I'm not going to hump the Colorado mtns with a long gun on the off chance I see a bear or mtn lion. if you're itching for a new gun to ward off unfriendly fuzzies then get a new 10mm or 454/460/500 revolver or something. I think what you already have will do the trick though unless you cuddle up to a bear cub or something. and if you're hiking with small children, just make sure they hike in front of you and not behind you on the trails.
+1 for bear spray as a primary means of protection, but it's definitely worth having a firearm as a secondary means of defense. It seems indisputable that spray is more effective under most conditions, mainly because it's easier to deploy effectively when you're under pressure - i.e., there's no need for precision aiming, and no worries about adequate penetration, etc. See here:
And here's a useful site from a good spray company with info about bear attacks:
Avoiding Bear Maulings, Grizzly Attack Defense
On the other hand, as this article (Best Grizzly Defense: Bear Spray or Gun? | Outdoor Life) notes, "on an extremely windy day, bear spray could be useless". In that case, a firearm may be your best bet.
I'm a fan of the G20 for woods carry, and I bought one for exactly this purpose after doing a good bit of research on various pistol-caliber options. Obviously there are better rounds for bears (.44 and up), but the combination of power, capacity and weight in the G20 won me over.
However, I've read reports of bears going down after being hit with a number of .40 rounds (for instance: Bear killed with .40 caliber handgun - Alaska - Sleepless in Midland).
My main recommendation re: firearms would be to load up with premium ammunition designed for woods carry. Buffalo Bore and Double Tap both have ammo of this sort in various calibers, for instance:
Hope you have a great trip, with no bear encounters!
Is there any concern with that Double Tap ".40 S&W 200gr FMJ-Flat Point" in the Glock 22? Since it is considered an unsupported chamber?
Originally Posted by ampre
This point is much debated, at least as concerns the G20 (10mm). Having read a lot of these discussions, my sense is that (i) there's not a big risk of anything catastrophic unless you're using reloads or +p ammo (note that the Double Taps above are not listed as +p), and that (ii) otherwise, the most you'd be likely to see is the kind of casing-bulge that folks sometimes call a "Glock smile". But that's just an opinion based on reading blogs. I've put a small amount of pretty hot ammo through my G20 with no problems, but that's hardly enough to base a confident opinion on.
Originally Posted by Blades
This might not interest you at all but in 7.62x39 you might consider a Ruger Mini 30 or the "Ranch Rifle". To me it would be better to knock around in the woods with. You can also get Ruger brand 20 round clips for them.