View Full Version : Backpacking with Handgun

04-05-2011, 9:23 AM
First forgive me if I've missed the appropriate place to post this, it's not because I didn't look.

Last backpacking trip I saw a frightening amount of bear evidence, and it was at at the top edge of the tree line. I also spoke to several locals in Big Pine, CA, the nearest town, who reported 2 bears coming down and raiding trash cans. A ranger who was camped at First Falls said he also had a bear nosing around his bear box at his camp. Because of this I would like to carry a Smith and Wesson 500 while 'packing.

I need to know if a handgun is allowed in the John Muir Wilderness area, if CA regs allow it, and what I need to do first to get the appropriate paperwork. Then I need to buy the S&W, and above all need to go to the range I located in Oxnard to shoot. I'll start with something smaller to get used to shooting again before moving up to the hand cannon. I haven't shot in about 40 years.

If anyone can point me in the right direction I would be grateful.
Thank you,

04-05-2011, 9:34 AM
As far as I know any wilderness area you can carry loaded and visable. Not that I'm trying to persuade you from buying a gun but bear spray is very effective. I'd prefer not to kill a bear if there's another option.

04-05-2011, 9:45 AM
I already have bear spray and an air horn which I would use. I'm still terrified. An old man needs a bit more of an advantage. I get tired of talking out loud (I pack alone) and would enjoy the trips a bit more if I didn't live in fear after stepping in the first pile of fresh bear evidence. And yes, it would be a cryin' shame to have to kill a bear. I go up to fish, not to hunt. I would only shoot to stay among the living. Thanks for the quick reply.

04-05-2011, 9:51 AM

Depends on who actually regulates the John Muir W.A.....if it's state parks, then no. I'm pretty sure F&G is no too, but if it's USFS then you should be fine. The S&W 500 might be a little much if you haven't been shooting in 40 years. There are other big bore guns that you could get that will handle a bear no problem. I'd suggest the 454 casull. You can shoot .45LC at the range, and carry 454 when in bear country. Taurus makes a good revolver in 454 casull.

04-05-2011, 10:05 AM
The Muir Wilderness is part of Sierra National Forest.

Guns might be prohibited in the Area, you have to check.


04-05-2011, 10:22 AM
Also, before you carry anything out there, doublecheck where you will be and make sure that if you are in the Condor zone, you are NOT carrying any lead ammo.

04-05-2011, 10:26 AM
If you "haven't shot in about 40 years" you might want to take that 500 out and get a feel for it. You'll be glad you did when/if the day comes you need it.

04-05-2011, 10:35 AM
My bear repellent, .480 Ruger:


04-05-2011, 12:05 PM
Thank you, I'll look into those other guns. I would prefer something light that will still be affective on a bear.

04-05-2011, 12:07 PM
Hadn't thought of the lead. Thank you.

04-05-2011, 12:09 PM
Yes, I plan to start with something light and work up to the hand cannon. I'm a bit unsteady now so will be using 2 hands is a given considering the kick.

04-05-2011, 12:12 PM
How much of a kick does your .480 have, Paul? Ya think a weak old man could hold on to it without breaking his teeth?

04-05-2011, 12:31 PM
All I can tell you is that if feels like somewhere in between a .44 mag and a .454 casull.

I've read it was designed with low recoil in mind. I know the design pressure is way lower than a .454 but with the bigger bullet the energy is pretty close to the same as a .454

Of course with a Super Redhawk frame you can hand load a .480 to the same kinds of pressure as a .454 but not without paying for it with increased recoil! Factory ammo is pretty mild by comparison.