So is a knife and/or even a handgun an effective, realistic, platform for wilderness self-defense?
Here is a dose of reality - At this very moment I'm looking at three recovered projectiles extracted from a smaller black bear that was repeatedly attacking garbage cans in a rural neighborhood. Deputy “A” was given the green light to "rid the community of the bear." So from approximately 7 yards he shot the bear multiple times (who was pre-occupied eating last nights pizza from the garbage and not in attack mode) with his GLOCK 22 using issued 165 grain Gold Dots. The report of the handgun caused the bear to momentarily stop, look at the Deputy and then return to the Meat Lovers Pizza.
Puzzled, because on TV the bear is suppose to be DRT (Dead Right There) he walked away and returned with his issued Remington 870 and standard 00 Buck Shot. Again, from around 7 yards he shot the bear once. This time the bear turn around and started to walk toward the Deputy who said in effect "enough of this nonsense - edited for the forum" and did a transition from 00 Buck to Slugs and then shot the bear DRT with one well placed shot.
Later an autopsy revealed the 40 Cal Gold Dots barely penetrated the hide and was lodged in the outer layer of fat. These projectiles were rendered ineffective by two laryer of fur (course and fine) and the outer layer of fat. The Buck Shot performed the same. The slug had penetrated completely into the vitals.
Keep in mind, this bear was not in attack mode and was not moving and/or animated and the Deputy was not under high stress and was able to take deliberate, accurate, aim. The deputy had a clear line of fire with no obstructions and most importantly the defense (if you can call it that) was pre-planned, prepared and ready. Also the bear was staged or in an ideal position so the Deputy had a good vital organ shot.
But what about in the wild? We know two or four legged attacks are sudden, usually from a surprise, are deliberate, fast, and extremely violent. Also these attacks are rarely (perhaps never) where the attacker are standing on a mound posed in a Field and Stream Cover Photo for ideal shot or stab placement.
So, how do you suppose our Body Alarm Response is going react when a bear launches an unprovoked surprise attack in heavily dense foliage and we’re on less than perfectly flat ground, maybe under the weight of a ruck, with foliage, undergrowth, snags, and other obstacles blocking our sight of the attacker and inhibiting our mobility and yet we’re swinging away with a knife or shooting a puny handgun cartridge with limited capacity at them? Indeed, let’s get real.