A Rifle Related Question For American Bear Hunters

Major Khan

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I am doing a, do it yourself, black bear hunt on Prince of Wales, Alaska in late May and early June. I will be carrying my .375 H&H mag Winchester Model 70. I will be using 300gr A Frame bullets. The rifle has a Zeis 3x9 scope. This is the same rifle system my lovely wife used to take her black bear on Vancouver Island in 2016. It is the same rifle I have used in Africa. Until a year ago this rifle was the go to rifle because it made financial sense.

Now after several years on this forum I no longer think in financial sensibilities. I do own a VC .470 NE. This is the same rifle I used on my Cape buffalo last July. Yes, the .470 will make it to Alaska on the bear hunt. It will give me options.:whistle:(y)
Ah , finally a gentleman who intends to use a double barreled rifle for hunting an American Grizzly Bear . Please , do share your report with all of us on African Hunting Forums when it happens ! Especially if you end up usIn that fine .470 Nitro Express calibre double barreled rifle.
 

leslie hetrick

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i have a good friend who has shot a lot of black bear and his rifle of choice has been a older model 70 in 3006 with a 180 gr round nose loaded pretty hot, he has a few stories of close incounters, but the 3006 didn,t let him down. these bears are not the same size as (his biggest was about 450 lbs) a the big alaskan brown or coastal bear. i would use my cz 550 in 375 if i were to hunt the big bears.
 

Major Khan

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i have a good friend who has shot a lot of black bear and his rifle of choice has been a older model 70 in 3006 with a 180 gr round nose loaded pretty hot, he has a few stories of close incounters, but the 3006 didn,t let him down. these bears are not the same size as (his biggest was about 450 lbs) a the big alaskan brown or coastal bear. i would use my cz 550 in 375 if i were to hunt the big bears.
.30-06 Springfield used to be an extremely popular choice for Asian Sloth Bear ( roughly identical in appearance and size to the Black Bear species in your home land ) by countless of my American clients , sir . The bullet used by the vast majority of my clients for this application was a 220 grain Winchester Silver Tip soft point cartridge or a 220 grain Remington Core Lokt soft point cartridge .
However , my personal favorite calibre for Asian Sloth Bear would have to be the .338 Winchester magnum .
 

Ryan

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Living in Alaska for 20 years now I have known and talked to a lot of dedicated bear hunters and a few guides. None used a double. I could actually see a guide possibly wanting one as a back up in the thick stuff where a fast second shot is needed. But the cost of the weapon and ammo, plus the limited availability of that ammo are a tough sell. Then add durability. Fall in brown bear territory can be very wet, not the most conducive environment for blued steel and premium walnut. Guides have long days where they may not be thinking about gun maintenance much. More than one story out there of rusty barrels and warped stocks after a rough coastal hunt.
 

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A very good friend of fathers was a guide in Newfoundland for many years. He carried a Stevens 311 with the barrels sawn off to 19" he carried a poured lead ball in on barrel and a homemade buck shot packed with .41 caliber balls in the other barrel. He followed up on wounded bears when needed and was also charged in thick brush on multiple occasions.
All shots were fired at close range and he doubled on ever shot. ( pulled both triggers)

I've tried to get him to become a member on here but I fear he'd use that weapon on the computer.
 

Alaska Luke

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Interesting question. We did have rich hunters in America (Teddy Roosevelt for example). But they seemed to copy the local experts who were usually blue collar guys who used one cheap lever action or bolt action rifle for everything from dropping a bear to shooting a moose to putting a sick horse down.

I don't see why a double wouldn't work, I just don't see why you'd pick one. In the 1800s a cheaper 45-70 would have been more flexible and plenty powerful. By the time big bores went out of style the 30-06 was well established as an all around North American cartridge (and grizzly were rare).

I can't prove it but I get the impression American hunters are more obsessed with long range accuracy, even if they don't make long shots. Maybe another reason doubles didn't catch on.
 

Scott CWO

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Hi Major,

Having hunted a lot of bears and guiding for them, my thoughts are as follows.

For brown bears on the Alaska Peninsula where the terrain is fairly open and on the beaches of SE Alaska where longer shots can be had and the environment very wet, a double rifle would likely not be ideal. A bolt action with a composite stock and stainless steel or coated steel is what I use to offset the wet weather. Since the terrain is somewhat more open, a bolt rifle with the ability to get off more than two shots is also my preference. My CZ holds five down. We prefer to only shoot brown bears at 100 - 150 yards or less but once wounded and full of adrenaline, I have seen brown bears soak up several followup shots before they quit moving so I want more than two shots without reloading even though I accept that a bolt rifle is not as fast as a double rifle for the first two shots. On the AK Peninsula where there are alder thickets scattered about and in SE Alaska where the thick old-growth forest is just beyond the open beach, we like to get the bear killed before it can enter the alders or the old-growth forest. I will admit that a double rifle could be handy if we have to enter the alders or the forest. What I do now is I have the option of removing my scope and sling to make my bolt rifle a bit more handy in close quarters.

Thanks for taking my input,
Scott
 

Tarwathie

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I'd just like to add to the comments about climate in places like Alaska and BC. Not from own experience, but from comments I've seen from others, the rain and salt spray can be so harsh that even guns that one might think would be fine don't always hold up. I saw an Alaskan comment on his experience that even a laminate stock looks pretty rough after a hunting season, so he prefers synthetic, like a Hogue rubber stock.

Perhaps even more amazing, on a Canadian gun forum, a BC guide commented how his 10 mm Glock was starting to rust (apparently part of the issue is that, with Canadian laws for the very restricted number of wilderness carry permits, he wasn't allowed to cover up the handgun while boating on the coast to hunting destinations, because it could be considered "concealed" if he wore the holster under a coat to protect it from the spray). If conditions can be hard on a Glock, it would be a crime against God and Nature to subject a fine double rifle to similar treatment.
 

CTDolan

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Here in Minnesota many black bears have been shot with a good, old .30-30, the same gun taken to the woods in November for whitetail. Most bears shot are in the 200-250 pound range but sometimes you see 300+ pound bears taken with the same rifle. These are mostly shot over bait, within 30 yards, usually just at last light. Is it the ideal rifle for such a situation? No, but it is the rifle the hunter owns and so it is the rifle the hunter uses. And so it is with the history of America, one rifle for everything. In this regard, beside being prohibitively expensive, a double is just too specialized for most.
 

Major Khan

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Living in Alaska for 20 years now I have known and talked to a lot of dedicated bear hunters and a few guides. None used a double. I could actually see a guide possibly wanting one as a back up in the thick stuff where a fast second shot is needed. But the cost of the weapon and ammo, plus the limited availability of that ammo are a tough sell. Then add durability. Fall in brown bear territory can be very wet, not the most conducive environment for blued steel and premium walnut. Guides have long days where they may not be thinking about gun maintenance much. More than one story out there of rusty barrels and warped stocks after a rough coastal hunt.
Thank you so much for your educational input , Ryan . I shall use this information in my article .
 

Major Khan

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A very good friend of fathers was a guide in Newfoundland for many years. He carried a Stevens 311 with the barrels sawn off to 19" he carried a poured lead ball in on barrel and a homemade buck shot packed with .41 caliber balls in the other barrel. He followed up on wounded bears when needed and was also charged in thick brush on multiple occasions.
All shots were fired at close range and he doubled on ever shot. ( pulled both triggers)

I've tried to get him to become a member on here but I fear he'd use that weapon on the computer.
Home made buck shot ? That sounds a great deal like our " Indian LG " , Skinnersblade . During our time , many Indian shikarees who owned 12 Bore shot guns , would carry out the following practice :
> They would take an ordinary 12 Bore 2.75 inch #6 36 gram cartridge and remove the #6 bird shot .
> They would melt the bird shot and re mould the pellets , to form 6 large .38 calibre lead pellets .
> They would then load these 6 large lead pellets in to the cartridges .
> And thus ... " Indian LG " was born .

It was actually quite effective on cheetal deer .
 

Major Khan

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Interesting question. We did have rich hunters in America (Teddy Roosevelt for example). But they seemed to copy the local experts who were usually blue collar guys who used one cheap lever action or bolt action rifle for everything from dropping a bear to shooting a moose to putting a sick horse down.

I don't see why a double wouldn't work, I just don't see why you'd pick one. In the 1800s a cheaper 45-70 would have been more flexible and plenty powerful. By the time big bores went out of style the 30-06 was well established as an all around North American cartridge (and grizzly were rare).

I can't prove it but I get the impression American hunters are more obsessed with long range accuracy, even if they don't make long shots. Maybe another reason doubles didn't catch on.
Those are some quite fascinating observations , Alaska Luke . During the time of my career ...
the American clients of mine who used to hunt Grizzly Bears in their home land , reported to me that the .338 Winchester magnum was an extremely popular calibre for hunting Grizzly Bears .
Of course , I speak only of the 1960s.
 

Major Khan

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Hi Major,

Having hunted a lot of bears and guiding for them, my thoughts are as follows.

For brown bears on the Alaska Peninsula where the terrain is fairly open and on the beaches of SE Alaska where longer shots can be had and the environment very wet, a double rifle would likely not be ideal. A bolt action with a composite stock and stainless steel or coated steel is what I use to offset the wet weather. Since the terrain is somewhat more open, a bolt rifle with the ability to get off more than two shots is also my preference. My CZ holds five down. We prefer to only shoot brown bears at 100 - 150 yards or less but once wounded and full of adrenaline, I have seen brown bears soak up several followup shots before they quit moving so I want more than two shots without reloading even though I accept that a bolt rifle is not as fast as a double rifle for the first two shots. On the AK Peninsula where there are alder thickets scattered about and in SE Alaska where the thick old-growth forest is just beyond the open beach, we like to get the bear killed before it can enter the alders or the old-growth forest. I will admit that a double rifle could be handy if we have to enter the alders or the forest. What I do now is I have the option of removing my scope and sling to make my bolt rifle a bit more handy in close quarters.

Thanks for taking my input,
Scott
Your input , gathered from your vast personal experiences as a professional shikaree is indeed most valuable to me , Scott . I really am now beginning to get a more clear picture as to why none of you American gentlemen prefer double barreled rifles for the pursuit of the Great Bears of America. May I ask 1 more small question ?
During the 1960s , several of my American clients who used to come to India for shikar , used to tell me that the .338 Winchester magnum was the standard calibre for hunting American Grizzly Bears . Is this still true , today ?
 

Major Khan

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I'd just like to add to the comments about climate in places like Alaska and BC. Not from own experience, but from comments I've seen from others, the rain and salt spray can be so harsh that even guns that one might think would be fine don't always hold up. I saw an Alaskan comment on his experience that even a laminate stock looks pretty rough after a hunting season, so he prefers synthetic, like a Hogue rubber stock.

Perhaps even more amazing, on a Canadian gun forum, a BC guide commented how his 10 mm Glock was starting to rust (apparently part of the issue is that, with Canadian laws for the very restricted number of wilderness carry permits, he wasn't allowed to cover up the handgun while boating on the coast to hunting destinations, because it could be considered "concealed" if he wore the holster under a coat to protect it from the spray). If conditions can be hard on a Glock, it would be a crime against God and Nature to subject a fine double rifle to similar treatment.
Thank you so much for your excellent analysis , Tarawathie . I only have 1 small question . Are not Glock semi automatic pistols made mostly from a polymer based compound ?
 

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@Major Khan ive got a Conoe in bear trip planned for this fall into a wildlife refuge area. My rifle for that trip will be a .340 weatherby which is a .338 caliber rifle.
 

Major Khan

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Here in Minnesota many black bears have been shot with a good, old .30-30, the same gun taken to the woods in November for whitetail. Most bears shot are in the 200-250 pound range but sometimes you see 300+ pound bears taken with the same rifle. These are mostly shot over bait, within 30 yards, usually just at last light. Is it the ideal rifle for such a situation? No, but it is the rifle the hunter owns and so it is the rifle the hunter uses. And so it is with the history of America, one rifle for everything. In this regard, beside being prohibitively expensive, a double is just too specialized for most.
Thank you so much for your most educational input , CT Dolan . I can personally attest that the .30-30 Winchester calibre is also excellent for forest panthers , Indian Bush Boars and Asian Sloth Bears as well .
In deed , a double barreled rifle does seem to be a little bit too much " special purpose " ...for the task of pursuing the Great Bears of America .
 

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I rarely hunt bears any more, but I know lots of bear guides and others who do. For them, it is largely a money and practicality matter. Many of these guys drive well-used pickup trucks, and the cost of a good double rifle--or for that matter, a premium double shotgun--would be hard to justify. They typically own several rifles, but most are bolt action Winchesters or Remingtons, or (less often) lever action Winchesters or Marlins in calibers like 444 or 45-70. I have seen some pump and semi-auto Remingtons in 30-06 as well. Their shotguns are usually pumps or semi-autos. All are good, serviceable, reliable weapons. Then there's the matter of practicality. If you're guiding for bears only, perhaps a dedicated double could be justified, but if you use your rifles for deer, bear, elk, moose, boar, etc., then I imagine the double would be less practical. That's not to say it wouldn't be an excellent close-range bear gun. You are certainly right about that. By the way, I have thoroughly enjoyed all your articles and reminiscences. Please keep them coming.
 
 

 

 

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