Lets talk bullets

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by elkaholic, Jun 9, 2012.

  1. elkaholic

    elkaholic Well-Known Member

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    I think most would agree that bullet discussions are probably one of the most popular and contoversial, topics on this forum, and for good reason. My reason for posting this this is not to pick out a brand, a best or worst, etc., but to talk about constuction and properties, and let each person decide what might be the best option for there own application. I have stated in the past that "there is no perfect bullet" but there certainly are better choices for the application. We are talking primarily hunting applications here, although much will apply to target. I will give my opinions, based on my own experience from years of hunting, testing, and making my own bullets, and I welcome input from others including some of the bullet making sponsors. I would also ask that this not turn into name callin', ($&*%@) contest, so keep it civil please! Keep in mind that this is a "Long Range Forum", so most of the comments made by me will be with this in mind. I realize that "Long range" might be anywhere from 400 to well over 1000 yards but I'm hoping that this will all be covered.
    Most of my experience is with copper/alloy, lead core bullets, so I will focus mostly on them. IMO, the mono's belong only on the "short end" of the long range spectrum because of lower b.c. and expansion limitations. This doesn't rule them out completely, but there are far better choices at the ranges being addressed on this forum.
    The bullet designs are more complex than can be recognized on the surface and several variables, matched up in different ways, affect the bullets performance both while in flight and upon impact. This includes, but probably isn't limited to, the following:
    Pure lead and copper vs amount of alloy, bonded vs non, thickness of jacket at varying points of the bullet, point configuration i.e., (secant ogive, tangent ogive, ballistic tip, open point, meplat diameter), b.c., sectional density, frontal area and etc.
    Let's start with alloy. More lead, more copper, more malleable (less brittle). Most manufactures use a copper alloy jacket primarily because pure copper jackets can not be rapidly produced without sticking in the dies. Alloys, on the other hand, reduce copper fouling. In general, pure copper and lead will tend to stay together better, all else equal. Some manufacturers use alloy in the lead to help slow expansion rather than by thickening the jacket. There is a trade off here between accuracy and acceptable expansion and weight retention. Also, lead alloys tend to"break off" easier even though it takes more force to expand them (malleability). Normally, a thinner jacket equals better accuracy but increased expansion. Bonding the jacket and core has become popular because you can get away with a little less jacket and retain more weight while maintaining the accuracy of a thinner jacket and the penetration desired. Bonding does "somewhat" limit expansion at long range, but not to a great degree. The biggest difference occurs when the non bonded sheds the jacket or simply disintegrates at high velocity. The nose configuration not only affects b.c. but also expansion characteristics. A ballistic tip will, all else equal, expand more rapidly than an open point. The tip forces back into the jacket upon impact and initiates the expansion. This is usually accentuated by the fact that ballistic tip bullets have a wider meplat at the tip/jacket junction. Most open tip bullets of the long range variety, have a very small meplat in order to raise the b.c. This can be an advantage at higher velocity for a given thickness of jacket and shape, but a disadvantage at lower velocity.
    In general, the more components, or steps in the process of bullet making, the less chance for accuracy. This is why target style bullets are very simple in design and the emphasis is on balance and concentricity. i.e. no bonding, partitions, etc. Most hunting bullets, on the other hand, use thicker jackets, partitions, bonding, different alloys and etc. but are not intended to be used at some of the ranges we discuss on this forum. In a perfect world, we as long range hunters, want all of the above. Superior accuracy, high b.c., expand at low velocity and yet hold together at high velocity. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE THE VERY BEST OF ALL THESE QUALITIES IN ANY ONE BULLET, so what we do we do is try to find a combination of the most of these qualities available. This most often leads us to target style bullets because they fill most of the long range requirements but fall short of some closer range applications. It is my opinion, in general, when target style bullets are used for big game hunting, especially larger game such as elk, the heaviest available in that caliber that will shoot in your rifle are the best. The higher s.d. and more mass will be more forgiving when using these frangible bullets. This of course would also give the edge to larger calibers.
    All these things that I have mentioned above are the reason that I started making my own bullets several years ago with some good success for my hunting style. I am pleased that several of the major manufacturers have stepped up to the plate for the long range crowd and I expect there will be more in the future. There is still a ways to go......Rich
     
  2. Jordan Smith

    Jordan Smith Well-Known Member

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    Pretty hard to argue with that! :)

    The only thing that I might point out, is that all-copper bullets are starting to make advances, both in BC and minimum expansion velocity. They're not the metal ping pong balls that they used to be. The Barnes LRX is designed to expand down to 1600fps. That's pretty incredible! The BC of the 7mm 168gr LRX is approaching .600, which ain't too shabby. It's not the be-all, end-all LR bullet, by any means, but they're certainly making progress, in that regard.

    The other thing is that you said that it's impossible to have the very best of all these qualities in any one bullet. I would agree that this is currently the case, but with all the major bullet advances that have been made recently, it might not be impossible for long. An Interbond in the shape of an A-Max would comes pretty close to fullfilling most of those criteria. A Berger Hybrid with the rear half of the bullet bonded would be pretty sweet, as well. A Barnes LRX with a secant or hybrid ogive, and without the grooves, would come pretty close to ideal. These ideas may not be feasible right now, but they do illustrate that it wouldn't take much to get a near perfect bullet.
     

  3. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    Rich,

    Hot very good at this type of discussion....but I haven't let that hold me back in the past.:rolleyes:

    BTW, bigngeen's dad, I think it was, was shooting a 6.5 Sherman today. Sweet!!!

    Searching for the "right" bullet has been a quest of my for many years.

    Regarding the 270 Win - the 90 gr Sierra HP was top notch of chucks and yotes out to only a little over 400 yards. With an MV of 3400 they were flawless, though not LR.

    The 130 offerings in that caliber ruined the entire front half of a deer if shot at less than 200 yards. Thus all shots were taken at greater than 250 if at all possible.

    Hornady Interbonds in 277 are the hardiest, toughest jackets around. They hold together when most other's dust at extreme velocities. But terminally perform flawless terminally in my experience. However their bc is the pits and the lead tip deforms. That gives me the vapors.

    Nosler Accubond and ballistic tips have tough jackets, holding up well to the riggers of 3 groove 8 twist bores. They are accurate as a bullet needs to be and perform very well terminally. Even when hitting a deer sized animal at under a hundred yards.

    After witnessing what a 375 cal 350 SMK will do to a darn good sized rock at 600 + yards, I think it was. At that distance the FPE is supposed to be nearly 6000 FtLbs. Seeing as that is the only bullet that I desire to have, I'd say aim for the biggest bone in the shoulder and let'r rip. This is said given the reported, by some, inconsistent "iffy" terminal performance

    My experience shows that Aluminum tipped bullets if not constructed properly will shed the tip early on an give a very crooked path resulting in very poor penetration.

    I suppose brass tips would do the same but so far the ones I'm working with are located in the media within 4 or so inches of the bulk of the bullet with an 18" penetration.

    bc and accuracy are what it's all about. MV isn't that big of a deal when the proper bullet is used for the proper application.

    A problem with bullet selection for LRH is that we are so few in numbers. (But growing)
     
  4. Long Time Long Ranger

    Long Time Long Ranger Well-Known Member

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    The one main most important point in all said is when using target vld bullets use a large caliber. As stated there is no perfect bullet however you can overcome this with a 300 grain 338 bullet which will destroy whatever it hits. As you go smaller you takes your chances. That is the reason I have said on here nearly since the forum started. If your serious in long range hunting then get a big gun like a 338 or 375 caliber. We learned back in the 60's and 70's the 7mm's and smaller are not worthy and was proven with many lost animals yet newbies continue to try them and then as they gain experience and lose a few animals graduate to a 338. If a 7mm-300 wby wasn't enough in the 70's forget the little 7mm remington and wsm. A bullet in the right place and dead animal. Not in the right place and the 338 will kill it or make it so sick it will not go far for an easy follow up shot. A 7mm or smaller and you had better be dead on or forget it with a lost animal the bears will enjoy. Typically I can always tell a guys experience level by the chambering he is using for long range hunting.

    My experience in hunting camps for 40 years all over north america is that hunters can talk way better than they can shoot. So please get a big gun and you will have far greater success overall at long range hunting. If you can't handle a big gun then shoot within your limitations with a little one. I know many don't like what I have to say on here but it comes from more experience than many guys combined will ever achieve together. I just state facts I have learned through the years. I put the truth out there and a guy can learn from it on the fast track or learn for himself through the years.
     
  5. Jordan Smith

    Jordan Smith Well-Known Member

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    Bullets and powders have come a long way since the 60's and 70's...
     
  6. Long Time Long Ranger

    Long Time Long Ranger Well-Known Member

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    That is true but the calibers are still the same and so are the wound channels. With all the new powders I am still getting the same velocities of the 60's and 70's also.
     
  7. ZSteinle

    ZSteinle Well-Known Member

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    +1 for a bonded amax! Asked hornady about the possibility and there comment was "they had no plans for making such a bullet". Off the subject but does anyone know why hornady used to state the amax was ok for thin skinned game and now they state not for hunting. Also the new bthp bullets from hornady are interesting, they already had a match line of bullets why add another. I have never measured an equivelant amax vs. bthp but it seems they just chopped off the tip and slightly pointed the meaplat on the bthp's. Maybe a response to bergers great success the last few years.
     
  8. elkaholic

    elkaholic Well-Known Member

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    I didn't mention it in my earlier post because I haven't tested it thoroughly enough yet but I am working on a .700+ b.c. bullet that externally is identical to my SXR with a bonded partition. So far it is showing some promise. It will expand down to 1300' but stay together at 3000'. The biggest obstacal is accuracy, for reasons I mentioned in the first post, but I have shot a couple of .4 moa groups with it. If it works out as I hope, we might have something closer to perfect:D.......Rich
     
  9. dig

    dig Well-Known Member

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    I completely agree bigger caliber equals more energy and greater margin for error. Also like the more frangible bullets the more I shoot the bigger the caliber. 300 Wby is my starting point for bear elk and larger these days.
     
  10. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    I've fairly well moved away from fast bonded bullets of any kind in favor of softer but much higher sectional density bullets simply because that combination has proven so much better with elk for the chamberings I shoot. I found the bonded bullets had to be spot on with placement because the wound channel while long was not wide enough to affect much more than an 1.5-2 in area of lung and many times it was a bruise with a caliber hole in the middle which won't get you out of trouble. Since going to the softer bullets I see smaller entrance holes but the hole in the center and exit are 2+ in in diameter of blown out hole with more radiating rips, the high sectional density keeps it going while doing so much more damage. My bull last year was hit back at the liver with the first shot and he could not move up hill he was so sick and he could barely stay up, the wound channel from that first hit was large with radiating cuts in his liver and a bonded bullet would not have given me that performance. I shot him again through the heavy leg bone below the shoulder blade, it shattered this bone and blew one of the nicest holes through the forward part of the lungs I've ever had then exited just in front of the same bone on the of side, that hit I don't think I would have seen a difference between a bonded and non bonded jacket but my bullet has the sectional density to drive through the bone still. Two hits on the same bull, one I feel would have cost me some serious tracking if I had used bonded bullets and the other hit would have been GTG either way so for me I'm getting way more leeway with the non bonded open tip bullets and much more even wound channels through soft parts or bone.
    If my choice was a low SD bullet I would go bonded every time but with the higher SD I'm digging non bonded in a big way!!!
     
  11. Jordan Smith

    Jordan Smith Well-Known Member

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    With today's bullets like the VLD and A-Max, the wound channel from smaller calibers is as large as those from some of the larger caliber bullets from yesteryear.

    It's a fool's errand to expect a big bullet to make up for poor shot placement, caused by the shooter's inability to hold up his end of the deal and put the bullet where it needs to go...
     
  12. Jordan Smith

    Jordan Smith Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a very interesting bullet, Rich. The perfect bullet may just be something similar to your new project, but with a tipped hollow front end (similar to a TTSX) and a bonded rear lead core.
     
  13. Bullet bumper

    Bullet bumper Well-Known Member

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    The more complication you bring in to the construction of a bullet the more accuracy is potentially lost bringing it back to a shorter range bullet anyway .
    There is different ways to bond a bullet not all bullets are done the same way .
    Once you start tipping a bullet to reduce meplat diameter and increase BC you end up making it slower to expand than a normal open meplat on softer targets .
    Bond the core and tip the bullet to a small meplat and you have a bullet that may not expand at all at long range due to velocity drop off if it hits a soft target . There is no such thing as the perfect bullet for all situations , as the situations , shot placement and potential targets vary so much . The best we can do is have the best bullet for the job at hand . If we try for the one bullet fits all approach there is going to be some horrible miss match some place along the line .
     
  14. Greyfox

    Greyfox Well-Known Member

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    I have found that the smaller the caliber, the more attention I have had to pay to bullet construction. Years ago, I made a few trips to Africa where I used my 375H&H for everything from 100 pound impala to 2000 pound cape buffalo with several species of game in between. Shots were from 50 to 500 yards. For all but the first shot on the buffalo where I used a 300 gr solid, I used plain old 270 gr. Winchester Power Points. Everything except the buffalo dropped stone dead with one shot. Over the past 20 years or so using 270, 30, and 7mm calibers in magnum and non magnum calibers and ranges under 500 yards, I found that most of the popular hunting bullets with a preference for Nosler Partitions and Accubonds did well given good shot placement, but gave varied performance past 500 yards. The game really changes at the extended ranges and the high BC, high sectional density bullets really come into their own, particularly in the smaller calibers. Today, I mostly hunt mule deer, white talis, and antelope with a 6,5x284 with shots from 50 to 1000 yards. After lots of different bullets with varying degrees of performance, I have found that the 140 gr.Hunting Bergers driven at 2950-3000 fps seem to give me the superb terminal performance and excellent accuracy at all ranges. Berger seems to have really gotten this bullet right.