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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The day has come. My very liberal wife whom when we met told me that she would never own a gun or allow one in her house. (Cue glance at my EDC bag with 2 glocks inside while telling myself that rule was just broken) wants a gun.

She is doing some solo backpacking trips and wants a gun for protection against bears, cougars etc and simpler sized game. Now I am doing lots of reading and I'm taking her out so she can figure out what she wants because that's really what will make or break it.

I would like advice and ideas from those that have more experience than myself. What caliber and type of gun (semi vs revolver).

I would prefer to keep it a common caliber that would do the job such as (10mm, 357 mag, 357 sig, 40 etc) and also preferably a caliber that she can make follow up shots on so somthing that won't go straight up.

Again the biggest threat we are looking at is a black bear and the most agile is a cougar.

We have lots of time between now and her trips (over a year). I am starting her on my 22LR pistol and going from there.

Thank you.

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I would start with a .357 mag and go up from there. I prefer .44's and above for bear country. I lived in Seattle for 8 years and did
most of my USCG time up there. Even backpacking back in the 70's I always had a minimum of a .44 Special!
Good luck and try, before you buy.
 

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I would prefer to keep it a common caliber that would do the job such as (10mm, 357 mag, 357 sig, 40 etc) and also preferably a caliber that she can make follow up shots on so somthing that won't go straight up.
If you are looking at those calibers, or the the 44, I hope she has time between when you buy it ans when she needs it, to shoot enough to know if she will handle it when needed. If she is not a shooter now, it may take a little time for her to come to terms with a .357 or 10mm.
 

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I think you're asking a lot. Asking a person to go from being a non-shooter to carrying a heavy pistol (or revolver) in a heavy recoiling caliber is just not realistic to my way of thinking. It's great that she wants to carry. But you're asking her to make a big leap quickly. You need to start her out with a wimp caliber and see what she can work up to. She may NEVER be capable or happy about handling a major caliber. Better that she carry something that she can shoot well, than something she can barely shoot and is uncomfortable using.
 

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Even on the most rugged, out-of-the-way trail, she is many times more likely to fall victim to a two-legged predator than a four-legged one.

Best bet is a solid defensive handgun for creeps, and some bear spray for bears. A .357 SP101 could be useful on either (but so could the bear spray).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
We have lots of time between now and her trips (over a year). I am starting her on my 22LR pistol and going from there.

I am looking for your experiences with the pros/cons of certain calibers and platforms and past experiences using them.

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I have used and carried 44mag and 44 sepcial and 10mm ..For a out in the woods I would say a 10mm ..44 mag is a pretty tough round to train for if your first time with a gun other then say a 22lr or 9mm ..10mm loaded with PPU would not be that bad

Frankly I would just carry a 9mm and bear spray
 
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357Mag and up in revolvers, and 45ACP or 10mm in pistols. Remember, a 357 can shoot 38 for basic practice, which it sounds like she needs a good bit of. I think I'd take a GP100 over an SP101 for the extra round without much extra weight. In pistol I'd say either a the Glock 20 or 21, either in the SF configuration. Both offer ease of use, great sight radius, not too heavy, and relatively easy follow ups.

Some quality bear spray would be a great idea as well.

Congrats on her decision to come around on guns, no matter the reasoning.
 
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I would have her check out the S&W mod 60 and Ruger SP 101. Light target wad cutters for practice. Heavy hard cast lead for woods. Think Buffalo Bore.
 

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sherlok You might want to start he with some female help for your wife . maybe an RO - instructor or other skilled female shooter to help your wife and maybe your glocks depending on cartridge . Maybe friends extra handguns or rentals for your wife to try . Buy your wife a can of bear spray and wear it where its easy to get to at all times on the trail too . Bear spray is better than a handgun for wild game . Your wife has a big learning curve and she have to start with basic handgun size and caliber . If your bear concerns is black bear and big cats and smaller caliber like a 9mm in the hands of a person that can adapt to it quickly and shoot it well is better than a 40 or 45 or 10mm she can't control or is uncomfortable carrying and can't accurately and quickly and don't forget , something she can rack easily . This is not a time for over kill .

A guide just killed a grizzly with a model 39 S&W 9mm with 6 rounds fired of the 7 he had in the pistol using hard cast hot loads from BB . Good bullet placement and luck ?? For sure . Help your wife find a design she likes by visiting gun shops the size and weight she can carry all day then find were her cartridge limits are . IF you can find another female to help your wife you may have to BUT you may not be her best helper . Husbands teaching wifes may not work well .

Your wife has to know what weight handgun is comfortable over a long days walk so hang a fanny pack loaded with rolls of coins to say a glock 19 weight loaded and she can go heavier or lighter from there . Hang the fanny pack off her waist were she would wear a pistol if possible . Maybe cross draw too .

When all is done your wife may find a compact 9mm is right , maybe a 357 mag for her at this time . But get some bear spray . Works on people too .
 

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I've done a lot of backpacking over the years and every ounce counts so keep that in mind. I would probably go for a lightweight .357 mag revolver although you are looking at significant recoil.
 

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A .357 allows practice with 38/38+P and then you can load Magnums for Bear.

She wouldn't notice the recoil if she had to shoot.

A Charter Arms .44 Special is nice if you like the added ounces and can find
or reload .44 Special.

I didn't care for the recoil with my Bulldog and any ammo.

Would rather shoot a SP-101:
 

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As a woman, I recommend a .357 revolver with at least a 4" barrel for open carry. Anything shorter, like snubbies for concealed carry, have too much recoil when using a full .357 load. The nice thing about the .357 revolver, is that you can start her shooting a light load 130 grain .38 special bullet in it, which she should be able to handle with some practice. Then, you can try the more powerful load .38 specials, then .38 special +P, then light load .357 and finally bear load .357 IF she can handle it. Hollow points are not recommended for bear.

Also, as some have mentioned above, she probably has more of a chance having a 2 legged predator come after her than a 4 legged. Yes, a semi-auto might be better for that purpose, but unless she wants to carry 2 guns, she has to choose. The revolver has several advantages, no jams, much more reliable, easy to shoot and clean. No tough slides to rack.

She should read up about hiking in bear country. There are small things she can do to reduce any bear related incidents like not wear any perfumes, or sweet smelling deodorants, hair spray, shampoo, powder. Also, don't cook anything greasy, like bacon with your hiking clothes on. It will stick and the bear will view her as a big piece of bacon walking through the woods. Always make noise when hiking, to give the bear enough time to move away. I just hang jingly keys from my belt.
 

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You can't break the law of physics. If she has never fired a gun before, any pistol with cartridges powerful enough to be (almost) effective against bears will have her point at the sky after the first shot.

If I live in bear country, my preferred pistol would be a Glock 20 with hardcast 10mm bullets. If that's where you're going, I would have her train with a 9mm Glock first.
 

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As someone who has lived and worked with Grizzly bears most of my adult life I carry a 5" 357 magnum. Why? Because a 200 grain hardcast 357 has greater sectional density (ie,penetration) than all but the heaviest 44 magnum (300 grain plus) I am much more accurate with a 357 than I am a 44 and accuracy is what is needed to stop an aggressive bear. You would be lucky to get more than one shot so capacity is irrelevant. Most experienced bear people even carry single actions due to lighter weight and you better be shooting a double action in single mode to get that accuracy you must have. If she can carry and accurately shoot a 300+ grain 44 magnum than pick that otherwise a 357 magnum has killed a lot of bears even the lower 48 grizzly. Alaskan bear are almost twice the size of lower 48 grizzly and for that I suggest a BIG rifle. I also carry bear spray as a first defense and like Blackhawk girl said...be bear aware and you will probably never see one.

200 grain 357=SD of .224
270 grain 44 magnum= SD of .210
300 grain 44 magnum=SD of .233
200 grain 10mm= SD of .179

As you can see a 10mm is a very bad round for big bear. Like big game hunting you need an SD of over .200 and the only way to get that is a revolver. Black bear I would be OK with even a 9mm as they have a completely different mind set and most often will turn tail if you hurt them.
 

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My experience has been that teaching a new shooter to use a handgun is easier with a revolver. That is not always true but it has been more often than not. She will have to choose what she is comfortable with. One of the advantages of a revolver is that it can shoot the lowest power target loads or the hottest defensive loads without any adjustments to the gun. Good Luck DR
 
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