Can 7.62mm Kill a Bear

Yes, a 7.62mm caliber rifle cartridge can potentially kill a bear, but the effectiveness of the cartridge in taking down a bear depends on several factors, including the type of bear, shot placement, bullet type, and the distance at which the shot is taken.

The 7.62mm caliber refers to a variety of rifle cartridges, with different bullet weights, velocities, and designs. One of the most well-known 7.62mm cartridges is the 7.62x39mm used in rifles like the AK-47. Another commonly used 7.62mm cartridge is the 7.62x51mm NATO, which is used in rifles like the M14 and some versions of the AR-10.

When considering using a 7.62mm rifle cartridge for bear hunting, it’s important to understand that bears are large and powerful animals with thick bones and dense muscle mass. Shot placement is critical. A well-placed shot to the bear’s vital organs, such as the heart or lungs, can certainly be lethal. However, a poorly placed shot may not incapacitate the bear effectively, leading to a potentially dangerous situation.

Factors to consider:

  1. Bear Species: The type of bear matters. Smaller black bears may be more vulnerable to a well-placed shot from a 7.62mm cartridge than larger species like grizzly or brown bears.
  2. Shot Placement: Achieving proper shot placement is essential for an ethical and effective kill. A shot to the bear’s vitals can lead to quick incapacitation and a humane kill.
  3. Bullet Type: The type of bullet used can significantly impact the cartridge’s effectiveness. Hollow point or expanding bullets are designed to create a larger wound channel, increasing the chances of hitting vital organs and causing more damage.
  4. Distance: Shot accuracy and bullet performance can be affected by the distance at which the shot is taken. Close-range shots are generally more effective due to the bullet’s energy and velocity.
  5. Rifle and Shooter Skill: The rifle’s accuracy and the shooter’s skill also play a role. Accurate marksmanship is critical for making a humane kill.
  6. Bear Behavior: Bears can be unpredictable and dangerous when wounded. A well-placed shot is essential to prevent unnecessary suffering and dangerous encounters.
  7. Legal and Ethical Considerations: Ensure that the use of a specific caliber and cartridge complies with local hunting regulations and ethical hunting practices.

It’s worth noting that many bear hunters prefer larger and more powerful cartridges specifically designed for big game hunting, such as the .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Winchester Magnum, or even larger calibers. These cartridges offer more stopping power and penetration, which can be advantageous when dealing with the size and toughness of bears.

7.62x51mm and 7.62x39mm cartridges for bear hunting

highlighting the importance of shot placement and bullet performance when using the 7.62x51mm and 7.62x39mm cartridges for bear hunting. These calibers are indeed more suitable for smaller game and may not have the same penetration and stopping power as larger calibers, especially for larger bear species. Let’s delve into your points a bit more:

  1. Penetration: Bears have tough hides and heavy bones, especially around their skull and shoulders. Achieving sufficient penetration to reach vital organs or the brain is crucial for a clean and ethical kill. While the 7.62x51mm may struggle with this, as you mentioned, the 7.62x39mm can have better penetration due to its design and bullet selection.
  2. 7.62x39mm: The 7.62x39mm cartridge, typically associated with the AK-47 platform, can indeed be effective against black bears at closer ranges. The cartridge’s adequate penetration, combined with proper shot placement, can result in a clean kill.
  3. Shot Placement: Shot placement is paramount. Targeting the brain or vital organs like the heart and lungs increases the chances of a quick and humane kill, even with cartridges that might not have the same stopping power as larger calibers.
  4. Other Firearms: Firearms like the Mosin-Nagant or a pump-action shotgun loaded with slugs can be effective alternatives, especially at closer ranges. These firearms offer more stopping power than the 7.62x39mm and can increase your chances of penetrating the bear’s hide and bone.
  5. 7.62×39 AR: An AR-platform rifle chambered in 7.62x39mm can be an option for bear hunting if you’re comfortable with its performance limitations. While it may not be the optimal choice, proper shot placement, good bullet selection, and adherence to safe and ethical hunting practices can still lead to successful outcomes.
  6. Bear Species: It’s important to consider the specific bear species you’re hunting. Black bears tend to be smaller and may be more effectively taken down by cartridges like the 7.62x39mm at closer ranges. Grizzly or brown bears, being larger and more formidable, demand more stopping power and penetration.
  7. Adequate Preparation: Regardless of the caliber you choose, adequate preparation, familiarity with your firearm, and understanding the anatomy of the animal you’re hunting are key. Ethical hunting practices prioritize a quick and humane kill to minimize suffering.


Ultimately, while the 7.62x51mm and 7.62x39mm cartridges may not be the top choices for bear hunting, they can still be effective with proper shot placement and bullet selection, especially when hunting smaller bear species at closer ranges.

However, hunters pursuing larger bear species or hunting at longer distances should seriously consider using more powerful cartridges specifically designed for big game hunting to ensure both their safety and the welfare of the animals they’re hunting.

Similar Posts