By Thomas E.
With significant contributions & guidance from Larry Mudgett
After taking Larry Mudgett’s Predator Defense(PD) course, I began down this journey of finding the ideal “PD & outdoor survival” system. I HIGHLY recommend you take this course from Larry!
Before taking this course, I was convinced that a 10mm would save me from large predators. In this article, we will compare “defense” calibers and then compare “defense platforms” to arrive at an ideal PD System. By synthesizing the current literature we can make a solid decision to protect ourselves and those we love while enjoying the outdoors!
There is no good substitute for a powerful firearm to defend your life from large/determined predators.
Mace has many limitations including distance, wind blowing in the wrong direction and “cooked”/fabricated statistics.
Which handgun are you willing to bet your life on…or more importantly, the life of your loved ones when faced by a grizzly?
Would you rather face a criminal assailant in the woods while armed with a revolver or would you rather face a large bear while armed with a 10 MM auto pistol?
My understanding is that black bears if wounded GENERALLY take off and leave the area. Also, do NOT try to play dead with a blackbear; as they will likely eat you.
Grizzly bears once wounded will ether kill or be killed (there is no quit in the grizzly bear MO). Playing dead, MAY work with a grizzly, but I wouldn’t count on it!
Consider the mis-information from govt-sources! If they really cared about you, they would recommend you carry a 454 Casull 😉
Instead, they recommend wearing bells, bear-mace and playing dead! Sounds like yet another “Government-unicorn-scam(GUS)”
Logic and the experiences of those who have been attacked by bears say otherwise!
Philosophy of Use (POU) for PD:
- hard hitting (heavy bullet); massive penetration (hardcast flat-nosed 30 degree sloped bullet–that do NOT veer-off, but continue penetrating ).
- multi-option system for snake-loads, 4/2 legged predators
- commonly accepted that light-weight fast bullets do not “stop the attack of a large bear”– you are attempting to “ground-the-bear” by braking a shoulder so it cannot continue toward you and your loved ones. For bone braking effectiveness, you will need heavy large caliber; PENETRATING bullets.
- Re-loaders/hand-loaders have much more flexibility/options with a quality launcher(Ruger Revolver).
Likely the most ideal portable caliber for bear is the 45-70. Hiking/fishing/guiding with a 7 lbs lever action 45-70 may not always be feasible, so we must look to handguns to fit the niche (Ideally we would have a 45-70 AND a 454, but often we must go it alone with a handgun).
“In hunting situation, if using a bullet designed to expand significantly, you may have to pass on the shots — and that’s a problem if the trophy bear, elk, or deer of a lifetime makes an appearance. I personally choose bullets that can kill a large animal from any and every angle presented, and hardcast, flat-nosed bullets allow me to do just that (Prasac M., 2012, p. 93).”
“What is a large meplat? In independent testing, we have found that a surface area between 75 and 80 percent of the overall bullet diameter seems to be optimal. Below 70 percent, the wound channel size is compromised, as is stability(..sometimes tumble in flesh or veer off course) (Prasac M., 2012, p. 91).”
Think of the metplat as a flat hard hitting side of the bullet, with just enough cone to go straight and true for massive penetration. 45’s are already “pre-expanded”.
“No slouch even in blackpowder form, the .45 Colt in modern times really takes on a different persona. Load it to its full potential and it will give the much-vaunted .454 Casull a run for its money and leave the .44 Magnum sucking wind in it’s rear view mirror…It’s just that I’m an even bigger fan of the modern .45 Colt. If there ever was a do-it-all cartridge, the .45 Colt would be at the top of the heap (Prasac M., 2012, p. 16).”
Also, your cowboy guns & predator defense share the same heritage for commonality.
The .454 is probably the most powerful gun of its size. Think of building +P 45 Colt cartridge, do you want the strongest gun commercially available..that also shoots the 454?
First decide on the caliber.
If you already own a 41, 44, 45 long colt, 500SW; then you are pretty squared away and may not have justification to seek out another predator defense/outdoor survival systems.
I believe the 454 has a lot of merit for this POU because of the hard hitting bear loads, and lengthened case for a custom-snake-load like a “buck & ball”.
Having the OPTION to run soft-45-colt loads for plinking/practice OR the hottest 454 you can cookup, is powerful. Having more options is always good(if you are within a POU).
Looking at the numbers
454 hardcast 400 gr @ 1400 FPS (http://www.doubletapammo.net/index.php?route=product/product&path=303_355&product_id=148)
Power Factor Calculator is weight*speed/1000=560
The following chart is from three different sources (doubletapammos.com, Larry Mudgett & “big-bore revolvers book page 8)
|Caliber||Weight||FPS||Power Factor||Foot pounds||Classification|
|10mm||230||1040||239||553||Category 2 (220-300)|
|45 Colt||255||1450||370||1191||Category 3|
|45 acp||255||875||223||434||Category 2|
|44 mag||320||1248||399||1107||Category 3(300-400)|
|50 AE||300||1223||336||977||Category 3|
|454||360||1500||540||1800||Category 4 (450+)|
|500 SW||400||1800||720||2878||Category 4|
|Personally Tested (Chronographed)|
|454 360 5″ barrel (Super Redhawk)||360||1347||484.92||1451||Cat 4|
|454 300 5″ barrel (Super Redhawk)||300||1400||420||1306||Cat 3|
|big-bore revolvers chart p.28 (re-created)|
|454 Casull 360 WLN||360||1450||59,000||32″|
|44 mag 320 WLN||320||1300||36000||25″|
Larry Mudgett of MarksmanshipMatters.com’s numbers – small sampling to show NO-significant-difference between 44 mag and 45 colt +P
I HIGHLY recommend Larry Mudgett’s Predator Defense/outdoor survival course!
LIFESAVING 454 Redhawk!
The Camera-man might be just a bit smarter than to get within 20 feet with a sharp stick 😉
Second, decide on the platform.
It is commonly accepted that 9mm snake loads in a semi-auto malfunction frequently and have a max-effective range of only a yard or two!
The .45 ACP CCI snake load will function reliably with a stock recoil spring and has the best pattern and penetration of any of the CCI snake loads. Far better than the factory revolver loads. The 9MM tends not to function the gun. The .40 will also function the gun well in a normal size gun (not a Glock 20) which has a heavier recoil spring and heavier slide.
With regard to snake loads, the advantage of the revolver is that you can make custom snake loads with little effort. Making your own snake loads for autos is a project.
I have the most training/mileage with a semi-auto pistol, so of course I would want to use that system to defend myself against two legged predators.
However, I would rather have an ideal system for outdoor survival for wolves, cougars, bears…and most importantly snakes! Snakes kill more people than all other predators combined!
Revolvers have a reputation of robustness, but if mud gets into the cylinders they may not be able to rotate! Thus your holster should protect the cylinder area!
There is no perfect system for all POUs.
If you plan to load +P for 45 Colt & 454, you better get a Super Blackhawk or Super Redhawk!
“How strong are the Ruger Blackhawk and Bisley model revolvers? Reports from the prestigious H.P White laboratory prove to us that most American Made revolvers offer approximately 100% safety factor with current Industry standard pressure level ammunition. Example: The .44 magnum is loaded to 40,000 CUP (Copper Units of Pressure). H.P White’s lab reports states that the Ruger Super Blackhawk was destroyed in a controlled test at approximately double that pressure. (80,000 CUP) (Linebaugh)”
“To check our findings we again turned to H.P White Labs and their findings paralleled ours. Ruger Blackhawks in .45 Colt caliber were destroyed in controlled test conditions at approximately 60,000 CUP pressure levels.(Linebaugh)”
That is just less than twice the CUPs before the gun was destroyed. MAX is 32,000, destroying/damaging the gun at 60,000 CUP).
“Linebaugh concludes the Ruger Blackhawk is good for loads up to 32,000 CUP. Firearms similar in strength are: Blackhawk, Super Blackhawk, Bisley, large frame Vaquero, and Redhawk revolvers. Firearms that cannot withstand this type of pressure: small frame Vaqueros, Colt SAA and Colt reproductions (D’Alessandro)”
Single Action OR Double Action?
I like the way Single Action (SA) handle & recoil. Being a Cowboy Action Shooter, I come naturally to SA.
Also, if you ride a horse and have to shoot from the saddle, your horse might jump or run after a shot. This might cause you to grab the reins or saddle horn to avoid falling from your mount. With a SA you cannot fire again until the weapon is re-cocked. So, there is no way your horse (and thus you) can get hurt by an accidental follow-up shot. However, with a Double Action (DA) you could accidentally fire/squeeze off another round into your horse.
Pros of the SA
1) recoil rolls up and over
2) Horseman benefits!
3) mileage/experience if you are a Cowboy Action Shooter (CAS).
Pros of the DA:
1) If you are wrestling with a bear, you can fire multiple-follow-up shots one handed. You can fire shots one handed faster and more easily with the DA than you can with the SA.
2) speed reloaders & speed strips
2.5″ barrel is too short in my opinion (IMO) & 7.5+ is too long (unless of course you are hunting), 4-5″ is IDEAL IMO.
With a 2.5″ barrel, you will experience more recoil & muzzle blast.
Here is my custom holster my mentor Simon helped me build!
Simon charges about $150 for this rig, they are worth twice that!
I LOVE speed-strips! they fit well in a pocket, don’t budge out and are very concealable & practical for tactical reloads!
There are many great choices out there to select from. Having one of each would be costly and difficult to support (maintenance, accessories, ballistic charts etc). Fear the man that has one gun & knows how to use it! I would change that to, fear the man that has one system per POU and is squared away with each of those systems!
I would be interested to hear your thoughts/input. I fear most people are willing to bet their life on a 40 S&W while in bear country!
I try to balance “standardization”, POU & support-ability (its easy to say, ALL OF THE ABOVE, but that is costly and inefficient).
Based on my research, I’m betting my life on a Ruger Super Redhawk 454 Casull SS 5″. If your game is more hunting, then elect for the 7.5″
454 Super Redhawk mods (modifications)
I ordered a Super Redhawk Spring Kit from Brownells.
I wasn’t sure which springs to use, so I started with the lower pound springs. I soon realized that the trigger return was too light (the trigger on follow up shots was too slow to return forward to be pressed again). I also noticed I had many (more than 50%) “light primer strikes”. Light primer strikes means the firing pin doesn’t hit the primer hard enough to “go off”.
I recommend going with the strongest hammer & return springs in the Brownell’s spring kit. UPDATE. The strongest hammer spring from brownells will NOT hit the 454 rifle primers hard enough. I ended up going back to the default hammer spring from Ruger.
After much validation, I went with the hammer spring of 12 (factory is 14 lbs) & trigger return spring of 12 lbs (factory is 15 lbs). Using the strongest springs, I had ZERO failures.
Shooting the 454 full power 360 grains at 1347 FPS, 5″ barrell (Ruger Super Redhawk
Chrono’d 1316 & 1378.
5″ 454 300 gr, 1400 FPS