A highly-provocative, must-read thread for those likely to go fishing or hunting in Grizzly Bear country from the Box O’ Truth’s discussion forums. (Firefox misinterpreted this as an attack site, which it is not. I just ignored the warnings.)
The bear came upon us on a creek at about 50 yards from the ocean. We were sitting, shooting the breeze. My friend fired first, hitting the bear in the left upper chest, it turned and ran at full speed around a bend. I popped up and shot as it passed through a small opening about 20 yards after it was first shot, about 1 second later. I hit it low in the left shoulder as it was running with it left paw extended towards the rear. The bear rolled another 15 or 20 yards, but was out of sight from our position. He let out a death bellow shortly after my shot. We waited 15 minutes before turning the corner and we found him dead.
We were both shooting the .375 H&H. CM was using the 260 Nosler Accubond and I was using the 260 gr. Nosler Partition. CM’s frontal shot hit high on the heart and my shot was low. … Both bullets exited from the same hole. … Remember, after a shot through the heart the bear went from a standing start to 35 MPH and had covered 20 yards in 1 second. Only after a second shot through both shoulders and the heart did it stumble.
CM’s bullet disappeared into the rear of the animal and mine went through the left shoulder, not breaking the bone, hit a rib, went through the heart/lungs exited the chest and stopped in the right shoulder, not breaking the bone.
We were in a race with the tide so we quickly skinned the bear and ran (staggered) a mile back to the cabin. The next day I went back to perform the autopsy. Something (many) had been feeding on the carcass and had eaten the bloody portion of the right shoulder including the bullet – one big bite. The next day another bear came and picked up the entire carcass, several hundred pounds, and walk off with it with out leaving a drag mark, presumably up the creek and into the alder where visibility was about 10 inches.
So, I think a grizzly bear is tougher than ballistic gelatin and a bullet that would penetrate 12 inches of jello would not penetrate 12 inches of bear shoulder. Therefore a side shot on a bear through the shoulder with a handgun cartridge would not make it into the chest or, if it did, would not have enough energy left to do much damage. Same bad news from the front. Even if the bullet eventually killed the bear it would not die in your life time which would only be another few seconds.
It has been determined the factor which determines your survival after a bear encounter – death vs being mangled – depends upon if the bear can get your head in its mouth.
They go on to discuss whether a hail of pistol bullets from a conventional large magazine handgun would work in such a crisis. I had John Linebaugh build me one of his 5-shot custom Bisleys chambered for the .500 Linebaugh cartridge. That pistol can send a 450 grain bullet downrange at 1300 fps, but the recoil is ferocious and I’m not sure exactly how fast I could hope to get back on target for a second shot. Not all that rapidly, I expect. All this is a very intriguing, and potentially a matter of life-and-death, debate.