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Old 03-26-2020, 12:00 PM
motorsporting motorsporting is offline
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Idaho
Posts: 1,440
Updated Ammoland Study on Pistol Efficacy

Here is an updated study by Ammoland on the efficacy of pistol rounds to stop bear attacks. This is not intended to ignite a "bear thread," but merely to provide information.


U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- In January, 2018, I published some original research on the efficacy of handguns in stopping bear attacks. It started with this observation:

On the Internet, and in print, many people claim that pistols lack efficacy in defending against bear attacks. Here is an example that occurred on freerepublic.com:

“Actually, there are legions of people who have been badly mauled after using a handgun on a bear. Even some of the vaunted magnums.”

OK, give us a few examples. As you claim “legions”, it should not be too hard.

I never received a response. I believe the claim was made in good faith. There has been much conjecture about the lack of efficacy of pistols for defense against bears. A little searching will find a plethora of fantasy, fiction, mythology, and electrons sprayed about the supposed lack.

In the original article, there were 37 instances of bear attacks where people attempted to defend themselves or others from a bear or bears, with a handgun. Of the 37 attacks, there was only one failure, giving a success rate of 97%.

The criteria for inclusion in this study is a pistol had to be fired to defend against a bear or bears. If a handgun was not fired, the incident was not included. If the use of the handgun stopped the attack, it was a success whether the bear was killed immediately, or left the scene, as long as it stopped attacking.

All methods of defense against bears have similar problems of access. A failure to use a handgun or bear spray in a pack, or a rifle slung over the shoulder without a round in the chamber, should not be counted as a failure of the method to defend against bears. All of the methods can be carried for easy access. It is not a fault of the method if the user did not have the item available for use, or if the attack was too quick to allow use.

I and colleagues have searched for instances where handguns were used to defend against bears. By the time of the original article, I and my associates found 37 instances that were fairly easily confirmed.

By March of 2019, our renewed efforts had found another 26 instances. The 63 incidents had 3 failures, for a 95% success rate. The incidents are heavily weighted toward the present. The ability to publish and search for these incidents has increased over the years.

By August of 2019, we have found ten more cases, making 73 cases, with three failures, for a success rate of 96%.

As of March 2020, we have found 20 more handgun cases, for a total of 93 cases, with three failures, for a success rate of 97%.

In addition to the handgun defenses, there are four more instances where handguns were used in combination with long guns, bringing the total to eight; one where a pistol was used on an aggressive bear hit by a vehicle, two examples where pistols were present but not used, one indeterminate case, and two examples of unconfirmed incidents. All of these additional incidents are referenced but are not included in the 93 cases or the 97% success rate.

You need not rely on my judgment or that of my colleagues. Read of the successes and failures for yourself. Make your own judgments. Some links may not work. Sources on the Internet often go dead after a few years.

Bear and human populations are increasing. Reliable and powerful handguns have become popular and legal to carry in more bear country. Handguns are more commonly carried for self-defense.

The handgun calibers, when known, range from .22 rimfire to .460 Smith & Wesson Magnum. The most common are .44 magnums with 28 cases, all successful. There were 2 combinations of .44 magnum and .357 magnum cases. Six of the combination handgun and long gun cases involved .44 magnum revolvers.

For this update, we found another .22 rimfire case, two additional 9mm cases, another .38 special case, three additional .357 magnum cases, another 10mm case, five additional .44 magnum cases (included in the 28 total .44 magnum number), another .45 ACP case, another .454 Casull case, four more cases where the caliber was unknown, and one more case where both .357 and .44 magnum revolvers were used. All 93 cases are referenced below, as well as the combination cases and examples of incidents that were not included, in the interest of transparency and completeness.
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Old 03-26-2020, 01:48 PM
Autonomous Autonomous is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: The Great Pacific Northwest
Posts: 1,374
Thanks for posting this.
There is something to this 1911. I think it'll catch on.
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:59 PM
Timbo3 Timbo3 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 542
Crazy there are some 22 cal kills.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
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Old Yesterday, 07:54 PM
magazineman magazineman is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 11,616
As I kid at camp I slept through a bear tearing open a footlocker of food. Too bad I missed it.

Now apparently one of the camp councilors was going to shoot the bear with a .22 handgun. Another staff member prevented that from happening.

Probably a good thing for everyone, from the bear on down.

Btw, the footlocker padlock held tight. But the bear folded back the sheetmetal lid on both sides. The dang thing looked like a fortune cookie.
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