Big Bore Bear Defense

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 1 month ago

Guns Magazine.

An elk guide I know prefers his .357 with heavy hard-cast bullets. SA or DA, a .357 revolver can be made slimmer and lighter than a .44 Magnum. While big-bores have the clear edge in power, bullets of high sectional density from stiff .357 loads hit hard and bite deep. In auto pistols, the 10mm is more than a match, its 180- and 200-grain bullets packing over 600 ft-lbs. Buffalo Bore lists a 180-grain JHP at 1,350 FPS for 728 ft-lbs., also a 220-grain hard-cast at 1,200 FPS for 703 ft-lbs. This 10mm load is shared by Grizzly Cartridge, which also sells a 200-grain flat-nose at 1,250 FPS. Muzzle-energy: a “mere” 694 ft-lbs! Underwood wrings 676 ft-lbs. from a 150-grain solid at 1,425 FPS. Black Hills has a 10mm HoneyBadger load, the 115-grain fluted bullet exiting at 1,664 FPS with 695 ft-lbs.

The only round to challenge the 10mm in standard-size auto pistols is the .400 Corbon, developed in 1995 by Peter Pi on a necked .45 hull. It kicks 165-grain bullets at 1,300 FPS, for 619 ft-lbs. While the .400 Corbon is only commercially chambered in a few pistols, the 10mm appears in countless 1911 platforms and other autos from SIGGLOCK and Springfield — even revolvers!

Why does no one ever discuss use of the 450 SMC for bear defense?  I have carried a .44 magnum wheel gun before, but I’ve also carried a 1911 with a stronger spring loaded with 450 SMC cartridges.  This round is 230 grains at > 1200 FPS, which matches the 10mm rounds he’s describing.

Furthermore, if that’s not enough out of a semiauto handgun, you can always bump up just a little bit to the 460 Rowland with a barrel and spring change.  That gun will send a 250 grain round down range at 1300 FPS.  There are kits for this modification.


Comments

  1. On May 30, 2023 at 10:09 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ H.S.

    Re: “Why does no one ever discuss use of the 450 SMC for bear defense? I have carried a .44 magnum wheel gun before, but I’ve also carried a 1911 with a stronger spring loaded with 450 SMC cartridges. This round is 230 grains at > 1200 FPS, which matches the 10mm rounds he’s describing.”

    Why indeed? The 450 SMC is a great cartridge, and so are some of the other modified 45-caliber chamberings, such as 45 Super and the 460 Rowland. Whereas 45 Super and 450 SMC allow 10mm Auto level (which are also close to 357 Magnum levels as well) external ballistics out of a 45-cal. handgun, the 460 Rowland allows the handgun hunter, guide or hiker, etc. performance which approaches that of 44 Magnum.

    The 460 Rowland does require a conversion of the existing platform in 45-cal. – including a stiffer, stronger recoil spring, stiffer and stronger magazine springs (due to increased slide velocity), the installation of a muzzle compensator, and one or two other enhancements. The payoff is that the user can fire standard 45 Auto ammunition, 45 Super, or 450 SMC, if so desired, without changing out the modifications.

    The 460 Rowland uses a standard 45 Auto case which has been significantly strengthened in the case head and web area, to allow significantly higher pressure loads to be used, up to double those of a standard 45 ACP load.

    To prevent misfeeding of 460 Rowland into an unmodified 45 ACP handgun and the unsafe condition thereby, the 460 Rowland case is slightly longer than the standard 45 Auto case overall length. However, since bullet is seated slightly deeper than in normal 45 Auto, the COAL (cartridge overall length) is the same.

    Of course, as with any other potential trail or hunting handgun, proper bullet and ammunition choice is imperative in getting optimum results against game, especially the largest and most-dangerous animals (moose, puma/black panther, bears, bison, feral hogs, etc.).

    For use against very large and dangerous game, a premium-brand tough high-strength solid bullet with excellent penetration characteristics is probably the ticket, i.e., something from Buffalo Bore, Underwood, or similar. Standard cup-and-core lead jacketed loads and plain FMJ often cannot stand up to the high impact velocities of these high-performance cartridges.

  2. On May 31, 2023 at 12:05 am, george 1 said:

    I have been told by a couple of shooters I know that the 450 SMC produces less recoil than a 10mm. That would be a good thing when you are trying to get back on target with a bear charging you.

    My inclination would be that if you are in big brown bear or moose territory a 44 magnum shooting hard cast would be the baseline. But there are guides in Alaska who think a 10MM is enough gun. They are obviously all braver than I am.

  3. On May 31, 2023 at 5:30 am, jrg said:

    I think most of the 10mm Mag. proponents are carrying one of the Glock pistols chambered in it. I think the reputation of reliability of Glocks is a big reason why that 10mm is as popular as it is. Six rounds of Magnum revolver vs. 10 rounds of 10mm – that is a significant advantage.

    We don’t have bears down here in south Texas and I’m okay with that.

  4. On May 31, 2023 at 7:21 am, Don't mind me. said:

    Do not use JHP for bear.

  5. On June 3, 2023 at 11:49 pm, BRVTVS said:

    On a related note, the real gunsmith did an interesting video about bears. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0bqQi6WAZY

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This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published May 30th, 2023 by Herschel Smith.

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