Semi-Auto for Bears?

For ultimate reliability, you want a revolver, right?

I'm preparing to head out West for several weeks, where I'll be among the lions and tigers and bear (Oh My!). Well, mountain lions, bears, and wolves. It's hard to overcome what I have learned over many years, but I'm taking a semi-auto this time. bear sign

Educators talk about the law of primacy. That means the things you learn first stick hard. That's why it's challenging to change your views, and it's hard to overcome bad training, but in this case, I'm fighting what "everyone knows" about revolvers being more reliable than semi-autos.

First, what am I taking with me? Well, a 10mm, but that's not surprising. Both of the pistols we have issued under the Gun Talk name have been 10s, but I'm not taking either of them. They are great, but they are single stacks. When Springfield Armory brought out the XDm in 10mm, I immediately bought the 4.5-inch model. It carries 15 rounds in one magazine. 

I've carried XDm pistols from time to time. I like the way they shoot. I've always been comfortable shooting at 50 yards with the 3.8-inch XDm in 9mm. 

But, I have always carried a revolver when in "bear country." Why? Because the old timers always said revolvers were more reliable. That, and I wanted a lot of power in the cartridge.

Let's put away the reliability issue first. I carry a semi-auto pistol every day to protect myself from two-legged predators. Why I would balk at that for those with four legs is strange, but it testifies to the staying power of what you learn first. xdm10

Next, there's the power factor. I will be carrying a load throwing a 140-grain deep penetrating bullet at 1500 fps. That's 700-foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. That's about the same as I get from the .357 Magnum loads I've been carrying in the mountains, and I'll have 15+1 of them in the gun. 

Yes, I know that Glock has had a 10mm full-size pistol for years. Honestly, I have small hands, and I just can't handle that big grip very well. The Springfield feels better in my hands. More trim. This isn't a case of better or worse. It's just personal preference. Plus, with a couple of years of experience carrying an XDm on my belt, it seemed a natural choice.

Now I'm shopping for and buying holsters. I usually end up with three holsters for each carry pistol. 

The polymer autoloader weighs a bit less than my stainless-steel revolver, but once I load the Springfield with 16 rounds, the difference will disappear.

Am I selling my beautiful S&W 686 Deluxe? Not a chance! I love that revolver. 

Before you say it, yes, I know I have a problem. And I can quit anytime I want. I just don't want to!

So there! ~ Tom

Tom Gresham
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.