Greatest Bear Protection Handguns of 2022

The very first thing it is advisable find out about bear protection handguns is that if you end up needing to make use of one, issues have gone terribly unsuitable. You must by no means be comfy with the concept that the one factor between you and an attacking bear may be a handgun. Even the behemoth .500 S&W Magnum has about half the vitality of a .375 Ruger—which some take into account to be on the lighter finish of the spectrum for stopping a pissed-off brown bear.

A sensible approach to take a look at bear protection handguns is that they’re higher than nothing. A giant rifle and even slug gun is a correct instrument for conditions the place a harmful encounter is even remotely seemingly. However for the remainder of the time, a bear protection handgun is a good alternative if you happen to can carry it and shoot it proficiently. They’ve been used efficiently to thwart bear assaults annually.

Colt Python 3-inch model
The three-inch mannequin Colt Python packs a punch and is comfy to hold and shoot. Tyler Freel

Issues to Take into account in a Bear Protection Handgun

A Bear Protection Handgun Labored If the Assault is Stopped

The metric by which many individuals measure bear-stopping success is a bit fantastical on the subject of bear protection handguns. Most individuals think about a bear charging, and the measure of success is whether or not the bear folds to the bottom, sliding as much as their ft or not. The reality is that it in all probability gained’t occur like that. Hell, three months in the past I shot a medium-sized inside grizzly operating towards me at 15 paces with a hot-loaded .338 Win. Magazine., and that strong shot to the chest didn’t even take her off her ft instantly. When you should defend your self from a bear with a handgun, any scenario during which you come out unscathed is a win, even when the bear runs off.

You’ll Must Shoot a Bear Extra Than As soon as

Contemplating that many bear fees stopped by rifles contain a couple of shot, you’re nearly assured to have you ever shoot a bear greater than as soon as with a pistol if you happen to’re compelled to defend your self. Decide a bear protection handgun that’s nimble to deal with, you can observe with, and you can shoot precisely beneath stress. Ammunition capability might be necessary. Many keyboard specialists will inform you that you just’ll solely get one shot off, so energy is what issues. The reality is that the one bear claws most of those people will ever encounter are stored beneath clear plexiglass and distributed with aluminum tongs. Typically you may get one shot, typically none. Within the warmth of the second although, ammo goes fast.

Sig Sauer P320 XTen with GoGun Gas Pedal
The Sig P320 XTen has a 5-inch barrel and is appropriate with the GoGun Fuel Pedal, which makes recoil even simpler to regulate with a correct grip. Tyler Freel

Due to these info, the 10mm Auto has seen an increase in reputation as a defensive cartridge in bear nation. Some nonetheless favor massive revolver cartridges, however with the best 10mm ammo, the cartridge has confirmed to be efficient in stopping bear assaults.

READ NEXT: Charged by a Grizzly: A 10mm Glock (and Serious Practice) Saved My Life

In a latest vary check, we shot the 10mm against a light .44 Mag. and proved what many hunters already know: The 10mm is far simpler to shoot rapidly and precisely.

The Gun You Have is Higher Than the One You Don’t

To choose a bear protection handgun that shall be efficient for you, it’s necessary to select one which you’ll carry on a regular basis. Having a handgun you can carry and use intuitively with out impeding you within the woods is extra beneficial than having a selected caliber or researching ballistic vitality tables. The 9mm loaded with Buffalo Bore hard-cast bullets that you’ve got is all the time going to be higher than the cannon you left at camp as a result of it’s a ache within the ass to hold.

Caliber: 10mm Auto

There are two main camps on the subject of handguns for bear protection—large bore wheelguns and nimble semi-autos—and the Glock G20 is the poster little one of the second. Over the previous decade it has turn into the preferred backcountry carry pistol, seemingly by a large margin. Whereas some take into account a .44 Magnum revolver to be the minimal for a bear safety handgun, the 10mm G20 has confirmed itself as not solely a succesful assault stopper, however a regular for backcountry carry.

Like different Glock Fashions, the G20’s magnificence is in its simplicity. It’s a polymer-framed, semi-automatic pistol with a 15+1 spherical capability. Till latest years, it was the one comparatively frequent double stack 10mm on gun retailer cabinets. It incorporates a 4.61-inch barrel, is simple to shoot, and runs with utter reliability.

Early Glock 10mm barrels didn’t have nice case head help and earned a repute for catastrophic failures on high-pressure 10mm masses. In any new Glock G20, that’s not one thing you’ll have to fret about. You may safely hearth manufacturing unit ammo like Buffalo Bore, Underwood, and others. Glock barrels do are likely to accumulate lead fouling with hard-cast bullets, simply observe with copper-jacketed ammo and clear your bore properly after capturing forged bullets.

Caliber: 10mm Auto

The recognition of the 10mm Auto as a backcountry and bear protection handgun cartridge has introduced lots of consideration and variety to the choices on this specific class. Some of the versatile 10mm pistols within the pack is the XD-M Elite 3.8-inch Compact OSP. Its mannequin identify is a mouthful, however this compact 10mm brings the products.

Because the identify signifies, it’s a compact 10mm pistol with a 3.8-inch barrel. It incorporates a detachable magwell and comes with 11-round magazines. It’s additionally appropriate with Springfield’s sleeved 15-round magazines to match the capability of the G20. In total dimensions, it’s almost similar in measurement to Glock’s compact 10mm, the G29. Nevertheless, the Springfield is far more forgiving to shoot. It comes customary with an optics minimize and detachable plate, however can also be obtainable with Springfield’s Hex Dragonfly purple dot sight. I’ve settled on a Leupold Delta Point Pro for mine.

After reviewing this pistol, I purchased it. You may read the full review here. I’ve carried it since then and have round 2,000 rounds by way of the gun with out a lot as a hiccup. I eliminated the magwell and located that it improved the grip for me. The gun may be very controllable with full-house 10mm masses, particularly utilizing a GoGun Gas Pedal takedown lever, and I discovered that I solely lose about 75 ft per second of velocity in comparison with a 5-inch aftermarket G20 barrel with scorching bear masses.

Caliber: 10mm Auto

A 10mm addition to the Smith & Wesson M&P line is a welcome sight for M&P followers in search of a bear protection handgun. Constructed on the M&P 2.0 .45 ACP body, the M&P 2.0 10mm incorporates a full-size grip, 15+1 spherical capability, and a 4-inch barrel. It options glorious grip texture and ergonomics, an ambidextrous slide cease, and reversible journal catch button, making it lefty pleasant. This gun additionally comes optics-ready and contains a number of mounting adapter plates.

I examined and reviewed the M&P 2.0 10mm, then ran one other one laborious at our Best Handguns of 2022 check. It’s correct, dependable, and has in all probability the perfect grip contour and texture of any manufacturing unit polymer 10mm. For optimum match, it contains the usual interchangeable M&P grip modules for a thinner or fatter grip. The stippling texture doesn’t slip simply, even with sweaty palms.

The M&P 2.0 10mm has a bit snappier recoil than the G20, however the safe, comfy grip makes it manageable. A giant benefit for a sensible bear protection handgun is coaching and familiarity. When you’re already carrying or capturing an M&P pistol, it is a nice choice for the backcountry.

Caliber: 10mm Auto

Selection is an effective factor on the subject of bear protection handguns, and Sig Sauer’s new P320 XTen is a welcome addition to the market of 10mm handguns. The P320 collection options principally 9mm fashions, and has turn into an enormous winner for Sig. That is partly due to its versatility. The XTen is an up-sized model that brings the P320 traits that many shooters like.

The XTen matches the capability of hottest 10mm bear protection pistols and comes with two 15-round metal magazines. The polymer body is barely bigger than the full-size 9mm X-frames however options the identical comfy ergonomics and grip texture. It has a flat set off shoe and no set off security. Mounting a lightweight in your bear protection handgun is a big plus, and the XTen has an extended 5-slot accent rail. The 5-inch barrel offers a slight enhance in velocity and an extended sight radius than most different polymer 10mm’s.

I’m within the technique of testing and reviewing an XTen now, and I’m liking it. I’ve discovered it to be very comfy and manageable to shoot. I presently carry a P320 9mm day by day, and the similar ergonomics and grip angle translate very properly throughout each weapons. I haven’t encountered any reliability points thus far, and it’s reminding me why I just like the P320 platform.

Caliber: .357 Magnum

Regardless of the modern reputation and perceived benefits of semi-autos as the perfect bear protection handguns, wheel weapons nonetheless see loads of use within the discipline. Many people nonetheless take into account them the one dependable choice. Though not large by magnum revolver requirements, the .357 Magnum has lengthy been used right here in Alaska as a bear protection cartridge and was championed by long-time Fairbanks bear protection class teacher Joe Nava. With heavy hard-cast loads, it penetrates deep and is akin to the 10mm Auto. I as soon as needed to shoot a “lifeless” black bear with a .357 when he stood up lower than 5 yards away, and I’ll say that the efficiency was loads enough.

There are a lot of nice choices for .357 Magnum revolvers—the Ruger GP100 for instance—however my decide can be the Colt Python in a 3- or 4-inch configuration. I reviewed the 3-inch mannequin earlier this yr and was smitten. You may read that review here. This six-shooter seems unbelievable, but additionally performs. The brand new Colt Python fashions are constructed to be as near the unique designs as potential, with some added mass within the upper-rear portion of the body for added energy.

The match on the brand new Colt Python 3-inch is tight, and operation is butter-smooth. You’ll lose a contact of velocity on the 3-inch barrel mannequin, however I consider the comfort of carry to be price it. It rides properly in a chest holster and may be very controllable throughout double-action capturing.

Caliber: .44 Magnum

For giant bear protection handguns, the Smith & Wesson 629 is difficult to beat. Many laud the .44 Magnum as actual bear drugs, and it’s received loads of energy for a bear protection handgun—so long as you keep in mind that it’s nonetheless not a rifle.

The 629 is a superb revolver. Its stainless-steel construct is made to be subjected to the weather frequent in bear nation. The 4-inch and 5-inch fashions are 9.5 and 10.5 inches in total size respectively, and so they have a superb stability of barrel size and dealing with for a .44. It’s a fairly comfy revolver to shoot and holds 6 rounds of .44 Magnum or .44 Particular. The rubberized grip is right for moist circumstances and makes sharp recoil extra tolerable.

When you’re keen to place within the observe, heavy .44 Magnum masses can provide you an edge in penetration over less-powerful cartridges just like the 10mm, however you’ve solely received 6 photographs, so make them rely. The 4-inch Mannequin 629 will weigh about 4 kilos loaded, so be sure you have a cushty solution to carry it. Though the Mannequin 329 PD is far lighter (and a very good revolver too), the recoil is totally punishing, and also you’ll be laborious pressed to get something on-target after the primary shot. The Mannequin 629 is a greater stability of ease-of-carry and recoil manageability.

Caliber: .44 Magnum, .454 Casull

When you’re in search of robust and reliable, Ruger’s Tremendous Redhawk revolvers are a superb place to begin. These double-action large bore revolvers have lengthy been in style in Alaska, and I carried one chambered in .480 Ruger with a 7.5-inch barrel till I received bored with lugging the factor round. The Super Redhawk Alaskan is basically a chopped-down 2.5-inch barreled model. That makes it considerably extra handy to hold than the full-size mannequin.

Though there are just a few larger revolver cartridges on the market, I take into account the .454 Casull to be a superb high finish alternative for a bear protection handgun. With uncommon exception, something larger is just a novelty. The .454 is difficult sufficient to shoot properly, and even the larger cartridges nonetheless aren’t as much as the extent of a rifle. Like .44 Magazine/.44 Particular, you possibly can observe with .45 Colt cartridges, and save the new (and costly) stuff for the sphere. Simply be sure you cling on whenever you contact it off.

Though you sacrifice important velocity by blowing a superb portion of your powder out the top of that quick 2.5-inch barrel, the convenience of carry is what makes this revolver sensible. Revolvers that get left within the truck or within the cabin whilst you’re doing chores aren’t any good. The Tremendous Redhawk Alaskan is among the most carry-friendly big-bore revolvers. Its rubbery grip makes it fairly rattling tolerable to shoot too.

Ultimate Ideas on the Greatest Bear Protection Handguns

There isn’t a single greatest bear protection handgun for everybody. It’s necessary to grasp that even the perfect or strongest handgun falls properly in need of an enormous rifle’s energy. A bear assault is assured to be a dynamic encounter with innumerable variables.

What’s sure is that if you wish to have an actual probability to cease a bear assault with a handgun, it is advisable be carrying it—even whenever you don’t anticipate an encounter. It’s essential to carry it in order that it may be drawn rapidly and simply. One other certainty is that you just want to have the ability to draw and shoot precisely. Selecting a handgun that you just’re comfy and proficient with is best than simply chasing energy. Lastly, practice along with your bear protection handgun like your life depends upon it, as a result of it would.

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