Caribou Gear Tarp

Bullet selection for Black Bears--Please Help!


New member
Jan 20, 2001
Loudon NH USA
The last week in August I will be going on my first bear hunt in Maine.I'll be hunting over bait and the stands are supposed to be set at about 40 yards from the bait.I recently bought a Ruger M77 in 30.06 for the hunt.I'd like to hear from some of you who hunt bear with 30.06 about what you use for bullets.
Thanks in advance for any help.

Mike :rolleyes:
I would say a 180 grain ballistic tip. They have heavyer jackets and do a very good job. friend of mine shot one with his 30-06 and it didnt move more than 15 feet. granted it was only a 200-250lb bear but it worked.

Not a problem, if you don't reload then go and buy some Federal Premiums loaded with the 180gr Nosler Partition. I've never had a bear go more then 15-20 ft after a solid hit from these proven game getters. Good luck and have fun.
I was out bear hunting 2 weeks ago and one of my buds shoots a rem pump 30/06 and he used 165 nosler ballistic tips and it dropped his bear in it's tracks.He tried shooting the 180's but he couldn't get good groupings,so he switched to 165's and he said he would never try a diffrent bullet again.I personally shoot the same bullets in my 30/06.
Good Luck On your hunt.Hope to see some pics of the big one!!!!!
I've used both 180 Nosler partitions and 220 grain Remington Corelokt softpoints. I like the 220's a little better, but I got to warn you they kick like a pissed off mule.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 29 June 2001 14:22: Message edited by: Big Sky ]</font>
I will respectfully dissagree with the use of ballistic tips from the 30/06 over bait.

First and formost in bear hunting is a complete pass through of the bullet at any angle you hit him. This is vital for tracking purposes. You need the exit for a minimum chance at any blood trail from a bullet as small in diameter as a .308.

The Nosler partition in 165-200 grains is a fine choice. I realize there are ballistic tip bullets that have killed bears as well as 22/250's with 55 grian bullets but that does not make either one the best choice. We tend to see something work once or twice and feel it is a great choice and will always do a fine job. However when you see hundreds of bears shot and start recognising the problems with the ballistic tips at close range on dozens if not hundreds of bears you begin to have a bit better resolution to the overall success of a bullet.

The best shot period on a bear is to break the shoulders and the BT will not do this with consistancy I promise you. The partition will give much greater likely hood of that and still exit much of the time.

When you must follow the dwindling blood trail of a black bear who has just been perforated and it's getting dark and visibility is going you will re-think the entertainment value of recreational bear hunting.

The ballistic tip's from my 30/06 have blown up on the shoulder of a 125 pound Antelope, and the ribs of a 130 pound black tail doe! They are the most accurate bullet your likely to ever shoot, but have a hidious reputation for premature expansion and failure. I would not hunt bear with one unless it was the last bullet I had available and then I would never allow a shoulder shot.

I don't intend to come off here as a know it all I'm sorry if it seems that way. I know how these forums can appear sometimes. I have a fair bit of experience with all the species of bear but polar bears and my comments here reflect my feelings after a long professional career in bear, and big game hunting.jj
If your one of the lucky ones to have a rifle that will shoot the X bullet well and you have a load that you feel good with, the X bullet for bears is very good. It is like a slightly expanding solid. There frequency of exits is nearly 100% on any angle.

I prefer a bullet that exits but I also like bullets with a bit more expansion. I might like the X better if my rifle would shoot them but it fouls so badly I gave up on them. My two most common hunting partners both use them exclusively and have had great success on big solid game with them. The lighter game seems to have to little resistance to allow them to open all the way.

My opinion is that when the X bullet works as advertised it is the best bullet in the world. I just can't get them to shoot in my guns so I do not use them. jj
I have a .264 Win Mag that loves 140 grain Barrnes XLC Bullets. I'll be using that rifle/bullet combo over bait this fall.

All of my bears so far I have shot with 180 grain Speer Grand Slams out of a .308. They all exited, and every shot was through at least one shoulder.

Thought I'd try something different this year.
I was lucky enough to hunt in Maine about 15 trs ago. Just once but here are my impressions. 1)don't worry too much about accuracy, at 40-60 yds it's not an issue. 2)Low power scope or a electronic red dot sight. Those woods are DARK! 3) Use the heaviest controlled expansion bullet in the largest caliber you can. You do want an exit wound and a good blood trail. In the area I hunted a bear would be lost to sight in 8 to 10 yards. Hope this helps. Note: I used a 45-70 marlin and 400 gr speer bullets.