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blazefire222 07-16-2008 11:57 AM

Camping Handgun
I purchased a .357 a while back because I liked the versatility it came with- fun at range and practicle for home defense. However, I do a lot of camping, and am wondering if a .357 is sufficient enough to bring down larger game if the emergency occurs. Can anyone make some suggestions for a hangun purchase if neccessary for the lower 48, or will an accurate shot with .357 be enough? Thanks for everyone's time.

G21.45 07-16-2008 12:40 PM

:rolleyes: So, what are we talking about .... bears?

No, a 357 magnum revolver will NOT be sufficient. Unless you've got an 8" barrel on that 357 magnum, I wouldn't even suggest you try using it for deer.

What you would need to use as an emergency backwoods firearm is a small carbine like the Marlin 1895G in the much more appropriate 45-70 caliber.

A 357 magnum revolver is, also, going to limit you to a maximum bullet size of 158 grains (usually hollowpoint) - Good for two legged critters; but, not so good for the four legged variety. ;)

chorst294 07-16-2008 02:59 PM

If large bears are a serious threat in your area, I'd agree with G21 .45 and recommend a good Marlin guide gun in .45-70 or .450 Marlin. Actually, a more versatile firearm might be a short barrel 12 guage pump shotgun loaded with slugs. If you must stick with handguns, then I'd suggest at least a .44 Magnum, but preferably a .454 Casull, .480 Ruger, .460 S&W, .500 S&W, etc.. I live in FL where the local black bears aren't very agressive, so I usually just pack a .357 or one of my trusty .45acp's.

BigO01 07-16-2008 04:20 PM

Well my opinion is on just how exactly you define these two words in your post " sufficient and emergency" in relation to what you think you could be dealing with .

If a pack of feral dogs is what your speak of "Honestly by far your greatest animal threat in the wild" the 357 is a fabulous choice same thing with cougars/mountain lions .

Now when it comes to bears things get interesting , Brown/Grizzlies and Blacks "Black being a species not necessarily the color of the animal" have both been known to drag a camper out of a tent at night and eat them .

Most "documented" Grizzly attacks when not dragged from a tent involve one of three conditions 1) getting too close to a mother bears cubs , 2) getting to close to a bears food source or having a food source on or near you , 3) simply getting to close and surprising the animal .

Blacks on the other hand do have many cases in which they have actually stalked and killed a human purely as a food source and have been later killed protecting the body as they fed . So if you're out hiking and think you hear a noise behind you , turn around and look , don't just dismiss it as a falling rock or your imagination , you could be seconds away from being a bears lunch .

Now to my first comment of defining those words , the 357 has indeed been used successfully to defend against these animals , as a matter of fact Gun and Ammo had a series of stills taken from a video of a fairly large Grizzly who was killed during a capture and release program due to an accident .

I believe it was in Montana and they were relocating a problem bear and filming it when the cage they were releasing it from spilled out of the back of the truck with a ranger standing on it opening the cage door for the bear .

He literally landed on top of the Bear rolled off and drew his 357 as he rolled to his feet and emptied the gun into the bear at a distance of a few feet killing it . It was a 400+ LB Grizzly .

So you see in a dire situation a 357 sure beats nothing at all .

Two things to keep in mind with these animals 1) they have a heavy bone structure and a very dense body makeup with both fat and muscle .

You need a round that penetrates penetrates and then penetrates some more to break bone and reach vitals .

Forget Cast bullets no matter how hard and go with a full metal jacket flat or soft point rounds even if you carry a 41 or 44 magnum and do the 180 grain thing for the 357 .

A hand Cannon will do you NO GOOD here if you can't get multiple shots off quickly and fairly accurately and I suggest one handed practice for this adventure .

I agree completely with the rifle especially in Brown/Grizzly country with something like a 358 or 356 Winchester as a base round and would prefer a 45-70 or a 450 Marlin . Me I would skip the shotgun and slugs as they are made of fairly soft lead .

O and in the event of a charge forget a head shot and go for a front shoulder , you break that shoulder and the bear can't run after you anymore .

G21.45 07-16-2008 07:09 PM

:) What an interesting discussion! OK, I am aware that there are instances where some of the larger bears have been brought down by handgun fire; but there are, also, other instances where rifles in calibers like 308 have failed to stop an angry bear, too.

I'm, probably, one of the few on this board who is troubled by bears on the property. We've got a big old fellow (around 500#'s) who shows up several times a year. He's a garbage raider; and, once, he trapped my wife inside the house and made her miss an appointment because he wouldn't leave the yard.

My wife used to work in Milford, PA. On too many occasions they couldn't leave work, on time, at the end of the day because, 'Old Ben' (Who weighed in at over 700#'s when he was finally killed.) was out in the driveway and wouldn't stop prowling the parking lot.

Me? Over the years I've seen plenty of Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey black bears that could, probably, have been taken at close range by a 44 magnum revolver; but, I can think of better ways to spend my time. ;) (I've, also, seen plenty of black bears around here that I would have hesitated to attempt with one of my 30-06's!) According to reports I've read it is NOT the big browns nor the grizzlies who hold the record for mauling and eating people. (Are you ready?) Instead it is the eastern black bear!

The only good that I'll say for the enormous 12 and 15 hundred pound buffaloes that wander around the side pastures next to our home is the fact that since the buffaloes have been here, (Guess what?) we haven't seen any bears!

But, don't get me started on buffaloes. Suffice it to say that all the neighbors who seem to love these animals are, also, people who don't live anywhere in the immediate vicinity. I AM super impressed with the buffaloes' intelligence; they are very smart, and very alert animals. (I'd even describe them as cunning!)

I've heard them snort to each other in recognition after they picked me up at 150 yards distance on dark and moonless nights. (And I was moving quietly!) They are highly territorial, mutually protective, and can be exceptionally mean-tempered.

Buffaloes are, also, completely unpredictable: You never really know if they're going to charge and crush you; or, if they're just walking over to look for a few free apples? We herd the cows by walking up on them; but, the buffaloes have to be herded from pickup trucks and all-terrain vehicles. They're brilliant escape artists, too. If there's a weakness, anywhere, along the fence they're always the first to know it's there!

Whenever I go out on the property at night the first thing I'll do is try to figure out where they are; and, I will never forget that early morning when my Dachshund went nuts; and, an escaped big female responded by butting her head into the wall of our house. The whole place shook!

I've warned many a neighbor not to stop and goof around by feeding apples to the buffaloes; but, Hell, nobody listens. These dizzy people who stop out on the road simply refuse to recognize the danger they (and their kids) are in. Cows they ain't! :p

'Why' am I telling you these things? Because if you really need, 'emergency protection' in the woods then make sure you're carrying the right weapon. A 357 magnum revolver is good for people and small critter problems; but, it will only seriously piss off that big bear who's pulling your screaming carcass out of the tent.

A 45-70 short carbine (or 450 Marlin) loaded with big solids WILL change that bear's mind; but, a 357 magnum revolver is just going to make him more determined to get even with you! :)

spittinfire 07-16-2008 08:13 PM

I'd like to know where this guy is hiking. I'm in western NC and with the exception of black bear, elk, and big wild hog, 357 would be fine for around here. Now if I was heading out to Montana where there is some beautiful hiking I'd want nothing short of a .454 or a 460/500 S&W Mag for animals like mentioned above, brown bear, buffalo(i agree they can be very aggressive), moose(these too are known for their aggression) and elk. Blazefire, where are you from?

user4 07-16-2008 08:18 PM

I see this went off topic fast...He asked about a HANDGUN, not rifles. The .357 loaded with .357 ammo (not .38) will be just fine against predators. It may not kill a bear with one shot, but the noise along with the pain will deter the hell out of him. Mountain lions, too, will run from the noise.

You have a fine weapon for personal defense while camping. Leave your claymores at home.

blazefire222 07-16-2008 08:27 PM

Hi everyone,
Thanks for the detailed feedback!

blazefire222 07-16-2008 08:29 PM

Hi Spittin Fire,
I live in PA, but like to backpack and camp all over.

G21.45 07-16-2008 10:11 PM


Originally Posted by spittinfire (Post 32131)
.... With the exception of black bear, elk, and big wild hog, 357 would be fine for around here.

Ohh, well then, as long as he stays away from the, 'big three' he should be OK - right? :p


Originally Posted by spittinfire (Post 32131)
Now if I was heading out to Montana where there is some beautiful hiking I'd want nothing short of a .454 or a 460/500 S&W Mag for animals like mentioned above, brown bear, buffalo (i agree they can be very aggressive), moose (these too are known for their aggression) and elk. ....

This is one of my favorite subjects! So far I've seen two people smack themselves, hard, in the head, several people have hurt their wrists or hands, and there is a report going around the internet about some guy who actually blew two of his fingers off by placing his support hand in front of the cylinder on one of these, 'mega-revolvers'. :eek:

Every time I walk into Gander Mountain, the used handgun display case is full of, 'mega revolvers'; some look like they've only been fired once!

Whenever I'm at the range and someone offers me an opportunity to shoot his brand new, 'monster-killer' revolver, I just smile and decline. The last big match I went to had the Cor-Bon representative show up with one of these things in tow. Of the five or six strong men I watched shoot it, two of them wouldn't do it again; AND, misses were frequent at only 15-20 yards!

It's not only a matter of carrying, 'enough gun'; it's, also, a matter of carrying the right gun. 'Right' implies that there will be no exceptions to the weapon's capability.

(Unless, of course, you're psychic and know what's going to be coming at you.) ;)

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