Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Northwest Indiana
This is my insurance piece should I be caught without my rifle which is a Ruger M77 in 358 Norma Mag.
I did a ton of research on "bear guns" and other deterrents. I also did a lot of research on the pistols themselves. I looked real hard at two revolvers, the Ruger GP100 in 357 mag and the Taurus Tracker in 357 mag. I also looked at 2 semi autos in 10mm. The Glock and the 1911. My budget allowed for 450.00 to 600.00 for the pistol. I allowed 150.00 to 200.00 for a good backwoods comfortable holster that has to be worn at all times.
Reason why I picked the Semi-Auto over a Revolver:
1. Revolvers are simpler to use, and I was initially convinced this was the best route. I researched this to prove out my view, but in video after video of people doing testing and reaction training with both revolvers and semi-autos the thing I noticed is the semi-autos were faster with follow up shots and frankly appeared easier to control. That initial first shot advantage and simpler to use advantage of the revolver appears to be negated by the ease of control and rapid follow up shots that Semi-Autos provide. This started to change my perceptions. I still do believe I could be effective with a revolver and I do believe the 357 mag in a revolver is sufficient bear medicine provided you have the proper training, shot, and ammunition in that order to put down a bear. I believe from doing my research that the 357 is probably the minimum in a hand gun caliber in those lightning fast life or death situations where the bear has managed to close the distance before you know it is there. I also know that there are revolvers chambered in 10 mm, but they are just outside of my price range.
2. I already have a SA in the RIA 1911 and that will help reinforce my familiarity and training. This was ultimately the deciding factor.
3. Revolvers are more dependable that Semi-Autos. Yes and No. In my research and in my limited practical experience shows both platforms to be reliable in almost all circumstances provided you maintain them and use good quality ammunition. Both platforms can and do have issues. I have seen torture tests on Glocks and 1911s that were extreme and both platforms worked. I have not seen any real torture tests on revolvers, but I imagine they would hold up as well within reasonable limits. Dirt and other foreign matter in critical moving parts can cause havoc with any platform. Frankly the pistol I have seen take the absolute most abuse and still work are the Hi-Points... Go figure.
The RIA 1911 10mm became my obvious chioice for the following reasons:
1. Both the Glock and the RIA fit the price range. 500.00 to 600.00 depending on who was selling them.
2. I am going to become very familiar with shooting and maintaining the platform. Since I just picked up a RIA in 45 acp this was the deciding factor.
3. I only need one holster for both 1911s since they are externally almost identical. Training with the actual equipment is paramount in my mind.
4. The 1911 is a proven time tested platform that is tough and dependable and so is the Glock, and admittedly probably even more so when all things are considered. However, reason 2 and 3 overrode this slight and debatable advantage. In a bear charge the round count after 2 or 3 shots is probably a moot point. Both pistols carry sufficient rounds you can possibly expend during the time frame (2-4 seconds) you will have to expend them. So a Glocks capacity advantage is a non factor in my opinion.
The reason I went with the 10mm over the 357 mag.
1. 10mm does provide a slight advantage in power and penetration provided I hit what I am aiming at and have the right loads in my magazine for the situation.
2. Both rounds are readily available commercially and at about the same in costs.
As a side note I reload for the 357 mag already. I will probably need to ramp up and provision for the 10mm. I really was not keen on the idea of opening up another cartridge in a caliber I did not already have. However, I have time to build up equipment and start getting a sufficient ammunition store to train effectively and become proficient.
In closing being "bear aware" is probably my first and best defense. Be aware of your surroundings just like in any other personal defense situation. Reacting in a trained and controlled manner is my second defense and using the chosen firearm in an effective manner is third. I will not lie, hopefully I will get to see a bear in Alaska. At a distance. I have never seen one outside of a zoo.
My wife and I are both going to Alaska on this trip should it happen. She will be staying with friends while I am out hunting. She plans on doing some salmon fishing. She said a fresh salmon offering and distance with some back up bear spray will be her bear defense. She is a lot braver than I am...
I still want a 357 mag revolver...
Cartridges for My Entertainment: 22lr, .223 Rem, 30-06, 380 ACP, 38 spcl, 357 mag/max, , 35 Remington, 35 Whelen, 358 Norma Mag, 10mm Auto, 45 ACP. Mmmmkay what project can I do next... oh, I can't right now I am going hunting!