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Bears vs Handguns: Defending Yourself in Bear Country

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James discusses in this episode whether or not carrying a large caliber handgun is a good idea for defending one’s self against large predators such as brown bears. He also talks about the alternatives to a handgun, the logistics of using one (including a quick-draw-and-shoot test!), the types of calibers and ammo to consider, among other things.

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He says he and his wife are big outdoors people, and describes how they’ve run into bears before while hiking. So of course, it’s good to know how to protect yourself from any pending bear attacks. James says he’s done a lot of research for this topic, and enlists the help of fellow YouTuber, Hammerheart Outdoors, to give some insight on bear defense from the seasoned perspective of an experienced Alaskan hiker.

James uses a handgun, because he can’t be bothered with bringing a big rifle and he’s not a hunter, anyway. Realistically, bear sprays are the best, most convenient option because they’re readily available, easy to use, lightweight, highly effective and come with minimum consequences if used. He cites some studies that prove this.

He then conducts a simulation using the handgun, as a study says it took three seconds to draw and fire when the author was in a situation that required shooting during a bear attack.

So why carry a gun at all if sprays are effective? James says it doesn’t hurt to carry one, along with bear spray. He refers to the incident in 2016 when a man was mauled by a bear that ignored his spraying. The best gun to carry would be one that has enough force to penetrate a bear’s skull, or at least enough to knock the bear out and keep it from moving forward. He says there seems to be a difference of opinion regarding the kind of gun, but the consensus seems to be .44 Magnum at the minimum, using hard-cast bullets.

Corey advises that prevention is better than cure. Most people who know bears keep them away by using bells or noise. He says shooting a bear brings on the responsibility of skinning it, cleaning it and so on. When coming upon a bear, make yourself known, back up, don’t provoke it and try not to shoot unless the bear rushes you.


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