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  • Writer's pictureHootey Cline

9mm Versus Bear…??? Not impossible but highly improbable...

So I found this story in one of the magazines that I have the privilege of getting being a gun dealer. The article that I read was by Jeff “ Tank” Hoover. His article was about a Mr. Phil Shoemaker, an Alaskan Grizzly Guide, who also happens to be a writer. Now the title of my story is exactly how Hoover retells the story. Now prior to googling and researching Shoemaker’s history, I read this story and immediately thought (“ way!) This is a story you tell around a campfire about half a case in…

In 2016 Phil Shoemaker was involved in a shooting with a hostile grizzly bear that decided to go after some clients that were on a fishing trip. This situation went viral and still generates debate today. The real interesting part is the firearm that was used to slay the bear, a Smith and Wesson 3953 DAO with Buffalo Bore Outdoorsman +p 9mm, 147-grain hard cast bullets.

Phil’s normal field setup was a .357 Magnum loaded with 180-grain full metal jackets, eventually moving toward a .44 Magnum Mountain gun. But on the day of the chance encounter his daughter had borrowed the .44 leaving Phil with his 9mm to defend his clients against a charging bear from 15 feet away in a thick overgrown thicket. Phil drew and shot 6 times, all hits with 4 being in the heart/lung region.

Later, when questioned on the behavior of the bear, Phil had noted that the bear had shown signs of fighting and that the bear had probably just had enough for the day. It was never Phil’s intention to kill the bear, as him and his partner routinely fish next to bears in the area all of the time; but sometimes life has other plans.

When asked about his choice in gun and caliber Phil wisely states that hunting and self-defense are two separate things. You need to be able to shoot and hit what you’re shooting at.

Hoover makes a great point to his readers that “while one sip doesn’t make you drunkard, one incident doesn’t set a standard. Phil Shoemaker has been a professional outdoors-man for over 30 years, a competitive shooter, an Army Veteran, and familiar with bears...Just like W.D.M. Bell, killing an elephant with a .257 Rigby, shot placement is everything.

Training to shoot accurately is more important than what you shoot. Period.

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