This Story About A Grizzly Bear Tells You Everything That You Need To Know About Caliber


Many, maybe most, people buy firearms at least partly for the reason of protecting themselves and their families. In the minds of most gun buyers, they are likely primarily thinking of protecting themselves from a human attacker: a thief, rapist, would-be murderer, etc.

Why? Possibly because humans are the apex predators on this planet. Or maybe because, being human, they understand how dangerous other human beings can be.

While that’s true, it’s worth noting that self-protection goes beyond humans to protecting yourself from attacking animals if you find yourself in that situation. That, unfortunately, is the situation that two men found themselves in. Dean Weingarten writes,


On September 13, 2011, two bowhunters were hunting for elk in a wild part of Wyoming, on the boundary of the Shoshone National Forest and the Bridger Teton National Forest.

Weingarten continues:

The two hunters had traversed about 300 yards upslope to return to their vehicle [after seeing a grizzly bear]. They heard a crash. Believing it might be an elk, they saw two bears running at them. Hunter One was climbing another downed tree trunk when he saw the larger bear change direction and attack Hunter Two.

Hunter Two had seen Hunter One darting up the downed timber, and the bears coming at them. Hunter Two ran to climb a downed tree near Hunter One, tossing his bow to facilitate his ascent. Hunter Two slipped and landed on his back, looking up to see the larger bear looming over him. He brought up his foot to kick at the bear, and the bear grabbed his right ankle. He yelled at Hunter One to shoot the bear!

At this point, Hunter One had drawn his .38 [special] revolver. He fired two shots as the bear attacked Hunter two. The bear disengaged from Hunter Two, fell down, and started to come up toward Hunter One. Hunter One fired another shot at the bear, and it went down for good. Hunter One reported all shots were fired from six feet or less.

Now, to give more context to what I’m going to tell you in a moment, you need to understand how .38 special ammunition compares to .380 ammunition, which is the “weakest” ammunition that many people think that one should carry for self-protection. Many women carry .380 caliber pistols for concealed carry purposes because they are small. Kevin Creighton writes that “[t]he penetration of 380 vs 38 Special in gel is almost the same.”

Which brings us to our point: if a “weak” caliber handgun ammunition can be used to drop a huge grizzly bear, then, any caliber firearm that you are likely to buy for self-protection purposes will likely do the job if (and this is, maybe, the even more important point), you can shoot accurately to stop a threat.

In other words, caliber isn’t so much the issue in stopping a threat. Accuracy in your targeting (and being willing to pull the trigger when you have to) is the important thing.

Train smart and often.



  1. 100% correct, shot placement is everything. even a small caliber up close and personal will do the job. I have told my GF to keep shooting until the gun will shoot no more. want to make sure that criminal is down, and she has my little 22 Mag 5 shot revolver.

  2. 22mag might or might not do the job. It probably would stop the threat but not completely do the job. ( KILL). I would upgrade to a .38 special. That would take care of the threat permanently! That is what my wife carries.

  3. Carry what you are capable and comfortable carrying! Some feel a 45 ACP is the only choice and some feel a 9mm is sufficient for any task, like it has been said, shot placement if the most important factor. As far as that goes, whatever you choose, choose what gives you the most, best firepower per once or pound. Consider how long it takes to reload a revolver compared to a mag feed semi auto! There is the saying use whatever it take to do a job. Always better to be over armed than under armed. The last thing a person in the situation of those 2 hunters needs is to be out of firepower and still needing more. We humans are only at the top of the chain as long as we have the necessary means of defense, be it in an alley in a big city or out in bear country! How many old mountain men ended life with an empty muzzle loader in their hands at the hands of a bear, mountain lion or whatever( hostile other human/s). It’s a fact of nearly every aspect of life, have is needed to get a job done, no one wisely crosses an ocean in a dingy or canoe

  4. If you carry a 38 Special why not carry a 357 Mag instead, you can still shoot 38 special ammo in it, but not the other way around. I carry a full size 45 auto w/5 inch barrel and 9 rounds in it with two 8 round mags for back-up. I have shot humans with this weapon in combat but all of them were up-close and personal. I shot one man who was wearing a vest. The bullet did not penetrate the vest but did stop the attacker for a second shot which was fatal. I carry this weapon everyday concealed. I am now a Chaplain and carry for the defense of others. Too many people have attacked churches and synagogues just to kill innocent people so in our Tabernacle we have a security team. The local police have been told and they approve, we even told them not to run inside until we have cleared the building of hostiles, because we didn’t want them shooting at us nor we shooting at them. SHALOM

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