View Full Version : What condition for a bear defense rifle?

08-16-2009, 04:47 AM
I was going to ask this on the weight of a bear defense handgun thread after reading Mr. Avery's excelent posts but thought I ought to start a new one instead.

What condition do you keep your rifle in while in bear country? Or hunting/hiking in general?The couple in one of Ron's posts may have been able to defend themselves if all they had to do was cock back the hammer.

For me that's easy. There is ALWAYS a round in the chamber unless it's sitting in my cabinet or truck. As soon as I remove the rifle from either I chamber a round.

It doesn't matter if I were squirrel hunting or hiking. I always keep my weapon in condition 1. I can understand folks who don't in most situations but not while In bear country.

08-16-2009, 07:00 AM
Ryan: When hunting with anyone, even in bear country, we carry our weapons with the magazine loaded but the chamber empty. Upon sighting game, a round is then entered into the chamber. One of your more famous alumni, Craig Boddington, has a good picture on page 173 of "Shots at Big Game" explaining why. While climbing in an alpine enviornment you will eventually need two hands, so your rifle will be either slung or in a gunbearer. Inevitably, if you are not pointman, you will cover someone with your muzzle, therby violating Rule 2 (Never let your muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy) of an even more famous alumni, Jeff Cooper.
There have been numerous documented instances of professional hunters in Africa being shot by their clients. One of the more recent examples involved Craig Boddington's daughter.
If you are ever fortunate enough to be on a guided hunt in Alaska or Africa, you won't be carrying your weapon in condition 1, even if you are squirral hunting. If you hunt solo, do what you want. If you hunt in a group, your group will have to set the ground rules.

08-16-2009, 11:08 AM
It all depends on the circumstances, such as those in Bob's post, plus others. Visibility and threat level, the presence and activities of other humans all figure in. I often have responsibility for others in a crew and both training and skill levels vary. In general, rounds aren't chambered unless circumstances indicate an elevated threat. If I'm by myself, I tend to keep a round chambered somewhat more frequently, but even there, not always.

For instance; working on a tundra ridge in central AK with a dispersed crew, good visibility, previous air recon showing no bears, I won't keep a round chambered and ask others to do the same unless conditions change. Climbing with a rifle or shotgun slung, or packed, the chamber is dry. Entering a brushy area with bears sighted in the vicinity, I want spray handy, firearm in hand, round chambered. Camping solo or in a small group in most of AK, round probably chambered. Big camp, known area, chamber dry. No one gets into an aircraft or boat with a round chambered. And in large groups with other options like spray, it might depend on terrain and indications of bear activity, but generally the threat is reduced and the balance tips toward not having rounds chambered.

Basically it comes down to risk management. Over the years I have seen several unintended discharges, known of one horrific tragedy and one other serious injury. We all dwell on the danger posed by bears even though it is generally very, very low, almost non-existent in many areas considered bear country. So it takes very little for the firearm to become the more dangerous factor. Even by yourself, a slideout on a wet, muddy embankment can have you and your firearm tumbling into brush and rocks. With a round in the pipe, however low risk may still be, it goes from nothing to something.

08-16-2009, 07:08 PM
Wow, didn't hink I would be in the minority here. Interesting.

When hunting SE AK a few years back for deer my cousin, a 30 year AK resident kept his rifle in condition 1, myself 14 followed suit. Scrambling up some pretty knarly terrain in afganistan everyone kept weapons in condition 1. My Ccw pistol is also condition 1. Whatever floats your boat I guess.

Brittany, aimed and fired at a cat mauling a dog handler. Hardly a negligent discharge, well I guess it was negligent but it wasn't a whoops, my weapon just went off.

Super Chicken
08-16-2009, 07:56 PM
If going solo most times I carry a round in the tube. With others in the field empty chamber unless I'm on point AND I get the "feeling", spidey sense I guess you could call it. I have never seen a bear nor any "bad guys" in the bush but have come across a few hemp plants growing in valleys. Not enough to call the cops about but I do worry about illicit growers. As a matter of fact a fire north of me is raging due to a pot growers cooking fire getting out of hand.