Alaska Handgun [Archive] - Glock Talk


View Full Version : Alaska Handgun

03-10-2004, 22:40
The rifle issue was covered well, now what about a handgun to go along with it. I know there is some argument for a large caliber but I was thinking maybe a 9mm for the capacity. I have wanted a G17 for a while anyway. The G21 has a chance as well. The only problem for me is that my PD has a policy against carrying anything larger than .40 for off duty carry (believe me I know how dumb it is but I can't change it). Let me know what you guys think.

03-10-2004, 23:22
decent power, and packable

03-11-2004, 07:21
What's your intended use of the gun?

Even a G20 is pretty light for bear repellent. I have friends who live in Alaska and work for the State DNR. They don't consider handguns very viable for protection against bears. Their recomendation is a rifle at least .300 Win mag prefer .338 or a 12 Ga with slugs.

General personal protection against 2 legged varmits carry your normal gun.

and yeah I read the story a year ago about the guy killing the Grizzly with a 9MM FMJ, but I wouldn't want to count on that type of performance.

03-11-2004, 09:10
Well, I understand that a handgun would not be the ideal choice for putting a bear down. However I plan on taking a rifle and was considering the handgun options for back up purposes. One of those worse case scenario type of things. I can see the value of a .44 but don't really think that is practical for me. The 20 is an optoin though.

03-11-2004, 11:50
If I were hunting and faced with 3 choices for a back-up:
1) No Gun
2) .40 cal
3) 10mm
I would go with the 10mm.
Get some 200 gr. CorBon hunting loads and pray that you never have to use them on a big bear.

03-11-2004, 17:29
I am an Alaska native.A g20 is to light for large bears.My Alaska handgun would be a 44 mag with hot loads,or a 454 casull.If i had no choice--nothing or a Glock,i would carry g20 with the hottest loads possible,but truthfully--its not enough gun.

03-11-2004, 17:37
What about some of those 200 grain FMJ loads. I would think they would pack a punch.

Here is some discussion I found.

03-11-2004, 21:08
Imagine a 1600 pound pitbull--unleashed and running at you full speed--then you will have an idea of what you would be up against.Many many hunters have been well armed with magnum rifles and looking for grizzlies and gotten killed by them.I remember one guy was bird hunting,and a grizzly charged him,it ran into him so hard that it bent the barrel of his shotgun.They are faster in a quarter mile than a quarter horse.Just some food for thought!!!;)

03-11-2004, 21:29
Ok, so even if you have the biggerst guns available the bear still wins. I have confidence in my abitites with the Glocks vs the Wwheelguns. I mean the way you make it sound there is no winning a confrontation. Keep in mind I plan to walk away if possible. How about a two gun setup. A 20 on each side. When he charges I draw and give him 20 rounds.

Maybe I should leave the guns at home and bring some running shoes.

03-12-2004, 00:37
If you are set on carrying a Glock, then get a G20 and fill the clips with DoubleTap 200gr FP or 220gr. FP
If you want to get a 6"bbl then you can get another 100fps over the "boxflap"
200gr. @ 1380fps
220gr @ 1225fps

03-12-2004, 11:32
Knew a girl who lived in Alaska, worked in the summers when she was a bit younger on the commerical and semicommerical fishing boats. She said minimum armarment for going ashore was a .44 Mag wheelgun, or a 12ga with slugs.

03-12-2004, 14:45
I live here in Alaska, fish and hunt here, too. Carry a 12 ga and slugs with you, have your G20 on your hip, and some common sense and you'll be fine. Bears up here are like drunk drivers on Sat nights. It happens but I wouldn't lose sleep over it. Just enjoy your time up here.

Frank in Montana
03-12-2004, 14:56
Please don't take this as confrontational but take it as good advice.

You are asking for opinions here yet despite advice not to, you still want to carry the stupid pistol. Have you ever seen a live Grizzly or Kodiak at spitting distance?? I guarantee NO or you would not have even started this thread. A pistol is NOT enough for bears. I have seen a few truly large bears at close range as well as having the misfortune of seeing bear attack VICTIMS twice in my life.

The thought of "backing away" is a valid one but it doesn't always end up that way. The only good thing with bears is that confrontations are fairly rare. Personally I'd go the Marlin .45-70 Guide Gun route with the full boat Buffalo Bore ammo, or a good Rem 870 with slugs. Bear Guides usually are armed with .458 Win Mags or at minimum .375 H&H's.

FN in MT

03-12-2004, 20:11
Originally posted by 2240
I live here in Alaska, fish and hunt here, too. Carry a 12 ga and slugs with you, have your G20 on your hip, and some common sense and you'll be fine. Bears up here are like drunk drivers on Sat nights. It happens but I wouldn't lose sleep over it. Just enjoy your time up here.

2240 is right on. In the interior brown's are pretty unusual and I am happy with just a handgun and common sense.

Thousands of people backpack and fish all over Alaska every year with no weapons at all!

03-13-2004, 14:49
I really do appreciate insight or I would not have started the thread, but I think commenting on the various replies is the only way to clarify them for me.

I actually have seen a grizzly before in person but it was pretty young and was going the other way.(Which, I guess is the best way to see them) I do realize that a pistol would not be the ideal weapon for bears and I think I mentioned that I planned on taking a rifle for that reason. I was only looking for some ideas about bringing a G20 for backup purposes. I have shot large wheel guns and really don't like them for accuracy, round capacity, quick reloading ability, or comfort in carry.

I plan on doing a lot of fishing while in AK and just don't think I want to do so while carrying a long arm. I carry a glock daily and really like them for lots of reasons. And truthfully I dont think a wheel gun would afford me the accuracy using a large caliber under a stressful situation. If a large caliber wheel gun is the ONLY viable option then I could purchase one and put in alot of time to see if I could improve my skills enough to feel comfortable.

That being said I rely on the common sense thing every day anyway so that will help as well.

03-13-2004, 18:59
JUSTACOP, wanna hear a couple of stories? I believe just last summer a guy shot and killed a Brown Bear with a 9mm. Two guys were fishing and the bear charged them. One guy had a 12ga and in the course dropped the shotgun. His buddy whom had a 9mm shot and killed the bear to save the day. The other story involved Fish and Game guys. I believe they carry G22's up here. Are you familiar with Timothy Treadwell? He's the bear activist from California who decided the bears up here need protection from humans, LOL. Anyways, after a Brown Bear decided that Timothy look like an Oscar Meyer wiener and ate him and his girlfriend for lunch (they were unarm of course). Fish and Game had to come in and investigate. While they were there investigating they had to destroy two bears because the bears were stalking the investigators. These bears were shot with 12ga and .40's. Just wanted to share these stories with ya. BTW, how are you bringing the handgun up here? Hope you're flying. Canada won't let you step foot inside their border with a handgun even if you're a cop.

03-14-2004, 14:15
Thanks for the reply, and I do remember the Treadwell story. Makes you wonder about who needs protection. I was looking at the idea of driving at first but I think flying is gonna be the best option, for a few reasons, including the firearm transport issue.

03-14-2004, 19:10
If you rule out a long gun your only logical choice is a large Revolver. If you stick to then beaten path (Tourist Areas) you probably won't even see a Bear. If you get off into more remote areas you will be exposed to Bears. It is my understanding you can legally transport handguns through Canada (as it was a few years back) after makeing proper arrangments. If you want information I'll get it for you.:)

03-14-2004, 20:40
Not every bear you come into contact with if aggressive,its like a stray dog,some will run off at the sound of a person,some will not.I did not mean to make it seem like a no win situation,its just that i was always taught to be safe,and properly armed in the bush,and i always walked out alright.I do remember running into people in the Alaskan wilderness without weapons,But truthfully,these people were considered by myself,(and all the people i grew up with there),to be either, 1)idiots,or 2)Just uneducated and usually from the lower 48.All you need to do is use common sense,stay alert and be properly armed,and then just enjoy the sights!!^c

Frank in Montana
03-15-2004, 11:24
A US citizen can transport rifles/shotguns through Canada with little problem. But now one must register those guns and pay a fee as well. The Canadian form of gun control.
Handguns can be taken through Canada, say up to AK, but must be in a locked case. The Canadian Customs Officers then inspect, then seal case with a wire tie sort of affair. That tie MUST be intact when you leave Canada. At least that was the drill four years ago. Again.....may have changed.

One can also just ship a handgun up to an FFL in Ak, but unsure of any fees on the FFL's end.

FN in MT

03-15-2004, 13:34
Originally posted by Frank in Montana
One can also just ship a handgun up to an FFL in Ak, but unsure of any fees on the FFL's end.

No FFL needed. You may ship a handgun to yourself.

03-15-2004, 18:37
I only have about 15 days experience in the Alaskan bush which really amounts to none, but I have spent alot of time in the Sierras, Montana and Texas. I really enjoyed my short time in Alaska and never felt threatened by bears. We put our meat stash down wind of camp and keep a keen eye out. Although I had a rifle, when fishing, collecting wood, loading the raft, etc.. I always had my 20 with me. I would not have carried my large revolvers all the time. Most of the time I forgot it was there. A bush pilot in Aniak carried his 20 in a chest rig by Eagle which looked very comfortable and fit over his heavy jacket. I feel it is better to have the gun with you 100% of the time, than to have something so heavy or large that is is impractical to use some of the time. I just can't imagine fishing with a shotgun or a levergun slung over my back. If you are going with a guide or a local, you might want to ask their opinons as well.

Good luck and catch some fish..


03-16-2004, 00:52
There's more to this than caliber or power.Yes power needs to be ample but mindset,proficiency,and placement are paramount.44 Mag and 270 grns is minimum.If you have time get as low as you possibly can and aim for center of chest and up.While it is common practice to inhibit his mobility by trying not only a "vitals shot but also break at least one shoulder thats kinda hard when he's coming straight at you.If you put several thumper rounds into the angry end your probably history anyway if it doesn't stop him.The perfect Alaskan Handgun would therefore be a Desret Eagle in 44 Mag,440 CorBon or 50 AE.

03-17-2004, 17:14
if i were only alotted a handgun and was to be in an area that was frequented by large grizzlys or browns, i would put my trust into an 8" barreled compensated .500s&w, if that was all i got to carry...
otherwise, it would have to be my remmy 870P with 8slugs in the tube and one in the hole. and even then, you would have to dang near brain it to stop the charge

350grains at 1900 fps is serious firepower from a handgun.
a 400 gr. solid at less fps. would be my choice though.

03-31-2004, 00:16
Unless you are really good with a big wheel gun (a minimum of a .44 mag with 320 grain hardcast) borrow a shotgun for your trip. I certianly would stay away from the S&W 500, if you would go through that much discomfort lugging that cannon around may as well have a shotgun nearby.

I hope this helps.

04-01-2004, 00:31
I heard a good joke about using a handgun for self defense against bears last weekend.

Shoot the bear 5 times and save the last round for yourself. A touch of humor, but told to me by a life long Alaska native who grew up in the bush.

04-03-2004, 23:11
I think the Ruger 454casull(or any DA revolver in 454)is ok for big bear. Only if you practice a couple of thousand rounds a year, with both the full power 454 and the 45 colt. 7yrd, 10yrd 25yrd and 50yrd range. Practice with your casull as though you were in a IPSC wheelgun match. I keep practicing with open sights as well as scoped with a 2x Leupold.

04-07-2004, 20:36
We lived in Alaska for five years. (Moving back again after we finish some business.) I carried a Md 629 4" loaded with 328grain hard cast lead. (I shot standard 240grain soft points into a 15" frozen birch stump. The bullets came apart after 3" to 4" of penetration. I shot the same stump with the 328grain hard cast bullets. The bullets penetrated through and through 15" of frozen solid birch stump and were recovered about eight feet deep in the snow bank behind the stump. Except for the "engraved rifling" the bullets were undeformed. They could have been reloaded and fired again.)

All handgun cartridges are at best, marginal against the big bears. They have been successfully used in the past, and will again be in the future. But I'd bet you a "short life span" if you tried to do it habitually!

As I carried the handgun as an always on hand - back up, (usually a .338 Winchester Magnum with Federal 250grain Partitions was in the gun boot), I wanted a bullet that would penetrate a large, heavy, animal all of the time. But I also wanted a handgun that was truly portable. This time up I may well try a 5 1/2" barreled .480 Ruger with heavy, hard cast bullets.

Time will tell! By the way, good luck with your final decision!


P.S. If a high cap 9X19 is all you have, and it's comforting for you to have it along.......take it. You are more likely to be struck by lightning or drown in Alaska than be attacked by bears.

P.S.S. The best joke I've heard about handguns for bear in Alaska, was told to me by an old time Alaskan. If you carry a handgun with the intention of protecting yourself from Brownies which can weigh a half ton or more, carry the SMALLEST gun you can find. Then file the sights off of it! That way when the bear shoves it up your @#% it won't hurt so much! ;)

04-08-2004, 15:46
Forget about a gun and get yourself some pepper spray. I personally prefer the lemon pepper spray that you apply liberally to your companions in the hopes of making the bear more interested in them than you.;f

JD HHI 6092
04-17-2004, 17:28
You'll want something packable and easy to carry. When we lived in Alaska I carried my Custom Ruger Blackhawk loaded with some stiff 320 grain handloads in a custom cross draw holster, I never felt under gunned. This is the handgun I shoot the most. I put about 200 full power loads threw it a month.

04-18-2004, 00:59
Desert Eagle in 50AE or 440 CorBon.They're living creatures that are the same make and model as they were 150 yrs ago.Hit em' with power and they stop breathing.Mind you I'd rather hit it with something in the min.range of 275 grns and 3500 ft/lbs of torque but guys kill them with bows.The most powerful bow has the same effective killing power as a 22 Mag.A friend of mine almost got us killed using a 340 Wby.I learned then and there your best hit is'nt only a vitals hit but also one where you can do that but also hinder his locomotion.Always take out a shoulder to hunder his ability to close the distance 'tween he and you.If you cant do that hit him hard and often.On a frontal attack or encounter shoot center of legs at the chest and upward,let muzzle climb be your friend.The 440 CorBon is the 454's power twin and noone argues the 454's ability to stop life.Heavy bullets PENETRATE or can millions of 45-70's be wrong.Multiple shots are your friend but save one round for yourself if everythig I say fails.

04-18-2004, 22:49
Don't forget though....a broadhead kills by hemorrhage (and nearly ALL bowhunters are backed up by a guide with a heavy caliber rifle). A Brown Bear can do an awful lot of damage in the time it takes to bleed to death. You have to hit dangerous game with a hit that will either shut down their central nervous system, break down their ability to locomotion, or infrequently..."turn them". (And "turning them" is not to be counted upon.) Whether or not they die after they masticate you is little or no solace.

There are a number of handgun cartriges that are quite capable of killing large carnivores. But until you've seen a Brown Bear in the wild, up close and personal, it is hard to imagine how insignificant any handgun feels while in the presence of that bear. And should you need to use a firearm you need one that is capable of "stopping" that opposed to eventually killing it. An important distinction!

What makes it all much more acceptable when considered realistically, is how unlikely it is that you will ever need to use that handgun for "that specific purpose" to begin with!

A number of years ago there was footage of an officer that had to use his service revolver (a .357 Magnum) to shoot a grizzly off of him that had started to maul him after a freak occurrence during the release of a trapped bear. The officer emptied his revolver into the bear's head (not a particularly large grizzly either) as the bear chewed his legs. All of the bullets entered the hide, hit and skid around the skull to lodge in the hide behind the head, except for the last shot. The last shot hit the bear under the chin as it had lifted its head, penetrated through the mouth and into the bottom of the brain from the sinus cavity. The last shot killed the bear. None of the other five shots penetrated the skull. The officer survived, but required surgery, and rehab for his legs. And the short period of time that the bear had the officer in its mouth, the officer was getting tossed about like a toy rag by a pitbull!

And that was a grizzly. Not a coastal brown bear. (About half the size.) They are indeed awesome animals, and fortunately for us, usually choose not to bother with us!


04-19-2004, 00:08
Amen Bro,you just added to what I said.Mind you I'd never go after one with a bow,I'm too addicted to breathin' but some adventurous souls do.I'm building a rifle just for that purpose should my ship come in and I can afford it.Till then I'll practice,prectice and Pray.Maybe not in that order though.Right On.

P.S. Id fell mighty comforted with a setup like JD HHI 6092 has.Nice piece man use it in good health and Go with God.