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Terminal Ballistics???

 
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:47 AM
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Terminal Ballistics???

Being and ethical hunter and wanting to stay within a weapon's (or caliber's) capability to make a clean one shot kill, what things do you consider for terminal performance? The hunting mags preach 1000 ft/lbs for deer size game and 1500 ft/lbs for elk. I know foot pounds aren't everything but I see the "Gunwerks" guys on TV killing elk cleanly at nearly 1000 yds with a 7 Rem Mag and berger's 168 gr. It seems to be their favorite caliber/bullet combo. Being a numbers guy, a ballistic calculator tells me that combo is down near that 1000 ft/lbs number (and below 1800 ft/sec velocity) at that range and 1500 ft/lbs is back at 700 yds. I havent shot the berger bullets yet but are they that lethal on large tough big game like bull elk? I have shot a couple elk but they were jump shot at close range with a 300 WM and controlled expansion bullets and they both required follow up shots. The bergers and most other bullets are supposed to expand reliably down to 1800 fps but there is not a lot of energy left at that point. I have tremendous respect for the tenacity for life that bull elk possess. So what limitations do you put on your equipment. I'm not foolish enough to try and kill an animal at long range just because I can hit it, I want to know that my weapon of choice has the power to make the clean kill. What do you recommend for long range elk and what limits do you put on calibers,bullets types, and weights for different sized game? Deer? Elk? Thanks for any recommendations?
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:22 AM
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Re: Terminal Ballistics???

Pretty much all our big game hunting is done with the Bergers. Not that other bullets will not make clean kills, but I prefer the way the Bergers work on game and when shots get long I have not found a bullet that will expand as well as the Bergers do. Plus their accuracy is as good as I can get from a production bullet and they show me less wind drift than any others I have tested.

The Bergers penetrate in a ways then expand and fragment off part of their structure. This is why I always recommend using heavy offerings for any caliber. If a heavier bullet is used it leaves a large portion of the bullet to exit. I almost always get exits and typically the exit is 1 1/2" to 2" if at close range you will likely get a larger exit. I do not aim for a shoulder shot any more. I have found that the crease behind the shoulder is the ticket to drop them in their tracks and done. But I have taken shoulder shots in the past and I have no fear of the bullet penetrating the near shoulder, destroying most all vitals and even breaking the far shoulder. This was the case with the bull in my Signature shot with a 210 Berger from a 30-378wby at 250 yds. So what I get is a kill zone from the shouder to center rib cage. That leaves me some room if I am off on a wind call, and we all know the wind is the one thing we can only predict to our bes ability. It is king on any shot past 400.



I have posted many many photos of kills, and exit holes from kills we made with Berger bullets. Search for my posts if you are interested.

As for caliber selection, here is what I do. We use 300wins a lot but limit them to 1000 yards with either the 210's or the 230's. Now to be honest if I was shooting a bull at 1000 I would opt for the 230 if I had the choice. But at 800 it would really not matter to me. We may extend the 230's to a little past 1000 but not much. Unless we had them in a RUM or 30-378 that was a proven 1/2 moa rifle and conditions were steller.

For shots of 1000 and beyond or if conditions are a bit windy that day. I will be packing my 338 Lapua loaded with the 300 gr Berger OTM's. We have taken many elk at lots of different distances with these bullets already. All were DRT, and done in one shot and all were complete pass throughs with then perfect 1 1/2" exit. They are elk hammers.

I am like you. I want them down and dead right there where I can see it. This is why I insist on a expanding bullet that will take out vitals with a wound channel larger han the caliber I am shooting. No matter if I hit bone or meat goig in.

Hope this answers some of your questions.

Jeff
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:28 PM
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Re: Terminal Ballistics???

I appreciate your real world experience and advice. I'm planning on building a "do it all" long range rifle. My budget constraints will only allow me to throw a few grand at the whole setup so I want one good rifle system for sheep, goat, and the occasional long range elk and bear. I don't think I want to go all the way to 338 Lapua and was hoping to keep it under 9 pounds or less. The 7mm bullets are efficient but I'm leaning towards .30 cal. The 168 and 180 gr offerings in 7mm just sound a little light for elk. Anyone have any experience with them?
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Old 04-09-2012, 02:00 PM
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Re: Terminal Ballistics???

Quote:
Originally Posted by MZmoose View Post
I appreciate your real world experience and advice. I'm planning on building a "do it all" long range rifle. My budget constraints will only allow me to throw a few grand at the whole setup so I want one good rifle system for sheep, goat, and the occasional long range elk and bear. I don't think I want to go all the way to 338 Lapua and was hoping to keep it under 9 pounds or less. The 7mm bullets are efficient but I'm leaning towards .30 cal. The 168 and 180 gr offerings in 7mm just sound a little light for elk. Anyone have any experience with them?
I have shot a ton of 180's from 7mm-300 win's I build. Also quite a few 168's from a 7mm Rem Mag. The new coming of the 195 Bergers are breathing some new life into my interest level for the 7mm. But at this time I think you will be happier with a 300 win. Especially with the budget in mind that will probably require the use of a factory rifle. I , myself am not sure about a 9 lb rifle for use at 1000 yards. It would not be for me. But for sure a 11 1/2 or 12 lb rifle scoped and field ready is doable. I am getting ready to start another build on a 7mm-300 for a saddle gun that will be in your weight range. But I am hoping for it to be good to 700~800 or so. When I say "good" I mean a solid 1/2 moa rifle all the time. I will probably do a 8 1/2 twist on this one with the 195 Bergers in mind.

Jeff
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:28 PM
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Re: Terminal Ballistics???

Welcome to LRH!

I will give you my opinion on this but will readily admit that I am likely out of step with main stream when it comes to a couple terminal issues, especially ft lbs and premium bullets so keep that in mind.

I personally put almost no creedence in the ft lbs of a bullet/cartridge combo. I won't go into the reasons here but suffice to say I think it is far less important than other characteristics. Instead I pay quite a bit of attention to down range velocity in relation to how it affects bullet expansion and penetration. Because of this is I look a lot more at BC and SD to figure out my effective range.

In general premium bonded type bullets by design shed little weight and IMO have a much more difficult time expanding properly compared to how they are advertised. Because of this there is way too much penciling through animals for my taste. I would much prefer a bullet that is designed to shred weight and pieces which will ideally do as much damage as possible over as big of an area as possible while penetrating as far as possible. For this reason I have really fallen in love with the A-max bullet especially for mule deer sized and smaller game. At longer distances they really perform very well on big game animals. I do recommend that a guy stays with the heavier for caliber version so you get as much penetration as possible. The 208 A-max is probably the only A-max bullet I would use on elk though and I would be aiming just in front of the crease staying away from the leg and should joint. Hey, if I wasn't shooting LR I would still be using the Hornady BTSP. I just love the way they perform on game.

I likely need to revisit Berger bullets. I had some bad results with them and had some buddies that had horrible results, lot of zero expansion results, but that was early on and I think things have changed enough for me to give them a try again.

The 7mm will definitively take care of an elk but I have always been a 30 caliber + guy for elk. I just respect them too much and understand by experience how tough they can be and how many miles they can traveled while injured if you don't put them down properly. for me the 30 and 338 do that better.

Scot E.
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Old 04-10-2012, 06:30 PM
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Re: Terminal Ballistics???

Scot, thanks for the info and I too believe Ft/Lbs are over rated and don't always reflect what a cartridge can do. (The .22-250 and original .45/70 have similar Ft/Lbs at the muzzle but one kills coyotes and the other kills bison!) I like high SD bullets and use controlled expansion designs when I'm hunting the thick stuff so I can take a hard quartering angle shot on game and know the bullet is going to make it to the vitals. But the long range hunting you take the time to wait for that broadside shot and want the animal to drop DRT. I've had good luck with Barnes X as they penetrate like crazy but they do not drop game in its tracks with a hit in the lungs. But they will take out the shoulders and spine like no other. I'm planning on using the Bergers, Sierra Gamekings, and the A-Max for long range stuff. I think I will stick with the .30 cal and am looking hard at the 300 WSM to keep the rifle weight down. Thanks again.
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Old 04-10-2012, 07:11 PM
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Re: Terminal Ballistics???

You have to decide ethics for yourself. We don't debate that here. Nonethless, you're asking the right questions of yourself and others.

Ft-lbs and velocity don't kill. Damage to vital tissue/organs is what kills. That can be accomplished with a hat pin or a sledge hammer.

Berger bullets have been shown to be effective at long range. But, you still have to get them in the right location at sufficient velocity. Velocity is easily calculated.

But, bullet placement is more challenging in a hunting scenario than with targets. So, whatever you can do with targets should likely be your absolute best case for hunting. ...unless shooting hogs or wolves. In which case, shoot first and ask questions later. :-)

As to pretty much any of the TV hunting shows ... I'm surprised at some of the blunders they do show and I'm certain there are plenty of screw-ups that don't air. You'll often see a shot taken in mid-afternoon sun and the celebratory pictures well after dark. Or, even the next day after rigor mortis has set in. There may well be a good explanation. ...just sayin'

In any case, it's very cool to see the many successes.

-- richard
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