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I know there are other archived threads here related to this subject but I'm curious specifically about the Ruger Blackhawk (SA .357).

I keep going back and forth between a Ruger Blackhawk and a Ruger Super Blackhawk (.357 vs. 44 Mag, 4 5/8-5.50 inch barrels) as a lower 48 woods protection-only (bear, cougar) gun. I know I can't go wrong with a .44 Mag as I won't be underpowered regardless of the beast encountered. But I also want to enjoy shooting one of these beauties on a regular basis, out to 25-50 yards. SA appeals to me greatly. I will carry my EDC as well (on of my Glocks) for 2-leggeds.

Tossing aside the .44 Mag option, as well as the carbine/rifle:

What is the hottest .357 load I could use in the Ruger Blackhawk for woods protection, that would adequately handle lower 48 charging bear? If applicable, is the same load possible in the Redhawks? For woods protection, I'd most likely carry reloads, but I'm interested in your opinion on hot factory too.

Thanks for indulging me- I know the BH/RH/SA/DA is oft discussed, but I'm really most interested in opinions on the hottest .357 in the robust SA Blackhawk. If there is a thread somewhere that answers my questions, thank you in advance for the link.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
As an addendum to this question, how much gap would be bridged (between .357 and 44 Mag) by picking up a Blackhawk (.357) with a 6.5 inch barrel?
 

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You'll get a lot of different opinions, as you should well know.

But there is an ammo manufacturer that produces "bear loads" in .44 Magnum & .45 Colt. Dunno if they make it in .357. Maybe someone else can help.

I was considering the SBH with the 4.6" barrel, but went with the 5.5" before Christmas. Decided the grip that comes on it are too short, so bought (from Brownells) the longer grip frame & stocks like the SBH Hunter has. After some polishing & fitting,, it will fill my hand better than the original. And I think the .44 Magnum will be a much more effective bear gun:

 

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No one has ever successfully defended their life against a charging grizzly bear, with a .357 magnum, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try. That being said, please consider something with more mass, like a 210 grain .41 magnum or higher, preferably higher.......robin
 

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The 180 gr Buffalo Bore bullets mentioned are probably your best choice and your Blackhawk should handle if it is not a flattop (small frame) model. You are not going to make it into a 44 mag so if you need one then a Redhawk or Super Blackhawk would work.
 

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A 357 Blackhawk should be able to manage any semi sane load you would find in a loading manual.

I agree that one of the best commercial loads would be the Buffalo Bore 180 hard cast round, and that is what I carry in the woods quite often around here where medium size black bears or possibly a wolf (I have seen a couple, but just a glance as the slip away) is about as ornery a critter I am likely to encounter with no thumbs on it. This load would be pretty easy to duplicate or get close to on your bench.

I have to admit I have taken to carrying a Glock 20 10mm in the woods this past year over my GP100 for more firepower, but more for two legged adversaries than four.
 

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As an addendum to this question, how much gap would be bridged (between .357 and 44 Mag) by picking up a Blackhawk (.357) with a 6.5 inch barrel?
You won't gain enough to justify the change - if you want 44mag performance, buy a 44mag.

A 4 5/8" or 5.5" 357mag Blackhawk should be able to throw a 158grn pill to 1250fps quite comfortably. A 6.5" barrel will pick up about 50-150fps over a 4 5/8", less gained over a 5.5" barrel. Even for a hot load, getting over 1400fps in a 4 5/8" is difficult, over 1450 very much so, in any of these lengths.

Alternatively, a 44mag will comfortably get a 240grn pill to 1250fps, up to 1350fps with the right loads (or slightly more in ruger only loadings) even in the short 4 5/8" barrel. Throw on a 7.5" barrel and the 44mag gains even more.

So if 44mag is the standard:

44mag 240grn pill at 1250fps - very easily attained in a 4 5/8" 44mag
Energy = 832ft.lbs.
Momentum = 42.9 lbm ft/sec
TKO Factor = 18.4

357mag short 4 5/8" barrel 1250fps with 158grn
Energy = 548 ft.lbs. (34% reduction under 44mag!!)
Momentum = 28.2 lbm ft/sec (34% reduction under 44mag)
TKO Factor = 10.1 (45% reduction under 44mag!!!)

357 6.5" barrel 1350fps with 158grn
Energy = 639 ft.lbs. (24% reduction under 44mag)
Momentum = 30.5 lbm ft/sec (28% reduction under 44mag)
TKO Factor = 10.8 (41% reduction under 44mag!!!)

So you can tell that the extra 2" of barrel doesn't really "bridge the gap" between the 357mag and 44mag, it only closes about 1/3 of the gap on energy and only 10% on TKO factor. A bridge that only reaches 1/10th across a river doesn't stop you from getting wet or drowning.
 

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Realize ya'll will laugh at this, but just carry a CZ-52 8 shot semiauto pistol
(with all the Harrington upgrades) that I can shoot well (?) with
Chicom NC CWS case ammo, FMJ bullets,
when wandering around "managing" my 100 + acreage in NE PA.

Any bear will show up SUDDENLY
and just require a VERY CLOSE RANGE HEAD SHOT!

Bet ya'll will tell me I really don't know what GONRA is doing,
but its the Best Can Do Under The Circumstances....

Happy New Year guys....
 

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No one has ever successfully defended their life against a charging grizzly bear, with a .357 magnum, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try. That being said, please consider something with more mass, like a 210 grain .41 magnum or higher, preferably higher.......robin
There is a video of Game Wardens releasing a trapped Grizzley that turned and pulled the cage and warden down out of the bed of the truck. The warden had no choice but to pull his 357 service revolver and put down the enraged bear. IIRC the load was 125 jacketed hollow points. !!!
 

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if you're reloading,

hornady has a 180 grain .357 bullet.

"barnes" in the reloading manual list that, 125, and 140, grain bullets are suitable to shoot deer/elk

the bigger the bullet, the better, but not always.

you can load up to a 300 grain bullet with a 44 magnum.

I like the .357 because of its low recoil.

depending on what powder you're using also, you can load hotter.....

some pistol powders only require 11 grains, and the bigger the bullet, the less powder you have to use, I've found, by glancing at my reloading manual.

the last time I bought bullets to reload they were only 200 grain, I think I might try 300 grain next time.

but 200 grain is plenty.

bears are usually not out to attack, and can be scared by yelling. but then again sometimes they do attack.....

this is sort of off topic but I would be looking for a bear gun, Rugers .375 would be a good choice, and savage makes a copy of the ruger .375 that comes equipped with a accu-trigger.

if a bear is that close, a head shot, with a .357, would without a question take the beast down.

the only animal that I've read to be "bullet proof" is a hog. The thick skin and bony armor at the front of the hog’s body protects their organs from being wounded when the animals stab at each other with their sharp tusks. It’s not uncommon for light caliber rounds and arrows coming from the wrong angle to hit hogs without penetrating.
 

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Get a .44, if you can't, load at least a 180 and drive it as fast as you safely can.

.357 is a little light for a big bear , especially if it is a mommabear with cubs! :eek:
 

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There is a video of Game Wardens releasing a trapped Grizzley that turned and pulled the cage and warden down out of the bed of the truck. The warden had no choice but to pull his 357 service revolver and put down the enraged bear. IIRC the load was 125 jacketed hollow points. !!!
You're referring to the 1987 attack on Montana Game Officer Lou Kis, and your details are incorrect. There are dozens of online articles referencing this incident. He was shooting an S&W 66 with 158grn JHP's.

Frankly, the only reason the online articles exist at all about this attack is the fact that so many people continue to ask this question - "is 357mag enough for bear defense?" The event pre-dates common internet media reporting, especially predating online media sensationalism, but there are still easily found records of this event, and it still gets kicked around online forums in THIS type of thread, either as evidence that the 357mag works, or that it's doesn't.

Personally, I'm not surprised by the results when I read the reports online- EXCEPT TO SAY - that I'm surprised the officer was able to land 5 shots on the bear's head in that situation.

"Legend has it..." - as it were - that Officer Kis landed 5 out of 6 shots fired on the bears head (guns.com from 2011 specifically cites his 5th shot was a miss), and that his 6th and final shot was the only slug that penetrated the skull of the bear, ending the attack and killing the bar. "The story goes..." that the post-mortem on the bear revealed 4 slugs mushroomed against the skull.

Whether those details have been sensationalized and exaggerated over the years, I can't be sure, but...

For my money and my hide - I would not use a weapon to defend my life that has demonstrated such poor performance. A MUZZLE CONTACT RANGE (the bear was biting his leg at the time), KIS'S 357MAG REQUIRED 5 SHOTS IN THE HEAD to stop the attack. That's not exactly what I'd call comforting and compelling.

If I'm carrying something with bears in the back of my mind, my caliber starts with a 4 or a 5, and my bullet weighs more than 240grns.
 

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Just a thought...the 45Colt in the Blackhawk is a caliber that can be used to plink...loaded up to hunt smaller game...and with 300 grains and near 44 mag heat can stop anything a 44 mag can stop...The Colt is often overlooked but it's bigger than the 44 mag and super versitile for about every situation..There are some "Ruger only" 45 Colt loads that will impress like a 6.0 California earthquake and some of the Trail Boss loads that will be super fun to shoot and not ever wear on you.
 

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I would be looking at powder company load data for magnum powder offerings. By far the best shooting experience I have had so far is with A4100/Ramshot Enforcer, made in Belgium. See Western Powders.

Of course, there would be H110/W296, A2400, 300-MP, et al., probably easier to find at a price you like, but Reloading Unlimited usually has what you want.

Now, if lead bullets are a given, you aren't really talking about "hottest" per se, and credible load data will be elusive, tending toward gas checks, if legitimately published at all. I would just use Hornady XTPs and their book.
 

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357

Best I can tell you is to get a good reloading manual like Hornadys or Lymans. Work up a load that befits your particular gun. There is no one loading for any particular gun. What works great in one won't shoot worth anything in another. In your single action I'd say you can shoot a lot heavier than a snub nose could. I shoot a Thompson Center Contender. Have both the .357 and the .44 and a lot more barrels. When you said the lower 48, that would rule out the .357 for me, and I get my reloading recipe from the rifle section. .357 would have no problem with a black bear. It takes a lot of gun to bring down a grizzly bear.
 

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I live right in black bear country. I have them literally in my back yard at times. I really do not worry about bears and certainly would not feel under armed with a 357 and heavy bullets. Just my opinion based on years of working hands on with black bears. Just be cautious, watch what you are doing and about any gun will work because you won't likely ever need it. When I worked with them on a daily basis I was always carrying a 357 and had 44's I could have carried just as easily. Frankly the crazies I sometimes ran onto in the woods were a bigger concern.
 

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We have bears all over the place around here and I will always carry a .44 in bear country. I love my GP-100 and shoot 19.6 gr. of H110 with Hornady 125 JHP's but would never want to rely it to stop a bear. Maybe the bears are smaller in Arizona than our black bears here and the 357 would do the trick but not in the woods of the Northwest. Yes, two legged creatures are more of a threat hiking around here than bears, we always make noise hiking and they most always like to stay away from humans.
 
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