Fuzzy Green Onion

jebel

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Ok, I’ve had it with terminal ballistics theories—what happens when the bullet hits the thing.

After years of trying to ignore the discussions, I feel there is no choice but to launch a discussion of my own. I propose a new theory.

Imagine a green onion (scallion to some). Turn it horizontally in your mind with the bulb at one end and the long, slender stalk extending from there. Let’s use that as our metaphor for the performance of an expanding hunting bullet when it strikes a target—it undergoes an almost immediate expansion/transformation (the bulb) and then continues penetrating through the target in its transformed shape (the stalk). But like most metaphors this one is lacking because the penetration of the bullet begins with robust energy creating a permanent wound channel and then peters outs out to the point where it is penetrating, but not really creating much damage. Let’s call the bit where it penetrates robustly with a permanent wound channel the “fuzzy” portion of the stalk. There it is. The Fuzzy Green Onion theory.

[Someone with graphics skills, please provide us with an initial image for FGO to focus on. Thanks in advance.]

To be fair, FGO (Fuzzy Green Onion) also produces search results for a Japanese mobile game called Fate/Grand Order. My apologies in advance to the Fate/Grand Order people. Good news: I don’t think we will become the dominant search result. Searches for “Fuzzy Green Onion” mostly brought up methods of dealing with mold in your garden, so I think we’re good there also.

What am I talking about? I’m looking for a way to reasonably discuss terminal ballistics. It would be nice if we had a research institute that systematically hauled out bull elk onto a range and asked them to stand still while subjected to various bullets at various velocities, but that doesn’t exist (Truth: it really wouldn’t be nice for such a thing to exist). In the absence of that, let’s at least establish a language that is removed from every other ‘formulaic’ approach to terminal ballistics. If you’re a fan of energy-on-target, yes, I’m dissing you. Prefer the Hornady H.I.T.S. factor? Nice initiative, but let’s talk. Maybe the Taylor KO Value? Points for digging, but we can do better.

Let’s make it clearer—how will this work? Let’s define terms. An expanding bullet strikes a target and almost immediately transforms—that transformation and associated release of energy is the bulb (1). It then powers through the target in its transformed shape producing a permanent wound channel—that’s the fuzzy bit (2). If it’s still inside the target, it then slows and continues to penetrate but the damage is less severe/less permanent—that’s the stalk (3). Bulb (1), fuzzy (2), stalk (3).

Let’s put a nominal scale on each factor of 1-10. A bulb (1) factor of 10 means the bullet is absolutely explosive, producing a massive initial wound cavity. A fuzzy (2) value of 10 means severe and extensive permanent wounding along the initial penetration channel. Extensive penetration beyond the fuzzy bit is sweet and photogenic, but not frankly so important to hunters, so does not deserve a score. ONLY THE BULB AND FUZZY BITS MATTER FOR TERMINAL BALLISTICS! Granted, some might argue that the stalk could matter if it produces a blood trail to be followed. I would argue that unless the bullet exits during the fuzzy stage, the blood trail will not be extensive. That’s a discussion point.

So have I said anything of substance? No. I’m merely trying to toss up a way of talking about hunting bullets in a manner that does not yet exist. Reference points? The community will need to come up with those, but as guideposts I would suggest the following:
1. Traditional soft-point, unbonded bullets would rank highly on the bulb (1) scale and poorly thereafter (target bullets used on game might be in this category also-discussion point).
2. Bonded lead-core bullets would rank well on the bulb (1) scale, relatively well on the fuzzy (2) scale depending on construction, and who cares after.
3. Barnes-type monolithics would rate ok on the bulb (1) scale depending on velocity, and highly on the fuzzy (2) scale (again, who cares after).
4. Hammer bullets would rate highly on the bulb (1) scale and highly on the fuzzy (2) scale (again, who cares after).

So I’ve set it up. It might be a lame duck. The good news is that I’m used to ignoring discussions about terminal ballistics, so I won’t be too put out if I need to “ignore” my own post. Hope you get some enjoyment out of it.

And maybe, maybe, it will encourage people to realize that the relevant question is not “what cartridge?” or “what caliber?” but in today’s world with the options we have available to us “what bullet?”.

Thanks for your comments and my apologies in advance for starting yet another horrific and unending terminal ballistics madhouse.
 
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CrankyYankee

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I'm gonna ponder on this a little before I go all FGO, but I will say that your 2nd to last sentence said it best. When I choose the game I want to hunt, I then choose the bullet I want for the job. Then comes the caliber/cartridge to deliver the bullet at the speed range I want for the distance range I want. Then the gun, glass...etc.

IMHO, shot placement is most important, and that is based upon the bullet. My shot placement when using the Hornady Amax is different than the Barnes TTSX.

To be less formulatic, I look at it this way..... You can turn off the light switch (CNS), drop pressure (heart/lungs), or break the axle (take out shoulders ro prevent getaway, but may require follow up shots). Your bullets mentioned above will do it differently.

I'm still searching for the perfect do-all bullet, but I don't think it will exist any time soon. Terminal ballistics is not an exact science.
 
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BallisticsGuy

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These studies have been done extensively and are still being done in commercial, military and academic circles. The whole reason that ballistics gel was developed and calibration methods along with it was that animals introduce randomness and expense into the whole process that don't need to be there. Perhaps it would be best to dig very deeply into the world of existing terminal ballistics research and understand what science already has been done prior to inventing a new comparison standard. I might note that because of the extremely high commercial value tied to any discovery in terminal ballistics that most of the research being done is not being published in the public domain for totally free consumption.
 

Muddyboots

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Ballistic terminal performance testing in ballistic gel is a general relative comparison of what a bullet does in a common medium. The problem is when the shot strikes the animal through light bone, heavy bone, odd angle, high adrenalin animal for whatever reason, et al. Bullet velocity, diameter, section density, construction all come to play.

I rely more on field observation of a hit, post mortem of the terminal performance and additional input from others experience. I feel strongly every kill should have a detailed post mortem to identify and recognize the terminal performance of the bullet under the conditions you shot the animal. You will learn far more from actual on the ground evidence for future shot decisions.

IMO there are far too many variables to conduct an experiment that takes into account ALL potential scenarios of a bullet striking an animal. Bullets do really WEIRD things when they hit resistance in an animal.

FWIW IMHO on FGO.
 

ButterBean

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Ballistic terminal performance testing in ballistic gel is a general relative comparison of what a bullet does in a common medium. The problem is when the shot strikes the animal through light bone, heavy bone, odd angle, high adrenalin animal for whatever reason, et al. Bullet velocity, diameter, section density, construction all come to play.

I rely more on field observation of a hit, post mortem of the terminal performance and additional input from others experience. I feel strongly every kill should have a detailed post mortem to identify and recognize the terminal performance of the bullet under the conditions you shot the animal. You will learn far more from actual on the ground evidence for future shot decisions.

IMO there are far too many variables to conduct an experiment that takes into account ALL potential scenarios of a bullet striking an animal. Bullets do really WEIRD things when they hit resistance in an animal.

FWIW IMHO on FGO.
X-2
 

CrankyYankee

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Exactly my point BallisticsGuy. I've participated in alot of Terminal Ballistics research back in my days behind a long gun. We (especially lawyers) never liked how unpredictable/inconsistent bullets reacted to Animal carcasses. 10% Ballistic Gel gave us a consistent medium as close to a human as possible. Problem is.... animals are not 10% Ballistic Gel. Hit a shoulder bone, hit a rib, or miss a bone completely and only hit soft tissue, will give completely different results with the same bullet.

Then add that some people want 2 holes, some want the bullet to stop and dump all it's energy, some want to minimize meat damage, some people miss their mark, and animals move. All of that makes predictability/reliability very difficult. Which is why I've gotten away from things like ft lbs of energy and simplified like above.

Sorry OP if this is not going the way you intended. Still trying to figure how fuzzy I want to get with the onion.

Edit... Muddyboots beat me to it while I tried to shorten my response.
 

Longcruise

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I guess applying a graphic (the onion) can be helpful but will it take us beyond the present state of descriptive anecdotal evidence?
 

MagnumManiac

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I have had known good bullet designs tumble through game animals but not show the darndest inkling of doing so in my bullet test boxes.
I cannot explain this, I do not know why a bullet that works perfectly passing through damp newspaper, soft cow hide and scapula bone in a bullet test box of 4.5’ length stays pointing forward, but can tumble going through a buffalo or a deer.
Have had a 225g Accubond outta 338WM doing 2900fps at the muzzle tumble going lengthwise through said deer and end up pointed in the right direction again. The tumbling was evident in the wound channel, the bullet also hit bone sideways, which was evident on the bullet itself.
Who knows why!
It was ONE incident with ONE bullet out of hundreds shot….

Cheers.
 

Mikecr

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There is no more powerful ballistic attribute than accuracy.
That aside, cartridge AND bullet choice can nearly remove the bullet itself from terminal significance.
This, once impact velocity is high enough.
IMO, it's only when hitting with bullets at low velocities that the bullet's own construction needs to be relied on.
Otherwise, the impact cavity, bone fragments, and shock wave can be far more damaging than the bullet causing this.

This is where simple energy numbers fail tests. If 1/3 of the energy plows out the backside into the woods, that energy didn't count for efficient killing. It counts for providing a blood trail.
 

MagnumManiac

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I don’t look at energy figures…a 25-06 does things it shouldn’t according to energy figures.
With the right bullet put into the right place, I have personally accounted for half a dozen NZ Elk and Red deer each with either a 110g Accubond or 115g Partition out of my 25-06’s.
Most dropped or hunched up and took a few steps then fell over and stayed down.
Only 1 ran more than 20, but it was liver hit, only shot I could get, and it just laid down after it’s short run and never got back up and was dead by the time we covered the 150 or so metres.
Anyway, to me terminal performance is always a guesstimate…it doesn’t always go how you think it will.

Cheers.
 

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