Whats the best? 44 Mag . 50 S&W mag. 454 or 460 any suggestions
As far as I am concerned my shortened to 4.25" Ruger Super Redhawk in 454 Casull is the ultimate combo imagine a packable/fast handling/accurate thumper loaded with 405gr Beartooth WLNGC's @ 1330fps.
I personally like the 460 S&W you can shoot 45 colt and the 454 casull in it. It is probably the most versatile. 500 S&W if you just want the most power. 44 Mag if you are worried about weight. The Ruger Alaskan in 454 Casull/45 Colt is nice too and they make 1 with a 2" barrel I think. All of them are adequate for black bear.
I wouldn't count out the .45acp. My XD45 has 14 rounds of 230gr. as fast as you can pull the trigger.
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While carrying a sidearm to me is part of my everyday dress code, I don't feel the need to consider it as a backup weapon. That said, my woods sidearm is a Ruger Super Blackhawk in 44 mag with a 4 5/8" barrel loaded with Ranch Dog 265 gr over a healthy dose of H110. That would blow through any black bear we have in Colorado.
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I originally had a Ruger SuperRedhawk. The gun was too big and too heavy for anything but a primary hunting gun. I traded it in for a 4" SS S&W model 29. The gun is MUCH nicer and easier to carry. The 44 mag has more power than needed to dispatch black bears at short range. Heavier cartridges are harder to shoot and are no more lethal on black bears which are rather easy to kill.
According to what I've read by a guide/hunter who has reportedly shot hundreds of black bears with a 44 mag, nothing stops them quicker than the standard 240gr JHP. Sensible level loads also allow you to get off a quick second shot if needed, actually 6 if things are really going wrong. LOL
The smallest, lightest 44 mag you can find would make the best back-up gun for blackies, IMO anyway.
That ruger "alaskan" 454 works great for me, in a front chest holster.. When crawlin through thick crap on my hands an knees, its always "right there to grab"
I don't understand why you would need a backup pistol for rifle hunting. Walking back and forth to the stand? Why not load your rifle for the walk? If the rifle jambs? You will be shooting from a position of safety so you can clear it easily. I think you should get a pistol you can shoot accurately. 44 mag minimum. But a 500 you can't make good hits with wont help and most people can't afford to practice with a 500. I like the 460 for its wide range of cals it can shoot but most weight as much as some lightweight rifles and shotties. I have a 500 and hindsight baing 20/20 would have preferred the 460.
Ruger 5 1/2" Bisley in 45 Colt with heavy hand loads.
A dozen years or so ago, we had a new hunter at our small bear camp and it fell to me to welcome him and get him set up. That afternoon, as he readied himself for the evening hunt, it became obvious he was a bit unprepared...no flashlight, no hunter orange, no knife,...I loaned him what he lacked and went back to the camp chores.
When he uncased his rifle, I wandered over to ease my concern.
"What'cha shootin'?", I asked.
".338 Win. Mag" was the reply.
"That ought to do", I said, hoping he could handle the big gun.
Next thing I know, he's strapping on a handgun. "Whadda have there?" I ask.
"A .357 Magnum!" , he grins back.
"What's that for?" I inquire, with a raised eyebrow.
"Backup in case the .338 don't put 'em down", he states.
I point a finger at the revolver and said, "If you're gonna use that for bear, you need to file that front sight off."
"Why?!?", he asked incredulously.
"So when the bear shoves it up your ass, it doesn't hurt so much to pull it back out."
"To ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow." Jeff Snyder