Is Bullet Expansion Necessary for Effecive Killing of Game

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by MontanaRifleman, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    Before we start out, this thread has big potential to get ugly and I do NOT want that to happen. This thread is NOT about the ethics and good/evil of non-expanding bullets vs expanding bullets. Please DO NOT flame anyone for their opinion or experience.

    The purpose of this thread is to get opinions and more importantly, experience on the effects of non-expanding bullets on game and not to start a big debate.

    I am under the opinion that bullet expansion is important to the reliable, effective taking of game but I would like to hear people's experiences on the subject. I believe that expanding bullets cause much greater hemoraging than non-expanding bullets and lead to much quicker kills. Is this right? Is this necessary? Is it situational, i.e. cal, range, game specie?

    Let's have a good discussion and learn something and remember we are all fellow shooters and hunters.

    Your thoughts.....

    Thanks,

    Mark
     
  2. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    Mark,

    "I am under the opinion that bullet expansion is important to the reliable, effective taking of game but I would like to hear people's experiences on the subject."

    I agree with this 100%.

    There seems to be universal acceptance of the expanding bullet otherwise there would be no expanding bullets manufactured. There are many compromises that must be made when making a bullet. These compromises greatly increase in number and complexity when designing a hunting bullet rather than just a paper puncher.

    Is expansion necessary in all cases? From personal experiences I have to say no.

    Example 1) Raghorn bull elk @ 120 yds. Cartridge: 223. Bullet 60gr SMK. One shot. a few steps and DRT. Bullet retrieved from very low in the rib cage didn't even get to the skin on the far side. There was no deformation of the bullet except for the rifling.

    The tip of the heart was removed opening both chanbers.

    The whole deal was a fluke. Kid got the fever. It should have been a muley buck but those antlers looke reasonable for a great buck above the top of the large bush.

    Bullet performance is fully documented by the ID F&G.:rolleyes:

    Example 2) Local high fence operation fills orders for elk meat with a carefully placed neck shot from a 22 LR.


    Nevertheless bullet expansion is a great early innovation regarding hunting bullets.
     

  3. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

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    My personal experience has been MUCH quicker cleaner kills with bullets that expanded over bullets that did not expand.

    I will leave bullet types out of the post to (hopefully prevent any flame) and base the thought of bullets not expanding by a very small exit hole and no major damage to vital organs once gutted.

    I have shot and witnessed a few critters get shot with bullets than in the end did not expand. The game in most cases did not act as if it were hit. One was shot (good hit in the vitals) and circumstances did not afford for a follow up shot. It took almost an hour for the animal to expire. It was in open country where we could watch it for the duration of its last hour. To me this is disrespectful to the game which is why I dont use those bullets anymore. Another was my buddy who hit a critter 3 times through the lungs. Again not much reaction and he just would not go down. A 4th round to the shoulder disabled him and again, took a while to expire. Not an hour like the one before him but 10 minutes or so. Again this is cruel.

    Of the critters that have been hit with bullets that did expand or completely come apart for that matter, all when hit in the vital area expired VERY quickly. Most within 0-30 seconds with one making it between 30 seconds and a minute. Regardless of impact energy, the critters I have taken with bullets that did expand died very quickly.

    I know this isnt scientifec but offers a pattern. It is a widely known fact that in archery an arrow with a field tip will kill an animal. Just not very quickly. When a sharp broadhead is attached the game dies VERY quickly despite there only being enough energy to allow the arrow to penetrate the skin, ribs and vitals. Typically with much less than 100 pounds of energy. It is the cutting and subsequent blood loss and or air loss that causes the quick kill. I apply the same principals with my 308. I dont have near the energy of a 300 RUM but I employ bullets that create alot of damage and subsequent blood loss and or air loss. The critters I have shot even with minimal energy yet recieved a good wound track died very quickly.

    As a side note I know of some game and fish departments that do NOT permit the use of FMJ's.

    Hope that helps and hope it doesnt recieve any flame as none was intended.

    M
     
  4. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    Mark,

    "I am under the opinion that bullet expansion is important to the reliable, effective taking of game but I would like to hear people's experiences on the subject."

    I agree with this 100%.

    There seems to be universal acceptance of the expanding bullet otherwise there would be no expanding bullets manufactured. There are many compromises that must be made when making a bullet. These compromises greatly increase in number and complexity when designing a hunting bullet rather than just a paper puncher.

    Is expansion necessary in all cases? From personal experiences I have to say no.

    Example 1) Raghorn bull elk @ 120 yds. Cartridge: 223. Bullet 60gr SMK. One shot. a few steps and DRT. Bullet retrieved from very low in the rib cage didn't even get to the skin on the far side. There was no deformation of the bullet except for the rifling.

    The tip of the heart was removed opening both chanbers.

    The whole deal was a fluke. Kid got the fever. It should have been a muley buck but those antlers looke reasonable for a great buck above the top of the large bush.

    Bullet performance is fully documented by the ID F&G.:rolleyes:

    Example 2) Local high fence operation fills orders for elk meat with a carefully placed neck shot from a 22 LR.

    Example 3) I recall a story from decades ago where a noted writer wanted to scare a bull moose so a visitor wouldn't see it or something on that order. Maybe it was Col. Townsend. Anyway the moose was a couple of hundred yards away or so. A 22 LR was randomly stuck out the cabin door in the general direction of the moose. Long story short, 1 dead moose.


    Nevertheless bullet expansion is a great early innovation regarding hunting bullets.
     
  5. edge

    edge Well-Known Member

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    I think that the faster you drop blood pressure the faster an animal will die, assuming you are not taking out the central nervous system.

    Just because an animal hit the dirt does NOT mean it is dead....it actually is not dead for several minutes, after enough brain cells die.


    For dropping animals I think that fragmenting bullets are probably tops....assuming they reach the vitals :)
    Hit the leg on the way in and you can probably watch your animal run into the sunset.
    With that said, I would rather a bullet fail to expand and give full penetration than expand too early and not reach the vitals!

    edge.
     
  6. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    This DRAMATICALLY depends on the type of bullet being used. For a modern, pointed ogive bullet used in rifles, I say certainly for being most effective at "quickly" and "Cleanly" killing big game.

    If your talking about a big bore chambering using bullets with wide flat nose designs, its not nearly as critical and in fact, expansion on this type of bullet can actually decrease effectiveness at quickly killing game.

    Since we are chatting on LRH, I assume you are referring to the former with sharp ogive rifle bullet designs.

    Caliber also has some role to play in this as well.
     
  7. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    Good point Kirby (no pun intended :)), I'm talking about pointy bullets.
     
  8. foreign

    foreign Well-Known Member

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    my dog was once shot by a local farmer while she was running over his land. shot with a 22lr in just behind the rib cage. bullet traveled through both lungs and is now under skin just behind of side shoulder. she lived and is fine now. but i imagine that the lack of expansion is what saved her. it something like a .17hmr was used im sure she would be dead. though that is a different caliber i think the highly frangible bullet would have caused a huge wound channel
     
  9. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    Re: Is Bullet Expansion Necessary for Effective Killing of Game

    For large game animals, using the pointed bullets, at long range with reduced impact velocities, short of brain and central nervous system (spinal cord) hits, I'm in the Yes camp. For body hits, my experiences say an expanding bullet provides much more assurance of a humane kill.

    I have seen high velocity .222 Rem hits on red fox with FMJs drop these 13 lb animals outright. These red fox are my primary experience with FMJ body hits. On the other hand I hit a 30 lb racoon with the 222 FMJ at high velocity at about 200 yds and wouldn't have recovered the animal, other than he was spined. I believe an expanding bullet would most likely have killed him in a manner that wouldn't have required a follow-up shot.

    My two first-hand experiences on large game with decent lethal body hits - but failed bullet expansion - with impact velocities of ~2950 fps and ~2500 fps were not good. Both broadside body hits. One solidly double-lunged. The second toward the back of both lungs - less than perfect but still good enough than an expanded bullet at 2500 fps would have downed and dispatched this small black bear pretty quickly.
     
  10. ATH

    ATH Well-Known Member

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    The only exception to an unqualified "yes" would be large calibers beyond what are typically discussed in this forum. Having more muzzleloader experience than average, I can say that a 50cal conical that does not expand kills just fine, but that leaves a much bigger hole than a .22-.338 cal bullet poking through at high speed.
     
  11. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    I'm thinking that bullets that don't open at close range/high velocity tend to just poke through with very little tearing and no tumbling. At longrange or lower velocities we get more dwell time in the animal and there is more tearing and tumbling of the projectile. Caliber almost has to play a big role at these extreme ranges.
    If we shot bullets soule on manufacture recomendations everyone would have to put away there 338 with 300gr SMK's which clearly work. Once you get out to the mile mark there are very few chamberings that can keep a bullet fast enough to function but there is game taken cleanly at those ranges with chambering and bullets that well below 1800fps even below 1200fps. I really hope this thread can shed some light on what takes place at extreme ranges, there are very few that can talk on this with experience.
    Lets face it this is LRH, we are way out side the comfort zone of most hunters.
     
  12. fmajor

    fmajor Well-Known Member

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    Since we're discussing a single, 'pointy' projectile and it's capability to deliver death-inducing energy, a point to consider is what does it really take to induce death. Please excuse my over-simplifications, it helps me *think* things through...

    I'm not a veterinarian or doctor, but i *suspect* death (in this context) is generally caused by a lack of blood/oxygen to the brain or catastrophic shock to the central nervous system.

    Whatever the projectile needs to do - whether;

    a) destroy vital organ(s)
    b) achieve massive tissue devastation (creating significant blood loss)
    c) catastrophically disrupt central nervous system functions

    it must have the appropriate placement, the energy to affect a)-c), and have adequate dimensions/size/shape/density (dssd) to deposit that energy.

    If bullet has appropriate placement/dssd, but not enough energy - FAIL
    If bullet has enough energy/good dssd, but poor placement - FAIL
    If bullet has enough energy/good placement, but poor dssd - FAIL

    Unless the projectile is so massive (i dunno - lets say .50cal/12.7mm and greater?) it can accomplish any of a) - c), i believe it must expand.

    To what exact dimensions/size/shape/density i've no idea, but "big/heavy/hard enough" is what my uneducated mind wants to say!!!
     
  13. Varminator 911

    Varminator 911 Well-Known Member

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    If I was carrying a handgun for bear protection it would have heavy, hard-cast, flat-nose bullets. So Fifty Driver made my point. Dangerous game solids are the same. Flat nose penetrates better than round or mushroomed bullets so maybe it is chosen for deep, straight penetration.

    Also didn't the buffalo hunters of years past shoot non expanding bullets at some pretty long ranges. My impression is they were the original LR hunters
     
  14. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

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    BB, I wonder how many more it may have taken if 7mm FMJ's were used?