Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links! This Monday finds us in (ugh) New Jersey, from where we’ll be posting for a while. Expect some… pointed cultural observations.
But before we get into criticizing the state in which our temporary lodgings reside, let’s talk about bears. Specifically, bears who attack people, and the most effective way to protect yourself against such attack. Excerpt:
On the Internet, and in print, many people claim that pistols lack efficacy in defending against bear attacks. Here is an example that occurred on freerepublic.com:
“Actually, there are legions of people who have been badly mauled after using a handgun on a bear. Even some of the vaunted magnums.”
OK, give us a few examples. As you claim “legions”, it should not be too hard.
I never received a response. I believe the claim was made in good faith. There has been much conjecture about the lack of efficacy of pistols for defense against bears. A little searching will find a plethora of fantasy, fiction, mythology, and electrons sprayed about the supposed lack.
I engaged in a search for instances where pistols were used to defend against bears. I and my associates have found 37 instances that are fairly easily confirmed. The earliest happened in 1987, the latest mere months ago. The incidents are heavily weighted toward the present, as the ability to publish and search for these incidents has increased, along with increases in bear and human populations, and the carry of pistols.
The 37 cases include one that can fairly be described as a “failure”.
The pistol calibers, when known, range from 9 mm to .454 Casull. The most common are .44 magnums.
What I found surprising here is that the 9mm Parabellum, not a round recommended for bear defense, was surprisingly successful. The preferred ammo for bears would seem to be full-metal-jacket rounds, unlike those recommended for defense against smaller, less muscular thin-skinned critters like, say, humans. Penetration, rather than expansion, would seem to be the order of the day.
Note also that several of the defensive uses happened after the failure of the bear pepper sprays that are advocated in some corners.
The summary would seem to be this: If you’re traveling on foot in bear country, pack along a good sidearm with good ammo, one that you can shoot well. That seems to matter more than the gun or the cartridge.