Smith And Wesson Forums banner

1 - 20 of 34 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Just bought a model 29-5 .44 mag for personal defense when hiking in bear country. Does anyone have suggestions about the best bear load for this gun?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,488 Posts
I've never shot a Bear with a handgun, let alone a Brown. All the Bears I've shot were with rifles and they were Eastern Black Bears. So I am not probably qualified to speak from first hand experience..... However, conventional reasoning is that you want a non-expanding bullet that will penetrate deeply and break the bear down by crushing bones he will need to continue his charge or pursuit.

Alaskan Coastal Browns can be well over half a ton and I do know for a fact they have a real attitude.

When fishing in the Kenai, Moose or Russian Rivers I have always carried a 4" S&W Model 29 loaded with very hard, custom cast lead bullets over an unthinkable amount of Unique. I won't repeat the amount here. These slugs were cast of the hardest alloy available 1-10 tin to lead and quenched from the mold in cold water. The idea is to harden the bullets to reduce deformation and expansion, thus promoting penetration.

Drew
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
600 Posts
Wow Drew, I was really impressed by your suggestion. I clicked on this thinking for sure you would give the old "whatever you use just be sure to remove the front sight" answer I have seen numerous times on other forums :lol: . I was watching Personal Defense TV and the host suggested shooting for the nose because there is a nerve cluster there. While it may not drop him it might make him reconsider to keep moving forward. Of course if you have a 1000Lb Grizzly charging at you at 30mph I think all that remembering where to aim goes out the window.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
You want a hard cast non expanding bullet for penetration-no hollowpoints.

Stay away from the +p+ buffalo bore .44 mags loads-too stout for the smith.

I would recommend the Double Tap 320 grain hard cast wide flat nose avaliable in boxes of 50 from their web site or midwayusa.com. (doubletapammo.com) around $50 with shipping and a good deal for these type of loads. Practice with the cheaper Hornady 300 grain xtp loads, recoil and point of impact is about the same at 20 yards. Come in boxes of 20-get from Cabelas,Midway or Natchez shooting supplies.

My uncle followed a black bear into a cave (hunting with dogs) and shot it in the head with standard 240 .44 mag hollow points out of a 6.5 inch 29 at a distance of about 10 yards and did not penetrate the skull.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,421 Posts
My first question would be, have you ever used a .44 Magnum before? Is this your first? If so, the start out with a nice cast bullet load of 10.0 grains of Unique and Lyman's # 429421 cast 250 grain bullet. That load has been used a great deal to take a lot of big game, and recoil for the .44 Magnum is very mild. Out of a 4-inch barrel you're talking say 1065 fps. While its not a screamer, you will get better shot placement if you have to put two or three shots on target than say if you're running a hot 1,300 fps load. But those old cast 250 grain bullets have killed just about everything that has walked or crawled at one point.
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Best defense is learning everything you can about bears. Can't speak to Kodiaks and Browns, but I do know a little about the Eastern Blacks... Spent a couple of Summers dealing with habituated bears. I learned alot while setting up live traps, getting them out of cars (folks with sun-roofs that left groceries inside), one case getting one out of a house, dealing with them and grease traps on BBQ grilles left out on decks, etc...Been charged, hissed at, and circled back on. Dealt with mothers and cubs. Really hated it when they went over to plastic covers on dumpsters. :mrgreen:

I've also spent a good deal of time outdoors hiking and camping in some pretty far back areas. Seen quite a few bears over the years. Beautiful animals to watch from a distance.

Common Sense is also a great defense....If your thinking of pitchin' a tent in the middle of a blueberry patch, and there is steamin' bear scat in the area....well, you might rethink things a tad! ;)

giz
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,801 Posts
I've had two encounters with bears that thought I looked like a sandwich. The first took fourteen shots to put it down. Eight from a 1911 loaded with 230 gr. FMJ and six from a Ruger Super Blackhawk loaded with whatever my brother had stuffed in the cylinder. I think they were 215 gr. LSWC. It's been mucho many years since that incident, so naturally my memory is kinda foggy. After we perforated that fool's hide with everything we had, we ran like Hell, 'cause it was still coming and it was pissed.

We got half-way back to camp before we realized it was no longer after us. We reloaded and went back looking for a wounded, pissed-off bear. I've done stupid things, but that was right up there in the top ten. Anyhow, there it was, dead. Right where I had been standing when it began it's charge.

The second bear looked a lot like the first bear. Those black critters all look alike to me. Anyway, I was carrying a rifle in .308 Winchester. And a 1911 - the same 1911 that didn't stop the first bear. I didn't use it, instead, I unslung the rifle and fired twice. The bear dropped. End of story.

The moral of the story? When in bear country, carry a rifle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,677 Posts
Well according to the tv set you dont need a gun.Just some pepper spray and a whistle and a cowbell.There is a thread about a guy who killed a blackbear with a log posted today.So that should be enough proof bears are easy to kill.My advice would be a wood base ball bat.Only if you have your pepper spray going and shaking your cow bell realy fast and blowing your wistle.
But according to the tv the larger griz bears are very affraid of you and while your walking through the woods shaking your cow bell and tooting on your whistle and have your your super bear stopper pepper spray at the ready.Now those big griz bears are pretty cuddly and realy scared of you.But just in case being as they are bigger. I would get a aluminum base ball bat and add a couple pounds of lead in the end. I feel this would be sufficient for defense against your big Griz bears. Especialy if you hit him in the nose.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the replies...very helpful. This is my first .44. I was carrying a .357 mag that I purchased shortly after moving to bear country. I bought it at the recommendation of the guy behind the counter at a local gun shop and realized very quickly after seeing a few bears that this gun was not enough.

I shot the .44 yesterday for the first time and accuracy was spotty at 20 yrds...need waaaaaaaay more practice. This is not a problem as there are plenty of places around here to shoot. It's really a matter of being able to afford it. Sounds like the double tap 320 ammo is the best fit for those of us who don't load our own. A local guy was attacked by a sow two days ago. He shot it dead (3 shots) with a .41, but it still crushed his trachea, broke his jaw and ribs and nearly tore his face off (literally). He's stable now and recovering nicely. I purchased my .44 the day after this attack. I hope to never use it, but want to increase my chances of survival if the gun is ever needed. Thanks again for all your help.
DC2
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,488 Posts
It's interesting to note that those that work in Bear Country will almost always have a rifle handy.

The State Men that walk the banks of the Russian River trying to keep the Bears and Sports seperated all had stubby Model 70 Winchesters with low power scopes in .375 H&H. To a man they packed the rifle and only one or two that I saw in several weeks in the area had sidearms. Both had stainless .44 Ruger Redhawks with short barrels in nylon holsters, I assume because they were alot less money than a Smith.

I would reccomend alot of practice with lower powered ammo such as .44 Mid-Range stuff as you learn your gun... to do otherwise may very well manufacture a very nice flinch reflex for you....

BTW, I spoke with several Alaskan DNR types and they say they often find pepper spray cans and comwbells in Bear Crap. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,420 Posts
Does anyone recommend shotguns with slugs, etc. for bears? I know only what I read on the internet (so I KNOW it's true..) and don't live in bear country but was curious about the shotgun thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,677 Posts
Drew them alaskans are not telling the truth. Every one knows them griz bears are scared to death of cow bells and none could get past the deadly pepper spray. I know this to be a absulute fact because I saw it on TV and its common knowledge among city folks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,488 Posts
Ah One Nut.... I do so appreciate your sarcasm....

Charlie. While a Magnum 3" Rifled Slug is good medicine for a 200 lbs Eastern Black Bear, the Alaskan DNR has in the past discouraged the use of shotguns as Bear Guns. I did however read this on their website..... looks like they have changed their minds somewhat.

"... some fishermen carry firearms for additional protection. Large caliber rifles (at least 30-06 or shotguns with slugs) are recommended. Do not rely on under-powered firearms for protection. Familiarity with firearms is imperative if you choose to carry a weapon, as bears can travel 50 feet per second."

http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/Region1/about_r1.cfm

Interestingly, they had this to say about the .44 sidearm.

"... Heavy handguns such as a .44-Magnum may be inadequate in emergency situations, especially in untrained hands."

http://www.wildlife.alaska.gov/index.cf ... rs.bearfax
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,420 Posts
A .44 mag would get a pretty good increase in velocity from a carbine model 94 trapper (like those plastic stocks would fit). Would you think nine or ten lever actioned rds. in the head may work good on some of the smaller bears?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,488 Posts
Charlie, self defensive Bear shootings probobly happen much like those with humans.... pretty close range.... I don't imagine that you'd have time to get off that many shots.... I shot a bear in the Adirondacks with a lever gun. I caught him snoozing in the open at about 60 yards and the best I could do was three rounds....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,677 Posts
You figure a 44 magnum at close range is only comparable to a 30-30.If you go with a x frame in 460 or 500 your getting up around a 30-06.I dont know what a 357 magnum would be camparable at short range to as far as a rifle.I do know of a charging griz killed by one shot to the head with a 357 magnum from horse back.But no matter what caliber you choose your first shot is the most important because it is probably the only killing shot you will get.
I know a number people who have killed black bear with both 357 and 44 magnums.When you shoot a non charging bear they will spasm some times fall over and get back up.If it was a killing shot then they will flail around growling and ripping the brush up until they die. If you didnt make a vital shot they will recover and charge.If you hit one good comming at you he will stop and spasm like electricity is being shot through him and then resume his charge.
I carried a 357 for years in bear country but was always with some one with a 44 or 41 magnum with hot loads.When I was alone which wasnt often I took a rifle.It is common in bear country if you camp and are not back backing many miles into the woods to have a 12 guage riot gun loaded with slugs for bears at close reach.A 12 guage makes short work of a bear at close range.
But if your back packing 30 or 40 miles or so back in some where packing a rifle can be a chore so most people pack a revolver. Trying to pick huckle berries or fly fish packing a rifle means it is going to be slung across your chest and be a pain in the ass and while your trying to get it unslung in a emergency your screwed.
I have taken some very long hikes into wilderness areas and wearing a N frame on your hip is a chore on its own.I usualy strap mine behind my head in the holster on the pack so its easy access and dont lug my right leg down.I have often thought about packing a 12 guage in a scabbard like you would a quiver for arrows where you can reach back and snatch it out quickly but it rides back out of the way.
There are griz bears where I like to go and in recent years there numbers have increased a lot. I am moving back that way again and have thought about picking up a ruger red hawk in 44 mag or 45 long colt so I can have super hot rounds with max power.But a 12 guage is still on my mind and having experience with black bears and knowing how hard they can be to kill makes me think about the increased population of griz bears and maybe the 12 guage is a better Idea.But I dont plan on going into deep wilderness with out some one along anymore and I would feel comforatable with my model 29 and a friends magnum as well.
During hunting I dont pack a revolver at all and carry a short carbine that has stopped black bear with one shot more than once and I am confident with for a griz bear.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
I took my 29-5 to the gun shop today to get a sense of how much it was worth. I told the guy I bought it for $500 because I was looking for a .44 bear gun and this seemed like a good deal. He encouraged me not to use it at all and keep it in pristine shape. He said it was worth collecting. I didn't intend on buying a collector gun, it just seemed like a good price, so I bought it. It's a 29-5 Classic, blued with a 6.5 inch barrel. It really is in good shape and practically looks brand new. I opened up the side plate and, again, it looked like new. The person I bought it from said it sat in a safe and was shot very little. Can anyone tell me about this gun. I'm trying to decide what to do. I'd like to keep it, but really am in need of a gun to take along while horn hunting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,488 Posts
The "Classic Hunter" series of -5 Model 29's are indeed in the "Modern Collectible" catagory, but only bring fair money at this time if New, Unfired, Complete with box, tools, paperwork and unaltered in any way.

Were it mine (and I do indeed have a 5" 29-5) and it was the only 29 I had, I strap it on and go afield without another thought.

About the only thing I can say is that the 4" Standard 29's are easier to pack. At least for me.

Drew
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,677 Posts
Well thats a hard question to answer about the 29-5. It will eventualy be worth more money just like most guns but its not a super collector gun right now.Appears to me you dont particularly have a interest in collecting. So you could either take it along with you hunting or sell it and buy say a ruger redhawk in 44 magnum or 45 long colt and load it up with some good hot loads.Or if you dont mind the weight you could buy a ruger super redhawk in 454 casull.Or you could go with a smith and wesson X frame in 460 or 500 magnum.
There are other options and the ruger black hawks are great if you like a single action. But you asked and those would be my personal choices.
 
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Top