Can a 40 Caliber Kill a Bear?

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

.40 caliber weapons are available everywhere and sometimes go for less than 9mm weapons. It’s a known fact that the rounds leave the weapon with more energy than 9mm rounds, but many still wonder, “can a 40 caliber kill a bear?”

There’s a lot to analyze before jumping to conclusions.

Can a 40 Caliber Kill a Bear?

A 40 caliber round generates between 350-foot-pound to 500-foot-pound of energy at the muzzle at 135- and 180-grain loads, respectively.

This makes it just powerful enough to kill a bear. 10mm ammo produces less energy, and the 9mm ammo has a maximum load of 147 grain, making it the wrong choice for bear hunting.

Bear in the wild

It’s more important to be situationally aware than it is to carry the right weapon when dealing with bears. Generally speaking, if a bear decides to attack you, you won’t have enough time to pull out your weapon. For this reason, many that camp in the woods have dogs, which alert them and give them enough time to react.

What Caliber Handgun Is Adequate to Kill a Bear?

Old-time bear hunters will tell you that any load that has a 200-grain or larger bullet will have enough wallop to take down a bear. 40 caliber bullets fires at a slightly higher energy which makes them wear out faster, and are barely qualified to take out bears. Ideally, you need a 200-grain bullet at 1000 fps or higher to kill a bear.

For this reason, many bear hunters:

  • Carry a .44 Special or .45 Colt.
  • You could also get by with a .41 Magnum or a .44 Magnum.
  • Some hunters prefer carrying a .357 Magnum and get the job done; however, these hunters understand how they should place their shots and tend to be more experienced.

What Weapon Did Master Bear Hunter Wayne Bosowicz Carry?

Bear hunter and master guide of the Maine forests, Wayne Bosowicz, helped people carry out specialized bear hunts for more than 40 years. He has a reputation for having a lot of knowledge about bears and bear hunting. He, unfortunately, passed away in 2017 after a long battle with cancer.

40 caliber bullets

Bosowicz was known to carry a .357 Magnum revolver for many, many years for hunting bears. Later in life, he changed his mind about the weapon when encountering a charged-up boar. The boar took the entire cylinder filled with JHP ammo in the chest – and did not slow down one bit.

Wayne decided to get a .41 Magnum the same day and carried it ever since. It never failed to stop a bear for him.

.40 S&W Bullet Types

Bullet Type Velocity Energy
10.69 g (165 gr) Federal FMJ 1,130 ft/s (340 m/s) 468 ft.lbf (635 J)
7.45 g (115 gr) Cor-Bon Glaser 1,400 ft/s (430 m/s) 500 ft.lbf (680 J)
10.04 g (155 gr) Federal HST 1,160 ft/s (350 m/s) 463 ft.lbf (628 J)
8.74 g (135 gr) Underwood JHP 1,400 ft/s (430 m/s) 588 ft.lbf (797 J)
12.95 g (200 gr) Doubletap FMJ FP 1,050 ft/s (320 m/s) 490 ft.lbf (660 J)

Related Questions

Is 40 S&W Good for Black Bear Defense?

The 40 S&W is good for black bear defense. It has enough power to stop a black bear. Make sure to use the correct ammo for black bear defense.

Is a 40 Cal Stronger Than 9MM?

The 40 cal is stronger than 9mm. It has bigger and heavier bullets compared to the 9mm. This translates to better stopping power.

How Powerful Is a 40 Caliber?

The 40 caliber can generate around 350 foot-pounds and up to 500 foot-pounds of energy. It exceeds the standard pressure of .45 ACP loadings.


40 caliber weapons generate 500-foot-pound of energy at the muzzle at 180 grain, which may be able to kill a deer but is barely enough to kill a bear. Many experts prefer carrying a .41 Magnum weapon since the bullet has a load of 200 grain. The cartridge is known to be powerful enough to take down a bear.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.