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I live in Northern NY and the black bears are typically 180 to 200 but we have some bigger ones of the 400+ pound range. Looking for ammo suggestions and here are the requirements.
- 44 magnum
- I don't reload.
- I prefer to buy from a store...bass pro, dicks sporting goods and smaller mom and pop stores
- I have a Ruger Red Hawk with a 5.5" barrel. I am proficient with it and it's iron sights.
- This will be for defensive purposes only
- I assume bullets that go deep into the target are required so hollow points are out

So what ammo is available to stop a charging 400 pounder that I can buy over the counter?
 

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I would go with Buffalo bore heavy 44 ammo in a 270 to 305 gn bullet. My preference is the LBT WFN or LFN. I cast and reload all my ammo but I only use LBT molds and can tell you the the WFN and LFN (wide flat nose/ long flat nose) are devastating on animals.
 

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Luckily for you, it's pretty easy to pick a correct bullet for .44mag. Cheap Winchester White Box 240grn JSP's will do everything you ask, and then some.

I personally don't elect for non-expanders or hardcast for bear defense in 44mag, for 400lb bear, you have plenty of punch on even a Hornady 240grn or 300grn XTP to go deep, but still expand enough to give a quick solution to the pressing problem. If you want to shoot a fairly expensive bullet that's available OTC and won't shed, the Winchester Dual Bond is out there, although I've only hunted it sparsely. The Speer DeepCurl (formerly Gold Dot Hunting) is a supreme bullet, as is the Swift A-Frame, if you can find them in factory ammo on a shelf anymore, I'm not sure.

For light bears like that, I usually just carry my standard 300grn Hornady XTP load. They're not that hard to kill, and I consider a bullet which I know will kill much heavier elk in a hurry at much longer ranges and which will kill the same bear hunting at longer ranges to be proven and up to the job.
 

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Luckily for you, it's pretty easy to pick a correct bullet for .44mag. Cheap Winchester White Box 240grn JSP's will do everything you ask, and then some.

I personally don't elect for non-expanders or hardcast for bear defense in 44mag, for 400lb bear, you have plenty of punch on even a Hornady 240grn or 300grn XTP to go deep, but still expand enough to give a quick solution to the pressing problem. If you want to shoot a fairly expensive bullet that's available OTC and won't shed, the Winchester Dual Bond is out there, although I've only hunted it sparsely. The Speer DeepCurl (formerly Gold Dot Hunting) is a supreme bullet, as is the Swift A-Frame, if you can find them in factory ammo on a shelf anymore, I'm not sure.

For light bears like that, I usually just carry my standard 300grn Hornady XTP load. They're not that hard to kill, and I consider a bullet which I know will kill much heavier elk in a hurry at much longer ranges and which will kill the same bear hunting at longer ranges to be proven to be up to the job.
Couldn't say it any better so I'll just quote it for emphasis
 

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The current popular wisdom in the gun magazines on "bear loads" seems to be hard cast bullets driven at maximum velocity, which describes the Buffalo Bore and Corebon cast bullet ammunition perfectly. To be truthful, I've never had to shoot a bear with a handgun, so I can't add any personal experience.

What I learned in my years in Alaska - from repairing people who had "adverse wildlife encounters" - was that hollow point bullets aren't that effective on the larger bears (the only type they seem to have in Alaska) and just seem to make them angry. Even JSP bullets seemed to have trouble reaching vital organs, since they are often so very far from the surface on the Alaskan bears.

If you could be assured that you would only encounter the smaller bears, a JSP might be a good choice, but if there's a chance you might end up toe-to-toe with one of the bigger ones you describe, I'd opt for a heavy cast bullet (and prayer wouldn't be out of place, either).

For what it's worth, when I'm out in bear country here in the Pacific Northwest, my preference is a Marlin 1895 in .45-70.


Jim
 
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