What hits harder?

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by Guy M, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. Guy M

    Guy M Well-Known Member

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    Okay - any of us can look at a trajectory table, or even come up with our own from one of the various ballistics programs... And even an old Jarhead like me can read that some combinations have higher retained velocity & energy downrange, due to a high ballistic coefficient.

    But what hits harder? Does frontal area make any difference on impact, like it can with the big-bore stoppers used on dangerous game? By "hitting harder" I mean, does it produce more of a visible, obvious impact on the game animal?

    Does a .338 dia bullet hit harder than a 7mm bullet - if they are producing about the same amount of energy? Does a bigger diameter bullet have any more shocking power, knock-down power, killing power than a smaller one?

    I've shot deer with all sorts of stuff, from a .223/55 gr combo to my .45-70 and a .50 cal muzzle loader... Most have not however been at longer ranges. I know that for me, the bigger bullets have almost always produced more of a visible impact & seriously quick incapacitation - a soft lead 385 gr .50 cal hollowpoint bullet is a very effective deer-killing tool, with no tracking required.

    So from you other hunters - are you seeing a difference in the field between the 6.5's, 7mm's, .30's, .338's? Do you think bullet diameter has any role or is it simply energy delivered and point of impact.

    I'll be the first to state that I think point of impact is The Most Important part in producing instant one-shot kills.

    Curious about your results & observations!

    Regards, Guy
     
  2. eddybo

    eddybo Well-Known Member

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    When I first read this post the old question, "which weighs more a pound of feathers or a pound of lead came to mind," but think that is an oversimplification. I would think that two bullets having similar energy levels striking a similar target could create markedly different wound channels depending on bullet size and construction. I would think that the larger calibers have an advantage as they would probably create a larger wound channel....but then again I dont know much.
     

  3. Guy M

    Guy M Well-Known Member

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    That's basically what I'm asking. What results have you seen in the field on game? Do your observations lead you to favor one caliber over another, based at least in part on bullet diameter?

    Some guys have shot dozens or maybe even hundreds of game animals. Not me - varmints and some coyotes yes, but only about a dozen deer, one big elk and some wild hogs a long time ago.

    The .223/55 gr deer at close range was hit in the neck. No real reaction at first, then the blood started, and the little mulie buck collapsed a few seconds later.

    The large mulie doe shot at about 70 yards with the 45-70/405 gr bullet was hit high in the shoulder. She was immediately slammed to the ground. Broken spine, and the bullet went through both shoulders & out the other side. Buddy next to me who hunts with a .350 Rem mag just muttered "damn" at the sight of that doe slamming to the ground. We were both impressed.

    The mulie bucks and does that I took when I was a pretty enthusiastic muzzle loader were all taken with a traditional Thompson-Center .50 cal, using a 385 gr Hornady "Great Plains" bullet at modest velocity. Every one of them simply fell over dead on impact. Most were neck or shoulder shots at modest ranges.

    The several mulies I've taken with the high velocity centerfire cartridges have collapsed pretty much immediately too - no matter which cartridge I used. Again, mostly shoulder shots or neck shots. Even my son's little 6mm Remington is pretty much instant death on the mulies with a mere 95 grain ballistic tip.

    My big elk had little initial reaction to the 7mm mag with the 175 Nosler Partition, but he only took a half dozen slow walking steps, then simply fell over and never moved again. The bullet took out the lungs and the big blood vessels atop the heart.

    I can't say that I've seen enough difference between the various centerfires to think that cartridge choice matters all that much, but from time to time I sure hear otherwise... Looking for field experience, particularly at longer ranges here. Not sure I'm going to find a dime's worth of difference between my 7mm mag and my new .300 WSM in the field... But the new rifle sure is pretty and it shoots real nice!

    Regards, Guy
     
  4. britz

    britz Well-Known Member

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    That is a very complicated question (I think anyway). OK, I will be speaking from a Physics standpoint, not field experience since I havent downd that many animals.

    Your question is about diameter, velocity, and weight. One huge factor is the amount of energy used.

    If you shoot an animal with a high velocity large bore rifle it will do lots of damage, but how much of the kenetic energy did you use in the animal. Bullet selection will play a huge role since a harder bullet like a barns will not expand and punch a hole right through soft tissue at a high velocity. It may produce a significant wound, but it's knockdown power wasn't utilized.
     
  5. jwp475

    jwp475 Well-Known Member

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    In my experience the larger diameter projectiles have given a more visable reaction to a hit than smaller ones..In other words a 250 338 has a more noticable impact on an Elk,Mooes,etc tham does a 160 grain out of a 300 Win Mag even when impact energy is close to the same.....
    A large bore revoler such as one of my 475 or 599 calibers with a 420 or 525 grain flat point hard cast gives a more visable reaction to a hit than a 338 win Mag with 259 grain Partions in my experience...I am not saying that one kills quicker than the other,just that the reaction of the animal to the impact of the bullet has been more viable in my experiene.........
     
  6. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    I have shot deer with everything from a 223 to a 338. I have to agree that bullet selection for caliber has more to do with terminal performance than caliber itself....to a point. Even though the 223 killed the deer I won't shoot another deer with it. I hit a nice buck in the shoulder at about 50yds with a so called deer "bullet". It penetrated into the vitals but just pierced the shoulder blade, not break it. If it hadn't hit a main artery by the heart he would have ran a long ways and not left much of a trail. Wrong caliber,right bullet. However, on the other end of things, the 300gr matchking last season destroyed both shoulders and liquified the innards.There was no way in hell that deer had a chance of living. Right caliber, right bullet(over kill)But, I shot a wt doe with a 300 win mag and 180 gr fail safes. I thought I had miss her three times, I quit shooting and watched her feed for about 10 minutes until she laid down. I seen a little blood on her and aimed for the head, she died that time. Three lung shots within a few inches of each other with pen hole affect. Right caliber, wrong bullet.
     
  7. jwp475

    jwp475 Well-Known Member

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    Was he too dead??
     
  8. goodgrouper

    goodgrouper Well-Known Member

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    I was at the range once when a very experienced, local pistol shooter was testing this very theory. He set up bowling pins at about 15 yards and shot them with a hot loaded 9mm and then a regular load in a 45 acp. To make a long story short, the 9 would just wiggle the pins and the 45 would tip them over. Both guns were shooting cast lead round nose bullets.
     
  9. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    Overkill? I know, I know... no such thing. Almost blown in half. Perfect! Is what I should have said. Don't get me wrong, I like to kill them as dead as I can, but I like to eat them too.
     
  10. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

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    I have seen 7mm's and 6mm kill deer very fast. I have seen 338's kill deer very fast as well. There are so many variables to think of. Smaller diameter rounds have some killing qualities such as a faster twist rate to stabilize the long skinny bullets. The higher the RPM, the greater the shock wave inside the critter by way of centrifical force. Bigger bullets such as the 338 have lots of frontal area to transfer bullet energy to the game for a shock value albiet it iis a different type of shock than a high RPM shock.

    The point is, match the bullet and caliber to the game youre hunting.
     
  11. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

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    I've seen many animals taken with everything from 22/250 up through 50 cal. muzzle loaders and 12ga slugs.

    Although I can't quantify it, I put a lot of faith in frontal area. I've seen dozens of Muley's shot with small diameter fast bullets that had 2000lbs energy and wasted at least half of it on the hillside behind them.

    I'm still amazed at how a larger diameter bullet with less ft/lbs tends to really hammer animals. Many authors/gun folks have attempted to quantify this exact question. You can probably find info on some of the following writers/formulas Taylor Knockout Value
    Hatchers Relative Stopping Power
    John Wooters Lethality Index

    Most of these base their values on the energy multiplied by area and shape of the frontal area.

    AJ
     
  12. blackco

    blackco Well-Known Member

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    ceylonc, not meant to flame but the hammer/sledg/mallet comparison isn't apples-to-apples. With that, ALL of the energy is tranfeded to the object(target). With a bullet that is not necessarily true.

    I REALLY started looking into this subject quite a while back, through anecdotal evidence not true scientific research. Some of the things that lead me to question bullets were;
    -When I was a kid I read everything I could about hunting. Every year before season there were MANY articals about "tracking" animals after you shoot them with a rifle. We hunted deer with 243's and I could never understand the tracking articles because EVERY deer we shot was a bang-flop.
    -Several years ago I read a post asking for a load for less meat damage out of a 30-06. One reply said use a 180gr bullet..."very little meat damage and the animal ONLY TRAVELS ABOUT 100 YARDS AFTER THE SHOT!!!"
    - I have seen about 25 caribou shot with rifles from 6mm - 338. By far the quickest kills were with the 6mm and a 270.
    -My daughter shot a white tail twice through the lungs at about 75 yards with a 308 and a Remington 150gr bullet. The only reason we found that deer was another hunter saw it fall almost a half mile away.

    From this, watching about 75 deer shot over the last 14 years(I love Montana's liberal deer season) talking with everyone who isn't tired of talking about guns with me, and looking around at what goes on in the shooting world, I have come to several beliefs of my own;

    (I know there are many arguments about how to measure bullet effectiveness, and they all have some validity, but for the sake of this artical I am just going to use the term "energy")

    It absolulty makes not one iota of difference how much energy a bullet contains..what matters is how much energy is dumped into the animal AND how fast that energy is dumped. At one end of the spectrum is the 300 Wizbang bullet taking all of its energy with it after zipping through an animal, on the other end is that 22GopherGrinder dumping ALL of its energy in the shoulder of a deer...but the results are the same; an animal running off and dying, unrecoverable.

    An animal with a hole through its heart or lungs is going to die soon, the question is how fast and how far away.

    Since the popularity of the magnum calibers (RUM etc) many bullets have been made too tough for standard velocities. The majority of people shooting 7STW or 300RUM are shooting deer and elk at under 300 yards. When you hit a big animal with a bullet going that fast, it better be a TOUGH bullet or it's going to blow up. I took that same bullet (without knowing) and loaded it into a 308 and it went through a deer like a full-metal-jacket (see above).

    As Bravo-4 put it so well, you must match three things when selecting a load to hunt with; the caliber, the animal, and the bullet(construction). I believe most "average" hunters use way too much bullet for the animal they hunt. A cow or spike is a completly different animal than a 5 or 6-point bull, just like a doe or small buck is a different animal that a trophy buck.

    So, a few decisions I have made for me from these beliefes;
    Do as Bravo-4, match the load to the animal and shot anticipated and if that shot doesn't present itself, adjust accordingly.
    Since most of the deer we shoot are does and small bucks under 300 yards, which aren't much different than a big varmint, I use big varmint bullets, 85gr 6mm(flame me if you want). If we run into a big buck we MUST pick our shot, but that doesn't happen much.
    Also, we often get cow tags so we use bullets that are usually considered "deer" bullets. 150's for 308 and -06, 140's for 7mm. At the same time I won't use a 6mm for elk even with premium bullets, done it, never again. If I get the opportunity to hunt bulls this year you can bet I will be using my 338 with 225-250gr bullets, real elk bullets that will penetrate lots of meat and bone.

    I guess I went the long way around to answer the original question, you must compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. A 308 FMJ bullet will cause more damage at 3000fps than a .22FMJ going the same speed. A 308 going 3000fps will do more damage than one going 1500fps. BUT, will a 22FMJ at 3000fps do more or less damage than a 308 at 1500fps? Any comparison between bullets can only be fairly made if ALL other variables remain the same, which almost never happens. A heavier bullet SHOULD make more damage that a lighter one, BUT heavier bullets also go slower out of the same gun sooooo...
    It's the same problem for both shooters and bullet manufacturers since powder went smokeless; a bullet that expands without blowing up, ALL the time. The other side of the coin is the old 22-250/45-70 comparison. No one wants to face a bear with a 22-250, and if you have ever shot a gopher or porcupine with a big .45 bullet, it's not too spectacular.

    Sorry, this got a lot more wordy than I intended but I think this is a very important and huge discusion. If I were a writer I would write a book on just this subject.
     
  13. Rogue

    Rogue Well-Known Member

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    Well stated!
     
  14. jwp475

    jwp475 Well-Known Member

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    This wound was made in the off side of a Bull Elks ribb cage by a Flat Point Hard Cast bullet the 440 grain slug at 950 FPS with only 888 FPE

    I am holding a 300 Win Mag for size comparison



    [​IMG]


    Energy dump?? It's about crushing and destroying tissue.That wide Flat Point basicaly non expanding bullet did a hell of a job and the destruction was large from start to finish......
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2007