Are 9mm handguns good protection for hikers? - We Are The Mighty

Are 9mm handguns good protection for hikers?

If you live in the USA, there are a few species that will always pose a threat when you go hiking. Both black and brown bears can easily kill a man, while cougars and wolves are also dangerous. You most likely can’t outrun these animals, so having a firearm on you just in case is smart hiking preparation. The question is – are 9mm handguns enough to protect you from these animals?

Dangerous animals you might run into

Thankfully, there aren’t that many dangerous animals in the wild and most of them are easy to spot.

For the purposes of this article, only confrontational animals that will attack you just for getting too close are included.

Snakes, for example, are not included, because in most cases, you have to grab or step on one to provoke an attack.

First, we have bears. Both black and brown bears are common in the wild and both of these species can kill you. Black bears are smaller, they’re not as aggressive as brown bears, and they can be scared off.

Although both species will avoid you if they see you in the wild, they might attack if you get too close to them.

Cougars are similar in this regard – they don’t want to interact with humans. If a cougar spots you, it will most likely hide and let you pass by. However, if you’re so unlucky that you get too close to its hiding spot, you’ll most likely get jumped.

do 9mm handguns protect from mountain lions?
Female mountain lion in the Santa Susana Mountains of California. Mountain lions can weigh between 130 and 150 pounds if they are adult males. Adult females can weigh between 65 and 90 pounds. Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service.

Wolves are territorial animals, and as such, they’re easily provoked if you invade their territory.

They usually travel in packs and if you bump into a wolf pack, they’ll see you as a threat. Wolves still won’t attack you unless they deem it absolutely necessary (or if they’re starving) – keep your distance and you’ll be safe.

Moose are another dangerous animal that’s often underestimated by people. Although they’re normally calm, uninterested animals, the males go crazy during mating season, while the females get extra jumpy if they have their calves with them.

At the right time, both males and females can be easily-irritable animals that weigh about as much as a small car.

We can’t forget the bison – calm, grazing animals. However, they don’t like it if you get too close to them, and they will attack you in self-defense.

Keep in mind that they can weigh up to 2600 pounds and that the bulls have notoriously thick skulls with horns on top.

Other animals worthy of a mention are coyotes and wild dogs. It can be argued that they’re not as dangerous as the other animals on this list because coyotes can be scared off easily, while wild dogs are just domestic dogs that were released into the wild.

Can my 9mm handgun protect me from these animals?

Before we start, know that all animals are afraid of loud sounds.

Firing three rounds in the air might be enough to scare the animal off.

However, if it’s still coming at you, here’s what you can kill with a 9mm. (Again, this is for self-preservation, when you are feeling your life is threatened; not for hunting).

Bears can definitely be killed with a 9mm. They’re a wide target that’s difficult to miss and 9mm rounds will cause serious damage.

Because of their size and the adrenaline, they might not die instantly, but if you put a few rounds in a bear the animal is bound to at least slow down and back off.

The same can be said for cougars – you can kill one with a 9mm. However, they’re smaller than bears and they’re quick animals, so they might be difficult to hit.

Wolves, coyotes and dogs can be easily killed with high-quality 9mm ammo – a single, well-placed round is all it takes. Even if it doesn’t instantly kill the animal, the pain and the injury will scare it away. The problem with wolves is that there’s usually more than one of them.

Moose present an entirely different set of problems. First of all, they’re massive animals that don’t behave logically during mating season. If you shoot it, it might keep charging at you despite the injury.

Technically, you can kill a moose with a 9mm, but I’d rather have a larger round in that situation.

The same can be said for bison – they can’t control themselves, they’re unable to slow down easily, and they can take a hit. If you’re ever charged at by a bison, know that body shots are more effective than headshots.

For bison, I would also feel safer with something more powerful.

So, it can be said that a 9mm is enough for most animals, but there are a few species so large and powerful when they charge that it might take a few rounds to take them down.

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