Muzzleloader Pass Through Bullets and SD

Discussion in 'Backpack Hunting' started by mnoland30, Nov 19, 2017.

  1. mnoland30

    mnoland30 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    I've struggled for years to find a bullet that would give pass through performance on elk at 200 meters. I tried Barnes, Shockwaves, FBPs, Precision Rifle 400gr. QTs, and was not happy with any. Pointed bullets slip through the skin and seal the hole behind them, and there is no exit hole. I killed elk with all of those, but sometimes had elk run away with no blood trail. Sometimes I would find them, and sometimes I didn't. Part of my problem was that I was using 150 grains of 777. Higher velocity reduces penetration. The bigger problem is that almost no one makes a muzzleloader bullet with a Sectional Density of .270 or more, which is what is recommended for elk. I finally found an affordable solution with 405 gr. Remington .458 bullets (for .45-700) with Harvester Crush Rib Sabots, and 115 grs. of 777. Sadly, after the Obama ammo panic in 2008, the bullets are no longer available. I have had very good success with these bullets, with two cow elk dropping in their tracks, and complete pass through. Anyone else using .458 bullets with success?
     
  2. DartonJager

    DartonJager Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    273
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2016
    Have you tried Barnes .458" 300 grain traditional cup and core semi-spritzer bullets? I have had excellent performance and accuracy with them, but only on deer. Also by Barnes do you mean Barnes .451" flat based all copper T-EZ polymer tipped 250 and 300 grain muzzleloader specific bullets? I have shot these out of my Encore and Savage 10-ML-11 with great success.
    I will stop short of claiming to be a ML expert but between my Encore 209x50, my Savage smokeless 10ML-II and my Knight Elite I have fired literally THOUSANDS of saboted clad ML rounds comprised of bullets from Barnes, Hornady, T/C, Remington and Harvester. Based on this experience because your upper MV limit will be at or below 2000fps, and using 777 almost definitely below 2000fps by the time you get to 200 meters your velocity will almost certainly be low when you combine the low initial MV and very poor BC of all ML bullets, I don't see how any of the common expanding bullets from the above makers could possibly pass all the way through such a tough animal as an elk.
    The only other ML specific bullet I can recommend to you is Parker. They make superb copper clad lead core ML specific bullets with (for a ML bullet) very good BC's that have a proven excellent on game performance out of ML's out to unheard of distances usually reserved for center fire rifles. Lehigh also makes all copper ML bullets as well and they also are great performers worth a look.
    But as I said at such a low impact velocity if you wish to use an expanding bullet with the expectation of complete pass through near to or at a 100%reliability, I'm not sure there is a bullet out there for you.
    An excellent website I can happily recommend you go to for all the information you will EVER need or want on all types of muzzleloaders is www.dougssavagemessageboard.com there is nothing about ML's that is not known by the people who populate Doug's.
     
  3. mnoland30

    mnoland30 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    The thing is, the buffalo hunters 150 years ago were getting pass through shots with 45-120 rifles shooting blackpowder cartridges, and 500 gr round nose bullets of about 11 BHN hardness at 300 yards. I know a hardcast bullet will pass through, and I'm considering them, but Terminal Ballistics Research says that they are slow killers. The Barnes I was using was the 290 gr. Spitfire T-EZ pointed bullet. I didn't get pass through at 150 yards, but it did stop it for follow up shots. I'm now using hollow point Remington .458 405 gr. bullets designed for the 45-70, but I'm unable to get more. Outlaw State Bullet provided those for me. I've dropped 3 elk in their tracks with those from 90 to 220 yards, but those have all been spine shots. I have never had a problem with deer shot with any muzzleloader bullet. Usually dead right there, so I conclude that muzzleloader bullets are made for deer. I found dougsmessageboard last week, and I'm liking it. Thanks. The 45-70 is about the same velocity as a muzzleloader, and kills dramatically with heavy bullets, but their twist is more like 1:20.
     
  4. ATH

    ATH Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    969
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2003
    Have you tried the 325gr FTX? I have not shot an elk with one, but I did shoot a deer at less than 20 yards through the front with one and recovered it in the back ham...>3ft penetration and great expansion and weight retention. This was with 135gr Triple Seven.
     
  5. mnoland30

    mnoland30 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    I haven't tried the FTX 325, but I know from lots of experience with plastic tipped bullets that they don't leave enough of an entrance wound to bleed, and 325 gr. generally isn't enough sectional density to penetrate well. It isn't that they won't kill an elk, it is just that the elk can run away without a blood trail. I'm not a good enough tracker to follow a bloodless trail far on our rocky ground once they stop running. I shoot a lot before the season, and a price of $2 per bullet inhibits that in retirement. The slower the bullet, the less expansion, and the better the penetration. I've been concentrating on hitting bone the past few elk hunts, and that has worked very well, but I'd like the insurance of a blood trail if I don't hit bone. I'm convinced that heavier bullets are the answer, but nobody makes a fast twist muzzleloader that will stabilize a 500 gr. bullet. I'm thinking about having a custom rifle built with a 1:20 twist.
     
  6. Snyper708

    Snyper708 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    115
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Try some 300 Gr 44 caliber Hornady XTP's
     
  7. Md reloader

    Md reloader Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    183
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2012
    Maybe if you were to go to BH209 instead of 777. The increased velocity should make any bullet you use perform better.
     
  8. Plinker147

    Plinker147 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    270
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2015
    Match/hunter bullets by Parker
     
  9. mnoland30

    mnoland30 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    I've looked at the Parker bullets, but I don't really want to spend $300 a year on bullets. They look awesome. Have you shot an elk with them? I have an old Kahnke rifle with a 30" barrel, but it is #11 caps only, so I can't use BH 209. And BH 209 is expensive, and hard to find in Albuquerque for some reason. My buddy shot his elk this year with a 400 gr. Hardcast from Harvester ML. Worked well, and broke both shoulders. It did split the bullet, and didn't quite get pass through. My 405gr. .458 Remingtons with a 120 grains of 777 did a great job on my elk at 220 yards angling away. Went through some gut and all the way to the far shoulder. She ran 50 yards. Even I can track that well. I'm looking at Hankins Rifles website, and he is shooting copper jacketed bullets without a sabot, but running them through a sizer first. I may try that in my .45 Encore.
     
  10. Dr. Vette

    Dr. Vette Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,138
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    BH209 at 120gr (84 weighed) pushing 290gr Barnes T-EZ at 187 yards I got a nice pass-through on a bull elk. It also did the same on whitetail. Elk trotted ~40 yards and fell over, no blood trail needed.
     
  11. mnoland30

    mnoland30 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    I've finally realized that lower velocity means better penetration. When I started hunting with muzzleloaders, I bought into the magnum craze. Since then, I've come to believe that less is more. With a rangefinder, and a bullet drop compensator scope, trajectory doesn't matter much, so magnum loads aren't needed. I'm guessing 95% of muzzleloading is for deer, so most bullets are designed for deer. When I used the Barnes bullets, I believe I was still using a 150 gr. 777 load. I shot a cow at 150 yards, and it did drop the elk, but I needed followup shots to kill it. I started using Barnes bullets for high power because my butcher would put all of the spent bullets she removed from game in a tray on the counter The Barnes all looked like the adds. Perfect. But I was using 160 gr in 7mm, and the SD was .283. They were perfect. I shot an elk with a 140 gr. Barnes 7mm, and didn't get pass through, but it worked.

    I started with pure lead Precision Rifle bullets, 400 gr. QT's (they made them custom for me, but won't any more) They expanded to over 1", and I never got full penetration. My buddy got a pass through on his second shot at 200 yards once. I've shot at 3 elk that ran away without any sign of a hit. I'll never know for sure if I missed, or if they died a miserable death hours or days later. The beauty of a pass through shot is that there is a blood trail. Another buddy uses the 300 gr. Barnes Expander bullets (which I haven't tried) and is very happy with them. That huge hollow point should act like a large meplat on a hardcast bullet and leave a hole on entry. The pointed bullets slip through the skin like a knife.

    One of the most compelling cases for the Remington 405 gr. bullets was the price. They were costing me around $0.60 each, including shipping. I'm cheap enough that I know I'll shoot more if the bullets are priced right. I was shooting some Barnes TSX 450 gr. bulelts, with good accuracy at 200 meters, but at $1.35 each, it made me rethink. I guess the experimentation is part of the fun. I'm looking at swaged paper patched bullets next. I believe the paper can enhance the accuracy over a sabot. We'll see.
     
  12. Threadedbarrel

    Threadedbarrel Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2018
    If your asking for a harder hollow point bullet, then a Hard-Cast 44-45 cal will blow in one side and out the other. It being hard cast will make it much harder than normal lead. IMHO I really like shock-waves getting pushed by BH209 and I always aim low
     
  13. mnoland30

    mnoland30 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    My buddy used a .45 cal 400 gr. hardcast flat point from Harvester ML, at 120 yards and it split in two, and did not exit. It worked, but still isn't what I'm looking for.

    My rifle uses #11 caps, so BH 209 is out. I tried some in my Encore .45, and I couldn't see any reason for the high price, and neither Cabela's or Sportsman Warehouse seem to carry it.
     
  14. Threadedbarrel

    Threadedbarrel Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2018
    The reason I like BH209 is I can shoot the entire expensive little 12oz can, and not have to clean the ML once. It doesn't get hard to reload and stuff the next round down the barrel, again and again and again. There are so many ways to hard cast a bullet, adding tinning agents like solder, or dropping them in water, or letting a zinc wheel weight get melted in the pot. I'm just saying not all hard cast bullets are the same