AR15.Com Archives
 5.56mm AR for Bear Defense?
MichigamaGunslinger  [Team Member]
10/5/2010 8:29:54 PM EST
Ok, let me start off by saying that this is probably a bad idea. Hear me out.

If all a person owned was a 5.56mm AR, would this be enough power to kill or stop a bear or large predator if an attack occurs? This would include all areas of North America. If one was to be traveling in across the continent after a catastrophic societal disaster (in a similar manner as the movie "the book of Eli"), and happened to be in woods with only an AR, how would this end for the victim?
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Isenhelm  [Team Member]
10/5/2010 9:27:47 PM EST
Shot placement is obviously the main issue, but look at the size wound cavity it would leave...

A hiker in Denali killed a grizzly with a .45 (9 shots)

A ranger killed a bear (maybe the one that mauled Tim Treadwell and his GF Amy Hueguenard) with a .40 (fired 11 times)

A polar bear was shot and killed with an AR-15 near Fort Yukon Alaska.
"Suddenly, the bear came out from under a brush pile about 10 yards away. It charged straight at Cadzow, who was carrying an AR-15, a rifle similar to the U.S. Army’s M-16.
The encounter was so close, Cadzow said, he didn’t have time to lift and sight the rifle.
"I shot from the hip, seven or eight times,” he said. "If I had gotten it to my shoulder, it (bear) would have been on top of me. It happened so quick, by the time it was down, it was about 10 feet from my feet.”
According to the hunters, the young female bear appeared to be in good health and wasn’t starving."





survivorman  [Team Member]
10/6/2010 1:32:40 AM EST
If anything gets pumped with enough lead its going down........is 5.56 or 223 the ideal round for bear? No are there better options? of course......but I bet if I drop 10 rounds into one he is either going to go down or get the hint that maybe he needs to get the hell out of there.
Bushman_269  [Team Member]
10/6/2010 2:48:29 AM EST
Poachers in Africa used 7.62 FAL's to kill elephants. Put enough rounds into something and it generally is going to die. The question is when? It is small consolation that the brown bear died after eating your ass.
MichigamaGunslinger  [Team Member]
10/6/2010 4:15:35 AM EST

Originally Posted By Bushman_269:
Poachers in Africa used 7.62 FAL's to kill elephants. Put enough rounds into something and it generally is going to die. The question is when?It is small consolation that the brown bear died after eating your ass.

Yeah that would be the number one concern here. I would want the bear to be put down before it got to me and killed me



Now the impression I have gotten that the key to killing bears or any other big predator is having a bullet that gives the best penetration possible. IIRC, M855 has a steel core and is better for punching through stuff than M193. So of all the 'off the shelf' 5.56mm ammo, would this be best for penetration without fragmentation?

I highly, highly doubt that I will ever run into a situation like this, however I was poking around some forums and viewed a link to a hiker who was half-eaten by a bear (can't remember the type of bear). Supposedly he has shot it with a 12 gauge shotgun (slugs I assume?) before it killed him. That photo and stories like it make me nervous and wonder if a typical 16" 5.56mm AR that is otherwise good for medium sized things would be good enough for bear or large predator defense.
BR870  [Member]
10/6/2010 4:37:02 AM EST

Originally Posted By Bushman_269:
Poachers in Africa used 7.62 FAL's to kill elephants. Put enough rounds into something and it generally is going to die. The question is when? It is small consolation that the brown bear died after eating your ass.

Hell, poachers in africa don't just use FALs, they use AKs too...

A mag dump of M855 would probably drop a TRex.
Slopes-2-Shores  [Member]
10/6/2010 5:04:30 AM EST
No, 5.56 / .223 is not an adequate round for defense against larger N.American bears. I wouldn't for a second judge what African poachers do or the incidental stories of successfull kills with smaller calibers as evidence of the round's efffectiveness.

-JC
TaylorWSO  [Life Member]
10/6/2010 6:01:57 AM EST
only in 458s

I carried one for a time in AK when hunting on the islands, if 10 rounds of 405 gr ammo down range won't get it done, then go home

To the guys comparing fal/ak poaching shots to defensive animal shot=idiots. Not even in the same ballpark.

A poacher is not surprised, usually not dealing with a charging animal, has more than one person shooting, and usually has range on his side or a way to mitigate (vehicle) a defensive situation.

A defensive bear shot usually has non of these.

apples / baseballs
mike_nds  [Dealer]
10/6/2010 6:08:01 AM EST
It's better than your fingernails, but no.
OlCrow  [Team Member]
10/6/2010 6:46:23 AM EST
If charged by a large bear I want power, not a 5.56.

Yes, enough shots of 5.56 in the right place will stop a charging bear but how many can you get off in a few seconds before he is on you. Bear don't attack from 50 yards away, most of the time it's up close and quickly. Then once on the ground that rifle is useless. A powerful handgun might allow a few more shots while he's chewing on you.

I'll take a 44mag (or larger) handgun if I might need to deal with large bear.

Feel free to disagree.
manican  [Member]
10/6/2010 6:57:43 AM EST
Originally Posted By Isenhelm:
Shot placement is obviously the main issue, but look at the size wound cavity it would leave...

A hiker in Denali killed a grizzly with a .45 (9 shots)

A ranger killed a bear (maybe the one that mauled Tim Treadwell and his GF Amy Hueguenard) with a .40 (fired 11 times)

A polar bear was shot and killed with an AR-15 near Fort Yukon Alaska.
"Suddenly, the bear came out from under a brush pile about 10 yards away. It charged straight at Cadzow, who was carrying an AR-15, a rifle similar to the U.S. Army’s M-16.
The encounter was so close, Cadzow said, he didn’t have time to lift and sight the rifle.
"I shot from the hip, seven or eight times,” he said. "If I had gotten it to my shoulder, it (bear) would have been on top of me. It happened so quick, by the time it was down, it was about 10 feet from my feet.”
According to the hunters, the young female bear appeared to be in good health and wasn’t starving."





The OP states if it was the only rifle had.
Yes yes and yes,people forget what a high speed round does to flesh, bone, steel,wood and
whatever unless Smokey's wearing bullet resistant armor.
Shoot from the hip or shoulder with a pump or single shot in a split second survival situation and miss... well you get the idea.
In fact I would pick a semi high cap for any senario as long as it's .223 and up.

Spartan117  [Team Member]
10/6/2010 5:42:30 PM EST
5.56mm AP will stop a bear with a hit in the nasal cavity or other weak point in the skull. A hit anywhere else is not likely to stop or significantly deter a brown bear. 12ga Brenneke Black Magic is what is used by everyone who regularly deals with bears for a reason.

I remember the story about the guy who "stopped" a bear in Denalli with a .45. The bear was not charging, was shot nine times and walked away from the encounter and died from it's injuries at a different location. If the bear had been defending it's cubs, that guy would be toast.
MichigamaGunslinger  [Team Member]
10/6/2010 6:15:53 PM EST
Ok, now I'm gonna change it up here a bit. Lets say a person was carrying a side folder 7.62 AK with either a 20rd or 30 rd mag? Loaded with FMJ or soft point ammo that is approaching the 150gr spectrum?
Ndenway  [Team Member]
10/6/2010 6:36:26 PM EST
hell several years back it was reported that a dude killed a charging smallish blackbear by smacking it over the head with a piece of tree limb so I imagine it'd work provided shot placement and bullet construction was up to snuff and you kept shooting until it died.
west2746  [Member]
10/6/2010 6:52:46 PM EST
My thought...learn the rules...in no order and leaving some out....Wear you seat belt....Cardio....Enjoy the simple things...Beware of Bathrooms....etc etc etc...bears or large animals outside of humans in the OP question will be the least of your issues.
gewamser  [Member]
10/7/2010 12:04:02 AM EST
OK I live in a wilderness area where there are lots of black bears...LOTS of bears...in all shapes and sizes. The really old big ones only show up at the feeder after dark. By big I mean 400 plus pounds. We see bears almost every day. I have grown accustomed to them and have been around them all my life. I have never had an incedent, even though I have run smack dab into them many times, on ourback porch, in the woods, whatever. They do occasionally damage some property. Recently a bow hunter made a poor shot and snagged one in his foot, and the bear was really pissed off and in the next two weeks it chased several people out of the woods nearby farms and yards and so on. Nobody was hurt and finally after awhile the bear stopped doing it. It was a rather large bear 350 or so...but all it did was put a scare in the neighborhood, and folks were out walking their dogs and such armed for awhile. Mostly a firearm will be used to scare the animal away, rarely will they attack. In 50 years up here we have only seen 2 or three attacks with only one injury. They are unpredictable but mostly scared of humans and run like hell away. A 30-30 is the most popular bear rifle up here. 2 important things to remember about black bears; they are delicious! Like good beef. #2 They always warn you before an attack by chattering their teeth.
Windustsearch  [Team Member]
10/7/2010 3:06:10 AM EST
Originally Posted By west2746:
My thought...learn the rules...in no order and leaving some out....Wear you seat belt....Cardio....Enjoy the simple things...Beware of Bathrooms....etc etc etc...bears or large animals outside of humans in the OP question will be the least of your issues.


I just had a pretty nerve wracking run-in with a black bear about three weeks ago. It didn't want to run like they usually do, and when it first saw me it came walking towards me.

There has been a guy on the news recently that had a pretty protracted fight with one, he lost an eye and had much of the skin on his head peeled back.

It's the least of your issues until you are having an issue with one. Also, they keep planting more and more grizzlies here.
Combat_Diver  [Team Member]
10/7/2010 6:00:32 AM EST
If it is the only thing that you have and it saves your fourth point of contact then yes, if not then no. I have gone in numberous times into bear country armed only with a M16/M4 and usually only had blanks loaded (course 20/30 rd mag of live ammo in left breast pocket). Been in Africa and seen the big 5 with a XM16E1 and blanks (then 20 rds of M193 ball in pocket). Last time old Master Sargeant said enough and took a M14 with two mags of M80 ball everywhere. Never need it but was a comforting.

CD
brasidas  [Member]
10/7/2010 8:15:59 AM EST
223 can kill a bear, particularly with quality ammo that penetrates deeply (Nosler Partition, Barnes TSX, etc.). There are surely better choices though.

There is nothing magical about bears; I have only killed one, but it seemed to die as readily as any other animal in the same weight class. 223 is an adequte if marginal choice for big game.

If you have 2-3 dogs, bears will steer clear.
SilentType  [Team Member]
10/7/2010 8:39:06 AM EST
Definitely not the first caliber of rifle I grab on my way out the door into bear country, but it's better than using harsh language.

blackhawkhunter  [Team Member]
10/8/2010 2:01:38 AM EST
Its better than a piece of firewood! Carry a 5.56 and a large pistol. Or, carry something with a 30, 44, 45 in it and a small pistol.

Black bears are not really a problem out in the wild. Closer to populations they have become accustomed to people and equate them with food. Usually meaning that the food is along with the people, not the people themselves.

I know of a small blackie that was gut shot with a 35 Whelan that went for miles leaving intestines snagged on branches. It was basically gutted by the time they caught up to it. They dont die easy unless hit well. By the time you figure out of a bear is charging for real you wont have much time for shot placement. The learning curve for deciding whats a bluff and a real charge is probably pretty short... so far the closest I have seen was a guy that had his barrel in the bears mouth. I figured that was close enough to warrant pulling the trigger, and turns out he did to, but he was so flustered he forgot to flick of the safety switch.

Unless you are around griz and brown bear country I would say practice good food handling and keep the 5.56.... chances are you will never need it on bear.... but know your limitations with it!
CrazyWhiteGuy  [Team Member]
10/9/2010 10:15:01 AM EST
Originally Posted By blackhawkhunter:
Its better than a piece of firewood! Carry a 5.56 and a large pistol. Or, carry something with a 30, 44, 45 in it and a small pistol.

Black bears are not really a problem out in the wild. Closer to populations they have become accustomed to people and equate them with food. Usually meaning that the food is along with the people, not the people themselves.

I know of a small blackie that was gut shot with a 35 Whelan that went for miles leaving intestines snagged on branches. It was basically gutted by the time they caught up to it. They dont die easy unless hit well. By the time you figure out of a bear is charging for real you wont have much time for shot placement. The learning curve for deciding whats a bluff and a real charge is probably pretty short... so far the closest I have seen was a guy that had his barrel in the bears mouth. I figured that was close enough to warrant pulling the trigger, and turns out he did to, but he was so flustered he forgot to flick of the safety switch.

Unless you are around griz and brown bear country I would say practice good food handling and keep the 5.56.... chances are you will never need it on bear.... but know your limitations with it!


When I used to hike alot in Arizona, I picked up an Ak pistol. Paid 325 for a "draco" and kept a 20 round mag in it with a spare 30 in my pack. Figured with that I could smoke a bear in short order, or pop a javelina, or scare away some mountain lions. Cant beat firepower like that for under four bills. Plus you can OC/CCW it as its a pistol.
dan1802  [Member]
10/9/2010 11:41:14 AM EST
with heavy grain FMJ it would by fine...you just need to make it through its skull or chest..
PredatorWhacker  [Member]
10/9/2010 11:59:04 PM EST
Surviving a surprise confrontation with a large brown bear that is attacking, while armed with a 5.56/.223 would come close to falling in the category of "shithouse luck". In my book the .223 borders on marginal for use on coyotes.
DDM4FNG  [Member]
10/10/2010 1:42:26 AM EST
OP asked "...happened to be in woods with only an AR, how would this end for the victim?"

This all comes down to shot placement. I don't care what you have if you miss it don't matter. So how good of a shot are you under stress? In the other scenario an AR is perfect. You have light weapon and light ammo with long range capability. You can carry more shots and each shot is very versatile. To find another caliber with a shot trajectory as flat at the 5.56 is hard. If you know your exact situational dangers you can pick a better weapon but to pick a more verstile weapon would be hard.
elray  [Team Member]
10/10/2010 5:20:12 AM EST
A ranger killed a bear (maybe the one that mauled Tim Treadwell and his GF Amy Hueguenard) with a .40 (fired 11 times)


if it was the bear that killed treadwell,fuckin bear should have been given a medal,not shot.
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