View Full Version : Best pistol for New Mexico Bear?

November 28, 2006, 20:53
Asking a question on behalf of a friend looking for a handgun for wife to carry while horseback riding in New Mexico. They ran into a bear, (without incident, but a scare), a while back, and were looking for something she could carry if she had to shoot in an encounter. They were thinking Colt SAA in .44 mag, or a clone. I am suggesting double action in .44 mag or 45 LC. She is small framed, 5'3" and around 120lbs. Small hands. My vote was a Taurus/SW/Ruger in .44 or .357 mag. My thinking is double action is easier to use in a pinch, and she would have issues cocking and firing quickly with a large frame single action.

Any suggestions, criticisms, opinions?

November 28, 2006, 20:58
Glock 20. If you cannot do it with 15 10mm rounds, then it cannot be done.

Para Driver
November 28, 2006, 21:07
I would suggest a S&W 629 if you can find a nice one. Be careful with used 44 mags, as many handloaders disregard the manual and overload them.

Stainless, tough, dependable.. and you can get grip reduced to whatever she likes, a K-frame round butt might be very comfortable.. get it mag-na-ported and a double action tuned.

practice with light 44 spl loads, carry the heavy stuff...

November 28, 2006, 22:31
He should have her handle several handguns. Anything from a 40S&W to 10mm to 45ACP to 357 mag to 41 mag to 44 mag and 45 Colt. Let her pick what she like unless the handgun is really for him just saying it is for her. I would go for something in 40 S&W or 45 ACP. The reason is the price of ammo. Bullet placement would mean more than the differance between the cals I have listed. The ammo for the two I have picked is cheaper and that might let her shoot more. That would mean better bullet placement. The real choice is up to her. She will not shoot well if she does not like the handgun.

November 29, 2006, 00:32
Why a pistol?

November 29, 2006, 00:51
How about just riding the horse in the opposite direction?

November 29, 2006, 01:35
First of all, if she's contemplating discharging a firearm while riding horseback she needs to be DAMN CERTAIN the horse will tolerate it. The LAST thing she needs in a bear enconter, is a spooked horse throwing her off.

Secondly, ever hear of a "saddle carbine?" There's a reason they are called that.

My Armchair Commando opinion, is no handgun is truly 100% effective against a bear, ESPECIALLY one that is charging. Can you hit a soft ball that is bouncing up and down over the span of a foot or more, while coming at you at around 15 mph or so? (That about sizes up the brain of a bear charging.)

I can't. But then I'm no expert pistol shot either. Point is a pistol, against a bear, is a last ditch defense at best. Or a hunter being backed up by a rifle.

She's on horseback, buy a saddle scabbard and carry a rifle or shotgun with slugs. Back it up with a pistol, if you wish,(With a caliber starting with a "4".) but rely on a long gun as a primary weapon.

JMHO and keep in mind that not only am I an Armchair Commando, but a cowardly one as well.....

November 29, 2006, 03:34
Might I suggesst a shotgun?

November 29, 2006, 03:59
500 s&w if a pistol was the only choice. i would prefer an ar15 in 50 beowolf or 499. maybe even 458. i would want 15 or more shots with one hell of a nasty jacketed hollow point. bears are not something to be messed with, running is the first choice, the 2nd choice is empty the mag of 50 beowolf, the third choice is the 2nd mag. and the last choice is save the last two rounds, one for your horse one for you.

November 29, 2006, 06:48
+1 to Forrester. I suggested getting the hell away first, and a lever action second. She says she wants a handgun, and had made up her mind on the Colt SAA type without handling one. When I explained the difference between SA and DA it cooled that off. I don't have much experience horseback, and I'll ask if the horses are gunshy. Thanks again, armchair commando away, I appreciate it.

November 29, 2006, 08:50
Most horses will smell a bear before anyone sees it........they will get nervous and want to unass the area.......don't fight em and Forrester's advice will come true!!

Bawana jim
November 29, 2006, 11:02
I don't think she is worried about when she is on the horse guys, but when nature calls:biggrin: A handgun would make sense to have it on your person when your attacked. A rifle leaning against a tree while you do your business isn't going to help as much as a handgun on you would.

I am in agreement with Para driver on the 44 loaded with specials to practice and magnums to kill with. Only if the gal can handle it and if she is outdoorsy then she can handle a 44. Just my opinion:p


Para Driver
November 29, 2006, 12:26
I think 201% of horses are not gun trained.. evasion is the best defense certainly, but if your on your back, and Mr. Griz is dancing on your chest then a 44 mag is tough to beat...

a few years back, S&W made a 'mountain gun' or something like that. 4" 44 mag with round grip.. easier for her to handle. I HIGHLY recommend mag-na-porting it...

something like these on gunbroker.com

you shouldn't have any trouble finding one..

November 29, 2006, 14:26
This is a bit long winded but so am I!

I have taken numerous Black Bears with a pistol also Moose and most everything else. A good number of my pistol shots have been on rifle wounded bears ( read upset bears)!

Any Black bear and most anything else can be taken with a 44 mag or 45 long colt, loaded with good hard cast heavy bullets or XTP's. It's all in bullet placement and the proper bullets. Heavy bullets at around 1100fps is the way to go. If I had to use jacketed bullets it would only be XTP's. They stay together, most others I found did not! With either hard cast or XTP's, I always have an exit wound, ( Never have I not)!

I know that some claim it's impossible to hit a charging bear with a handgun and stop it. Well over the years, I have done it more than once while tracking wounded bears. I also have friends and neighbors that have done it to! I do most of my hunting with a 44 mag and always carry a 44 mag when tracking wounded bear for others. Keep in mind we are talking black bears here. When griz are involved it's a whole other matter and I am armed with a heavy rifle.

I have taken one black bear with a 357 mag and I WOULD NOT do it again unless it was him or me! I have also seen a rifle wounded bear, (hit at approx 15 feet), three times in the chest by a 357mag with heavy bullets. Those three shots were all touching (I give the guy credit, nicest group under stress you ever saw). It did turn/route the bear but he was later tracked to a den and killed by my 44 mag. Those are my only two incidents involoving the 357mag and bears.

IMHO: If the person can handle the recoil and size of the gun then a 44mag or 45 long colt with heavy hardcast bullets is the way to go. Double actions are great but if the person is small in size, most double actions are too big to use well. To much distance between the back of the grip and the trigger for a small handed person. If the double action won't work. I would pick a single action black hawk with a 4 5/8 barrel in either of the two calibers above. Load some 44 spl or low power 45 long colts and have the person train with them. You might even want to think about the Ruger Vaquero maybe with birds head grips if the persons hands are really small. Yes they are hard to reload compared to a double action. But I have yet to see a black bear that did not turn the other way, or die before I needed to reload! Recoil with heavy loads will be rough. But your not hunting with this or shooting it with heavy loads every day. Your using it as a last stand weapon. Practice with reduced loads and load it with the heavy stuff when headed to the woods. If I were training someone for bear protection I would keep them within 25 yds or less. With most of the training being at 15yds and under. If a bear is facing me and moving for me/acting funny. I draw the line at 25 yds. Thats my start shooting point.

Go with the 44mag or 45 colt in whatever gun fits the person. If thats at all possible/managable. I love the 45acp, 10mm, 357mag and all the others. But regardless of what anyone thinks I am here to tell you they are not great bear guns. Can you do it with one of them, Yep! But if your like me you will be wishing you had the bigger gun when the time comes. Now if the 44 mag or 45 colt is just to much for that person and a carbine can't be used. Then go with the 357 mag loaded with 180 grain hard cast lead or FMJ over large loads of 296 or 2400 powder. The 357 mag is better than nothing and can do the job in a pinch if you can get the bullets to the vitals.

To be honest! The chances of a non wounded black bear attacking you are just not that great! About the only problems we have with bears are two: Young black bears pushed out by Mom. They get a bit weird sometimes. The second being right in the first part of spring. Bears are just out and about, hungry and looking for a easy first meal. Those are the only times that we have weird encounters with blackies. They bust down my bird feeders in the spring and get in the trash. They scratch themselves on my deck and drive the old hound nuts! Unless your chasing wounded ones or bear hunting with dogs. Your chances of a bad black bear encounter are slim.

Sorry for the novel! :)

November 29, 2006, 14:32
Sorry but I do not know how to eddit my post and that approx., 15 feet should be approx., 15 yds in my last post.


November 29, 2006, 15:22
Originally posted by skeeterbay
Sorry but I do not know how to eddit my post and that approx., 15 feet should be approx., 15 yds in my last post.



To edit your post, go back to it and look for the little picture of a pad and pencil http://www.falfiles.com/forums/images/edit.gif at the top. Click on it and it will open your post up for you to edit it.

November 29, 2006, 16:04
XCPD69: Thank You!

I am an idiot when it comes to computers and many other things, as well! To much of my youth spent hunting. Very little spent in school!

November 29, 2006, 16:24
Originally posted by skeeterbay
XCPD69: Thank You!

I am an idiot when it comes to computers and many other things, as well! To much of my youth spent hunting. Very little spent in school!

Remember two things:

1) Ignorance is a lack of knowledge. Stupid is an inability to absorb knowledge. One can be cured. The other is permanent.

2)The older I get, the more I realize just how ignorant AND stupid I am...


November 29, 2006, 20:00
:bow: :bow: :bow:

November 29, 2006, 22:41
The Black Bear in New Mexico just hate the sound of a camera shutter. I've kept them at bay with just that for 30 some years hiking and fishing in the mountains.

No!! You can't have any of my Lunch . Get the Fug outa here.

The confrontation....back again and madder than hell at me.
No!!! you can't have my Fuggin samitch and I ain't sharing with you cause your drooling all over yourself.

Good bear.... get moving

Good little Bear found a beehive in a log and has his own lunch finally.
I couldn't stick around after he pissed the bees off but there was a mess of honey in that log.

Just learn a bit about Bear behavior and do not get between a sow and her cub.

Mad Dog 7.62
November 30, 2006, 14:53
Originally posted by chromestarhustler
500 s&w if a pistol was the only choice. i would prefer an ar15 in 50 beowolf or 499. maybe even 458.

I don't know any women that can handle the .500 S&W. If you do, please don't tell us about it as I am sure they make Rosanne Barr look like a waif.

Also, they are talking about NM blackies here, not Alaska grizzlys.

Read skeeterbays post.......hell, I think I am going to print it out and keep a copy at work. "What gun should I buy to carry in bear country" is something I hear at least once a day. A couple days ago I had an idiot looking at a Bersa .380 auto to carry griz country. I wish I would have gotten his name, I would buy some life insurance on him, 'cause his life expectancy is pretty short in my book. This guy did not suffer from mere ignorance, but pure stupidity.