Bear Rifle, what's your choice?
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  1. #1
    Contributing Member
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    Bear Rifle, what's your choice?

    Bear season opens August 1st here in Washington, we've got about 30,000 black bear here in the state, maybe more... My son and I have been reasonably successful over the years, taking several bear. Here there is no baiting allowed, and no running the bear with dogs. It's all spot and stalk, or... I have called one in with a mouth-blown predator call. That got pretty intense!


    Typical terrain where my son and I hunt bears. They're often found feeding on ripe berry bushes, or on old fruit trees at abandoned homesteads:


    So - along with some scouting I've been doing, I'm trying to decide which rifle to use. And - What rifle are you planning to use for bear hunting - if you're actually going or even if you're not going. What rifle would you like to be carrying? Your good ol' deer rifle? Or something else?

    The last bear my son shot, a few years ago, with his sporterized 30-06 Model of 1917, 165 gr Nosler Partition. Worked great!


    So - I'm choosing between:

    Ruger Number One in 375 H&H, with a 1.5-5x Leupold, and either 260 gr Nosler Accubond or the 270 gr RNSP Hornady. I've used the 260 gr Accubond on three bear with excellent results, but have some 270 gr Hornady bullets loaded right now and recently shot a big-bore match with them. Did well too. I think I'd just keep shooting these Hornady bullets this season.


    Remington 700 CDL in 30-06 with a 6x Leupold, and 165 gr Nosler Partition. I've taken two bears with this rifle, a black bear and a grizzly. It's my favorite hunting rifle. Accurate, easy to carry, easy shooting, and it's been very effective at ranges near or far:


    And there's this brand new 45/70 Marlin 1895 with the 2.5x Leupold in quick-release rings. It's sighted in dead-on at 100 yards with handloaded 350 gr RNSP Hornady bullets. I've only had it a short time, but it works just like my old 45/70, and just like my good ol' 30-30 Glenfield (which my son and I have each carried while bear hunting, but neither of us has shot a bear with the 30-30 yet).


    All three of those rifles are accurate, reliable, and handle well. I've shot bear with the 375 and the 30-06, so those are old friends, and trusted. Also they do fine at longer ranges, which happens sometimes in spot and stalk type hunting. Each of those rifles has taken a black bear, with one shot, at over 300 yards. I'm not that well acquainted with the 45/70 Marlin at ranges beyond 200 yards yet...

    So - what do you think I should take, and which rifle of yours would you like in hand, while hunting black bear?

    I think we can have some fun with this!

    Regards, Guy


  2. #2
    Gun Wizard
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    Looks like mixture of open and close country you have, would opt for the 30-06. My battery includes a very accurate 7mm WSM BLR, which would be my choice if in your terrain. Here in Appalachia the ranges involved tend to be short in the woods, rifles from 30-30 & 44 mag on up do just fine with the correct bullet.
    M700, Reload, 256WinMag and 6 others like this.
    "Should have put more dirt down, saw it right off." Bear Claw in Jeremiah Johnson



  3. #3
    Site Contributor Extraordinaire & Team 444 Captain Super Moderator
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    My Rifle of choice for bear is a 444 Marlin® loaded withe the following handload...
    This.....



    This handload is not in any reloading manual. This is a load that I developed from scratch. I have used the following reload since 2006; it kills deer, elk, and black bear superbly................
    • Remington® Case trimmed to 2.215"
    • Remington® 9½ Large Rifle Primer
    • 45.0gr H4198 Powder
    • Beartooth® 290gr LFNGC (296gr total weight) Boolit .432"
    • COL: 2.570"



    Please note that my load is safe in both my 1966 444, and 1988 444SS rifle(s). I have used this load for 13 years and it is safe in my gun(s). THAT DOES NOT MEAN IT WILL BE SAFE IN YOUR GUN(S)! I advise you to start at 41.0gr of powder and work up in .5 (½)gr increments. My load IS NOT SAFE if loaded in Hornady® brass!
    David ("Feo, Fuerte y Formal")
    CW3, US Army (Ret)
    09/26/1968-05/31/1990
    Vietnam Veteran - 2 Tours
    كافر. المسلحة. جاهزة
    Vulnerata, Fortis, Dignus Veterani

    Only two defining forces have ever died for you:
    1. Jesus Christ.
    2. The American Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, & Coast Guardsman.
    One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.
    1Cross+3Nails=4Given

    Founder (Member# 1) of Team 444 Marlin®

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  5. #4
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    I am a big 30-06 fan owning 4 different rifles in this caliber. I use only my reloaded 180 grain ammo. As the saying goes the 30-06 cal. will take any North American game. In addition to this statement, if I were to hunt exclusively for Grizzly I would consider using the 300 Magnum. I shoot both these calibers well and are the top of what this old body can tolerate. These calibers may be considered old school, but they certainly have the reputation of doing the job.

    Reload

    Team 45-70 ~ #45
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  6. #5
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    Man you guys have it made out there. Bear hunting in shirt sleeves and being able to see hundreds of yards. Where I hunt bear now in WVa & Va the best bear gun is a 7.7 Jap rifle. This is because of the length of the bayonete. It's best to remove the bolt so it doesn't get hung up on brush. The area is a little on the thick side.
    Never trust a man who rents pigs : Gus, Lonesome Dove

  7. #6
    Sidewinder
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    I use and recommend you use a 30-06 with 180 grain Nosler Partitions. I feed mine to a pre 64 Win 70 Fwt scoped with a 3-9 currently but like a 2-7 as well.

  8. #7
    Gun Wizard
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    It’s archery only here.


    If I was making your choice I’d probably be packing the 30-06.


    All are solid picks.
    Reload, M700, pacificpt and 3 others like this.

  9. #8
    Marlin Marksman
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    Guy, what range are you likely to be shooting at and will you have somebody with another rifle and if so what Gar.
    jgriffin1988, Reload, M700 and 2 others like this.

  10. #9
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    Bear Rifle, what's your choice?

    Take the lever in 45-70, it’ll challenge your skills to get closer to the quarry and probably carry well over the terrain.
    The other rifles have been field-proven. It’s time to hunt outside your comfort zone.
    R/Griff
    P.S.—What back-up sidearm are you taking?
    M700, pacificpt, miket156 and 7 others like this.

  11. #10
    Wrangler
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    There aren't any bears to speak of in Ohio, and I'll probably never get a chance to hunt them in Washington, but if I did I'd take one of these:
    9.3 R.JPGRuger Hawkeye African 9.3 x 62 with Burris 1.5 - 5 scope on quick detach Warne rings

    Or Marlin 444 with 3 - 9 Leupold. (can't find picture)
    NRA
    OGCA


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