Handgun Defense Against Bears

I have always been of the opinion that people thinking they were going to sledge down an attacking grizzly with their trusty .44 Magnum (or any other handgun) were living in a fantasy world. I may have to revise that opinion.

Having said that, I’ve also had a theory, which I have shared with very few people, for obvious reasons, that a 9mm autopistol would be as good a choice as anything else for bear defense. There’s the idea, to which some people subscribe, that a .357 Magnum is a better bear gun than a .44 Magnum, because penetration and accuracy are what counts, and a .357 gives you a similar level of penetration to a .44 but is easier to shoot accurately. Similarly, a 9mm with the right ammo is a deep diggin’ terror but hugely easier to fire accurately than either the .357 or .44 with anything approaching full-power loads.

As I said, I have mentioned this idea to very few people because so many folks “know” a 9mm’s not enough gun for a bear. Many people would think the idea of using a 9mm for bear defense was insane. But I have said to friends, “If I were in the woods, I’d just tote my normal 9mm carry gun, in my normal carry holster. I’d probably change the ammo to something more deeply penetrating versus my normal carry load, but that’s it. I’d rather bet my life, under stress, on the gun I’m more grooved-in on than anything else.” In any event, that’s been my theory. That’s what logic said to me. Of course, theory/logic and what happens in reality are frequently two different things. In this case, maybe not.


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