Our discussion on the capabilities of the 9mm Luger continue. This time, we’ll be answering the following question:
Can 9mm Stop a Bear?
Yes, while it is far from the best choice, a 9mm can stop an angry, charging bear under the right circumstances when proper shot placement is achieved and as long as the right type of ammunition is used.
Even then, it wouldn’t be my first pick for defense against an angry bear.
However, I understand that not everyone will have the means of buying a dedicated “woods” gun like a revolver in 44 Magnum or 454 Casull. (Each of those links brings you to the ballistics page for each cartridge.)
Best 9mm Ammo For Bear:
The only ammo you should use in your guns when you’re in any kind of bear territory are higher velocity hard cast bullets like the ones Buffalo Bore offers (pictured above).
Your goal with bear defense is for the bullet to penetrate as far into the bear is it can. Regular self-defense hollow points will not work because they’re designed to expand long before they will reach a deep enough point.
Hard cast bullets, like these from Buffalo Bore, will give you the needed penetration into the animal to do as much damage as possible. And because they’re flat nosed, they’ll create a bigger wound channel than your standard FMJ will.
The problem with bear:
The main issue you’ll encounter, is that a bear is a thicker skinned animal that is densely muscled on the inside. Traditional ammunition may not make it far enough to the inside to do any actual damage, or, worse, may just anger the animal even more.
What About 9mm FMJ For Bear:
If there is a “second best” option it would likely be regular ball ammo, also known as full metal jacket, or FMJ rounds.
The reason why is because these tend to not expand like a self-defense hollow point will and will make it somewhat deeper into the bear’s body. FMJ is definitely not as good as hard cast ammo is, though.
Will 9mm Hollow Points Stop a Bear:
Jacketed hollow point, or JHP ammo will not penetrate deep enough into the animal’s body because they’re designed to expand shortly after impact. These should really only be used as a last resort against bear.
As in, you’re in the woods and have them loaded in your pistol with nothing else, and you’re about to get eaten.
Though they could work.
Should I Use 9mm For Bear Defense:
You can and should use 9mm for bear defense if it’s all you have. If you find yourself in the woods with nothing but your 9mm pistol and whatever ammunition you have loaded in it, it’s far better than any of your other alternatives.
You can run from a bear, but you’ll just die tired.
Bear spray may work, but it may just piss the bear off.
There are a lot of stories out there that say 9mm has worked and it can stop an angry, charging bear. Again, it is not the best choice.
Tips For a 9mm Bear Gun:
If you still want to use 9mm as your bear gun, there are some things you can do to stack as many cards on your side of the deck as possible. They are as follows:
- Carry as many rounds as possible. Because 9mm is less effective you may need more rounds to stop the bear. This means carrying a spare mag, as well as the biggest mag you can fit into your gun.
- Carry higher velocity hard cast bullets. Hard cast bullets are designed to stay intact as they travel through the animal, and because they do they will stand a better chance at hurting the animal. I recommend these.
While 9mm can and has been used to stop a bear from attacking, it’s not usually the best pick. If it is all you have, use it. If you can bring something else with a bit more power into the woods with you, that’s the better bet — just as long as you can shoot it well.
Check out our 9mm ballistics page, next.