View Full Version : Can a shotgun take out a bear?
I'm a total novice to shotguns and rifles. I believe my next purchase will be a shotgun. I was wondering if I were to take a shotgun into the wilderness while camping, could I reliably take out a bear with a 12 gauge shotgun? If so, what shot should I use? I was thinking a heavy slug...
What's all this talk about choke. What is it?
Lastly, is the recoil between a 12 and 20 gauge a huge difference?
The shotgun-vs-bear thing has been debated (sort of like 9mm vs .45) and while I have never shot at a bear, been near a bear in the wild in the last decade, I do know a bunch of guys who've done both, and on here the consensus is yes, if you use a slug, know where you're aiming, and the bear consents to roll over and die. Black bears from what I know are smaller, and a bit easier to kill. Brown bears (Alaskan kind) preferably, run away, fast, leaving a fat friend behind! :) There IS a reason most Alaskan bush pilots carry short barreled large bore rifles, and bears are it!
Personally I think if you have good aim, a good full power slug and are lucky, odds are you'd kill a black bear with a shotgun. Brown bears, I make no claims. I know blacks have been killed with .44 mag pistols, various rifles and shotguns. I'm no expert.
If you DO choose to get a shotgun for camp defense, the Mossberg 500, Remington 870 and Winchester 1300 are the top 3 in the pump-action department (pull trigger BANG pump the foregrip to reload) and the Benelli Nova is catching up (the 870's been around for 50 years, the 500, 42, the 1300, 30+, the Nova's only a couple years old but gaining in popularity)
The 12ga is the "standard" shotgun load for defensive (anti-people) use and most hunting situations. The 20ga is a bit lighter, the guns are a bit handier, but if you're worried about bears, get the 12 gauge. Handle one or two and definitely shoot at least 10 rounds out of one before you buy one and MAKE SURE if you're buying a pump, you shoot that particular model of pump (or at least work the action a bunch) to see if your body fits the gun. Some people's arms are a bit short to really crank the foregrip. That's why they make "bantam" (shorter) stocks.
If you're just worried about people-stopping the 20ga with buckshot will do the job but for anti-animal use, get the 12 gauge. If you're a normal-sized guy, recoil won't be too much of a problem, and if it is, Knoxx Industries makes the "Copstock" recoil reducing stock, both in folding and non-folding (get the non-folding, trust me) that reduces recoil down to nearly nothing.
The Remington 870 Express Magnum 18.5" barrel, the Mossberg 500 Persuader 18.5" barrel, and either the 18.5" Winchester 1300 HD (Home Defense) or 21" barreled (with fiberoptic sights) Winchester 1300 Camp Defender would do just fine. All of them hold five or six shots, and a SideSaddle (holds four or six shells right on the reciever) is about $25 at most gunshops for spare ammo.
Choke is on the end of shotgun barrels, it restricts the barrel down, makes tighter shot patterns. Police/home defense shotguns usually come with Cylinder (basically, no choke) or Improved Cylinder (slight restriction) there's a ton of different chokes for hunting applications (bird shooting mostly) but for shooting slugs, you'd want Cylinder.
"I was wondering if I were to take a shotgun into the wilderness while camping, could I reliably take out a bear with a 12 gauge shotgun?"
Absolutely!! In fact, a slug loaded 12ga pump-gun would be my first choice for this situation... followed closely by a Marlin "guide gun" in .450 Marlin caliber. With a 12ga slug, you're throwing a whole ounce of lead, at about 1,400' per second!
I would suggest you use a rifled and sighted barrel if you can, and not rely on just a bead sight.
"If so, what shot should I use? I was thinking a heavy slug..."
Use a rifled slug. Bird shot will only piss him off. A rifled slug is devasting at close range (the only range you should be shooting at a bear in self defense anyway!)
"What's all this talk about choke. What is it?"
Choke is a constriction of the last few inches of the shotgun's barrel at the muzzle. The tighter the constriction, the denser the shot pattern tends to be. The less constriction, the more the shot pattern will disperse. Years ago, most shotgun barrels had "fixed" chokes. If you wanted a wider pattern for small fast moving birds at close range (like quail or grouse) and your shotgun had a "full" (meaning the most constriction) choke, you had to let the birds "get out a little" or your shot pattern would be so dense, there'd be little meat without a pellet in it. Most shotguns sold in the past 15-20 years have screw in choke tubes - this lets you change the constriction of the barrel (and the shot pattern density) by simply changing the choke tube
to make the pattern density conform to the need at hand. Prior to interchangable choke tubes, you'd need a whole new, differantly choked, barrel to hunt differant types of birds. With choke tubes, you can change to a cylinder or improved cylinder from that full, and you can now hunt those small close flushing birds like quail and grouse with the same gun you use for ducks, geese, and turkeys.
The most common chokes are (listed in order from least to most constriction... and corresponding pattern density) cylinder (no choke at all), improved cylinder, modified, improved modified, full... and used mainly for turkey - "super" or "extra" full. The best "all around" choke is modified, it's a "middle-of-the-road" compromise. For shooting slugs, a rifled choke tube gives the best accuracy, by far. Cylinder bore is OK for close stuff. Avoid shooting slugs through tight chokes, like anything from imp modified and tighter.
"Lastly, is the recoil between a 12 and 20 gauge a huge difference?"
That depends on several factors. Not all loads are created equal. There's little recoil differance between a 2 3/4" 12ga field load and a 3" 20ga field load... at least in my opinion. But there's a huge differance between a 3" or a 3 1/2" 12ga, heavy magnum duck/turkey load (or a rifled slug!), and the stiffest 20 you can find. Also a factor is action type of the shotgun. A lightweight single shot 20ga may "kick" more than a gas operated semi-auto 12ga, like a Rem 1187 or a Browning Gold.
ClydeG19 since this gun will be used in a close up confrontation get a riot gun and load it with 1 3/8 ounce 3" Brenneke Slugs, it will stop anything. The recoil with this load is substantial;) .
Have a nice evening, Rabon...
If you shoot him square in the unit. Yes.
Maybe a Marlin 1895 in 45-70 Gov would be the ticket!
But a 12 gauge shotgun like a Rem 870 or a Mossie is a must have for the collection.
Originally posted by MrMurphy
If you're a normal-sized guy, recoil won't be too much of a problem, and if it is, Knoxx Industries makes the "Copstock" recoil reducing stock, both in folding and non-folding (get the non-folding, trust me) that reduces recoil down to nearly nothing.
Could you please explain to my why you say this? If the Knoxx stocks cut recoil by so much, why not have the extra portablitiy of the folding stock? Are their folding stocks cheap pieces of junk or do you just not like folders?
I'm thinking of a COPStock for my 870 both for maneuverability if it ever needs to be used in the house and to help cut recoil for my wife to be able to shoot it. I thought that stock would help kill two birds with one stone (or should that be "kill two birds with one slug"? HA! I AM SO FUNNAY!!!! :)).
Bears are tough animals.
Some Alaskan shooters tell me the best way to take out a bear is to wait for it to stand on its rear paws and then wait to take a heart shot. THEN RUN!
If it recovers and chases, REPEAT. Until dead. It works, this guy was fishing and momma bear wanted to steal his fish and charged him. It reared up. And he shot it with his 30-06. He started to run away and heard the bear galloping in chase so since he couldn't outrun it, he stopped and waited for his second shot. Well, she didn't get up a second time.
I've also heard that that is also the only way to defend with a knife too. Guy apparently disembowelled a grizzly in Yellowstone that way years back. Rangers still talk about him. They though the bear had attacked and mauled him. But he explained he was fine but that bear was not. The rangers refused to allow him to keep the hide though.
But 12 gauge should be fine - just get the heaviest and fastest slugs you can shoot and pray you never need them. They are majestic animals.
Clyde --- Since shotguns are new to you and your intended purpose is self defense, I strongly suggest you take a defensive shotgun course. Even if you are an expert in handgun, the shotgun is enough different to call for separate training. A two day course should get you started. You'll be amazed how much you will learn and you will know your shotgun and gain confidence in your ability and skill.
Go for an 18 1/2 inch barell (rather than a 20 inch) if you can. If you get the Mossberg, replace the safety with the better heavy duty metal one.
I also suggest you read a book or two on bears and avoiding bear attacks. Do an Amazon search. In addition, Doug Peacock's book "Grizzly Years" would be informative and helpful.
BTW - what wilderness? Where are you planning to go?
Good luck and stay safe.
I grew up in Alaska,and have had alot of bear situations.I can tell you for a fact that a 12 guage shotgun with slugs will stop a grizzly up close.I would not go hunting a bear with one,but it is a good close in bear stopper.
From what I've read on the CopStock, the folding stock does work (the tester, Denis Prisbery, shot it one handed and survived, and actually hit the target, as well as stock-folded with both hands, and stock unfolded) and if you really, really need the handiness and small size, then go ahead, but a shotgun indoors is usually a hole-up-and-call-the-cops gun, so maneuverability is less an issue. For a truck gun, I've never found the fixed stock to much of a problem getting in and out, and walking the woods, slung African style (muzzle down, trigger group pointing forward slung on the left side) it's quick to get into action.
The tester said shooting 00 Buck and slugs was like shooting a .223 or .308, and from what I've heard the fixed-version CopStock is even better (the wire stock of the folding stock is not the most comfortable compared to a standard stock).
www.keepandbeararms.com has run a bunch of stories this week about a 15 year old kid in Montana who went out to get his dog, was attacked by a grizzly, and shot him with a slugged 20 guage this week.
The kid and dog are still here, the grizzly is making a mighty fine rug
This is the best way to combat a Grizzly. Check it out.
12 guage is plenty. My friends father was up in Canada fishing last summer and had one that kept trying to get into the cabin. It was just a young one and the 00 buckshot worked fine. Me, I'd probably use a slug first then alternate with buckshot and slugs.
I recommend the Ithaca M37 shotgun, they're top of the line in pump-action shotguns.
12ga, 16ga, & 20ga are all good for bear defense when loaded with slugs.
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