Handgun or Pistol Against Bear Attacks 104 cases, 97% Effective

Brown Bear and Cubs iStock-Milan Krasula 1210806488.jpg
Brown Bear and Cubs iStock-Milan Krasula 1210806488.jpg

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- Todd Orr was mauled by the same grizzly bear, twice, in October of 2016.

Todd chose bear spray instead of a pistol. In a discussion on freerepublic.com, later that month, this correspondent replied to a comment about the efficacy of pistols used to defend against bears:

“Actually, there are legions of people who have been badly mauled after using a handgun on a bear. Even some of the vaunted magnums.”

OK, give us a few examples. As you claim “legions”, it should not be too hard.

The claim was made in good faith. There was no response. I and colleagues started searching for cases where the use of pistols, as a defense against bears, was not successful. They were very difficult to find. There was a large amount of fantasy, myth, and conjecture, but little-documented fact.

Sixteen months later, in 2018, I published the first of this series. We found one failure out of 37 documented cases. That translated to a 97% success rate. Three years later, we have found two more failures, out of 104 documented cases. The success rate remains at 97%.

Problems of access to defensive tools against bears are similar to pistols or handguns, long guns, edged weapons, bear spray, or air horns.

Only cases where the pistol was actually fired are included. If the study were about bear spray, only cases where bear spray was actually sprayed would be included.

We include every case where a pistol was fired in a defensive action against a bear, which we can document. We look for names, dates, and locations. The provenance of the information is included in each case. Most cases have links to Internet sources. Some are referenced to books or other print publications. A few are from direct interviews of the people involved.

To be complete, we include combination defenses where a pistol(s) was/were used in conjunction with other weapons. Those cases are not included in the 104 cases or in the 97% success rate.

The criteria for success are: After the pistol or handgun was fired, did the bear stop the attack, leave, or was killed?

Some cases are indeterminate. They are included to allow the reader to make their own judgment, and for completeness. They are not included in the statistics.

In 89 cases, the caliber(s) of the handguns are known. The calibers run from .22 rimfire to the .500 S&W magnum. In this update, cases that have been added have the word Addition after the number. A few cases have been updated as additional information about the case has been revealed.

Cases are arranged by caliber and date, with the earliest cases first in each caliber. 16 different calibers are included in the 104 cases.

We are constantly seeking and investigating new or newly revealed cases. In this update, I have included ten promising leads where we do not have enough information to include them in the database. Readers are encouraged to come forward with any information they might have about these cases, or any other cases involving the use of handguns or pistols to defend against bears, whether the use was successful or not.

Read the documented cases. Consider the possibilities. Make your own determination about what works, and what does not work.

Here are the cases, sorted by caliber and date:

We found seven cases involving a .22 rimfire pistol. Six were successful, against black bears. One failed against a polar bear.

1. 1936, Alaska: From More Alaskan Bear Tales Page 267 .22 Rimfire Reference January 31, 1936 black bear

A black bear with cubs had chased Mr. Nutter up a tree. When the sow came after him, he was able to shoot and kill it with a .22 pistol.

2. 1960 .22 black bear, Lake north of Minto, Alaska

In 1960 Francis Cannon and her two friends flew into a lake a little north of Minto, Alaska. They were on a fishing trip. After fishing, they were setting down to lunch when they were attacked by a black bear, who rushed out of the brush and grabbed Francis. From Alaskan Bear Tales pages 107-108:

Johnson picked up a stick, and pummeled the brute, and the bear dropped the woman and charged him. It was waylaid by the lunch, which it began to devour.

In the meantime, Fletcher got a .22 pistol from the plane, walked to within a few feet of the animal, and killed it.

I suspect it was not a casual stroll to the plane or a slow walk back to the bear.

3. 1971, Idaho: From Guides tales of Adventure,.22 rimfire page 62 black bear

Walt Earl was a government trapper and hunter who also guided hunters. He had to kill a black bear and cubs in a depredation hunt. The hunter forgot his ammunition for the hunter’s .44 magnum. Walt took refuge on the trunk of a huge pine that had blown down. The sow came after him.

She climbed up and walked straight down the trunk toward me and my pea shooter.

Her head swaying and teeth popping, I held my shot. From behind the flimsy barracade of twigs, I took aim for her throat, and yelled for the dogs to take her. They moved by didn’t answer the challenge.

She stood 20 feet away, with all her attention focused on my throat. I had, in a way, brought a knife to a gunfight.

With eight rounds left in my 10 round clip, I pulled the trigger with my sights on the swaying bruin’s throat.

One. Two. Three. Four. If anything, these rounds just angered her more.

Five. Six. Seven. Eight.

Click…

On the eight shot, something happened. Rocket, that old redbone hound, charged up into the bear, sinking his teeth into the sow’s side. They both went flying. from the log, claws flying and teeth snapping in midair.

As the dogs fought the sow, Earl reloaded. Then, as the sow came at him again, he fired 10 more shots from his Ruger .22 pistol. The dogs distracted the sow once more. The fight moved into a thicket. The sow was found there, dead from two .22 rounds that had reached her vitals. There were 14 .22 caliber holes in her. A bio of Walt Earl is included at the end of the book.

4. Addition July 8, 1992, Glennallen Alaska .22 black bear

Thirty-three-year-old Darcy Staver and her husband, Army Capt. Michael Staver, were vacationing at a cabin off the Glenn Highway about 160 miles northeast of Anchorage near the community of Glennallen when they were confronted by a black bear in 1992. It broke a window to get into the cabin where they were staying and drove them out.

The couple sought safety on the roof. Michael fired several shots at the bear with a .22-caliber handgun to try to scare it away. It left. When it did, he jumped down from the roof and took off to get help. He took the gun to defend himself, thinking his wife would be safe on the roof. She wasn’t. While he was gone, the bear climbed a spruce tree next to the cabin, got onto the roof and killed Darcy.

When Michael returned with help, she was on the ground dead with the bear trying to eat her. The animal was shot and killed.

Larry Kanuit reports that Michael was very careful *not* to hit the bear, for fear of enraging it. P. 251 “Some Bears Kill”

5. August 1995, Norway, Svalbard Archipelago, .22 rimfire, Failure Polar Bear, From Spitsbergen: Svalbard, Franz Josef, Jan Mayen, 3rd Brant travel Guide, by Andres Umbreit

Update: Kiepertoyo Hinlopen Strait, August, 1995

Another five people of the crew set out separately with only a .22 pistol and a flare gun. After an hour’s march, the second party were met by a bear, 75m away and openly aggressive. The bear was distracted neither by warning shot nor flare and attacked one of the party. As he did so, he was shot, from a range of only 15m and turned against the man who had fired at him. This man tossed the gun to the first, who shot again. The process was repeated, with first one man being attacked and then the other. By the time the pistol was emptied and a knife drawn, one man was dead and another badly injured. The survivors retreated to the ship.

(snip)

On examination, three shots to the head were discovered, none of them piercing the cranium.

The victim had three years experience with the Origo, with many bear observations, and there were sufficient weapons on board to equip everybody.

Older Reference, Polar Bears: Proceedings of the Twelfth Working Group, same incident.

On 1 September, 1995, two male tourists were attacked by an adult male bear on a remote island in eastern Svalbard. The two tourists defended themselves with a .22 calibre pistol which proved ineffective. One man was killed, the other injured. Police later shot the bear.

6. 24 June 2012, Arizona, Pondorosa Campground, .22 rimfire, black bear, azgfd.net (caliber previously unknown)

The bear had entered the man’s tent and attacked him. His fiance’ and a one-year-old child were also in the tent and were able to escape unharmed and sound the alarm to other campers in the nearby area.

Reports indicate that another camper at a nearby campsite shot at the bear several times with a handgun at close range after the attack. The bear left the area, and it is unknown at this time if or how many times the bear was hit.

.22 caliber mentioned at fox10phoenix story.

7. 25 July 2016, New Mexico, Silver City, .22 Rimfire, black bear.

The startled cubs bawled out for their mother, which came running around the corner. The woman fled into her house, but her dogs slipped out the open door. A fight ensued between the adult bear and the dogs, during which the woman attempted to scare the bear away. The woman’s husband arrived armed with a .22-caliber pistol and fired a single shot in the bear’s direction, Peralta said.

The bear ran off and collapsed about 40 yards away, dead from the gunshot wound, Peralta said. One of the cubs was found near the house and the other was found in a tree.

We found one case involving a .380 pistol. It was successful.

1. 14 April 2006, Tennessee: From ljworld.com .380 defense against 350 lb+ black bear The bear had killed a six-year-old girl and mauled her mother and brother. The attack occurred on Friday, 14 April in 2006, in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee.

The bear bit the boy’s head, then went after the child’s mother after she tried to fend off the attack with rocks and sticks, Hicks said. The animal picked up the woman with its mouth and dragged her off the trail.

The girl apparently ran away, and almost an hour passed before rescuer Danny Stinnett found the bear hovering over her body about 100 yards off the trail.

Stinnett, a county fire and rescue chief, said he approached and was about 25 feet away when the bear charged him on all fours. He said he fired at the bear twice with his .380-caliber pistol, scaring it off.

“I know I hit it,” Stinnett said. “It reared up on its hind legs. It was as big as you and me.”

We found seven cases where 9 mm pistols were used to defend against bears. All were successful.

1. 17 August 2002, Alaska, Russian River, Grizzly Charged Fishermen, 9mm

But then the bear turned, looked up at Brenner and lunged, said Lewis, who interviewed the three men Saturday.

Brenner fired twice at the center of the hulking shape closing to four or five feet away. The sow, estimated at 400 to 450 pounds, went down. Brenner then put three more bullets into her head.

He used a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol. Lewis said such a low-caliber gun ordinarily doesn’t pack enough punch to kill a bear. But Brenner loaded the pistol with full-metal-jacket bullets that penetrated to the bear’s vital organs, he said.

2. 31 August 2004, Colorado: Black Bear Charged John Tiebohl, 9 mm, Bachelor Gulch

BACHELOR GULCH – The Aug. 31 shooting of a bear in Bachelor Gulch still echoes among residents in the upscale enclave.The Colorado Division of Wildlife continues to investigate the incident, in which homeowner John Tietbohl shot and wounded a bear outside his Daybreak Ridge home. Tietbohl told officers the bear had been trying to get into his home, then charged him as he was getting into his car that evening. Tietbohl, who had been carrying a 9-millimeter pistol as a sidearm to protect himself from the bear, shot and hit the animal, which left a trail of blood as it ran off.Earlier in the day, Bachelor Gulch security officers had repeatedly sprayed pepper spray at the bear near Tietbohl’s house, but the animal stayed around. The bear also reportedly slipped into Tietbohl’s garage in the days before it was shot.

3. 26 August 2005 Selkirk Manitoba, RCMP handgun, (9 mm) Black Bear

After a black bear attacked and killed Harvey Robinson, 68, his family and RCMP officers were searching for Robinson. They found his body. The bear came running at the officer.

Later in the afternoon, RCMP searched the area with family members and found Robinson’s body.

While the searchers were talking at the scene, a bear suddenly came running out of the bush and an RCMP officer fired two shots at it with is 9-mm handgun, Colwell said.

From another source:

RCMP Sergeant Steve Colwell tells us it happened just after 3:30 P.M. Selkirk RCMP went to the scene and an officer found the man. The bear then came at the officer, who fired two shots with his revolver and turned the bear away.

After a search of the area, using a helicopter, the dead bear was found about 45 yards from where it had been shot. While the second source says “revolver” the RCMP had been issued 9 mm handguns for 50 years at the time of this bear attack.

4. 20 April 2009, Germany, Kassel, Brown Bear Spiegel.de, 9mm Sig is police issue

However, one of the bears attacked the cop and bit him twice on the left calf. The injured policeman shot the 180-kilogram (397-pound) bear five or six times with his service pistol. The circus director was sharply critical of the police action, which he described as “out of proportion.”

5. Last week in July 2016, Alaska: Guide Kills Attacking Grizzly with 9mm

In the last week in July, 2016, Phil Shoemaker had use a 9mm pistol to kill a grizzly that was threatening his clients and himself. It worked.

6. 6 October 2017, Montana: Bowhunters, Spray Failed, 9mm, Grizzly, account from two sources, Todd Orr, and Eye-witness, Beaver Creek

I interviewed both sources. The attack was reported to Fish and Game, but was not published. Consistent incident recorded in USGS data base.

It was at the end of the day, and was getting dark. Two bow hunters, were returning from their bow hunt. They both had bear spray and pistols. They had agreed that if forced into defending themselves, one would use spray, the other would back up the spray with his pistol.

The grizzly bluff charged several times, blocking their return to camp.

Warning shots were fired in the air with a 9 mm pistol. The bear ran off, then came back. Bear spray was utilized but only extended 10 feet into a light head wind and did not reach the bear. The bear would not disengage. It kept coming back and getting closer. The aggressive bear was finally shot with the 9 mm pistol at close range. It ran off. The report was made to Fish and Wildlife, and the bear was found dead the next day. Eye-witness believes it was one shot to the chest of the bear.

7. September 16, 2019, Gravelly Mountains, Montana, Grizzly Bear 9mm pistols.

The second attack happened about 6:30 p.m. as two archery hunters from Washington were walking north toward Cottonwood Creek. They said they heard a noise and saw a bear charging at them. The bear struck one of the men, who initially fell face-down. During the mauling, the man ended up laying on his back with the bear on top of him. The man’s hunting partner shot at the bear with a pistol, and the bear stepped away but did not leave initially.

The bear charged two more times but did not make contact with the hunters again as both hunters fired shots at it until it departed. It’s unclear how many shots were fired or whether any of them hit the bear.

Link to Ammoland article on this case

We found one case involving a 9.3 x 18 Makarov pistol, in Russia.

1. 2010, Russia: 9.3 mm Makarov (most likely) Police attempting to control bear.

Brown bear shot by policemen after attack on veterinarian police s uses, at that time (2010) 9mm Makarov, I’m pretty sure about 95% it was basic FMJ (Full metal jackets) They shot around 8-9 shot, no one can tell how many actually hit the bear

We found three cases involving a .38 revolver, probably .38 S&W special. One was successful against a grizzly. Two were against black bears. One was a failure, one a success.

1. October 1947 Chickaloon River, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, grizzly bear .38 revolver, 158 gr bullet. Page 95-105, “Narrow Escapes”, Ben East, first published by Outdoor Life, 1960.

After 35 days of backpacking in pursuit of moose photos, Cecil Rhodes was confronted a big grizzly at 11 feet. He shot the bear deliberately off center in the head with the .38, fearing the bullet would glance off the skull, and it “slumped”, but did not go down. The bear retreated, he heard cubs, and knew the bear was a sow.

The bear came back, and paused at 20 feet away. He shot her in the head again. She “slumped” again, then came slowly past him at about 15 feet. He had a clear shot at the side of her head, but decided not to fire. She acted as if she did not notice him. After she passed he heard the cubs again, and by squatting down was able to see there were three cubs.

He climbed a tree, and shot her a third time, between the shoulders at 25 yards. She rolled down hill. The next day, he trailed her in the snow for 2.5 miles, but did not find her.

2. May 2013, Missouri, Rodgersville, .38 revolver, ozaksfirst.com, black bear (dead  link:  Ozarksfirst.com, May, 2013)

“The bear was being really aggressive and foaming at the mouth,” something a game warden told him happens when bears become angry. “At that point I shot the bear.”

The bear was hit three times in the chest and then ran away, climbed up a tree, and the fire department had to cut the limbs to get him down. The bear eventually died.

(skip)

“I brought a 38 pistol to scare it more than anything.”

When it fought back and became aggressive, he knew he had to take action, “it was self defense.”Since the incident he’s gotten angry emails.

3. 6 September, 2015, New Mexico: Failure, .38 revolver Ocate, black bear

The hunter received bite injuries to his foot through his boot as he climbed a tree to try to escape the bear. He was taken to Alta Vista Hospital in Las Vegas, N.M., where he was treated and released.

(snip)

In Thursday’s attack, the hunter told officials he was eating lunch under a tree when he spotted the bear and her cub in a watering hole. He took photographs and started shooting video of the animals when the mother bear got angry and charged. The hunter, who officials did not identify, climbed the tree to escape.

At one point, the hunter fell 15 feet from the tree and then managed to climb back up. He fired his pistol into the air and at the female bear in attempt to scare it, but the animal didn’t leave. He then radioed for help. His guide told officers he found the hunter clinging to the tree nearly 50 feet from the ground.

Investigating officers did not find any blood at the scene. Two bullets were recovered at the base of the tree. I interviewed Clint Henson, one of the investigating officers. In the official report, obtained by a public information request, the revolver was identified as a .38. Only five shots were recorded. The revolver was placed in the archery hunter’s pocket, so it was likely a 2″ barreled 5-shot revolver.

One warning shot was fired in the air as the bear approached. The bear continued to advance, so the defender put the pistol in his pocket and climbed the tree. The bear came up the tree and bit him in the foot. He fired four more times at the bear as it climbed the tree toward him. Two of the times, the bear backed down the tree. He continued to yell at the bear, and it eventually left with the cub.

We have found eight cases where .357 magnum revolvers were used to defend against bears. Seven were successful, one was unsuccessful.

1. September of 1956 or 1957 Highland Valley, Geologist Alex Burton, Highland Valley, British Columbia, .357magnum Colt revolver, Black Bear.

I interviewed Alex Burton. The details of his cases are at the link on Ammoland.

When Alex arrived at the scene, the Cook had gone back to the dump. Alex had to retrieve his 357 Colt revolver, unlock the box it was in, retrieve ammunition from another box, and load it. While he was doing this, the Cook came running back from the dump, with the bear chasing him. Alex shot the bear from about 100 feet away. The bear ran into the dense woods. Alex was obligated to follow it up, and, fortunately, found it dead a short ways into the woods.

2. 15 September 1985, near Healy, Alaska Ruger single-action .357 magnum, grizzly, Ben Moore: Bear Attacks of the Century: True Stories of Courage and Survival P. 23-24

The shots were slightly delayed because the revolver was a single action

The bear charged him. His first shot was from about 5 feet, into the chest. The bear grabbed him by the leg and threw him, then picked him up again. Ben missed a shot, the managed to get a shot into the bear’s stomach. The bear dropped him, then grabbed him by the head, shook him, and dropped him again. He shoved the pistol and both hands into the bears mouth, and fired.

The bear moved back, shook its head, took a swipe at Ben with its paw, leaving a sliver of claw through Ben’s thumb.

Then it walked off. The attack was finished.

Ben required reconstructive surgery for his face, but fully recovered.

3. August 1986, Tsiu River south of Cordova, Alaska, .357 magnum revolvers, grizzly bear

A group of seven people on a fishing trip, with a guide and a cook, had to deal with an increasingly aggressive grizzly over several days. The group included Bob and Marietta Herron and their friend, Bill. They kept a watch at night, and repeatedly drove off the bear with warning shots. About 1 am on the fourth day, the bear ignored warning shots and came within 15 yards of the group. During more warning shots, the guide’s .30-06 rifle misfired, and one member fired at the bear, with his .357. The bear moved off. after the sun came up, the group found the bear, dead, with two .357 slugs in it. Page 312-313 Safe with Bears.

4. 26 June 1987, Montana: Grizzly Bear Killed After Biting Warden in Montana Forest .357 magnum

Pictures at Field and Stream Article here

‘’I wouldn’t want to have another go-round,’’ the 60-year-warden, Lou Kis, said from his hospital bed after undergoing surgery for the bite, which was so powerful that it broke the leg bone below the knee.

Mr. Kris, a warden captain here for 22 years, killed the 400- to 500-pound bear with six shots from his .357 caliber Magnum revolver as it bit him.

5. June or July, 1991, Ontario, Canada, Garden Lake, black bear, .357 magnum (Colt Python) Mentioned in Comments on Ammoland.

I interviewed George Scott in 2019.

Government geologist George Scott had an ATC (Authority to Carry) while in the performance of official duties. A black bear raided coolers and ate steaks and pork chops, punctured all coke cans. The next morning, it was foggy and Scott went out fishing, leaving his Colt Python Stainless steel revolver in the holster, loaded, in the cabin. He heard gunshots and returned to the cabin. His partner had fired at the bear, but had missed. The next morning, approached the outhouse with toilet paper in one hand and the Python in the other. The bear came out from behind the outhouse when he was 20 feet away. He fired one shot, and the bear ran 40 feet and expired.

6. July, 1992, near the town of Central, Alaska, Grizzly, .357 revolver.

A 600 lb grizzly breaks into a mining claim trailer. 14 year old Clint Reynolds shoots the bear seven times with a .357 revolver. The bear leaves the trailer via a window. There were three shots to the chest of the bear with the .357. The bear died outside the trailer. Anchorage Daily News, as reported by Craig Medred, J-8, 1992 as reported in Safe with Bears, page 314.

7. June 20, 2010, Alaska: Geologist Pistol Defense failure Grizzly Bear, .357 Magnum

Miller managed to pull out his .357 Magnum revolver and squeeze off a shot, possibly grazing the animal. Then he fell onto his stomach, dug his face into the dirt and covered his neck.

The bear went for his exposed right arm, gnawing and clawing it and chipping the bone off the tip of his elbow. The attack lasted 10 to 15 seconds, then the animal lumbered away.

As Miller rolled over and was getting to his knees, the bear, only about 40 yards away, came at him again.

He managed to fire two more shots, but with his right arm badly injured he thinks he missed the bear. Then he lay still as the animal gnawed and clawed at him.

After the second attack, Miller played dead again, lying still for three to five minutes. He tried to move and realized he couldn’t. He was too badly injured.

“I was just hoping my radio was still in my vest pocket and it was,” he said. “I got it out and started radioing mayday, which nobody answered.”

8. 26 July, 2014, Montana: Glacier National Park: Bear first sprayed, then shot with a .357, grizzly bear

Murphy first sprayed bear spray at the bear when it was 15 to 25 feet away, firing one shot from his .357 revolver when the bear had approached to within 7-10 feet. The bear was charging uphill at the time. He only fired one round at the bear, which fell back and stopped moving when shot. Many have suggested that he should have continued firing, but it is hard to argue with success.

We have found four cases where .40 caliber pistols were used to defend against bears. All were successful.

1. 2 June 2006, Alaska: Black Bear broke into Anchorage home, AK Glock .40

A large black bear broke into an Anchorage home early this morning, rummaged around like a burglar and feasted on a box of chocolates before the homeowner shot him dead with a Glock.

(snip)

Knowlton said the bear started back up the stairs toward his son. He shot the animal multiple times and it went back downstairs.

2. 23 September 2008 .40 caliber Black bear bit deputy in Morrow County Ohio, near Gilead. 500 lb Black Bear.

MOUNT GILEAD, Ohio, Sept. 23 (UPI) — Authorities in Morrow County, Ohio, said a deputy shot and killed a 500-pound black bear that had bit him on the leg.

Another mention, Stuart Mattix the deputy.

One of his deputies was bitten on the leg by an escaped bear in September. Deputy Stuart Mattix shot and killed a nearly 500-pound black bear that had been kept at a home on County Road 24, just south of Mount Gilead.

email from Sgt Lance Plough/964 Morrow County Sheriff’s Office

Deputy Mattix is the one who shot the bear while it was biting his leg. He was carrying a Glock 23 .40 caliber with Winchester Ranger hollow points. He shot 9 rounds which were mainly to the bears head and neck. A few of the rounds glanced off the head. This particular incident took place early afternoon.

3. 20 October 2011, Ohio: Zanesville, escaped bear, duty pistol, .40 caliber (from Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office)

But soon, he was facing another, much larger, problem. His commanding officer told him a lion had been cornered back at the Thompson home. He headed back, but instead of finding a lion, he was confronted by an angry bear.

“The black bear turned in my direction and ran directly towards me,” Merry told ABC News. “I fortunately was able to pull my duty pistol, fired one shot, killing the animal instantly. The black bear fell approximately fell seven feet in front of me.”

(snip)

Fred Polk watched in disbelief as he watched the bear charge Merry and a lion leap over a fence into his yard about 5 p.m. Tuesday night.

“One of the bears charged the deputy and the deputy shot it. After that one of the lions jumped the fence come down here and the deputy shot it in my front yard,” Polk said.

4. May 13, 2017, New Hampshire: Bristol, Officer shoots, kills Aggressive Black Bear with .40 cal Glock

Police Chief Michael Lewis said Thursday that, on May 13 at 12:25 a.m., officer Thomas Seager responded to a 911 call from a resident on Riverdale Road about a bear breaking into a garage.

When the bear advanced toward Seager, he fired a “scare” shot, causing the bear to leave the area, Lewis said.

Seager reported the incident to the state’s Fish and Game Department but, nine minutes later, the property owner called to say the bear was back and up in a tree.

The second time the officer responded, the bear came down out of the tree and advanced on Seager again, according to Lewis.

“One round was fired, terminating the bear,” Lewis said.

The animal was killed with the officer’s .40-caliber Glock handgun.

We have found three cases where a 10 mm pistol was used to defend against bears. All were successful.

1. 29 July 2016, Alaska: Kim Woodman Kills Charging Grizzly with 10 mm

On 29 July, 2016, about 4 p.m. Kim Woodman was attacked by a sow brown bear at Humpy Creek.

Kim had a Glock model 20 10 mm pistol with him. He was able to stop the attack by shooting the bear as it charged at him. While backing away from the charging bear, Kim tripped and fell backward. He instinctively attempted to fend off the bear with his foot, while he concentrated on firing the shots that saved his life. The last shot was just short of contact. It probably hit the bear in the chest, but also took off the tip of one of Kim’s toes.

2. 25 July 2018, New Mexico: Man stops New Mexico bear attack with 10mm Glock 20

Bridger Petrini is attacked by a near 400 lb cinnamon black bear. He kills the bear with his Glock 20 10mm during an extended fight. I interviewed Bridger. The case is detailed at the link.

3. 18 September 2018 Alaska, 10mm Grizzly Bear Pictures Defense on Archery Moose Hunt, Anthony Reyna Relates story, “Jimmy” is the shooter.

At this point we haven’t spotted the moose yet but has seen the crows kick up, and less then a second after that you hear the roar, from our 12 o clock, and boom freaking 7 1/2 foot brown bear yards 10 yds away and full charge, my buddy Jimmy who was leading yells ever so calmly “Oh fuck bear” draws his Glock 20 and without hesitation drives two bullets into the charging bore at roughly 10 feet from him. One to the head, one to the chest “Perfect.” At this point, and it being so fast it’s hard to comprehend what had just happened.

Immediately afterward I call fish and game, and report that we had to drop a brownie by self defense and nobody is injured, while on the phone my friend Ron had located my moose. Completely buried, ear ripped off, stomach and genitals ripped open. But from what we could tell all meat looked salvageable.

We have found four cases where .41 magnum revolvers were used to defend against bears. All were successful.

1. Addition 16 July 1981, Circle Lake, Alaska, black bear, .41 magnum single-action revolver.

Wade Nolan was with his wife, Hazel and Randy Poteet on a wilderness arctic trip, using Klepper Kayaks, 400 yards from Circle lake. The float plane had dropped them off, and left. They set up camp, and a brazen black bear came into camp and started stealing gear.

The big black bear kept coming at Wade. He shot it at eight yards, in the chest. It ran a short distance and died. They cut short their trip as a result. Another bear stalked them on the way down the Alatna river.

Death Dance, Wade Nolan, page 134 – 140. Bob Marshall mapped Alatna in July, 1931. Nolen says the event happened 50 years later, in 1981.

2. last week of June 2003, Montana: Grizzly Bear attacked, man mauled, used .41 Mag to stop the second attack

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Then the bear attacked again, he said, moving incredibly fast, and that’s when Johnson, still on his back, reached for the pistol he wore in a holster on his belt.

“I had my hand by my side,” he said. “I pulled the gun and went boom. Tell me how fast that is.”

The bullet struck the bear just below the snout and it collapsed immediately and almost landed on him, he said. Then he rose to his feet and put three more 240-grain slugs in it.

3. 19 July 2009, Wyoming: Clark, .41 Magnum, Grizzly

Jerry Ruth saw the grizzly for just a fraction of a second before it was on him.

Within seconds, the 275-pound animal had crushed the Wyoming man’s jaw when it bit him in the face, fractured his rib and punctured his lung and left deep bite wounds in his calf and scratches across his back.

After the attack, the bear left him for her three cubs that Ruth saw for the first time as he lay bleeding on the dirt. When it reached the cubs about 15 yards away, the bear turned toward him again, “squaring off” as if to charge, Ruth recalled Friday.

Ruth grabbed for the .41-caliber magnum revolver he was carrying in a hip holster and relied on his training and experience as a police officer to save his life. He fired three times, saving three bullets in case his first shots failed.

But the bear dropped and didn’t move, ending the furious encounter as swiftly as it started.

4. Addition 8 August, 2009, Ishawooa Mesa, Wyoming, Grizzly, .41 Magnum.

He fired a warning shot over the sow’s head. It made no impression.

He fired again. A miss. The bears and dog were close, now. The sights lined up. A pause, perfect sight picture… click and misfire! He fired again. Another miss, but now the bears and dog ran off, out of sight.

One round was left in the Blackhawk. Tanner had six rounds in his gun belt loops. He reloaded. He decided to leave the area, in case the bear came back.

50 yards away, a narrow chute gave a less than vertical way done the mesa. He started into it. He had only descended 20 feet when he heard and saw the sow again. It had circled around the bottom of the mesa and was now coming up the chute, directly at him! He reversed course, climbed up, and scrambled onto a rocky outcrop. Sow, dog, and cubs all moved as fast as they could up the steep slope of the chute.

Tanner cocked the pistol and held it steady. As the sow’s head came to within two feet of his position, he fired directly into her forehead. Instant death. The sow tumbled backward and rolled over and over down the chute, with Ovada in pursuit. She came to rest 150 feet away.

We have found two cases, both successful, where a .44-40 was used to defend against a bear.

1. Addition 1890’s, Headwaters of the South Fork of the Klamath River near the California/Oregon border, grizzly bear, .44-40 in a Colt Single Action revolver.

The bear invaded the camp and treed the men. Captain S.C. Kyle had a creel full of fish and a .44 Colt (Most likely a .44-40, the second most common Colt revolver caliber of the period) on his hip. He shot the bear, creasing the top of its head from front to back; the bear was able to jump, climb, and grab his boot, then dropped back. He continued to fire at the bear, which eventually wandered off to the side, and expired from shots which reached the lungs.

Colt on the Trail, published 1934, p. 30-32

2. 16 July, 2002, Seneca Lake, San Carlos Indian Reservation, Arizona, .44-40 Ruger Vaquero, black bear.

My name is Rod Black. Last month I was fishing with my brother at Seneca Lake Arizona, on the San Carlos Indian Reservation. Just after midnight on the 16th of July, 2002, a bear wandered into my camp and attacked me while I slept. He clawed my head open, severing a small artery, and bit me on the back before throwing me off my cot onto the ground.
I found myself on the dirt, in the dark, with blood gushing and literally squirting from my wounds. I was in a state of absolute panic and horror. I had a Ruger Vaquero by my cot, but in the chaos and confusion I could locate neither the revolver nor my glasses, and could see or hear nothing. I was paralyzed by fear and terrified that the bear would come back from out of the darkness and resume his attack on me at any moment.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was perhaps less than a minute, my brother could see the dark form of the bear moving and began to scream. I realized that we were going to die if I didn’t come to my senses, and I fell to the ground and located my shooter in the dirt. I asked my brother to try to make it to the pickup and turn on the lights. (He could not find the flashlight, as the bear had knocked it on the ground before the attack.) Without my glasses and in such darkness, I was nearly blind.

After repeatedly asking my brother to go, he somehow made it to the truck and turned on the lights. (Later, I realized that by asking my brother to go into the dark to turn on the lights, I might have sent him to his death – that will haunt me forever.)
The lights came on and revealed my worst nightmare: Not three to four feet away and looking straight at me was the bear. The bogeyman. The thing that goes bump in the dark. This thing had come to kill me and eat my flesh that night… and I knew it.

When he turned for an instant to look at the light, I wiped the blood from my eyes and fired my first shot from the caliber .44-40 Vaquero. I was painfully aware that if my first round was not a good one, I may not have a chance for another. In all my life, I will never forget the sound of the blast or the acrid smell of the gunpowder. The bear was knocked from his feet and hit the ground hard. He thrashed about while I fired again and again – and cursed him while I did – until I was hammering on empty cartridges.

Article from The Blue Press November 2002 Issue #125.

We have found thirty cases where .44 magnum revolvers were used to defend against bears. All were successful.

1. Late 1960s, Alaska: From More Alaskan Bear Tales Page 270, .44 magnum, Alaska Magazine, January, 1980 black bear

The bear started to enter his shed. He took an aggressive stance and told her to get out. The bear showed no signs of leaving, so he stomped on the floor toward her. . Vic said, ” Her front bows moved like black lightning… the staccato of her claws rebounding off the door and frame…. The speed at which she could move was frightening. She was too fast for me to see the movement.”

She ground her teeth, and in a blur she came for him. He poped a cap and dropped the bear. What would have happened had Vic not had a pistol?

2. Addition Late 1960’s, Stewart Island, Alaska, grizzly bear, .44 magnum

The bear charged Jerry Austin of St. Michael. Jerry stuck his .44 in the bear’s mouth as it lunged at him, and pulled the trigger. He went down, and rolled away, losing his rifle, but holding onto the .44. When he got up, the bear was already dead.

P. 277 More Bear Tales.

3. Spring of 1969, Alaska: Grizzly killed in self-defense by “Dolly” Walker

Spring of 1969 as detailed in Year of the Bear. Nizina Valley east of McCarthy in Alaska. Shot by Beverly “Dolly” Walker. Picture of Dolly with bear that attacked her. She is holding the Smith & Wesson .44 magnum she used to defend herself at the Alaskan homestead.

4. Fall, 1970, Alaska Grizzly, .44 magnum: From More Alaskan Bear Tales Page 269

In the fall of 1970, Al and his hunting partner Ron Trumblee had gone waterfowl hunting with their shotguns. Knowing there were bears in the area, they packed their .44-magnum handguns as defense against a possible bear attack.

The men heard brush breaking nearby and were soon face-to-face with an angry mother brownie. As she charged, Albert leveled his pistol and fired. He said, “She shook her head and kept coming. When she was about ten feet away, Ron drew and fired his pistol from the hip and the bear fell dead four feet in front of me.” Alaska Magazine, September 1971.

5. 1978-79, summer, Cootenays Mountains, British Columbia, Grizzly Bear, .44 magnum, Alex Burton

I interviewed Alex Burton. The details of his cases are at the link on Ammoland.

Alex rounded a turn in the trail he was on to see a grizzly bear only 25 feet away. Alex drew his revolver as the bear stood up and roared. The bear dropped down and started running toward him. Alex fired a shot into the ground in front of it. The bear stopped, turned around, and walked away. Alex reloaded his revolver to ensure he had a full six rounds available and gave the bear a chance to put some distance between them. After a few minutes, Alex continued down the path.

6. 1978-79, summer, Cootenays Mountains, British Columbia, Black Bear, .44 magnum Alex Burton

About 15 minutes later, Alex heard crashing in the brush and woods above the path. He thought he had crowded the grizzly bear by following too closely, and wished he had waited a more extended period. It wasn’t the grizzly. It was a black bear sow with cubs. The cubs were some distance off and above the trail. The bear ran between the cubs and a bank above the trail. Alex fired a shot in front of the sow as it approached the bank. That was sufficient. The sow turned around and took off with her cubs.

7. 29 July, 1994, Moose International Airport Camp, 70 miles southeast of Cordova, Alaska, Grizzly, .44 Magnum page 127, Ellie Florance, Some Bears Kill, Larry Kanuit.

The bear, a three year old female, broke into Elconora’s tent. She was able to access a .44 mag, but was unwilling to fire. Mike Herder, a commercial fisherman was awakened by Elconora’s screams. He came running, and fired a shot with his .44 magnum over the bear. It started to move away, then began to return. Mike shot it in the chest, causing it to run off. Mike followed it, and picked up a 12 gauge shotgun from the office. When the bear turned again, Mike finished it off.

8. Addition 7 October, 1995, Alaska salmon Stream, Jack Muir, .44 magnum.

Jack started to video a distant bear when he heard the sow coming in from about 16 yards away. He yelled at her, and she chose to attack. Muir shot and killed the bear at eight feet, with his Ruger Redhawk .44 magnum, using a 328 grain hard cast bullet propelled by 21.5 grains of H110 powder. The bullet penetrated the bears skull and broke the vertebrae of the neck where it joins the skull. The bear dropped instantly. The video showed eleven seconds elapsed from the time he started the video, to the time the sow was dead.
p. 215-216 “Some Bears Kill”

9. 28 July, 1996, Arizona: .44 Magnum used to stop black bear attack, AZ Republic, page 39 -Newspapers.com

Comprehensive article from Gun Watch published in 2017

Jul 28, 1996 The 16-year-old counselor, Anna – Knochel, was in critical condition. Brett Kramer drove away the 340-pound male bear by shooting it twice with a .44 Magnum pistol.

10. July-August 2000, Dawson City, Yukon, Geologist with Authority to Carry, Black Bear, .44 Magnum

I interviewed Alex Burton. The details of his cases are at the link on Ammoland.

Alex was setting up a tent to be used in the exploration. Other members of the team were sent ahead to clear a trail for smaller vehicles. While encumbered with the tent and ropes, in the process of finishing setting up the tent, he saw a black bear stalking him, low to the ground, about 20 feet away. Alex was in a tent. He said if he had been armed with a rifle or shotgun, he would have left it hanging at the entrance to the tent. He drew his pistol and shot the bear when it was only 5-6 feet from him. The bear was knocked down, then jumped up and climbed a large aspen tree, where it died.

Upon examination, the bear was old and in poor condition. It was thin, its teeth were black and broken.

11. July-August 2000, Dawson City, Yukon, Geologist with Authority to Carry, Black Bear, .44 Magnum

A month later, in another tent erected a short distance away. Alex found himself spending the night alone close to the location of the first shooting. He had disrobed and was in his sleeping bag next to the tent wall. His revolver and a light were laid nearby, easily available. In the middle of the night, he heard heavy breathing and felt a body press against him from the outside of the tent. He exited the sleeping bag, naked, accessed his revolver and light, and crept to the tent entrance. Upon exiting, he saw a black bear at the corner of the tent, less than 10 feet away. The bear sat down, as a dog sits, facing Alex. Alex admonished the bear not to disturb his sleep. The bear started to move toward Alex, and he shot it with the S&W 629 .44 magnum. The bear was knocked down, then ran off. It was found, dead, the next morning.

12. July, 2002, Alaska, Mantakusa River Cabin 100 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska, Brent Hughes, .44 magnum S&W, black bear. Page 160-161 of Safe with Bears, by Larry Kanuit 2018

Brent had several encounters with bears at the remote location. One bear viewed him as prey, and would not leave. He was forced to kill the bear with a shot from the .44 magnum S&W model 29.

13. 2003 Alaska published 1 June 2003, Black bears, .44 magnum in Anchorage Daily News, republished here, also mentioned in Safe with Bears, page 182.

The first warning shot sent one bear scurrying several feet up a tree, Leslie said, but the others appeared unfazed. They just kept watching him.

“There were not scared of me one bit,” he said. “I had the wind at my back. I was making all kinds of noise. They knew it was me. I thought I was going to be dinner.”

The bear that had gone up the tree climbed down. Then all three started advancing on Leslie again.

“They didn’t make a sound,” he said. “They just started walking right at me. There was no huffing, no snapping of jaws, no bluff charges. They just kept walking at me, and I kept slowly backing down the trail.”

When the bears got inside of 100 feet, Leslie fired another warning shot with his handgun.

This time, he said, one bear jumped off the side of the trail, and a few moments later the others seemed to take that as their sign to leave.

14. 24 September 2004, Alaska: Muldoon, Hiker Kills Charging Brown Bear from 20 feet with .44 Magnum,

Original story from Anchorage Daily News

“I fired the first shot, and I aimed at its shoulders. When the first shot didn’t faze it, I fired the second time, and it turned into the ditch, and I shot three more times, and it went down,” said Boyd.

Boyd was down to one remaining bullet in his .44-caliber Magnum when he called Anchorage police for assistance. State trooper Kim Babcock helped Boyd finish off the bear with her shotgun.

15. July, 2005, Russel Gillespie, Seward, Alaska, as emailed to Larry Kanuit on 22 May, 2007, .44 Magnum, S&W 29.

Two bears charging emerged from the brush at 25-30 feet near the side of the trail, roaring and moving fast at Russel and his dog, Thelma. He fired two warning shots, one in front of each bear. One bear stopped, the other continued charging. He fired three more shots at the charging bear, stopping the charge at 15 feet. He fired one more shot into the lungs of the downed bear, which rendered his revolver empty. Page 314 Safe with Bears.

16. 7 September 2006, Alaska: Grizzly attacked Moose Hunters, Alaska, .44 magnum, The Longest Minute

When Reed distracted the bear from its attack on me, I had time to concentrate on the holster. I saw a buckle with a strap running through it. I could not figure out how it held the gun in place, so I grabbed the buckle and attempted to rip it off. To my surprise, the buckle was actually a snap and the strap peeled away. As I pulled the revolver out, a sudden calm came over me, and I knew everything would be fine. I looked in the direction of Reed only to once again see the bear charging at me. He was about ten feet away coming up and over the initial log that I had tripped over. That was when I pointed the revolver and fired at center mass. The .44 magnum boomed in the night and the boar fell straight down, his head three feet away from where I stood. As he fell, he bit at the ground and ended up with a mouthful of sod. I stood in a dumbfounded stupor. I had no expectation that the pistol would kill the bear. My hope was that the shot would sting the bear and help scare him away along with the flame and loud report. As his head sagged to the ground, I shot him three more times in quick succession, out of fear and anger.

17. 17 September, 2007, Wyoming: Flying H Ranch, Bowhunters Attacked by 600 lb Grizzly, Stopped Charge with .44 Magnum

Byrum started to pull his .44 Magnum pistol out of his holster. After bumping into Byrum, Hambelton dove to the ground and curled into a ball, with his backpack facing the bear.

“I just gritted my teeth expecting the bear to bite me,” Hambelton said.

With the bear closing to within six feet, Byrum fired a shot into the bear’s neck.

“I kept telling myself, don’t shoot in the head,” said Byrum, fearful that a bullet to the head would glance off the bear’s skull.

As the pistol fired, Byrum tripped over a tree stump behind him. With Byrum on his back, the bear fell in front of his hunting boots.

“I thought, ‘Oh no, this is going to be bad,'” said Byrum, who could see smoke coming out of the bear’s fur where he had shot him.

18. October 6, 2007, Montana: From bozemandailychronicle.com: (Tom Miner Basin), .44 Magnum grizzly

It attacked a pair of bow hunters early Saturday afternoon. One of them used bear pepper spray and halted a charge within nine feet, but the grizzly turned and charged a second time. That’s when the second hunter shot it twice with a .44 magnum pistol.

(This incident happened on the same day, near to the Roman Morris incident. They are separate incidents.)

19. 2009 Nevada City Nevada, .44 magnum, black bear,

Reported by Nevada Bear Biologist Carl Lackey

Lackey said one resident reported shooting the bear right between the eyes with a .44 Magnum after the hungry giant lifted a sliding-glass door off the tracks and started toward him. The bullet glanced off and sent the bear whirling around the kitchen, and a second shot prompted him to scramble out the back door, according to local newspaper accounts.

20. 31 May, 2010, Eagle River, Alaska, .44 Magnum.

When a grizzly bear charged Michael Weiman’s wife, Marianne, and their dog, Mojabe, Michael heard the screams and rushed to her aid with a .44 magnum. Three warning shots into the ground near the bear drove it off sufficiently for the couple and dog to escape into their house.

Later the bear returned. Weiman then killed it with one shot from a .30-30 rifle.

Safe with Bears, p. 231.

21. 14 June 2010, Canada, British Columbia: A Grizzly Bear, a .44 magnum, and a brush with death

Link to video on Youtube

He kept one hand on the tripod and drew the other to his holster, pulling out the gun he’d never had to use. The grizzly zigzagged toward him, roaring the whole time.

Mr. Lorenz lifted the gun and set it off, just four feet above her head. The shot was enough to startle the bear and make her turn in the opposite direction.

“This was something that she wasn’t expecting, to get blasted in the face; that was enough to put a damper on killing me,” he said. “If I didn’t have the gun, I would have been dead.”

22. additional information 2 September 2010, Wyoming, Paint Creek, Shoshone National Forest, Bowhunter shot Charging Grizzly with .44 magnum

Paint Creek reenactment

A bow hunter reenacts for investigators how he fired a .44 Magnum revolver at a grizzly bear near Paint Creek in the Shoshone National Forest in 2010. Investigators followed a blood trail for half a mile, but could not located the wounded bruin.

Confirmed with Freedom of Information Act. The revolver was a Colt Anaconda. First “shot” was on an empty chamber, then another shot from 1 foot into the bear’s chest. Wardens lost the blood trail.

23. July 24, 2014, Alaska: Eagle River, 200 pound Brown Bear Sow, .44 Magnum Revolver

“This is not in an Anchorage subdivision,” Battle said. “This is out in the big woods.”

Battle said the sow attacked the man, who in turn fired at it three times with a .44 Magnum.

“The last time, I think, he got it through the lung,” Battle said. “It ran back into the alders and he could hear it wheezing.”

24. 19 March, 2015, Norway: Polar Bear attack stopped in Svalbard island, with .44 magnum handgun.

On Thursday, 19 March, 2015, a woman with a .44 magnum stopped a polar bear from attacking Jakub Moravec, 37, in the Svalbard archipelago. Polar bear attacks are expected there, and tourists are not allowed unless they carry a high powered firearm. In this case, the rifles were left outside the tents, but inside the protective alarm wire. The armed woman, mother of Zuzanna Hakova, shot the bear three times with the revolver.

25. 21 June 2015, Alaska: Details on Charging Kodiak stopped with a .44 Mag Revolver

The bear was roughly 9 feet tall and started its charge at about 20 yards away. The man shot the bear by the time it moved half that distance, Svoboda said.

“It all happened in really tight quarters,” he said. “He shot at it five times before it finally stopped and then once it was on the ground, it was still moving. So he shot it one more time and then it died.”

26. August 15, 2015, Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park: Fisherman fires warning shots with .44 Magnum, Deters Grizzly Bear Attack

According to the angler’s report, he was fishing when he heard a noise behind him. He turned around to see three grizzly bears, one adult and two cubs, coming toward him. The adult bear stood on its hind legs, at which point the fisherman fired one shot into the ground to the side of the bear. The bears then turned around and departed the area. The fisherman noted that he was near the “worm hole” area of the Snake River located approximately three quarters of a mile downriver from the Jackson Lake Dam.

27. 31 August 2015, Idaho: Bear Attacked Bow Hunter, Could not Reach Bear Spray, Drove off Bear with .44 Magnum pistol shots grizzly

The hunter reportedly was carrying bear spray, but apparently couldn’t access it when the attack occurred. Fish and Game officials said the man was able to scare the bear off after he tried to shoot her several times with a .44 magnum revolver pistol at point-blank range.

The archer sustained injuries to his hand and wrist, but hiked out under his own power and was transported by ambulance to Madison County Hospital in Rexburg.

28. 7 August 2016, Alaska: Successful Grizzly Bear Attack Defense with .44 Magnum

“We immediately found ourselves in a confrontation,” Kluting said. “She ended up turning around and for a split second we thought she would leave – but then she turned back and came at us full charge.”

Kluting fired off a warning shot into the creek. At that point the sow was 15 yards away.

“She ran through that without even flinching,” he said.

So Kluting aimed in the middle of the brown blur, now about 3 yards away.

“I barely had time to get the hammer back for another shot before she reached me,” he said.

She collapsed in the river about 5 feet – two steps – away from them.

29. 24 September 2017 Montana: Father Uses .44 Magnum to Shoot Grizzly Bear off Son

Dave had closed to within six feet of Rory and the bear. Not wanting to hit Rory, hoping to get the bear to release his son, he shot the bear in the hip.

It worked. The bear dropped Rory and spun toward him. His next round was meant for the bear’s shoulder. The situation was dynamic. The 240 grain slug went through the bears neck.

With the bear coming at him, the bear’s mouth was within two feet of his .44 Taurus when he fired the last shot. The bullet went alongside the bear’s head, into its neck, penetrating the chest cavity.

30. 24 September 2018, Montana: Bowhunter used a handgun to stop grizzly bear attack .44 Magnums

Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife Director Dona Rutherford says the man killed the moose on Monday and was preparing to move the animal when he was attacked by the bear.

Rutherford says bow hunters are allowed to carry guns and the hunter shot the bear with a handgun.

Detailed article From Rural Montana Magazine December, 2018

We have found nine cases where .45 caliber pistols were used to defend against bears. All were successful.

1. Addition Spring, before 1934, probably 1920’s Skykomish River, Washington State .45 ACP, Black Bear P. 14-15 “Colt on the Trail, published 1934

Jack Jackson had a holstered Colt .45 when he came face to face with an aggressive, dominant black bear boar, at 10 feet. He shot the boar six times with the Colt .45 ACP, having to reload four of the cartridges because he had fired five shots on the way to his fishing hole. The incident was witnessed by Walter R. Lewin of Seattle, who wrote it up and sent it to Colt.

A Walter R. Lewin of Seattle is recorded as having died in 1950.

2. 1970s? Alaska: Skilak Lake, Kenai Peninsula, From More Alaskan Bear Tales page 271, Maurice Goff and Jack, detailed account without date.

Between bear raids, both men yelled and frantically sought the pistol (having forgotten the shotgun). Finally, Maurice found the pistol, pulled it from its holster and emptied the gun into the charging hulk.

The bear altered its course, and Maurice scrambled for a tree. He begged Jack to do likewise, but Jack refused to do so until he got his hands on the scattergun. Moments later Maurice felt the barrel of the shotgun and discovered Jack was on his way up the foot-thick cottonwood.

The next morning, the approximatedly 800 lb bear was found dead, about 1/2 mile away.

3. August 22, 2009, Montana: Grizzly shot with 9 rounds of .45 from a Glock 21 from gunnerforum.org reported

There was not much news coverage of my friends incident up on his place in Marias pass area here in Montana. The proper agencies investigated and found him to have defended himself against this 400 lbs sow grizzly with 2 cubs.

Roy was up on the edge of his property tending his fence line, when out of the brush she was a coming straight at him with her ears back. Roy drew and put 3 rounds of 230-gr FMJ in her neck shoulder area, then took off away from the trail about 5 yards. Roy said the bear was still coming at him, and he fired 3 more rounds into her frontal area. And again took off another 5 yards off in another direction. The sow continued to follow coming at him, so Roy fired 3 more rounds into her frontal area and she dropped taking a dirt nap.

Roy called to report the incident, and they came out and brought a metal detector to locate spent extracted shell casings. Roy was found acting within his right to protect himself against the grizzly bear attack. But they said, they wished he would have used Counter Assault Bear Spray. Roy did not have any, so they gave him a can, plus some 12 ga cracker shells, and some other 12 ga shells will rubber bullets in them.

Roy came into town and purchased a Glock 20 10mm auto now. I’m glad Roy is okay.

4. May 28, 2010, Alaska: Denali National Park: Backpacker Stops Grizzly attack with .45 pistol

A grizzly bear that emerged from a thicket and charged two backpackers in the backcountry of Denali National Park and Preserve was shot and killed by one of the two who was carrying a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, according to park officials.

The killing Friday is believed to be the first instance of a hiker killing a grizzly in the park’s wilderness. The killing occurred in the original Mount McKinley National Park portion of the Denali, which was expanded by two-thirds in 1980.

5. 2 July, 2010, California, Yellow Jacket Campground .45 ktvn.com black bear

Officials say the camper woke up to hear the bear going through an ice chest. He confronted the animal, and it charged and scratched the man’s face.

The man shot the bear, but it got away.

Wildlife rangers tracked the bear down and killed it late Friday.

Department of Fish & Game leading the investigation attack at 2 a.m.
From pirate4x4 quote:

The man went out with a gun and tried to shoo the bear away, Macintyre said. The bear charged the man, knocking him to the ground and scratching his face.

The bear left with food, Macintyre said. The man tried to shoo it away again, but the bear charged and knocked him down again.

Macintyre said the man then fired a shot from a .45-caliber pistol, and the animal ran away.

6. 7 July, 2014, Alaska: .45 vs 9-Foot Brown Bear, .45 semi-auto

Many people claim that handguns are useless for protection against bears. Numerous examples have shown that this is a false notion. Handguns may not be ideal as defensive weapons for bears, but they can be effective. In a defensive situation, you have to use what is available. In this case, a homeowner in Alaska used a .45 against a brown bear that was trying to get into his house on July 7th of this year. He and his son were in the home. He had scared off the animal with some warning shots just three hours before.

7. 6 September, 2015, Colorado, Winter Park .45 handgun (Mike Porras) cbslocal.com and Mike Porras CO Fish and Game, black bear

According to Mike Porras with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the bear came into the family’s campground while they were present and went after some food that was out.

An armed adult attempted to scare the bear by firing two shots but the bear didn’t show any fear and wouldn’t leave. The camper then shot and killed the bear and immediately reported the shooting to wildlife officers.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has determined the shooting was justified and no charges or citations will be brought against the camper.

8. 25 June, 2019, Washington State, Petit Lake, .45, Glock 21 black bear

U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- On 25 June 2019, a black bear charged a man, chased his dog, then pursued him up a tree until he shot and killed it with a pistol. The attack occurred in Pend Oreille County, Washington State, near Petit lake. The defender fired a shot in an attempt to scare the bear away, but that did not work.

9. 7 November 2019, Gatlinburg Tennessee, .45 ACP, Gregg Sapp, black bear at Motel 6

He turned around, and looked. There, no more than 20 feet away, its feet on a tipped over trash can, was a huge black bear. The bear did not notice him immediately.

But Greg’s dog had come out, and peaked around the corner. It growled and emitted a bark, Grrrr..ru..ruff! The bear jumped over the downed trash can, landed with a Woof!, and charged directly at Greg.

Everything happened extremely fast, but Greg had moved into the psychological state of tachypsychia, where everything seems to slow down. This is a common effect when a human perceives a deadly threat. The effect also distorts distance, and can cause tunnel vision, focused on the threat.

Greg said: Oh f*ck! The .45 Kimber appeared in his hand and he was firing, with the bear taking up his whole field of vision. Greg told me:

“Everything went into like, time lapse.” “It seemed like it took forever!”

In Greg’s heightened state of awareness, he could hear the first three bullets hit.

Thunk, thunk, thunk.

Then his ears were ringing. The bear dropped its head down as he fired the last three shots at extremely close range, Greg said it was three feet or less

The bear hit the railing of the walkway two feet from him, turned left, and went down the walkway away from Greg, who had the empty Kimber in his hand.

We found that one of the previous .45 cases was done with a .45 Colt/.410 revolver, the Taurus Judge.

1. October, 2015, Idaho: Bear Attack on Sleeping Man Stopped with a .45 Colt/.410 revolver, black bear

Steven Vouch reached for his gun when he realized he was being attacked, but it wasn’t there. That is when his friend shot the bear with a .45. Vouch is on the left in the Cowboy hat.

More extensive account in Field and Stream Here. The pistol was a Taurus Judge

I yelled and started reaching for my pistol, but the bear had shoved it out of reach while rummaging around. But then Bobby woke up and saw him standing over me and grabbed his Judge revolver. He lifted the tarp to see and then, sticking the gun right above my head, shot the bear in the face from, like, a foot away.

We have found one case where .45 Super pistol was used to defend against a bear. It was successful.

1. 6 Oct. 2017, Wyoming: .45 Super Stops Grizzly Bear Charge

The hunters jumped up and separated. The bear momentarily halted. Kelley fired a warning shot from his .45 Super. The bear moved away a little, behind some fire killed trees and brush, then came in again, fast. Kelly fired again, and the bear went down, rolled down slope and came to a halt, motionless.

We have found four cases where .454 Casull revolver was used to defend against a bear. They were successful.

1. Addition November 1986, Kodiak Island, Zachar bay, .454 Casull, Grizzly bear.

George Malekos was confronted with a large grizzly bear at 10 feet away on a gravel ridge, covered with snow. He had nowhere to turn. He aimed at the bear’s eye, and shot. He fired two more times as the bear whirled around, and disappeared.

Later, he and his hunting companion shot the same bear with their rifles. They found the .454 round had creased the skull above the eye, then another shot had penetrated one foot of the bear.

From More Bear Tales, p. 104-107.

2. About 1993, Alaska, Kenai peninsula, .454 Casull, Craig Medred Grizzly Field & Stream February, 2003 Letters. (numerous mentions in Medred’s columns)

And here I thought the Kenai Penisula brownie I shot off my foot with a .454 Casull about 10 years ago got the worst of it.

3. 30 December, 2007, Kodiak Island, Alaska, brown bear, .454 Casull revolver.

A rabbit hunter had a .22 rifle for rabbits and a .454 Casull revolver for bear protection. The bear got up near him. The sow kept coming toward him, even after he fired shots in the air with the .22 rifle. He shouted and waved his arms and drew the pistol. The sow kept coming. He shot her and 15 yards. Safe with Bears, page 324.

Additional source, From seattletimes.com:

ANCHORAGE — A rabbit hunter fired his pistol at a charging grizzly bear on Kodiak Island, badly wounding the old sow, which was later killed, as were her three cubs.

The hunter, whose name is not being released, was hunting rabbits near the American River on Friday about 15 miles outside Kodiak when the sow charged him, said John Crye, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, on Monday.

The hunter, who was carrying two weapons, shot the bear when it was about 10 yards away. It was the second time in a week that hunters had encountered the family of bears. The last time it was one of the cubs that charged a father and son out duck hunting as the mother and the other cubs slept nearby.

4. 2 August, 2009, Alaska: Kenai Peninsula, Charging Brown Bear Stopped with Ruger .454 Casull

Because of many bear-related incidents in this area, Brush always has brown bears on his mind…even when walking a well-maintained road. On just such a road, less than 500 yards from his house, Brush stopped when he heard a twig snap behind him. Turning his head toward the sound, Brush saw a monstrous brown bear charging toward him. “There was no warning,” he stresses. “None of the classic teeth-popping or woofing, raising up on hind legs, or bluff-charging that you read about. When I spotted him he was within 15 yards, his head down and his ears pinned back. He was coming like a freight train…in total chase-mode.”

Brush instinctively back-pedaled to avoid the charge, drawing the Ruger from its holster. “I fired from the hip as he closed the distance,” Brush recalls. “I know I missed the first shot, but I clearly hit him after that. I believe I fired four or five shots. “

Brush finally fell on his back on the edge of the road. Miraculously, the bear collapsed a mere five feet from his boot soles, leaving claw marks in the road where Brush had–only seconds before–been standing. The bear was moaning, his huge head still moving, as Brush aimed the Ruger to fire a finishing shot. “By then my gun had jammed,” Greg says. “I frantically called my wife on my cell phone and told her to bring a rifle. When she arrived I finished the bear.”

We have found one case where a .460 Smith & Wesson magnum was used successfully.

1. May 18, 2018, Wyoming: Cora, 460 Smith & Wesson magnum Grizzly.

The two men with bear spray had fallen 50 yards behind. The dog alerted on something. Noah thought it was some sort of big animal. Then he saw the bears, a grizzly sow and cubs, uphill. He yelled at the dog, but it was too late. The dog came running back. The sow grizzly charged, moving extremely fast. His friend from Chicago bolted back down the trail. Noah had his revolver out, as the bear came to a stop, just a dozen feet away

We have found one case where a .500 Smith & Wesson magnum was used successfully.

1. Addition 31 October 2008 (Halloween), .500 S&W Magnum, handloads, Juneau, Alasksa. Lucas Clark.

This correspondent interviewed Lucas Clark.

The incident occurred on the bank of small river,
The grizzly bear lunged at him from 12 feet out of the salmonberry brush. He had the handgun out in hand, and fired reflexively. He hit the bear in the chest at the base of the neck with 400 gr. Sierra bullet at 1350 fps. out of .500 S&W.

As he recovered from the muzzle flash, he saw the bear running 50 feet away, broadside. He fired again, and gut shot, the bear turned. As it was running away, he shot at its hind quarters. That shot broke the bear’s pelvis, it went down instantly. That is where it died.

We have found sixteen cases where the handguns used to defend against bears were not identified. Fifteen were successful. One was undetermined.

1. Addition May 1906 Alberta, Canada, Red Deer River, Black Bear, Revolver unknown caliber indeterminate, undetermined success or failure

At a lumber camp in southern Alberta, a black bear charged three men and killed Wilson, the camp cook. The other two men, Heffern and McIntosh had run from the bear. After it killed Wilson, they threw items at the bear, but it was unphased. The made a run for the bunkhouse, where they had a revolver. They fired at the bear from an indeterminate distance. They did not believe they hit the bear. The bear moved off into the brush, but took Wilson’s body with it.

Narrow Escapes, Outdoor Life, pages 68-69, 1982, Ben East

2. Addition July, 2005, Russel Gillespie, Seward, Alaska, as emailed to Larry Kanuit on 22 May, 2007. Mentioned in local paper earlier.

Two bears charging emerged from the brush at 25-30 feet near the side of the trail, roaring and moving fast at Russel and his dog, Thelma. He fired two warning shots, one in front of each bear. One bear stopped, the other continued charging. He fired three more shots at the charging bear, stopping the charge at 15 feet. He fired on more shot into the lungs of the downed bear, which rendered his revolver empty. Page 314 Safe with Bears.

3. 2 August, 2005, Maine, Rangeley, Unknown pistol, black bear policeone.com

On Saturday night, a bear wandered into town and wouldn’t leave, even after Officer Brian Hughes tried to scare it away by clapping his hands and firing his gun into the ground, Weymouth said. The bear then snarled and hissed before charging Hughes, who shot it with a handgun.

The animal ran off and was found dead the next day behind the town offices.

4. October 6, 2007, Montana: (Tom Miner Basin) and pistol defense of Roman Morris From mtstandard.com grizzly bear:

‘‘It charged down the hill and just drilled me,’’ said Morris, 21, of Whitewater.

Over the next 30 to 45 seconds, Morris fought with the bear as it bit and clawed, severed his left hamstring, punctured his shoulder, chomped at his head and tossed him around.

‘‘I thought the whole time, This is so messed up. I’m going to die, I’m going to die,’’’ said Morris, a pre-med major.

The bear ran off after a friend fired a pistol. Morris underwent surgery at a Livingston hospital and was recuperating Monday at his brother’s house in Helena.

5. 26 September, 2009, Lake Mary, California, unknown caliber, black bear, from thesheetnews

California Dept. of Fish and Game Lt. Marty Markham told The Sheet the shooting occured at approximately 5 p.m. on Forest Service land. Markham said the man was picnicking with others when a black bear approached.

The picnickers retreated to their car while the bear soon began feasting on their food left near the shoreline. An unidentified person managed to haze the bear away, but after the group returned to the picnic, the bear returned once more.

This time, the man, apparently concerned about several “items” at the scene, retrieved a “large caliber handgun” and fired a single shot from approximately 20 yards away, killing the bear.

This example is somewhat controversial. An LA times article has a quote saying the shooting was “unprovoked”.

The bear drove the humans from their food and possessions. They then drove the bear back away from their possessions. The bear returned, continuing the threat. The bear was only 20 yards away. Bears which associate humans with food to this degree are inherently dangerous, as recognized by all authorities forced to deal with problem bears.

6. December 2010, Alaska: Video of the event posted

Described as an archery float hunt in Alaska. Video posted in Dec. 2010. A revolver was used to stop a charge by a sow with three cubs. The muzzle blast and splash from the bullet stopped the charge from 8 feet out.

7. Addition 22 June 2011, Pocono Country Place, unknown caliber handgun

Police said Wayne Darmond, who lives on Ventnor Drive in A Pocono Country Place, went into the house and grabbed his handgun and started firing shots at the bear.

Pocono Mountain Regional Police said that at about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday they received multiple 911 calls reporting gunshots in the area. When they arrived they saw a group of children playing in the backyard.

They said the bear was attracted to gummy worms a 2-year-old girl was holding.

As the bear approached the girl, Darmond heard the children screaming. That’s when he grabbed his gun from his home and retreated to an adjacent yard. The bear was next to the girl, so Darmond told police he fired a shot into the ground in the adjacent yard to distract the bear.

The bear began to walk away, but then resumed its path toward the girl. Darmond fired a second shot into the ground, which didn’t faze the bear. As the bear got closer to the girl, police said Darmond fired directly at the animal, finally making it walk away.

8. 6 September 2011, Gravelly Mountains, Montana, Grizzly, unknown pistol

A sow grizzly bear was shot with a pistol and killed after an encounter with bow hunters in the Gravelly Mountains on Tuesday morning.

The two men who were hunting said the sow had charged them, said Ron Aasheim, spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The sow had two large cubs that were likely 2 years old.

9. 11 Nov 2014, Massachusetts: Unknown Handgun, Defense against black bear

WEST SPRINGFIELD – A Sikes Avenue man shot and killed a black bear with single pistol-shot to the head Friday night after it started to go after his small dog, police said.

10. 1 October, 2015, Colorado, Rockrimmon, unknown pistol, kktv.com 550 pound black bear

But likely not an incident that will result in any charges: officials say that based on the investigation, the man who fired the weapon acted in self-defense.

According to CPW spokesperson Kyle Davidson, a man living in the Rockrimmon area shot the bear after it broke into his backyard. The man told authorities that he tried to shoo it away by banging pots and pans and throwing things at it, but nothing worked.

That’s when he said he grabbed his pistol.

“It was a very small backyard. The bear broke through his fence…the homeowner tried to scare the bear away, get the bear away from his house. When those efforts didn’t work, he felt he needed to protect his home and his family at that point,” CPW Wildlife Officer Steve Cooley explained.

Cooley said the homeowner fired at the bear once, fatally injuring it. After the shooting, the man called 911 and reported the incident.

11. 13 Sept, 2016, Arizona: Bow Hunter Uses Handgun to Stop Unprovoked Bear Attack

PAYSON, AZ – Authorities found two bear cubs after an archery deer hunter fatally shot an adult female bear with a handgun when it charged him in the Payson area.

12. 14 December 2016, California: Deputy Shot Aggressive black bear in Live Oak Canyon

The family exited their vehicle and were walking up the driveway when they rounded a corner of the home and saw three bears near trash cans. One of the bears began to charge at them, according to the release.

“Fearing for his life, and the lives of his children, the deputy fired several rounds from a handgun toward the bear,” the release stated.

The apparently injured bear and the two other bears fled into the nearby brush.

13. 26 September 2018, Montana: bow hunter stopped attack by sow grizzly and nearly grown cub

A spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks told the Associated Press that the bow hunter was in thick brush on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front when he came across the bears at the Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area.

The hunter shot both with a pistol. The adult female bear was killed and the 2-year-old cub was wounded and had to be put down. It was unclear what led up to the shooting

14. 27 May, 2019, Alaska, Turnagain Arm Trail, Pistol, caliber unknown, Black Bear

“Just coming straight at them with its head down, not phased by yelling, waving arms, or even the dogs barking at it. It just kept coming,” Battle said. “Didn’t have any vocalizations or anything that would indicate defensive behavior. And that’s the kind of thing that concerns us with black bears.”

The second report happened on Monday, closer to McHugh. Battle says in that case, hikers reported seeing a bear above them on a hill. It reportedly circled around and got close to their dog. One of the hikers fired a warning shot with a pistol, driving the bear off.

15. 27 June, 2019, Colorado, Castle Pines. Unknown handgun, black bear

CPW investigators say the man shot the bear because he feared the sow was trying to get inside his home at around 1 a.m. They say the homeowner left the kitchen window open during the night and then heard a noise.

He walked to the kitchen and saw the sow standing on the other side of the window with her paws on the sill as if she was about to come inside. The homeowner got a handgun and shot at the bear from inside the kitchen in hopes of scaring it off.

The sow ended up running away, but the cubs stayed behind. That’s when investigators say the homeowner reloaded with rubber buckshot and fired two rounds at the cubs.

Officers found the cubs in a tree near where their mother’s body was found.

Very likely a .410/.45 Colt revolver because, this from coloradocommunitymedia.com:

The resident got a handgun from a nearby room and fired at the bear, which ran off. The cubs remained in the backyard. The individual reloaded the gun with rubber buckshot and fired at the cubs to scare them off, fearing the mother would return if they stayed, the release says. The resident did not believe the pellets used to shoot the adult bear would kill it, only scare it. They told CPW they didn’t realize the bear died until June 28 when they came home to find a news reporter in their driveway who was investigating the shooting.

16. September 24, 2019 Coal Creek Drainage, Montana, Grizzly bear, unknown caliber pistol

The elk hunter from Ohio, who’s name hasn’t been disclosed, told FWP wardens and Madison County Sheriff’s Deputies he was walking through blow-down timber when a bear attacked from a very close range. He said he fired multiple shots with a pistol at the bear until it left and was able to meet up with other members of his hunting party.

He was treated at the Ruby Valley Medical Center in Sheridan, Montana. FWP wardens and U.S. Forest Service law enforcement notified other hunters and campers in the area and began searching for the bear.

Likely same event, 24 September 2019, GYE bear mortality database, attack on Archery hunter close range at Coal Creek BDNF-MT

There were twelve cases where combined arms were used to defend against bears. The eight with both long guns and handguns are included in the interest of complete data reporting. They are not used in the calculation of the success rate. One black bear was hit with an automobile, then shot with a pistol. One bear was sprayed and leaving when shot at. The two cases with both .357 and .44 magnum pistols are included in the 104 pistol cases. All twelve cases were successful.

1. 26 April, 1993, Alaska: combination 30-06 rifle and .44 magnum revolver.

Rifle jammed, the pistol did not. From dailymail.co.uk:

The hunter, now very much the hunted, shot into the bear’s body, but the grizzly continued to attack him, breaking Bagley’s jaw.

I could feel bones popping and breaking in my head, but I didn’t feel any pain

Dale Bagley, attack victim

It bit him again, crushing Bagley’s cheekbones, ripping out his entire top row of teeth from his head, and puncturing behind his right eye. Another bite pulled away at the top of Bagley’s skull, and wrenched his entire body upwards.

That gave Bagley just enough room to let off more shots, and mercifully, the bear ran off.

2. August 1999 10 miles inside Canadian border on Yukon River, .44 mag and 12 gauge combined defense. RC Harrop, page 210, Safe with bears.

A very aggressive grizzly charged multiple times, and refused to back off from threatening a group of 35 adults and students on an extended canoe trip. The group had set up camp on an Island. The bear charged the group, then altered his attention to Harrop after Harrop fired a warning shot. Harrop’s efforts were hindered by the necessity of loading the single action .44, which had been kept unloaded and locked up. During the attack and defense, Harrop had the hammer fall on an empty chamber two times.

After being hit, in short order, with three 300 grain slugs from a .44 magnum Ruger Blackhawk, and four 600 grain slugs from a 12 gauge, the bear retreated. RC Harrop did not report the use of the .44 revolver, because the group was in Canadian territory when the incident occurred.

3. 11 May 2003 published 14 May 2003, Combination .44 magnum and .30-06 Kenai Peninsula Anchorage Daily News as recorded in geocatching forum

Williams shoots a large cub with his .30-06, then dropped his rifle, but still had his .44 magnum to stop the sow from coming at him again.

Williams said he was trying to climb up the tree when the sow got to him.

“She grabs me and throws me down on the ground. She was on me,” Williams said. The bear gnawed and clawed at his hand, his arm, his legs and his face. He covered his neck and head with his hands.

Weaver fired a shot over the bear and it released Williams, who shouted at Weaver to keep shooting, that he was bit, Barto said.

The sow turned back toward Williams. He had dropped his rifle but now had his .44-caliber revolver out. He unloaded all six shots at the brown bear, which lumbered away.

4. 9 October 2003, Combination, Katmai National Park, Alaska, .40 caliber and 12 gauge shotguns. Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard victims. Response by Park rangers. From Yellowstone-bearman.com:

Ranger Ellis was standing with ranger Gilliland and Willy Fulton to his left. Ranger Dalrymple was slightly ahead of Gilliland when Gilliland suddenly yells, Bear! while pointing to the right. Ranger Ellis states that he turned and “saw an adult bear moving toward the group about 20 feet away”. All four begin yelling in hopes that the bear would see them and move away. Ranger Ellis then states that he “perceived that the bear was well aware of their presence and was stalking them”. Ranger Ellis, armed with a 40 cal. handgun begins to fire at about the same time rangers Gilliland and Dalrymple, who were each armed with 12 gauge shotguns loaded with slugs also begin to shoot at the bear.

Ranger Ellis fires 11 times while rangers Gilliland and Dalrymple each fire 5 times, dropping the bear 12 feet away. “That was cutting it thin” stated Ellis. After about 10 seconds the bear dies and Willy Fulton then reportedly says “I want to look that bear in the eyes” and states that he is sure that this was the bear that chased him back to his plane earlier. (Ellis 2003, pg 3)

5. 4 October 2006 Combination, Afogak Island Alaska, Joe Monastra,.44 magnum and high powered rifle, injury to back. Grizzly

Joe was answering a call of nature when he heard the bear coming. He dived forward with rifle in hand, and suffered only a claw wound to the back. The bear backed off a bit. Joe had scope covers on the rifle, and fired from the hip. He emptied the rifle as the bear was running down the trail toward his partner, who encountered the bear running full at him. He fired six shots from a .44 magnum. The bear ran away, without evidence it had been hit. The incident was reported to the authorities.

Page 214-215 Safe with Bears.

6. 31 May 2008, Oregon: Black Bear, wounded with .338 rifle; Glide, .45 pistol, and .44 magnum revolver

GLIDE, Ore. — Aaron Wyckoff didn’t start to panic until his .45-caliber pistol quit firing, and the bear kept chewing on his arm.

So, he recalls, he tried to pull the bear’s jaws apart. Then he tried to roll down the ridge where he and the bear were wrestling. But the bear grabbed his calf, pulled him back and went for his groin.

Wyckoff said he countered by shoving his pistol and his hand into the bear’s mouth. But by then, the struggle in the Cascade Range in Southern Oregon attracted the attention of Wyckoff’s party, and other hunters rushed over.

Justin Norton fired a round from his .44-caliber pistol into the black bear’s stomach, to no avail. He approached the bear, put the gun behind its ear and fired again. It finally rolled away.

“I walked right up to his head, and he didn’t even look at me,” said Norton, 26.

With the dying bear still struggling, a final round finished him off.

“He was dead. He just didn’t know it,” Wyckoff said. “It was just all adrenaline.”

Wyckoff was helping friends track a wounded bear May 31 on the last day of the hunting season.

Fifteen-year-old Chris Moen of Glide, who had drawn the tag, hit the animal in the shoulder with a .338-caliber rifle round, but he and his father couldn’t pick up a trail of blood.

In this account, the pistol is revealed to be a Llama .45 with a 3.25 inch barrel. From shootersforum.com. (this link is now dead)

7. June 2010, Louisiana, Walker, Bear shot by an officer with a .40 cal (9 mm?) after being hit by a car. (combination)

A Walker Police Department officer arrived on the scene at Burgess Ave. near Tiffany St. around 11 p.m. to investigate the auto incident and determine what kind of animal the vehicle had struck. The driver was not able to identify the animal before it moved into a wooded area near the accident site. While searching the wooded area for the animal that was struck, the officer came upon the black bear, startling the injured bear and forcing the officer to react in self-defense.

Dr. Jim LaCour, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) veterinarian, determined the bear had moderate to severe internal injuries from the vehicle accident, but could not determine if the bear would have survived those injuries.

The bear was an adult male weighing between 350 and 400 pounds. LDWF records indicate the bear was previously captured in 2008 in Patterson, but had not been reported as a nuisance bear since. Nuisance bears are captured, tagged and released using aversive conditioning in an effort to dissuade them from returning to residential areas.

The Walker Police department said the pistol at that time was most likely a .40 caliber, but might have been a 9 mm.

8. 10 September 2010, Wyoming: Elk Hunters at Bruin Creek, Thorofare Country .44 magnums, .45-70 rifle

Ten minutes later another grizzly approached.

“The grizzly bear appeared to be heading towards the elk carcass and them, but they did not shoot at the time, instead they watched it in the hope it would go by the three of them,” the investigation said.

But the second grizzly, also a boar, didn’t veer away, the hunters reported. When it got within 10 feet of one of the men the entire party opened fire, letting loose nine rounds from two .44 magnum revolvers and the .45-70 rifle.

Only two of the shots connected, a necropsy would later determine.

9. 27 September 2013, Wyoming: Thorofare Country south of Yellowstone, Grizzly at 10 feet, .44 magnum and .357 magnum, (report from 2015)

Then at about 2:45 p.m., a collared boar grizzly identified as bear No. 764 came uncomfortably close. The group’s canister of bear spray was in a backpack by their horses. A warning shot went off, but the big grizzly didn’t turn back. “The bear stood up and growled, like something you would see in a movie,” an eyewitness later told investigators. From less than 10 feet away, the guide and camp worker drew their .44 and .357 magnum revolvers and together fired four times, ending the 17-year-old bear’s life.

10. May 22, 2016 Oregon, Shane Thomas, 30-06 Rifle, and semi-automatic pistol.

Finally, Thomas said he was able to kick the bear hard enough to knock him back and grab the pistol. Just as the bear went for his leg again, he fired two shots: the first did nothing, but the second pierced the animal’s gut and forced it to retreat.

Battered and bloodied, Thomas got to his feet and scrambled back to the top of the ridge where he could use his cellphone, which still worked despite being damaged.

11. Addition 4 September, 2017, Montana, bear spray and .44 magnum

Tom Sommers and his partner Dan were bow hunting for elk when they saw the bear about 30 feet away. Dan put out a cloud of spray, but the bear charged through it.

Sommers was unable to get the safety off his spray can and dropped it as the bear closed with him. He then accessed a .44 magnum, but was unable to shoot before the bear swatted his hand down. As the bear attacked him, it stood on his hand/gun, so he could not shoot. Tom eventually was able to shoot, after his partner sprayed the bear from two feet away. When he shot, he could not see because of the bear spray and blood.
From facebook.com:

(Tom Sommers) And partner Dan both pulled out pepper spray. Dan sprayed but Tom’s spray didn’t work so bear came after Tom. Tom ran behind a tree, the bear kept coming. apparently bear chased Tom around a tree twice, Tom got his pistol out turned to shoot, the bear knocked his hand down. Tom hit the ground. bear bit through thigh then put Tom’s head in his mouth. while head in mouth tom tried to shoot the bear in the neck but the bear stepped on the hand or gun. Tom said he could hear his skull cracking. thought that was it. Dan shot the bear at 2 feet with pepper spray. that’s all it took. the bear ran off and tom shot at it but said he couldn’t see anything from all the blood and pepper spray in his face. 4 hours later after several hours on the back of mule, he is alive and in hospital. great spirits. was laughing. hope I did his story justice.

More detail in Tom Sommers own words at a Field and Stream article

More detail in a video, Sommer describes event and has video of scene. (This recounting spells his name, Sommer) He shot at the bear from only a few feet away, He seems confident he hit the bear:

“I pulled my gun to confront the bear, he knocked me over and you can see where somebody was wrestled on the ground here. Then he got up and backed up around this tree and shot him right here,” Sommer explained in the video.

Because the bear may have been leaving after being sprayed, but was shot at and left, this is a combination event.

12. 4 August, 2019, Montana, Cabinet Mountains .357 and .44 magnum pistols, Grizzly

Montana wildlife officials are investigating the fatal shooting of an adult female grizzly bear by two backpackers who said they were acting in self-defense.

The surprise encounter occurred Aug. 2 on a bush-lined trail in the Cabinet Mountains in northwest Montana.

According to a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks news release, the backpackers reported the incident after they hiked out of the backcountry on Aug. 4

The Daily Inter Lake reported Thursday that the backpackers were not carrying bear spray and both shot at the animal with hand guns, according to Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

In the above case, three shots were fired from a .44 magnum, a .357 was used to fire one shot to the head, which stopped the charge. Personal communication with a confidential source.

Some incidents have been alluded to without enough information to be included in the statistics. They lack information, such as dates, participants, or locations. The information found so far is included so readers may contact the author if they have sources or information to aid in validating these incidents. This database includes all verified incidents of pistol defenses against bears, in which a pistol was fired. The following incidents seem likely to be real, but lack specific information.

1. Early 1960s, North Fork of the the Flathead river in Montana, .22 H&R 9 shot revolver, grizzly bear.

The worker approached a bear in a black bear snare. The bear charged the worker, who shot it with the .22 revolver. The bear died, but it took some time to do so, as told by game warden Louis Kis.

p. 276, More Bear Tales

2. 1979-1980 .357 revolver, grizzly bear, as told by game warden Louis Kis,

North fork of the flathead river, California man shot a grizzly bear at close range in the jaw, then down into the neck and the body. The bear was found dead about a mile away.

3. Unknown date, .41 revolver, Bob Marshall wilderness. The grizzly bear came at him from twenty feet by a camp worker. The bear went down and rolled around until the camp worker finished it off with another shot from the .41 magnum.

p. 275-276 More Bear Tales as told by Louis Kis

4. possible addition? 16 July, 1997, (Pistol?) Sussex County New Jersey, State.nj.us

On Wednesday, July 16, a ranger with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP’s) Division of Parks and Forestry was forced to kill a black bear in Stokes State Forest, Sussex County. The ranger was on a routine patrol when he encountered a female black bear and two cubs feeding from a cooler at a campsite near the Flatbrook River. The family of campers had already retreated to their car when the ranger arrived and chased the three bears out of the campsite and across the stream. Upon approaching the water to ensure that the bears had left the vicinity, the ranger was charged by the adult female who ran out from a nearby area of heavy brush. As the animal charged within 2 to 3 feet, the ranger fired two shots mortally wounding the animal. An ensuing investigation conducted by the Division’s Bureau of Law Enforcement confirmed the ranger’s account, who under the circumstances, had no choice but to shoot the charging animal.

5. & 6. Two .44 magnum cases in June of 2006 on the Russian River in Alaska

Two separate incidents which occurred on two consecutive days in June of 2006, In Alaska. Need information on details, outcomes, people involved.

23 June 2006, Russian River page 251
24 June 2006, Russian River page 251

Both used .44 pistols. One black bear, one brown bear, both bears later killed by authorities. Alaska. Bears were probably wounded, because they were later killed.

Both in Safe with Bears, by Kanuit.

7. From outdoors directory.com posted 09-24-2007, 454 casull, probably Alaska. Details on date, location, person involved are unknown.

don’t shoot me just another opionion

I know what I’m going to say doesnt fly with everyones opions but to each there own. I’ve only been handgun hunting for about 5 years. But I have enployed my 454 Ruger on a defensive shot against a 7’8″ interior griz. one shot range 8 feet. This was the bears fourth charge while I was bowhunting for caribou with the other three charges terminated at about 25 feet. The bullet entered thru the open mouth knocking out the upper left canine tooth. Thru the neck severed the aorta above the heart. I recovered the bullet below the hide about six inches in front of the scrotum. The load I had choosen and still shoot today is a 260 grain Partion over 35.5 grains of Lil Gun at 1900 FPS. this almost duplicates the Partion Gold load you can buy of the shelf. I chose this load because I can shoot it and the recoil is less that the 300+ grain loads I had previously worked up. This allows me to recover and be back on target faster. I will interject here that if you’re not willing to put 200 plus rounds thru the gun before you get into the woods you are better off with a 12 ga. I would trust this over the XTP’s because of the better bullet construction. Yes the partion peelled back but IT hung together. This is the only defence shot I’ve taken. I’ve also hunted with this load for Moose and Bear. Taken shoulder shots on both with 100 penetration. I’m not the expert just my experences. Good Hunting and Good Luck

8. Potential addition Oregon Dec 12 2007 Florence Shot Black bear

According to the homeowner, the bear broke into his home and approached him inside his garage Monday in addition to attempting to break into his home again Tuesday morning.

Upon arrival, the trooper spotted the bear in a tree across the street from the complainant’s residence.

As the trooper was standing in the middle of the residential street near his pickup, the bear came down the tree and walked toward the trooper. When the bear was about three feet away, the trooper shot it.

It is unknown if the trooper used a pistol or long gun.

9. from S&W forum, includes a picture:

Originally Posted by grasshopper

It was many, many years ago, but a chance encounter I’ll never forget, and meeting a bear was the last thing on my mind at the time. No way out so I had to pull the trigger.

.45 Colt Single Action loaded with 255 gr. lead SWC and 8.5 grains of dirty old Unique powder.

One lucky shot between the running lights & it was all over. And yes, I was scared shi*less.

10. From clipsoon.com: (link no longer active)

I GUARANTEE you the trigger pull & recoil will be the LAST thing on your mind in an actual Griz attack! I lived AK bush for 27 yers & was bear attacked 4 times. When the SHTF your adrenalyn levels spike & your attention is on the BEAR, not the gun! You’ll never feel the recoil nor hear the report. TOTAL focus is ON the BEAR!! BTW, my backup handgun was a 44 mag redhawk w full length bbl (7 1/4 inch) shooting 320 grain WFN Hard Cast @ 1200 FPS & THAT WAS MARGINAL!! Only shot one small 6 ft black bear directly in the chest w the muzzle pushing it back when the gun went off. Flipped it out of my video stand w the sternam, heart & backbone blown out its back. Hit the ground dead w the entire muzzle blast INSIDE the bear. Her jaws were 2 inches from my nose when the gun went boom. NOT a fun experience. When bears attack its FAST!

Three failures out of 104 documented cases is a 97% success rate. Pistols are a viable defensive tool for use against bears.

Of the three failures, one was with a .22 against a polar bear, one with a .38 against a black bear, and one was with a .357 against a grizzly bear. These cases are particularly instructive because they are the exceptions.  They are worth reading.

Not all bear attacks are the same. Many black bear attacks are predatory, and offer excellent chances to use a handgun for defense. Most bear attacks offer some warning of the impending attack, even if it is mere seconds before contact.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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Papa Chief
Papa Chief
1 month ago

Rereading this old thread. Great info.

Just wanted to share advice I once received about carrying my .38 snubbie while hiking in bear country:
“Be sure to file off the front site. That way it won’t hurt so much when the bear shoves it up your rear end.” 😉

Roland T. Gunner
Roland T. Gunner
3 months ago

Outstanding article Mr. Weingarten. Most of the findings fairly predictable. Big bulletd better than smaller bullets; but penetration is critical, and fast, accurate followup shots are a major bonus. The only things I really find surprising are the comparative effectiveness of 9mm (and to a degree .22 LR), due presumably to penetration and fast followup shots, though I had recently read this about 9mm and bears; and the effectiveness of the .40 S&W cartridge on heavily muscled animals. I have seen the .40 fail to effectively penetrate on pit bull dogs on several occasions, possibly directly related to the use… Read more »

JimmyS
JimmyS
3 months ago

Your expectation is wrong. I am an avid outdoorsman who spends a lot of time in bear country. I see at least a few every year. When I am camping or berry picking I carry a 40, and have utter confidence in it. But I can shoot it fast and well in stressful situations. I also load my own ammo and cast my own bullets. It’s pretty easy and utterly safe to duplicate the performance of most 10mm ammo in a 40, without going into +P pressures, yet it has a “short and weak” reputation that wasn’t earned. I also… Read more »

American Patriot
American Patriot
4 months ago

Why is the author talking like a pistol and a handgun are two different things when in fact a handgun is synonymous to a pistol or a revolver?

Chet
Chet
4 months ago

I think it’s a modern thing. I’ve seen others use those words that way. People seem to use words a bit more narrowly now a days. For example, back in the 17th and 18th century, muzzle loading handguns were commonly called “pistols”. Pistol is synonymous to the word handgun. However, most modern day people refer to semi-auto handguns as “pistols”, but not revolvers or derringers. Revolvers are more commonly referred to as revolvers or handguns. Since the word “pistol” was used as a synonym for “handgun” a couple centuries before semi-auto handguns were invented, it is technically correct to refer… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Chet
swmft
swmft
4 months ago
Reply to  Chet

and gay was not a sexual orientation, but happy cheerful ,queer meant odd or unusual there was a 3 dollar bill in the 1860s so the phrase queer as a 3 dollar bill , there already existed 1,2,5,10,20 50 100, 500 denominations so a 3 was redundant as was the 2 ,but the 2 has returned several times, 1 think in the 60s government wanted to do away with paper 1$ and only have coin start paper 2 and up ,idea failed

Roland T. Gunner
Roland T. Gunner
3 months ago
Reply to  Chet

I like the sound of “Colt’s Revolving Pistol”.

Chet
Chet
4 months ago

Are we sure the “failure” of the .38 special on a black bear in New Mexico in 2015 is really a failure? I ask this because there was no blood found. There were two bullets recovered at the base of the tree (no doubt misses). The other two shots are unaccounted for. Keep in mind that it can be very hard to tell where a bullet landed in soft dirt just by looking with your eye. I’m thinking that the defender missed all his shots. The wildlife investigators saw the obvious misses in hard wood (ie the base of the… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Chet
JimmyS
JimmyS
3 months ago
Reply to  Chet

If you find a chewed-on corpse surrounded by bear tracks and an emptied handgun there at the scene, would you judge the handgun a successful tool for bear defense?

JPM
JPM
4 months ago

We Americans here in North America, with the exception of American Indians, have only been dealing with Grizzly bears for less than 400 years (Lewis and Clarke were the likely the first), and black bears for a couple hundred more. The residents of Africa and Asia have been dealing with large predators for thousands of years and yet none of them have ever created or advocated any kind of “predator spray”. The Brown Bears are the largest land predators on the planet and we have “bear spray” being advocated by the government and states in lieu of guns? Seems to… Read more »

JimmyS
JimmyS
3 months ago
Reply to  JPM

It’s obviously an anti-gun agenda that has nothing to do with bear defense. When rangers go after a bear, they bring guns, not sprays.

SGT_Wombat
SGT_Wombat
4 months ago

How do you tell what type of bear is chasing you? If you climb a tree and it follows you up, it’s a black bear, if it knocks the tree over it’s a grizzly.

JimmyS
JimmyS
3 months ago
Reply to  SGT_Wombat

I thought you looked at the shit stains in your drawers. Grizz tends to be more runny and wet.

The Crimson Pirate
The Crimson Pirate
4 months ago

Bear spray; because if you are going to eaten by a bear it is only polite to bring your own seasoning. You know how you tell the difference between a black bear and a brown bear by the scat? Black bear scat smells like berries and contains squirrel fur. Brown bear scat smells like pepper spray and contains hiking boots. OK, done joking. You have done yeoman’s work on this article. You deserve a vacation. Thank you for compiling this information and making it available. This article fits in quite well with the recent bear skull article. The conclusion I… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by The Crimson Pirate
Roland T. Gunner
Roland T. Gunner
3 months ago

And while I love my 10mm 1911’s, I would feel better starting off with more than 9 shots on tap.

JimmyS
JimmyS
3 months ago

If you keep a cool head and shoot straight, it takes one. Then you have 8 more chances if you screwed up. Pretty good odds, if you practice, and can shoot. It’s obvious from the article that even people without a lot of familiarity with their firearm still deployed it successfully more often than not.

Duane
Duane
4 months ago

As found by the author and associates.

Handguns have proven to be very effective in defending one self from bear attacks.

They have destroyed many of the old wives’ tales about handguns and bears.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
4 months ago

Wow, what an article. You need to take a few days off after that one Dean. That took a lot of research. They say that if you carry bear spray and wear bells on your ankles and wrists when you walk you will warn the bears and they won’t bother you. So, when I walk the trails, I look for scatt with bells in it. When I find some, I draw my gun and carefully walk the trial on full alert. A few days later when I get back to the parking lot, I look for the Subaru or Prius… Read more »

Stork
Stork
4 months ago
Reply to  musicman44mag

CP and 44, thanks for the great laughs!