Caribou Gear

Bullet selection for close range black bear

Greggkp

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Dec 12, 2021
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I agree with Muskeg (Big and slow). I hit a black bear on the point of the shoulder (he was quartering on) at 50 yds with a .338 X bullet with a MZ of 2925 fps. It deflected and came out the same side about 12” down and back along the ribs without penetrating the vitals cavity. Hair raising tracking chore that I hope to never repeat. What a mess!
 

buffybr

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Even cup and core 250 gr would be plenty I would think. You're not going to be shooting a hundred yards so the bullet won't be losing much gas from muzzle velocity. Over bait you should be able to place your shot perfectly, not like hogs on the run.

Has anyone on here ever maintained that black bears are easy to kill? I can't recall reading anything like that.
The two black bears that I hunted and shot were each shot with a single cast lead bullet. I shot the first one with a 220 grain cast bullet from my .45 acp. He ran about 20 yards and fell dead. I shot the second one with a 250 grain hard cast bullet from my Ruger .44 magnum pistol. He also only ran about 20 yards and fell dead. These were both spot and stalk hunts, and not in a tree stand over bait. Both shots were also less than 30 yards.
 

VikingsGuy

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Everyone I have ever talked to, and my own experience, suggest black bears are about as hearty as a typical whitetail deer. I have never heard anyone suggest a magnum/ultra-magnum cartridge (.338 caliber at 3000fps) is insufficient. Shoot what you like, but every mainstream centerfire rifle cartridge above .257 caliber with properly constructed hunting bullets over 130grn should be just fine.
 

OntarioHunter

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The two black bears that I hunted and shot were each shot with a single cast lead bullet. I shot the first one with a 220 grain cast bullet from my .45 acp. He ran about 20 yards and fell dead. I shot the second one with a 250 grain hard cast bullet from my Ruger .44 magnum pistol. He also only ran about 20 yards and fell dead. These were both spot and stalk hunts, and not in a tree stand over bait. Both shots were also less than 30 yards.
Those are pretty hefty loads (220 gr+) at very close range. I'm not sure either situation would prove black bears are easy to kill. Curious as to size of those bears?
 

Blacktailbc

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If you are concerned about a partition not working for bears, I guess I don’t know what to tell you.
Swift A-Frame comes to mind, but the partitions or accubonds should work just dandy.
 

buffybr

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Those are pretty hefty loads (220 gr+) at very close range. I'm not sure either situation would prove black bears are easy to kill. Curious as to size of those bears?
9fXTwj3m.jpg

Those are pistol loads that are pretty puny compared to rifles.
My .45 acp 220 grain load at 750 fps at the muzzle produces about 275 foot-pounds of energy.
My .44 magnum 250 grain load at 1300 fps at the muzzle produces about 940 foot-pounds of energy.
My .308 Win 150 grain load at 2750 fps at the muzzle produces about 2520 foot-pounds of energy.

Over the years, a friend of mine has shot 15 to 20 Montana black bears with his .22-250 and 55 grain Rem soft point bullets. Most were one shot kills, and at least one made the B&C book minimum.
His .22-250 55 grain load at 3600 fps at the muzzle produces about 1580 foot-pounds of energy.

My black bears were in the 5-5 1/2' range.
vTYJrX3m.jpg
 

buffybr

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Everyone I have ever talked to, and my own experience, suggest black bears are about as hearty as a typical whitetail deer. I have never heard anyone suggest a magnum/ultra-magnum cartridge (.338 caliber at 3000fps) is insufficient. Shoot what you like, but every mainstream centerfire rifle cartridge above .257 caliber with properly constructed hunting bullets over 130grn should be just fine.
It's not a mainstream centerfire rifle cartridge, but after shooting a Canadian NWT Dall ram at 206 yards and Mountain caribou at about 150 yards and hearing my bullets ricocheting off the rocks behind them after going through those animals and dropping one of my best 6x6 bull elk in his tracks, all one shot kills with my .257 AI shooting 117 grain Sierra GK bullets, I wouldn't hesitate to use that rifle and bullet on any black bear. I probably wouldn't choose that rifle for a Grizzly hunt, although it would be better than throwing rocks at one, although I did once run a grizzly out of my camp after throwing and hitting him with a rock. ;)
 

VikingsGuy

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It's not a mainstream centerfire rifle cartridge, but after shooting a Canadian NWT Dall ram at 206 yards and Mountain caribou at about 150 yards and hearing my bullets ricocheting off the rocks behind them after going through those animals and dropping one of my best 6x6 bull elk in his tracks, all one shot kills with my .257 AI shooting 117 grain Sierra GK bullets, I wouldn't hesitate to use that rifle and bullet on any black bear. I probably wouldn't choose that rifle for a Grizzly hunt, although it would be better than throwing rocks at one, although I did once run a grizzly out of my camp after throwing and hitting him with a rock. ;)
Yeah, my beloved 25-06 would have done the job on our bears - but for the sake of generalities, I chose that as an arbitrary cutoff.

(but we have to watch for the slippery slope or soon folks will be using Red Rider BB guns to shoot grizzlies ;) inside joke to those following another HT thread today)
 

VikingsGuy

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For big bears up close, don't screw around with a conventional cartridge.
If things go wrong, you could be eaten alive, or worse!
I personally like a 525gr slug at about 2300fps, preferably from a .505 Gibbs or bigger.

Exhibit #1...….

https://www.hunttalk.com/threads/big-bore-boar.275792/


Good luck.
If you have a .505 Gibbs and like to hunt with it, more power to you, but I hope you are not suggesting that the average hunter needs to use such a thunderstick for the mundane Ontario black bear because "or worse . . .".

Again, shoot what you like, but let's not make this type of animal more than it is.
 

MTLabrador

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If you have a .505 Gibbs and like to hunt with it, more power to you, but I hope you are not suggesting that the average hunter needs to use such a thunderstick for the mundane Ontario black bear because "or worse . . .".

Again, shoot what you like, but let's not make this type of animal more than it is.
How dare you, sir. Black bears are terrifying and they should be treated as such.

I’d hunt black bears with my .22-250…
 

SFC B

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For reference, I shot this bear at 90m with a 180gr TBT Federal round from my 30-06 and he dumped right there. He was +- 300lbs and comes in at 19 7/8 in and 6'6". Shot was high shoulder base of the neck on a walking bear.
 

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Foxtrot1

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If you are concerned about a partition not working for bears, I guess I don’t know what to tell you.
Swift A-Frame comes to mind, but the partitions or accubonds should work just dandy.
I'm worried about them not expanding properly on a black bear. To my understanding on the 9.3s the partition was moved forward to improve performance on large game like cape buffalo. I'm sure they were designed to be used in the faster 9.3x62 and 9.3x64. The minimum recommended velocity is 1800 fps, so I'm well above that. But with my 9.3x57 I'm giving up 200-300 fps over the x62. The close range should offset that to some degree. Just looking for real world experience.
 
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