September 28, 2023
Grizzly bear downed at 10 feet by Jimmy Cox with a 10mm pistol in Defense of Life and Property Incident in AK.

U.S.A. — Handguns have been shown to be effective tools when used to defend against bears. Seven years ago, whether handguns were effective when used to defend against bears was in dispute. In October 2016, someone on the Internet claimed pistols were ineffective as a bear defense. He claimed there were “legions” of incidents where they failed. He failed to provide a single documented case where a handgun, when fired in defense against a bear, failed to stop the attack.

A group of people I worked with and I started to look for instances where pistols were fired in defense against a bear or multiple bears. We particularly looked for incidents where pistol use failed to stop the attack. Incidents where the bear stopped attacking, was killed or just ran off were considered successful defenses.

We discovered handgun failures in defense against bears are rare. Successful uses of handguns to defend against bears are about 50 times as common. Handguns have been shown to be an effective tool to use against bears 98% of the time.

As the number of documented incidents where pistols were fired as a defense against bears accumulated, publishing the entire list became burdensome. This is an update to the list, we include links to the last full list of 104 incidents, published on June 21, 2021, and the first update increasing the number to 123 incidents, published on April 11, 2022.  Those numbers are the incidents where only a handgun was fired. Combinations, where a handgun and other deadly instruments were used are not counted for handgun statistics but are documented.

Since April 2022, we have documented 25 more incidents where handguns were fired as a defense against bears. Twenty-one incidents involved only handguns. One of those incidents was judged to be indeterminate (August 29, 1978, Schallenberger). 4 cases were combination defenses. All incidents where a handgun was fired to defend against a bear are included. This prevents selection bias in the data.

This update brings the total number of incidents to 170. In 146 incidents, only handguns were fired. Three of those are judged to be failures.  Another three are judged to be indeterminate, including a case where the bear was driven off, but it was unclear if handgun fire or bear spray was the determining factor.  Twenty-four cases occurred where a handgun was fired in combination with another deadly instrument. Those cases are not included in the statistics for handgun defenses.  Three failures and 140 successes out of 143 cases is a 98% success rate.

Here are the 25 incidents in chronological order:

Summer 1962 – .22 LR  Grizzly Bear Montana

The incident with the grizzly bear happened in the 1962 spring trapping season. Another worker was helping Chuck then. I met the guy once but have forgotten his name. A 500-pound male grizzly bear was caught in the steel jawed trap and took it and the tangled up drag about two miles where the bear hid in an aspen patch. Chuck and his helper tracked the grizzly on foot. The helper was armed with a 12 gauge shotgun and all Chuck had was his nine shot Harrington and Richardson Model 939, double action, .22 revolver in a holster on his belt.

The grizzly charged and Chuck stood still waiting for his helper to shoot. He looked around and the helper was running off with the shotgun. Chuck turned to run and tripped over a tree root and fell to the ground. The 500-pound male grizzly ran up to Chuck and stood up on his hind legs over him with the trap on a front paw. Chuck pulled out his .22 revolver and fired all nine shots in it. Some missed, some glanced off the grizzly’s skull and one went into an eye socket, killing the bear

Summer 1976 – Grizzly, Montana, .357 magnum Allen Schallenberger

In Allen’s own words starting in the summer of 1976:

In the summer of 1976, I was working alone on the grizzly bear research and was on a trip in the Scapegoat Wilderness south of the Benchmark Road end on USFS land. I was riding my saddle horse and leading two pack horses with my equipment and camping supplies. I rode into a small grassy opening suitable for horse feed north of Half Moon Peak at about dusk. I unloaded the two pack horses and turned them loose to graze with hobbles and was starting to unsaddle my riding horse. A very heavy, tall, dark colored grizzly bear appeared walking on the nearby USFS trail about 30 yards away. He made no bad threats and kept walking. I had been out about two weeks and my flashlight batteries were dead. Quickly I threw some stove fuel on dry sticks and got a large fire going for light. I put a double halter rope on my horse so he could not break loose from the tree. I set up my small tent and then I stood outside watching my horses and listening to the bear circle the small clearing breaking sticks. The horses with hobbles were not eating and were pivoting sensing the travel of the bear circling around us.

After about two hours, I knew I had to do something to scare away the very large and aggressive bear. I fired six fast shots with my Colt Python and reloaded quickly. The bear left and I tied up all the horses, ate some supper and went to bed in the tent. The horses were allowed to graze the next morning before we headed back to our pickup and trailer at Benchmark Road. The bear’s tracks were in the trail dust for several miles. The front paw print was 8 inches wide which indicates a very big grizzly in Montana. That was the last trip I ever made in grizzly research without a 760 Remington pump 30:06 rifle with ghost ring peep sight and 220 grain loads or a short, barreled Remington 12 gauge 870 with sights and a combination of double 00 buck and slugs along with my revolver and hard cast lead bullets.

Summer 1977 – Grizzly Bears, Montana, .357 mag as told by Allen Schallenberger

In spring 1977, I was flying with a small plane pilot out of the Choteau airport to check on the location of radio collared grizzly bears. My spring helper Roy Jacobs and I had a few snares set in aspen patches on Ear Mountain, a prominent peak on the mountain front adjacent to the foothills and prairie about 25 miles west of Choteau. I flew over the snare sets with the pilot to check for bears and I spotted two adult grizzlies in snares and another adult hanging out with a snared bear. We immediately stopped our radio monitoring flight and went back to the Choteau airport. Roy and I caught our saddle horses and a pack animal for our trapping and radio gear and loaded up my trailer at Choteau. Roy who was a local suggested we get Wayne and Chip Gollehon who ranched on Ear Mountain to help us handle the bears for safety. I called Wayne and we met them on horses on the mountain.

We had no trouble with the first large male and I quickly drugged him with a dart gun, and we measured him and put a radio collar on him. The other pair was about a mile away. We all tied up our horses to aspen trees and I gave my shotgun to Wayne Gollehon and told him his job was watch for the courting sow grizzly which had been hanging out with the adult male in the snare. After I drugged the bear and we were getting ready to put the radio collar on him, Wayne yelled, “ Look out here she comes”! She was charging us at a trot at about 40 yards. I jerked my Colt Python .357 out and fired two shots into the air and she swerved away and did not return. Roy had laid his shotgun on the ground and had to run toward the female to get it. We finished measuring the male and put the radio collar on him. We thanked the Gollehon’s for helping and they rode their horses home. Roy and I went to the Cow Track Restaurant and had late dinner and a couple of drinks to settle our nerves. Roy grew up in Choteau and had camped and hunted on Ear Mountain many times without realizing how many grizzlies were present.

August 29, 1978 – Montana Grizzly bear .357 mag, indeterminate, as told by Allan Schallenberger

When we had climbed to about 8,200 feet which was above timberline, we spotted a large adult grizzly at about 300 yards coming down a game trail on the mountain toward us. Keith checked the radio, and it was our courting male we caught on Ear Mountain in 1977. I said I guess I better let him know we are in the area, and I yelled,” Hey bear” loudly. He let out a string of bear cuss words and started running toward us as fast as he could run. I quickly fired two .357 magnum shots in the air which appeared to have no effect on him. I quickly stuffed two more shells in the revolver and gave it to Keith. I chambered a round in my shotgun and stuffed another slug round in the magazine. There was a five-foot-high boulder about 20 feet behind us and we got behind that. I told Keith when the grizzly appeared on top of the ridge, we were going to kill him. We waited with our hair standing up and the bear did not appear. A check with the radio receiver showed he had passed down the other side of the ridge headed for the dense forest on the river.

September 12, 1988 – FOIA polar bears .44 magnum Krosspynten

Oscar and a friend were staying at the cabin at Krosspynten. At 6 AM, a bear entered the cabin hallway and woke them up. The bear had been rummaging in there for a few seconds before they knocked on the wall to drive it away. The bear went outside. A few seconds later, it came around to the front of the cabin and smashed the window of the room where they were. The bear backed up, then accelerated and threw itself at the window. It destroyed the window bar and made the wall of the cabin bulge dangerously inwards. At that moment, Oscar thought the wall would collapse. The bear was halfway inside the cabin; its front paws, head, and a part of the upper body were through the window.

Oscar thought the wall would collapse if he didn’t do anything. He had no choice but to shoot the bear. He had his revolver by the bed and fired one shot into the throat of the bear. The bear tumbled out of the window. Oscar got up and fired one more shot with the revolver.  The bear retreated. Oscar accessed his rifle. The bear managed to get about 100m from the cabin before Oscar was able to kill it with the rifle. The revolver was a .44 caliber magnum.

August 28, 1990 – Combination Pistol and Rifle in 7.62mm, Russians, Norway, Barents Sea

Around 1PM Alek and Boris woke up from banging on the door. Alek got up and went to the door and discovered there was a polar bear outside. He had a signal flare in his hand. When he was about to open the door, he heard the bear snorting and thought that the bear’s head was at the same height as his. He didn’t dare to open the door. He didn’t set off the signal flare. When the bear continued to hit the door, the two others got up. Alek accessed a 7.62 mm handgun, and Boris and Igor each took a 7.62 mm rifle.

They had sausages, butter, and other groceries in the hallway.  The bear was probably smelling this and trying to reach the food. The people thought if the bear broke through the door and into the cabin, the situation would become life-threatening. There would be very little time to aim and fire. The cabin was already crowded.

Considering the situation, Alek fired one shot through the door with the pistol. He fired upwards so the shot would go through the door at approximately head height and angled upward. The bear continued to hit the door, and Alek now fired a shot with the rifle. He was scared and shaken. He was convinced the bear was standing on two legs and that its head would be at the height of the middle of the door. He thus fired through the door at that height to hit the bear in the head/ neck region. He was scared for his life, and so were the others, this is why he tried to kill the bear.

Boris then opened the window on the other side of the cabin, stood in the window and looked over the roof. He then saw the bear was lying on the ground about 10m from the cabin. The bears eyes were open, and the bear was not dead. He could not see if the bear was injured. Alek then opened the door and fired one shot in the ground besides the bear. It then got up and started walking away. He could see that it was injured, there was blood on the left shoulder. The bear walked towards “Myklagard” and disappeared behind the hill. Alek, Boris and Igor went up on the hill and could then see the bear lying on the ground about 100m from “Myklagard”.

February 27, 1993 – Barents Sea, Norway FOIA Polar Bears Rubber bullet from a special handgun or .357 Mag.

The bear was observed around 12-13 hours by Joan and Jill at the first cabin on Vestpynten after the camping place. The next cabin is Ralph. They saw the bear on the shore, walking towards Ralph’s cabin. The dogs (8) Ralph had with him had warned him about the bear and he started taking them inside. To the witnesses on the other cabin it looked like the bear was smelling the dogs and getting interested. Ralph said he had 3 dogs left outside when the bear arrived at the cabin. The witnesses only saw 1. Ralph tells that the bear had a dark spot on the belly, maybe from oil spill and that it was very aggressive. He went to get a special weapon, “rubber-bullet gun”. At about 1m distance he fired one shot at the bear. He think it hit the bear in the side. Joan couldn’t see the weapon properly, but she thought it was a pistol because he was holding it with one hand. She could not see it if the bear reacted after the first shot, but she said that he fired one more shot and that the bear then jumped and ran away towards the sea. Ralph himself claims he only fired one shot. Jill also thought she saw Ralph fire 2 shots but she wasn’t certain. She was certain that he didn’t use a rifle/ shotgun sized weapon, but a smaller type of weapon.

The rubber-bullet-gun was never shown to the police, and at the next interview, Ralph had destroyed it.

The rubber-bullet-gun was purchased in Canada 20 years before. The same goes for the ammunition. The day of the incident was the first time Ralph used the gun, and it was the last of the ammo. 20 year old rubber bullets can get hard as rock and since it was fired at very close range it might have made serious injuries to the bear. Ralph also had a .357 revolver. Ralph claimed it was inside the cabin when he shot at the bear.

July 20, 1993 – Paulabren, Norway, FOIA Polar Bear

Everything happened very fast, in about 2 seconds. Paul had a revolver, a Smith & Wesson, lying on his left side. The same moment he saw the bear he bent over and grabbed the gun. Before he had the gun ready to fire, the bear was at him and he pulled his legs back. The sleeping pad he was sitting on had claw marks on it.

Paul kicked out with his legs and fired the gun. He didn’t see if he hit, but he was sure he must have, at that range, about 1 m. He fired one more shot immediately. The bear then turned around and ran
away. John could not see if the bear was bleeding from a gunshot wound. Ian also came to the tent opening and fired one shot at the bear, but thinks he didn’t hit the bear.

The bear ran back the same way it had come. First it stopped at about 400 m away. They saw it was bleeding from a wound in the chest. They didn’t have any rifle with them (it was left in town for another expedition that was going to come up on the 26th of July.) They tried to get closer to the bear to finish it. When they closed the distance to about 80 m it ran away.

February 3, 2003 – Austfjordneset Norway, Revolver probably .44 magnum, FOIA

Arthur wanted to prevent the bear from getting inside the building. When he came in to the workshop he could hear the bear rummaging. He wasn’t sure if it was already inside or not. He opened the door to the woodshed, with the revolver cocked and ready. When he came in to the shed he found himself face to face with the bear. The bear had his head trough the window. It seemed aggressive and tried to get in. Arthur felt the situation was very threatening. Acting on instinct, he shot the bear in the head through the window.

The bear pulled back without Arthur being able to tell if it was hit or not. He went outside and found the bear 10-15m away with a lot of blood on its head. He understood he needed to kill the bear and fired 4 more shots towards the forepart of the bear. His wife came out. He told her to get the shotgun. When he got it he checked that the ammunition was slugs and fire 2 shots towards the heart of the bear, that fell over and died.

March 5, 2005 – Barents Sea Norway .500 S&W

On March 5, 2005, two people were attacked by a polar bear in the remote area of Kapp Lee, Edgeøya, in the Svalbard archipelago.

The .500 Smith & Wesson revolver had been on the market for just over two years when this occurred. The individual responsible for security had one of those big revolvers on his person.

This story was uncovered as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by AmmoLand. The names of the individuals involved were redacted. The original account is a translation with some grammatical and spelling errors.

What follows is the account, edited for readability. The names Paul and Sally have been substituted for the redacted names. This is what happened.

Paul, Sally and two more people were airlifted from Longyearbyen to Kapp Lee, Edgeøya, and landed at 2:21 PM. The helicopter flew the two other people a bit further away to install a digital camera to takepictures of Storfjorden….

In far less time than it takes to tell it, Paul yelled, “Dammit, I’m shooting,” and fired one shot at the bear, now only 1.4 meters (five feet) away.

He tried to aim at the heart/lung areas, but was not sure where he hit, other than that it was to the right side of the neck, from thefront, toward the back of the bear.

The bear turned immediately and ran away. The bear collapsed 48 meters from where Paul stood.

October 1, 2005 – Venus Creek Bear Wyoming combination 7mm mag and 41 and .357 mags FOIA page 517

In the Washakie Wilderness of Wyoming three hunters with two dogs stopped to eat lunch One dog barked and they were charged by sow grizzly and two large cubs. Shot the grizzly with 7mm magnum at about 25 feet, and with .41 mag, maybe once with .357 mag.  finished with .41 mag after it went down.

July 6, 2006 – Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, United States, FOIA .44 magnum, Black Bear

Dinner had been cooked by the river an hour or so before.  After dinner PII and PII were talking a German couple who camped with them.   In the course of the conversation PII heard beavers downriver slapping their tails in alarm.  A mature black bear was moving directly towards them. PII and PII walked towards the bear.  At 30 yards the bear open and closed its mouth.  A bean bag round was fired.  It bounced in front of the animal and bounced up to graze its tail.  At that point the bear headed towards the upland.  As the bear moved, trapper PII fired three rounds from his .44 over its head.  PII then pursued the animal, which circled the camp and jumped into Beaver Creek and swam across the river and disappeared.

July 31, 2006 – Storøya, Norway,  Combination FOIA Polar Bear (PBHIMS)

PII fired one shot in the air with the revolver, and the bear stopped one second and turned a bit away. From previous situations PII thought that the bear was about to leave, and shot one more shot in the group to make it go away. At the second shot the bear jumped around and started walking towards PII again. Tove was now back with PII who continued firing warning shots. He had the possibility to concentrate on every shot and fire in the gravel in front of the bear, hoping that it would stop and turn around. The bear increased the speed in a straight line towards PII and PII. He told PII to fire warning shots too. When he had fired 6 warning shots he took the rifle he had over the shoulder and the bear was now so close that he could see no other option than firing at it. He said “we have to take this one” and fired one shot  that hit the front of the bear. After the first shot the bear had turned and was showing its side and PII fired one more shot to the heart/lung area. PII also fire one shot towards the bear. The bear went down but was still moving so Aksnes went closer a fired one more shot to the hear/lung area. After this he called up M/Spolarstar and asked them to call the Governor and give the GPS position.

 August 16, 2014 – Arey Island .44 magnum Polar Bear FOIA

One of the Fish and Wildlife personnel was sleeping in a tent. They had a .44 magnum. A fat and healthy boar polar bear arrived on the scene and attempted to enter the tent. The sleeper woke up, detected the polar bear, and shot and killed the polar bear with the .44 magnum. The shooter was not injured, except perhaps, for some lost hearing ability.

September 2015 – Winter Park, Colorado .45 handgun and Mike Porras CO Fish and Game, black bear

According to Mike Porras with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the bear came into the family’s campground while they were present and wentafter some food that was out.

An armed adult attempted to scare the bear by firing two shots but the bear didn’t show any fear and wouldn’t leave. The camper then shot and killed the bear and immediately reported the shooting to wildlife officers.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has determined the shooting was justified and no charges or citations will be brought against the camper.

October 12, 2020 – Black Bear, .40 Caliber Katchmak State Park Alaska

The attack occurred as the Bates family, Weatherly Bates, her husband, their 12-year-old son, Rockwell, their 10-year-old daughter Vera, and two family dogs, on leashes, were hiking on the Glacier Moraine Trail inKachemak Bay State park.

Weatherly Bates had a .40 caliber S&W in her backpack. The bear came at them at about 3 p.m., even though they yelled at it and bunched together.

Weatherly Bates explains what happened:

“It did attack. It was a predatory bear That year we had a lot of problems. The bears were starving. There was, like, no berries. We were hiking and we noticed there was a bear spray cap on the ground. A couple of minutes later a bear came up behind us.  I tried to yell and scare it away, but it kept coming. I did have a gun in my backpack, so I started backing up to my husband.”

Weatherly’s husband accessed the pistol from her backpack. Weatherly continues:

“I could tell this bear wasn’t stopping. Our dog got in between the bear and our son. She didn’t even bark at it. It tackled her and started biting her head. We let our other dog go, he was on a leash. He started biting the bear. We think that is what saved our female German Shepard. My husband had to grab the bear and get it so he could dispatch it without shooting our dog. He shot it point blank in the spine. It took two shots before it let go. Then he shot it about five more times.”

October 2, 2021 – combination 10mm and .300 Win Mag Wyoming North Fork of Shoshone River, Grizzly, unprovoked attack

“She came over the top from the east side of the ridge about 15 to 20 yards away from us. We were looking at the elk, and she came from behind us. And when she got about three or four yards away from us, that’s when she started making some noise. It’s kind of crazy. It actually sounded like a pig, kind of a squeal, not as high (pitched), but that’s what it reminded me of, a pig.”

By then it was too late.

“That’s when she tackled me. I turned around, and she hit me from the side. I never even got all the way turned around,” Dickson said. The experienced hunter always carries a 10mm handgun in a holster across his chest, but before he could reach it, the bear knocked him down.

“When I fell down, my left arm came up, and that’s when she got a hold of my hand,” Dickson said. “I was on my right side with my left side up. The guy that was with me, when that bear was on top, that’s when he shot that bear. He was probably only 20 yards behind me.”

Fortunately, his friend’s aim was true, and he hit the grizzly with a .300 Winchester Magnum just behind the shoulder. The wounded bear then turned on John, which gave Dickson the time to get up, get his pistol out and shoot the bear with the 10mm. The bear dropped, and a couple more shots from the rifle made sure the bear was dead.

It was all over in less than two minutes.

August 13, 2022 – Colorado Steamboat Springs, Black Bear, .40 Caliber

A bear entered a home in Steamboat at 2 a.m. Saturday. Kelly Mauldin heard her dogs barking and got up to investigate and discovered the 300-400 male bear in her house. She screamed for her husband, Ken, who got up and shot and killed the bear.

“When I went to my bedroom door, I saw the bear about 10 feet away and shot it instantly with a 40-caliber, semi-automatic handgun. Then the bear charged me. I continued shooting at it as fast as I could. The bullet hole in the floor suggested the bear got about five to sixfeet from me when he backed up, changed directions, and crashed through the bannister railing onto the stairs, where he collapsed at the bottom of the stairs.”

August 30, 2022 – Black Bear, MN .22 Mag Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

On Tuesday, August 30, at about 6:50 p.m., James Little settled into campsite 674 in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). His youngest child was a few feet away.  His youngest cried out, and James grabbed the child and took a couple of steps, uncertain of what had happened.

Then his oldest yelled, “Bear!” and James turned around. The bear was about six feet from him. It had been within 3-4 feet of his back whenthe child was startled. This was the start of the remarkable incident. In James’ words:

Just finished a trip to Horseshoe that should have been three nights, but turn to one. (Campsite 674) Had a bear walk right into camp and within four feet of my youngest! Nothing would discourage him till I fired a couple of rounds.  We packed up and bolted to an open site (campsite 677) a half mile away on the other side of the lake. Weren’t there five minutes and was pulling up the food bag and my wifescreamed. There was another bear fifteen feet away heading to our canoe with our kids in it. I had to fire another round before he would be deterred.  Left that site and unexpected member Ausable and his crew took my family and me in for the night. (Campsite 672) Early the next morning, we broke came and headed out. My family had had too much. Across from the portage from Caribou to Lizz, (campsite 645) the campers there had their breakfast intruded upon by a bear who would not be deterred till he had taken their food bag.

September 14, 2022 – Montana, two incidents, one confirmed pistol

On Sept. 14, a group of hunters reported they were charged by a grizzly bear near Rock Creek in the Tom Miner Basin. One of the hunters shot at the bear with a pistol, and the bear ran away. The U.S. Forest Service issued a temporary road closure while FWP wardens and bear specialists investigated the incident. After searching from the ground and from a helicopter, no sign of an injured bear or bear tracks were found. The area was reopened with an advisory of high bear activity.

October 12, 2022 – .44 Magum Sitka AK Brown bear 

Wildlife Troopers in Alaska have officially ended their investigation into the shooting of a brown bear. The bear was killed by a 16-year-old in a Sitka neighborhood early on Wednesday morning.

Shortly after midnight on Oct. 12, Sitka police received a call from a young man who said he shot a bear outside his home on the 1400 block of Edgecumbe Drive.

Per reports from police dispatch, the teen was at home with an 18-year-old. When the 16-year-old heard a noise, he took a .44-caliber handgun outside to see what was happening. When he went outside, he got startled by the bear and fired the gun.

After firing a round, the injured creature ran away. Later, Sitka police officers found and recovered the carcass across the street. They stored it for the night in a department pickup truck.

Following the incident, the Sitka police later issued a citation to the teen for negligent feeding of game. Then, the case was turned over to wildlife troopers, who investigated it as a potential defense of life and property – or DLP – shooting. DLP policy allows a resident to kill a bear under some circumstances legally.

October 21, 2022 – 10mm, Grizzly bear Wyoming

On October 21, 2022, Wyoming dentist, Dr. Lee Francis, 65 years old, was hunting elk with his 40-year-old son, in the area near Rock Creek, in the Sawtooth Mountains, east of Bondurant, Wyoming.

In this video from KSAL-TV, he gives an interview and explains what happened. Dr. Francis is an avid hunter and outdoorsman. He successfully collected a large grizzly bear with a bow and arrow in 2013. Several attempts to contact Dr. Francis have been unsuccessful.

Dr. Francis had separated from his son when he unintentionally stepped in front of the entrance to a bear den. He saw the fresh dirt, had drawn his Glock 10mm, chambered a round, and was backing away when the bear charged at him out of the den from 10 feet away.

The best interview about the encounter appears to have been in an article at  The article says Dr. Francis used 130-grain hardcast bullets in his 10mm Glock.

“He came right at me, and he came on full blast,” the elder Francis said. 

Counting the cartridge already in the chamber, he had 14 rounds loaded with 130 grain hard cast bullets in his Glock. 

“I just remember shooting three or for times, right before he hit me,” he said. “Then I went down on my back.”…

Hard cast bullets will punch through a bruin’s body, instead of rapidly expanding and expending their energy in massive, shallow wounds the way that hollow point bullets do, he said. 

“Hollow points are meant for stopping people, not bears,” he said, adding that it was also fortunate for him that his weapon was loaded with hard cast bullets. 

“A hit from a hollow point would have probably just exploded my whole foot,” he said. 

He also said he favors the high-capacity, semi-automatic Glock over magnum revolvers.

June 5, 2023 – Madison Ridge Southeast of Ennis

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say a hunter killed a grizzly bear in self-defense last week southeast of Ennis. The hunter reported he was charged by the grizzly while hunting black bears on private land in the backcountry. He shot and killed the grizzly with a pistol and was not injured.

June 10, 2023 – Sterling Alaska Grizzly bear .44 (probably magnum) Daily Dispatch of Alaskan Troopers

On June 10, 2023, at approximately 20:24, while rabbit hunting north of the Sterling Highway at mile 73.5 Nicholas Abraham Age 34 of Sterling AK was attacked by a sow brown bear with cubs. Abraham was able to shoot and kill the sow with a 44 handgun. Abraham had  non-life-threatening injuries.

Of the twenty-five additional incidents documented where handguns were fired in defense against bears, four were combinations with other firearms. One handgun-only incident was judged to be indeterminate, as no reaction from the bear was observed, but the bear left in a different direction.  The other 20 defensive uses of handguns alone against bears were successful.

The Freedom of Information Act request for the Polar Bear database increased the documented number of polar bear incidents. We have had 11 incidents where handguns were fired in defense against polar bears. There are 57 incidents involving black bears and 102 incidents involving brown/grizzly bears.  The three failures include one each of black, brown/grizzly, and polar bears.

There are incidents that are being investigated.  None of those incidents describe a failure when a handgun is fired in defense against a bear or bears.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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