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A Hypothetical Question

Ok, here is a hypothetical question. If you were an Alaskan guide guiding hunters for big Alaskan brown bear what longarm and/or sidearm would you choose for backup and defense?

My choice would be a Marlin 1895 Guide Gun stainless steel in 45/70 loaded with 510 grain Garrett bullets. As for a pistol, a Ruger Super Redhawk with a 7.5 inch barrel, also in stainless, in .44 mag. I would load 240 grain jacketed soft points in this.

THANKS!:thumbs up2:
 

DLS

Well-known member
I"ve only hunted brown bears once, on Kodiak, and the 2 guides carried light rifles. One, Max Schwab, used a .30-06 and the other, Lynn Castle, carried a .300 magnum. I hunted with John and Tyler Swiss out on the peninsula once, and a big part of their business was guiding brown bear hunters. Tyler carried a .338 and John a .375 if I recall correctly. Other brown bear guides I've known have carried a .375 H&H (Rick Tolleson), a .338 (Matt Wolfe) and a .416 Remington (Dick Gunlogson). I'm sure some might like that 45-70, but I've never talked to one who would choose it over a more powerful cartridge. I've never talked to a single one who carried a side arm. Just my limited experience with them.
 
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Treecop

Well-known member
I'm not a guide and I haven't had the pleasure to hunt Big browns yet, but IF I were a guide, I'd carry a .338 or a .375 and a 454 or a 460 as a B.U.G.


The S&W 329 PD is a great gun. I will be buying one this fall. It is a 4"
44 mag.

I've heard it said that if you carry a 44 Mag for Grizzly, be sure to grind off the front site and deburr the muzzle. That way when the bear takes the gun from you and sticks it up your A$$ it won't hurt as bad. This was coming from a guy talkin' about Alaskan Grizzly's. Not sure I agree, but I've never hunted in Grizzly country.

If a 44 mag in a light weight package is what you are looking for, I don't think you could go wrong with the 329 PD.
Here is a link.

Smith & Wesson Model 329PD .44 Mag 4" Barrel Matte Titanium Finish HiViz Sights 163414
 

qaz

Well-known member
I don't understand why people ask this question, but I will bite. I am fortunate to live in the highest consentration of Black bears in the country. This I know for fact; A big black is about the size of a medium Griz. A truely monsterous black is the size of a big griz. I have been close to 500+lb blacks in the woods on several occasions and they are huge. It really doesn't take much gun to kill a big black bear and even less gun when he is up a tree and you climb up the tree and shoot him.
How much gun does it take to kill a Grizzly? Any where from 30-06 on up should work fine, cause a grizz is the same size as a big black bear, right? There is a difference in attitude though, Blacks are usually not real aggressive, grizzlys usually are especially when hurt. If the round has a rainbow trajectory ie 45-70, I would rather use a round that has a flat trajectory and hits like a freight train than to lob wheel weights at him. The 45-70 will kill him, but if he is close enough to use that round, I want to really hit him hard as in 338 Win mag.
Coastal Browns change all the rules! I have never seen one but I have seen photos of a Griz and a Brown side by side at the same age and the brown looked like the Griz's daddy! I would err on the side of safe and the caliber would start with 375 and end at 458. Man they are big!!!
Any guide in Alaska knows more than I do, with better recommenations and can use what ever they want, but i will use a 375 at least. As far as a side arm for an emergency, forget it. If he is close enough for you to use a pistol, he is already on top of you. Better yet, grind the sights off!!
 

waldo2382

Well-known member
Ok, since I'm up in the neck of the woods of coastal browns often, if I was a guide, I'd probably choose something in the .416 bracket and forget about a sidearm. When guiding, and the guide decides to shoot, it is after a bear is wounded and doped up on adreniline. For the initial shot by the customer, a 338 win mag is the minimum with 250 grain, with the 375 being the most popular. When I'm hunting the 338 is what goes with me for everything, from deer to caribou to moose.
 

Bluenote

Member
Ok, here is a hypothetical question. If you were an Alaskan guide guiding hunters for big Alaskan brown bear what longarm and/or sidearm would you choose for backup and defense?

My choice would be a Marlin 1895 Guide Gun stainless steel in 45/70 loaded with 510 grain Garrett bullets. As for a pistol, a Ruger Super Redhawk with a 7.5 inch barrel, also in stainless, in .44 mag. I would load 240 grain jacketed soft points in this.

THANKS!:thumbs up2:

Pretty much my standard kit when living bush and trapping , though at times it's my .375 RUM instead of the guide gun , and I do load 300 grain XTPs instead of 240 grain pills..
 

Bluenote

Member
I"ve only hunted brown bears once, on Kodiak, and the 2 guides carried light rifles. One, Max Schwab, used a .30-06 and the other, Lynn Castle, carried a .300 magnum. I hunted with John and Tyler Swiss out on the peninsula once, and a big part of their business was guiding brown bear hunters. Tyler carried a .338 and John a .375 if I recall correctly. Other brown bear guides I've known have carried a .375 H&H (Rick Tolleson), a .338 (Matt Wolfe) and a .416 Remington (Dick Gunlogson). I'm sure some might like that 45-70, but I've never talked to one who would choose it over a more powerful cartridge. I've never talked to a single one who carried a side arm. Just my limited experience with them.

I'll point out something here , there's a bit of difference between what the average guide carries and what folks who are *living* bush carry.

If you're living out there then you'll find you often have to put your long gun down to do something i.e. do a bait and reset , split wood and bring it in , a thousand and one daily chores can require both hands. There's a hell of a lot of folks carrying a sidearm in ALaska , and some of us have been in situations where it ended up being required for our survival.

And there's more than abit of difference between *hunting* the bear and popping him from a couple of hundred yards as opposed to a face to face DLP type encounter. Those who doubt the .45-70s effectiveness in such a situation shouldn't , the caliber has proven it's mettle in the african theater with proper loadings and within it's 150 yard envelope it's a damn fine meat getter for moose etc.

There are places still left in Alaska where only an idiot goes without a firearm , places where if you wake up and have to trek out to the outhouse at 3 a.m. that slug gun , big hogleg or whatever goes to the can with you.

I've seen more than one person with lower 48 black bear experience run into problems with brownies because they expected 'em to act like the black bears in their experience , big mistake , big differences in behavior , brownies are the biggest meanest junkyard dog in their environment and they know it , they aren't much impressed by humans yelling and banging a couple of pans together , they're going to do what they wish to do.
 

Bluenote

Member
As far as a side arm for an emergency, forget it. If he is close enough for you to use a pistol, he is already on top of you. Better yet, grind the sights off!!


West of Lake PAxson , north of Lake Louise , extraordinarily large sow for that area ( well past 900 when the Fish and Game guys got her out and weighed her) Ruger 4 and 5/8s Blackhawk in .44 mag , 22 grains ww296 under 300 grain hornady XTPs , three rounds all in the head and she went down under 10 feet from me. I couldn't do that again in my lifetime , though it is kind of hard to miss a head the size of a five gallon bucket. Nowadays I carry a double action revolver for bush use *always* , usually with those same loads ( 300 grain XTP over ww296 ,h110 ,2400 or n110 , got some hardcast 320s that I'm going to try out though) , it's a one in a million shot that you'll need it , but IF you do then you'll REALLY need it.

I could tell you a couple of other stories , my cousins wife put three .338s through the breadbasket of a brownie that was after their horses ( back country out of Kodiak) , didn't faze him , a full mag of .45 hardball in the head killed him. Another guy I know in Port Lyons had one shove his head through a window on a Thanksgiving evening , probably because the turkey carcass was still on the table , and that damn window was six feet off the ground if it was an inch , one of his guests shot it twice with a .454 casull and it died right there with it's head hungup in the window , alaskans being what they are they all sat down and had a belt ( or three) and toasted the bear before the got on the horn to F and G.

Then there was the guy up on the peninsula where there is quite a bit more population , it's not really 'bush' , he went out for a walk with his dog and a really big male , and I mean old and 1200 lbs *thin* came busting out of the brush and charged him , he emptied a Ruger Alaskan in .454 in him and the bear knocked him down as it skidded by on it's chin.

So at any rate I disagree , a sidearm is quite useful if it's the *right* sidearm. It's merely another tool , take it along just like you take a splitting maul and a chain saw.

And the on who came after me? Wellwhen she came there was none of the cool nature show crap , she wasn't making a threat display , no popping and chuffing , no pacing....no warning , outa the brush less than 25 feet away and coming on the move and serious. I was doing a rebait and reset and my rifle was leaning against a tree , I had just time enough to yank that horsepistol out and start blazing and I got rrrrrreeeaaalllllllyyyyy lucky and got three into her noggin.

Oh and *anyone* who tells you that they aren;t scared in one of these situations is a baldfaced damned liar , if I had eaten anything that morning before going out to run traplines and it had been in my bowels I would have crapped out a diamond. My rules were always no fires and no tobacco on my lines , I set down and made a fire and brewe tea and smoke about ten cigarettes once I quit shaking so much that I tore the rolling papers and spilled tobacco about half a dozen times.

Later one of the F and G guys and I backtracked her , evidently she was springing my traps and robbing the bait as fast as I set them or rebaited and was the same bear that had been snatching stuff out of my trap for a week or so. I never thought that the b**** would stalk me.

Oh and it's correct that the coastal bears are bigger than the interior bears , either are bigger than lower 48 black bears or lower 48 upper Rockies grizzlies. Big behavorial differences too.

One can live in country with a high population of these bears , but certain rules apply , keep a clean camp/ homestead , always be armed and don't be stupid...if the bear comes along and wants that deer or whatever that you're field dressing do the smart thing and give it up and scram before a situation develops.


And I've not got a lot of sympathy for folks who get someplace and then bitch about the bears , it comes with the territory , hell if they were in the southwest Louisiana backswamps it'd be water moccasins and 'gators instead.
 
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DLS

Well-known member
Bluenote, you make good points about the difference between guiding on a hunt, and living in the bush. Two of the guys I referenced above live or lived in the bush full time. Max lived outside of Talkeetna, and I believe still does, and Lynn lived at Wood River Lodge before he was killed in a bush plane crash. I wouldn't be surprised if they carried pistols around their homes all year, I just never saw one when hunting with them.

I think when hunting, any guide figures that he's better off with the rifle he normally carries, as it'll do a lot more than a pistol. When trapping, or doing chorse as you describe, it's actually a lot different and a pistol would be wise for a sh*t hits the fan moment. I do know that Rick Tolleson (god rest his soul) always carried a 44 mag when running his trap line out at Post Lake, which is west of Rainy Pass.

As for being scared when charged by an animal, you are totally correct. I've never been charged by a bear, but have been by a cape buffalo, and by an elephant. It's an adrenaline charged environment, and after it's all done, you want to go check your underwear.
 
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qaz

Well-known member
Bluenote thanks for the first hand experience information, that's what we all like to hear. I enjoyed the read, but you are wrong sir, a BIG black bear is every bit the size of a grizzly. As far as your personal experiance with the 900 pound sow, you are one lucky guy. I would have played the lottery right after I got home.

Now for the part that is hard to believe; The bear charged at 25ft, you were busy doing something, you realized a bear was charging, you cleared leather, and got off 3 shots, all 3 hit the bear in the head, and the bear came to a halt with less than 10ft to go before getting to you, and you did it with a single action pistol. This would all imply that the bear had only moved approx. 1ft when the first bullet struck her, you are truely a quick draw artist and that the bear may not have been charging you. I am not saying that it didn't happen, but it sounds unbelieveable.

I never have like these threads, but I do like to hear what the people have to say that live in the bush and deal with these animals along with the rest of them on a daily basis. Good luck brother.
 
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TonyS

Well-known member
" a BIG black bear is every bit the size of a grizzly", oh pleeeease. The rest of the post follows the same incorruptible logic.
 

Bossbrott

Well-known member
Interesting stuff right there. Couldn't agree more about folks not being prepared though! Thanks for the good read bluenote
 

henmar77

Well-known member
yea i don't get the want for a 45/70 for black bear. unless your living where time stands still.
 

waldo2382

Well-known member
Another issue, how much stuff do you want to pack in while hunting. You have a rifle, guide has a rifle or at least a shotgun loaded with slugs. Walking on snowshoes or muskeg is hard enough with just a rifle, then you have a day pack. Packing out a bear hide alone cane be over 200 pounds. If you really feel like carrying a backup long gun, get a cheap one that doubles as a walking stick or something you'll want to leave behind. Can't believe this 2 year old post keeps coming up.
 

Mootster

Member
qaz, Hello there. I don't think it's the size of the animal so much as how they are built. I lived in Alaska throughout the 80's (am moving back up in 4 years). I've skinned or help skin numerous black bears and two brownies. The differences were like night and day. A black bear's skin is very thin compared to a brownie's and it's hair is of a lighter denser feel by far, too. Once you get the skin off a black bear it kind of resembles a human - weird, huh? There is no mistaking it from a skinned brown bear. When the hide is off a brownie it looks like a terminator freak monster who's bones and joints are wayyy overbuilt like it has been on steriods it's whole life compared to a black bear. Cutting through a brownie's hair and hide is like raking your knife across rocks - you have to resharpen constantly.


About the caliber of gun, I've been out of the loop as far as that goes, but I would think a guide would want to pack the absolute most bang for the firearm that they can carry. I think most of them up there use a .375 or at least a .338. If I was going to carry a sidearm instead, it would definitely be a .500 S&W.
 

qaz

Well-known member
I reread my original post and can see where someone may have misconstrued it. I know a brown bear is much larger than a black, but pound for pound they are the same size, in weight and that is what I ment. Size means different things in different parts of the country. A big boy may mean he is tall or he may just be fat. English is a funny lanuage.
 

Where's Bruce?

Well-known member
The 45-70 Govt is one of the lever guns I intend to buy because the round is available in a HUGE variety of options, has killed big game here or in Africa (including elephants) and the Marlin is nice and light but holds 6 cartridges. But since Rem too over the fit & finish of the lever guns has gone to hell so I might consider the Rossi Rio Grande if I can't find an older Marlin, the Rossi is comparable, has 2 more inches of barrel yet weighs less. Either way I'd the stainless versions of these rifles. They're guide guns and will get beat up. For the sidearm well, the S&W 329PD is the nicest carry gun I own. Hardly notice it. Loaded with Buffalo Boar ammo, both firearms are fine choices....hypothetically. <g>
 
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sniper3083006

New member
Where's Bruce.
For the record I am a big fan of and by no legal means associated with Wild West Guns.
If you want to stick with the Marlin might I persuade you to take a look at Wild West's Alaskan Guide. Kinda expensive for a lever gun but all around AWESOME.
We take a Marlin 1895 Guide Gun in blue or stainless and dissemble it. The action is modified to allow use of the hot .457 Wild West Magnum while still allowing use of standard 45-70 loads, or is set up for the big .50 Alaskan. The front sight is changed to a fiber optic front bead for high visibility. Before reassembling, a reliability tune is performed on the action for feeding, extracting and ejecting. Our patent pending Trigger Happy Kit is installed for a crisp clean 3 pound trigger pull. We install a Pachmayr Decelerator pad to help with recoil and Parkerize the rifle. You now have a true Alaskan Guide rifle. And if you want a smaller package, you can get our Master Guide, the take down version of the original Alaskan Guide!
 


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