Reasonably Decent Bear Protection In A Handgun


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
I watched the video above and its almost sure to open your eyes in how difficult it can be to stop a bear with a hand gun.
notice they stated they had a great many body hits fail to penetrate the bears vitals with the handgun ammo being used.,
yes both the 10mm and 44 mag have been successfully used to kill bears and successfully used in self defense

glock 20/10mm with aftermarket barrel for more effective cast bullet use/accuracy


,Id point out , after reading years of reports, two basic facts are obvious,
your chance of being attacked or mauled is very very low,

and if attacked ,that in most cases you'll be forced into a very close range confrontation ,

under a very limited amount of time on a fast moving attacker,
Id doubt you'll have time to place more than 3 shot's maximum,
and your life might depend on the results of a single hits lethal damage.
personally Id prefer the 44 mag revolver with a 300 grain hard cast bullet over 21 grains of H110 powder,
but I would certainly not feel defenseless if all I had was a 10mm pistol,
there are 180-200 grain hard cast bullet loads over about 10 grains of blue dot, have worked well on hogs, and deer
keep in mind no handgun has near the stopping power of a 12 ga slug,
or a 45/70 or 450 marlin with a hard cast 400 grain bullet

keep in mind its a knowledge of the opponents anatomy,
your skill at accurately placing shots under stress,

and precise shot placement more than power or magazine capacity,
that makes ALL the difference

below some vaguely related videos

BTW the 41 mag in a longer barrel revolver,
and if its properly loaded with heavy hard cast gas check bullets,
has a noticeable power advantage over a 10 mm handgun

consider the fact that your very un-likely to have time to get off more than 2-3 shots in a bear defense situation, a 41-44 mag revolver seems to potentially hold some advantages over a larger capacity 10mm semi auto.
yeah its mentally comforting to have a 15 shot mag capacity,
but only hits to the vitals count in stopping a bear attack!

below some 44 mag related info, notice hard cast 44 mag revolvers far out perform the typical 10mm,
but realistically if your going to be shooting in a defensive confrontation,
you'll be lucky if you can get off more than 2-3 reasonably well aimed shots,
so magazine capacity .
while mentally it might be comforting its all but meaningless under real conditions.
as a defensive cartridge a 10mm is in my opinion close to ideal for a human opponent,
but it is certainly a bit less effective on a bear that might be significantly larger and much more heavily muscled.
I recently read of a fishing guide that carried a glock 10mm,
who was mauled and killed in ALASKA ,
they found he never got off a shot because,
he had never chambered a cartridge,

and he died with a full magazine.
witnesses stated he was attacked at very close range ,
unexpectedly , he drew his pistol but never got off a shot

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The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member


either option below should work well if you shoot accurately

while either option works great on deer or hogs, for defensive use..
Id marginally prefer this option, as it has a third lube grove and a bit more bearing/bore contact area

but it would require a marginally faster twist rate.

357 mag cast hunting bullet (link above) just a bit of info,
the hard cast gas check 357 mag bullet from my 8" revolver ,
has proven to be consistently lethal on hogs and deer
H110 or 2400 powder preferred

keep in mind jacketed bullets are filled with comparatively soft lead
thats designed to expand,
a hard cast bullet of a decent weight, for the caliber used, like a 165-170 grain 357 mag bullet\or
like a 300 -320 grain in a 44 mag or a 450-500 grain in a 500 mag will almost always ,
provide deeper penetration than jacketed ammo will in most targets,
as they expand a bit slower and to slightly less diameter on impact.
(being a harder alloy and generally marginally lower velocity due to increased weight.)
you frequently find jacketed bullets under the far side hide on larger hogs , you will almost never see a hard cast bullet fail to exit.

two large leaks, in the hide, for more rapid blood loss, is always preferred over a single hole in dangerous game in my opinion,
realistically your chances of ever having to defend yourself from a bear charge is about as remote as getting hit by lightning.
but having the skill, having acquired that skill through constant, practice and use of decent equipment might save your life
hard cast bullets only expand slightly but tend to penetrate much further than softer jacketed bullets of similar weight,
every choice is a compromise in power, recoil , accurate shot placement and control.
your skill, speed, accuracy, dexterity and practice will matter
shot capacity is of very little concerned as you'll be very lucky
at the best of times, to have the time to get off more than one or two shots,
in a real charge at close range, but accuracy counts,
a well aimed 357 mag with a hard cast 170 grain bullet hitting center mass,
might be marginal
a 10mm, semi auto with a 15 shot capacity may sound impressive,
but if you only have time for one or two shots
, it may be a great choice but, a 44 mag with a bit more power ,
without the larger mag revolvers recoil, may be a better choice,
that /will easily out perform a 500 mag with 3 times the power with a grazing hit
precise shot placement under stress is critical to getting the desired results,
just punching hide randomly won't work,
,you can't miss punching through the vitals fast enough to make up for bad shot placement
it doesn't matter much if the bear dies a minute after reaching you, you'll
very likely be dead in under 15 seconds if he does!
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The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member

Glock 20 - 30 Round Magazine - 10mm - GunShowMags

while a lot of people seem to view the 10mm glock with hard cast bullets as excellent bear
protection (and yes bears have been killed using a 10mm) I think its marginal, but its also very easy to carry
personally I think your likely to only get one or two shots off,
if your using a glock or any handgun for defensive use in the field from things that claw and bite!
so Id prefer a 44mag or larger caliber revolver
where the 10mm excels is in personal defensive use on two legged
predator's, and the better designed 150-180 grain 10mm projectiles provide adequate penetration,
but if you hunt deer and hogs a 10mm loaded with those heavy 200-220 grain bullets,
are extra insurance, that you get the intended penetration reaching the vitals from odd angles
personally Id prefer a magnum revolver of at t least 44 caliber , if charged by a bear,
as I doubt youll have time to get off more than two or three shots maximum

but theres been several recent bear charge incidents where a 10mm certainly worked out.
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The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member

keep in mind, that if you prefer a semi auto with a large capacity magazine,
the glock pistols in 10 mm have a 15 shot capacity and 30 shot glock mags are available,
a hard cast gas check bullet weight near 200 grains will provide both deep penetration
(mandatory for good results)(as is decent shot placement)..
and if you want reasonable velocity in a 10mm hand gun like a glock model 20 or 40
youll need to hand load ammo in most cases, if you want to keep cost reasonable,
as commercial 10mm heavy bullet ammo can easily cost $1.00 a cartridge
obviously a 6" 10mm barrel designed to use cast bullets helps

as always do the math and test your reloads,
for accuracy and flawless function,:rolleyes::rolleyes:

if you graph out velocity vs bullet weight and test penetration,
and calculate energy potentially delivered to the target,
you want something in the 180 grain-220 grain weight range

commercial ammo
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The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member

9mm--4 cases, all successfully stopped the attacks.
.357 Mag--3 cases. 2 were successful, 1 was not.
.40 caliber--3 cases. All were successful.
10mm--1 cases. It was successful.
41 Mag--2 cases. Both were successful.
44 Mag--12 cases. All were successful.
45 caliber--4 cases. All were successful.
45 Super Pistol--1 case. It was successful.
454 Casull--1 case. It was successful.


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
watch all videos,
interesting example of the huge difference a change in projectile type cam make in performance



The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
if you shoot a 44 mag or DAN WESSON 445 hard cast gas check 300-310 grain bullets pushed by 21 grains of h110 in a 44 mag,
or 29 grains of h110 in a dan wesson do a decent job on penetration and accuracy.
obviously shot placements critical to getting good rapid lethality, but heavy 44 caliber hard cast bullets are very effective,
keep in mind shots will be at very close range under stressful conditions



The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
over several decades I've, used revolvers and pistols, generally with revolvers, 6"-10" barrel length,
and pistols shorter 4"-5" barrels
Ive used a 357 mag, 45 ACP , 10mm, 41 mag, 44 mag, 454 cassul, 445 DWSM and 500 S&W mag ,
now Ill grant you I rarely try shots over 70-80 yards and while that might be a limitation in many guys minds I can say ,
that generally as the bullet mass and energy increased with cartridge choice so did the effective and immediate noticeable results,
and generally depth of projectile penetration, a 41 mag and larger works very well on deer, a 44 mag is marginal, but still 100% lethal on elk.
I found the 445 DWSM and 44 mag work on everything, and the 500 mag is exceptionally effective,
but of course its heavy, loud , expensive and has to much recoil to be easy to use for many people
even a 45 acp, or 357 mag will kill deer and hogs,
but as always shot placement and a knowledge of game anatomy,is critical to getting fast results.
don't be surprised if game runs, after bullet impact, that does not indicate a bad hit,
handguns don't always drop game in their tracks very often, but they are lethal.
shot placement is critical to getting good results


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
with the test ammo used,
4.6"=1307 FPS, while with identical ammo the 6" version showed a 1387=FPS average or it gained 80 FPS with the added length

a 440-510 grain hard cast in the 500 mag,
can provide impressive and consistent results
but the larger diam of the 500 provides more shock effect on game,
simply due to its larger surface area destroyed.
Id also point out that you really don't need this power level,
but it never hurts if you have access and required skills
a good shot using a 44 mag with 310 grain hard cast bullets,
can shoot through an elk and have the bullets exit,
after destroying the games vitals.

44 caliber

Double Cavity Mold C430-310-RF

Double Cavity Mold C430-310-RF by LEE RELOADING PRODUCTS430 Grain 310 Grain Round with Flat Requires Gas Check handles and sprue plate are included with mold

50 caliber

Double Cavity Mold C501-440-RF

Double Cavity Mold C501-440-RF by LEE RELOADING PRODUCTS.501 Diameter 440 Grain Round with Flat Requires Gas Check Handles and sprue plate are included with mold. Produces a .501 diameter 440 grain round nose bullet suitable for a cartridge like 500 S&W.




just a bit of info on these lee "440 grain" 500 S&W bullet molds ,
with the gas check and lube on these cast bullets,
at least using my 95% WW alloy and 5% tin, mix,
the projectiles actually weigh about 470 grains
they are quite accurate (WITH THE GAS CHECKS)
the best load for accuracy, after a great deal of testing.. 22 grains of blue dot
Its certainly not a max load
but its very accurate and it certainly hammers hogs

if you want a good 500 S&W plinking load that same lee 440 grain cast bullet over 12 grains of unique powder is at about 1000 fps

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The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member

rapidly expanding bullets good for human opponents would fail miserably on a bear defense gun
lacking mandatory required penetration


Active Member
Have been giving some thought to a semi-auto in 10mm versus my usual woods carry gun, Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt, hard cast 300’s. I don’t practice enough and my daily carry arms are semi-autos. I will be giving up a bunch in power, but believe my hit percentage could experience a quantum leap in a bear defense situation.


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
yes, most pistols ARE rather anemic , while I consider the 10mm near ideal for human predators, its not my first choice for hunting or bear protection,
but I've shot and own both a 445 DWSM and a 500 S&W, rather frequently over the last few years.
and, in the years past, with proper hard cast handloads Ive shot completely through an elks chest , with just a 44 mag,
both those handguns are considerably, more powerful handguns,
thus I have with the newer magnums a considerable increase in power/penetration ,
over the 44 mag 10" barrel ' revolver that hunted with for decades,
as it throws a 310 grain bullet at about 1379 fps
so I have no doubt they would prove perfectly adequate with good shot placement
the 445 dwsm throws a 330 grain hard cast at 1500 fps, the 500 mag throws a 480 grain at 1400 fps easily,
both shoot through a rather amazing amount of that ballistic gello in videos, both easily shoot though more than 60 inches
the best hunting load I found so far in my 500 mag revolver is the lee hard cast gas check bullet listed as weighting 440 grains,
but after lube and gas check are added they weight about 478 grains cast from 95% WW alloy and 5% pure tin.
is 22 grains of BLUE DOT POWDER, I have not chrono graphed them , but they are very consistent and accurate in my 7.5" revolver
and Ive yet to recover a projectile Ive shot hogs with.(even out at 60 plus yards)


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Active Member
Yes, hunting with the handgun is a whole different proposition when you are given enough time. I took a guy out around 1990 for a brown bear and he took one, although not a large one, with his Contender in .375 JDJ using the Hornady 270 SP. He hit it twice through the chest whilst it was on the move from a rest on a sand dune, game over.


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member

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