Location: The rifle range, or archery range or behind the computer in Alaska
It is funny you should mention that Dave! I have actually tested various bullets in a box filled with sand and water jugs not at long range but at projected velocities for 1000 yards. Sure the velocities are not perfect but very very close. I have actually stopped using certain bullets for 1000 yard hunting and taken an interest in others because of their abilities to either expand or not expand at those velocities. You did bring out a very valid point though because most dont go that far to see what the reaction of their bullets are at the desired ranges or velocities. A bullet that wont expand at the range we send it despite mathematically producing 1500 pounds of energy isnt the best thing for the game we hunt.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (how bad your last shot was, how big the group is going to be, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.
FPE is a meaningles number and does not properly predict the wounding capabilties of various rounds...Case in point the first picture below is an exit wound in the off side rib cage of a 6X7 Bull Elk,made by a 180 grain fired from a 300 Win with an impact velocity of approx.2600 FPS for approx.2700 FPE.......The secound picture is a wound in the rib cage of the same Elk made with a 440 grain flat point hard cast bullet fired from a 500 JRH at a muzzle velocity of 950 FPS equating to 880 FPE.... I am holding a 300 Win cartridge beisde each exit for size comparison
As you can plainly see the largest and most damaging wound was made by the projedctile that had the least amount of energy...I did not take picture of the entire wound channel,but I can assure you that the handgun produced the largest wound channel from start to finish.......
range it,check the wind, dial in correction, aim and only one shot
This a subject with alot of different opinions from alot of different people based on alot of different things. Here is my $.02.
For me there are just a few issues:
1. Energy is a usless figure in my opinion to many variables. Bullet performance at a given speed is my concern.
2. First and foremost I must have at least a certain amount of penetration for a given animal. This can become a varied issue. If my bullet expends all of its energy in an animal it does not exit leaving no exit wound. This is a devastating effect in a classic broadside heart lung hit soft tissue hit. No exit wound can make recovery tough and that is a consideration. Also at this limited penetration level slight windage errors, angled shots and other factors can cause bone hits or other long penetration needs. In this respect the bullet or bullet pieces may not reach the vitals and will have failed you. If you think you will always wait for a broadside shot and always place the bullet in the soft tissues heart lung area and never screw up the windage your kidding yourself. To this respect I prefer a bullet to be able to penetrate the shoulder bone masses and into the vitals of the biggest animal I might hunt. I actually prefer a point on high shoulder shot for instant "smokin fur". However I cannot always count on hitting that small zone and have to allow that I might be off in windage a little resulting in a soft tissue hit. This penetrating round must expand some while passing through for the best effects. It has been my experience that if it doesn't expand at all the animal is still just as dead and just as quick but with little to no blood trail recovery in some types of country can be difficult at best. In summary I look at this:
1. Will my bullet / impact speed combo pass through heavy bone into the vitals?
2. If I make a soft tissue hit will it expand enough to leave a good exit wound. This is really nice but not manditory.
3. I always error towards the side of over penetration
4. I test penetration in varoius way to determine effective distance before using a combo in the field to take game with.
Bullet testing the shot I worry about the most is shoulder penetration into the vitals on an Elk. I have shot through a 2x6 or 4x4 plank into a foot of wet newspaper at reduced velocity to simulate distant impact velocities to test this shot . For instance if I was shooting a 300 SMK in 338 I want an impact velocity of 1600 fps to acomplish this penetration. This will in my experience not penetrate both shoulders 100% of the time but does a very good job on vitals and 1 shoulder. This performance will easly pass through a soft tissue chest hit. If I was using a 180 Ballistic tip 1600 might not be enough to penetrate with the quicker expansion and less weight on ther shoulder but would still do a bang up job on a chest hit.
The Taylor theories are worth looking at but in the day in Africa where thay were developed mostly the use of solids was almost exclusive. We now have many more issues to contend with but most are to our benefit. In the end the only downside in over penetration less expansion in my mind is follow up and recovery, not killing power. Hope this helps.
It has been my experience that if it doesn't expand at all the animal is still just as dead and just as quick but with little to no blood trail recovery in some types of country can be difficult at best.
One comment in your post surprised me - that if a bullet doesn't expand at all the animal is still just as dead and "just as quick". Below is a post I made in a thread on another forum discussing bullet failures and the pros and cons of using tougher or more fragile bullets. I don't hunt big game with non-expanding bullets, but I've had two first-hand experiences where expanding bullets didn't expand. The animals were both double-lunged and they both lived for a long time compared to typical results from an expanding bullet. Following is my post describing these two incidents. I'd be interested in hearing your's or any others experiences on the lethality of non expanding bullets on big game with non-brain or non-central nervous system hits.
"Even the Nosler Ballistic Tips will, on occasion, fail to expand. My first experience was a Dall sheep ram in about 1999 in the Alaska range. I was shooting 150 gr BTs from a 280 Improved at a chronographed muzzle velocity of 2975 fps. I shot the ram from 13 yards, a broadside shot to the center of the ribs. The ram snapped his head up, turned 180 degrees and looked across the river bottom at some sheep on the other side of the valley. I was trying to figure out how I could have missed at 13 yds. After 15-20 seconds I saw a tiny red spot appear on the white hair of the rib cage, which confirmed the bullet hit right where I intended. I waited another minute while the ram stood there, and then I stood up from just 13 yards away. He didn't know where I was until I stood, and at that motion the ram jumped and then trotted down the hillside, slowing down and coming to a stop about 80 yards away. He stood there for several more minutes and then lay down. I kept thinking the animal had to die any second, so rather than shoot again and damage any more meat or the cape, I watched and waited. Again, I figured the ram was good as dead. After about 5 minutes the ram laid his head down and appeared very tired. After about 20 minutes had elapsed from the time I shot the ram, and he was STILL alive, I approached the ram. His his head was bobbing some and his breathing was somewhat labored. The ram was sickly, but as I got up to within about 15 feet, I was surprised when he jumped to his feet and took off. His gate was unbalanced and I quickly fired a second bullet from a rear quartering position into the boiler room. The second bullet opened and flattened the ram like a pile driver. Upon skinning the animal, I found a 1/4" entrance hole and 1/4" exit hole from my first shot. So say what you want. Even the lighter jacketed, unbonded Nosler Ballistic Tips will sometimes fail to open up.
About 5 years ago I observed another failure of a Nosler Ballistic tip - this time on a smallish black bear. My hunting partner shot the bear broadside through the ribs with a 338 Winchester Magnum from about 230 yards, with a 200 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip. We could tell the bear was hit, and we were both surprised when the bear spun around and continued to run for some distance across the mountain side, since the shot was taken from a solid rest. We had to shoot the bear on the move a couple more times to stop him before he reached the alders and brush. While skinning out the bear, we were able to identify the location of the first shot, by the small through & through hole through the ribcage, and knowing the position of the bear on the other shots. If that first bullet had expanded, the bear would have gone down in short order.
Although most sheep, black bear, and blacktail deer sized game I have shot with Nosler BTs have gone down instantly or very shortly after impact, I offer these two instances where for whatever reason, the BTs didn't expand and kill the animals quickly or effectively, even though both animals were double-lunged with broadside hits.
I now use Nosler Accubonds more often than BTs. The Accubonds shoot just as well for me, and basically to the same point of impact as the BTs. And the ABs spread less lead into the meat surrounding the bullet path. Plus - I bump into an unintended brown bear every now and then and I like the idea of having the ABs in the chamber compared to a BT, just in case the bear comes at me rather than heading the other way."
Last edited by phorwath; 09-15-2007 at 04:54 AM.
Reason: Spelling error.
Shawn's bear shot is a good example of why sometimes an animal does not die immediately and in fact may even recover from a chest wound. It is also the reason I am alive today.
A chest wound is fatal for a few reasons:
1. It hits the heart or a major artery and kills the animal through blood loss to the brain.
2. It opens up the chest cavity to the outside air so that the diaphram cannot develop negative pressure, thus depriving the animal of oxygen to the brain (same as no blood to the brain). This is known as a sucking chest wound and every infantryman is taught to rip open the bandage, slap the plastic cover over the front of the wound and rolll the guy over and check for an exit and place a piece of plastic (cigarette cellophane works) over it and then wrap the bandage as hard and tight as possible to seal off the holes(insert a hard item over the plastic if there is not pressure from the bandage). So very many infantrymen lived in Vietnam becuase if you sealed the hole, the lungs themselves can and will function with the holes through it. Many people only have one lung and still live normal lives. I knew a guy who lived when an RPG stuck into his chest without detonating and I actually saw the scars on him and it was gruesome but he could do PT and runs miles with me. He lived because no one pulled it out of his chest and the medivac choppers got to him quickly. What happend to me was not nearly as heroic nor interesting but it is very common for a lung to have a thin spot and just "pop" and deflate. I was training for a marathon and went jogging in subzero weather and one of my lungs just popped. Three days later I mentioned it to my wife who immediatley recognized what it was and threw me in the car and off to the hospital where I spent three days and got two new scars.
So the only way a double lung shot is effective is if there is enough internal damage to cause a system failure or if there is an opening to atmospheric pressure so that they cannot inflate.
I have never killed a bear (and hope to remedy that soon) but it is common with large hairy animals for the hide to move and cover over the entrance and exit wound enough that the animal can still get the lungs to inflate sometimes and get enough oxygen transfer to the brain to keep going. Rember a lot of people function with only one lung, so 50% lung capacity is about all that is needed to remain concious and mobile. Buffalo, elk, moose and bears have a lot of floppy excess hide and once the blood gets on the hair it can matt and form a seal so the wound is closed off.
All of that said, if I had to choose between a varmint type bullet and a FMJ I would go with the FMJ everytime because the odds are that enough damage will be done and the hole will not seal. Plus an FMJ will break a lot of bones.
Another thought is that more sectional density is better than less.
Bigger calibers punch bigger holes even though I prefer to hunt with the smaller calibers.
Interesting accounts with the ballistic tips. I have seen them fail in smaller calibers but from lack of penetration instead of lack of expansion. I try to base most of opinions on what i have seen and done only and not general preconceived notions. I have shot a number of elk and trainload of deer with alot of different calibers and bullets. I always try to tag some bone when possible ( behind the front shoulder throught the lungs and into the off shoulder is my favorite ) but I have had a handfull of through and through double lung hits with no bone contact (except maybe a rib) to reflect on. Let me give two elk examples, my longest track job came from a 5x5 mature bull with 3 shots through the lungs with a 300 Win Mag 180 gr Ballistic Tip load @ 300-320 yards all hits tight behind the front shoulder into about 6" all expanded well but no heart hit. I tracked this bull (he left a blood trail a blind man could follow out both sides) for at least 500-600 yards, down to small drops of blood every 40 -50 feet and 30 minutes later it was still trying to gain its feet.
In contrast my friend Mike shot a large 6x6 bull at 140 yards with 1 shot from a 30-06 entered between 2 ribs exited between two ribs and only hit one lung with virtualy no expansion. I witnessed the shot and we trailed it no more than 40 yards and recovered it in less than 10 minutes.
My point in all of this is that there are alot of experiences on this board and we all draw similar and different conclusions from them. There are so many factors in terminal performance it is hard to nail down a certain criteria. I want what we all want high BC, big bullet, big velocity, 1/4 moa groups, massive expansion, and the bullet to exit the animal going about 10 fps at any given distance. Since this is not possible, I have from my experiences choosen to depend on penetration as a default rather than expansion. Also to clarify a couple of points I was not unhappy with the expansion of the SMK in this case. Had the exit not been covered with fat the hole would have been just what I like to see. We have all seen bullets fail, expandables not opening, FMJ's breaking into multiple pieces etc. More expansion will cause more internal damage no question there but I just have not seen it consistantly down the animal quicker. In some cases yes, in some cases not. I must say you experiences with the Btips not expanding are the first I have run across. I guess this will just require field reasearch ( a tough job but.....).