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300 WSM bullet choice - T3 Lite

 
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  #1  
Old 05-14-2013, 09:05 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2013
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300 WSM bullet choice - T3 Lite

Greetings, my first post, been lurking for a while and now here I go. Pardon any newbyitis.

I am a lifelong hunter, but only for texas whitetails mainly, until 2 years ago when I went on my first elk hunt. To honor the horseback Frank Church trip and the game, I bought a Tikka T3 Lite in 300 WSM and began load development. I narrowed down to the Nosler Protected Point in 180 grains.

Since then I have read a lot about the Optimal Barrel Time stuff, have the calculators for OBT, and have been using Quickload to help plan loads in some ordinary and some weird rounds (30-25 WSSM). OBT works a charm in getting you to accuracy nodes, in my experience. Once in the region I do OCW to narrow it down to tack driver.

Now I have another Trip of a Lifetime planned, for elk again. So I was revisiting my old stuff, and noticed the OBT for the Tikka's 24.375 inch barrel were way below the max load shooting 180 grain pills. ALL of them. The gun was only accurate to my standards with about factory load velocities of 2950 fps.

On a whim I plugged in 165 grain TTSXs and Partitions and Accubonds to Quickload, using RL 17. Much to my surprise I found that the programs predicted i could step up the 165s to the node (in OBT terms) that the 180s could not hit and still be 2000 - 3000 psi below max.

In plain terms, it looks like I can take the muzzle energy of a 165 to around 3850 ft-lbs / 3250 fps, and be safe, where the 180s would only reach 3500 ft-lbs/ 2950 fps or so while still in an accuracy node. 300 ft-lbs seems like a lot of advantage. With the accubond for example, that increased the magic 2400 fps hydrostatic shock theshold from high 300 yard territory for the 180 grainer to over 450 yards with the 165. I am a big fan of hydrostatic shock to bring game down fast.

Though I will try and remaster the 400 plus range before the hunt, I don't plan on shooting much further than that.

So my question is, are the 165 grain TTSX, Partitions and Accubonds (et cetera) excellent for a rapid kill of bull elk at those ranges/ velocities? Or should I stick with my 180s?

Great site here, and I appreciate all you all have taught me.
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:47 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 616
Re: 300 WSM bullet choice - T3 Lite

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but mine is that you should shoot at least a 180gr pill for elk, if not more. Plug your rounds into a ballistic calculator and you will see that those 165gr rounds lose their energy a lot quicker than the heavier bullet. If 400 yards is your max, I am sure that the 165's can do the trick, but if it were me I would be looking at something heavier that will maintain the energy down range.
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:56 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Colorado
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Re: 300 WSM bullet choice - T3 Lite

After looking at the numbers in the ballistic calc, the energy at 400 yards is going to be very similar between the 165, 180, and a 200gr round. It is further down range that you start to see a difference. As I said, anything will work, but if it were me I would be loading up the heavier round. Good luck which ever route you decide to go!
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Old 05-14-2013, 11:34 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Sweet Home OR
Posts: 186
Re: 300 WSM bullet choice - T3 Lite

If it were my hunt I would use 180-190gr for under 500 yards. Past that I would use 200-210. I shot a cow elk in the neck at the base of her head a few years ago with a 165gr gameking at about 80yards.The bullet exploded on impact. There was no exit only a hole about 6" round and in the middle of the nasty carnage was a frag of bullet about 25-30 grains. Didnt kill her either when I got to her she was tossing her head around. For close up (out to 500yards) I would use the barnes berger or accubond. Farther out I would opt for the berger.
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Old 05-14-2013, 11:39 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: South of Canada and North of Wyoming
Posts: 5,953
Re: 300 WSM bullet choice - T3 Lite

I have shot 180 E-Tips 3200 fps plus safely with RL17 out of my Sako M85 Finnlight 300 WSM. If I was not going to shoot farther than 500 yds, that would be my choice of bullet. Most any other bullet will do the job but I would recommend 180 or higher for elk for insurance.

I am not familiar with the OBT concept, but I would say there are a lot of factors that affect barrel harmonics and would be a little skeptical if they could all be charted for all the possible combos.

If you are not going to shoot beyond 500 yds, then 1 MOA accuracy is all you really need.

Hope you have a great trip and hunt in the Frank Church
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  #6  
Old 05-15-2013, 02:29 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2013
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Re: 300 WSM bullet choice - T3 Lite

Thanks, gents for the replies! I appreciate your input.

Mark, the OBT or Optimum Barrel Time calculation is based on the fact that upon cartridge ignition, a shockwave runs up and down the barrel at the speed of sound in steel, which is very, very fast, like 22,000 fps if I recall. Whenever the shockwave gets to the muzzle, the muzzle vibrates a little, which opens your group up if the bullet is exiting then. The speed of sound in steel is so great that you can get 2, 3 even 5 times where the muzzle is vibrating from that shockwave, before the bullet leaves. So you try to find a powder load that gives the bullet a barrel travel time which hits the "node" when that shock wave is as far from the muzzle as possible.
In the Quickload program, one thing that is calculated for you is the barrel travel time for each powder and bullet and barrel length you select.
There are a number of ways to address this shockwave effect and get the effect lessened, like those Limbsaver rubber things. The BOSS system is another way to tune your barrel to a particular powder by changing the effect of the shock wave. Basically if you can dampen the vibrations your rifle will "like" a broader range of loads.
Old school fine rifles used to have the barrels bedded pretty firmly in felt, to dampen these vibrations too. I don't know if the old timers knew why it worked, they just knew it worked.
It is why some powder types shoot better than others even though the velocities are similar. A hotter powder seems to have a shorter barrel time with the same muzzle velocity.
It is also why often you need to back off from max load to get best accuracy. In my Tikka, for example, a max load 180 Partition PP is not accurate because it is leaving the barrel while that harmonic is at the muzzle. I have to back it down quite a bit for best accuracy. But those 165s look like they will get out fast enough (barely) using RL 17 to hit the next node.
If you are interested I have a link to the website of the guy who published his research on this, and an Excel calculator for barrel lengths and their best OBT.
Barrel diameter doesnt matter either, though stiffer (thicker) barrels have less of an unstable spot because of their stiffness.
I've found in real life using the calculator and QL and a chrony that it is remarkably accurate at getting you within a half grain of the best accuracy with a given powder, bullet and barrel. Then I do a ladder or OCW to find the absolute best, and hope the temperature etc is close to the same when I go hunting ...
Luke, I would not think a Game King would be a good bullet to shoot super fast at short range at a big animal. What cartridge was it in? A 165 GK hot loaded in a 300 WSM or 300 Mag ought to be going about 3100 fps at 80 yards, that is a lot of terminal energy for that bullet I would think. It's why I am looking at the tougher bullets for the 165 gr. load.

Like i said, currently 400 is a real long poke for me these days, I am way out of practice. Luckily I live 20 minutes from the BOTW range in Liberty Hill. Looks like i have my work cut out for me, soon as I get that 6.5 lb Tikka braked!! I developed a heck of a flinch working up hot 180 grain partition loads for the last hunt..... 25 or 30 rounds and it was a day....
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  #7  
Old 05-15-2013, 02:39 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 5
Re: 300 WSM bullet choice - T3 Lite

Mark, thanks for your answer. I truly respect your opinion and those of the other folks who replied too. I am no doubt over- thinking this, and geeking out about it, but I enjoy this kind of thing, and it helps pass the time waiting for September, 2014!
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