Honoring the Memory of Bella Twin and the Most Interesting Record You’ve Never Heard of

Honoring the Memory of Bella Twin and the Most Interesting Record You’ve Never Heard of

Mar 6th 2024

It’s almost Women’s History Month, so this year we figured we’d pay homage to a name from the obscure annals of Canadian history, and one that only the most dedicated, seasoned outdoorsmen and dyed-in-the-wool national historians have ever heard of.

Bella Twin - don’t be surprised if you don’t know the name. Most people don’t, but Women’s History Month is a great time to reflect on her achievement.

So take a load off, disconnect from whatever firearms parts you need for your next project, and get ready to hear a wild tale that’s almost too fantastic to be true, but it is.

.22 Longs and a Massive Grizzly

What’s the smallest caliber you’d want if you had to face down a grizzly? Is it .308? .357? .416? .45-70? .50? 12 gauge?

Any and all of these might make sense, but not less, right? Let’s not forget that shot placement is generally more important than caliber and firepower, but those things certainly don’t hurt.

Either way, let’s say that .22 does not make that list, not in any form, right? Would you trust a rimfire to put down a big, mad, sow grizzly?

Probably not, and you wouldn’t be alone. It sounds like madness.

But let’s up the ante. Let’s say we’re not just talking about .22 long rifle cartridges, but .22 longs, an even smaller, more anemic cartridge.

That’s just the cartridge Bella Twin was slinging when she took to the field on May 10, 1953 around Slave Lake in Alberta, hunting small game with her partner.

Nothing wrong with that so far, .22 longs are a great (and affordable) cartridge for ethically dispatching trapped small game and furbearers. In many instances, it is more than adequate.

On top of that it is light, easy to pack and transport, produces very little recoil, and is fairly quiet, so the muzzle pop is less likely to spook wary small game than the louder blast from a centerfire cartridge.

But what befell Bella Twin on that fateful May day goes beyond the pale.

On that day, she and her partner noticed a grizzly bear approaching them. They did what any wise outdoorsmen would do, considering the fact they were carrying a .22 and just a couple long cartridges.

They hid.

But the bear kepting getting closer. Some would say too close, considering their armament. We can only speculate why the bear was approaching them. Perhaps it was unaware of them.

But taking her perspective into account - a lightly armed 63 year old woman - it seems riskier to assume that than the alternative. The bear may have also scented them and may have been intentionally approaching the gap.

That we will never know; after all, she and her partner were the only parties to witness the event, but according to them, the bear got so close that it was, by her estimate, more dangerous to let it continue its approach than to try to dispatch it.

How close is too close? Well, depending on what has been passed down through history, it’s said that when she raised the rifle to fire, the bear may have been as close as 30 feet away - only 10 yards.

Bit close for a grizzly, don’t you think?

Well, here’s the trump card. Though Bella Twin was a small, older lady, armed only with a rimfire rifle, she was an exceptionally experienced trapper that had dispatched hundreds if not thousands of game animals in her day.

In other words, she knew just where to put that little .22 round to bring that bear down, and she did - on the first shot.

She aimed halfway back on the skull, between the eye and the ear, a natural weak point, and dropped the hammer. The first shot at that range brought the grizzly to the ground.

She took no chances. She unloaded the rest of her .22 longs right through the same spot to hedge her bets.

One more thing. Did we mention the rifle was a Cooey Ace single shot?! She must have had steady hands to load the second and subsequent rounds to make sure the bear was permanently down for the count.

When she went up to the bear, she couldn’t believe the size. This was no ordinary grizzly; it was one of the largest grizzlies ever shot, and once held the Boone and Crockett record at 26 and 5/16”. (The current world record holder shot in 2013 near Fairbanks, Alaska, scored 27 and 6/16”, weighed 1,600 lbs, and stood more than 10’ tall on its hind legs, for reference.)

If the gravity of this story is not significant enough on its surface, perhaps we should take a look at ballistics - specifically muzzle energy.

Your average .22LR will produce as much as 150 ft-lbs or a little higher, depending on the load. But these are not .22LR rounds we are talking about; they were longs, with a muzzle energy somewhere around 90 to 100 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle.


That is, just a little more than half as powerful as a .22LR. You know, the little cartridges we love to plink with.

But for some additional perspective, consider .308, which produces muzzle energies between 2500 and 3000 ft-lbs at the muzzle, volumes higher than .22 longs.

Or, consider 3” 12 gauge shells loaded with slugs, which could produce muzzle energy as high as 3100 ft-lbs. The numbers only go up from there.

The point is this. Would you want to stare down one of the biggest grizzlies ever harvested with that single shot rimfire and only a handful of .22 longs in your pocket?

Mull it over this Women’s History Month, and remember Bella Twin with fondness.

Firearm Parts and Ladies’ Shooting Accessories

Back to business - if you’re here because you were looking for firearm parts and noticed the cool headline, we don’t blame you.

But we still have one of the largest collections of gun parts around. Shop our online store and don’t mind if you can’t find it on our website. Get in touch with us at 610-250-3960 if you’re looking for something specific and can’t find it.

Also, while you’re here, shop our collection of women’s tactical and shooting gear. We have plenty of it.