Given the parameters of your concern, I like the .357 as well. Black bears are usually pretty shy. Habituated bears (like the bears that have learned to free-load at camp grounds) are a whole other matter. I have a 4" stainless GP100. You probably know the GP stands for "general purpose". The name fits. Load it with stout heavy weights for deep penetration. Use the same gun with .38 Spl. wadcutters for plinking or small game. And there are some great .38 Spl. +P loads that work well for protection in the home. The only downside of the GP may be weight. I think my gun weighs 40 ozs. empty. With the right belt and holster, it's not so bad.
The Ruger GP that has been suggested a few times sure look and hold.nice(I've never owned or shot one)
Considering all your criteria it doesn't sound like the 44 should be on your list
If you hand load it still seems 357/38special combo would give you more needs specific grats than 44 mag/special combo
Ultimately I hope and pray- the main things you will do is pack and play practice. Somewhat less than max is most often better for woods bums / best being smooth and effortless and unencumbered = not a big old fat super redhawk
i say look at your shotgun you don't want to carry it 10 miles hiking but what about HD mods?
Id rather shoot rubber buckshot at a chicken thief than 38 special at my babies bunk beds
I own both calibers in several different configuations (SA, DA, Rifle). For what you have described, I would choose the .357 caliber. You won't regret a nice double action Ruger revolver. If you ever need to use it for personal defense, I believe you will much more likely to need it in your home than you are out in the woods. Your concerns about over penetration through interior walls are well founded. There are rounds designed for the specific purpose of self-defense when over penetration is a problem. The Glaser Safety Slug is made for home defense and is a possible option for you. You can also carry heavy hard cast bullets when in the woods for protection from bears etc. Neither the .44 or the .357 is a very good defensive round against bears, but either is certainly better than nothing at all. As others have mentioned, one benefit of the .357 is the ability to practice with .38 special rounds which are cheaper to shoot, have less recoil and are generally (at least they used to be) more readily availiable. Both calibers would work, but if I had to chose one, it would be the .357.
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I'm not saying you don't have a problem. But in my experience I've never needed a gun for a black bear. A good loud "Hey Bear!" is usually pretty efective even if they are hitting up the garbage can. But hey any bear can learn that your only going to make some noise and not do nothing. My suggestion is to make sure you practice safe food procedures. Use a Bear Bag away from camp and if you do have an encounter just back away slowly. I have to say the bears in my area apear to be privy to the knowledge that we hunt them every year and run like a bat out of hell if they see you. Not saying you couldn't startle a black bear or piss of a sow with cubs. But I haven't really seen to shoot a black bear on the east coast unless it was hunting season. I'm in no way discouraging you from buying a gun, just kind of saying. A gun is nice to have but if your new to them it shouldn't be your first choice. I worry more about the 2 legged camp intruders than I do the wildlife. And a coyote will usually just sneak up on you and scare you they will not usually go anywhere near a person. I know this sounds like two different thoughts but when they sneak up on you it's usually because your all camoed up sitting in a bush and they didn't see you or smell you. Wild dogs Now that's a good reason for a gun. but your natural wildlife I wouldn't worry. You have a better chance of winning the lotto or getting struck by lightning. JMO and experience of course. YMMV! Good luck with your gun purchase, and get some training if you've never owned one it will keep you and everyone safer and if anything else I guarantee you will learn something you didn't know before.
Bush Class Basic Certified
Well, after a LOT of thinking and pricing and fondling at the local gun shops I made a purchase. I bought a Springfield Armory XDs .45ACP. It's a tiny subcompact .45 that holds 5+1 rounds single-stacked.
I know, I know, it's not a double action revolver. It's not bushcrafty. It's tacticool. But I think I made the right choice.
Like I said, I'm most worried about a bear coming into the tent at night or some not-so-nice people at a shelter or campsite near a road.
For a charging bear I always have bear spray with me and now I can back it up with 6 rounds of 230 grain .45.
If a bear comes in a tent at night, in most of the scenarios I've read, the bear is looking for food and gets surprised when it finds humans and attacks out of that fear reflex. I'm banking on the muzzle flash and report of the .45 to scare it away. If not the bear will take six rounds of .45 in rapid succession.
This gun is tiny, it's easy to pack, and with 5 rounds loaded weighs 21 ounces, about half of an empty 4" barrel GP100. It's easily carried in a pocket and could even be worn around the neck without discomfort. Like was said before, a .25 in your pocket is better than a .44 back in the truck.
Some other features I like about it are stock fiber optic night sights that are very bright, and a picatinny rail under the barrel so I can mount a 500 lumen light to blind and startle anything approaching at night. The gun comes with two 5 round mags, a Kydex holster, and a Kydex magazine holster, all in a very nice case.
With Magsafe Defender ammunition it has nearly identical stopping power to a .357 so it's a GO! for use defending the home from bad guys.
Now I just have to wait for Maryland's stupid seven day waiting period law... However, I bought the piece at an indoor range and during those seven days I can shoot it at that range, I just have to leave it there when I'm done until its officially released to me.
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Make sure you shoot that thing at night a few times, the muzzle flash takes some getting used to.
Love me a .44. You can load it up or down. But in my opinion a very versatile round that can't be beat.
Originally Posted by Lucky44
I'm with the .44 mag fans on this one.
The .357 was never intended as a wilderness cartridge and is best suited for personal and home defense IMHO. While I wouldn't feel exceptionally under-gunned carrying a .357; the .44 Mag is just that much more comforting - especially in AK.
The .44 is a great round in the bush; and in the right firearm, can be used for hunting at distances out to about 125 yards.
I have owned and carried both; each a Ruger offering; and now favor my Redhawk with a 4.2" barrel carried in a Diamond D Leather Guide Chest Holster - a superb package.
I am going to keep most of my opinions to myself here, because I've never shot at a bear, and don't spend a lot of time where they are considered a threat.
I would say that shot placement is more important than caliber, so get whatever you think you will practice the most with so that you can hit when you need to.
In either caliber, you are asking a pistol to do a job for which a 12 gauge is a marginal solution (charging bear).
All that being said, I love shooting 44 spl.
I have both.
357 is snappy and not that unpleasant to shoot. Stopping power?
44 is no more difficult to handle if you understand how to shoot it I can put more rounds through my 44 than my 357 in a session
For home defense .. 44 special.
Last edited by huntinguy; 01-29-2013 at 01:53 AM.