Saturday, July 24, 2010

The .45 ACP Big Bear Medicine ?

We often associate hysteria and hype with the hoplophobes, but if we are honest we know full well it exists in the shooting community as well. Perhaps nowhere more predominately than in the mystical world of "stopping power".

My good friend
Lead Chucker and I were weighing the merits of handgun stopping power against the big Bruins prior to his family's vacation out west earlier this summer. If there is or at least was good justification for buying a new gun it was to prevent death-by-bear. Ultimately he settled on just packing his XD in .45 ACP and has safely returned back across the plains to suffer the summer heat here in the mid-west.

Without a doubt most in the gun culture would quickly enter into a discourse that the illustrious .45 automatic is less than formidable against
Ursus arctos horribilis of the lower 48, and down right suicidal against the Coastal Browns of Alaska. Myself included, but now I have to reconsider such a position in light of evidence that has been proving otherwise.

In late May of this year an
incident report surfaced of a backpacker in Denali National Park being forced to shoot and kill a female Grizzly when she emerged from brush near the trail and charged the man's female companion. He drew his .45 ACP and fired about nine rounds into the bear. The Sow then retreated into the brush and park officials later found it located about a hundred feet away, irrevocably dead.

Now any arm chair commando worth his salt will quickly point out that the bear was still able to travel a hundred feet prior to dying. And that had she chose to she could have had ample time to kill them both.
That the bear collapsed and died in such close proximity bodes to the fact that severe internal trauma took any potential fight from it.

So the fact are this; We know the bear suffered significant and fatal trauma in a respected short distance, that it was killed by several, albeit well placed rounds of .45 ACP.

What we do not know from the reports was how long it took the bear to expire and what type of .45 ammo was used.

Case #2

This was not the first report I am aware of where a Coastal Grizzly was killed by the .45 automatic. A friend of mine and hunting companion has a brother who resides in Alaska's Northwest Arctic Borough year round. Five or six years ago he told me that his brother had killed a large Grizzly on a Caribou hunt, to the extent it was up for consideration for a state record (it did not qualify despite it's size for a few reasons). Since Grizzly bears are not common these days in my area of operation the interest was peaked immediately. I asked what he shot it with. My friend said "I think a Glock .45 or something. A .45 handgun".

While my friend is an avid hunter he is not a handgun shooter by any stretch of the means, so I thought perhaps the story had gotten a little bigger on the road.

A year or so later the Brother had come home for a visit, and my buddy asked if I would mind taking them to the range to do some shooting. I jumped at the chance, as this would allow me to investigate this "bear" story further.

And it turned out to be true. The brother and some friends of his who are part of an Indian tribe were out hunting Caribou. "Carl" was using a .243 for the Caribou and had a Glock 21 on the front of his pack on a snowmobile. The Bear was an unexpected arrival/opportunity and realizing that the .243 would not provide sufficient penetration to the Bear's vitals he opted for the .45.

At that point I wanted details, and in a basic context this is what I was told.

That the Glock had been loaded with hard cast lead +P rounds from Buffalo Bore and that he had shot the Bear from a distance of about 6o yards. When I inquired as to how many rounds he fired in order to anchor the bear, he said a full magazine and that he reloaded a new magazine but did not have to shoot it. Given that this was a few years back and the Glock 21 came into prominence during the '94 Assault Weapons Ban I do not know if a full magazine meant ten rounds +1 or 13 rounds + 1.

Granted there can be an argument made that the Bear was shot under hunting conditions and not from aggressive and attacking self-defense stand point. Hence the reason for the two comparisons.

So what does it all mean?

Is the .45 ACP the new kid on the block for big bear stopping?


However, we all must begin realizing is that new developments in this modern age of ammunition are changing previous held beliefs and results. And that the magical one-shot-stop mindset has to die out. Multiple well placed rounds on target against an aggressor, two or four legged, is ultimately the real solution to the problem.


Our conversation had started with me asking “ So who shot you in the throat? ”, a basic conclusion on my part, b ecause on one sid...