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  1. #1
    Bucky04 is offline Junior Member
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    What to get - 10MM, .45, or 44 Mag?

    I am new to handguns, but I would like to purchase a handgun mainly as a sidearm to accompany me while bowhunting. However, I would like a caliber that I can rely on while baiting bear and something that is legal for deer hunting in Wisconsin. Any thoughts or suggestions for a newbie and your personal experiences with any of these calibers or other calibers I should consider would be helpful. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Bisley's Avatar
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    I think 10mm or .44 magnum would be best - .45 ACP not so much - a little too slow, probably.

    If you mean .45 Colt, as in revolver rounds, you can get them in rounds that are right up there with a .44 magnum, but you can probably only shoot them through a Ruger.

    I carry a 10mm Glock 20 in the woods, because of the occasional aggressive feral hog. I have yet to shoot one with it, but I feel pretty good about having 16 rounds of .41 magnum type power available, if I ever need or want it. It is a very accurate pistol that I have regularly hit plate-sized targets with, out past 50 yards. There is a smaller version, the G-29, that is easier to carry, but a little snappier on recoil, or Tanfoglio makes a CZ-75 clone for EAA, in 10mm, that has conventional rifling. That would allow you to shoot 200 grain hardcast lead bullets...pretty decent black bear medicine, I'm guessing.

  3. #3
    bayhawk2 is offline Member
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    I can only talk about the .44 Mag. and the 45 L.C.
    The .45 L.C. is strong,but if approached by a bear?I would want my
    .44 Mag Tracker.It is a brute.Can come with some heavy loads too.
    I have the Taurus Tracker with the 4" ported bbl.Very convienent
    medium size frame allows for easy carry.My opinion.

  4. #4
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is online now Senior Member
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    IIRC, most factory-loaded .45 "Long" Colt rounds are ballistically almost identical to .45 ACP, so going that route may not provide the defensive power you seek.
    I don't have any experience with .40 or 10mm, so I can't venture an informed opinion on either one.
    I can tell you that .44 Magnum cartridges will certainly do the job, if you do your part. And there's the rub: Of all the factory-loaded cartridges that are commonly available, those in .44 Magnum are the most difficult to control and to shoot well. The recoil is vicious. Recovery, to fire a second shot, is difficult. Injudicious practice with it leads to flinching and trigger jerking, and thus inaccurate fire, even on the first shot.
    Buying a .44 Magnum handgun, and then practicing solely with .44 Special ammunition, will only lull you into a sense of false security. When you then shift to .44 Magnum cartridges for a walk in the woods, you will be unpleasantly surprised by your very first shot, and thus may never get to fire a necessary second one.

    The .44 Magnum, your best bet as a backup in bear country, is not a beginner's gun.
    You are a beginner, by your own statement.
    I strongly suggest that you learn to shoot a pistol first, using something milder. Then slowly transition to the more powerful revolver cartridge you need. You could buy a .44 Magnum pistol now, fire low-power .44 Special cartridges from it while learning, and then, long before taking any walk in the woods, transition slowly to full-power .44 Magnum and become proficient with it.
    The guidance of an experienced pistol shooter will be very useful to you, too. Seek out an instructor.

  5. #5
    Bisley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    IIRC, most factory-loaded .45 "Long" Colt rounds are ballistically almost identical to .45 ACP, so going that route may not provide the defensive power you seek.
    Doubletap makes a 360 grain hardcast lead round that leaves the muzzle at ~1200FPS, which probably far surpasses a standard 240 grain .44 magnum, but it can only be fired through a Ruger, or a few other very strong platforms.

    DoubleTap Ammunition

    Steve, I disagree slightly about practicing with the light loads and then loading up with the bear rounds being a bad thing...although I'm NOT sure that I'm right about it. I tend to think that you need to practice with what makes you a better shooter, and only sample the 'hot stuff.'

    All the information I have been able to gather on the subject of shooting under stress tends to suggest that you will not even notice the extra recoil, or the noise, when in the middle of a life or death struggle. Of course, you need to shoot enough of the hot ammo to be sure that you are physically capable of controlling it.

  6. #6
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is online now Senior Member
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    A Worst-Case Scenario:
    You've practiced with .44 Special, and have developed good shooting technique with that cartridge.
    Now, you load-up with .44 Magnum anti-bear loads, and go for a walk in the woods.
    You send an arrow into a bear, but it's not an instant kill, and the bear comes after you.
    You draw your pistol and fire a shot at the bear, using your well-learned, .44 Special technique.
    The much fiercer recoil of the .44 Magnum rotates your pistol out of your merely-.44-Special grasp, and you have to fumble in a wild panic to recover your firing grip. Meanwhile, the bear is upon you, and has begun taking his revenge.
    You are being ripped up, you're in a wild panic, your hands are having a lot of trouble gripping your save-your-life pistol. Now what?
    Must I continue?

    Sure, that's a worst-case scenario. It may never happen. But what if it does?
    A Washington State legislator was walking his dog down his own driveway when he was attacked by a bear that weighed a lot less than he did. By the time his wife had called 911, and help had arrived, his head was almost completely flayed, and he had lost one eye.
    Put yourself in his place, with an unfamiliar, powerful pistol load, and think about it.

  7. #7
    Bisley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    You draw your pistol and fire a shot at the bear, using your well-learned, .44 Special technique.
    The much fiercer recoil of the .44 Magnum rotates your pistol out of your merely-.44-Special grasp, and you have to fumble in a wild panic to recover your firing grip.
    Ah..there's the problem. The reason I'm having trouble grasping (pardon the pun) your reasoning is that I use the same grip for .44 magnum as I do for .44 Special. In fact, I regularly shoot a variety of chamberings when I go to the range, and although my revolver grip varies slightly from my semi-auto grip, there is no difference between, say, a .38 Special grip and a .357 magnum grip, or a 9mm grip and a 10mm, or .45 ACP grip.

    OK. It could be a problem for an inexperienced shooter that has not learned to hold on tight to whatever hand gun he is shooting. But I'm thinking if he did some test shots with the 360 grain, 1200 fps rounds, even an inexperienced shooter would be holding on for dear life.

  8. #8
    bayhawk2 is offline Member
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    And then there is the gun itself.Ah.The gun.Bear attack?.44 Magnum,.45 Colt,or
    10 M.M.?Whatever round is used,you have to get off as many rounds as needed
    to stop the bear.The gun has to be holstered with a convienent access to get the gun
    out in a timely manner.It then has to do what it does best.Shoot.When you want it
    to shoot.A revolver of course is the more dependable to shoot.No probable jam as
    you may have in an auto.So we come into the .44 Mag or the .45 L.C.
    The big +P rounds have to have the big frames to support it.Most Ruger single actions have that quality.The Cons to the big Rugers are they are heavy and they are on the most part
    single action.That narrows it down if I was going into bear country.I would go
    with a reliable .44 Magnum Revolver that had double action capability.When I
    pull on the trigger I want it to shoot.I don't want to cock and shoot.I want to shoot.
    Pull the trigger as fast and acurately as possible.I know I got off subject a bit,
    but I do that sometimes.

  9. #9
    C1
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    Quote Originally Posted by bayhawk2 View Post
    The big +P rounds have to have the big frames to support it.Most Ruger single actions have that quality.The Cons to the big Rugers are they are heavy and they are on the most part
    single action.....When I pull on the trigger I want it to shoot.I don't want to cock and shoot.I want to shoot. Pull the trigger as fast and acurately as possible.I know I got off subject a bit,
    but I do that sometimes.
    A .454 Casull can also shoot .45 Colt ammunition. To my knowledge, Ruger still makes the Super Redhawk Double action revolver in .454 Casull.
    Ruger® Super Redhawk® Double-Action Revolver Model 5505

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by C1 View Post
    A .454 Casull can also shoot .45 Colt ammunition. To my knowledge, Ruger still makes the Super Redhawk Double action revolver in .454 Casull.
    Ruger® Super Redhawk® Double-Action Revolver Model 5505
    Yes, I can also easily get off subject and hijack a thread.

    My Super Redhawk is the Alaskan in .454 Casull with a 2 1/2 inch Magna-Ported barrel. It is BIG, and it weighs 42 ounces. And, double-action.
    Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan 454 Casull 2.5 IN
    I've shot the whole power range from really mild "Cowboy" .45 Long Colt stuff up to the .454 flamethrowers.
    And, to state the obvious, playing with any factory ammo loads in "this league" is NOT cheap.

    I carry it in a Galco strong side belt holster on my "way out wilderness hikes" and my 4wd back-country boonie trips.
    A few lion/bear people problems do occur here, but rarely. Maybe only one or two a year.

    The "tracking dudes" around here say if you see a lion, it's because they want you too to see them.
    You don't see an attack until they hit you on the back of the neck. It's the way they "harvest" deer.
    Lions are usually sick or very young and starving to attack humans. We don't have enough meat.
    Bears are different. Black bears eat about anything. They can get lazy and want my P.B. & J. sandwich.

    I'd think the bow-hunting deal would be different from surprise attacks, since you would be alert for a possible "charge".

  11. #11
    timbo813 is offline Junior Member
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    1st, You are not looking a good beginner guns. These things kick a lot which can lead to some very bad habits. Also, they are expensive to shoot.

    Of the options you listed the best choice IMO would be a 44 mag because you can shoot 44 special to practice. Then, you can work your way up to the powerful loads. That's still not cheap because of the cost of the ammo. The advantage here is that IMO it's easier to learn to shoot a revolver accurately than a semi-auto if you shoot single action. This is great for hunting but with a bear attack you may not shoot single action.

    Another option would be to get a 9mm pistol and then a 10mm. If you start with a Glock 17 (or 19 if you ever want to conceal carry) then you could work your way up to the 10mm glock. This way the trigger is the same and your practice with the lighter recoiling and cheaper 9mm pays off. Also, you end up with two guns which is always good.

    It really just comes down to whether you want a semi-auto or a revolver.

  12. #12
    Bisley's Avatar
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    It took me about three range sessions with the G20 10mm to really settle down and start shooting with a fair amount of precision, at longer ranges, and I have some experience with big bore handguns.

    But for close-up work, you can get used to it pretty quickly, unless you are very sensitive to recoil. The Glock handles the hot loads very well, in my opinion...in fact, much better than a revolver. I can come back on target quickly, whereas it seems that a revolver has more muzzle rise, at least in the 4" models I have fired, in similar chamberings.

  13. #13
    C1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bisley View Post
    I can come back on target quickly, whereas it seems that a revolver has more muzzle rise, at least in the 4" models I have fired, in similar chamberings.
    The slide action of a semi-auto helps to absorb some of the recoil energy. However, if you look at the professional guides who have an imminent threat that may require a handgun, most will have a double action revolver.

    The revolver has some great benefits. First, chances are you will not experience a failure to feed - it is not ammo sensitive like a semi-auto can experience. Second, you will not experience a stovepipe or double feed. Third, if one of your arms/wrists is injured or if you are wrestling with a wild animal when you fire, a limp-wrist with a semi auto can cause a malfunction.

    A revolver and semi-auto each have their own group of advantages and disadvantages.

  14. #14
    Bisley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C1 View Post
    The slide action of a semi-auto helps to absorb some of the recoil energy. However, if you look at the professional guides who have an imminent threat that may require a handgun, most will have a double action revolver.
    I'm sure that is probably true of Canadian and Alaskan guides who may encounter large brown bears or grizzlies. But I assumed that the original poster was talking about black bear in Wisconsin, for which a 10mm would be adequate. And I'm not convinced that multiple 10mm rounds would not have a greater effect than one or two large revolver rounds. With the G20, it is entirely possible for an experienced shooter to get off multiple well aimed shots at close range. Recovery from recoil factors heavily into how much lead gets put on target, and the G20 excels in that category.

    As for revolvers being more reliable than Glocks, that is an arguable point. I'm not sure that a revolver would continue to function through thousands of rounds, if subjected to the same tests the Glock has passed. Regardless, the 10mm G20 is a very powerful, accurate, and dependable firearm that deserves serious consideration in any discussion of personal protection against wild animals.

  15. #15
    Packard is offline Senior Member
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    Handgun rounds vs. bear attacks are problematic from what I've read. I think pepper spray is probably more effective.

    See: Bear Safety and Bear Pepper Spray

  16. #16
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Packard View Post
    Handgun rounds vs. bear attacks are problematic from what I've read. I think pepper spray is probably more effective...
    ...Also wear a few bells. Noise alerts the bears that you're coming, and they'll usually move aside to avoid you.

    How can you tell whether bears are in your area?
    Look for the scat. It's easy to tell whether it's bear scat: Bear scat has little bells in it, and it smells of pepper.

  17. #17
    C1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bisley View Post
    As for revolvers being more reliable than Glocks, that is an arguable point. I'm not sure that a revolver would continue to function through thousands of rounds, if subjected to the same tests the Glock has passed. Regardless, the 10mm G20 is a very powerful, accurate, and dependable firearm that deserves serious consideration in any discussion of personal protection against wild animals.
    A Ruger double action revolver is much stronger and more durable than the G20. Some reloading manuals will have a separate section for Ruger double action revolvers and TC single shot handguns. I have shot thousands of magnum rounds through my revolvers with no issues. A person inspected and shot one of mine recently, and they commented it looked new.

  18. #18
    Bisley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C1 View Post
    A Ruger double action revolver is much stronger and more durable than the G20. Some reloading manuals will have a separate section for Ruger double action revolvers and TC single shot handguns. I have shot thousands of magnum rounds through my revolvers with no issues. A person inspected and shot one of mine recently, and they commented it looked new.
    So what? Every hand loader knows that Rugers are overbuilt. That's why they like them. I have them, myself, for that exact reason, although none of mine will be mistaken for new guns, despite being very clean.

    But that has absolutely nothing to do with the question of 10mm being suitable for bear defense. Obviously, in an ideal situation, you would have one of the super magnums, or a 12 gauge slug gun. The 10mm is a trade-off, as is any other pistol that is not ideally suited for the job. I happen to think the 10mm is a reasonable trade-off, because I am familiar with its capabilities. You, I assume, are not, so you lecture on the subject you are more familiar with.

    I think .44 magnum is a great hunting round, in a handgun, and if I knew I would only have one shot at a charging grizzly bear, I would want that, or something bigger. But, on the other hand, I am almost certain that I can fire at least three fairly accurate 200 grain 10mm rounds for every two 240 grain (or larger) .44 magnum rounds that I can accurately fire from a Redhawk, and that makes the 10mm, in the super-reliable Glock platform, a legitimate contender.

    It's all academic, really, since it is extremely rare for a person to save himself from a charging bear, with a handgun. The best defense is to take a slow friend with you.

  19. #19
    MLB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bisley View Post
    The best defense is to take a slow friend with you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    How can you tell whether bears are in your area?
    Look for the scat. It's easy to tell whether it's bear scat: Bear scat has little bells in it, and it smells of pepper.
    These are the two best nuggets of advice in this thread

    Might be good to try both the 10mm and .44. Neither are easy to control, but the one you can put the most lead on target in the fastest time would be your smartest choice. You certainly can't miss fast enough to stop a bear, and a .44 in it's paw is in no way better than a magazine of 45's in it's chest.

    Probably best to get real good with that bow.

  20. #20
    C1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bisley View Post

    But that has absolutely nothing to do with the question of 10mm being suitable for bear defense. Obviously, in an ideal situation, you would have one of the super magnums, or a 12 gauge slug gun. The 10mm is a trade-off, as is any other pistol that is not ideally suited for the job. I happen to think the 10mm is a reasonable trade-off, because I am familiar with its capabilities. You, I assume, are not, so you lecture on the subject you are more familiar with.
    You call it lecturing, I call it stating the facts. You stated a G20 was more reliable and durable than a revolver, and I explained why I do not agree. I did not see any caution given regarding 10mm ammo for bear defense. The 10mm ammo comes in a wide range of power levels and bullet designs. Some I would not use for deer, yet alone a bear.

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