Sidearm or bear spray?

Andouille

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2021
Messages
17
Location
AK
So I have had spray in my eyes.
....
The directions on the spray said do a quick test shot.
I use expired bear sprays that have lost over 10 grams of weight to do test sprays. It's a great way to become familiar with the spray in a controlled environment (nitrile gloves, safety glasses, spraying downwind, etc.). That said, I've shot 5+ year old sprays that only went about 10 feet instead of the advertised 30+ feet! But still, you get a feel for the duration of the spray and intensity of the cloud, plus you don't blow some of the pepper out of your fresh bear spray.
 

Where's Bruce?

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2013
Messages
5,596
I use expired bear sprays that have lost over 10 grams of weight to do test sprays. It's a great way to become familiar with the spray in a controlled environment (nitrile gloves, safety glasses, spraying downwind, etc.). That said, I've shot 5+ year old sprays that only went about 10 feet instead of the advertised 30+ feet! But still, you get a feel for the duration of the spray and intensity of the cloud, plus you don't blow some of the pepper out of your fresh bear spray.

Who needs those test cannisters...this is also keep the neighbor's damn cat in it's own yard. roflmao3[1].gif
 

Sawtoothsteve

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2012
Messages
47
I can elaborate on this- the reason bear spray cans "expire" is that the propellant gas slowly leaks out of the can, resulting in reduced effective range over time. This is very obvious if you test a 5+ year old can of spray, which will probably spray some fraction of the advertised ~30 ft range. Here's my suggestion for bear spray users:

1. Write the expiration of the spray on the concave base of the spray can where it cannot rub off.
2. Weigh the bear spray and write the weight on the base of the can. Weigh your spray cans annually and replace those that have lost more than ~5 grams; that means propellant has been lost.
3. Clear packing tape over the expiration date on the can label, just as a backup.
Bear spray also cannot be reloaded on a remote hunt.....
 

Beendare

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
6,737
Location
In Traffic
So you aren’t smart if you only choose one? One in each hand eh?

That comment from a guy that once claimed bears in Alaska come running to guns going off like its a dinner bell….<face palm>

I can attest to the fact Brown bears don’t like the bang from a pistol, the deciding factor for me that few talk about.
….
 

Kevin Dill

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2014
Messages
2,799
These threads always seem to bring out plenty of theoretical thinkers and armchair bear-busters. I'm far from a grizzly expert but I've spent a damn lot of time in big-bear country and had my share of grizzly encounters, near and far. The first thing I would advise anyone to do is question the pundits and data and percentages and other manipulated or slanted ideologies.

Whatever you go with, you need to have in your mind that it WILL be used in a close range 'this bear wants to kill me' encounter. You could choose an air horn theoretically and if it works...well...you get it. You wouldn't choose an air horn if you absolutely thought an attack was imminent. But shouldn't your choice(s) always be based on an 'imminent attack' mentality? If not, then you're compromising to some extent. I'm not against that by the way, but I'm against doing it because someone advises it. Make your own informed decisions. Just know they may have real life-or-death ramifications.

I've used this scenario to help people understand their individual decisions:

It's you and a wife, son or daughter sleeping in a remote area. A bear is definitely going to attack both of you in about one minute. Without defense, some type of injuries or death will happen. In front of you are the following choices:

A rifle or shotgun
Bear spray canister
Magnum handgun

Which one are you grabbing first? Which one do you have the LEAST confidence in to keep both of you free from injuries? You have a few seconds to decide.
 

#1antler

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2015
Messages
212
Quick bear spray story. For years I carried a can of bear spray in Alaska while doing wildlife photography. Never had to use it. Fast forward several years and I carried the same bear spray for personal protection while doing cash business. A few days prior to my awakening I tried using a can of aerosol room spray and it wouldn't work without breaking a sealed tab. So now in a moment of enlightenment I investigated my bear spray. Sure enough it had the same sealed tab. While sitting in my vehicle, I decided to break tab so I would be ready if an emergency ever arrived. You guessed it. The canister went off and I rolled out of vehicle coughing, gagging, with teared up eyes. Had to wear gloves to handle steering wheel for weeks due to residue. Afterward I went ahead and tested the bear spray cannister. Two things I learned are don't set bear spray off in closed environment and also my spray was more of a fog and if downwind of a charging bear it would never even reach him before he was on you. I guess if you got peppered up enough you might taste bad to him
 

Andouille

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2021
Messages
17
Location
AK
...It's you and a wife, son or daughter sleeping in a remote area. A bear is definitely going to attack both of you in about one minute. Without defense, some type of injuries or death will happen....
I agree with your points, and would to emphasize that there is a distinction between "deterrent" and "defense" that many people don't consider.
  • Bear spray is usually an effective "DETERRENT" (based on controlled study and field data) and maybe also a "defense," depending on the bear you encounter.
  • A firearm is a "DEFENSE" if you plan to shoot a bear, and potentially a "deterrent" only if you fire off a round to make noise and the bear runs off.
It is clear that either guns or bear spray have the potential to fail as a deterrent or defense due variable nature of bear encounters and skill/judgement of the user.

What I find frustrating is that many folks in the wilderness act as if bears are deterred by a hunter's "large caliber swagger" or the grain of hardcast bullet debated for hours on the internet. Fact is that bears don't care about guns until you shoot.

I always have bear spray AND a rifle or two in our hunting party when in bear-prone areas because I prefer to use a deterrent (bear spray, electric fence, etc.) if the situation and behavior of the bear, if time permits. Unnecessarily shooting a bear could seriously complicate the backcountry hunts I enjoy.
 

Kevin Dill

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2014
Messages
2,799
I agree with your points, and would to emphasize that there is a distinction between "deterrent" and "defense" that many people don't consider.
  • Bear spray is usually an effective "DETERRENT" (based on controlled study and field data) and maybe also a "defense," depending on the bear you encounter.
  • A firearm is a "DEFENSE" if you plan to shoot a bear, and potentially a "deterrent" only if you fire off a round to make noise and the bear runs off.
I think we're on the same page and I completely agree with you on the distinction between 'deterrence' and 'defense'. I think it's probably safe enough to assume a clear majority of hunters are thinking 'defense' has to be part of the equation (maybe the most important part) in the event 'deterrence' doesn't work.

Possibly the biggest question or concern for any of us is how to critically assess the intentions of an aggressive bear. Which do we choose... deterrence or defense with only several seconds to consider and decide? Given the likelihood of choosing between pepper spray and firearms, the rub comes down to one of distance. Pepper spray as a deterrent requires extremely close proximity to an aggressive bear. If it fails to deter, any follow-up defense might be have to be employed while physically engaged with the bear....a very poor scenario.

A firearm may or may not provide earlier deterrence if a warning round or two is fired before the bear is 2 or 3 seconds from contact. If that fails, it's on to immediately deadly deterrence and defense via the same firearm.

These considerations are why I suggest people think very critically about their choices. Most of us don't want to harm or kill a bear via DLP rules if avoidable. I personally have never been to the point of needing pull a trigger on either a gun or aerosol can. But I will always plan for deadly force as part of my strategy, mainly because of its finality.
 

marksman1941

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2021
Messages
40
I never lived in bear country, nor hunted in it. However, I bow hunted in northern idaho for a couple of years, and after seeing moose for the first time and hearing about some of the aggressive ones we had locally, I found a SW 329 PD at a local sporting goods store. 25oz 44 mag, that sucks to shoot but is a joy to carry. I live in oregon now and the worse thing we have to deal with are wolves and black bears (and mountain lions) but the 329 still rides with me.

I have no experience with bear spray, but if you want a handgun and weight is a factor then the 329 is a good choice. Practice all year with 44 specials and a few magnums to remind yourself what they feel like, then pack 305gr hard cast. I've never used it, but I assume it will work on most any animal in my state
 

Beendare

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
6,737
Location
In Traffic
FWIW, there is an Idaho bowhunter posting on the Western forum of AT that had a Grizz bear attack, [an Idaho area not known for a big population of Grizz] they sprayed it...and then the bear came at them again. They shot it in the head with a 9mm and hard cast ammo and the bear took off for good.

Never reported in any news article to his knowledge.

>
 

Skythehunter

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2021
Messages
22
From different articles, they say bear spray is better, partially because you have to be a good shot with a pistol to kill a bear. Also it seems very rare to actually have a issue with a bear, but don't want to end up as that one person..
 

TheGDog

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2020
Messages
2,109
Location
OC, CA
I mention his race because it’s documented that darker skinned people are not as severely effected by it, particularly Pacific Islanders.
That's cause they put crushed Red Pepper in soo much of their cooking! I know this because my MIL is Filipina and when she gets down in the kitchen it's damn tasty, but I pay the price because that's one of my acid triggers, is crushed red pepper. Hrmm... I wonder if it's more how it's a cultural thing and that component being used so frequently in their cuisine? As opposed to something in their genetic makeup, let's say.
 

TheGDog

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2020
Messages
2,109
Location
OC, CA
Damn skippy they'll learn to come to the dinner bell! Life is hard out there for a Pimp! In their world, bold moves means you get to advance to the next new day. And it's dire for you, so you put everything you got on that attack when it comes time to seriously addressing your growing hunger and starvation since last time you managed to run the heck down and slam your claws into your meal! That's some next-level bad-assery right there! So you gotta figure for him?.. if it's on, it's On! So YOU need to be prepared accordingly.
 

Beendare

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
6,737
Location
In Traffic
Yeah, I love some of these second hand articles on the subject.......call the Alaska F&G if you believe this stuff....they will set you straight. I told my pilot on kodiak this story a couple of years ago and he almost gagged up a kidney he laughed so hard.

Heres a hint; There wouldn't be a whole lot of those big bears left in Alaska if they came running to gunfire......

Awe heck, I probably shouldn't have said anything...it might be keeping more guys away....which is no doubt where some of this stuff comes from.

.
 

Where's Bruce?

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2013
Messages
5,596
I'm no expert but I do realize location matters. In habitats with dense bear populations...they might actually be following you, according to researchers using trackers. Bears are smart. No reason to presume they aren't able to capitalize on a recognized food source, albeit an unnerving one.



 

MeatMissile

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
242
Location
Washington
That's cause they put crushed Red Pepper in soo much of their cooking! I know this because my MIL is Filipina and when she gets down in the kitchen it's damn tasty, but I pay the price because that's one of my acid triggers, is crushed red pepper. Hrmm... I wonder if it's more how it's a cultural thing and that component being used so frequently in their cuisine? As opposed to something in their genetic makeup, let's say.

I know that I look forward to spraying gingers because OC messes them up. It’s like holy water on a 12 year old girl with messed up skin.
 
Top