through-'n-through the Musk Ox, and it went down right there. That's pretty good performance, in my book.

I've never seen any practical use for "heavier bullets" than a 265 grains bullet in the .41 Mag., but that's just my opinion.

Good luck.

L.W.


"Always go straight forward, and if you meet the devil, cut him in two and go between the pieces." (William Sturgis, clipper ship captain, 1830s.)
#961263 - 08/15/06 Re: Black Bear Handgun Bullets?  
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 22,976
GunGeek Offline
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GunGeek  Offline
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Posts: 22,976
NW Nevada
JJ – Great article… As soon as you said you made most of your kills with a handgun, I knew you were hunting with dogs. Back when you could hunt with dogs in California, we quickly learned that it’s a whole lot easier to run with a handgun than a rifle, while chasing the dogs. Also, when things get dicey, they usually get that way at bad breath range. I can remember one time (when I apparently lacked judgment) that a bear took one round from a .357 and the leapt down on one of the dogs. I ran up, kicked the bear over, straddled him and pumped 6 rounds of .44 mag into his chest…How’s that for up close? (These days, I’d stand back and pick my shots…But I’m a lot better with a handgun now, than I was when I was an early teen kid).

I started off handgunning for black bear with a Dan Wesson .357 which did the job. But when I switched to a .44 Magnum (6 Inch model 29 I think it was), difference was like night and day. With off the shelf 240 grain JHP’s, one round through the brisket and you could visibly see the fight being sucked out of the bears body. Time and time again, I could see the muscles loose their tone and go nearly flaccid in reaction to a close range hit from a .44 mag. That’s enough to make a believer out of me.

Like your client with the .45ACP, the .357 would get the job done, but the smart man wouldn’t try to get the job done with one shot from a .357. You shoot and continue to shoot until you get the desired effect.

Now, I have had luck with hard cast bullets on bear, but you need to know how to apply them. If you’re making the classic behind the shoulder shot, you’re wasting your time, and exactly what you describe is what will be the result…Zip – and no response.

We use hard cast bullets to break down bone structure…That’s what they do well. So use the hard cast bullets for shoulder shots. When employed against the shoulder, I’ve seen the most impressive responses from handguns, over any other load. I used the classic Lyman 429421 with great effect when I set about breaking shoulders.

But you’re right, for body shots, stick to the JHP’s…and your choice of the XTP is tops. Actually, any XTP of 240 grains or larger is a good choice against bear as a general load (given your 1000 fps impact velocity).

Your story really takes me back… I haven’t hunted bear since my teens.


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