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Up to date Feb 25, 2023 1:11 PM

Opposite to in style perception, black bears should not that arduous to kill. On common, they go below 250 kilos. Pictures are often shut, and the truth that many bruins are taken by the way by deer hunters, with deer-hunting rifles ought to inform you one thing. However they’re nonetheless bears. As a rule, it doesn’t damage to make an enormous gap.

Selecting the most effective cartridge, nonetheless, will depend on the way you hunt. Black bears are sometimes gotten after in one in every of 3 ways: behind hounds, over bait, or by way of spot and stalk. Hunters trailing hounds don’t want a spherical with attain, as pictures are very shut and you’ve got loads of time to take cautious intention. Looking black bears over bait is a short-range affair, too, however the brush is usually thick and pictures extra unpredictable, so a hard-hitting cartridge in a repeating rifle is the way in which to go. For spot-and-stalk hunters, pictures vary from breath-smelling near extraordinarily far, so a caliber with loads of attain (and a bullet with good efficiency close to and much) is the ticket.

Listed below are 10 of the perfect black bear cartridges—three for every searching technique and one all-round best choice.

The Finest Black Bear Cartridges

Finest Black Bear Cartridges For Looking With Hounds

Finest Black Bear Cartridges For Looking Bears Over Bait

Finest Black Bear Cartridges For Spot-and-Stalk Bear Looking

Finest All-Round Black Bear Cartridge

The Finest Black Bear Cartridges For Looking With Hounds

.30/30 Winchester

Prime Load: Browning BXR Speedy Growth

  • Bullet Weight: 155 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,390 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 1,966 ft/lbs

For those who’ve ever hunted black bears with canines, that the path might be lengthy and tough sufficient to cease a mule. For that, a light-weight, easy-carrying, rugged rifle, like an open-sighted Winchester Mannequin 94, is good. The shot will probably be quick, and in case you fall and roll down the mountain earlier than you get to the tree, you don’t have to fret a few scope dropping its zero. The .30/30 is not only a confirmed bear killer, it’s most likely the most-proven bear killer. Choose a quick-expanding bullet for this sort of searching.

.35 Remington


Prime Load: Buffalo Bore Heavy

  • Bullet Weight: 220 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,200 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 2,364 ft/lbs

Nearly forgotten, the .35 Remington is a favourite of hunters who chase black bears with canines. This vintage cartridge appears to kill out of proportion to its ballistic numbers, and old-timers belief it. So must you. I preserve a customized takedown Marlin 336 in .35 Remington behind my truck seat. Normal .35 Rem masses will do the job, however Buffalo Bore’s Heavy load operates on the most allowable stress for this cartridge and delivers extra copper and lead than any black bear can deal with.

.44 Remington Magnum


Prime Load: Sig Sauer Elite Efficiency V-Crown JHP

  • Bullet Weight: 240 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,600 fps (rifle); 1,300 fps (pistol)
  • Muzzle Power: 1,364 ft/lbs (rifle); 901 ft/lbs (pistol)

Principally thought of a revolver cartridge, the .44 Magnum is usually chambered in rifles. And people rifles—just like the Marlin 1894 or Ruger 77/44—are light-weight, compact, and ideally suited for hound searching. Match one with an amazing .44 Magnum load and also you’ll drop bears stone lifeless, irrespective of how tall the tree he climbed into is. Ensure you choose a tricky bullet that can maintain as much as rifle velocities. (For max packing consolation when following hounds in mountain nation, try the Scandium-framed, 25.2-ounce, S&W Mannequin 329PD revolver.)

Learn Subsequent: Looking Black Bears with Hounds within the Famed Bruin Swamps of North Carolina

The Finest Black Bear Cartridges For Looking Bears Over Bait

.45/70 Govt.


Prime Load: Barnes VORTX

  • Bullet Weight: 300 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,905 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 2,418 ft/lbs

Yep, it’s old style, however with fashionable ammunition the .45/70 is much from antiquated. This cartridge is obtainable in fast-handling lever weapons, just like the 16.5-inch-barreled Marlin 1895 Trapper. Load it with the newest .45/70 ammo, and it’ll present all of the short-range bear-busting muscle you’ll ever want. And in case you occur to make a foul shot and need to path a wounded bear into the pucker brush, there’s no higher rifle/cartridge combo to be carrying.

Dead Alberta Black Bear
The writer put down this Alberta black bear over bait with a .45/70 lever motion. Richard Mann

12-Gauge Slug


Prime Load: Remington AccuTip Bonded

  • Bullet Weight: 385 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,850 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 2,925 ft/lbs

A 12-gauge shotgun loaded with slugs is extra typically considered for bear protection than for bear searching. However in case you’re searching over bait, the place shot distances not often exceed 50 yards, don’t overlook the 12-gauge. Greater than 300 grains of lead and copper will knock a mouthful of week-old donuts out of any black bear. And if a very curious or aggressive bruin tries to climb into your treestand, you’ll be glad you’ve acquired a totally loaded slug-slinger in your arms.

.300 HAM’R

Best black bear cartridges: .300 HAM’R
The .300 HAM’R. Richard Mann

Prime Load: Wilson Fight Speer Scorching Core

  • Bullet Weight: 150 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,265 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 1,708 ft/lbs

There are a selection AR-15-compatible cartridges which you could hunt bears with, however that is my best choice. At bear-baiting distances, the Wilson Fight 300 HAM’R will do something the .30/30 Winchester will, and from a lighter package deal that holds extra ammunition. Connect a reflex sight and also you’ll have a nimble rifle chambered for a cartridge that’ll hammer black bears of any measurement. And in case you want a fast second shot, nothing is quicker than an AR-15.

The Finest Black Bear Cartridges For Spot-and-Stalk Bear Looking

6.5 Creedmoor


Prime Load: Hornady ELD-X Precision Hunter

  • Bullet Weight: 143 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,700 gps
  • Muzzle Power: 2,315 ft/lbs

The wildly in style Creedmoor could seem somewhat gentle, nevertheless it makes the checklist as a result of out to round 400 yards or so this mild-kicking spherical not solely does the job on black bears, however can also be a pleasure for anybody to shoot, together with younger hunters. It additionally flies flat and the sectional density of the most effective 6.5 bullets helps them penetrate deeply. I took my largest spot-and-stalk bear—a 355 pounder—with a 6.5 Creedmoor. Ensure you choose a bullet that can maintain collectively at shut vary and nonetheless deform at distance, since you by no means understand how far you might need to shoot.

355-pound Newfoundland black bear
The writer took this 355-pound Newfoundland black bear with a 6.5 Creedmoor. Richard Mann

.338 Federal


Prime Load: Federal Fusion

  • Bullet Weight: 200 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,660 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 3,140 ft/lbs

If ever there was a cartridge made for bear searching, it was the .358 Winchester. I killed my first bear with a .358, and for deep-woods stalks, it has loads of attain and mojo to get the job carried out. Buffalo Bore’s 225-grain Heavy load is the best choice nonetheless going, however the .358 has largely gone the way in which of the dodo. The .338 Federal is the trendy model of the .358—however even higher. It hits more durable, shoots flatter, and you may really discover manufacturing facility ammunition for it. For spot-and-stalk bear searching in cluttered nation, this one is hard to beat.

.300 Winchester Magnum


Prime Load: Winchester Expedition Lengthy Vary – Accubond

  • Bullet Weight: 190 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,900 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 3,547 ft/lbs

As a rule, magnums should not needed for black bears. However when an enormous boar is in search of love within the spring, he’ll cowl an entire lot of floor. And he most likely gained’t wait round so that you can rise up shut and private. Your solely alternative may be temporary, and it would max out the bounds of your talent and gear. For those who’re succesful and also you suppose you might need to shoot throughout a large canyon, you want a cartridge that flies flat and hits arduous at distance—and the .300 Win Magazine does simply that.

Finest All-Spherical Black Bear Cartridge

The .308 Winchester


Prime Load: Federal Premium AccuBond

  • Bullet Weight: 165 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,700 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 2,671 ft/lbs

For those who’re in search of a one-cartridge reply for all strategies of black-bear searching, it boils all the way down to the .308 Winchester, because it does for almost each different kind of big-game searching in North America. The .308 suits in compact rifles of all motion sorts. You could find ammo at fuel stations, roadside markets, and possibly below your truck seat. Bullet choices are countless for the .308, and it provides an amazing ballistic stability for capturing up shut and much away. What in regards to the .30-06? Effectively, there’s by no means been a black bear that would inform the distinction between a .308 and a .30-06. And if you’re behind the gun, you may’t both.

silver-backed black bear
The writer with a silver-backed black bear taken in Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness at 400 yards with a .308 Winchester. Richard Mann

Learn Subsequent: The 6 Finest Large-Sport Hundreds for the .308 Winchester

The Finest Black Bear Cartridges: Honorable Mentions

A few of the best-ever black bear cartridges should not new, and a few hunters don’t simply hunt black bears in a single method; some will use canines, sit over bait, or choose to spot-and-stalk. A lot of cartridges will work nicely for black bears, however some simply appear to have been made for the job. Listed below are 5 new and previous cartridges that can be utilized in a wide range of methods, they usually all deserve an honorable point out.

.307 Winchester

Although there aren’t any new rifles being manufactured for the .307 Winchester, it’s a strong contender as probably the greatest black bear rounds for a number of causes. It is among the strongest cartridges out there in a historically styled lever-action rifle; it is going to hit a lot more durable than a .30-30 Remington and fly flatter. It’s additionally as a result of those self same ballistics permit for some crossover between searching strategies. It’ll work effective over canines and over bait, and in thick cowl it may serve admirably for nonetheless and spot-and-stalk searching. Ammo could be a bit tough to search out, however two years in the past Hornady added the .307 to their LeverEvolution line, and it delivers rattling close to 308 Winchester efficiency.

Prime Load: Hornady LeverEvolution FTX

  • Bullet Weight: 160 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2650 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 2494 ft/lbs

.350 Remington Magnum

Remington’s .350 Magnum, which was launched in 1965, is one other cartridge for which you’ll not discover any new rifles. Nevertheless, if you’ll find one of many previous Remington Mannequin 600 rifles chambered for this cartridge, you’ll have a strong bear rifle appropriate for nearly any kind of searching. In 2003, Remington additionally provided the .350 Magnum of their Mannequin 673 rifle, which was modeled after the older 600. They’re a bit simpler to search out on the used market. You possibly can load your individual ammunition or get it from the Nosler Customized Store, however Remington’s 200-grain Core-Lokt load will simply deal with any black bear strolling the earth.

Prime Load: Remington Core-Lokt

  • Bullet Weight: 200 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2775 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 3419 ft/lbs

.444 Marlin

Invented as a alternative for the .45/70, which seemed to be changing into out of date within the mid Sixties, Marlin launched the .444. It was reasonably in style for some time however is now seeing a resurgence attributable to extra states permitting straight wall cartridges for deer searching. Marlin’s large .444 will for certain kill a deer, however given its ballistics it’s an excellent selection for black bear in a variety of searching situations. The .444 makes use of the identical diameter bullet (0.429) because the .44 Magnum, and Hornady’s Superformance load hits like a ton of bricks even previous 100 yards. For those who’re in search of a candy .444 rifle, Marlin is chambering their a hundred and fiftieth Anniversary Mannequin 1895 for this basic cartridge in 2020. For those who get one you’re certain to have the good rifle on the campfire.

Prime Load: Hornady Superformance FP

  • Bullet Weight: 265 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2400 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 3388 ft/lbs

7mm Remington Magnum

On the subject of long-range capturing, 6.5mm cartridges get all the eye. Nevertheless, one of the excellent long-range searching cartridges has been round since 1962, when Remington launched their Mannequin 700 Rifle. And right here’s the factor, in some locations the place black bears are hunted by the spot and stalk technique, pictures might be lengthy. That is significantly true within the spring when the large bores are on the transfer and in search of love. There’s plenty of Seven-Magazine masses that can work for black bear however if you would like one thing that shoots flat and delivers deep, bone breaking penetration, choose one loaded with a Barnes Tipped Triple Shock. For those who can’t discover one, the Barnes Customized Store may also help you out.

Prime Load: Barnes Customized Ammunition TTSX

  • Bullet Weight: 168 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2778 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 2878 ft/lbs

.375 Ruger

Black bears should not that arduous to kill, and they don’t seem to be essentially identified for attacking hunters. However some hunters wish to whack a black bear arduous sufficient to rattle his claws. For those who don’t thoughts the recoil, and in case you’re in search of a black bear cartridge that can be utilized in nearly any searching scenario, the .375 Ruger hits arduous and shoots fairly flat.

Prime Load: Hornady Harmful Sport Superformance Interlock SP

  • Bullet Weight: 270 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2840 fps
  • Muzzle Power: 4835 ft/lbs

The Three Worst Hundreds for Your Bear Gun

Black bears should not that arduous to kill. Nevertheless, an un-killed—wounded—black bear has a mouth stuffed with sharp issues, a foul perspective, and is a really highly effective animal. You wish to shoot a black bear with a bullet that can create a large wound cavity, and one that can exit to let as a lot air out, and put as a lot blood on the bottom, as potential. Listed below are three to keep away from.

FMJ Bullets

Full steel jacket bullets from nearly any cartridge ought to shoot utterly by nearly any black bear. However these bullets don’t increase, thus creating minimal inner harm. FMJ bullets work nice on paper and metal, not a lot on critters.

Varmint Bullets

Some hunters have discovered varmint bullets immediately deadly on deer. However a black bear just isn’t a deer. Black bears are fatty, hard-boned creatures. For those who can slip an explosive varmint bullet into their lungs It’ll work. Nevertheless, hit a bone, the paunch, or a number of fats, and the wound will probably be nasty however superficial. And, the bear will probably be as pissed off as agitated hornet’s nest. You don’t want premium bullets for black bear, however you do want an increasing bullet that’ll maintain collectively and drive deep.


Many think about buckshot the last word equalizer. For those who’re capturing a foul man who simply broke into your property to maim, rape, or kill, buckshot works fairly rattling nicely. Nevertheless, Buckshot and bears don’t combine. You may kill a bear with buckshot, however earlier than he goes off to that large honey pot within the sky, he may determine to chew on you first. Shotguns can work nice for bear, however load them with slugs, not buckshot.

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