Which is better if you get confronted by a bear in the back country? Seems like we only get to hear from one side that says bear spray, bear spray, bear spray. Would a handgun be more effective?

Dean Weingarten recently did some analysis for AmmoLand.com and joined us on the radio back here in Montana. He says that a handgun or pistol was 97% effective in the bear attack cases he examined.

Weingarten says that doesn't mean that bear spray doesn't have place.

Weingarten: I think it can be useful at times, to discourage curious bears that aren't much of a threat, but it just has not been shown to be significantly more, it certainly has not been shown to be more effective than guns for aggressive bears, and it probably is significantly less effective. The research on bear spray effectiveness is not very good. In fact, it's rather poor. And one of the problems with the bear spray research is that the researchers won't let you see their data.

Weingarten says he started doing some of his own research, and that the research about handguns and bears has been going on for about three years now.

Weingarten: And we started out with 37 cases, and there was one failure with a handgun- that was a 97% success rate. Now we're up to 104 cases that we documented in the last update. And I've got about another 15 to 20 cases in the works. And we're staying at the 97% success rate. There were two other failures in that period. And it- surprisingly, the caliber of the pistol doesn't seem to be all that important. I mean, I think you want a pistol caliber that will penetrate deeply into a bear's vitals and that will break big bones, but we have a number of successes with a .22 Rimfire. And we have a number of successes with 38 Special, and 9 MM, and 40 caliber, and 45, but most of them- well no not most- the largest single number over 30 successes are with the 44 Magnum revolvers.

Here's the full audio with Dean Weingarten from AmmoLand.com:

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