I don't have a problem with people carrying a gun in the backcountry. I've done it myself on a few trips. I am a cop and have never had any problems with anyone with a concealed carry permit.
Before I became an officer I was threatened twice with a gun. Both times I was lucky enough to be armed. At the time I lived in a questionable area and my access to my carport was blocked on the south end of the alley due to construction. So I went to the north end and it was blocked by my local gang banger/drug dealer as he was talking (later I realized he was probably selling dope) to someone in a car. I waited a minute and then asked nicely if they could move the car so I could get through. They told me to F-off. This kind of pissed me off and so I honked my horn and the guy in the car pulled out a small handgun and put it out the window of his car (pointing up in the air) and lowered his hand back into the car. I had just gotten back from the gun range and had a loaded stainless 6" .357 magnum sitting next to me so I stuck my gun out of the window and I've never seen someone back up so fast. I acted out of instinct and probably should have just backed out and called the cops. It could have gone downhill fast.
The second time I was car camping in a remote area and during the night some drunk guys pulled in and decided to camp right next to us. They played loud rap music all night long and I went and asked them to please turn it down (I was armed and they didn't know it) and they told me no in a not so nice way. They were getting high when I had walked over there.
The next day they were talking really loud about killing our dog and doing things to the women in the group that were with us. They were also carrying around a little .22 rifle and saying they were going to kill us. They still didn't know that they were way outgunned as there were several firearms in our group and we had discussed what to do. We had contacted the sheriff but they were at least an hour from getting to us. We were also concerned because they had a young girl and she seemed very frightened and not well cared for.
They actually walked through our camp to start a fight and then saw that we had several guns and then backed down. They packed up really fast and hit the one road out of there but were snagged up by a deputy not far from our camp. We met the deputy on the road and it was very satisfying to see those losers cuffed and sitting in the weeds on the side of a dirt road. The deputy told us that one of them had felony warrants out for his arrest.
As a cop I've nearly had to shoot two people. One guy pulled a gun and then thought the better of it . The next guy was going to the bar to kill his wife and her new dancing partner and decided he would rather live than be shot so he let go of his gun.
Having been an armed security guard here in Nevada, and having taken several days of training in procedure and policy, and more in action shooting reacting to various scenarios, I am well aware that If I draw my firearm it is beause I'm defending my life or someone else's.
Furher I know full well that IF I shoot (ALWAYS to kill, NEVER to wound)I will face at least a civil suit from the perp's family in which I'll have to spend a minimum of $50,000. for my defense. It's a sobering situation all the way around. But at least know the the downside and am prepared to deal with it if it means saving one life, or more.
As an armed guard we were prepared to use increasing levels of "force'. 1st your physical pesence, and uniformed appearance 2nd, your voice 3rd, pepperspray 4th, the Asp, a telescoping steel baton, and very deadly if misused 5th, your handgun, in my case a Glock 17
Nevada encourages only using one level of force higher than that used by the criminal.
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."
As a woman backpacker hiking areas of the PCT I always carry a 22 or 38, just seems wise, never know what crazy situation may arise. I have a permit and know how to correctly use a gun so feel confident if I ever had to actually use it. Just my 2 cents worth.
Loc: Northern California, USA
You guys cover everything on this board. I was actually thinking about this as I am going backpacking in northern California in about a month and thought I might bring my 1911 along. I do not have a CCW so I would have to open carry.
I would carry it mostly for protection against two-legged creatures. I have never had to use a firearm against an animal, and don't really anticipate needing to... although mountain lions are getting slightly more confident up here.
Marijuana cultivation is a problem up here in Northern California... and the growers seem to be getting more violent and reckless. I don't really anticipate problems with other hikers, as most people who are willing to hike into the wilderness seem to be decent people... even the ones who like to drink (also been part of those groups occasionally), but the trail heads and back roads can attract some undesirables.
I'm waiting back on an email regarding specific laws in the wildernesses I am considering going, and right now I'm split 50/50. I know of very few things that provide the peace of mind a firearm gives you... yet they are heavy, and open carry may make some people uncomfortable. Also if I decide to take it, it will have to be on me at all times. Can't leave a handgun in an unattended camp while I go climb a peak. Tough decision...
The following is pure speculation on my part since I have no direct or indirect knowledge of the psyche of drug criminals. I have however come into contact with armed individuals of whom was unsure of "why" they were in the woods (ie not hunting or hiking).
My guess is if you did come across some drug criminals, they are 1. probably armed 2. probably more than one of them, 3. more "afraid" and trigger happy. Thus an unknown person who startles them will be met with a drawn (or visible) weapon in an attempt to scare them off. If the unknown person either had a visible weapon, or showed theirs it may escalate the situation and increase the danger. For me, the safer bet would be to not carry a weapon, especially visible and if an encounter happened, play dumb and tuck tail. back at the car I would then notify the authorities. In most cases an armed civilian increases the threat level of the situation and the likelihood of harm for the civilian, as opposed to the feeling of "peace of mind" that carrying provides. my .02cents only
Loc: Texas Hill Country
I'm guessing that an armed criminal won't waste much time deciding whether you're a cop or another armed criminal coming to steal his stash. In his mind, you're certainly NOT a recreational hiker, they don't carry guns.
How fast can you pull your weapon and from how far can hit what you aim at?
I figure you might have 3/4 second with a crook; mountain lion, probably 0.
I am a liftime firearm enthusiast and consider myself competent with them. However, I always carry both gun and spray. I would prefer to not have to ever fire my weapon at a charging animal if I can help it (which is why I carry the spray) but the weather and wind are so unpredictable where I live that spray alone cannot be relied upon independently, IMO.
“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” -- Frank A. Clark
Loc: Northern California, USA
First, I do have a little experience dealing with armed marijuana growers, as where I live (Humboldt County, CA) is probably the center of the cultivation industry in America.
I have noticed a couple things when I've had to deal with these types. First, they try their absolute best to avoid you. Second, they are not really likely to have weapons on them (while they love to have a stockpile in their camp for whatever reason), or when the weapons are on them they are not fire-ready (not cocked, not easily accessible, etc).
One thing that has been pretty consistent with confrontations in the mountains is the "pack" method of intimidation. I've gotten into some less than desirable situations with a group of guys, and know a few people who have been robbed by a group of guys (one guy was then jumped and beat up).
I don't see a firearm as escalating a situation, I see it as leveling the playing field. I am pretty competent with my handgun. You're right, against a mountain lion I may not have a chance unless I was aware of it before it attacked. I have caught a mountain lion trailing me before, and if it attacked I would have had time to draw and fire... even if I missed the simple noise may have been enough to intimidate it.
Loc: California (southern)
Just before clicking on your post, I read an account of an NPS employee using bear spray to ward off a charging brown bear in your fair state. Bear was fifteen feet away when he pulled the trigger. Prior training probably came in handy.
I've never used a gun or pepper spray to defend myself from a human or animal (although humans are probably the most dangerous animal.)
However, I have read accounts of people killing grizzlies with a 357 mag. I think you could, but might be tough if the grizzly was charging. I believe you have to disable the bear, with a shoulder or hip shot. Otherwise it may not die before it kills you. Remember a bison can run a mile after a heart shot. Makes a CNS shot necessary to get the meat to the truck.
You might look in to a single shot rifle or pump shotgun for the car. Both can be fairly compact, and there are FAR fewer restrictions on long guns.
From what I have heard, Big Bend National Park ENCOURAGES people to have guns.
PapaSam. There has been a lot of feed back/information given but not all of it is correct. As everything else you may read on the net you have to take things with a grain of salt. 1) If you are concerned about weight, ie, every little once over 10 pounds will break bones and tear ligaments, Then leave the extra wt at home. 2) If you are not practiced and skilled with the handgun it will probably be of no use when you need it. Kind of like a first aid kit. You can have the greatest first aid kit in the world but it is useless if you lack first aid knowledge. 3) If you can not find a way to get the gun out and in a ready position in under 3 seconds... re read #2. 4) If you do carry know that their is a large percentage of antigun types that will make you a reckless villain. 5) You must know the regs and updates of carrying wherever you go. A single slip up, even if it is a simple clerical error can land you in a lot of hot water. 6) You must be mentally prepared to use a gun. This is not being "macho". This means are you prepared to take a life, animal or human, if the need arises. 7) carrying does not give you a license to be sloppy. You must always be aware of your surroundings and avoid confrontations in the first place. The gun is an absolute last resort, not an all around "go to" Case in point, If you are at a nat park and want that special picture(close up) of an animal thinking the gun will save you when things go wrong it will not go well with you when the authorities arrive. However, if you shoot a cougar that is stalking your child as the child goes from the outhouse to the family tent. The authorities will easily look upon this as justified. There is an nationwide manhunt for a couple of escaped cons who have already murdered while on the run. They are now believed to be in the Yellowstone area. Would it not be better to shoot them and later be judged by a jury of 12 than to be carried by 6?
Now for the flip side. I do carry. I carry most every day and I carry most anywhere and that includes the backcountry. For me carrying is just another step of being prepared, just like a first aid kit. Just because I have not opened the first aid kit in a few years does not mean it is not needed or not necessary. I hope I never have to use either but I am skilled and prepared to do so if needed.
I second it too !!! There is no way that I am going into the back country without some way to protect myself. Like he said, just because you have not had it out in a year, doesn't mean that you won't have to. Better to be safe than sorry...
The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!
Loc: Central Texas
Lonewolf sums it up accurately, but I would like to emphasize his last point, #7: Packing is no excuse to be sloppy. Getting into a situation where a confrontation is probable is just stupid, and a firearm is not likely to get you out of it unscathed. They really are a last resort and a desperate one at that. To succeed, you need total situational awareness. If you have that, you are less likely to get into a shooting scrape to begin with.
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
I carry a Ruger GP100 (357 pistol - 6 /1/2 inch barrel.) The joke is that if you run out of bullets you can always hit them with it. Yes it is that heavy. _but_ other than a long gun, I'm more accurate with it (with bear rounds) than the 9 or 40.
The one time I didn't carry it and just carried my pepper spray I saw a ton of fresh bear sign. I think what woke me up in the middle of the night was possibly a bear... or a porcupine - they make about the same amount of noise. I would feel awful if I put myself (and the bear/moose) in a situation where I had to kill a bear (or a moose) - so I do my utmost to avoid it.
Additionally, Alaska has a high number of crimes against women... and I often hike alone. I _feel_ more comfortable carrying it on my hip.
However, I have taken several gun classes and have been shooting since about 12. I hope to take another class in tactical shooting one of these days.
Now if they would just come up with a gun that cleaned its self =( or if I could talk my husband into doing it (and of course with final inspection by me.)
I was on a dayhike in the North Cascades yesterday and I had my S&W 642 .38 snubbie with me in my front pocket. It was in a nice thinly padded Uncle Mike’s pocket holster. Now I can carry this rig around all day on the streets, but by mile 4 yesterday in the mountains it was rubbing my thigh annoyingly. Into my pack it went. I won’t be bringing any guns hiking with me anymore as I find them to be a PITA to carry.
I’m still bringing my bear spray though. “Look out you hoodlum bears!”
well perhaps the accuracy lacks from snub noses because they don't trAvel far enough down a barrel to pick up the spin of the rifling. Its the angular momentum from the rotation of the round lead bullet that carries a huge amount of the muzzle energy and though a bullet slows down with distance, its angular energy stays about the same especially after 100 yards. The spinning improves accuracy and it takes 4 inches or more, mine's 7.5 inch bull barrel, which I thick is best from a purely ballist standpoint. Its long enough to accelerate the bullet to 1,000+ feet per second. Velocity = acceleration x time. The acceleration is from the explosive impulse and the pressure on the back of the bullet pushing it down the barrel and into the rifling spinning the deformed lead and heating it to a point where it is nearly molten as it travels down a barrel. "Time" in the equation refers to the length of time the slug is in the barrel, thus the longer the barrel, the faster the slug.
The problem with a snubbie is the bullet goes too slow to rupture. I know, I have a hole in my thigh from a .38 snubbie going off in a holster and passing through my leg without rupturing. The bullet went through my leg and dropped onto the floor. At first I didn't believe I shot my self.
So I have bullet holes and scars from a shattered knee and sixteen bolts and wires went through my leg to graphite rings up and down my lower leg AND large surgical incision scars ( I had pit bull bight marks on my calf too). So the story goes like this: "A mountain lion jumped me while backpacking. I jumped aside but he got me by the calf of my leg He sunk his claws into my leg then grabbed the front of my leg with his teeth. It was then I grabbed my revolver and aimed and fired the gun still in the holster, through my leg, and through the beasts heart."
NO ACTUAL LIVE MTN LIONS WERE HARMED FOR THIS FANTASY Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
Titanium revolvers are best for small less powerful calibers like .38 Special, 32 Magnums, etc.
At the end of the day, a 44 Mag (or whatever) is not necessary for stopping a bear. What's needed is excellent, or lucky, shooting (CNS shots are the only way to stop a bear) and super-penetrating bullets like the hard-cast LBT design. I use 180 LBT's in a Ruger 357 4" Security Six, or the same in a friend's Ti S&W.
I typically don't carry a pistol in Grizz Country while backpacking, carrying "only" bear spray. However, I do pack a pistol when packing out bloody elk meat in the fall.
There Is No Bad Weather, Just Bad Clothing...