.357 Magnum for bear defense

Opposite Pole

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Jun 6, 2017
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Warsaw & Sydney
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Australia, Poland
Hi guys, 2 days ago while trekking through mountains in SE Poland (Bieszczady) I had a surprise meeting with a large (at least by local standards) boar Brown Bear. I reckon approximately 300kg-660lbs. It was in the middle of national park so I was unarmed as the whole park area is under complete protection though there is fantastic hunting outside of it. I had my wallet on me so all I could do was bribe the brute. Anyways, after some rather distressing displays of grumpiness - standing on its hind legs and roaring loudly the bear turned around and walked away. When standing on it's hind legs the bear absolutely towered over me and I'm 181cm tall. After we got over the shock, my wife and I all of the sudden were no longer tired despite having walked in the mountains for the last 8 hrs and quickly got out of there and got back to the lodge. After putting fresh underpants on I had a beer (appropriately name Ursa) and a think and decided to never ever under any circumstances find myself in such situation again. Now, I do these trips few times a year and unfortunately carrying a rifle is positively not an option, my question is - would a 357 Magnum revolver be a reasonable defence weapon against a bear? What ammunition would you use? I've no idea what the legal implications of me shooting a protected species in national park would be but I'd much rather face them than the claws. I have a 7 shot 2.5" 357 S&W which would be quite easy to carry. If any of you gentlemen have practical experience or reliable knowledge I will much appreciate your help.
"Would a .357 magnum be a reasonable defense weapon against a bear?"

Short answer, IMHO.......no. Especially if you are carrying a 2.5" barrel.
A .357 would be a better defense weapon against a bear than throwing rocks at it... but wait, the last grizzly that woofed and clicked his teeth at me, I fired two shots over his head with my .44 magnum that didn't phase him, so I picked up a baseball size rock which I threw and hit him, and he then ran away.
Shoemaker (famous brown bear guide in Alaska) killed one with a 9mm, but...he's killed lots and is very calm about it and knows exactly where to shoot them. Me, I think I'd want a can of bear spray. Much easier to hit them with.
I've hunted Kodiak a couple of times and they can look really big as in VW Bug big with no distinct crease or spot to shoot as in hair, hair and more hair.
I agree with the bear spray. It has been proven that it is a better deterrent than shooting a bear with a questionable handgun. With the spray all you have to do is point it in the general direction of the bear, no aiming and pull the trigger. With a bears nose being its best sense it will not like that spray going into it as he breathes. It is also a better outcome usually for both the bear and human.

As a side story. When I was up in British Colombia hunting grizzly bears my guide was packing a .44 magnum double action revolver. I asked him what his plan was if we had that close of a encounter, and he said that he was going to stick the barrel into the bears mouth and pull the trigger 6 times.
If I had to be wary of a human threat, then the .357 - probably loaded with .38 +Ps in the platform you suggest. Against a bear - I would want one of the new pepper sprays especially designed for the work.
Certainly better then nothing, but bear spray (as previously stated) is very good, but couple that with a new revolver in 44 magnum. It's a good excuse for another gun.
Freedom Arms 475 linebaugh with 410 grain pills is perfect bear medicine and still easy to carry. Leave the 357 snubbie in the nightstand. No sense pissing the bear off more than he already is!
If your using bear spray be careful of the wind, or your just spicing the meal up. Also bear spray is good from 0-15 feet. Practice with it to find its effective range it spreads out very quickly. Having lived in the Fort Nelson region of BC I would trust a good rifle before I would use bear spray.
I heard a story of a fellow who emptied his 357 into a bear as it approached, with no evident effect. I do not remember details of distances or bullet types. The story convinced me not to carry any less than a .44 mag in big bear country. Bear spray is probably best first line of defense.
A gun is always better than no gun, but in this case you would be best served with some bear mace. I personally like the .454 for bears.
Pepper spray, lots of bells and/or a 44 mag.

Funny joke on the subject:

The National Park Rangers are advising hikers in Glacier National Park and other Rocky Mountain parks to be alert for bears and take extra precautions to avoid an encounter. They advise park visitors to wear little bells on their clothes so they make noise when hiking. The bell noise allows bears to hear them coming from a distance and not be startled by a hiker accidentally sneaking up on them. This might cause a bear to charge. Visitors should also carry a pepper spray can just in case a bear is encountered. Spraying the pepper into the air will irritate the bear's sensitive nose and it will run away.

It is also a good idea to keep an eye out for fresh bear scat so you have an idea if bears are in the area. People should be able to recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear scat. Black bear droppings are smaller and often contain berries, leaves, and possibly bits of fur. Grizzly bear droppings tend to contain small bells and smell of pepper.
Thanks for all the advice, seems like pepper spray is a favourite. I looked up the 475 Linebaugh as I've never heard of it but unfortunately I would not be able to buy it over here as we have a 12mm limit on handguns. I might get myself a 44 mag though, it is a bloody good excuse to get a new gun and this time even my wife is on board :)
How about .454 Casull or 460 S&W? Anyone's go any experience? Is it actually shootable or is the recoil plain stupid in unported barrel? Just keep in mind it's for bear defence not hunting.
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Those are both good handgun hunting rounds. The both have more recoil than the .44 but depending on your size they can be managed. The nice thing about a .454 Casull is that you can shoot .45 Long Colt rounds out of it for practice if you don't reload. You can also look at the .480 Ruger to go along with those other two rounds.

Also depending on your laws a 10mm puts out a very stout bullet out of a semi automatic along with the .45 ACP.
10mm has marginally more energy than 357 mag. This is probably not an area where you want incremental improvement.
Thanks for all the advice, seems like pepper spray is a favourite. I looked up the 475 Linebaugh as I've never heard of it but unfortunately I would not be able to buy it over here as we have a 12mm limit on handguns. I might get myself a 44 mag though, it is a bloody good excuse to get a new gun and this time even my wife is on board :)

Always great when the missus allows a gun buy. Asking forgiveness was starting to get expensive! But then I just got rid of the wife...
But then I just got rid of the wife...

That gets even more expensive and can be on going.

I think of all the firearms that I could of bought with the money I gave my ex.
Yes you are under gunned with a 357, 45long colt for me .
IF i am blood trailing any bear, I want a pump 12 gauge with buckshot. Forrest

6 shot Ruger Alaskan 454 Casull. Shoots well, plenty of stopping power, very controllable and heavy enough to double as a boat anchor if needed.
I pack a S&W 329pd 44 magnum about 80% of the time. It is a great revolver and so light you forget you are wearing it. Diamond D leather in Alaska makes what may be the most useful holster I have ever used. Regardless of what you are doing, the gun is never in the way yet always quickly accessible.

Good luck on your search,
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