Defense While Hunting - .40S&W or .357SIG?

This is a discussion on Defense While Hunting - .40S&W or .357SIG? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I hunt in western Pennsylvania with my son. While it isn't a huge concern, the population of black bear and bobcats is growing in the ...

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Thread: Defense While Hunting - .40S&W or .357SIG?

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    Ex Member Array PGHChris's Avatar
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    Defense While Hunting - .40S&W or .357SIG?

    I hunt in western Pennsylvania with my son. While it isn't a huge concern, the population of black bear and bobcats is growing in the areas we hunt. We also have a lot of coyotes, though they are much less of a concern to me. First, I know that it is rather unlikely for a black bear to attack, and second I plan on getting a larger caliber revolver (maybe .454 Casull?) to carry specifically for hunting at some point. However, right now, the most "powerful" sidearm I will have is my Glock 23/32, and that is what will be riding on my hip during the upcoming season. I'd like to hear recommendations from anyone as to which caliber you would prefer for this situation, and what the reasoning is. I shoot both equally well, and I will carry FMJ ammo instead of JHP's. I'm a firm believer in shot placement over caliber, but when dealing with charging animals I think placing any shot will be tough. Any input would be welcome.

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    VIP Member Array denclaste's Avatar
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    10mm, but since you don't have one, 40S&W. The 40 is capable of launching a heavy for caliber (180gr) bullet that will give you the penetration that's needed for black bear. Get some Underwood or Buffalo Bore 180gr loads, test them in your gun, and use them for hunting carry. Black bear are very shy and will scoot at first sign of humans, unless they have become accustomed to them. Then all bets are off and you want maximum weight and penetration. Just remember, the average over the counter 40 loads are watered down and not suitable for your chosen use.
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    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    The 357 Sig will penetrate better. I would actually use a bonded JHP such as the gold dot from Underwood. My favorite large caliber revolver is a 44 magnum.
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    Member Array cal44's Avatar
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    My first thought was your hunting firearm would be better for bear defense than any handgun.

    That is unless you are squirrel hunting with a 22.
    Last edited by cal44; July 28th, 2015 at 01:02 PM.
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    Distinguished Member Array BkCo1's Avatar
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    What type of long gun are going to be carrying? What caliber or gauge? Your chances are better with a shotgun or rifle. I usually carry a .44 or .357 when hunting large game. They are usually used for a finish shot on downed game. Of your choices I guess the .40 with heavy bullets. How about taking along some bear spray.
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    Ex Member Array PGHChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BkCo1 View Post
    What type of long gun are going to be carrying? What caliber or gauge? Your chances are better with a shotgun or rifle. I usually carry a .44 or .357 when hunting large game. They are usually used for a finish shot on downed game. Of your choices I guess the .40 with heavy bullets. How about taking along some bear spray.
    It is in our turkey hunting spot that the bear/bobcats are a concern, and we hunt with a 12ga pump action. I'm not sure how well turkey shot is going to get rid of a determined animal, which is why I want to make sure I'm as prepared as I can be with what I have.
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    Senior Member Array wsquared's Avatar
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    My personal choice is the .458 SOCOM. That tends to work well on most mammals under 1000 pounds!

    Seriously though - another vote for 10mm. It's my personal choice for a backup gun when hunting feral hogs. Probably more pistol than I truly need unless confronted by a real monster hog, but I don't know of a single person who ever said "I wish I had brought less gun" when coming down off of an adrenaline dump....and I will say that my Glock 20 really doesn't add much weight or size beyond what a 9mm service pistol would be. The things I like most about the Glock 20 is that it is truly a "dual purpose" option. It is an excellent pistol for defense against unpleasant critters on 4 legs, and even more excellenter (look it up.... https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/excellenter) for unpleaseant critters on 2 legs. Add quality tritium sights and a weapon light (I hunt hogs at night) and one pistol ends up being just about ideal for both purposes.

    None of the animals that you've mentioned is what I would consider thick-skinned...but as far as PISTOL calibers go, penetration is indeed what you will need when dealing with dangerous animals. I'd suggest that any defensive pistol round adequate for human predators is fine for coyotes and bobcats. Also, I would (and do) feel completely comfortable with a round that is in the range of a .357 magnum when in black bear country. If I need more horsepower than that (likely due to being up in the mountains) I will switch over to a rifle as my defensive choice - preferably a .45-70 with a STOUT loading of a gas-checked hard cast lead bullet.

    FMJ may not be the best choice - I think that you should be able to find hard cast lead loads in most calibers if you looks hard enough (Double Tap, Buffalo Bore, and Underwood all offer specialized loads....I tend to buy Underwood). What you want for maximum penetration is the heaviest-for-caliber bullet that you can find. For the .40, that would probably be a 200 grain hard-cast lead. Another idea might be a load with the Hornady XTP bullet - yes, it's a JHP but it was designed specifically to control the expansion and continue penetrating, and the feedback from field use seems to be that it has done very well on mid-sized animals.

    You will probably want to seek out a bullet that will hang together when it hits bone, and will do some damage as it travels. Pretty flowers made out of exotic metals are perfect when you can take your time and make the choice as an ethical hunter not to touch the trigger until you have a perfect broadside shot and know that you're going to place that bullet exactly in the "boiler room". When you are faced with a short period of time to place one or two shots into an animal that has it's business end pointed towards you and is rapidly approaching, you want to make sure that every bullet goes as far into that animal and does as much damage as is possible under the laws of physics.

    You may also want to look at traditional wheelgun calibers. 44 Magnum will definitely work as a hunting round for the game you are looking at, and it won't represent the 6 pounds of pig iron strapped to your hip that a SuperUltraThunderMagnumBoomer .758 caliber revolver will. For defense against the animals you are looking at, .357 would probably work just fine...and if you can't stop that animal with 6 rounds out of a wheelgun then the caliber of what you're carrying isn't the problem.
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    My preferred self-defense woods carry gun is my 4" S&W 29-2 .44 magnum. My second choice would be my Glock G20 SF with fifteen plus one rounds of 10mm. With your choices, I would go with the hottest hard cast flat-nose lead loads I could find.
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    Ex Member Array PGHChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsquared View Post
    My personal choice is the .458 SOCOM. That tends to work well on most mammals under 1000 pounds!

    Seriously though - another vote for 10mm. It's my personal choice for a backup gun when hunting feral hogs. Probably more pistol than I truly need unless confronted by a real monster hog, but I don't know of a single person who ever said "I wish I had brought less gun" when coming down off of an adrenaline dump....and I will say that my Glock 20 really doesn't add much weight or size beyond what a 9mm service pistol would be. The things I like most about the Glock 20 is that it is truly a "dual purpose" option. It is an excellent pistol for defense against unpleasant critters on 4 legs, and even more excellenter (look it up.... https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/excellenter) for unpleaseant critters on 2 legs. Add quality tritium sights and a weapon light (I hunt hogs at night) and one pistol ends up being just about ideal for both purposes.

    None of the animals that you've mentioned is what I would consider thick-skinned...but as far as PISTOL calibers go, penetration is indeed what you will need when dealing with dangerous animals. I'd suggest that any defensive pistol round adequate for human predators is fine for coyotes and bobcats. Also, I would (and do) feel completely comfortable with a round that is in the range of a .357 magnum when in black bear country. If I need more horsepower than that (likely due to being up in the mountains) I will switch over to a rifle as my defensive choice - preferably a .45-70 with a STOUT loading of a gas-checked hard cast lead bullet.

    FMJ may not be the best choice - I think that you should be able to find hard cast lead loads in most calibers if you looks hard enough (Double Tap, Buffalo Bore, and Underwood all offer specialized loads....I tend to buy Underwood). What you want for maximum penetration is the heaviest-for-caliber bullet that you can find. For the .40, that would probably be a 200 grain hard-cast lead. Another idea might be a load with the Hornady XTP bullet - yes, it's a JHP but it was designed specifically to control the expansion and continue penetrating, and the feedback from field use seems to be that it has done very well on mid-sized animals.

    You will probably want to seek out a bullet that will hang together when it hits bone, and will do some damage as it travels. Pretty flowers made out of exotic metals are perfect when you can take your time and make the choice as an ethical hunter not to touch the trigger until you have a perfect broadside shot and know that you're going to place that bullet exactly in the "boiler room". When you are faced with a short period of time to place one or two shots into an animal that has it's business end pointed towards you and is rapidly approaching, you want to make sure that every bullet goes as far into that animal and does as much damage as is possible under the laws of physics.

    You may also want to look at traditional wheelgun calibers. 44 Magnum will definitely work as a hunting round for the game you are looking at, and it won't represent the 6 pounds of pig iron strapped to your hip that a SuperUltraThunderMagnumBoomer .758 caliber revolver will. For defense against the animals you are looking at, .357 would probably work just fine...and if you can't stop that animal with 6 rounds out of a wheelgun then the caliber of what you're carrying isn't the problem.
    That was exactly what I was looking for - thank you. I have been looking into 10mm as well as larger revolvers for this purpose, however that is going to have to be a consideration for next season at the earliest. For the record, in PA I can't actually hunt the game with these guns that we're speaking of, this is specifically for the purpose of defense.

    I have already been looking into Underwood Ammo as I've been considering switching all my carry ammo over to their Gold Dots, so I will likely purchase Underwood for this purpose as well. Thanks again.
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    In that situation I would give the bear 3 rounds of the turkey load before I went to my sidearm. I usually hunt with number 4s in 3.5 inch while turkey hunting. I would take that over bear spay or a 40 any day. It probably wouldn't put the bear down but I would be willing to bet my life that it would take the fight out of one. Out of the your two options though I would go with a 180 grain in the 40. I would probably use a slow expanding hollow point. (XTP maybe?)

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    Ex Member Array CTcarrier's Avatar
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    I might be mistaken but I believe here in CT you can't carry a pistol while hunting. Heck, unless it's private land over a certain acreage, you can't even hunt with a rifle in the state.
    So if I was out there, I guess I'd have to hit it with whatever game load was in the shotgun and pray that I could get away.
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    Distinguished Member Array BkCo1's Avatar
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    Carry some buckshot or slugs.
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    I would carry a magnum revolver...the bigger the better. IMHO there is no such thing as too much gun when an alpha predator decides you're lunch.
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    Senior Member Array wsquared's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGHChris View Post
    That was exactly what I was looking for - thank you. I have been looking into 10mm as well as larger revolvers for this purpose, however that is going to have to be a consideration for next season at the earliest. For the record, in PA I can't actually hunt the game with these guns that we're speaking of, this is specifically for the purpose of defense.

    I have already been looking into Underwood Ammo as I've been considering switching all my carry ammo over to their Gold Dots, so I will likely purchase Underwood for this purpose as well. Thanks again.
    If you're not intending to actually hunt game with the pistol and you are not going to run into anything larger than a black bear, then I'd say that the .40 caliber hard cast is a very good option. It will cover both two legged and four legged threats very effectively. A 10mm Glock would do an even better job - but I would not hesitate to stick with the .40 if you have other priorities for your money. With the right load, the .40 will work quite well. I have never personally cared for the cartridge, but I am the first one to admit that this is 100% personal bias and I have no real-world data to back it up.

    One of the reasons I like the 10mm is that with the Hornady XTP I feel that it provides the expansion that is needed for soft-skinned threats and the penetration required for even a fairly large feral hog. I don't know if that's something that you come up against in PA, but some of the larger specimens can develop a pretty robust "shield" of tough tissue on their shoulders which has the potential to reduce the effectiveness of some bullets.

    One of the other posters had a worthwhile suggestion....maybe a few rounds of buckshot or slugs would be a good idea to have with you (providing that does not cause any issues from the hunting regulations point of view). Buckshot would work very well for coyotes and bobcats, and maybe black bear in a pinch. Slugs will do just fine for black bears. That's a very inexpensive potential solution if it is workable for you. Maybe load 000 buckshot in the tube when walking to and from where you will be hunting, and then switch over to your turkey load when the time is right?

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    Member Array bubbatime's Avatar
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    Carry a some high velocity slugs on your shotgun. Load your .40 up with XTP or hard cast bullets and consider it for 2 legged critters. It would work in a pinch against a black bear.

    There is a video of a guy shooting a charging moose on Youtube with his Glock handgun, and the moose dropped in its tracks and died. A Glock .40 will work fine on anything in the lower 48 except large brown bears.

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