Guns and Gear for an Alaska Black Bear Hunt

posted on March 7, 2020

Editor's Note: Field Editor Philip Massaro put the following gear to use on a recent Alaska black bear hunt. You can catch up on that story here.

Mark Basner Custom Rifle in .404 Jeffrey with Leupold VX-5HD scope

Because both black and brown bears were available, I chose to take my Mark Bansner custom rifle in .404 Jeffery. The rifle began life as a Legendary Arms Works Big Five, but it has been restocked and hot-rodded by Bansner. Built on an M704 controlled-round-feed action with a synthetic stock (lengthened to 14
¼ inches to fit me like a glove), the rifle made sense for Alaska. All its metalwork is covered in Cerakote, and the rifle is equipped with a properly tuned Timney trigger. It is topped with a Leupold VX-5HD 1X-5X-24mm in Talley detachable rings. This rig made perfect sense to me as a rifle for any bear, anywhere. 

Norma African PH Woodleigh FMJ 450-grain Ammo

The Norma African PH load I chambered in the rifle fires a 450-grain Woodleigh Weldcore bonded core bullet at 2150 fps to deliver more than 4,600 ft.-lbs. energy. It’s a good stopping round for the biggest brown bears. The Bansner rifle will print three-shot groups with it in just under an inch.

Riton 10x42 Binocular and Hoppe's BoreSnake

I took along a Hoppe’s BoreSnake to keep the bore clean; the salty air of Cook Inlet can cause rust quicker than you’d think. I also carried my Riton 10x42 HD binocular, as it has stood up well in all sorts of weather and temperatures, and is comfortable to carry and use for long glassing sessions.

Jagdhund Erzberg Jacket

I wore a Jagdhund Erzberg coat and Reiting pants in loden green. Jagdhund uses a blend of new wool with a bit of camel hair thrown in to make warm, quiet and efficient outerwear. The clothing was comfortable—not too warm when temperatures rose yet plenty warm during the late-night sits. In addition to my favorite Karesuando skinning knife, I took along a Knives of Alaska skinner/cleaver. It’s a handy tool, capable of skinning a bear or moose as well as breaking bone or cutting branches for an impromptu ground blind (and we did just that).


Keefe Shooting 712 G3
Keefe Shooting 712 G3

#SundayGunday: CZ-USA 712 G3

Get a closer look at the CZ-USA Field Sports 712 G3, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Recipe: Shane’s Goose Bake

This recipe uses all components of the goose, including legs and thighs, breast meat, and the gizzard, heart and liver. The different textures and flavors often surprise people who actively seek “special parts” from the roaster.

Hardware: Savage 93 Minimalist

The Savage 93 Minimalist combines a classic laminate stock design with modern aesthetics to achieve a lightweight platform with improved ergonomics.

First Look: Alps OutdoorZ Deadquiet Ember Handwarmer

Alps OutdoorZ has debuted its Deadquiet Ember Handwarmer. This handwarmer works in conjunction with the company's Deadquiet Shield Bino Harness, or as a standalone product to help keep hands warm and ready when the temperature take a dive.

New for 2023: Fiocchi Speed sTEAL

Fiocchi has expanded its Flyway offerings with Speed sTEAL shotshells. Boasting dense patterns for terminal performance Speed sTEAL is developed specifically for early-season teal hunting.

First Look: Bond Arms Rawhide .22 LR

Made after its namesake, the Bond Arms Rawhide .22 LR is as tough as leather and ideal for plinking or varmint control.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.