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I have a question concerning the best ammunition to carry when hiking in black bear country. I often hike with family in Colorado in the San Juan and San Luis Mountain areas where black bears are known to be. I usually carry a large can of bear mace with me but recently acquired my CCW license in Oklahoma and my spouse and myself will also likely be carrying a .40 XD subcompact and XDM .40.

Yes, I know that handguns are not the best defense with bears. I used to live in NW Montana and the first year I lived there in the 80's there was an incident where a Montana Grizzly crashed through a small tent and dragged a camper out by his feet. The camper shot the bear 6 times with a .41 caliber magnum and the bear, while retreating from the camper, reportedly was walking around the next day when the Rangers put it down.

My question specifically is whether or not it would be best to carry FMJ or JHP ammo in such a situation. Or, would loading an magazine with alternating rounds of each be be recommended?

Opinions are welcome here. I remember some wise cracks from my time in Montana about filing off the front sights of a pistol so it won't hurt that much when the grizzly takes your pistol and shoves it your a**. I know carrying a pistol isn't the ideal situation, but it is what it is. I like to hike in areas with low probabilities of bear contact....but given the firearms I will likely have available to me, I have had this question about where or not a penetrating FMJ round would be better with bears versus a JHP round designed for damage to a human.

Thank you for your thoughts....
 

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Since you've go to so much trouble to tell us that you know a .40 isn't a bear stopper, I'll spare you the lecture. :cool:

From everything I've read, when it comes to bears, shot placement is key, and penetration is a close runner up. There are a couple of loads on the market that IMHO would be your best bet. Heavy and fast.

Heavy .40 Smith & Wesson +P Pistol & Handgun Ammunition

DoubleTap Ammunition
 

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Bear = .357 mag or higher!
 

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A friend of mine is a professional guide for black bear hunters. He carries a .44 mag. He will tell you the only thing you will do with a .40 is piss the bear off. If you are serious about carrying a pistol for protection from bears, then leave the .40 at home and get a.44 mag. A .357 will likely work, but the .44 is better.
 

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10mm will drop that bear like a pair of panties on a honeymoon. Glock 20 with FMJ!

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I would think you would need a FMJ round to insure some sort of penetration through the fur and thick skin of a bear. Shot placement, aim for the soft pink area in the middle of all the sharp teeth he is showing you, LOL.
I wonder how the strobe function of those tactical lights would work against a bear, even in daylight it is painful/pretty annoying to be on the wrong end of one of those.

As a last resort, you could check on a rail mounted bayonet for the XDM...

Oh, and welcome to the Forum from a fellow Okie. While bear aren't common, they are in the area. Seeing a rise in wild hogs as well, look out for those too!
 

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Seeing as you are carrying a gun with limited power I would go with a 180 grain FMJ round.
+P if you can get it and aim for the head.
 

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There is no +P for 40.

If I were to carry a 40 in bear country, I would get some of the Speer 200 grain ball loads.

FWIW, I used to hike alot in bear country. I seen sooooo many that I decided it would be a good idea to carry a shotgun, even though it was a pain in the PacNW mountains, I felt bunches more safe. A hiker in that area put down a 400# bear with a 44spcl and Buffalo bore 255 Kieth hard cast at 1000fps. However he only fired it from a 3" barrel. Put it down on the spot.

carry what you got, but get the heaviest ball load you can...........
 

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Since you've go to so much trouble to tell us that you know a .40 isn't a bear stopper, I'll spare you the lecture. :cool:

From everything I've read, when it comes to bears, shot placement is key, and penetration is a close runner up. There are a couple of loads on the market that IMHO would be your best bet. Heavy and fast.

Heavy .40 Smith & Wesson +P Pistol & Handgun Ammunition

DoubleTap Ammunition
Those both look like very good loads for what you want. FMJ or hardcast. no HPs.

I also am someone with nothing heavier than a 40, ATM. I'd do what you are thinking and not worry about it. the old timers used to hunt them with weaker weapons than that.
 

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I hunt and hike in bear country, I only carry my Ruger SuperBlackhawk with Cor-Bon 300gr. hard cast bullets, if I need to protect myself from a bear I want to have enough gun to handle the situation.
 

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I carry a 10mm Kimber 1911 anywhere I go in Alaska.... 200 gr hardcast loads to the max. I can CCW it to fishing outings or hunting as a back up weapon. If fishing it's in a chest holster. This is what she looks like.
 

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I carry a 10mm Kimber 1911 anywhere I go in Alaska.... 200 gr hardcast loads to the max. I can CCW it to fishing outings or hunting as a back up weapon. If fishing it's in a chest holster. This is what she looks like.
What a cannon! Very nice.

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Discussion Starter #18
Those both look like very good loads for what you want. FMJ or hardcast. no HPs.

I also am someone with nothing heavier than a 40, ATM. I'd do what you are thinking and not worry about it. the old timers used to hunt them with weaker weapons than that.
Thanks for the opinions. I know .40 and handguns in general aren't ideal. But, my thoughts are that the primary defense is going to be (a) making noise and staying in a group of three or more, and (b) bear mace.

I just did come across this link at Ballistics 101 that had some stats on bears, handguns and bear mace. Camping & Hiking Ammunition | Ballistics 101 . No sources on the stats but interesting to see that mace is listed as 97% effective and handguns listed as stopping brown bears less than 60% of the time. Thing is with bear mace, wind conditions are a concern. If the wind is in your face and bear is about to be in your face...well, bad day.

Also bear mace that I have had list listed effective only within 30 feet. A bear charging you at say 30mph is moving at 44 feet per second. Chances are if you choose mace to use first because it is supposedly more effective and it fails...if you're alone and not in a group, you probably won't have time to go to a handgun in a desperation move. That's why I prefer to go in groups, but I see lone hikers all the time. Braver than I in bear country.

Good info on the ammunition. I was under the impression that +p .40 S&W ammunition didn't exist or wasn't recommended in the Springfield .40's. I guess from what I have read that may not be the case.
 

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I was under the impression that +p .40 S&W ammunition didn't exist or wasn't recommended in the Springfield .40's. I guess from what I have read that may not be the case.

And now you are under an impression that there is such a thing as +P 40S&W. If these companies are really loading past the SAAMI set max of 35,000psi then they are pushing a cartridge allready pushed past its limit. thats why SAAMI has no +P specs for the 40.

If a box of ammo that is labeled 40S&W has a "+P" on the box it is a straight up lie or is dangerously loaded too high of a pressure. It is what it is and it is that there is no +P for 40 cal............
 

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I honestly don't worry about bears too much here (CO). I hike and camp a lot, and have only ever seen one bear out here, and that was from the car. I typically have my 40SC with me out in the woods, and I keep a number of FMJ rounds in the magazine while in camp. I don't have anything better, but I also don't really anticipate having to fend off a black bear determined to eat me ever. I'm usually more concerned about running into trouble that comes on two legs.

Now, if this were grizzly country, I'd definitely have a beefier gun available for outdoor use.
 
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