1. Sven might be right about the vehicle.

    Those two polar bears are still cubs, and probably have not yet developed the predatory and survival instincts of their adult peers. Speaking of which, I wonder where the mother bear is? At that stage of their lives, she should have been protectively close. Also, it appears that the photographer is at ground level very near the cubs, so it may be possible that the cubs are orphans in a wildlife refuge who are used to interacting with wildlife officers and biologists as surrogate parents. If the mother were around, I am sure the photographer would not have risked putting himself or herself in this position.

    • Never mess with Mama bear! I’m pretty sure that she’d try to eat you. Unlike other bears, polar bears will not fall for “playing possum” tricks. And for your information, the best weapon against a charging polar bear is likely the good, old-fashioned bolt-action rifle as the bolt-action is simple enough not to freeze up in cold weather. I’d take a No.4 Enfield. Which rifle would you take up north?

      • Hi, Andrew :

        Probably my trusty old Mosin-Nagant M91/30 or Swiss K-31. If I decided to bring a more modern bolt-action rifle instead, a Weatherby Mark V or Savage 110/111 would be my personal preference.

        • Mauser or Cancano. Mauser in 7mm with a 175 gr round nose bullet. Carcano with a 160 gr round nose bullet.

          FWIW, a RN bullet is hard to beat for use on animals. The only time might be for shots over 300 yards/meters.

          • The natural choice in the arctic seems to me to be a Finnish M39, with 203gr soft points. I even have both (and the M39 has a very nice Timney trigger in it). True, polar bears are not often spotted down here in the desert, but better to be prepared just in case! 🙂

          • Yes a 7.7 Arisaka would be excellent and likely better than my 1st thought. Accurate with a 185 gr RN bullet out to 440 yards. Good enough that my younger bother of mine has use them for coyote hunting.

            In fact that is what I’d use(unless I wanted an excuse to acquire another firearm). I use them for hunting when it’s cold(below -5 F in the afternoon). The straight bolt works great with heavy gloves/mittens. Of all the bolt actions I’ve shot the safety can’t beat for times when heavy gloves/mittens are needed.

        • Probably a .30-06 with 180-grain Federal Power Shok softpoints at 2700, or the 220-grain PS SPs at 2400.

          Barring that, my old standby 96/38 Swedish Mauser in 6.5 x 55 with Federal 140 grain PS softpoints at about 2450. Not much on velocity, but high penetration for a boiler room shot.



          • .30-06 Ackley Improved with 200gr. or 220gr. JSPs. Just enough extra powder space to really get those heavier bullets going, plus you can still shoot standard .30-06 in it. Otherwise, .35 Whelan Improved.

          • No mention of the load used but the real-world experts on polar-bear interactions agree with you on the .30-06:


            I really get a kick out of barroom conversations among civilians/ rear-echelon veterans/ History-Channel experts over what this the “toughest” military unit in the world. Never mind SEALs, SAS, Green Berets… for tough it is hard to beat the dozen guys with the Danish Navy’s Sirius Sledge Patrol, mushing their way in two-sled teams across Greenland from February to November to defend Denmark’s far borders. And armed with 1917 Enfields in .30-06 and 10-mm Glocks, since the 9 proved inadequate for polar bear interactions. But of all the cold-weather rifles in the world to choose from, they picked the 1917.

        • For me are 2 requirements which must be done:
          1.cartridge – powerful enough to stop rushing bear
          2.reliability – needed in cold weather
          All other requirements are much less significant and depends on the user preferences. You all say bolt-action, however other action are also used in polar condition – for example note .45-70 lever-action Marlin Guide Gun (plus conversions of these gun to other calibers)

          • And I forget about the Winchester Model 71 in .348 Winchester if you want more velocity and lighter bullet.

          • The Winchester M88 and Sako Finnwolf were nice lever guns for heavy game, as is the Savage 99. They pretty much universally came in either .308 or .243 Winchester, with the M88 also available in .358.

            I’d love to see and updated and strengthened M88 or Finnwolf with a longer action in a modern hard-hitting caliber like .300 WSSM.

            Years ago someone (Ray Pachmayr IIRC) came up with a big-bore, long-action M88-type lever gun with a Weatherby-type multi-lug rotating bolt lockup, chambered for Magnum-length cartridges. It never got past the prototype stage if memory serves. Warren Page thought it would be natural “bear medicine” in .458 Winchester. I’d take one in .416 Ruger, myself.



          • In fact the Winchester Model 88 can be described as a “lever-operated bolt-action”. Probably the first attempt to join bolt-action strength and lever-action speed is a Newton Leverbolt rifle (1929)
            however this don’t reach production stage – these rifles exist only as prototypes.
            And pump-action can be also used against bear – in form of 12-gauge shotgun loaded with heavy slugs or rifle (as a utility firearm I chose Rem Model 7600, but still I think it is aesthetically inferior to Remington Model 141).

          • Ian, Daweo – any mention of the Winchester 88 reminds me that the first gun I ever purchased with my own money (a summer of mowing yards when I was 12) was a hammerless lever-action .22 Winchester Model 250. It was the companion piece to the 88 and a really wonderful little rifle. It may just be because I shot it so much – back then (early 70s) a brick of shorts – which the 250 liked just fine – was about $5, but I have never owned a rifle that was more off-hand/ snapshot accurate than the 250. There was also a 270 slide action and a 290 auto, as well as budget straight-stock “carbines” called 150/ 170/ 190, but they were well-made, heavy-barrel rifles that offered incredible workmanship and accuracy.

  2. I concur, Sven. The photo is probably Russian. The polar bear range in Russia is smaller and closer to the shoreline than in North America, lying along the north coast from the East Siberian Sea through the Kara Sea and west to the Barents Sea- in other words, the whole Arctic Circle area.



  3. I fully agree with Earl. I worked on Canadian research ships in the Arctic years ago and all shore and ice parties had to be accompanied by an ABS rated on the #4 lee-Enfield. I recall a mama bear followed by her 2 cubs crossing the pack ice to our ship. For about an hour she sniffed all around it, tried twice to climb the steel hull; but couldn’t find the key to open that can of lunch meat!
    What an awesome beast!

  4. I’d take something belt fed! Or perhaps a LAW rocket. I have a real aversion to being eaten by bears. It may be because they always seem to chase me in my dreams!

    • Family members living up forth suggest something in the area of the Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70 or that power range. I ran the 7.7 past them and got a shudder!
      Track does look like Soviet but I don’t know tracked vehicles not used in the oilfield. WHY feed bears? They should not acclimate the bears to being around humans.

  5. What a great picture ! Who could resist feeding those bears ? I agree, from the looks of the tank and the headgear I would guess Russian..All in all, I would say they have more reason to fear us (though they don’t) than we them..I’d take a 577 Boxer revolver -Because I want one bad.. 🙂

    • I’ve always wanted a double .577 Enfield caliber “howdah pistol”, outside hammers with the underlever-operated break-action. I’d love to see someone do a modern rendition in a modern serious “stopping” caliber, like .457 Marlin or(most definitely “in the tradition”) .50 Beowulf.

      The latter launches a 400-grain Hawk JSP at 1,875 for 3,100 FPE from a 24-inch rifle barrel. So it should probably get up to at lest 1,600 and 2,275 from the usual 10 to 12-inch barrel of a “howdah”.

      BTW, they were called “howdah” pistols because they were carried in same on the back of an elephant during a hunt, mainly in India. Very handy in case a Bengal decided to register his complaints RE your shooting at him with a .475 double rifle by climbing in said howdah to remonstrate with you face to face.

      Nice kitty…




  6. Reminds me a little of a photo (in National Geographic back in the 1990’s?) of a US submarine that poked its way up through the artic ice. A few sailors were walking around on the ice and at the conning tower there was a look out with an M-14 at the ready in case polar bears went looking for a snack.

  7. I’d pack my Danish VAR barreled M1 Garand or my M1917 Rifle. Either would be loaded with M2 AP ammo. The Danes still use the M1917 for their Sirius Patrol so I figure that would do the job. The Garand worked in the Aleutian Islands Campaign so I figured that might work too.

    But what the hell do I know. I live in Miami, FL!

  8. there is a great photo online of some u-boat crewmen posing with a polar bear they have shot, always wanted to know if they ate it…

  9. I just wanted to write what’s in the man’s hand, but found it to be well-described in the article Rodger Young gave a link to. Man, I even wanted to use the same word “immemorial”! =D

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