A-Tips, terminal performance on big game

hunterbob

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Oct 19, 2011
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Montgomery TX
Like to hear more experiences and data collected from the A-tips on big game. I’d love to use them but can’t seem to find much data on them in terms of terminal performance on game. What is the slowest recommended velocity for impact if indeed they are effective on game?

The 156 EOL is another option that will work I know, but I’m looking to eke out the maximum effective range with the 6.5 PRC. 153 A-tips launched anywhere close to 3,000 fps will go a long ways for sure, but I don’t want to develop a load that I can’t use for anything from woodchucks to elk... (Have been using the 147 ELD-M's)
Y
Many years ago, when long-range hunting was a less-understood subject than it is now, long-range hunters used (and encouraged each other to use) the Sierra Match King .308 220-grain bullet to hunt. See for example https://www.shootingtimes.com/editorial/ammunition_st_matchbullets_200909/100063. This "first generation" of long-range hunters based their use of the SMK for long-range hunting in part on the military's use of the same bullet for the Mk 248 Mod 1 sniper round (see https://www.americanrifleman.org/co...iping-ammunition-from-vietnam-to-afghanistan/).

For the same reasons (back then) I developed a 2,850 fps load for the SMK 220-grain bullet in my 300 RUM (RL-25, 0.3 MOA three-shot groups). Soon enough I shot a mature bull elk through the lungs at 460 yards with that load. The bullet should have arrived with over 2,500 ft-lbs of kinetic energy at well over 2,000 fps, more than enough to initiate expansion. But the bullet evidently did not hit a rib on entering or exiting, because it failed to expand at all. The bull humped up on impact, and then walked slowly away. About 50 yards away he lay down in the snow to catch his breath. I later found a round bullet-hole sized bright-red blood spot in the off-side indentation where he lay in the snow, reflecting the lack of expansion (as well as the through-and-through rib/lung shot).

I shot the bull in the late afternoon. I trailed him in two-foot deep snow, into a growing blizzard. He dragged me over hill after hill, dropping into the snow several times on the way up each hillside, each time leaving that pin-hole red dot in the middle of the indentation. I never caught up to him. I gave up trailing him around 10 p.m., when the blizzard got bad enough that my GPS receiver failed, and I had to walk miles back to my truck on the strength of a compass bearing. I went back after the storm passed, but never found him. I believe I found one of his antlers while scouting the next year. It was a mile or so from where I had shot him.

I discovered and started loading the Berger 210-grain VLD hunting bullet the following year. I've since taken many animals with Berger VLDs and Elite Hunters, at ranges from 25-525 yards. None of these animals has taken more than a couple of steps after I've shot it.

I've read that the SMK has a very thin skin. I haven't cut one open, so I don't know. Perhaps my experience was an anomaly. (I'm a data scientist by trade, and I do believe in thinking statistically about such things.) But I felt really bad about losing that bull. And every time I watch a Berger bullet drop an animal right where it stands, I become more convinced that the best way not to lose an animal is to shoot it with a bullet that will reliably transfer all of its kinetic energy to the animal's insides upon impact.
It is miss understood on long range hunting,,,Questions have been raised by many, whether its the importance of the shot, or doing a humane shot..
 

Northkill

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Y

It is miss understood on long range hunting,,,Questions have been raised by many, whether its the importance of the shot, or doing a humane shot..
I will not take a shot at any range that I am not confident of a hit and humane results. I hate wounding stuff. Respect for life in general is a necessary element every hunter should have. It's all a marvelous part of God's creation and plays a necessary role in His purposes for it.
 

yobuck

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east central fl. /n.c. pa.
Y

It is miss understood on long range hunting,,,Questions have been raised by many, whether its the importance of the shot, or doing a humane shot..
There have been many shots that should never have been taken regardless of the distance involved.
Never the less those who choose to take them at long ranges
shouldnt be relying solely on what they perceive to be their unique ability to make them.
 

Northkill

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There have been many shots that should never have been taken regardless of the distance involved.
Never the less those who choose to take them at long ranges
shouldnt be relying solely on what they perceive to be their unique ability to make them.
Amen. I can make "ethical" ;) shots today that I wouldn't have dreamed of 30 years ago due to the advancement of shooting technology and my own confidence building experience and training. However, there's a side to it where "the more you know, the more you realize you don't know", and an awareness of our own propensity to fail or to miss an important step in setting up for a long shot under the duress of a hunting scenario, should make us all cautious and humble in this great sport.
 

CONatureBoy

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Colorado
Well for what its worth, many years ago means different things to different people, depending upon age and when they themselves became involved.
But if we were to go back say 50 years for example there were in fact a considerable number of long range hunters, at least in some areas of the country.
But what there wasent back in those days were any Berger bullets being used because there werent any.
And the fact is there were SMKs, and lots and lots of various type animals were killed with them at some very long distances.
Including one by a very good friend about 25 years ago, a cow Elk at 2000 yds with a 220 gr SMK shot from a long barrel 30/378.
A human spotter on that scope as opposed to a recording device would have been the proper choice, and might well have caused a follow up shot for the poorly placed first one.
The problem was caused by the system you used and not the bullet.
That is my recollection also: lots of hunters aspiring to long-range hunting years ago used SMKs. I expect there was a reason for it in their results. I just wanted to tell a story about why I switched to Bergers, and what I like about them. My shooting "system" is still what it was then, a high-quality (1/3 MOA) 300 RUM (then a brand-new caliber) with a Jewell trigger and a top-of-the-line scope. The shot placement was perfect (I saw it enter mid chest, just behind the front shoulder). Plenty of retained energy and velocity. It was probably just bad luck than the SMK didn't hit anything to make it expand. Still, I personally like the way a Berger expands when one would want it to, even if it slips between the ribs.

A 28" 30-378 shooting a 220-grain SMK in front of a max load of Reloder 33 would produce a muzzle velocity of about 3,150 fps (according to QuickLoad). Here's what the Berger ballistics calculator says about a 2,000-yard shot with that round under likely Rocky Mountain conditions:

1628021829585.png

I'd say two things about that shot: (1) It was a helluva shot; and (2) I wouldn't attempt it on an elk, even if I was "that good," because of the insufficient retained energy. I'm not calling bull----. I'm saying it's not the sort of story you tell to criticize an ordinary hunter like me. I'm just a guy in the woods trying to harvest an elk ethically, at ordinary-mortal ranges. I spent a lot of money on that rifle, and I practiced with it. I made a good shot at realistic range. For whatever reason, the SMK didn't expand. So I switched to a bullet that consistently does. Felt like a story worth sharing.
 

CONatureBoy

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That is my recollection also: lots of hunters aspiring to long-range hunting years ago used SMKs. I expect there was a reason for it in their results. I just wanted to tell a story about why I switched to Bergers, and what I like about them. My shooting "system" is still what it was then, a high-quality (1/3 MOA) 300 RUM (then a brand-new caliber) with a Jewell trigger and a top-of-the-line scope. The shot placement was perfect (I saw it enter mid chest, just behind the front shoulder). Plenty of retained energy and velocity. It was probably just bad luck than the SMK didn't hit anything to make it expand. Still, I personally like the way a Berger expands when one would want it to, even if it slips between the ribs.

A 28" 30-378 shooting a 220-grain SMK in front of a max load of Reloder 33 would produce a muzzle velocity of about 3,150 fps (according to QuickLoad). Here's what the Berger ballistics calculator says about a 2,000-yard shot with that round under likely Rocky Mountain conditions:

View attachment 288871

I'd say two things about that shot: (1) It was a helluva shot; and (2) I wouldn't attempt it on an elk, even if I was "that good," because of the insufficient retained energy. I'm not calling bull----. I'm saying it's not the sort of story you tell to criticize an ordinary hunter like me. I'm just a guy in the woods trying to harvest an elk ethically, at ordinary-mortal ranges. I spent a lot of money on that rifle, and I practiced with it. I made a good shot at realistic range. For whatever reason, the SMK didn't expand. So I switched to a bullet that consistently does. Felt like a story worth sharing.
Here's a quote from a 2011 article by an author who introduces himself by saying "In 1980 I had responsibility for conducting the legal review for new military weapons and ammunition required by the Department of Defense to ensure compliance with our treaty obligations." He writes,

Navy (Crane) product improvement programs led to the 7.62 MK 316 MOD 0 Special Ball, Long Range (DODIC AB39),
continuing to employ the 175-grain Sierra MatchKing, and the 220-grain Sierra MatchKing .300 Winchester Magnum
Match MK
248 MOD 1 (DODIC AB43) in 2008. In each case wound ballistics tests based upon Dr. Fackler’s protocol,
today an integral part of the legal review of new military small arms ammunition, reconfirmed Dr. Fackler’s 1985
conclusion that the terminal ballistics of OTM projectiles are similar to those of FMJ Ball, that is, they do not “expand
or open easily” in soft tissue
.

The author describes the protocol as follows:

Dr. Fackler’s tests [involved] firing the M852 into ordnance gelatin (20x25x50 centimeter blocks of a 10% weight
concentration shot at four degrees centigrade calibrated to reproduce the crush and stretch seen in living animal tissue
,
a protocol . . . widely accepted today. . . .

You can find the full article at http://www.sadefensejournal.com/wp/open-tip-match-when-a-hollow-point-is-not-a-hollow-point/. Eventually I heard the same thing from other wanna-be long-range hunters: the SMKs failed to expand when they didn't hit bone. Any bullet will expand, and most bullets will fragment, when they hit bone. But about half of the surface area of the rib cage is not covered by bone, just skin and soft tissue. If you make a proper heart/longs shot, you have a 50% chance that you won't hit a rib on the way in. If, in that event, you only poke a hole in the ribs (as apparently I did), most of the bullet's kinetic energy doesn't transfer. The vitals may be intact enough for the animal to escape. Mine did.
 

CONatureBoy

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Location
Colorado
Here's a quote from a 2011 article by an author who introduces himself by saying "In 1980 I had responsibility for conducting the legal review for new military weapons and ammunition required by the Department of Defense to ensure compliance with our treaty obligations." He writes,

Navy (Crane) product improvement programs led to the 7.62 MK 316 MOD 0 Special Ball, Long Range (DODIC AB39),
continuing to employ the 175-grain Sierra MatchKing, and the 220-grain Sierra MatchKing .300 Winchester Magnum
Match MK
248 MOD 1 (DODIC AB43) in 2008. In each case wound ballistics tests based upon Dr. Fackler’s protocol,
today an integral part of the legal review of new military small arms ammunition, reconfirmed Dr. Fackler’s 1985
conclusion that the terminal ballistics of OTM projectiles are similar to those of FMJ Ball, that is, they do not “expand
or open easily” in soft tissue
.

The author describes the protocol as follows:

Dr. Fackler’s tests [involved] firing the M852 into ordnance gelatin (20x25x50 centimeter blocks of a 10% weight
concentration shot at four degrees centigrade calibrated to reproduce the crush and stretch seen in living animal tissue
,
a protocol . . . widely accepted today. . . .

You can find the full article at http://www.sadefensejournal.com/wp/open-tip-match-when-a-hollow-point-is-not-a-hollow-point/. Eventually I heard the same thing from other wanna-be long-range hunters: the SMKs failed to expand when they didn't hit bone. Any bullet will expand, and most bullets will fragment, when they hit bone. But about half of the surface area of the rib cage is not covered by bone, just skin and soft tissue. If you make a proper heart/longs shot, you have a 50% chance that you won't hit a rib on the way in. If, in that event, you only poke a hole in the ribs (as apparently I did), most of the bullet's kinetic energy doesn't transfer. The vitals may be intact enough for the animal to escape. Mine did.
You can see a funny but still illuminating comparison of the MatchKing and GameKing bullets' terminal performance at
.
 

MNbogboy

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Joined
Jul 14, 2009
Messages
927
Location
Northern MN
No A Tip experience here but by that video it looks like the ELDM bullet results. I know many people like the M bullets for hunting but it is still a match bullet. If you can stay away from the shoulder or big rib on a broadside shot you will be OK. Seems that they just shatter after hitting initial bone. Penetration then is lacking. Not enough for quartering shots at all.
Berger were working well for me until the rising prices made me dissect the less expensive target bullets at that time. Target jackets were much thicker and I did use them on game a couple of times with no I'll effects. Recently i sectioned an ELDX, the dividing extrusion was below center, much closer to the bade than Hornady advertisements show. This divider is supposed to limit the expansion process and it's position below center can't make it work much different than the eldm.bullet designers definitely need the field results & experience in order to make all the claims that they do.
Berger should have the upper hand here because they get the African hunt data in their resrarch.
 

yobuck

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Messages
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Location
east central fl. /n.c. pa.
That is my recollection also: lots of hunters aspiring to long-range hunting years ago used SMKs. I expect there was a reason for it in their results. I just wanted to tell a story about why I switched to Bergers, and what I like about them. My shooting "system" is still what it was then, a high-quality (1/3 MOA) 300 RUM (then a brand-new caliber) with a Jewell trigger and a top-of-the-line scope. The shot placement was perfect (I saw it enter mid chest, just behind the front shoulder). Plenty of retained energy and velocity. It was probably just bad luck than the SMK didn't hit anything to make it expand. Still, I personally like the way a Berger expands when one would want it to, even if it slips between the ribs.

A 28" 30-378 shooting a 220-grain SMK in front of a max load of Reloder 33 would produce a muzzle velocity of about 3,150 fps (according to QuickLoad). Here's what the Berger ballistics calculator says about a 2,000-yard shot with that round under likely Rocky Mountain conditions:

View attachment 288871

I'd say two things about that shot: (1) It was a helluva shot; and (2) I wouldn't attempt it on an elk, even if I was "that good," because of the insufficient retained energy. I'm not calling bull----. I'm saying it's not the sort of story you tell to criticize an ordinary hunter like me. I'm just a guy in the woods trying to harvest an elk ethically, at ordinary-mortal ranges. I spent a lot of money on that rifle, and I practiced with it. I made a good shot at realistic range. For whatever reason, the SMK didn't expand. So I switched to a bullet that consistently does. Felt like a story worth sharing.
Well again you seem to be hung up on the rifl
That is my recollection also: lots of hunters aspiring to long-range hunting years ago used SMKs. I expect there was a reason for it in their results. I just wanted to tell a story about why I switched to Bergers, and what I like about them. My shooting "system" is still what it was then, a high-quality (1/3 MOA) 300 RUM (then a brand-new caliber) with a Jewell trigger and a top-of-the-line scope. The shot placement was perfect (I saw it enter mid chest, just behind the front shoulder). Plenty of retained energy and velocity. It was probably just bad luck than the SMK didn't hit anything to make it expand. Still, I personally like the way a Berger expands when one would want it to, even if it slips between the ribs.

A 28" 30-378 shooting a 220-grain SMK in front of a max load of Reloder 33 would produce a muzzle velocity of about 3,150 fps (according to QuickLoad). Here's what the Berger ballistics calculator says about a 2,000-yard shot with that round under likely Rocky Mountain conditions:

View attachment 288871

I'd say two things about that shot: (1) It was a helluva shot; and (2) I wouldn't attempt it on an elk, even if I was "that good," because of the insufficient retained energy. I'm not calling bull----. I'm saying it's not the sort of story you tell to criticize an ordinary hunter like me. I'm just a guy in the woods trying to harvest an elk ethically, at ordinary-mortal ranges. I spent a lot of money on that rifle, and I practiced with it. I made a good shot at realistic range. For whatever reason, the SMK didn't expand. So I switched to a bullet that consistently does. Felt like a story worth sharing.
(The system,) for shooting at animals at long distances requires more than a good gun and a good shooter.
Regardless as to the quality/ability of both those, it isnt possible for a hunter/shooter to know (exactly) where his bullet struck an animal.
Recoil alone wouldnt permit the shooter to recover in time to make that observation, especially with the type of shooting methods preferred by many hunters.
A spotter sitting behind very good optics is the only way one can be assured as to where the hit was or wasent, and even then it isnt always guaranteed based on conditions at the time.
Mind you im not advocating for people to be taking extreme distance shots at animals.
But the fact remains that it has happened and happened with good results by some who were properly prepared to be doing it.
And although both you and your gun might well be capable, you are still lacking, and will continue to be regardless of your bullet choice unless you employ the use of an experienced spotter for long range shooting at animals.
 

Starlite

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New Brunswick Canada
I’m curious what my 153gr ers will do to a WT Buck? I haven’t yet shot any from my Finnlight. (20” barrel). I’m sure it’ll be accurate but I’ll be surprised if I gets up to 2700 FPS
 

CONatureBoy

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Colorado
Well again you seem to be hung up on the rifl

(The system,) for shooting at animals at long distances requires more than a good gun and a good shooter.
Regardless as to the quality/ability of both those, it isnt possible for a hunter/shooter to know (exactly) where his bullet struck an animal.
Recoil alone wouldnt permit the shooter to recover in time to make that observation, especially with the type of shooting methods preferred by many hunters.
A spotter sitting behind very good optics is the only way one can be assured as to where the hit was or wasent, and even then it isnt always guaranteed based on conditions at the time.
Mind you im not advocating for people to be taking extreme distance shots at animals.
But the fact remains that it has happened and happened with good results by some who were properly prepared to be doing it.
And although both you and your gun might well be capable, you are still lacking, and will continue to be regardless of your bullet choice unless you employ the use of an experienced spotter for long range shooting at animals.
So you're saying, "Don't hunt alone if you take long shots." The story is about a 460-yard shot, which I think most folks on this forum would consider more of a medium-range shot. I made that shot prone at a stationary broadside bull. I saw fur fly (there was plenty of light), I heard the characteristic "wump" of a heart-lungs region shot, and I saw the blood mark in the indentation in the snow. No question where the bullet hit. I might side with you about real long-distance shooting, which for me starts beyond 600 yards. But that was a pretty easy shot to call.
 

BoltActionBrotherhood

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Norcal
I killed a good size mule deer buck this morning with my 300 RUM and a 230 A Tip. 759 yard shot. I was off a bit on my wind call, and hit him in the bum he bedded just before I shot and was quartering away. Did not hit the large bone but ahead of it and into guts and blew hole in liver. No blood trail and the buck went about 10-12 yards and expired. Major mess internally. I actually found the Aluminum tip and another chunk of bullet. I recorded the entire episode thru my spotter and Phone Skope. I will post pics and video once I get help from someone with more computer skills. Muzzle velocity was 3030.
Video up yet?
 
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