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I know bear defense is a totally played out and still controversial topic. But I'm still gonna ask this question. I am planning a future trip through ak and my gf is kinda recoil shy. she is comfortable shooting my model 94 in 30-30 but that is about the most she feels she can handle. I know for browns that a 30-30 is considered too small but what would you hand her for this trip that would be better without much increase in felt recoil?
 

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Take a look at Ammunition Test Results under Focus on the the 190 Hawk and 35 Remington. Lot of calibers, velocities and bullet types tested into some realistic test media. Note the 30-30 with the Factory Winchester Power Point 170 had the greatest depth of penetration of any load tested. While the load may not have power of some of the 338 Mag and 35 Whelen loads tested, it should get the job done. Since she is familiar and comfortable with the 94 would choose this load and call it done. Do recall a thread or two on the 30-30 where Alaskan natives with experience mention this very load as good for heavy game.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the info. I know a 30.30 will kill a bear but with the energy levels and small frontal area I just wonder if there could be a better choice. I'll have her shoot my 35 to see how she likes it as it is my go to gun in colorado, just cannot ever find the ammo for it as I do not as of yet hand load.
 

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ochute, do you reload your own? Or only buy factory ammo? Reason I'm asking is that if you are limited to factory ammo your choices of caliber are limited. Especially with Brown bear in mind!!
If no reloading, with your wife being sensitive to recoil, I'd look into a pistol caliber Marlin, 44mag would be my first choice, most folks will use the 44mag as a back-up against these bears in a snubby revolver...if this is for defense only! If you reload you could consider a 45LC since you can load a heavier bullet (300-350gr). My first preference would be the 45-70 though. If you reload you could definitely tone it down so she could handle it very comfortably....say with a 350gr or maybe a 405gr cast bullet. You'd be amazed at how mild you can make these loads and still get very respectable penetration.
I use 30-30 and 35Rem for black bear....I don't know how comfortable I'd be with those calibers for anything bigger and nastier!
 

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This is a cold hearted answer. If you/she wants to go play where the great bear lives, you/she need be prepared to protect yourselves. That includes being able to use things like Marlin guide guns in .45-70, Remington 870 3" properly loaded, or at least a .30-06 sporting rifle. Unless you are willing to put your life into a can of bear spray (I'm not) find a good zoo to go watch the bears.

BTW, I take my own advice. I got too old and physically limited to go to Africa on a fair chase safari. The money is there, the can do is not. I should have gone 15 years ago.

Back to recoil. Handling it can be learned. There are also compensating devices such as good pads, recoil reducers that can be implanted in the butt stock, and muzzle brakes. Got a bad case? Use all three.
 

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hitting twice with the 170gr's is much better than missing once with an '06....you most likely wont have a need anyway...but if you do...the one she shoots best is the pick...
 

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there isnt much trouble handlng the recoil of the 105 howitzer, and you cont have to be very close either. a little hard to carry or pull around tho. the 30/30 should be enugh, if someone dosnt get too excited ( my wife freezes up) and would not be much help.
 

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ochute, welcome to Marlin Owners.

No doubt you're going to get varied answers/advice on your question. I will simply convey a true story for your consideration.

There is a Native American gal who has hunted every year for over 40 years in Alaska. She harvests Moose and has certainly had her encounters with big browns in that time. She has owned only one rifle her entire life and the caliber is very similar to a 30-30. It's a 32Special and as you're probably aware they use the same case. She has never read a gun rag to know that both of these chamberings are not adequate to take large game nor be preferable against Mr Griz. She simply knows how to hunt and works in close to make her annual harvests.

She is still alive and well hunting Alaska. And the old Native American women has only used 170GR standard factory ammunition. And there is something to say about being comfortable with your rifle.

That said, I wouldn't discount what graymustang posted. Buffalo Bore sells a 30-30 load using the 190GR Hawk bullet that is more potent than the 32Special. If your rifle hasn't a recoil pad you could always use a Limbsaver slip on recoil pad. My wife loves hers and with it she thinks my 338MX is a cream puff.

Jack
 

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I'm kinda' with mazur above on the handgun idea regardless, it's not like she/you has to shoot it all the time, but good insurance to have handy. I'm not sure off-hand how to address her recoil issue if stepping up in caliber, except along the lines of better pads, or even heavier weight rifle maybe if she can take it... porting barrel maybe? I have no clue if those buffers some install inside stocks are really that/enough effective for her or not either?
Good luck to you.
 

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Ochute, I think that you have answered your own question. Many years ago when I was a teenager, a man that lived part of the year in Michigan and the other part in Southern Illinois, told stories of hunting black bears in upper Michigan in brush so thick that he could whisper to his buddy, but not see him. Their weapons of choice were .35 Remington caliber lever guns. The few people that I know that have hunted with both the 30-30 and the .35 Rem. swear by the .35 Rem.

Again back to when i was a teenager, in Outdoor Life and Sports Afield articles about hunting in Africa, the backup weapon of choice on an African safari was a Greener, 12 ga. double barreled shotgun. Nothing else would stop a charging lion quicker or more certainly that the big Brenneke slugs. l know that Alaska is not Africa and a Brown Bear is not a lion, but ask yourself this, whom is protecting whom and from what?

My avatar is not about any political party or ideology. but about the freedom to make our own choices and our own mistakes. It is called the 'Liberty Pose' by Sara Palin. She held up a big drink and told the Mayor of New York, Hey! look what I am drinking. It amazes me that some people have not learned from three thousands years of written history that the masses always choose freedom over tyranny!
 

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I go with the Browning 81' BLR take down in 450 Marlin as my bush plane bear defence/survival gun.
The 350 grain jacketed FP bullet carrying 3500 ft-lbs in muzzle energy will send any North American animal backside over tea kettle and it won't get back up.
It has a really effective Pachmayr recoil pad on it, is box fed and has no lawyer safety junk to screw up at the moment of truth when your life is on the line.
(Murphy's Law: whatever can go wrong WILL go wrong and at the worst possible time)
It still kicks but I figure a sore shoulder is better than a missing shoulder that has been torn away by the jaws of an angry brown bear.
 

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I go along with Jack in post #6. Let her shoot and carry what she shoots best. Buy the Buffalo Bore ammo, you sight it in to hit the same point of aim of what your girlfriend usually shoots and only load those once in bear country. Just tell her not to pull the trigger unless there is a bear charge or you unload for other game. A good recoil pad will do wonders if you haven't tried them.

Odds of being attacked by a bear is so remote I wouldn't worry about it and as for bear spray, it has been proven very effective. Nothing says one can't carry a can of the stuff on their belt while also carrying a gun.
 

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One thing I know:
A vehicle can be totally destroyed by a bear, doors pulled open, seats and interior demolished chasing the scent of Twinkies or such... yeah stay in the vehicle...but take the 30 - 30 with you!
 

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Would vote for what she already shoots best with a 30-30 and the 170 grains. Just shared a meal with a friend from northwest Alaska where we met. I know we both have seen a lot of all three. Since this topic has comes up a lot and he stays out much more than most of us I asked him about how many bear he has shot and with what. Not that many for all the outdoor time all four seasons. Three brown bear that ignored a shot next to them and/or just a full on charge. We agree a bluff charge usually has drama at the start. Clicking teeth, huffing, swinging the head, rolling their weight from one foot to the other front leg, etc. Straight charges are immediately different. He uses a 22 Hornet for a lot, including caribou and the big 30-30 for bear. He uses the green box 170's as they are sold in any village store I have visited.

I have gotten all citified and now load mine with the 170 grain Nosler partition. It just goes deeper. The person I know outside of guide friends is a senior elder and she is just tempered about a bear making noise or moving toward her kids and grand kids. We do not feel unsafe with a 30-30. Mine is a Take Down trapper that fits an old spotting scope case. That small and handy. If she can handle the 30-30 she likely will just enjoy the green box 45-70 load a small push rather the snap of a lot of magnums. I feel better with my 45-70.

As for the bear spray a lot of people carry it, some know how to use it and it is better by percentage than hand guns. Mostly for not enough practice by the ones who carry handguns. My practice now also has three targets one closer than the next and have a friend yell "Bear Front or back" and go either back to front or front to back as told. It simulates a small bit of the pressure and for most us it makes humble people. Makes most know there is often not much time to do something right.

Welcome to Alaska and hope you both just enjoy the experience. BE aware, don't go where you see a lot of bear scat, ALWAYS put food away from you and in a bear canister. Leaving it in a plane or truck is just bad for both. Learn some good behavior. Never square up toward one or direct eye contact as you are making a challenge. Step back sideways with your feet sliding along the ground to avoid falling, Talk quietly about respect and wanting to leave his/her home. Do not show your back. Most of this is unlikely to be needed unless your hitting some good salmon holes or a downed animal.

The other thing, tourists who litter we use to keep most bear happy.
 

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I have rolled a couple of rather large black bears with a .30-30, and was really surprised at one. 80 yard uphill shot, and at the crack of the rifle, I had to find somewhere to hide from that large carcass rolling downhill at me.

As one poster said, a hit with a .30-30 would be better than a miss with a more authoritive cartridge.

Do not dismiss the ability of the little Winchester round.
 

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Just stuff a Limb Saver on the butt, and make the nastiest 30-30 rounds known to man. She wont feelem
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for the response every one. I really appreciate it. I am almost embarrassed to say that I have never shot a 45-70 as it is really beyond what I would need as a colorado black bear gun. I also am not a hunter. So now I fires I'm just gonna have to go buy one... oh darn amother new gun... and see how she likes it. If not guess I will have to continue the hunt for her.
 
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