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PerfectionSeeker 08-01-2011 13:40

Please help me decide!
Can someone informed please help me to decide? (Unfortunately, the gun dealers in my area are too agenda-driven to be objectively helpful).

Self-defense while backpacking, mountain climbing, camping and traveling. (Main threats in my neck of the woods: grizzlies and brown bears, coyotes, mountain lions, rattle snakes, vicious dogs, gangbangers who use the backcountry to party, and people who maintain hidden marijuana plantations. I am a hobby astronomer and I might be out at night, with a girl, with food and expensive equipment, and away from campsites).

Gun must be ultra-reliable, light, easy to carry and easy keep out of sight, not extremely tedious to shoot, quick to deploy, and must have a powerful cartridge.

Although I have an NRA instructor's certificate and can handle a firearm safely, I would consider my aim to be just intermediate. I have not practiced shooting at moving targets (hard to do in my area).

I have spent months reading and talking to people, and considering all factors I have narrowed it down to two choices:

(1) RUGER SP 101 (stainless steel, no exposed hammer spur) in .357 Mag:


Since I already own a G17, I was initially leaning toward the G26 for ammo interchangeability. But then I thought 9mm is less than ideal against an animal surprise attack, when I might just be able to fire two shots and hit with one (if I'm lucky).

So I started to look at the .40 G27. But THEN I started reading about the .45 G.A.P. G39, and I totally get what Mr. Glock was thinking here. I have not tried one (they are hard to get by in my state), but from what I have read, it's not more difficult to control than the .40, but more effective and with fewer potential technical problems.

So now I'm stuck and can't quite make up my mind.

What speaks for the the G39 -- the caliber -- also speaks against it. I am really concerned that it might become obsolete or so hard to find that it gets impractical. What if I fly somewhere and can't take ammo? Then, there's the ammo cost. If the round does not catch on, ammo prices are going to explode due to less competition.

Advantages of the Ruger revolver: ammo is available virtually anywhere around the world -- at least .38 Special. With the .38, I could also let the girlfriend practice (which I can't really see happening with the .45 G.A.P.) Ammo is about 30-40% cheaper than .45 G.A.P., so I could practice 35% more with .38 Special and finish each session with some .357 Mag, which is what I would have in the drum when in the wilderness. Also, snakeshot is available for the .38 Special, but not for the Glock.

Yes, I am aware that a neither a .45 nor a .357 Mag will be likely to kill a bear. (But I am hoping that it might at least distract and discourage it from continuing an attack).

If I had unlimited funds, I'd consider getting the Ruger for the girlfriend and the Glock for me. (But even then, carrying two kinds of ammo is not ideal).

Then, the next problem: this whole Generation 4 thing. Seems to me that the G39 does not exist in Gen4 yet. Does this mean that the Gen3 G39 will soon be obsolete? Frankly, I don't see any advantage in the Gen4, but again, I don't want to buy something that won't be supported, for which I can't get parts and magazines in a few years.

So what to do? Any input is appreciated!

SGT45 08-01-2011 14:08

As much as a GAPPER I am, me, personally considering the circumstances you speak of, would probably go with a 10mm G29SF. Not much more bark than the Ruger loaded with with .357 magnums.

engineer151515 08-01-2011 14:13


Originally Posted by SGT45 (Post 17714020)
As much as a GAPPER I am, me, personally considering the circumstances you speak of, would probably go with a 10mm G29SF. Not much more bark than the Ruger loaded with with .357 magnums.

I agree.

<<< is a fan of GAP. The only guy I know here on GT that owned one before me was DannyR.

jeffreybehr 08-01-2011 16:25

I agree with the 2 previous postists--if you want to protect yourself in the wilds from bears, use a 10mm. It will NOT be pleasant to practice with, but practice you must. The small size of the 29 will make it even tougher to control, but a mag extender will help.

Even a .40S&W will be better than a .45GAP--and I love the latter for home defense, in a full-size model 37--but the .45GAP does not handle the heavy bullets you'll want to use for protection against dangerous animals.

Personally, I think you'll be better off with a Compact-size .40S&W model 23--13 potent rounds in the mag. and easier to shoot than a subcompact.

up1911fan 08-01-2011 22:01

I'd go with a G29 if I were you. I love the GAP though.

wacopolumbo 08-02-2011 08:38

Agree with these guys. For what you describe, a 29 or 29SF would be perfect and it isn't too much bigger than and 39. While I am not a big 40/10MM fan, it does have it uses and advantages.


PerfectionSeeker 08-02-2011 13:46

Very interesting -- you guys are all recommending the 10mm. The G29 is a bit larger than the G39 (same size as the .45 ACP), so why not consider the G30 as well? Or do you guys just think that a .45 does not make a good overall backcountry gun? (Why not?)

We just had a case in California where a hiking couple encountered a Grizzly on a trail, 100 yards away. The Grizzly charged, the two hikers (husband and wife) ran. The Grizzly pursued the hikers and killed the male hiker. He then attacked his wife, tossed her around like a rag doll. When she played dead, the bear's fury had evaporated, and it left. It was later found that it was a female bear who had a cub in the brush. Just standing still (as is often recommended) would not have averted this attack.

On hunters' forums I read that there is no handgun caliber that would reliably stop a bear - not even a .50 BMG. So, all we could presumably hope for in a defensive round is to distract the bear long enough to make a getaway.

There are reports of bears getting shot multiple times with a .40S&W, and their ability to run and fight was hardly impacted. (They may eventually die from internal injuries, of course).

So I'm wondering if the differences between a 10mm, a .45 ACP or a .45 GAP are really big enough to make a difference in this respect? And let's not forget the possibility of a human attack in/near a campsite. (The doped up gangbangers out there are perfectly aware that it would take law enforcement at least half an hour or hours to reach California wilderness locations).

If a 10mm would offer only a marginal improvement -- wouldn't I be better off making my choice mainly based on what can be carried and deployed more easily and shot more accurately (from my hands)?

Regarding the .40S&W: That's what I was initially settled on, but then I'd read that these rounds tend to have more malfunctions and problems in the Glock, due to their design. (I can't remember the specifics, but it had something to do with unsupported brass parts). Also, the .40 G27 seems to have as much recoil as the .45 G.A.P. G39 (Is this true?)

I have only shot the .40 G27 and felt comfortable with it.

Can someone educate me more on the differences between the .40S&W, the 10mm and the .45 G.A.P. in subcompact Glocks? Has anyone here shot all three?

engineer151515 08-02-2011 14:21

My quick notes.

.40SW Glocks are reliable. Police forces use them in great numbers. If you are comfortable and happy with a .40SW Glock, I'm sure you will also be happy with the ammunition availability.

All semi-auto pistol designs are "unsupported" to some degree at the base of the cartridge where the round is fed into the chamber. There are some weapons that allow more "support" than others but feed reliability issues start to play as this dimension closed.

The .40SW and the .357SIG rounds fire a higher SAAMI max loading pressures (33,000 psi to 35,000 psi ) than the 45ACP (21,000 psi) and 45GAP (23,000 psi). Higher pressures might make a case for more failures but nothing at the rate that would make the .40SW unusually dangerous.

quick reference
section - Case failure reports

PerfectionSeeker 08-02-2011 14:54

Thanks, engineer151515. Wow, so there's at least a 10,000 psi difference between .40 and .45 G.A.P. What about reloads? Wouldn't reloads from a higher pressure round be a lot more unreliable?

Regarding the use of .40 in law enforcement -- why are some agencies switching to .45 ACP or .45 G.A.P. (if the .40 or even the 9 mm would fit the need)?

Secondly -- the more I read about bear defense, the more I'm learning that the choice of handgun caliber in a subcompact would make little difference overall. It seems as though experienced outdoorsmen do not consider any of the snub-nosed revolvers (which was another thing I was considering) or any subcompact handguns to be adequate against an enraged bear. (I imagine it must be like shooting a rabid pitbull with a .22. Doesn't really matter a great deal if it's a .22LR or .22 Short). Here's one writer's take:

So this probably means I'm back to square one.

G39 or G27?

Maybe I should make this a separate topic?

wacopolumbo 08-02-2011 15:06

I have a 27 and a 39 and love the 39. It is a great shooter. If it were me and those were my choices, I would take the 39 over the 27. But that is my personal preference and has nothing to do with which caliber I think is better, etc. It comes down to which one I shoot better. Hit a range that rents guns and shoot a couple diffferent guns. It may cost you some money to do it, but you will see which you prefer.

engineer151515 08-02-2011 15:10

As I recall the discussions around here, reloads were the source of most of the .40SW failures. Factory ammo . . . much less frequent.

As for LEO caliber switches, there can be many reasons. .45ACP has a tremendous loyal following. Some people regard John Browning's 1911 pistol as the best pistol design ever - and they have 100 years and two world wars (plus numerous other conflicts) to back up that claim.

Sometimes it is money. Glock was renown for offering low-ball introductory prices to law enforcement agencies to gain market share. To an extent - they still do.

.40SW's initial sell point was 45cal performance with 9mm high capacity. In light of the Miami shootout, 9mm was deemed marginal - an unfair assessment in my opinion.

On bear defense - remember that the pistol is at best a third line of defense. First being detection - being aware of the bear's presence, and second being evasion - run like hell. By the time you are pulling a pistol (because no rifle is around) - you are in deep do-do and are just hoping to survive.

That said, I once heard that forest firefighters would carry a 44mag snubby. The first round or two were buckshot rounds. You basically shoot for the face and try to destroy the bear's sight/smell in an attempt to escape. The last rounds were full metal jacket - for penetration. I cannot swear that this was absolutely true but it does reflect the brutality and desperation such a close quarters combat with a bear would be - with the emphasis still being one of human escape. Upon reflection, the buckshot rounds were probably good for close quarter pissed off poisonous snake encounters as well.

legion3 08-02-2011 18:02

In Alaska I carried a 44 Magnum and a G29 10mm - One close by and the other in a back pack.

The 10mm is far more of a solid critter round than the 45ACP or GAP.

Very few ever hunt with a 45ACP - 45 Colt maybe, the 10mm, 357 and 44 Mag all are the usual suspects in the back woods hunting world.

PerfectionSeeker 08-03-2011 11:13

So I spoke with someone at the Glock Store in San Diego ( yesterday. (Never had contact with them before, but so far, I'm very impressed with them. Everyone I talked to was very knowledgeable and willing to help. They found me an employee who personally owns a G39, who called me back promptly.

Matt says he absolutely loves his G39. In his opinion, it feels nicer to shoot than the G27. He said it's more of a "push" rather than a "snap", and he thought that if I was comfortable with the G27 (which I've tried), I will love the G39. He didn't think that getting ammo would become a problem, but he conceded that Glock does not tell (not even the dealers) who well the .45 GAP is really selling and what Glock's future plans are.

On the Generation 4 question, I was told (by another employee): Very doubtful that the more rare Glock models will ever make it to California in Gen4 any time soon. Maybe never.

They expect Glock to offer the rare models in Generation 3 for a long time. Glock has not even started the testing and approval process yet, which California now requires for each handgun model sold here. (It's one of these laws designed to make it harder and more expensive for firearms makers to sell in California. California requires a battery of "safety tests", and of course a fee, for each make and model. But these safety tests are almost a joke compared to what a manufacturer like Glock, or a law enforcement or military agency, does to the guns). So it only makes sense for a manufacturer to go through the approval process if they hope to sell a certain number of guns, otherwise, it is unprofitable.

But just as I had suspected: the G39 is not in stock, a bit difficult to find and they don't sell many, so it would have to be a special order (which they were happy to do). Just don't know how much time it will take.

dbarry 08-03-2011 17:30

Power will sometimes help a miss-placed shot, but I think either gun will work if you practice. They were killing bears with blackpowder guns long before we had the energy provided by modern propellants.

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