View Full Version : Best vest bear pistol

01-08-2008, 11:17 PM
After coming face to face with a blackbear in Big Creek ID last summer when armed with a Sage 9ft 3wt, when I had stupidly listened to my pacifist buddies abt the lack of anything like bears in ID, I am not going to find myself in that position next year in MT. I own an old Browning Hi-Power in 9mm, with big mags, and wonder about the stopping power if I have to use it. Sure like 14 vs 5 rds (S&W .357 in hammerless is my next chioce,) and the ability to reload another mag, but I know the weight would not be fun. Any suggestions? Not going hunting for bear, and after last year will probably never see one, but would look and feel just like an absolute fool if it happened again and I came out of the bathroom like Michael Corleone did not want to when he killed the bad cop in Godfather. Watson

PS: If weapons are taboo on the forum just go ahead and shoot me.

Elk riverrat
01-09-2008, 12:02 AM
what you are looking for is stopping power, not numbers of shots, most say .44 mag at the least.

unless you are of not the jumpy easily type (like my brother) I'd say leave it at home. My brother would get you ate for sure. "Barnie Fite, type"

But I know where you are coming from, I was raised with a gun in my hand, my dad was a church elder for years and always had his .44 S&W Bulldog in his pocket, yes even at church. He was a business owner and it was habit. Only place I feel at the mercy of nature is when I'm in the Yellowstone backcountry. We are not always at the top of the food chain.

01-09-2008, 12:09 AM
The best one is the one you have in your hand. Few of the pistol calibres that you would keep in your vest are going to stop a bear in its tracks. The loud bang will scare one off. Pepper spray may be a better choice as it will make the bear quite uncomfortable. If you have to keep a pistol, that little S&W 5 shot 357 is probably a better choice than an auto. I've never seen a wheelgun jam, but have had semi autos jam. It's not frequent with a good semi but it does happen.

To really stop an angry bear, I don't think any concealable pistol is something I'd want to rely upon. A 44 mag, a 454 causill, a 50 S&W or any of the high powered handguns maybe, a rifle yes, a 45acp, a 357mag, a 9mm, is not going to stop a bear with enough reliability to make me feel comfortable.

The bang may just scare it off and make you feel better. Again, bear spray would probably be a better choice. Now, 2 legged predators is a different story.

Carrying any firearm inside the national parks is a no-no and without a concealed carry permit that is valid in the state in which you are fishing (some states recriprocate (spelling?) and some do not). Check the laws first. Getting a firearms violation will ruin your fishing trip for darn sure.

Personally, I carry when it's legal. I have a carry permit for my state and the surrounding states honor that permit. I do not carry when fishing in the park because it is against the law. I don't think I would consider a pistol as anything more than a last stand against a bear though.

I know it's probably not the answer you're looking for but that's my personal opinion.


01-09-2008, 12:15 AM
I can't imagine that any hand gun would have enough stopping power to turn around a mad mother grizzly. I mean, I'm sure that even a .22 would stop one if you hit her in the eyeball, but those animals are just so big and meaty!

I think a big can of bear mace works best. If the animal can't even see you or smell you because all it's mucus membranes have suddenly swollen all its orifices shut, and it's writhing on the ground in agony, seems to me you can get away safely. Plus, bear mace puts out a cone about 30' long and 10' tall, which in a hurry, is much easier to aim than a pistol. Not to mention safer (maybe you are a military guy or something similar, but many folks run a real risk of hurting themselves when trying to whip out a gun and shoot fast). It's also much stronger than what police are allowed to use on humans. Unfortunately, it's pretty expensive, like 50 bucks a can. But not so expensive when compared with a quality pistol and quality ammo.

I've argued with my uncle about this on the way to Slough Creek in Yellowstone. We ran into a black bear there, right in the middle of the trail. He got off the trail and walked around us rather nonchalantly. Uncle said he wish he had a gun. I said I think the mace is more effective and practical. Uncle said doesn't believe the mace would do much. I said I don't believe the pistol would do much. Uncle says it doesn't really matter, that he doesn't really have to worry about the bear, so long as he can run faster than I can. :biggrin:

Here is a link to one of the purveyors of bear mace. They make a pretty good case:


There is a lot of good info on that site. Read the testimonial of the owner of that company. Especially find the video on that site of the bear charging. Ask yourself if you could react confidently and accurately with deadly force in the split second you have to make a decision whether or not what's coming at you is even a threat. Me, with my bear mace, I can shoot first and ask questions later. With a pistol, I'd hesitate for a second, even though I've owned guns all my life. The bear in that video would get me. It's just not the same kind of situation at all as hunting a whitetail.

Just my thoughts. If you are gonna depend on a hand gun, I think it should be a sawed-off 12 gauge. Of course, you would need to hide it well. Good luck on your decision!

01-09-2008, 09:22 AM
What about that new 500 round they came out with, while i truly admire my fishing buds, i always carry a jar of honey to throw on them ifn's we ever run into that situation:cool:
Go to a gun range with a running target, one that runs up on you at 300 MPH hour, you really have to concentrate & it ain't even bobbing or wobbling:eek:


01-09-2008, 09:48 AM
I was fishing with a guide out of Cody, Wyoming several years ago. We had seen a mother grizzly and her cubs coming out of Yellowstone the day before on the river we were going to fish. My oldest son was with us so I was really concerned about bears. I noticed that the guide had a very large can of bear spray. So, I said, "that sure is a large can of bear spray." He replied, "yes, my buddy who also guides got charged by a female grizzly earlier this year. He almost used his whole can before she stopped. So, I went and got a bigger can." Thankfully, we did not see any bears that day. I think I would go with bear spray unless you could take a shotgun with slugs. I think that is what guides in Alaska carry. Of course, I would be flying to the northwest and could not take a gun without too much hassle. Even the bear spray would have to be acquired at the destination or shipped.

By the way, Big Creek is the only place where we have encountered a bear while fishing.

01-10-2008, 08:05 PM
a small pistol with one bullet just in case you can't out run your fat friend.

01-11-2008, 10:44 AM
I think that the mace should be the first option. Saying that, I do carry a .45 with 16 hollow points, 8 in each mag. This is not something I do for bears as much as people. This isn't something I do just when I am fishing either. I think of my Ruger like my American Express, "Never Leave Home Without It." I think this is a personal preference issue. One should choose something that gives them a comfort level that will help with further enjoying their fishing.

01-14-2008, 06:05 PM
Bullwinkle, Thanks for reminding me of why I should fish on my own. There would be nothing worse than having a bullet hole in my thigh, before being attacked by a bear!! What are friends for...bait?

Although its possible that you would put one through my temple and spare me the agony of being attacked by the bear.

The bear spray seems to be the best concealable option...

01-15-2008, 11:15 PM
When my dad and I ATV in Montana, we each carry a huge can of bear spray and I carry a sawed off 12g shotgun and my dad carries his 44 mag S&W revolver.

You run into an 11 foot tall grizzly and that 9mm isn't going to do anything but make it chuckle when you aim and piss it off when you fire.

01-16-2008, 01:32 AM
I wouldn't even worry about the black bear. They are harmless unless you provoke them or are carrying food in a backpack or the like.

A grizzly on the other hand is a very different story. I'll agree with taking a BIG can of spray. A pistol is not going to do anything. If I had a choice and I knew my life was on the line, I would rather have a can of spray in my hand than anything less than a large bore rifle or shotgun. The noise MAY scare them away, the spray WILL have an affect and will possibly turn them away, that is of course if you have enough.

With that said, I don't go in the backcountry out west without a pistol.

02-07-2008, 01:11 PM
I use counter assault bear spray. Its comes in a holster that you put on your belt. this spray is what the rangers out west use. I did alot of research and this one seem to come out on top. If I were out west I would also carry at least a 357 mag as well. If the spray and 357 don't work I would just resort to prayer, because that's all you will have left.

Counter assault bear spray link: