/////////////////?"Even 12 gauge slugs won't do much more than make Mr. Bear angry, and a .410 would just sting him some and annoy him."The problem we have here is two almost mutually exclusive factors: price and capability.
I'm with the crew who favor the .410 Mossberg pump guns, especially if you can find one of the Bantams with the 18 inch barrel. It would be like having a scaled down Mossberg 500 Police Cruiser. Handy, 5+1 capacity if I remember correctly, and if you put a set of ghost ring sights on it it would do for every mission 22Mag is asking it to perform except for bear. Even 12 gauge slugs won't do much more than make Mr. Bear angry, and a .410 would just sting him some and annoy him. (Of course, my opinion is the smallest gun suitable for Mr. Bear is a 25mm Bushmaster with explosive shells, and a Rheinmetall M256 120mm cannon is better.) But for everything else, a Bantam would get it done.
Thing is, the Mossy 500 Bantam is in the $300 price range. If you could find one, a Mossberg 183 bolt action might do. It is only a 2+1 capacity, and all it has for sights is a front bead, but they are showing up on the auction sites in the $125 range. That might meet 22Mag's two requirements.
I am thinking this is a typo. 12 gauge slugs are used by the Alaska State Troopers for defense of bears. In fact here is a direct quote from the state of Alaska on how to protect yourself from bears...
"You are allowed to carry a gun for protection in state parks. Remember, though, that more people are hurt by the guns they carry than are hurt by bears. Select a gun that will stop a bear (12-gauge shotgun or .300 mag rifle) and practice firing it at a rifle range. Any bear shot in self defense must be salvaged and turned over to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game."
A slug from a 410 shotgun carries about 650 foot pounds of energy, a 357 magnum pistol carries about 535 foot pounds. I have killed a couple deer with 12 gauge slugs and they are devastating.