Best caliber for protection while hiking? [Archive] - Glock Talk

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iaminvincible.
05-17-2011, 02:05
My girlfriend and I are seriously considering taking up hiking as a new hobby; however, we've been putting a lot of thought into the dangers involved. I personally am quite concerned about wildlife (mountain lions, bears, bigfoot, etc.). I know that the chances of ever being involved in an attack are slim to none; but I'm definitely not the luckiest guy around so I tend to take extra precautions. Currently, the both of us own Glock 19's (9mm) which I personally feel isn't up to the task of defending against a bear. With that being said, I'm looking to purchase a new pair of handguns for the sole purpose of protection while hiking.

I've done as much research as I can on the subject and I'm considering either a Glock 20 (10mm) or a revolver in 357 or 44. Right now I'm leaning towards glock 20's due to price and familiarity with the glock platform. I've seen a lot of people that praise the 44 magnum, but I'm honestly not sure that I can handle the recoil especially during a bear attack. As for the the 357, I'm under the impression that the 10mm caliber is a "stronger" caliber for this purpose (please correct me if I'm wrong). The only issues with the 10mm that I can come up with is that ammunition may be hard to come by and that pistols in general aren't as reliable as revolvers.

My knowledge on firearms in general is rather limited-- I've only been a gun owner for under 2-years. I'm hoping that some of you firearms gurus could give me a few pointers.

308endurdebate
05-17-2011, 17:44
What kind of bear? If you're talking Griz, Brown, Polar, or if you happen to be lucky enough to be on Kodiak, the K-B... I'd upgrade to something larger than a 44, but that is probably good enough. My in-law has a 500sw. About as powerful a handgun as you're going to get. I'd feel safe with .454cas and larger.

For black bears and mountain lions, any of the guns you mentioned are probably fine. Even your 19 with good rounds (+P or ++P). If you can find some, the Hirtenberger 9mm+P+ L7A1 has the most heat. I have shot it both through my glock 17 and carbine. More heat than 40sw or 357mag.

Best though is to avoid the animals and make noise as you hike. Don't surprise the animals and you won't get a nasty surprise. Oh and go native. Bears in particular are attracted to scents, skip the fruity shampoo and other possible ode-de-bear-attraction perfumes and you should be a-ok.

The critters are most active foraging early and late so another good option may be a 500+lumen light. I don't know how well animals adapt to flash blindness, but I know from 30 feet, my light leaves you blind for easily 10-20 seconds, then a big blob in your vision for a good min or two. If closer, I would assume the recipient (animal or man) would have permanent damage.

telecster
05-17-2011, 17:50
I think the G20 is a great idea and that is one I carry.. I might start carrying my G23 when I get my 357 Sig barrel on thursday...But for now I carry G20 with DT 230 grn hardcast.. I live in western Oregon on the coast so Black Bear, Cougars and 2 legged predators is what I fear... The 2 legged ones the most....

ChuteTheMall
05-17-2011, 17:59
List the 5 most recent incidents where a hiker in your area actually needed a handgun for defense against wild animals, and we'll see.
:whistling::whistling:

Long guns and hunting incidents don't count, just handguns for hikers.

iaminvincible.
05-17-2011, 18:12
List the 5 most recent incidents where a hiker in your area actually needed a handgun for defense against wild animals, and we'll see.
:whistling::whistling:

Long guns and hunting incidents don't count, just handguns for hikers.

Unfortunately, they didn't come back to tell us the story. :faint:

As mentioned before, I know the odds of actually needing a gun are extremely slim. Think of this as more of a way to have peace of mind knowing that we can defend ourselves if necessary.

HotRoderX
05-17-2011, 18:21
Just my opinon but vs any type of bear I would want 44mag or bigger. I would want to much and not end up as lunch.

iaminvincible.
05-17-2011, 18:22
What kind of bear? If you're talking Griz, Brown, Polar, or if you happen to be lucky enough to be on Kodiak, the K-B... I'd upgrade to something larger than a 44, but that is probably good enough. My in-law has a 500sw. About as powerful a handgun as you're going to get. I'd feel safe with .454cas and larger.

For black bears and mountain lions, any of the guns you mentioned are probably fine. Even your 19 with good rounds (+P or ++P). If you can find some, the Hirtenberger 9mm+P+ L7A1 has the most heat. I have shot it both through my glock 17 and carbine. More heat than 40sw or 357mag.

Best though is to avoid the animals and make noise as you hike. Don't surprise the animals and you won't get a nasty surprise. Oh and go native. Bears in particular are attracted to scents, skip the fruity shampoo and other possible ode-de-bear-attraction perfumes and you should be a-ok.

The critters are most active foraging early and late so another good option may be a 500+lumen light. I don't know how well animals adapt to flash blindness, but I know from 30 feet, my light leaves you blind for easily 10-20 seconds, then a big blob in your vision for a good min or two. If closer, I would assume the recipient (animal or man) would have permanent damage.

The only bears that around here that I'm aware of are black bears. I probably should have mentioned that in my original post.

You really think that our 9mm's with good rounds would work? Most people I've encountered in person or online seem to think that a 9mm verse anything larger than a mountain lion is insane. Right now, I'm very hesitant to go just with the 9mm's.

As for the bright flashlight, I think that's a great idea. Do they even make 500+ lumen lights? The ones I've seen are typically between 60 and 200 lumens.

6StringGeek
05-17-2011, 18:25
IMHO I think a good can of bear spray would do the trick if you happened to get in a tussle with a bear/mountain lion/lunatic. And your aim doesn't have to be nearly as precise.

iaminvincible.
05-17-2011, 18:25
I think the G20 is a great idea and that is one I carry.. I might start carrying my G23 when I get my 357 Sig barrel on thursday...But for now I carry G20 with DT 230 grn hardcast.. I live in western Oregon on the coast so Black Bear, Cougars and 2 legged predators is what I fear... The 2 legged ones the most....

Since you actually own a G20, what's you overall opinion of it? Are you confident that it would hold up against a black bear if need be?

iaminvincible.
05-17-2011, 18:29
Just my opinon but vs any type of bear I would want 44mag or bigger. I would want to much and not end up as lunch.

Trust me when I say you and I think alike. I rather have too much gun than not enough. At the same time, I don't want to be to paranoid which is why I'm here asking advice. With that being said, do you have any experience with a 10mm and how it compares to a 44 magnum?

iaminvincible.
05-17-2011, 18:38
IMHO I think a good can of bear spray would do the trick if you happened to get in a tussle with a bear/mountain lion/lunatic. And your aim doesn't have to be nearly as precise.

I've heard good things about bear spray; however, I'd feel way safer with a gun over a can of spray. Whenever it comes to various defensive sprays, I'm always afraid I'm going to somehow spray myself-- The first thought I get is some big bear charging me while I'm downwind.

Nevertheless, I'd probably take both just to cover both bases and use whatever I feel is more appropriate to the situation.

6StringGeek
05-17-2011, 18:45
I've heard good things about bear spray; however, I'd feel way safer with a gun over a can of spray. Whenever it comes to various defensive sprays, I'm always afraid I'm going to somehow spray myself-- The first thought I get is some big bear charging me while I'm downwind.

Nevertheless, I'd probably take both just to cover both bases and use whatever I feel is more appropriate to the situation.

That sounds like a good plan. Here's an interesting study on bear spray effectiveness if you're interested:

Bear Spray Study (http://www.grizzlybrothers.com/BEAR%20SPRAY.htm)

HotRoderX
05-17-2011, 18:46
I don't but I think you pretty much hit on the head the major con about 10mm which is the ammo. I know no one around me sells it and finding ammo for it down the road could become a bit of a challenge. I can only think of 2 manufactures producing mainstream 10mm guns. Glock obviously and Smith and Wesson who makes a 10mm Revolver. I am sure there are more I just don't know any of them.

As far as feeling paranoid don't it's there to protect your life and your girlfriends life. Life to me is way to precious to worry about people thinking your crazy for bring to much gun for self defence. Especial in the woods where you really don't know what you might run into.

One more thing I touch on you said you where more familiar with a Glock then revolvers. Best thing about a revolver is there 10x's more simple then a Glock. Not to mention ammo wise my revolvers will eat anything I feed them no questions asked. I cant say that about my semi autos.

One thing to look at in a revolver is test ammo. I feel confident in my J-Frame after testing it with 25rounds of my preferred carry load. There no question will this ammo feed only question is does it hit where I aim. Way cheaper on ammo cost as far as testing goes to see what works. At these bigger calibers expect to pay out the nose for ammo.

308endurdebate
05-17-2011, 19:27
The only bears that around here that I'm aware of are black bears. I probably should have mentioned that in my original post.

You really think that our 9mm's with good rounds would work? Most people I've encountered in person or online seem to think that a 9mm verse anything larger than a mountain lion is insane. Right now, I'm very hesitant to go just with the 9mm's.

As for the bright flashlight, I think that's a great idea. Do they even make 500+ lumen lights? The ones I've seen are typically between 60 and 200 lumens.

Overall, blacks are scaredy cats :) Get a big dog. I hike with my great dane and we saw a black bear across a decent sized stream (12 feet wide) and the bear galloped off.

a 9mm hot round would definitely do the job. I still have a stash of L7A1s. 500+ft/lb packs a big punch, more than most stock 40sw. In anycase, if you just shot a warning shot, you'd probably scare off any of the animals you referenced (unless it was rabid or protecting its young). You probably don't need to care anything beyond your normal rounds if you do carry.

Yes, there are quite a few of 500+ lumen lights. None are cheap.

Esox357
05-18-2011, 12:40
Keep the glock 19's and purchase a 12 ga pump?

gjk5
05-20-2011, 21:08
The only bears that around here that I'm aware of are black bears. I probably should have mentioned that in my original post.

You really think that our 9mm's with good rounds would work? Most people I've encountered in person or online seem to think that a 9mm verse anything larger than a mountain lion is insane. Right now, I'm very hesitant to go just with the 9mm's.

As for the bright flashlight, I think that's a great idea. Do they even make 500+ lumen lights? The ones I've seen are typically between 60 and 200 lumens.

A 9MM would be the low end of my comfort zone for bear, I vary between .357mag, .45ACP and .44mag, but a 9MM will do it on a black bear for the most part. Also a lion. Bear spray is not a bad idea, it's arguably more effective than a gun.

carry your 19 and bear spray and you will be fine though.

smokeross
05-20-2011, 22:30
Whatever gun you chose, the bullet should be a premium hunting bullet. I want penetration on dangerous game. A bullet you would use for self defense is designed to expand too quickly, and won't penetrate enough on a large animal.

hagar
05-20-2011, 22:40
Glock 20 will do you fine. Forget all the stories about keeping the last round for yourself, if you can shoot fast and accurate, you can kill anything on earth with a 10mm. I have a friend who works in Alaska, his friends dared him to go into a bear cave (the bear was supposed to be asleep), and he took them up on it. Unfortunately bear was awake and hungry, and he had to shoot it with a 357 magnum. He said it took all 6 rounds, but it dropped dead at his feet.

PlasticGuy
05-21-2011, 02:03
I've done a lot of hiking and backpacking in bear territory. This bear territory also has a lot of cougar and even a few wolves. I can assure you that even in country with a lot of toothy critters, your biggest threat is still on two legs.

That said, I like a concealable .357 or .44 revolver. Any Ruger or S&W in these calibers would be a solid choice, and I've owned most at one time or another.

Black Smoke Trail
05-21-2011, 04:10
Smith 629-2. Loaded with:

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=9

A hand full to fire but will cover ALL possibilities.

Otherwise the Glock 20 with:

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=219

or

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=114

I like the Buffalo Bore 180's

Zombie Steve
05-24-2011, 22:50
I hike around this part of the Rockies with a Smith 686 .357 mag loaded with some Keith style bullets that I cast (see avatar).

Black bear aren't that tough, and aren't that high on my list of dangers in the mountains.

I do have a .44 mag, and one of the big advantages to handloading is the ability to load it down to a comfortable level. My mid-range .44 loads are a 240 grain Keith bullet running right at 1,000 feet per second from my 4" barrel. Plenty for anything around here. I like the smaller frame, lighter Smith in general for hiking. It's still heavy, but a good compromise.

sourdough44
05-25-2011, 05:01
Weight is also an issue. I'd rather be at 25 ounces or less & don't rate black bears that high as a threat.

Ak.Hiker
05-29-2011, 10:52
Since you both already have Glock's I would suggest the Glock 29 in 10mm. I have carried one for years and as a light weight hiking gun the 29 is going to be hard to beat. I do not like carrying heavy handguns when hiking if I can avoid it. Rifles and shotguns can also draw attention to the fact that you are armed. I keep mine loaded with 2 Hornady 200 grain XTP's up first followed by either the Double Tap or Buffalo Bore 200 grain FMJ's.The full power 200 grain FMJ's will penetrate about as good as a 357 Magnum 180 grain hardcast. A properly loaded 357 Magnum or 10mm in my opinion make very good last ditch save your bacon guns for hikers. I also have a Ruger SP 101 357 Magnum with a set of Hogue Monogrips. Riding in a Simply Rugged Pancake holster the Ruger rides up high and is hardly noticed and is very easy to draw quickly if needed. For the woods one of the very best loads I have found for the 357 magnum is the Buffalo Bore 180 grain hardcast. I have fould that being confident in your ability to defend yourself when in the woods is something that animals can sense. I can give you 3 examples. Once when out on showshoes a moose charged me. One shot from the 10mm fired right in front of the animal and she turned and ran off. Another example was an encounter with 2 good sized dogs running loose. They were both chasing a rabbit when I happened to come down a trail at the same time. Both dogs stopped the chase and turned their attention to me. As soon as the 357 Magnum was drawn they both stopped dead in their tracks and ran off. I had to face off a good sized brown bear once when hiking. I was armed with my Ruger Blackhawk 4 5/8 inch 44 Magnum loaded with 305 grain CorBon Penetrators. I had the gun drawn and ready to go as we both looked at each other. The bear ran off. Lucky for me. Not the best choice in brown bear country that is for sure. As far as black bears go most of them that I have run across just run off. Same thing with moose, brown bears, wolves, packed up large dogs, etc. But not always.The not always part is why I carry a handgun when in the woods.

K1500
06-05-2011, 14:36
If you are not comfortable with the G19, the G20 is a good choice. This is especially true if you are not a current revolver shooter. The 10mm beats the 357 in power, but lags the 44. I have a 629 that shoots great but is heavy. I have a 329 that is light, has had reliability issues, and has brutal recoil. While I still carry and like the 44's, I have made the switch to the G20 for the most part. It carries easier and is more versatile than the 44's.

Bilbo Bagins
06-06-2011, 07:29
If you are comfortable with a Glock 20, then go for it. I think it will be fine for everything up to Black Bear.

I have been hiking, and camping fo years, mostly in PA, and most of the time Black Bears are a concern, usually though its when camping at night when other campers are not tidy with their food and smelly stuff. Usually black bears take off when then notice you walking into the area, and most will back down when you yell, however some may think you smell tasty, and you may be forced to shoot one on the trail, but usually you will not find that out until they are close. Pretty much a rouge black bear doing this is rare, but it can happen.

Hiking my big concern is Coyotes, feral dogs, and 2 legged creeps. Now you are not talking about one big target nosing its way into your tent because you for forgot the candybar wrapper under you sleeping bag. Instead, you are talking faster moving, smaller, multiple targets. If you can shoot a Glock 20 at multiple dogs circling you, or multiple hillbillies who think your girlfriend is prudy, then go with that. If the recoil of a 10mm is too much go with a .45acp, a .40SW or a .357mag.

For the record I hike with a 9mm Kel Tec PF9. I do hike and camp in BIG (as in 700lb) Black Bear country , but I hang my food when camping overnight and stay away from newbies. I'm kind of a lightweight/ultralight hiker, so I don't want a big handcannon revolver to weigh me down.

MightyTygart
06-09-2011, 20:03
If you like Glock stick with it. Get a 29 and shoot it. Practice, and then practice. You should be able to whatever bear medicene you need from Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, or Swampfox, or load your own.

duncan
07-18-2011, 00:50
I think the G20 is a great idea and that is one I carry.. I might start carrying my G23 when I get my 357 Sig barrel on thursday...But for now I carry G20 with DT 230 grn hardcast.. I live in western Oregon on the coast so Black Bear, Cougars and 2 legged predators is what I fear... The 2 legged ones the most....

Great setup. I'll have to get some DT to feed the G20 as well.

off road
07-18-2011, 08:24
Out in the bush I want a revolver, rather than an auto. While I packed a variety of .357's for years, I now consider the .44 to be the minimum for black bears.

I am in black bear country, and for hiking/backpacking I carry the superb S&W 329NG (.44 mag). The price one pays for a compact packable gun however, is the velocity loss from the short barrel....so it is necessary to pick a load carefully.

A perspective on black bear defense (JJHack posts): http://forums.accuratereloading.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/2911043/m/21810798?r=43810798#43810798

sourdough44
07-19-2011, 14:47
I'd only feel the need to get real serious around Yellowstone, or AK. Other than that most any will do, 357 on up.

vafish
07-19-2011, 20:00
List the 5 most recent incidents where a hiker in your area actually needed a handgun for defense against wild animals, and we'll see.
:whistling::whistling:

Long guns and hunting incidents don't count, just handguns for hikers.

+1 The OP doesn't state where he is from.

I can't remember the last time someone was attacked by a bear here in VA.

Feral dog, rabid fox or coyote, and meth heads are a much bigger threat.

My woods carry guns are the same as my daily carry guns. Right now if I went for a hike in the woods I'd carry my Glock 23 loaded with 180 Gr Ranger T's. If a bear wants to make me a snack I'll shoot until one of us quits.

And I have shot a bear with a .44 magnum handgun. It was not impressive performance. If bears are really a problem I want a 12 ga with slugs or a rifle of sufficient caliber.

VADuckHunter
07-19-2011, 23:46
Unfortunately, they didn't come back to tell us the story. :faint:

As mentioned before, I know the odds of actually needing a gun are extremely slim. Think of this as more of a way to have peace of mind knowing that we can defend ourselves if necessary.

A 44 at mid to close range will kill any animal in north america if you do your part and shoot good bullets. Anything bigger than that will be too much recoil for you. I loved my Smith and Wesson before it was stolen. Everyone who advocates 454 and 500, i'd really like to see them pull it fast and have good timely follow up shots. Some on here could prove me wrong, but i doubt most would.

And I live in Montana, unlike my user name would suggest. General carry gun around these parts for mountains is the .44 mag. Black bear defense is total BS. Any caliber capable of killing people will end them just fine. I have run into tons of black bears, even ones with cubs. They all ran like hell...

Kith
07-21-2011, 20:50
I camp out in lonely areas of PA a lot.

I have two cans of bear spray, and one holster. When I go hiking, I take my G19 and one can.

I may or may not have a 33 rounder as my backup mag, but either way i'll have a spare.

I feel the combination will be enough to discourage any 1 bear.

The bear spray doesn't weigh much.

sugarcreek
07-21-2011, 21:13
If the rock hard rabid bobcat latches onto your chest and neck just don't pull a Tex...
WHICHEVER caliber you choose!!

Ak.Hiker
07-21-2011, 23:47
I camp out in lonely areas of PA a lot.

I have two cans of bear spray, and one holster. When I go hiking, I take my G19 and one can.

I may or may not have a 33 rounder as my backup mag, but either way i'll have a spare.

I feel the combination will be enough to discourage any 1 bear.

The bear spray doesn't weigh much.

Sounds like you got it covered. What loads do you prefer in the Glock?

highfructosecornsyrp
07-22-2011, 11:33
Sounds like you got it covered. What loads do you prefer in the Glock?

Doubletap JFN+P Trail defense has some incredible penetration according to wikipedia's page on 9mm. It's 40 inches...I'd probably carry that if I could get my hands on it, alternating rounds with a premium jacketed hollowpoint of course...

dp2002813
08-02-2011, 21:43
My ranger friend in Yellowstone extols the virtues of bear spray. She recommends it over firearms as a deterrent.

I tend to agree with VADuckHunter. Black bear I have met have all run away when they spotted/smelled me. Handguns have merit, like the .44, .50 S&W or Alaskan .454 for the smaller black bears (if you really need it on these beauties). With a leopard too (big predator cat types) like the one that jumped that LEO in India last week, a handgun would probably be a decent choice... if you or I could think about anything more than those BIG teeth.

However, when I read what the Alaskan Guides carry for Coastal Brown Bears, it is something like a Marlin 45-70 guide gun (rifle), or a .450. A charging bear presents a terrible target. It is fast, determined and REALLY torqued! The head of a brown bear is about all you have to shoot at and it is thick and hard. Think of it as a tank.

Another safety tip is to learn the warning signs for bear.

Outside of the Rockies, Montana, Idaho, ND, SD, Alaska, or the like, I carry bear spray and a side arm (were legal). You should be pretty good to go, IMHO.

Ak.Hiker
08-02-2011, 22:15
My ranger friend in Yellowstone extols the virtues of bear spray. She recommends it over firearms as a deterrent.

I tend to agree with VADuckHunter. Black bear I have met have all run away when they spotted/smelled me. Handguns have merit, like the .44, .50 S&W or Alaskan .454 for the smaller black bears (if you really need it on these beauties). With a leopard too (big predator cat types) like the one that jumped that LEO in India last week, a handgun would probably be a decent choice... if you or I could think about anything more than those BIG teeth.

However, when I read what the Alaskan Guides carry for Coastal Brown Bears, it is something like a Marlin 45-70 guide gun (rifle), or a .450. A charging bear presents a terrible target. It is fast, determined and REALLY torqued! The head of a brown bear is about all you have to shoot at and it is thick and hard. Think of it as a tank.

Another safety tip is to learn the warning signs for bear.

Outside of the Rockies, Montana, Idaho, ND, SD, Alaska, or the like, I carry bear spray and a side arm (were legal). You should be pretty good to go, IMHO.

It would be interesting to know what handgun and load your Ranger friend carries when on duty.

purrrfect 10
08-03-2011, 16:07
10 mm 230gr WFNGC See ya wouldn't want to be ya