Lions, Tigers, and Bears… How Does A Concealed Carry Pistol Stack Up Against Wildlife?


There’s plenty of creatures walking around on four legs that want nothing to do with us while we’re hiking through the parks or wandering the property. However, every once in awhile, we run across one that doesn’t.

In a previous article, we discovered a guy who ran into a bear and didn’t get a chance to get his gun out. In another, we talked about an Alaska bush man who took out a bear with his handgun. This leads to a question:

Can a concealed carry pistol stack up against a wild animal?

Gray Wolves

There are many species of wolf but the gray wolf can be up to 5.2 feet in length and 180 pounds for an alpha male. This isn’t common by any stretch but it’s an upper figure. At those proportions, we’re dealing with darn near with the weight of a man. Wolves operate in packs and it’s highly uncommon for them to fight people. Dogs and livestock, however, are in dangerous ground. If you’re stuck defending your dog or horse from a pack of wolves, a concealed carry pistol only carries between 6 to 15 rounds. That’s not a lot of play room.

Center mass is different for a wolf than it is a man. Nearly any successful hit on a wolf will usually be enough to send it running. There’s no hospital it can run to for help. Most wild animals when given a choice between living or fighting, usually opt for living.

A concealed carry pistol is more than sufficient to take on a wolf in the highly unlikely circumstance that it is necessary to do so.

NOTE: Shooting wolves can come with serious penalties if done without the consent of your local state or federal Fish & Wildlife. If done for self-defense, we would highly suggest you document as much as you can for evidence. It can only help you.


Much like wolves, coyotes are smaller and usually after livestock or occasionally a domesticated dog. Coyotes are pretty abundant and are very clever predators. They don’t normally pick a fight with humans unless forced to. That said, they are a population of animals susceptible to rabies, hunger, and a number of other factors that can change their normal disposition into a much more aggressive one.

When dealing with a coyote, any shot center mass should do the trick. We feel confident even a .22 LR round would probably be enough to stop or neutralize a coyote. That said, in any killing of wildlife without a permit, it must be reported to the proper authorities and any evidence you accrue should be handed over to an attorney if the case appears to be contested on its legality.

Is a concealed carry pistol sufficient for a coyote? We believe it should be. Certainly we recommend a frangible or hollow point ammunition — ideally, chambered in 9mm and above.

Fisher Cats or Fishers


Fisher Cats are loosely related to the badger family and directly related to the marten family. They thrive in harsh temperate climates and have taken refuge as the Appalachians of North Carolina. These creatures were, at one time, hunted to near extinction on account of their fur. Now, they are extremely well populated in the northern temperate forests of New York and New England. Your chances of needing to fight a Fisher Cat is small. They are territorial, fast, and very cunning. However, if they do decide to attack, your options are pretty limited. They are absolutely ruthless. Fisher Cats are one of the few animals that will get inside a chicken coop and kill all the livestock because it wants to hunt down one peculiar delicacy: the eye balls.

This is what usually puts farmers in contact with Fisher Cats — fowl. When there’s a disturbance in the chicken coop and you head out with your concealed carry pistol, a fisher cat is really no match for the gun. The problem is you have to hit the damn thing. Fisher cats have a dark, silky mat of fur that makes them a particularly difficult target late at night. Even during the day, they can hide in the branches and attack at will.

Is a concealed carry pistol a match for a Fisher? The tentative answer is yes.

A bullet from even a .380 ACP or .25 could do the trick so long as you can actually hit it. As always, we expressly recommend using frangible ammunition and, so long as Fish and Game doesn’t care, definitely consider keeping the fur. Heck, a properly prepared fur on a Fisher could probably buy you your next concealed carry pistol… Or replace all the chickens you lost.

Mountain Lions


Never confuse a Mountain Lion for your friendly neighborhood cat… Not like that should be a problem anyways. Mountain Lions are extremely fast, territorial, and capable of seriously injuring and killing even an adult human. They have been most noted in the mountains of California but had, at one time, been found across North and South America.

Mountain Lions have been known to take out horses, cattle, sheep, and other livestock. They have even killed dogs defending property and mauled children. The hardest part about fighting a Mountain Lion is dealing with its speed and being aware enough to realize you are being stalked by it.

Can a concealed carry pistol stand up against a Mountain Lion? Sure. If you have one heck of an aim and can put a round in its heart or lungs before it’s on top of you… We highly recommend a higher caliber of ammunition or, in the very least, a bullet that is designed to create a very large wound channel. An overpressurized  (+P) jacketed hollow point (JHP) or similar would be highly recommended.



There are a lot of species of bear in North America. Brown bears, Kodiaks, and Black bears are some of the most common. Black bears are generally the smallest and the most skittish. They have been known to root through trash, raid chicken coops, and be a nuisance but instances of black bear attacks are usually isolated to mothers defending their cubs and isolated incidences of males being overly aggressive.

With bears in general, they are territorial. If they perceive you’re encroaching on their space, they may stalk you, attempt to mark their territory with scat, or even raid your food stores in your camp.

In our article on an Alaska guide who defended his clients from a bear attack, he used a Smith & Wesson 3953 DAO 9mm. Let’s cut to the chase — Alaska tour guides with a lifetime worth of experience in hunting wildlife are not a good comparison with the average concealed carrier.

He also used special self-defense ammunition: Buffalo Bore 9mm +P.

It’s also doubtful he dropped the bear in one shot. With a 9mm, he likely applied a decent field of fire onto the bear at center mass and one of the rounds proved enough to bring the beast down. If stuck in a similar circumstance with only a concealed carry pistol or similar, we suppose any of us would try to do the same.

Is a concealed carry pistol good enough to handle a bear?

In general, no, a concealed carry pistol chambered in 9mm or less, with a magazine of full metal jacketed rounds (FMJ), would not be a recommended carry option if Kodiak or Brown Bears were a possible threat. But that’s also why we recommend self-defense ammunition such as jacketed hollow point. For Black Bears, we would still recommend heavier and deadlier as options. A frangible round or a round that creates a large, penetrating wound channel is absolutely required if you intend to stop a bear.

Crocodiles and Alligators


Crocodiles and alligators are two completely different species of animals but they have one big common relative: dinosaurs. Their brain isn’t designed to handle nuance like armed humans. Quite literally, if they believe they are being attacked or something is coming between them and their meal, they will snap, hiss, and even lunge. And both can move exceptionally fast across short distances… In a lot of cases, faster than a person can run.

Here’s the catch: alligators are also a protected class of species. This means that, in their natural habitat, you need a license to hunt them. If you kill an alligator without a license, you can be arrested and treated like a criminal. If that sounds ridiculous to you, let us point out a story we reported on where that exact thing happened when a farmer tried to protect his animals from an alligator. He nearly lost his son-in-law in the process as well as got arrested and convicted.

Will a concealed carry handgun stand up against a fully mature, adult alligator or crocodile? No. We don’t believe it’s a good choice of firearm for the occasion. If it’s your leg, or your dog getting gnawed on, you might not have much of a choice, but it’s definitely not the first choice we’d pick to try to fight off a reptile that outweighs us by several hundred pounds.

A concealed carry handgun may be enough to inflict enough injury to force an alligator or crocodile to retreat but it’s highly doubtful any average concealed carrier will score a successful kill against one.

As a general disclaimer and, in conclusion, fighting wildlife is something done only as a last resort. If you do not try to feed wild animals, do not offer them aid or sanctuary, you have exceedingly little to worry about in most cases. If you are one of those people that likes to give raccoons peanut butter sandwiches, you will up your chances of running into less friendly faces.

Wildlife is, by its very nature, wild. That also means unpredictable. It’s hard to know a predator’s true intentions. Carry for the occasion and carry every single day, everywhere you go. Also, if bigger wildlife is a possible threat, pack self-defense ammunition that incorporates a hollow point or other method of expansion. The bigger the wound channel, the greater the likelihood of neutralizing a big adversary.

Enjoy the outdoors and have a healthy respect for nature! Enjoy!


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About the Author

GH is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 26 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his Sig Sauer SP2022 in a Dara Holsters Appendix IWB holster.

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