Originally Posted by racerngr1
So do you look at how much energy the bullet is going to impact the target with? So for instance if if a bullet impacts the target with 1,200 lt/lb of energy at 500 yards is that enough or do you want something with more? What is that magic number in ft/lb's that you look for?
Lethality is purely a function of damage to vital organs. Hydrostatic shock, dumping all the energy inside the animal, gaping exit holes for blood trails, all takes a back seat.
Hence, you have to hit what you're aiming for. So, you want the right bullet for your twist with a high BC for long range performance.
Then, you need an accurate load with good velocity and temperature stability. MOA is usually good enough. But, the main thing is that you should have confidence that your first shot is going to hit the vitals at whatever distance you're shooting at. The more dope you have on the rifle/load/conditions, the better.
You can analyze mass, sectional density, etc... But, I usually consider 1,000 ft-lbs sufficient for soft-skinned animals such as deer.
Then, bullet design becomes a factor for terminal performance.
Solids will give maximum penetration for thick bodied animals. Monolithic bullets often need higher velocity on impact in order to expand properly (e.g. ~2000fps for TTSX). Jacketed, lead core bullets will expand at lower velocities which gives you a greater effective range (~1800fps Berger or less).
Most modern high powered rifle cartridges and bullets have plenty of capacity out to 500 yds. Many still do from 500 to 1,000 yds with handloads for better precision. After 800-1000yds, it takes exception equipment, skill, and practice (usually teamwork) to connect reliably on game animals.