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October 10, 2006

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A Shovelful of Salt

This past Saturday, I was discussing the architectural philosophies of Sir Christopher Wren versus I.M. Pei around the campfire when a friend of mine joined the conversation. He had, it seemed, taken my advice and bought a .375 H&H from a gunmaker who has my highest regard. This rifle was to go to Alaska to hunt deer in brown bear country, where the bears often come at the sound of a gunshot to argue about who should eat the deer.

The gunmaker had recommended that my friend use Federal Premium Vital-Shok ammo loaded with 260-grain Nosler Accubond bullets. When I heard this, I nearly urped up my quiche. I asked my friend the reasons, and he said the gunmaker told him that high velocity bullets like the 260-grain .375 carry more shock to the bear than heavier, slower ones.

Let us consider the following:
1: The 260-grain Nosler Accubond is a fast-expanding bullet that’s meant to be used on thin-skinned game, not on 1,000-pound-plus brown bears.

2: There is no such thing as shock, on any animal, with any gun. If you want to stop a massive animal like a brown bear you do it by destroying vital organs and, hopefully, by breaking the shoulder. And the .375 bullet you use for this is any tough 300-grain slug such as the Nosler Partition, Swift A-Frame, or Barnes XXX.

The moral to all of this is that when you get advice, you always ask “How do you know?” Very often, it turns out that the wisdom is based on the flimsiest of assumptions. I can tell you about rifles, but my opinions on handguns and shotguns are of the most rudimentary kind because there is a ton to know and I don’t know it.

Advice should not be taken with a grain of salt. A shovelful is more like it.


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Ralph the Rifleman

Mike..A-Bolt VS Savage
FYI-My Savage 110-E must be working on over 3000 fired rounds thru it-.270win-..it has lost that solid "clink" of the bolt, but this little rifle can still deliver the goods out to an honest 200yds..and for under$300(Cheap scope included) not a bad deal.I mention this rifle, in part, as a sentimental reference to my father which I received upon his passing...nice legacy to remember him by.

Dave Petzal

To PbHead: Of all the "non-hunting hunting" writers out there, the only one I really like is Robert Ruark. Faulkner I consider insufferably boring, and Hemingway's colossal ego intrudes constantly throughout Green Hills of Africa. Zane Gray is too dated. But Ruark is as charming and funny and vivid as he was in 1953.

JA Demko

Dave Petzal,
What is your opinion of Steinbeck?


JA Demko, you know what they say about Steinbeck: "He's no Fitzgerald."

JA Demko

Mebbe so, KJ, but I've had a soft spot for Steinbeck ever since George used a Luger to put down Lenny in "Of Mice and Men." I think we can all agree that a man ought to shoot his own dog. You shouldn't ought to let no stranger shoot your dog.

Mike Shickele


Gotta love those savage 110 actions! not only will it go past 3000 rounds, but probably 3 barrels to boot! The fact that it lost that high pitched clank is probably due to the fact that the recoil lugs are now mostly seated due to work-lapping and peening.
You know' the funniest thing about this is the Savage is one of the cheapest factory rifles, and the Browning is one of the more expensive.
The only reason that I got rid of my Savage is that it was a 6lb 30-06.



Ralph the Rifleman

..I hear ya Mike, it reminds me of that 6-1/2 pound Kimber I saw at Cabela's in .338 WM..BIG OUCH!

P eastley

Going bow hunting for Sitka Deer on kodiak island. Pepper spray or pack a 44mag pistol? Am competent with a pistol. Interested in your comments.
Phil E.

Ralph the Rifleman

I read a hunting article about a bush pilot(Alaska) that tried keeping bears away from his plane by spraying copiously amounts of pepper spray on the floats of the plane before retiring for the evening.He woke the next morning to see the floats adorned with numerous bite,claw,and scratch marks made from a bear(s).
Was in a fluke? Was the bear attracted to the scent of "pepper" since it was sprayed on something instead of a blast to the face? Who knows, but after that incident, the pilot carries a firearm instead of pepper spray for protection. Which I think is the key question you need to ask yourself; GUN in lethal, pepper spray is not.When it comes to bear, I say stick to lethal


The WHOLE POINT of the accubond is to expand quickly and ALSO retain most of its weight, allowing it to penetrate like a sonuvagun. Just like a partition, but cheaper to manufacture, and they fly better. You must be thinking of the ballistic tip.

Phil Eastley

Ralph the Rifleman, Thanks for the input.
P. Eastley

C. Ek

From the Alaska Dep't of Fish and Game, at http://www.wc.adfg.state.ak.us/index.cfm?adfg=bears.problem:


You may kill a bear in defense of your life or property if you did not provoke an attack or cause a problem by negligently leaving human or pet food or garbage in a manner that attracts bears and if you have done everything else you can to protect your life and property (5 AAC 92.410).

Property means your dwelling, means of travel, pets or livestock, fish drying racks, or other valuable property necessary for your livelihood or survival. While game meat is considered your property, you may not kill a bear to protect it unless the meat is critical for your survival. Even in this situation you still must do everything possible to protect the meat (i.e. proper storage, scaring the scavenger, etc. See Hunting safely in bear country) before you may kill the bear.

If you have to shoot a bear, be sure you shoot to kill - wounded bears are potentially more dangerous than healthy bears. Also be very careful of what lies beyond your intended target - stray bullets can travel over a mile and still be deadly.

Bears killed in defense of life or property belong to the state. If you kill a bear you must remove the hide. If it is a brown bear you must also salvage the skull. You must give both the hide, with claws attached, and the skull to ADF&G. You must also notify your local ADF&G Wildlife Conservation office or Alaska State Troopers Bureau of Wildlife enforcement immediately. You are required to fill out and submit a questionnaire concerning the circumstances within 15 days.


I would question the idea that there is no such thing as shock value. While I would not go to the extremes that Roy Weatherby does one will recall it is spoken of him killing a Cape Buffalo with a 257 Weatherby Mag.

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