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

MZmoose

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Jan 23, 2012
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NE Washington State
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
You obviously shoot soft bullets. Try a monolithic, even at high speed they may shed some weight but they penetrate feet of elk and moose after smashing bones. Ive also never seen a partition explode for that matter. But other cup and core bullets do have a velocity limitation and can blow up on game.
 

mark223

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Mar 2, 2009
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37

I know that Hornady .224 50 gr SX bullets from a 22-250 that is grossly over charged with H380, shot on a HOT, muggy Midwest summer day, at 100 yards, doesn’t make it to the target in one piece if at all. They just blow apart in the air.

And the bolt was real tough to open. Hm. Imagine that. I thought I was just missing so kept moving closer. At 25 yards I realized that the target showed lots of small pin holes and a few bigger holes where some larger chunks passed as well.

I’m lucky I didn’t end up with a few pin holes in me! That was decades ago and I’m a little smarter now. However no one ever said my I.Q. number was higher than my hat size. They may have a point.

:)
 

Far North Hunter

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Several years back I had the just released schirocco shot from a 300 ultra mag explode on a elk shoulder shot. In defense of the ammo the shot was only thirty yards. And I strongly suspect extreme velocity and shot placement caused the bullet to fail. Later during that hunt I filled my partners tag with a 350 yd shot. The bullet performance was excellent.
The bullet that failed left a 8” crater on the hide with little penetration. We tracked the bull for a day and a half before again seeing it standing approximately 200 yds away. We got the animal and that is when we discovered the bullet issue.
 

Orange Dust

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Every one of these instances point to the same thing. And, it is something every long range hunter should be aware of. Every bullet has both a minimum velocity for expansion, and a maximum velocity it can impact and still hold together. Any time either of these are exceeded they perform poorly on game. Long Range hunters need a bullet that will expand at long range and all the velocity they can muster. This often causes problems when an animal decides to get shot at close range. A perfect example of this is the 30cal 190ABLR. Fantastic long range bullet in a RUM. It will really smack stuff way out there. Shoot a deer with it up close and it will cause extreme damage, especially if bone is hit. I have my doubts if it would even kill an elk shot in the shoulder up close. Hunters need to be aware of this and make their shot selection carefully. If you are using a long range bullet and shoot an animal close, avoid heavy bones. In cases like this shot selection is every bit as important at 100yds as it is at 700, and the ideal place to put the bullet just may be entirely different. One thing for sure, you can almost never go wrong with a broadside shot through the ribs into the lungs, well almost.
 

MZmoose

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Location
NE Washington State
Yes bullets soft bullets can blow up if you exceed their velocity limitation. I've seen it numerous times. That's why i spend my money on top end controlled expansion bullets. I don't shoot past 600 yds and they work great for my ranges. But I've seen the softer long range bullets blow up at close range. They work great for their intended purpose, long range. But the last elk we shot in open country ran past my buddy at 35 yds and he put it down with a single Barnes TTSX out of a 7mm STW. We also shot a spike at 350 yds with TTSX, with the same results. A soft bullet would have worked great at 350 yds but I don't trust em at 35 yds.
 

bigngreen

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SW Montana
I've blown up a couple Cutting Edge monos on elk and I've had multiple Barnes stop dead on heavy shoulder hits, you can pretty much put any bullet into a position to stop until you start getting up in the heavier 338's and up.
 

Far North Hunter

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Location
Minnesota
Every one of these instances point to the same thing. And, it is something every long range hunter should be aware of. Every bullet has both a minimum velocity for expansion, and a maximum velocity it can impact and still hold together. Any time either of these are exceeded they perform poorly on game. Long Range hunters need a bullet that will expand at long range and all the velocity they can muster. This often causes problems when an animal decides to get shot at close range. A perfect example of this is the 30cal 190ABLR. Fantastic long range bullet in a RUM. It will really smack stuff way out there. Shoot a deer with it up close and it will cause extreme damage, especially if bone is hit. I have my doubts if it would even kill an elk shot in the shoulder up close. Hunters need to be aware of this and make their shot selection carefully. If you are using a long range bullet and shoot an animal close, avoid heavy bones. In cases like this shot selection is every bit as important at 100yds as it is at 700, and the ideal place to put the bullet just may be entirely different. One thing for sure, you can almost never go wrong with a broadside shot through the ribs into the lungs, well almost.
 

comen

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Aug 13, 2012
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Eureka, Mt
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.
I have: Shot a doe a few years back at close range 90 yds
It was raining and she was wet. Bullet was 200 gr accubond in 300 win mag, at 2900 fps. Deer was quartering to me, and I shot at the back of the scapula to see how the bullet held up. End result, the bullet went in, and dynamited under the skin. Blew all the meat off the scapula, did not penetrate the the body cavity or break the shoulder, turned and ran down the ribs. I recovered 78 grains of bullet with intact base in the near side ham
 

Orange Dust

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Yes bullets soft bullets can blow up if you exceed their velocity limitation. I've seen it numerous times. That's why i spend my money on top end controlled expansion bullets. I don't shoot past 600 yds and they work great for my ranges. But I've seen the softer long range bullets blow up at close range. They work great for their intended purpose, long range. But the last elk we shot in open country ran past my buddy at 35 yds and he put it down with a single Barnes TTSX out of a 7mm STW. We also shot a spike at 350 yds with TTSX, with the same results. A soft bullet would have worked great at 350 yds but I don't trust em at 35 yds.
Even the TTSX will do this if you start it fast enough and hit a shoulder
 

WYO300RUM

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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.
Yesterday I had one more antelope doe tag to fill. Found the biggest herd of lope I've seen in years. I got out and set up bipod. They started walking away parralell to me at 213 yds.. they weren't stopping. I picked up last doe in line and held in front of her chest. Shot. She went down instantly. When I got there I couldn't believe how blown to hell it's chest was. Gaping hole all the way through. Took off a hunk of both legs. It was a mess. Was shooting a Cooper 52 in 6.5x284 with Berger 140 VLD. I've used Berger 30 cal 185 gr. VLD oot of a 300 RUM. Never experienced that. Heavier jacket maybe or longer yardage. Don't know. I shot other 2 doe lopes with my CA Ridgeline 6.5 PRC. 143 ELDX. At 280 and 188. Not much damage at all and bother DRT. Also shot my buck deer at 125 yds. With Same rifle and load. Dropped. Very little damage. Punched right through. Took off top of heart. Went about 10 yds and dropped. Have one more doe whitetail to get. I'll try 6.5x284 and Bergers again. Hopefully s heart shot not bone. About a week ago I used the 6.5 PRC on a good sized muley buck in New Mex H. Offhand at close to 1000 yds. Hit the spine above the shoulder . Dropped instantly. Completely severed spine. Just damage to meat near spine.
 

jarnold37

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Dec 21, 2010
Messages
47
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.
There may be more to this that can be brought out. A local gunsmith told me an episode where a local hunter brought his rifle to him to find out why his bullets were sometimes key holing and occasionally not even hitting the target at 100 yds. Upon inspection the rifle appeared to be in pristine condition, on the outside. After looking inside the bore it was obvious. It had never been cleaned and was severely pitted with scabs of rust. With the rotational velocity of a 140grn bullet with 9 1/4" twist, spinning at over 241,000 rpms, that has had its jacket melted and gouged will possibly come apart in mid flight. On the other hand, on a deer permit, I experimented with a very small bullet going very fast, but using a lapped barrel. I chambered a barrel in 30-378 and loaded Speer TNT 125 grn bullets at 4050 fps. Shots were from 88 yards to 488 yards and was the damage was basically the same in each deer. None took even one step. Obviously these bullets were intact until they hit. Even though it started fragmenting on impact it kept on making a wound that was fist sized clear to the other side and hemorrhaged the off side drastically. I remember an experiment where they shot steel plate with a 22 diameter bullet. As they increased the velocity the "mark" on the plate increased in size and at very high velocity it actually put a hole through the steel plate. Something to consider
 

tooth doc

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Jul 31, 2012
Messages
134
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.
My first year huntinh with my new 300 wsm shooting 150 gr factory ammo. Shot a big doe at 80 yds broadside in center of shoulder. Figured she was done so stayed in stand and shot 2 more deer before coming out of stand to start field dressing. This was in wisconsin and i had 4 doe tags, temps wrre in low teens. Whrn i went to the first deer she was nowwhere to be found, not enough bloid to follow and way to many tracks as she was in a group of about 20 deer. This was about 9 am. Latter that pm as we did a drive acrooss the hillside 250 300 yds away. The doe had a 6 inch crater in center of her shoulder that had zero penetration through the scapula. Trauma and blood loss eventally killed her, not anyyhing like you would expect. I have used barnes 168 tsx ever since and never had a failure. In this case too much velocity at close range the bullet did LITERALLY EXPLODE!
 

Orange Dust

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Oct 23, 2015
Messages
1,552
Yesterday I had one more antelope doe tag to fill. Found the biggest herd of lope I've seen in years. I got out and set up bipod. They started walking away parralell to me at 213 yds.. they weren't stopping. I picked up last doe in line and held in front of her chest. Shot. She went down instantly. When I got there I couldn't believe how blown to hell it's chest was. Gaping hole all the way through. Took off a hunk of both legs. It was a mess. Was shooting a Cooper 52 in 6.5x284 with Berger 140 VLD. I've used Berger 30 cal 185 gr. VLD oot of a 300 RUM. Never experienced that. Heavier jacket maybe or longer yardage. Don't know. I shot other 2 doe lopes with my CA Ridgeline 6.5 PRC. 143 ELDX. At 280 and 188. Not much damage at all and bother DRT. Also shot my buck deer at 125 yds. With Same rifle and load. Dropped. Very little damage. Punched right through. Took off top of heart. Went about 10 yds and dropped. Have one more doe whitetail to get. I'll try 6.5x284 and Bergers again. Hopefully s heart shot not bone. About a week ago I used the 6.5 PRC on a good sized muley buck in New Mex H. Offhand at close to 1000 yds. Hit the spine above the shoulder . Dropped instantly. Completely severed spine. Just damage to meat near spine.
The amount of resistance the bullet encounters is a big part of the equasion and figures heavily in the result. Continuing with the example of the RUM with the 190ABLR. You can shoot a deer and hit most any bone of substance and it will literally blow a deer nearly in half. Change it to a coyote shot in the ribs and you get a 2" exit. Real examples. Haven't tried it on an elk but experience says it would not penetrate a shoulder on close shots.
 

tooth doc

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Joined
Jul 31, 2012
Messages
134
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
Bullets can explode or just disintegrate!
 
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