200gr hardcast in .357 Magnum for deep woods protection
Wondering if any others have tried these (200gr .357 hardcast WFNGC LBT-style bullets), and what their experience has been. I'm looking to maximize my .357 Magnum against the threat of bears and such in backpacking and camping. I have both a 2" Taurus and a 4" Ruger, looking to carry the Ruger on the deep woods ventures for the superior striking power it develops. Was considering getting a .44 Magnum, but now seems this round may be enough to provide all the real protection I need.
Bullet: 200gr. Wide Flat Nose Gas Check Hardcast
Velocity: 1200fps / 4" Ruger GP-100
Muzzle Energy: 640 ft. lbs.
563 ft lbs at 50yds from a 4" bbl.
Deep woods off for the bugs / Extra Clips for the bear
I am from the UP of Michigan where bears, cougars and blood sucking mosquitoes are always a concern when hiking, hunting or fishing.
In my humble opinion, I would be less concerned with the type of ammunition and more concerned with the amount of accurate shots I could deliver to an upset Bear. I am assuming, that we are talking about a revolver here. I would really suggest a semi-automatic 40 S&W or 45 with a couple of xtra clips and a pair high end running shoes.
Just remember, if you run out of ammo and the bear is still grumpy: You don't have to outrun the bear, just the person your hiking with.
I notice you realize the 200 grain hardcast results in 640 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. 640 foot pounds of energy is not a bear gun. If you need a bear gun, buy a bear gun. The proper bullet makes a firearm more effective but it can only perform as well as ballistics will allow. (I would be interested it the load data you are using if you can get 1200 fps from a 200 grain hardcast bullet). I would recommend you forget the advice for using a fast firing 40 S&W or a 45 ACP; you are not attacking the bear he is attacking you. In an actual bear attack you can consider youself lucky if you have time to get off one, possibly two shots with any weapon during a bear attack, (the deeper the woods, the less time you will have). Handguns like the .454Casul,.480 Ruger and .500 S&W are made for bear. The best bear protection is being alert, and understanding bear behavior. If a bear decides to hunt you you are likely going to be still reaching for your handgun when the bear is on you. (Forget the "high end running shoes" as well, running is very poor advice, unless you can run over 30 mph through the woods). The best bear protection is education, a dog as a warning signal, and evasive strategic departure. (The dog may give you time to use you handgun, they also enjoy camping and the outdoors).
I carry a 4 inch bbl Ruger GP100 with those very same cartriges for the same reason. Many threads on many boards with as much info as you are willing to wade through. I can shoot that load accurately (last time was Saturday at the end of a blacktail deer hunt to just plink a bit). It is a good round for black bear -- forget brown or grizz. (None of those in my woods). Is it the best gun? Dunno, but I know I can draw and shoot this gun with a potent load and hit a small target with it at reasonable distances. I don't think I'd be able to do the same thing with a larger caliber. Besides, I own this gun and don't want to sell the Ruger and don't have the money for something in a larger caliber that weighs more on my hip. So it is the right gun for me in the woods. No way I would expect my .45AP to go through bear hide. One thing: The load is hot enough the casings won't eject until they cool off -- better not need more than six in a hurry. But as the man wrote -- you'll be lucky to get one or two off. Bears run up to 35 mph. I don't. Most scare easy, but the three I have come across in the past 3 years haven't.. but they did mosey away eventually. As for bear spray, I can aim a Ruger much better and can practice more. I'll stivk to the .357 with a reasonable barrel length, punch and power to weight ratio. But if I have my rifle I would use that first if possible -- I'm not a fool, I hope, ;-)
A REAL bear gun can be heavy. I think there are other things more likely to cause you problems than a bear, unless near Yellowstone or some places in AK. Other than that I'd go with a lighter weight 40 S&W semi-auto, or something similar.