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Best caliber for protection while hiking?

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by iaminvincible., May 17, 2011.

  1. iaminvincible.

    iaminvincible.

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    Feb 1, 2011
    My girlfriend and I are seriously considering taking up hiking as a new hobby; however, we've been putting a lot of thought into the dangers involved. I personally am quite concerned about wildlife (mountain lions, bears, bigfoot, etc.). I know that the chances of ever being involved in an attack are slim to none; but I'm definitely not the luckiest guy around so I tend to take extra precautions. Currently, the both of us own Glock 19's (9mm) which I personally feel isn't up to the task of defending against a bear. With that being said, I'm looking to purchase a new pair of handguns for the sole purpose of protection while hiking.

    I've done as much research as I can on the subject and I'm considering either a Glock 20 (10mm) or a revolver in 357 or 44. Right now I'm leaning towards glock 20's due to price and familiarity with the glock platform. I've seen a lot of people that praise the 44 magnum, but I'm honestly not sure that I can handle the recoil especially during a bear attack. As for the the 357, I'm under the impression that the 10mm caliber is a "stronger" caliber for this purpose (please correct me if I'm wrong). The only issues with the 10mm that I can come up with is that ammunition may be hard to come by and that pistols in general aren't as reliable as revolvers.

    My knowledge on firearms in general is rather limited-- I've only been a gun owner for under 2-years. I'm hoping that some of you firearms gurus could give me a few pointers.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  2. What kind of bear? If you're talking Griz, Brown, Polar, or if you happen to be lucky enough to be on Kodiak, the K-B... I'd upgrade to something larger than a 44, but that is probably good enough. My in-law has a 500sw. About as powerful a handgun as you're going to get. I'd feel safe with .454cas and larger.

    For black bears and mountain lions, any of the guns you mentioned are probably fine. Even your 19 with good rounds (+P or ++P). If you can find some, the Hirtenberger 9mm+P+ L7A1 has the most heat. I have shot it both through my glock 17 and carbine. More heat than 40sw or 357mag.

    Best though is to avoid the animals and make noise as you hike. Don't surprise the animals and you won't get a nasty surprise. Oh and go native. Bears in particular are attracted to scents, skip the fruity shampoo and other possible ode-de-bear-attraction perfumes and you should be a-ok.

    The critters are most active foraging early and late so another good option may be a 500+lumen light. I don't know how well animals adapt to flash blindness, but I know from 30 feet, my light leaves you blind for easily 10-20 seconds, then a big blob in your vision for a good min or two. If closer, I would assume the recipient (animal or man) would have permanent damage.
     


  3. I think the G20 is a great idea and that is one I carry.. I might start carrying my G23 when I get my 357 Sig barrel on thursday...But for now I carry G20 with DT 230 grn hardcast.. I live in western Oregon on the coast so Black Bear, Cougars and 2 legged predators is what I fear... The 2 legged ones the most....
     
  4. List the 5 most recent incidents where a hiker in your area actually needed a handgun for defense against wild animals, and we'll see.
    :whistling::whistling:

    Long guns and hunting incidents don't count, just handguns for hikers.
     
  5. iaminvincible.

    iaminvincible.

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    Feb 1, 2011
    Unfortunately, they didn't come back to tell us the story. :faint:

    As mentioned before, I know the odds of actually needing a gun are extremely slim. Think of this as more of a way to have peace of mind knowing that we can defend ourselves if necessary.
     
  6. HotRoderX

    HotRoderX Gen4 BETATester

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    Jan 15, 2011
    Just my opinon but vs any type of bear I would want 44mag or bigger. I would want to much and not end up as lunch.
     
  7. iaminvincible.

    iaminvincible.

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    Feb 1, 2011
    The only bears that around here that I'm aware of are black bears. I probably should have mentioned that in my original post.

    You really think that our 9mm's with good rounds would work? Most people I've encountered in person or online seem to think that a 9mm verse anything larger than a mountain lion is insane. Right now, I'm very hesitant to go just with the 9mm's.

    As for the bright flashlight, I think that's a great idea. Do they even make 500+ lumen lights? The ones I've seen are typically between 60 and 200 lumens.
     
  8. 6StringGeek

    6StringGeek full-time n00b

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    Apr 5, 2011
    IMHO I think a good can of bear spray would do the trick if you happened to get in a tussle with a bear/mountain lion/lunatic. And your aim doesn't have to be nearly as precise.
     
  9. iaminvincible.

    iaminvincible.

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    Feb 1, 2011
    Since you actually own a G20, what's you overall opinion of it? Are you confident that it would hold up against a black bear if need be?
     
  10. iaminvincible.

    iaminvincible.

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    Feb 1, 2011
    Trust me when I say you and I think alike. I rather have too much gun than not enough. At the same time, I don't want to be to paranoid which is why I'm here asking advice. With that being said, do you have any experience with a 10mm and how it compares to a 44 magnum?
     
  11. iaminvincible.

    iaminvincible.

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    Feb 1, 2011
    I've heard good things about bear spray; however, I'd feel way safer with a gun over a can of spray. Whenever it comes to various defensive sprays, I'm always afraid I'm going to somehow spray myself-- The first thought I get is some big bear charging me while I'm downwind.

    Nevertheless, I'd probably take both just to cover both bases and use whatever I feel is more appropriate to the situation.
     
  12. 6StringGeek

    6StringGeek full-time n00b

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    Apr 5, 2011
    That sounds like a good plan. Here's an interesting study on bear spray effectiveness if you're interested:

    Bear Spray Study
     
  13. HotRoderX

    HotRoderX Gen4 BETATester

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    Jan 15, 2011
    I don't but I think you pretty much hit on the head the major con about 10mm which is the ammo. I know no one around me sells it and finding ammo for it down the road could become a bit of a challenge. I can only think of 2 manufactures producing mainstream 10mm guns. Glock obviously and Smith and Wesson who makes a 10mm Revolver. I am sure there are more I just don't know any of them.

    As far as feeling paranoid don't it's there to protect your life and your girlfriends life. Life to me is way to precious to worry about people thinking your crazy for bring to much gun for self defence. Especial in the woods where you really don't know what you might run into.

    One more thing I touch on you said you where more familiar with a Glock then revolvers. Best thing about a revolver is there 10x's more simple then a Glock. Not to mention ammo wise my revolvers will eat anything I feed them no questions asked. I cant say that about my semi autos.

    One thing to look at in a revolver is test ammo. I feel confident in my J-Frame after testing it with 25rounds of my preferred carry load. There no question will this ammo feed only question is does it hit where I aim. Way cheaper on ammo cost as far as testing goes to see what works. At these bigger calibers expect to pay out the nose for ammo.
     
  14. Overall, blacks are scaredy cats :) Get a big dog. I hike with my great dane and we saw a black bear across a decent sized stream (12 feet wide) and the bear galloped off.

    a 9mm hot round would definitely do the job. I still have a stash of L7A1s. 500+ft/lb packs a big punch, more than most stock 40sw. In anycase, if you just shot a warning shot, you'd probably scare off any of the animals you referenced (unless it was rabid or protecting its young). You probably don't need to care anything beyond your normal rounds if you do carry.

    Yes, there are quite a few of 500+ lumen lights. None are cheap.
     
  15. Keep the glock 19's and purchase a 12 ga pump?
     
  16. gjk5

    gjk5 Pinche Gringo

    A 9MM would be the low end of my comfort zone for bear, I vary between .357mag, .45ACP and .44mag, but a 9MM will do it on a black bear for the most part. Also a lion. Bear spray is not a bad idea, it's arguably more effective than a gun.

    carry your 19 and bear spray and you will be fine though.
     
  17. smokeross

    smokeross GTDS Member #49

    6,690
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    May 15, 2011
    Alaska
    Whatever gun you chose, the bullet should be a premium hunting bullet. I want penetration on dangerous game. A bullet you would use for self defense is designed to expand too quickly, and won't penetrate enough on a large animal.
     
  18. hagar

    hagar Millennium Member

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    Sep 7, 1999
    Columbia, SC
    Glock 20 will do you fine. Forget all the stories about keeping the last round for yourself, if you can shoot fast and accurate, you can kill anything on earth with a 10mm. I have a friend who works in Alaska, his friends dared him to go into a bear cave (the bear was supposed to be asleep), and he took them up on it. Unfortunately bear was awake and hungry, and he had to shoot it with a 357 magnum. He said it took all 6 rounds, but it dropped dead at his feet.
     
  19. PlasticGuy

    PlasticGuy

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    Jul 10, 2000
    I've done a lot of hiking and backpacking in bear territory. This bear territory also has a lot of cougar and even a few wolves. I can assure you that even in country with a lot of toothy critters, your biggest threat is still on two legs.

    That said, I like a concealable .357 or .44 revolver. Any Ruger or S&W in these calibers would be a solid choice, and I've owned most at one time or another.