I have received this or similar questions several times:

“I have small hands (or my spouse has small hands or both). We are relatively new shooters and do not have a high tolerance for recoil. We both have

Glock 17’s for home and predator defense. We would like to carry more powerful pistols for outdoor activities. We have tried the Glock 20 10 mm and the Glock 21 .45 ACP. These guns feel too big in our hands and we are not comfortable with the recoil. These guns are bulkier and heavier than our

Glock 17’s which are already pushing our weight limits. We strongly prefer a semi auto pistol over a revolver because that is what we have been trained with. What would you suggest?”

First things first. Carry the best predator defense ammunition available for your Glock 17.  Some of the best 9 mm loads for predator defense use hard cast lead flat point bullets. You will need a barrel with Ballard cut rifling to shoot lead bullets, not a polygonal rifled barrel. In a recent test, I observed quality hard cast bullets failing to stabilizing when fired from a polygonal rifled barrel. They were tumbling soon after being fired. I have seen lead bullets tumble when fired from polygonal barrels on several other occasions. Polygonal barrels tend to strip lead off the bullets constricting the bore. This of course can cause extreme increases in pressure and has resulted in pistols failing (bursting).

If you are going to upgrade your barrel to Ballard rifling, you might also consider going to a Glock 34 5.3-inch barrel in your Glock 17. This additional 0.8 of an inch barrel length will give your Glock 17 a small boost in velocity, energy and penetration, while adding very little to the bulk or weight of your pistol. The barrel will simply protrude about ¾ of an inch past the end of the slide.

Here are some statistics on the 9 mm cartridges which in our opinion are best suited for predator defense (in this caliber). Keep in mind that any handgun is marginal for defense against bears, despite having been used successfully for that purpose numerous times.

Comparing predator defense loads in 9 mm

Double Tap Ammunition 9 mm +P 147 grain FMJ:
1,135 FPS from a 4.6-inch barrel for 421 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 166.9
$22.71 for a box of 20 cartridges or $1.13 per cartridge.

Buffalo Bore Ammunition 9 mm +P 147 grain lead flat point:
1,100 FPS barrel length and energy not given (approximately 400 Ft. Lbs.).
Power factor 161.7
$27.36 for a box of 20 cartridges or $1.37 per cartridge.

Buffalo Bore Ammunition 9 mm +P+ 124 grain FMJ:
1,300 FPS barrel length not given for 465 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 161.2
$27.36 for a box of 20 cartridges or $1.37 per cartridge.

Underwood Ammunition 9 mm +P+ 147 grain FMJ:
1,175 FPS barrel length not given for 451 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 172.7
$30.85 for a box of 50 cartridges or $0.61 per cartridge.

Underwood Ammunition 9 mm +P 124 grain FMJ:
1,225 FPS barrel length not given for 413 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 151.9
$25.94 for a box of 50 cartridges or $0.52 per cartridge.

Now that we have selected the right ammo and barrel for predator defense in our Glock 17’s, let’s look at some other options to increase power. The .40 S&W Glock 22, or .357 Sig Glock 31 should be considered. These pistols feel exactly like your Glock 17. They function the same way. Having the same angle between the grip frame and barrel, these pistols point just like the Glock 17. Except for the caliber these pistols are nearly identical to the Glock 17. They have more recoil because they are more powerful. It is very difficult to avoid Sir Isaac Newtons third law of motion. More power is going to mean more recoil, all other things being equal. 

Comparing predator defense loads in .40 S&W

Double Tap Ammunition .40 S&W 200 grain lead flat point:
1,100 FPS from a 4.6-inch barrel for 538 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Chronograph 1035 FPS, from my 4.6-inch barrel for 480 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 186.3
$20.95 for a box of 50 cartridges or $1.05 per cartridge.

Double Tap Ammunition .40 S&W 200 grain FMJ:
1,100 FPS from a 4.6-inch barrel for 538 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 220.0
$23.74 for a box of 50 cartridges or $1.19 per cartridge.

Buffalo Bore .40 S&W 200 grain lead flat point:
1,000 FPS barrel length not indicated for 440 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 200.0
$28.79 for a box of 20 cartridges or $1.44 per cartridges.

Buffalo Bore .40 S&W +P 180 grain FMJ:
1,100 FPS barrel length not indicated for 484 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 198.0
$28.79 for a box of 20 cartridges or $1.44 per cartridge.

Underwood Ammunition .40 S&W 200 grain LFP:
1,000 FPS barrel length not indicated for 444 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 200.0
$17.50 for a box of 20 rounds or $0.88 per cartridge.

Underwood Ammunition .40 S&W 180 grain FMJ:
1,100 FPS barrel length not indicated for 484 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 198.0
$32.97 for a box of 50 cartridges or $0.66 per cartridges.

CCI Speer Ammunition .40 S&W 165 grain TMJ:
1,150 FPS from a 4-inch barrel for 484 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 187.8
$13.00 for a box of 50 cartridges $0.26 per cartridge

Comparing predator defense loads in .357 Sig

Double Tap Ammunition .357 Sig 147 grain FMJ flat point:|1,296 FPS from a 4.6-inch barrel for 550 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 190.5
Chronograph 1,155 FPS from my 4.6-inch barrel for 400 Ft. Lbs.
Power factor 169.8
$23.74 for a box of 20 cartridges or $1.19 per cartridge.

Double Tap Ammunition .357 Sig 180 grain lead flat point:
1,050 FPS in a 4.6inch barrel for 441 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 189.0
Chronograph 1,060 FPS in my 4.6-inch barrel for 450 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 190.8
Chronograph 1,100 FPS in my 5.3-inch barrel for 484 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 198.0
$50.00 for a box of 50 cartridges or $1.00 per cartridge.

Buffalo Bore Ammunition .357 Sig 125 grain FMJ:
1,433 FPS in a 4-inch barrel for 575 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 179.1
Chronograph 1,480 FPS from my 4.1-inch KKM barrel for 608 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 185.0
Chronograph 1,510 FPS from my 4.6-inch KKM barrel for 634 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 188.8
$30.18 for a box of 20 rounds or $1.51 per cartridge.

Underwood Ammunition .357 Sig 125 grain FMJ:
1,475 FPS barrel length not indicated for 604 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Power factor 184.4
$32.59 for a box of 50 cartridges or $0.65 per cartridge.

Most if not all the cartridges listed here would penetrate at least three feet of ballistic gel if not four feet and would go through a Black Bears skull, in the front and out the back. While there are obviously much better calibers and cartridges for predator defense than those listed here, these meet the very limited criteria as described by several of our clients.

For a camp and outdoor survival gun the .40 S&W and the 9 mm have the advantage of using CCI handgun shot shells for snakes and vermin. There is no factory shot shell available for the .357 Sig. On the other hand, the .357 Sig has demonstrated more penetration than the .40 S&W or the 9 mm and penetration is a prime consideration in a predator defense cartridge. The .357 Sig also has a considerably longer point blank range than the .40 S&W which is not likely to matter in a bear attack but could be helpful in other outdoor situations.

We have reports of bears being stopped with 9 mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W and .45 ACP pistols. While we would certainly feel better prepared with a 10 mm, a .45 Super or a Magnum revolver, the .357 Sig and .40 S&W are a step up from the 9 mm.

The shooter who upgrades his predator defense pistol from a 9 mm to any of the .357 Sig or .40 S&W loads listed here, will be carrying a discernibly more effective sidearm, assuming he learns to shoot it at least as well as he shoots him 9 mm. Shot placement and penetration are the most important considerations. Penetration for predator defense ammunition is measured in feet, not inches. As soon as someone recommends a hollow point pistol bullet for bear defense, seek advice elsewhere.

We have several related articles on our blog which is attached to our web site.

www.marksmanshipmatters.com

At Marksmanship Matters we offer a two-day Predator Defense Class.

In this class, we teach the use of a sidearm during a variety of outdoor emergencies. The first day is classroom and the second day is all live fire range drills. You will find additional information on our web site.

Larry and Stacey Mudgett
Marksmanship Matters LLC.

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