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Old 03-21-2009, 10:26 AM   #1
BryanB
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Default Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I'll be bowhunting for bears this spring and would like a back up gun with me. I currently carry a 40cal auto and it is quite heavy and having to remember the safety, while I'm wetting myself, is a concern for me. This seems to be a very light weigh gun with no exposed hammer to hang up on brush, and is alloy and SS for rust reduction/cleaning in the field. I originally was looking for a 357, but was told with a 2" barrel that the knock down power isn't much different.

What are your thoughts?

Bryan

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Old 03-21-2009, 11:23 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Quote:
Originally Posted by BryanB View Post
I'll be bowhunting for bears this spring and would like a back up gun with me. I currently carry a 40cal auto and it is quite heavy and having to remember the safety, while I'm wetting myself, is a concern for me. This seems to be a very light weigh gun with no exposed hammer to hang up on brush, and is alloy and SS for rust reduction/cleaning in the field. I originally was looking for a 357, but was told with a 2" barrel that the knock down power isn't much different.

What are your thoughts?

Bryan

If you go with the +P model, it's very close to a .357! I'd be worried about cats more than bears, but that's just me.
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Old 03-21-2009, 11:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

38spl for bear = Dead man walking.
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Old 03-21-2009, 11:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Likewise, I think a .38's kinda light for bears--maybe not for pumas, but unless it's a point blank finisher I'd feel better with that .40, better yet with a magnum of some kind. Any decent size bear likely requires more "oomph" than a .38 snubbie has.
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Old 03-21-2009, 12:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

It is the +P.
The only time I would consider using it would be as a last case up-close and personal experience. Other than that my arrows get all the priority.
Is there a better option that is also lighter weight to carry?

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Old 03-21-2009, 04:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Let's see.. 4 rounds at the bear, then one for yourself.
Seriously, get a 629 44mag with heavy +P rounds. It will have the heft and sight radius needed to calm your tremor and hit what needs killing. Even better would be a 45-70 or a riot-gun with slugs, but thats probably not allowed if your bow hunting. I got charged by a Holstein Bull while quail hunting 15 years ago, and I was sure glad I had the slugs. Fortunately the electric fence stopped him by frying his sensitive parts after he tried to go over it in chase. It wailed the most god-aweful sounds.
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Old 03-21-2009, 04:35 PM   #7
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I carry a 454 casull, but a 44 mag would do...as long as we are talking black bear...if griz then a S$W 500 is appropriate. Ask the Alaskan's.
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Old 03-21-2009, 04:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Good you give more details on the situation where a handgun would come into play while bowhunting for Black bear ?
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Old 03-21-2009, 06:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

look up a 44 special bulldog, if your buying new
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Old 03-21-2009, 06:24 PM   #10
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

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Good you give more details on the situation where a handgun would come into play while bowhunting for Black bear ?

Let's say the bear is happily munching berries, and you walk up on it. What do you think will happen? It will probably run, but what if it doesn't? What if there are cubs nearby? Maybe your arrow only wounds an unsuspecting bear and it sees you. Maybe now it wants to climb your tree, in a really bad mood. These are the plays for a really powerful handgun.
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Old 03-21-2009, 06:54 PM   #11
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I have had a lot of handguns but not what you'd call educated on them by any means. What I do know is that bears can have a lot of fat and mussle to penetrate and I'm not sure I'd trust that to a 38 spec. I believe I'd consider something on the order of a mod 29/629 ect and I'd use 44 Spec loads in it. Something on the order of a 240gr hard cast SWC will give about the same velocity as any 38 spec load with a heavier bullet that should penetrate better and have much more manageable recoil than a 44mag. Using a gun as a back up is no place to try what you have as opposed to what is better. I would suggest the best backup would be a buddy with a rifle if you feel you'll need a backup.

Keep in mind that if you really should need a backup, your already gonna be very close, the bear will probably bolt rather than taking the time to see where you are and if it runs at you, you'll have to unload the bow, draw a handgun and get off a somewhat aimed shot in a very short time span. Are you up to that without shooting yourself in the thigh?
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Old 03-21-2009, 07:01 PM   #12
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

For black bear, cougars and two leged animals in the woods; carry as a back up gun: I think the perfect weapon is the airlight SW .357mag at 11.5 oz.; 750$

Go ahead and beat that for reliability, wieght, carryability and power.

Ten bucks says that 44 mag ends up in the truck when you need it.
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Old 03-21-2009, 07:02 PM   #13
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I'll show my hand, although I was hoping the OP would give an example first. I feel much more comfortable in the woods unarmed than I do in the concrete jungle unarmed...
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Old 03-21-2009, 07:18 PM   #14
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

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Originally Posted by bigjake_888 View Post
Ten bucks says that 44 mag ends up in the truck when you need it.
Bingo! We have a winner!

I get ribbed every year for carrying my 3" Model 66 .357 up north. But guess what revolver spends more days in the field every season. If I were paid $1 for every pound of super dude magnum revolver iron left in camp each day I could buy an island. Granted, it's not the best option in a hairy situation, but .357 mag vs .000 ain'tgotitwithme; .357 wins every time.

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Old 03-21-2009, 07:27 PM   #15
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

having spent a number of years in the bush of alaska and being very close to LARGE bears not the little black we have down here i can say from experience that it is best to not shoot rather make loud noise and wave your arms fast. don't run, don't charge just make plenty of noise and slowly step towards a save zone. unless a bear has to attack they would rather not fight.

back when i worked up there a fellow from another lodge that pulled a 4inch 44 out and poped a griz. the shot at 15 yards under extreem stress hit the griz between the eyes. the shot pulled a wad of fur and skin from mid nose to the between the ears and left what looked like a bad hair piece. that ended the contact with that bear but it was a problem bear with a real bad attitude and had to be put down by the Park Circus

bears are note a real threat as i see it but if your out sneaking around for game in camo a cougar is the real threat as they may be putting the sneak on you.
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Old 03-21-2009, 07:28 PM   #16
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I agree with Bigjake and Nehalem guy. After owning a 44 magnum for many years, and not packing it because of the weight/bulk, I opted for the Smith Airweight 38 +p. If money is no object the 357 would be better.
I carry the Airweight nearly every day, usually in my pocket.

As a side note, a former neighbor killed a 200 lb. black bear with one shot from a Harrington Richardson 22 magnum revolver. I skinned the bear for him, the bullet had passed through both lungs and lodged against the skin on the other side.
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Old 03-21-2009, 07:46 PM   #17
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I've carried all kinds of handguns over the years, having taken 5 bucks with my S&W M29. I've tried Smith .45 Colt DAs, M66 .357, Colt 1911 .45 ACP, 8 3/8" M27 .357, ,45 colt SA sixguns--they'll all work under pressure, as long as the shooter does HIS job. And, yes, a .22 will kill a bear dead, but that'd be my LAST choice. Using the proper bullet in the correct place you can put/keep a bear down. The odds of that as a necessity are slim, but you can never tell. A +P .38 might work, if you shoot correctly, but there are definitely better choices. However it goes, best of luck to you!
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Old 03-21-2009, 08:17 PM   #18
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

What is the world coming to? 17 posts into a thread about enough gun for bears and no one has suggested filing off the front sight if you go undergunned. I love that joke - cracks me up every time.

I usually pack my 357, particularly when I am off by myself. I don't know if it is enough to stop a bear but I'm more worried about discouraging 2-legged trouble. In the remote chance that I do get tangled up with a ornery bear, I am sure that I can make enough noise with it to raise a ruckus and I'm reasonaly sure that I can do some damage if he gets close enough for me to actually hit him with the thing.
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Old 03-21-2009, 10:12 PM   #19
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I would prefer something 0.4x caliber with a bullet wt of 250+gr, hardcast at 900+fps. In fact, that is what I carry! 255+gr hardcast, .452, at ~900fps. Great penetration and very controllable out of an N-frame. Mine is 26oz (S&W 325PD). Had a 4-5/8" SBH (44mag), but at 42+oz it got heavy after a few miles.

No disrespect meant here, but if you think you'll be fumbling with the safety on the 40, what is the 40 used for? Is it a range toy? It must not be your concealed carry weapon. I also do not like safeties on my self defense handguns. I like revolvers and DAO pistols.

I would consider selling the 40 and 38 and getting 2 different handguns. One for concealed carry around town, and another one for the woods. It sounds like you might want to get something without a safety for around town (or some professional training) and a big bore revolver. I would be careful about getting too much gun for hunting though. Even a 629 or 625 Mtn Gun gets heavy hiking up and down hills. They weigh the same as that SBH I had. A lightweight 45colt, 44spl, or 45ACP using hardcast bullets should take care of most things in the PNW.

If you must go with what you already have, I would consider practicing more with the 40 and try one of these loads:

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I have not used those two loads in particular, but have used others with great results. The other thing you may want to consider would be to take the 38 and bear spray.

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Old 03-21-2009, 10:50 PM   #20
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

IF you intend to shoot a charging bear with a pistol, then by all means take the one you shoot trap with...

In other words, it is my opinion that if you can't hit a straight flying, steady moving target that you're ready for, you won't scratch a real life charging bear.

This is the stuff people who spend a lot of time indoors, spend a lot of time thinking about.

I'm not intending to hurt any feelers here, I know this is a very happy site, but a guy who takes archery equipment out to do battle with a bear, has got to leave the truck expecting he can get it done. IF that's not your bag, then leave it to the guys who think they can do it.

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Old 03-21-2009, 11:21 PM   #21
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Quote:
Originally Posted by nehalemguy View Post
Bingo! We have a winner!

I get ribbed every year for carrying my 3" Model 66 .357 up north. But guess what revolver spends more days in the field every season. If I were paid $1 for every pound of super dude magnum revolver iron left in camp each day I could buy an island. Granted, it's not the best option in a hairy situation, but .357 mag vs .000 ain'tgotitwithme; .357 wins every time.

E
This is the bottom line. Pack thebiggest that you will have with out everytime. A 38+P is closer to a 357 than a 38 is you handload or can find good ammo. And a good hardcast bullet is the way to go. Not the best for tracking down a wounded black bear in the brush, but in apinch a lot better than the magnum you left in the truck because it was too heavy.
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Old 03-22-2009, 12:14 AM   #22
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I have a .357 with a 4" ported barrel because I worry more about cougs and tweeks. I would say bear spray should be a first intervention, if possible. Then, if that doesn't work, hope you get a damn good shot with a snubby .38 special
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Old 03-22-2009, 04:04 AM   #23
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I believe theres no replacement for 2 things :
1) placement - good bullet placement.
2) displacement - big holes in nasty critters the largest you can use accurately.

That said most any gun beats no gun.
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Old 03-22-2009, 06:47 AM   #24
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

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I believe theres no replacement for 2 things :
1) placement - good bullet placement.
2) displacement - big holes in nasty critters the largest you can use accurately.

That said most any gun beats no gun.
That's not entirely true, about most any gun. If the bear is wounded, has you zeroed in and really is coming for you, I doubt that at that moment you would have minded carrying a Sherman tank in on your hip. But if you find your in that position and you draw your 38 snub nose, I suspect your going to feel a bit inadequate!

If on the other hand the bear is simply trying to get away and you take a shot with that 38 and wound it, it may decide to seek retribution on the way out and then it becomes a case of you had better stop it!

As for placement and displacement, I couldn't agree more!
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Old 03-22-2009, 07:21 AM   #25
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I would pack my .40 for cats and bears before a 38 but thats just me...I think 15 rounds of 180 grains is better than six 38 rounds

My two

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Old 03-22-2009, 10:01 AM   #26
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Having access to several of the Revolvers mentioned here (642, 629-Mtn. Gun etc.), here is what I DO carry!

(Yeah, I know, lots of ppl here have probably seen these pics before! "Good" doesn't change)

It's the smallest, lightest, handiest "serious" Revolver I own!

S&W Mod. 60-10, 3" ported barrel in .357

Like others here, I think that big cats and ******** are a greater concern than Bears, but you WILL carry this when you wouldn't a .44 Mag. or .454!

It's TINY, relatively light, and CONVENIENT worn on your hip.

Yes it DOES have a Hammer, but you're probably not going to snag it on anything if carried in a holster like this (or you could have the Spur bobbed off for D.A. only?)

Here's a "regular size" S&W .357 4" next to it.

In Pic #2 those are a couple of Goose Calls ~5" long.








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Old 03-22-2009, 10:12 AM   #27
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??


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Old 03-22-2009, 10:33 AM   #28
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Yeah, maybe?!!

But it's amazing what the difference in 1" of barrel length/sight radius makes.

(Assuming you have time to USE the sights )

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Old 03-22-2009, 10:35 AM   #29
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I've taken some bear with a hand gun. For what its worth I'd forget a 38.

If you use a 45 Colt (hand loaded. Not an ACP), 41 Mag, 44 Mag you can be warm and fuzzy. I have done most of my work with the 41. I've taken numerous hogs (down south where I had a pig hunting deal for 11 years while stationed there in the service) 10 or 15 deer, and my largest moose to date was taken with the 41 mag. in 1994. Other moose have been taken with a 30-06 & 45-70 which I really like for big stuff in the woods. I handload for all my guns (currently 9 calibers) (except 22 LR and steel shot for waterfowl).
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Old 03-22-2009, 12:47 PM   #30
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I have archery hunted black bears and always have been confident with a .357 mag as my sidearm in Oregon.

When I hunt in Alaska on Prince of Wales Island I don't have to worry about Brown bears but the Black bears are just bigger up there. I used to carry a 357 mag now I carry a 44 mag and here is why. When I shot a 7 foot+ bear with my bow in Alaska for the first time I felt that I wasn't carrying enough gun. I shot him at close range on the ground and was never nervous but when I walked up to him he was just too big for my 357. I felt if he turned on me I needed more punch. I now have a S&W 629 44 mag and it is just right.

The most important thing is that you carry a gun. If you choose a huge gun that is too heavy to be practical you will probably stop carrying at some point. In that case it's better to have a 38 special than no gun at all. In Oregon I don't feel it's worth carrying my 44 mag around because of it's size. In Alaska it fits the situation. If I am hunting the mainland in Alaska which has a lot of large Brown Bear I carry no less than a 454 but preferably a 500. In Oregon I have confidence in a 357 mag.

Remember carrying a small gun is better than no gun at all. Good Luck
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Old 03-22-2009, 03:21 PM   #31
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I am starting to lean tward spray for cats and bears in lieu of packing another pistol.

Weight savings. You think the personal protector sprays will work?
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Old 03-22-2009, 06:46 PM   #32
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

so spray is great unless you have a stream come right back on a wind into your face.

this happened to me up in AK when i had 5 customers on a rivers edge. big bruiser kept walking towards us pushing us up against the bank. pulled out the super size can of bear spray gave it the ol shaka shaka and let the pencil thick stream fly. just as the stream was about to hit the bear a breeze switched and pushed a huge cloud back onto me. good news was the spray worked real well bad news was the spray worked real well on me.

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Old 03-22-2009, 07:41 PM   #33
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Thanks for all the great feed back. I really appreciate all the insight. The 40 cal is not my CC gun, it's too bulky to wear with my suit and tie. It is also often raining in the early and late archery season and I have found a automatic a pain to strip and clean all the time. It seems like a revolver in SS would be much more user friendly. I do expect my arrow to take care of business or for the animal to run. But what if he doesn't???
Thanks again,
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Old 03-22-2009, 08:03 PM   #34
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

The advantage of the .357 in the 2" barrel over the .38+p is the ammo, not velocity. You can shoot Corbons 200gr hard cast lead solids if you have a .357, but they don't make it in a .38. This bullet is a penetrator, and I feel confident that it would stop an Oregon blackie.
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Old 03-22-2009, 08:37 PM   #35
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

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The advantage of the .357 in the 2" barrel over the .38+p is the ammo, not velocity. You can shoot Corbons 200gr hard cast lead solids if you have a .357, but they don't make it in a .38. This bullet is a penetrator, and I feel confident that it would stop an Oregon blackie.
I've used 125 grn JSP in .357 MAG on black bear with good results from 20 yards, killed them quick, but you're already armed well enough for blackies if you're carrying a bow and broadheads. As a rule, black bear are not aggressive. The sows with cubs that I've encountered have all run away as fast as they could leaving the cubs to fend for themselves. I've been within four feet of a sow with a cub and when she realized I was there she blew out of there. A wounded cornered bear can be another matter, but the ones that I've tracked, have only tried to get away. Use your head and you'll be OK.
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Old 03-22-2009, 08:38 PM   #36
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

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Thanks for all the great feed back. I really appreciate all the insight. The 40 cal is not my CC gun, it's too bulky to wear with my suit and tie. It is also often raining in the early and late archery season and I have found a automatic a pain to strip and clean all the time. It seems like a revolver in SS would be much more user friendly. I do expect my arrow to take care of business or for the animal to run. But what if he doesn't???
Thanks again,
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??? I wear suit and tie, or dockers and a polo every day for WORK while carrying a Glock 22 or a 23, and you can't tell I wear it. I am NOT a Glock fan---although I sound like one. They get wet, hose it with the plastic friendly gun scubber or whatever, oil it real quick. Done. Maybe I missed it but sounds like your .40 is a full size? Get a holster like the Blackhawk plastic ones that won't hold water, or a nylon Uncle Mikes.

Funny, I DO have a 642, it goes in my pocket during hot weather or when I don't have a cover up. The 642 is a GET OFFA ME gun, which I look at as an extended range stabbing weapon. It buys me time to beat feet. Another funny, with issue 130 grain Win SXT +P it won't penetrate my 55 gallon burn barrel at 20 feet....so what would that load do to a bear, unless you stuck it in his mouth...

Many of the answers posted are from guys who thought it through and made their choice. After shooting wild boar with the .40 and seeing the damage, I wouldn't be afraid of a black bear with the right ammo. If I were buying an auto for just your purpose I'd get the Glock 10mm and be happy.

Good luck...

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Old 03-22-2009, 09:38 PM   #37
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I agree with billc sbio, I have a 3" SW in 357 and 44 and when you have seen a cat at close range you will know why I carry the 3" 44 with 300 gr, having hit a 175 lb, 8'2" cat with a bow at 25 yrds it helps a little to go looking for it with something more that a pointed stick. And even then it is very spooky! I recomend going with as big as you WILL be able to carry. Shoulder holster takes all the weight also. Good luck!
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Old 03-22-2009, 09:46 PM   #38
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I have a Ruger GP100 in .357 and I pack it everywhere I go in the woods. It's loaded with Cor Bon 200 gr. Hard Cast bullets, i feel safe against bears/cats/******** in Oregon.
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Old 03-23-2009, 07:18 AM   #39
James in Idaho
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

If it's what you got, it'll work. 38 with good hard cast +p's is nothing to sneeze at. If you're buying, I'd bump up to a .357 with a 3" barrel. S&W does make the Mountain Gun in 44 mag and 45 Long Colt, nice pistol. However, a 44 mag in a short, light package is going to not be all that much fun to shoot, but it would be more fun than getting chewed on. I think the noise of a .38 would be enough to convince most blackies to beat feet, and one behind the ear would be a fine finisher.
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Old 03-23-2009, 08:26 AM   #40
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I can't believe nobody is recommending the S&W 329PD in 44mag. I have one and love it. I literally pack this thing EVERY time I go in the woods. It is so light you don't even realize it is on your hip. It does kick qutie a bit with full house loads, but it is very manageable with 44spl.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:00 AM   #41
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Black bear encounters seldom turn into dangerous situations. One of my friends discovered one in his garage as he was taking out the garbage. The bear was after the garbage cans and it left through a closed window! I've been in the same berry patch with a sow and her cubs just a few feet away eating berries. I just hollered BOO! and they ran away. I don't think that you need to kill a black bear in Oregon unless you want to. I've never heard of a single case of an unwounded black bear attacking anybody in the woods in Oregon and I've spent my life working in the woods. The dangerous bears are the wounded ones and the ones coming into backyard bird feeders. There was a lady last year in Sandy that got scratched by one that was into her bird seed. Too dumb to put pepper into the bird mix. If you bump into one in the field, a big boar may check you out, but if you keep your wits about you and give him room he'll clear out. Shoot, Sliverpicker keeps one around his house for a part time pet!
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:04 AM   #42
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I think the original situation was concerning what you wanted to pack as "backup" while bowhunting for black bear.

That being said, I agree with a lot of the philosophies here in that you want enough gun and you want to be able to pack it comfortably enough that you don't leave it in the vehicle.

For black bear, or any game, you want to be able to shoot whatever you pack. I've hunted with a few guys that always pack a .44. I had to use it last year and I'll tell you it was too much given the situation. It wasn't the weight of the gun, but the amount of recoil during an intense situation.

Since then, I went with a relative that has a "collection" of handguns (much like bill below has demonstrated that he has). I shot them all. considered the means for how I would carry it, and then over a period of time, practiced shooting 2 shots fast.

I can't recover from the .44 recoil quite fast enough. I found that I do like a longer sight plane (and I shot it better), I definitely learned I needed a double action revolver, and I wanted top quality/durability. I also wanted to kill 2 birds with one handgun so to speak, as I am hoping to actually use it as my primary firearm during the fall bear season this year from a ground blind situation.

I settled for the 686 .357 S/W with 6" barrel. I feel very comfortable with it.

My point is, too much gun, unprepared, will serve you wrong. Pack what works for you, and if possible try several models / loads.

I am NO handgun expert, thus I wanted to find out what suited me best, which is NOT the same for everyone (as we can see from this thread).

For some, a 6" barrel is too long to pack in the field. The weight could be too much as a "side" arm. I think the shooter's ability, quality of bullet, and shot placement of key, but for a bow hunter grabbing for a backup...accessibility is tops.

I think your .38 Special +P would server you very well for what you need it to do...save your bacon in an unanticipated situation..enough to give you time to put space between you.

good luck!
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Last edited by ommedia; 03-23-2009 at 01:40 PM. Reason: meant to say 6" barrel...
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:16 AM   #43
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Quote:
Originally Posted by ommedia View Post
I think the original situation was concerning what you wanted to pack as "backup" while bowhunting for black bear.

That being said, I agree with a lot of the philosophies here in that you want enough gun and you want to be able to pack it comfortably enough that you don't leave it in the vehicle.

For black bear, or any game, you want to be able to shoot whatever you pack. I've hunted with a few guys that always pack a .44. I had to use it last year and I'll tell you it was too much given the situation. It wasn't the weight of the gun, but the amount of recoil during an intense situation.

Since then, I went with a relative that has a "collection" of handguns (much like bill below has demonstrated that he has). I shot them all. considered the means for how I would carry it, and then over a period of time, practiced shooting 2 shots fast.

I can't recover from the .44 recoil quite fast enough. I found that I do like a longer sight plane (and I shot it better), I definitely learned I needed a double action revolver, and I wanted top quality/durability. I also wanted to kill 2 birds with one handgun so to speak, as I am hoping to actually use it as my primary firearm during the fall bear season this year from a ground blind situation.

I settled for the 686 .357 S/W with 4" barrel. I feel very comfortable with it.

My point is, too much gun, unprepared, will serve you wrong. Pack what works for you, and if possible try several models / loads.

I am NO handgun expert, thus I wanted to find out what suited me best, which is NOT the same for everyone (as we can see from this thread).

For some, a 4" barrel is too long to pack in the field. The weight could be too much as a "side" arm. I think the shooter's ability, quality of bullet, and shot placement of key, but for a bow hunter grabbing for a backup...accessibility is tops.

I think your .38 Special +P would server you very well for what you need it to do...save your bacon in an unanticipated situation..enough to give you time to put space between you.

good luck!
I agree with that 100%! I carry a 6" S&W revolver in .357 when I go look for dead bears. I can hit out past 50 yards with this excellent and accurate firearm. It doesn't take a big gun, it takes one that you can confidently shoot accurately. I know from experience because I've killed bears with it. I definitely prefer accurate revolvers for bear and cat guns.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:24 AM   #44
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdawgwill44 View Post
I have a Ruger GP100 in .357 and I pack it everywhere I go in the woods. It's loaded with Cor Bon 200 gr. Hard Cast bullets, i feel safe against bears/cats/******** in Oregon.
The GP100 is a great gun.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:13 PM   #45
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

When I Bow hunt on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, I always carry my Scandium (sp?) 44 mag. light weight 4" in the leg pocket of my 6 pocket pants. As said before no Brown Bears there, But when I hunt on Admiralty Island for deer, I always carry my 500 S&W in a shoulder holster. Lots of Brown Bear there. I always use lead cast bullets. No hollow points. I have been within 4 feet of a Brown Bear and I did not feel comfortable even if I had a Howitzer. I think you should go with the biggest, fastest bullet you can afford. Shoulder holsters make it easier to carry the heavy IRON. Gerberman
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Old 03-24-2009, 03:29 PM   #46
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Default Re: Bear back-up gun- S&W 642 38 Special??

I live in AK and I love my s&w M&P .357 in scandium... you dont even know your carrying it... Full house loads will do the job.. and the penetration through a scull is better than from the 44mag or the 45 lc.

The gun you have on you is WAY better han the big one in the safe...

its only for shooting them at your feet... but I cant say I would pull the trigger if it was any farther away anyways...
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