Modern sport rifles as bear stoppers? They worked on every recorded incident
USA – (AmmoLand.com) – Before I graduated from high school, I heard the older brother of a close friend talk about shooting a bear. The bear was discovered in a cave during the Wisconsin deer season. As far as I remember, such a 1968 harvest would have been legal.
The older brother was a Vietnam veteran. He approached the cave with another vet. The brother suggested that the other vet poke around the den to see if the bear was still there.
The other veteran said no, he wouldn’t. The brother said you went into holes in Vietnam to get Charlie.
Then the other veteran said: Yes, but I had a different rifle at the time. (Speaking of M16).
He viewed the M16 as a superior bear repelling weapon at close range than the usual 30-30, whether it’s a Winchester 94 or Marlin 336.
At the time, I found it strange that someone would prefer a .223 semi-automatic rifle to a 30-30 or larger rifle.
Fifty years and a long time later to investigate the actual defensive bear shootings, my opinion has become less certain.
Of the defensive bear shootings I found, four were with rifles that were reasonably characterized as semi-automatic civilian versions of popular military rifles.
All four defensive shots were successful. Modern sporting rifles are most often semi-automatic rifles of the AR15 or AK47 style. They are the most popular guns in America today. It is certain that more bears will be shot with them in the future. Here are the four incidents:
Courtesy Halona Cadzow, cropped and scaled by Dean Weingarten
From 2008 a polar bear in Alaska from AmmoLand:
The .223 is more powerful than many believe. A .223 round has more energy than most .44 Magnum rounds. From alaskareport.com
According to a story in the Fairbanks News-Miner, the polar bear stormed straight at Cadzow, who didn’t have time to raise his rifle and see.
“I’ve shot from the hip seven or eight times,” he said. “If I had got it on my shoulder, it (bear) would have been on me. It went so quickly when it was down it was about 10 feet from my feet, ”the news miner said.
The bear was in good shape. It didn’t starve.
In 2013, an Alaskan hiker encountered a 600 pound grizzly who attacked him. Several 5.45 × 39 rounds from an AK74 (a later version of the AK47) were enough to stop the attack.
From alaskapublic.org: July 28, 2013 AK74 caliber 5.45 × 39. Two volleys, a total of 13 shots.
The incident occurred between McHugh Creek and Rainbow along the Turnagain Arm.
The man stayed at the scene and had a cell phone so he could report it.
He said he ran into the bear and made noise, and the bear attacked him in response.
The weapon was an AK-74, a smaller caliber weapon than the AK-47.
The third incident occurred in Blount County, Tennessee, in October 2019.
This correspondent was able to contact the ranger who was investigating the incident. The guard said the defender used an AR15 rifle. He believed it was intended for the .223 cartridge. He said the defender fired multiple shots to knock the bear down. The bear had shown no fear of people and threatened the Sagittarius dog.
Here is a Youtube video of the bear before it was filmed:
The fourth incident occurred in June 2020 in Galena, Nevada, just south of Reno. From the AmmoLand story:
At around 2:30 a.m. on June 19, a homeowner in Galena, Nevada, south of Reno, made a head noise like someone was trying to break into his home. He left the house with an AR15 rifle in 6.8 SPC.
A large black bear challenged him and came up to him. He shot the bear once, then, when the bear seemed to be suffering, shot it again. After an expanded investigation, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, NDOW reported that no charges would be brought as the shooting appeared to be self-defense.
It’s a little sample. One polar bear, one grizzly bear, two black bears.
The stories illustrate one of the main reasons the M16 was adopted by the U.S. military: the ability to aim multiple shots at the target accurately and quickly. A .223 cartridge has roughly the same energy as a .44 Magnum. The 5.45 × 39 is very close. The 6.8 SPC is a little more energetic. When used quickly on an aggressive bear, they can all be very effective in stopping an attack.
I wouldn’t recommend a .223 as the best choice for bear hunting. There is a big difference between bear hunting and defense against bears.
The defense against bears will take place at close range. In this scenario, the modern sporting rifle seems to be working fine.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten was a peace officer, military officer, served on the University of Wisconsin’s pistol team for four years, and was first certified as a firearms safety instructor in 1973. He taught the concealed carry course in Arizona for fifteen years until the Constitution’s goal of carry was achieved. He holds degrees in meteorology and mining engineering and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in research, development, testing and evaluation for the Army.