Bullet retained energy - minimums for game

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by Wile E Coyote, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. Wile E Coyote

    Wile E Coyote Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    418
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Here's something that passed through my mind recently (and didn't hurt me):) and I've not seen this discussed or mentioned much here in LRH. And with that, I would like to hear what folks here might have to say about bullet energy. In most of the threads, we talk about accuracy, muzzle velocity or bullet weight but not energy. One would require considerably more energy to bring down game than is needed to punch holes in paper.

    What would one consider the minimum energy a bullet should carry to a game animal to be effective in bringing that animal down? Of course shot placement is key. A well placed shot will do the job efficiently even from some of the smaller calibers but a poorly placed shot from some of these big calibers some folks use would result in a wounded animal and a long track.

    What about different energy levels for different game? I would imagine a big bear (grizzley or brown) would require much more than say a whitetail deer.

    And would different bullet designs warrant different energy levels to be equally effective? I realize this question about bullet design has the potential to expand this dialog from something simple out to somewhere between WOW and holy stuff!

    If i'm beating a dead horse here; sorry. If there is another thread about this, let me know because I haven't seen it and would like to read it; please point the way. Otherwise, what are your thoughts on this subject?
     
  2. ELR Researcher

    ELR Researcher Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    844
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Wile E:

    From a rather worn, bright yellow publication, “Handbook for Shooters and Reloaders” by Mr. P.O. Ackley (circa late 50s):

    “I believe the following energies can be used to categorize favorite loads and plan what ones next caliber should have:

    Deer, antelope, sheep, goat – 900 ft lb (min), 1200 ft lb (adequate), 1500 ft lb (preferred)

    Elk, bear up to 600 lbs – 1500 ft lb (min), 2000 ft lb (adequate), 2500 ft lb (preferred)

    Large bear, moose – 2100 ft lb (min), 2800 ft lb (adequate), 3500 ft lb (preferred)

    Remember, these are stricking energies at game ranges – not at the muzzle.”

    Enjoy the debate that follows.
     

  3. winmag

    winmag Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,528
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    The standard for energy is 1500 ft lbs for Elk size game, & 1000 ft lbs for deer size game......
    Ok, now some argue "less energy" in favor of full "bullet expansion". That's a different view, but not nesicarily a wrong view.
    Then there's those that argue Sectional Density is the better judge, as an example, a 277 cal 140 gr bullet with a .261 ish s.d. in comparison to a 168 gr 30 cal with a .253 ish s.d.

    Then there is bullet construction itself, frags like burgers, NBT's, SST's AMax, etc. Vs Accubonds, partitions, TBBC, A Frame, Scirocco, IB, etc, VS. solids like TSX, GMX, Etip....

    Then there's the momentum arguement... 168 7mm going very fast, vs bigger heavier bullets 200 gr 30 cal going slow...

    Then range & velocity, & B.C ...... Sooo many variables it just never ends in anything less than arguements.

    I use a combination of all those points of view & try to keep it within an 1800 fps/1500 ft lbs window for everything I load for & shoot. That way I don't have to guess or wonder, I just go with what has proven to work for me. I know where my cutoff is with any rifle I'm using that way, & choose my rifle accordingly to the country & critter I'm hunting.
    But that's my personal preferance. I live in Oregon, & you never know what your gonna bump into. I never have to wonder if I have enough gun at "X" range.

    IMO there's no such thing as overkill. If your gonna take game at long range, its better to KNOW its gonna work, & leave some room for insurance. I don't like walking on thin ice, wondering if I'm gonna make it...
     
  4. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,151
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    Rather than a hard and fast rule for all bullets, the more important rule of thumb is to pay attention to the manufacturers recommendations for velicity relating to performance for their bullets.

    As a general rule I think 1,000ft/lbs is the minimum I'd like to see but the given bullets optimal velocity trumps even that.
     
  5. Wile E Coyote

    Wile E Coyote Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    418
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Thanks all, this is what I've been looking for. ELR, I've heard of the book and now I'll have to look for a copy. Generally, the numbers given here by everyone so far are about what I thought they might be.
     
  6. shortpants

    shortpants Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    602
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2011
    I have found I usually cross min. velocity for a given bullet before crossing min. energy levels.
     
  7. No Fear in Accuracy

    No Fear in Accuracy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    318
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2001
    Some says double energy based on the animal's weight.

    Moose = 1200-1500lbs therefore you need a minimum 2400 ft-lb.

    It is not a hard rule but in general idea what is the minimum energy for specific animals.
     
  8. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,151
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    Yep, it all depends on what bullet we use and what game you're after.