Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Handguns in Defense Against Bears by Caliber - 9mm 11 incidents

Glock 17 9mm courtesy of Rock Island Auctions

Many readers are interested in how various handgun calibers have performed in defense against bears. This is a complicated subject. Sometimes, any caliber will do. Sometimes a level of power may be required. Sometimes, a level of accuracy or speed may be required. Many permutations exist.  The most important aspect, if a confrontation occurs, is to have a firearm available, easily and quickly accessible. The specific caliber is less important. These updates include all the incidents we have been able to document to the date of the update, after several years of intense searches. We have always asked for examples of failures. We appreciate readers who help us document more cases.

Here are all the cases which have been documented where 9mm handguns were fired in defense against bears. 9mm is expected to be the common 9x19mm cartridge. These cases do not include incidents where handguns were used with other lethal means, or a mix of handgun calibers were used. If more than one handgun of the same caliber was used, the incident is included.  There are  11 incidents with 9mm handguns were fired in defense against bears (six black, five brown). They were all successful. The incidents are listed chronologically.

We found 11 cases where 9 mm pistols were used to defend against bears. All were successful.

17 August 2002, Alaska, Russian River, Grizzly Charged Fishermen, 9mm

But then the bear turned, looked up at Brenner and lunged, said Lewis, who interviewed the three men Saturday.

Brenner fired twice at the center of the hulking shape closing to four or five feet away. The sow, estimated at 400 to 450 pounds, went down. Brenner then put three more bullets into her head.

He used a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol. Lewis said such a low-caliber gun ordinarily doesn’t pack enough punch to kill a bear. But Brenner loaded the pistol with full-metal-jacket bullets that penetrated to the bear’s vital organs, he said.

31 August 2004, Colorado: Black Bear Charged John Tiebohl, 9 mm, Bachelor Gulch

BACHELOR GULCH – The Aug. 31 shooting of a bear in Bachelor Gulch still echoes among residents in the upscale enclave.The Colorado Division of Wildlife continues to investigate the incident, in which homeowner John Tietbohl shot and wounded a bear outside his Daybreak Ridge home. Tietbohl told officers the bear had been trying to get into his home, then charged him as he was getting into his car that evening. Tietbohl, who had been carrying a 9-millimeter pistol as a sidearm to protect himself from the bear, shot and hit the animal, which left a trail of blood as it ran off.Earlier in the day, Bachelor Gulch security officers had repeatedly sprayed pepper spray at the bear near Tietbohl’s house, but the animal stayed around. The bear also reportedly slipped into Tietbohl’s garage in the days before it was shot.

26 August 2005 Selkirk Manitoba, RCMP handgun, (9 mm) Black Bear

After a black bear attacked and killed Harvey Robinson, 68, his family and RCMP officers were searching for Robinson. They found his body. The bear came running at the officer.

Later in the afternoon, RCMP searched the area with family members and found Robinson’s body.

While the searchers were talking at the scene, a bear suddenly came running out of the bush and an RCMP officer fired two shots at it with is 9-mm handgun, Colwell said.

From another source:

RCMP Sergeant Steve Colwell tells us it happened just after 3:30 P.M. Selkirk RCMP went to the scene and an officer found the man. The bear then came at the officer, who fired two shots with his revolver and turned the bear away.

After a search of the area, using a helicopter, the dead bear was found about 45 yards from where it had been shot. While the second source says “revolver” the RCMP had been issued 9 mm handguns for 50 years at the time of this bear attack.

20 April 2009, Germany, Kassel, Brown Bear Spiegel.de, 9mm Sig is police issue

However, one of the bears attacked the cop and bit him twice on the left calf. The injured policeman shot the 180-kilogram (397-pound) bear five or six times with his service pistol. The circus director was sharply critical of the police action, which he described as “out of proportion.”

Last week in July 2016, Alaska: Guide Kills Attacking Grizzly with 9mm

In the last week in July, 2016, Phil Shoemaker had use a 9mm pistol to kill a grizzly that was threatening his clients and himself. It worked.

October 6, 2017, Montana: Bowhunters, Spray Failed, 9mm, Grizzly, account from two sources, Todd Orr, and Eye-witness, Beaver Creek

I interviewed both sources. The attack was reported to Fish and Game, but was not published. Consistent incident recorded in USGS data base.

It was at the end of the day, and was getting dark. Two bow hunters, were returning from their bow hunt. They both had bear spray and pistols. They had agreed that if forced into defending themselves, one would use spray, the other would back up the spray with his pistol.

The grizzly bluff charged several times, blocking their return to camp.

Warning shots were fired in the air with a 9 mm pistol. The bear ran off, then came back. Bear spray was utilized but only extended 10 feet into a light head wind and did not reach the bear. The bear would not disengage. It kept coming back and getting closer. The aggressive bear was finally shot with the 9 mm pistol at close range. It ran off. The report was made to Fish and Wildlife, and the bear was found dead the next day. Eye-witness believes it was one shot to the chest of the bear.

September 16, 2019, Gravelly Mountains, Montana, Grizzly Bear 9mm pistols.

The second attack happened about 6:30 p.m. as two archery hunters from Washington were walking north toward Cottonwood Creek. They said they heard a noise and saw a bear charging at them. The bear struck one of the men, who initially fell face-down. During the mauling, the man ended up laying on his back with the bear on top of him. The man’s hunting partner shot at the bear with a pistol, and the bear stepped away but did not leave initially.

The bear charged two more times but did not make contact with the hunters again as both hunters fired shots at it until it departed. It’s unclear how many shots were fired or whether any of them hit the bear.

Link to Ammoland article on this case

May 31, 2020, 9mm, black bear  Sevierville, TN

Witnesses said the bear swatted the dog out of the way and continued to approach the woman. A man who lived in the home came out on the porch and fired several rounds from a handgun towards the bear to stop it. He said he was aiming at the ground in front of the bear and didn’t realize he had hit it until the bear was found dead behind the home the the next day.

More information confirming 9mm as the caliber of the pistol


2022 October 4, New Castle Colorado  9mm pistol Black Bear

A New Castle resident survived an early Sunday morning bear attack in his backyard, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are searching for the bear, who escaped after the resident shot at it.

The resident heard noises outside around 1 a.m. Sunday and went outside to investigate, and the bear knocked him to the ground, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. As the bear attacked the resident, the man pulled a gun and fired three shots, making the bear run away. The resident was unable to identify whether or not he hit the bear.

 From kktv.com:

“While outside, the victim startled a bear in his backyard, immediately knocking him down to the ground,” part of a news Release from CPW reads. “During the attack, the victim used one arm to protect his face while grabbing his gun with the other free hand, firing three shots and scaring the bear away. The victim was taken to the hospital by a family member with minor injuries to his hand, arm, and chest.”  

Confirmed: a 9mm handgun was used.

August 21, 2023 Florida Sanford,  Seminole County Unknown firearm or circumstance black bear   Black bear shot, killed in Sanford, Florida with pistol to protect man and dog. 9mm handgun Glock 43x

The FWC concluded that the man shot the bear to protect his family and his dog. Therefore, no charges or violations were found. Because of that, FOX 35 has decided not to name the man involved.

What happened?

According to the report, the man told FWC detectives that was sitting on his porch with his dog drinking coffee when his bear alarm when off and began flashing. He told detectives he had a pistol with him "due to recent crime in the area," specifically break-ins. 

He got up and looked around the corner to see a bear within 8-10 feet of him, the report said. He yelled at the bear to try and scare it off, and his dog started barking, the report said.

The bear then charged toward him and his dog. "To protect himself and his dog, he fired his pistol at the bear and unloaded a magazine," the report said.

Contact with the Seminole County Sheriff's department revealed the pistol used was a Glock 43X 9mm.

May 5, 2024, Colorado Border South of Dixon, Wyoming, Black Bear 9mm  Ruger Security 9 with 115 gr FMJ ammunition

On Sunday, May 5th, 2024 Ethan was near the northern border of Colorado. He  had left camp about 7 a.m. hunting shed antlers. A little after 11 a.m. he found himself about seven miles from camp, near the border of Wyoming, South of Dixon, Wyoming. He saw something he thought might be a shed antler across a creek, in a flat patch of sagebrush. He crossed the creek and climbed the far bank. The sagebrush was tall, over his head. He heard a bleat/bawl, which he thought might be an antelope fawn. Antelope were common in the area. Then he heard a grunt. He drew his pistol, and clicked off the safety, just in time to see a charging black bear emerging from the sagebrush 10 feet away. He was able to get his first shot off at five feet, aiming down on the charging bear. He is sure he made a solid hit. He fired a second shot as he dodged away from the bear. He is not so certain about the second shot. Then he was diving off the bank, jumping across the creek and back to where he had started the misadventure.


©2024 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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