exploding bullets on impact...is this real or are people guessing?

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by Bigeclipse, Nov 13, 2019.


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  1. Bigeclipse

    Bigeclipse Well-Known Member

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    I have read many threads over the years about bullets blowing up on impact and not being a lethal hit with game such as a deer. My questions are as follows:

    1. Has anyone ever witnessed a bullet actually blow up on impact with a deer, and not kill the deer? and what I mean by this is you were able to get a second shot on the deer and actually see the first shot in autopsy to confirm and not guess what happened.

    2. If your answer to 1 is YES, I just do not get the physics of this so maybe someone can explain it to me. I just don't understand how a 140+ grain object going 2800+FPS can explode, even on bone, and the fragments do not still penetrate to the vitals.

    I have used ballistic tips in the past in excess of 3000fps and while they definitely "blew up" inside the deer, they still took the deer out no problem. Ive yet to have one blow up on a shoulder and not had fragments penetrate to lungs and heart.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
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  2. cohunt

    cohunt Well-Known Member

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    I think "elkeater" had one that he has a pic of the shoulder shot that blew up

    its primarily about bullet construction, if you take a 200 grain pencil and launch it at a piece of mild steel plate at 2800fps, I'm betting it will blow up on impact--but if you take the a 200 grain tungsten projectile and launch it at same plate at same speed I'm sure it will punch a clean hole through it -- they both have the same kinetic energy (as brought up in a recent thread) but not the same damage potential due to construction

    I know that those are extremes but it shows a good example that its not just weight and speed that er the end all equation-- it also depends on the construction of the bullet and the material you are shooting


    bullets aren't perfect after you pull the trigger
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
  3. Bigeclipse

    Bigeclipse Well-Known Member

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    yeah I understand...just so hard to believe. Id think there would even be bone fragments which would penetrate to vitals. Elk is a bit different though, they have thicker hides, heavier bones, and longer distance to travel until you hit Vitals. I guess my main concern is deer.
     
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  4. Orange Dust

    Orange Dust Well-Known Member

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    On deer only with Varmint bullets that hit the shoulder by accident. Dad was a big fan of the 6MM Remington and 80gr HP's. He shot whitetails mostly in the white throat patch or through the ribs into the lungs. They killed quickly when he hit the right spot. They did not kill at all if he missed it. He shot more than one in the shoulder by accident. Usually because the animal was standing in a twist or quartering. Seems like it always took several hits after one of those mistakes to finally put the animal down. Eventually he changed to a .270 Weatherby Mag.
     
  5. Orange Dust

    Orange Dust Well-Known Member

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    One thing I have seen is a bullet hitting above its recommended operating range and causing extreme damage and failing to completely penetrate a deer, and the deer runs off and is very difficult to find due to lack of blood. When it is finally located, total disbelief that an animal can go so far with such damage. That is common. That is why I like a drain hole.
     
  6. cjl2010

    cjl2010 Well-Known Member

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    Had it happen last year with a 130 Berger AR hybrid at 2820 FPS. Buck was 570 yards. Hit it twice and had two big wounds on entrance side. Couple of us stayed behind and couple went to look for him. Guys found him by the sound of his breathing. Buck was just laying there 35 minutes later making weird breathing sounds. Jumped him up and shot him on the run at 75 yds.

    Only thing I can think of was the barrel had about 2200 rounds on it with severe fire cracking and a pretty rough throat that was possibly stressing the jackets.
     
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  7. Plinker147

    Plinker147 Well-Known Member

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    There’s a video on Coues whitetail of a guy shooting an elk with a 210 Berger (I think) at like 150-200 yds. Shot looks perfect. He trails the elk 3ish miles after that. Only proof of a bullet blowing up without killing.
     
  8. shooter7

    shooter7 Well-Known Member

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    It was on an antelope. Some people say that on that shot the impact was too low. Regardless, it was an antelope at 200 yards. I would expect most 200gr projectiles to go through.
     
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  9. Rich Coyle

    Rich Coyle Well-Known Member

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    It certainly happened with a 7mm 175 spitzer on a large blacktail's shoulder from a 7 Mag. It turned so I put one through the tail, which really slowed it down. The next one went into the back of the neck. The first bullet didn't make it through the scapula.

    I switched to Nosler 175 Partitions and a 7-.300 Weatherby.
     
  10. JohnnieB

    JohnnieB Well-Known Member

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    I had this experience many years ago with 210 Berger from a 300 Wby. Shot an old boar at a bit less than 30 yards quartering to me in the shoulder pointing to me. The pig ran around in 2-3 big circles and dropped dead. When we walked up to it, it looked like a grenade had hit the shoulder and we found lots of bullet pieces stuck in the plate. We only found that one small piece of shrapnel about half the size of a dime, by the size of the wounds that penetrated and hit the front lung and some of the arteries over the heart.

    Conclusion is that 3000 fps is way too high an impact velocity for that bullet.
     
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  11. LVJ76

    LVJ76 Well-Known Member

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    Soft bullets like the Ballistic Tips, SST, Gamekings and others can blow up on impact at magnum speeds especially when they hit the shoulder or other bone, they will break the shoulder but fail to penetrate the vitals as required to produce a fast and clean kill.

    For example, the 139gr SST on a 7mm Rem Mag will blow up on impact on close range shots when its still going at a high velocity, but on an impact at 400 yds you wont have that problem anymore.

    Now this same bullet the 139gr SST on the 7mm-08 works with great results due to the lower speed, wether 50 yds or 500 yds you won't have to worry about its performance even if you hit the shoulder, it will penetrate the shoulder, destroy the vitals and in most cases exit on the other side.

    Now for magnum velocity cartridges the heavier for caliber bullets work best, example on the 7mm Rem Mag the 162gr SST works with amazing results whether hitting the animal at 50 yds or 700 yds, bullet will do what its designed to do, kill quickly.

    Now when the soft and lighter bullets are used at magnum speeds they will not blow up on a behind the shoulder shot, they will turn the vitals to jello and sometimes may not exit. The problem is that if you do hit bone you can trail that animal for hours and in some cases lose it. A buddy of mine hit a coues on the front shoulder early in the morning, we tracked it for about 8 hours till almost dusk when we finally caught up to him and finished him up. Since then he uses heavier bullets that wont have this problem.

    In some cases you will see bruising on the vitals or even some punctures by bone or bullet fragments, but not damage them to the extreme of an actual bullet impacting them and turning then to jello.

    On medium cartridges with impact at close range you wont have this problem if these soft bullets have a muzzle velocity under 2,850 fps. Cartridges like the 7mm-08 Rem, 308 Win, 6.5 CM, etc.

    Its on the larger cartridges you need to be careful with.

    Hope this helps
     
  12. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the term 'Blow up' Is the right one to use. Any Bullet may/will fragment if it hits a very tough target like a heavy shoulder bone. the only time that a bullet normally explodes/disintegrate is when it hits steel plates hard enough not to allow any penetration, And even then it doesn't "Explode".

    Even a solid bullet will disintegrate and even melt it the target is tough enough. There are bullets designed to fragment on light/thin skinned game and if this type of bullet is used for larger game the outcome will most likely be fragmentation to some degree.

    Sometimes even the best bullet choice may fragment and come apart in side. But depending on the total amount of penetration may/will still perform ok.

    I have seen bullets hit very hard/thick bones and not penetrate into the vitals but it is fairly rare. This is where more bullet weight, Momentum and energy can make the difference.

    J E CUSTOM
     
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  13. WyoHunter1

    WyoHunter1 Well-Known Member

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    I have never had a Barnes TTSX 180 gr fail me in my 300WBY loaded to 3180fps. Whether Antelope hunting and shooting it in the throat at 50 yards or Elk and Moose at 500 yards and everything in between. My son has had the same luck with his 270 WSM with 130 gr TTSX and Elk out to 600 yards and other critters up close and personal like.
    I really believe in copper bullets and bonded bullets.
    Except - I also have a 28 Nosler loaded to 3400 fps with 160 gr Nosler ABLR and a couple of years ago I shot 2 Elk at around 300 yards. Fired 4 bullets total. 3 at one and 1 bullet at another. First one ran off a ways and the other stood there like nothing happened. I thought I was missing. Then they both dropped. All the exit holes were the same size as the entrance holes and virtually no blood to trail.
    Luckily I had 2 tags. I have since switched to Hammer bullets for the 28 Nosler and don't expect any problems. But I have never had a bullet blow up.
     
  14. Canhunter35

    Canhunter35 Well-Known Member

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    Like others have said on a deer, only with light varmint bullets and we recovered the deer.
    On mule deer, elk and moose I’ve seen bullets lodge against heavy bone when they shed enough material and didn’t have the umph and weight to break it, but it’s usually a 6mm combined with poor shot placement.
    A lot of bullet failures are shot placement failures imo