.444 as a big bear stopper-would you bet your life on it?
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  1. #1
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    .444 as a big bear stopper-would you bet your life on it?

    I'm interested in your thoughts on this. I'm going to need such a weapon in the fairly near future, and while it would be easy enough to buy a .45-70 I'm really crazy about my .444s, especially my new 444P. I hate to start with another caliber unless I have to. And I guess I could always go with 12 gauge slugs-that wouldn't make me feel like I was selling out my 444s so much I guess. I should say right up front that while my .444 is my first choice, the only other choices would be the aforementioned .45-70 or slug shotgun. I'm not going for a .375, .338 Win Mag or something like that.

    For what it's worth, Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore tells me that his factory load 335 grain hard cast FN @ 2025 fps is more than up to the task, and he should know.

    I'd also like to hear about any hand loads you might have or know about that could do the job. I only have two requests on the hand loads: that they will cycle fine and be safe in a completely stock and unmodified 444P, and that the bullets involved are commercially available-I'm going to start hand loading but I won't be casting my own.

    Again, I'm talking about close-range stopping only, not hunting.

    Truth be told, the more I read the more it seems like the only sure bet is a CNS direct hit, regardless of what caliber rifle you're using.

    Thanks folks!
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    During my time stationed in Alaska (20 years ago)--many soldiers and locals would use a Marlin 444 or 45-70 when hunting from tree stands during the black bear bait hunting season. The blackies around Ft. Greely could get pretty large so a large caliber lever gun was called for. You also might have to deal with a wayward interior Grizz as well. This type of hunting was pretty much centered in southern Alaska--to hunt in the more open terrain in central and northern Alaska--most everyone used a bolt action magnum.
    Last edited by Ret_Eng; 05-16-2013 at 12:18 PM.
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    If a 335 grain hard cast .429" bullet at 2,000 fps won't do it - the bullet isn't being placed accurately.

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    I'm not a fan of the Buffalo Bore loads, but nearly anything being spit out of a .444 Marlin will do the job. (Handgun bullets like those in 240 gr Remington factory loads being a notable exception.)

    If I had to choose a load for your purposes, and my only options were factory ammo, the Hornady 265 gr SuperFormance load would be the first thing I reached for. It's a great all-around load, but tough enough for anything in North America. (Without the factory-only limitation, my choice would be for my own handloads with a Lee 310 gr FP/GC, or a 280 gr FP that I'm working on.)

    Any load I'm willing to carry in predator country is a load (and firearm) I'm willing to bet my life on.
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    I used the BB 335 grain bullet on a bison hunt and was impressed with it. All bullets were pass throughs at +/- 80 yards, with the first shot breaking ribs going in and out. That bullet in your 444 will penetrate more than enough; it will all come down to shot placement after that.
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    There is an exception to everything. I just posted a story about a friend of mine being mauled by a grizz. Chris was using a 338 win mag and his wife was using a 7mm mag. Chris shot 3 times hitting the bear each time. His wife shot 5 times while the bear was mauling her husband. She finally dropped the bear or it was a combination of Chris's shots and her's.

    I would not fear hunting anywhere in the lower 48 with a 444. Would I use it for a guide gun and tracking down a wounded grizz. No way would I do that. The smallest caliber for a guide gun would have to be a 45/70 for me. Yet I hunt in bear country alone and I carry my 444 and feel very safe. I guess it is to each his/her own.

    Would I shoot with a 444 yes. anything smaller, Not in your life

    I am a 444 lover
    enjoy the journey
    444GS2Grizz.jpgGrizz #2.jpgGrizz #6.jpgGrizz #5.jpgGrizz #4.jpg
    Last edited by 444GunSlinger2; 05-16-2013 at 12:42 PM.
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    I would use a 444 in big bear country and feel real good about its effectiveness on the big bruins! JMO
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    Quote Originally Posted by 444GunSlinger2 View Post
    There is an exception to everything. I just posted a story about a friend of mine being mauled by a grizz. Chris was using a 338 win mag and his wife was using a 7mm mag. Chris shot 3 times hitting the bear each time. His wife shot 5 times while the bear was mauling her husband. She finally dropped the bear or it was a combination of Chris's shots and her's.

    I would not fear hunting anywhere in the lower 48 with a 444. Would I use it for a guide gun and tracking down a wounded grizz. No way would I do that. The smallest caliber for a guide gun would have to be a 45/70 for me. Yet I hunt in bear country alone and I carry my 444 and feel very safe. I guess it is to each his/her own.

    I am a 444 lover
    enjoy the journey
    444GS2
    I can back that up with a Kodiak Bear hunting story in Alaska. I knew two fellow soldiers who went to Kodiak Island with either 338 Win Mags or 375 H & H Mags (can't remember correctly--too long ago). These were LRSD infantrymen who were excellent shots--but it took 10 shots in the chest kill zone to put the 12 ft 1000lb+ bruin down for good. When a bear gets mad--all bets are off. But I would hunt in a tree stand in Alaska during black bear season with a very large lever gun--as long as you are up the tree aways. I have another Alaska story about that situation but thats a story for another day.
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  10. #9
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    I reckon I would be as comfortable in the woods, carrying my .444 where bears are an apex predator as I would carrying anything else. A well placed 280 or 290 gr LFN-GC, heat-treated to a BNH of 22, and a velocity of 2,100 to 2,150 fps should work as well as anything else - - provided I don't screw the pooch on the shot placement.

  11. #10
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    Yes, I would. After lots of practice with the proper load. Heck that's why I got the darn thing. Of course I would have my .44 mag revolver with Beartooth Bullet .250 WFNGC as a back up.
    444GunSlinger2 likes this.


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