Best Brown Bear Caliber

Best Brown Bear Caliber for Brown Bear Hunting

Now before you read further a little disclaimer: WE DO NOT claim to be experts on the best brown bear caliber… I have just compiled this information based on first-hand experience as well as the experience of other brown bear hunters, guides and outfitters.

Now, with that out of the way, here we go. Here are our pics for the best brown bear caliber:

Rifles for Brown Bear Hunting

A weatherproof rifle is a must on a brown bear hunt. Alaska is hard on rifles. The rifle’s barrel and action should be stainless steel or should have a rust-resistant coating. Another good weatherproofing tip is to put electrical tape over the end of your barrel. You’re rifle will be wet at least 40% of the time. Trust me.

The stock should be synthetic. It rains during brown bear hunts. It rains a lot. A laminate stock will also work, but it will be heavier than synthetic.

Your scope should be waterproof and have a wide field of view with low magnification as shots at brown bears tend to be at fairly close range. A scope cover is a must.

Best Brown Bear Caliber

Most people would agree that while it is still a little bit light, the .30-06 is the minimum caliber that should be used for hunting brown bears. Especially for a hunter unable to handle more recoil. A deep-penetrating 200 to 220 grain bullet travelling at 2,600 to 2,700 fps put in the boiler room will always be effective.

I recommend a 338 for brown bears. The 338 is a perfect rifle for everything in Alaska. Good bonded bullets such as Nozlers, Swift or Barnes are the best.”
~Phil Byrd, Alaska Outfitter

Other cartridges to consider for brown bear hunting include the .45-70 with a good bullet weighing around 400 grains; the .338-06; .35 Whelen; and 9.3×62. All that said, the .375 H&H Magnum with a 300-grain bullet at 2,600 fps has long been the classic brown bear cartridge.

Whatever caliber you choose, the bullet and bullet placement must be up to the task.



    1. says

      I have hunted deer and hog in Florida for a lifetime with both brush guns and long distant rifles like a 300 win mag so I would like to share a few thoughts here. every 45 70 I have ever owned with 300 bullets at 1700 fps or faster when sighted in for 50 yards hit 5 inches low at 100 yards.
      If its sighted in for 100 yards it shoots 5 inches high at 50 yards. So I say anyone who normally hunts with a bow at 60 yards or less then the 45 70 out to 60 yards is great medicine..
      A 45 70 barrel over 28 inches helps some but who wants to carry a gun that long.

      My 375 H and H weighs 9.5 pounds, if it weighed less it would not be controllable. I use a 8 inch eye relief scope so I can shoot heads up and not have to wonder is the scope is going to hit my face under recoil.
      Lastly I like shooting deer slugs from a rifled barrel at shoots under 80 yards. The 20 gage does not take down deer or hogs well.
      The 12 gage is the proper choose and I believe it is a great choose for shooting black bear at under 80 yards.
      (Pick one caliber and style gun- go to the indoor gun range often until you can hit your target both from standing and sitting.

    2. David A. Bythewood says

      Your advice, though sound, is generalized and could be more specific. As an example, while the .375 H&H is the minimum in certain African countries, based on bore diameter, other African countries regulate based on muzzle energy in joules. This, muzzle energy, might be the better way to determine what is needed. Some older rifles with older ammo loadings, such as .45 Colt or .358 Winchester, do not have sufficient muzzle energy to sufficiently hunt dangerous game with.

    3. David A. Bythewood says

      An addition to my comment is required because I did not point out that the evaluation must take into consideration pounds per square inch or PSI. To make that point it Is necessary to say that an auto traveling at 5mph will have far less penetration than a ballistic bullet traveling at the same speed. That is because all of the force of the bullet is concentrated in one extremely small area. But, with the auto that energy is spread over a large surface and will not give any penetration. To have a little experiment, first drop a 1 lb weight from 2 ft above on to your gut. Then put a 1 lb weight on the shaft of a broadhead and drop it from 2 feet onto your gut. The 1lb weight will not penetrate. On the broadhead, you may not have survived that aspect of the experiment.

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