Bullet performance @ ranges above 400 yards

Len Backus

Staff member
May 2, 2001
Bullet performance @ ranges above 400 yards
Len: Thanks very much for the invite to join the forum - I like the zero tolerance to flaming, negative comments etc.
My question is based around bullet performance and what those experienced long range shooters use for bullets ( for deer sized game) at ranges over 400 yards. I have a newly acquired 300 Ultra Mag that today is loaded with 180 Partitions. I do not think I need a "premium" bullet, but would like to hear what others are using.

posted April 13, 2001 10:13 AM

kirk kelso
New Member

From: Tucson, Arizona USA
Registered: April 12, 2001
Posts: 3
It has been my experience, as well as many long range hunters around me that bullet performance from the so-called premium bullets at long range has not resulted in the desired effect we are looking for. Premium bullets, at long range, tend not to expand as they were intended to do. Throughout my hunting and Outfitting career, I have seen numerous animals, from Coues deer to Elk, shot at long range (450 yds to 725 yds) and the only bullets to improperly perform were the so-called premium ones. They pinholed the animals.

I shoot a .300 Weatherby for my long range gun. I load it with the 168 grain Sierra Match bullet. This is the most devastating big game killing bullet I have ever seen. It works equally as well from 50 yards to 700 yards! I would try this bullet in your .300 Ultra, to see if you get the accuracy that you need, but also try the 190 grain. If either of these shoots well in your gun, then don't hesitate to try them on game. I think you will be happy with the outcome.

Kirk Kelso
Pusch Ridge Outfitters

posted April 13, 2001 12:19 PM

Len Backus

From: Oshkosh, WI
Registered: April 10, 2001
Posts: 18
My experience at 400 yards plus is with Nosler Ballistic Tips, Barnes X, and Sierra Matchking. All killed my quarry but the Barnes didn't make much of a hole. The Matchking expanded well as did the Nosler. Both failed to exit but the Barnes did.

I think the most important trait in a long range projectile is extreme accuracy over expansion, however. Next, among accurate bullets, I think the most important trait is high ballistic coefficient. This reduces the amount of drift due to the wind. My continuing quest is for the one bullet that will make the smallest groups in still wind conditions with the highest BC. This combo will reduce the effect of any wind estimation errors in more typical field conditions.

These higher BC bullets are longer and require a faster twist barrel. I am having two of my 7mm rifles rebarrelled with a 9 twist. Then I will be trying Warren's Lost River bullets and Hornady's A-max. They have very different expansion characteristics but that doesn't matter much to me for a deer bullet. I simply want to use the bullet that strikes the deer in the kill-zone every time.

[This message was edited by Len Backus on April 20, 2001 at 07:47 AM.]

posted April 19, 2001 10:23 PM
400yds, 500, 600, ect., when 750gr of lead (A-Max) form a .50 BMG head downrange, it eliminates almost everything in it's path.

My .300 Win Mag can penetrate a steel tank front & back (two 1/4" sheets) at 800yds with Nosler BT in 180gr wt. I cannot comment on soft tissue, most of the time I get as close as I can.
what is the velocity on your 180gr Noslers? I use the 165grainers in my Sendero 300 WM, and will hopefully get 3300fps out of them...I would like to use a heavier bullet (the 180 grain) but I would like more velocity out of it. Just curious as to what you're getting...

This seems to be a great forum, I hope to get to know all of you.
As far as velocity goes, they're flying about 2950 - 3050fps, depending on air & ammo temp. I load primarly for accuracy and leave velocity as a distant second. I don't have my load book handy, but IIRC the load is 57gr of IMR 4064, Fed 215 primers, WW brass, and is seated .015 off the lands. I like to use the heavier bullets for long range shooting because they buck the bind a little better and have more kenetic energy at the point of impact.
I will be using a 7 STW for hunting the high desert in Az (hopefully this year) for mule deer. I plan to use a Sierra 160 gr BTSP for shots to 500 yd. Is the 168 Sierra MK the best bullet to use from 500 to 800 yds? How good of a hunting bullet is the 180 gr. Berger VLD?
The gun is a 700 Rem SS DM-B with a 1:9 twist barrel. The gun doesn't like bullets under 160 gr.
Thanks, Jack1k
Having tried some of the new plastic nose cones and varying results, it takes me back to when I did a little large game hunting and was in the market for accurate and good performing bullets. It seems we go our best results with Nosler Particians but out best accuracy was with the Speer Gran Slams. The performance of the Gran Slams was as good as the Noslers in those days. (20 year ago).
Anybody else tried them? Or care to comment?
The Matchking has ALWAYS worked for me in any longrange rifle I have had over the years. Our success rate over many years for kills using Matchkings is 100% of what was hit. This includes elk, Mule and Whitetail deer.

The following information is the cartridges that I use them in even now.

Bullet selection in my 300 Weatherby 16 1/2 LB rifle is and always will be the 200 or 220 gr Matchking because of the higher BC and the ranges we normally shoot. Good for OVER 1000 yds anytime.

For my 7mm/300 Weatherby is the 168 Gr Matchking---Good for OVER 1000 yds anytime.

For my 6.5/300 Weatherby--the 142 Gr Matchking---good for OVER 1000 yds anytime

For the 338/416 IMP it will ALWAYS be the 300 gr matchking with an Oehler measured BC of .800 coming out of the 37 1/2" barrel at 3250 to 3300 FPS, depending on my load. Killed out to 2100 yds on elk. Penitrated the far shoulder after entering behind the near shoulder.

Jack 1K---Many years ago I talked to Walt Berger about the same question you asked about his 180 gr bullets.
He said that, the jackets of his bullets are thinner then Sierra and they will fly apart on game and that he did not recommend them for hunting.

I see others here have experianced the MK on kills of deer ---They work so well, it scares you.

Thats all for now.

Darryl Cassel
Yotebait and you other guys,

Just to muddy the waters here is an intersting shoot (I hesitate to use the term "test" as the sample size is too small) I did on a tough media with a variety of premium bullets. No accuracy evaluation, just wanted to see how they compared into a uniform target. I wanted to find out just how tough some of the premium bullets really are. I had five large tightly wrapped bundles of very hard, stiff cardboard sheets, about 8"x10" that I had to get rid of. So why not see how bullets penetrate such a hard medium. Results are impressive, not too scientific, but a heck of a test as cardboard is tough stuff and tells me which bullet to shoot if I ever have to kill a cardboard critter. By comparing the number of sheets penetrated I can determine how one bullet penetrates compared to another. One strange thing occurred, no bullets exited when the bundles where butted one in front of the other. I wanted to get a second bullet, so I placed the five bundles side by side (not butted in a straight line) and shot each one in order. Every bullet completely penetrated and exited the freestanding bundle - maybe the first shot loosened my bundle or something.

Firearm: SAKO 75 Barrel Length: 24 3/8" Firing Distance: 100 yards indoor

Bundles of 150 stiff cardboard sheets, wrapped in brown wrapping paper, were placed in a single line on the concrete floor, each bundle butting against the next. One .300 Winchester Magnum factory load was shot into each bundle. None of the bullets penetrated a bundle fully. As each round was fired the bundles were rotated forward so that a fresh bundle was always foremost. Shots were fired from the prone position and aimed to strike the center of the bundle, approximately 5" above the floor. The paper wrapping frequently split on a front seam, but all bundles stayed intact. The paper wrapping was then cut open, and the sheets separated to expose each bullet. Care was taken to determine the most forward position of each bullet. Bullets were removed and the penetrated sheets were counted and recorded. The bullets were carefully examined and all visible cardboard was removed with tweezers and a sharp pin. The bullets were then weighed on a reloading scale. Just for interest I added the retained weight and the number of sheets penetrated to get a "score". The little box I am typing in is causing the numbers to go wonky, hopefully they will look better when posted. If not the numbers are:
retained weight, % retained weight, # sheets penetrated and the combined weight/sheets number.

(At the end of the .300 Win. mag. firing a Federal Tactical 165 grain Trophy Bonded .308 Win. round was shot into the bundle containing the .300 Win. mag. Trophy Bonded round.)
Ammunition Recov. Weight (gr) #. SheetsTOTAL (Wt.+#Sheets)
Winchester Failsafe 180 gr. 178.7 (99.3%) 114 292.7
Federal Safari - Nosler Part 180 gr. 120.3 (66.8%) 113 233.3
Federal Safari - Tr. Bonded 180 gr. 133.3 (74.0%) 095 228.3
Federal Safari - Woodleigh 180 gr. 123.7 (68.7%) 095 218.7
Sako Hammerhead 180 gr. 085.5 (47.5%) 101 186.5
Speer Grand Slam 180 gr. 068.8 (38.2%) 102 170.8

.308 Trophy Bonded 165 gr. (Tactical) 124.8 (75.6%) 091 215.8
..all bundles were of equal weight and wrapping
..this test allowed a direct count of penetrated cardboard sheets
..only one round was fired per bullet type
..the TOTAL number is only for interest
..the recovered Winchester bullet was a classic Failsafe profile
..the Sako bullet shed the core and the jacket was tightly packed with cardboard
..the Speer bullet shed the core and was loosely packed with cardboard
..the Nosler peeled back to the inner belt in classic Nosler form
..the Trophy Bonded bullets looked very similar and were excellent mushrooms
..the Woodleigh bullet mushroomed nicely
..did not have factory loaded Barnes or Swift A-Frames - too bad

Warren, this is not scientific, just an interesting little comparison that may or may support opinions on what different brands of bullets do.

I think the problem when trying to duplicate tissue penitration when testing bullets is,
it is hard to make the test unless like material is used as compared to "Living" tissue.

The bullet will react differently to most any substance. We have found that, jeletin is a very good material to make a close test as to the living tissue on an animal.

We know that, ANY bullet going into bone will react in a different way as compared to going in between the ribs on one side of the animal and exiting the other side in the SAME fashion. Will the bullet expand in this senario? The answer to this question in my experiance, is yes, with the Matchkings.

We have never had a problem with Matchkings expanding on game. We have recovered only two bullets inside of elk over the years. Out of 20 elk (at least) this is quite good considering they were all killed in excess of 1000 yards and the exit holes were unbelieveable. It didn't seem to matter where they were hit. The shoulders, rib cage, top of the back or neck, the exit hole was huge.
The two Matchkings that we recovered were peeled back perfectly with about 3/4 of the lead still intact. The bullets penitrated the far shoulder (in both instances) and were found just under the skin on the far side of the animal.

Just some added information concerning bullet reaction on live tissue that my hunting friends and I have found over the years.

I shoot a 7STW @ deer. Have found the factory Rem. core-locs to be inferior out over 300 probably because velocities aren't high enough. Have been reloading Ballistic-tips with better results. The simply open up better at slower velocities. The accuracy of the Noslers seem to work fine too.
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