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Camping Handgun

4849 Views 28 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  G21.45
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.
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: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. ;)
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.
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 .
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:) 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! :)
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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?
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.
Hi everyone,
Thanks for the detailed feedback!
Hi Spittin Fire,
I live in PA, but like to backpack and camp all over.
.... 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

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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Unless your out looking for bear, a .357 will do just fine if you are in your tent and you need to access a firearm quickly. In NY we only have black bear, and they rarely go beyond 500 lbs. I don't think a 500 lb. black bear will hang around long after getting hit with 5 or 6 .357 rounds! But then again, I may be partial...
I'm in PA bear country. I've never had a problem with them being aggressive one bit. I suppose there is always 'next time'. The only stories I heard of people in trouble with our local Ursa are folks that unknowingly split mother and cub.

Buffalo are a dangerous animal. My ex lives in SW SD, not to far from Custer State Park. The Bison there kill people every year by trampling them. Folks ignore the "stay in your car" signs and get out for the perfect picture. Noise, flash, smell, sight, whatever, irritates the subject of the photo and it's game on.

After seeing those beasts, I'm not sure a cannon would stop them.
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!
LOL G21 thats so funny to read that again , I basically read the same thing 30 years or so ago in a gun rag and the only caliber the author was speaking of was the 44 magnum !!

Ineffable , yes it did get off track fast because the OP seems to be very new as to guns and gun ownership especially handguns and as one who has been shooting them for O I dunno 30+ years and a reloader over 20 I feel it would be irresponsible of me to just say to him "Hey great gun there Tiger you're all set to take on the world just start blasting away !!"

I would rather insult him perhaps by tossing the "Cold hard water of reality" in his face than have him get it at 2am in a tent 10 miles from the nearest road from a Bear that is 3 times his size .

I own a few Compound bows that I can kill the toughest of Bears with provided I can get a perfect broadside shot on them but I damn sure wouldn't consider them a decent defensive weapon against a hungry one .

No offense intended but Ineffable people often make the mistake of projecting human emotions and reactions onto animals and I think in this case you're guilty of this .

Animals live by much simpler and crueler rules of existence than we do and they will quickly in life understand this , when hungry they eat or starve to death Period ! There is no shelter for them to go to or neighbor to ask for a handout .

In the animal kingdom weakness is death and nothing else .

To Deter a hungry predator not much short of death will work .

Hunters have indeed shot big Bears with Rifles that have more power than the biggest Hand Cannon Pistols and been killed or at least mauled severely , so forget scaring them with any noise or intimidating them once an attack has begun .

Ever seen a African Lioness stalk and kill a baby elephant ?

Often during the attack adult elephants including males with huge tusks will charge the Cat yet as long as she has a hold of that baby she doesn't get deterred at all and keeps up clawing and biting until the Baby dies , why because she is hungry and while that charging adult "MAY" kill her if it completes it's charge her hunger most certainly will and she in some way understands this .

Everything in life is a gamble "even if people don't want to admit or think about it" from the gun you use for defense to simply "Do I take route A or B to go to work today ?" a wise man "as blazefire seems to be" at least tries to become as informed as he can before making a decision .
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I think this should cover it.....even against the big three, G21!
It would be a cold day in hell when I spend 1 $1500 on a S&W revolver just for "camping", you sure as hell ain't gonna carry THAT revolver concealed.. I looked at the same stainless revolver in a 10" barrel for deer hunting a year ago - it was under $1200. That II might buy!
I was thinking of a 500 smith with a 4" bbl for CCW. If your are going to be armed why not arms your self to the teeth.

I think a 357 mag would be good heck anything is good in an emergency. Look not to long ago a guy beat a bear to death with a big stick. If you want something bigger get a 41 mag.

You can now get the 357 in 180gr from Buffalo Bore ammunition. In a 4" bbl Smith Mt. Gun it is clocking 1375 fps. That is looking right good to me.
LOL G21 thats so funny to read that again; I basically read the same thing 30 years or so ago in a gun rag and the only caliber the author was speaking of was the 44 magnum!
:) Well, all I can say is, I've got extensive experience shooting (and reloading) the S&W 44 magnum. We used to go with a large group to shoot steel silhouette matches; all of us were armed with 44 magnums; and, we used to compete for hours - all the way out to 150 yards! With as much shooting as we did during those early years, I never saw anyone hit himself in the head with a 44 magnum pistol as his Ruger Blackhawk, or Smith Model 29, or Thompson Center rocked 'n rolled through recoil.

I never saw anyone genuinely hurt his wrists or fingers; the only reason I ever heard from someone putting down a 44 magnum was because his hands were sore or he was tired of shooting it. ('Sore' is a long way from; 'I just hurt my hand!' or; 'I just knocked my teeth out!') Neither did I ever hear of anyone blowing two of his fingers off with the cylinder blast from a 44 magnum. So, yes, I do believe that the concept has, now, been carried too far.

These short barreled mega-caliber handguns are, not only, impractical; they are, also, extremely dangerous to many of the people who attempt to shoot them. (I've seen a number of really close calls, and have already ducked a spinning, 'monster killer' as it flew through the air after being touched off!) This was never the situation with the 44 magnum - That you could quickly learn to handle. I do not think that the same thing can, honestly, be said about any of these new mega-calibers.

(But, everyone can do whatever they want. As long as it ain't my firing line, or my face and fingers, what do I care!) ;)
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I shot an Contender in 30-30 once. That's as uncomfortable as I ever want to be shooting a handgun! I wouldn't think of carrying a handgun exclusively to shoot a bear - either hunting or for self-defense- that's what they make 12 ga. slugs for. In a bear confrontation I wouldn't feel too confident having to steadily aim a handgun, any handgun. If I knew I was going to be in an area frequented by bear, especially brown bear, I would be carrying a slug gun, to hell with the weight inconvenience! That being said, the .357 or .44 is PLENTY of gun for any kind of two-legged self-defensive situation, and more than good enough for cats and black bear.
I shot a 500 smith 4" barrel it was not all that bad It was better than a 6" barreled 44mag for me at least. The comp on it really helps.
I shot a 500 smith 4" barrel it was not all that bad It was better than a 6" barreled 44mag for me at least. The comp on it really helps.
I shot a .44 mag in a 6" tube and didn't think it was that bad - the noise and muzzle blast was worse than the recoil. I wouldn't want to shoot it all day, but it wasn't painful. I would imagine a scoped .500 S&W out of a 10" barrel would be quite pleasant...unless you're the deer on the receiving end that is..
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