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Location: Misouri
Joined: 11/30/2005
Posts: 365
Bullet failure

I would not have retrieved my "failed" bullet from my deer if I haven't tracked it and put another pill in it.

Guess the second shot failed too! neener!

Just trying to add some humor and NOT tempers here guys.

I have faith in the bullets I shoot my animals with.

.

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Location: Wa. USA-Elisrass South Africa
Joined: 07/06/2006
Posts: 2
Bullet failure

Hello, and thanks for the comments regarding this topic. I cannot believe I've registered for yet another hunting forum!

I would not likely have come to visit if my post was not moved here, but I just now visited the site and see a bit of interest in the topic. I felt compelled to make a few comments.

Bullet failure as another poster pointed out is not always the fault of the bullet but the fault of the choice of bullet. No bullet today has more asked of it then the .308 diameter bullet does. The great majority of rifles, probably more then all others combined are in the .308 and 30/06 cartridge.
Bullet manufacturers create products just like everyone else does. To make a product that appeals to the majority. With that said, and the majority of users known you can see what happes to a reloader that has a 300 magnum but uses a 150 grain .308 diameter bullet which must also work with a .308 rifle.

The velocity of that .308 rifle, or the 30/06, or the 300 savage, will have a completly different requirement then a 300HH, 300 win mag, 300 weatherby, etc. Yet they all use the same bullet. It's prudent when loading an over bore cartridge to choose your bullet very carefully. I should also add into this that nothing I write here is specific to deer hunting. Deer are one of the softest easiest to kill of all the big game in the world, and they are not living in big herds to complicate tracking or follow up.

We ask a lot of a bullet today to expand at longer ranges of 300-400 yards, yet we also ask them to stay intact at 50-100 yards. That's a very tall order! One which was insurmountable just 15 years ago. Today there has been new technology used to produce bullets that can get us just to the edge of the performance we need to have the "perfect projectile".

As I wrote above, the comment we hear all the time about "At what point during the animals death did the bullet fail"

That comment is just plain silly, and would never be used by anyone with experience of hunting truely big game. If a bullet breaks up, it was a failure of the bullet, or the choice of the person loading it. Bullets should not break apart or go to pieces inside an animal. If they do that choice was wrong, or that bullet failed to stay intact. Bullet mass is what penetrates deeply, bullet shrapnel not only losses penetration, but losses strait through direction. The question was asked above what does a bullets retained weight tell you? It was stated "Who cares how much retained weight there is if the result was good"

Well I'll tell you that the retained weight of the bullet is the only single thing that will show how well that bullet functioned with your cartridge, it's velocity, and your shot placement. If that bullet crumbles on a broadside shot and you recover bits of lead and jacket inside that dead animal, how would it work at a steep angle? Through a Humerus or scapula? From behind? from the front between the front legs? If the broadside shot was on a deer how would it have worked on the gristle plate of a wild boar? with the 4" fat layer of a black bear? into the chest of an Elk of mountain goat? A moose?

Some will say well I would have a different load for each one of those animals or conditions. That's fine and dandy, but that also avoids the question. It's unrealistic to have a load for each species and then rezero and or redevelop everything you do for each species you hunt. Once a load is developed for a particular rifle its used for long periods to allow the shooter to become very familliar with that combination. Hunters who are continiousley redeveloping loads for a rifle are never great with any of them. I know this as I see 20-30 hutners a year through my camp and the ones who come with a specific load for one animal, and a different one for another animal have nothing but trouble with all the animals! Some may think they have a special talent or skill in this area but I have never seen it in over 300 hunting clients now. Not a single one has made this system work properly. Yet every excellent marksman and hunter in my camps has created a single functional load focused on the most difficult animal, which then allowed it to work on everything smaller.

A bullets weight retention is an important key to fully understanding the way it worked for you. If that bullet stays in one piece you have a good match to your load and velocity window. If it went to pieces you're driving it to fast, or using too small a bullet. Going to pieces is without a question a bad situation. When you find bullet bits and jacket bits inside the body, you have a significant problem. Just because you were lucky enough to blunder into the dead animal does not mean the operation was a success. Why on earth would you risk that same bullet again on another animal? The next time you hit a bone and the bullet expoldes into bits leaving you without an exit blood trail, and a large but superficial wound in the animal which runs off. Do you just shoot another one because you did not find the first one? Now you have punched the tag twice! I rekon that if folks only got to shoot a single bullet per season rather then a single animal people would catch on to this concept quicker!

The real debate which I still struggle with now and then, is should the bullet exit or stay inside? I'm a bullet recovery junkie.........no question I want to see recovered bullets to know they remain intact. However, I also know in my heart from 20 years experience as a Professional Hunter that an exit hole is highly desireable to locate game that runs off after the shot. Entry holes pull hair and fat inside plugging the bore diameter entry hole. This blocks internal body cavity blood flow from getting to the outside of the body. Exit holes are created by the expanded bullet pushing out tissue and blood which create the only fully functional blood trails. I know this as fact in my business, 15 years as a hunting guide in Alaska for big game, as the black bear damage contol manager for Weyerhaeuser in Washington state, and for the last 15 years as a professional hunter in South Africa. We track a hella lotta wounded game and have seen some very high resolution on what cartridges work well and what bullet performance should be. When you see 100-150 animals over 300 pounds and some up to 8000 pounds shot each year in two months of hunting your understanding of good performance becomes very clear. What you want your hunters to use becomes very clear. What does not work and what causes you nightmares and panic becomes very clear. If it does not you should choose another line of work if it's not clear after this level of daily experience.

I'm not sure how to explain this further where bullet weight retention is thought of as a non-issue. It's simply put..........Everything that is important in a bullets function!

Without high retained weight you have limited penetration, penetration that is not straight through, no exit holes, and very likely will fall short of the intended internal organs you wish to disrupt. There is another thread on this site which shows some results from 51 animals my hunters shot using my 30/06 loaner rifle this year in South Africa. I tested the Federal Fusion bullets and the Barnes TSX bullets among others. Just to show a perfect real world example here.

A waterbuck was ahot with the federal fusion bullet that was a bit high. The water buck took off and we had a hella long tracking job. By GPS indication we had gone just shy of 6 miles when we finally had sight of this waterbuck well ahead of us in the bush. I had reloaded that hunters rifle with the Barnes TSX bullets exactly the same weight bullet, just using a Barnes bullet rather then the Fusion bullet. At the second shot that bull fell and was dead when we arrived after walking 100 yards. The entry hole was about 4 inches from the first shot. That TSX bullet traversed the length of the bull and exited the scapula and left the body with a 1" diameter exit hole. The entry holes were just in front of the hind quaerter on a steeply quartering away angle.

At the skinning shed the fusion bullet was badly distorted and was driven into the flesh just under the spine. It ran out of steam and had such a bizzare shape that it did not penetrate straight. Had that been the Barnes TSX bullet it would have carried on through the spine and exited. Leaving that big bull waterbuck dead where it was standing, or at a minimum unable to walk. Shot placement here was also an issue but even with bad shot placement that TSX bullet retained more weight, integrity, and penetration potential then that fusion bullet did. Yet both are 165 grain bullets shot from the same rifle.

One last thing to mention. In regard to bullets staying inside the body being the better idea. Most people have the mistaken belief that this will allow all the "shock" to kill the animal. If the shock did not kill you when you felt the recoil then it will certainly not kill the animal. The impact an animal feels from the bullet cannot be much more( very little) then the recoil you felt when pulling the trigger.

Rememebr this from High school physics? For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. The recoil energy of that rifle is exactly the same as the impact energy the animal will realize minus the reduction in velocity for the distance the bullet travels. The Muzzle energy formulas used are for perfect energy transfer in a lab environment and for total energy that can be measured in Watts or Joules. It's not actual momentum which most folks don't understand when reading statistics on guns. If that 300 magnum has 3000FPE and the bullet does not exit how come a 150 pound deer is not lifted and thrown through the air, You know like Hollywood would have us believe!

To grasp the bullets impact abilty properly you must multiply the speed times the bullets weight, and divide by 7000(grains in a pound) As an example a 3000 fps speed times 180 grain bullet provides about 75 pounds of impact force. That's why it cannot lift and throw a 150 pound deer into the air, or for that matter even budge it off it's feet. Those of you astute to the math here might say .......well my 300 mag does not have 75 pounds of recoil force. That's correct! you have to also do the math to reduce that by the weight of the rifles mass. It should work out just right for you then.

Hope this helps put a few things into better perspective. I'm not here to come off as a "Mr. Know it all" just sharing the lessons learned form many years of doing this for a living and trying to make the choices and selections of gear a bit better for you when you decide to load ammo or buy it. Also please save yourself some real embarrasment in a mixed crowd by not using that phrase "at what point during the animals death did the bullet fail" It simply shows how little is truely understood about big game, and internal ballistics of your bullets.

WesternHunter's picture
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Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2363
Bullet failure

Hello,
Excellent post. You share some great theories and some very useful practical first hand experience.

While I do agree that a bullet must retain the majority of it's original weight in order to make proper use of it's velocity and have enough energy to penetrate deep enough. But still, if it loosed a few grains in expansion, yet holds together,and penetrates, then my question still remains: who cares? That's all I meant. I still hold firm to the belief that jacket separation doesn't nessesarily mean that the bullet failed either if it's core held together, that has been my experience with some bullets I once used to load. It boils down to this: a bullet properly constructed for the velocity it will travel and impact at, and the type of game to be hunted, should perform well.

The poster who asked "at what point during the animals death did the bullet fail?" I believe that was meant to be some light hearted humor Big smile

It's just as you said. Impact shock (even inside the body) isn't what kills or stops things. People also often make that same mistake when selecting handgun protection ammo too. Impact energy is not what causes death. What kills is loss of blood to the brain and lungs by destroying the vital organs. Retained impact energy only plays the roll of allowing bullet penetration to those vital organs. A bullet that holds mostly together will make better use of that energy.

Don Fischer's picture
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Location: Antelope, Ore
Joined: 03/24/2005
Posts: 3173
Bullet failure

JJ,

What can I say! Thumbs up It is unusual to find anyone with the real life experience that is capabile of sharing it as you do. I don't think that anyone should have a hard time figuring out what you said and it's certainly not laced with personnal preferences.

Thanks for showing up. Your a credit to our sport. A sport laced with to many personnal prejudices based on to little real world experience.

Thanks again,
Don

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Joined: 04/10/2006
Posts: 7
Bullet failure

Got to say that I like to see an exit hole. Due to no small amount of luck, I have never had to track very far when the bullet puncehed both holes. Perhaps, another reason why I like the Whelen, I have yet to recover a bullet in game.

Anyway, great string!!

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Location: Wa. USA-Elisrass South Africa
Joined: 07/06/2006
Posts: 2
Bullet failure

Bullets that have functioned properly and dependably on various species of big game, to REALLY big game.

Hornady interbond 165 grain at 2900fps from the exit side of a Bisons Neck after breaking the spine. The shot was 80 yards and the bullet is still one piece.


165 grain Hornady interbond from a 30/06

This bullet was from the exit side of a B&C 361 bull elk after penetrating all the way through on a steep quartering away shot and breaking the exit side scapula and coming to rest under the skin. It was shot at about 80 yards. The bulls weight was just over 1000 pounds!


Note the disturbed hair on the point of the shoulder where the bullet came to rest.



Black bears shot with the 165grain Swift Aframes one shot at 225 yards the other at 200 yards

The bullets from those two bears are the Swift Aframes are number 2 and 3 from the right side


These bullets were recovered from free range wild boar shot in Polk County Tennessee. They are 165 grain interbond bullets shot from my 30/06


Warthog shot with 165 grain interbond from the 30/06 at 150 yards



The bullet on the right is from that warthog above. The one in the center is a 270 grain Swift Aframe from a warthog and a 375HH shot at 200 yards.
The one on the far left is an original Barnes X bullet from a waterbuck which did not open, clearly a failure to perform!

I have plenty of recovered bullet photos which I could post here for several more hours. This should give you some idea of what a bullet should look like that has done it's job properly.

Many of these are tough animals which can get away from you easily when not killed with good placement and good bullets. I for one would not want my bullets going to pieces on bears, or hogs requiring me to have to sort that out with a meager blood trail!

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Location: USA
Joined: 06/04/2006
Posts: 166
Bullet failure

Gentlemen, I'm quite familier with JJ Hack's expertese in the field, as my main thing is Africa, and specificlly dangerous game in Africa! Haveing said that, let me say I am 70 yrs old, and am not new to north American game, from grey squirrels,up to Moose, and brown bear, so my experience has covered those plus a lot of very large African game as well.

I agree with many things JJ has to say, about a lot of different types of hunting and bullet types for them. I find most hunters who are basicly deer, black bear, and elk hunters, seem to place a lot of credit to the weight of the animal they choose a bullet for. IMO, this is a deadly mistake in some cases. An Elk of trophy proportions, will weigh in at around 800 lbs, and has fairly tough skin for a North American animal, while an African lion will go only 450-500 for a large male, but a bullet that will work fine on an elk, may fail to stop a lion. The inside expending all it's energy inside the animal is fine as long as it pennetrates fully, and in a straight line, through the organs you are trying to hit. Most Agrican plains game will find a bullet like a A-Frame under the skin on the off side, on animals that North American animals of the same weight will be shot through, and through. If that animal's vitals are hit, then the blood trail is not as important as when the bullet comes apart, and viers off and misses the internal target. This is on plains game which are somewhat like N/A game, but as a rule tougher.

Now when one begins looking down the tube at things like Cape Buffalo, the whole game swaps ends. Here we are talking about a 1000-1500 lb animal, that owns a hide that will hold a broken landcruser spring together till it can drive 50 miles on unimproved tracks to be fixed. This hide, with the muscles, and heavy bones under it will destroy a bullet that is not as tough as money can buy . Addtionally, that bullet must ideally shoot through, if it is in heavy bush, where tracking will be needed, because one shot rarely drops a Cape Buffalo. Now he goes into the 10 ft deep elephant grass, where you must follow. It is far easier to follow a blood trail that is waist high, on both sides, from a shot through the chest squirting blood out both sides so you can look ahead, while your perfirel vision can follow the blood on the grass, on each side of his path. Though this animal is killed, he doesn't yet know it, and he may kill you before he figures it out, if that bullet viered off just a little bit! Bullet failier, here, is a differen't ball game than on a goaty old muledeer!

I use premium bullets on all game, be it North American, or African. For every rifle I use to shoot game animals, I work up a load with the heavy bullet in that caliber, and I use that load for everything I use that rifle to hunt. That load will work fine on the largest game I hunt with that rifle, and is no less effective on anything smaller!

One thing several have made comment on is the loader's poor choice of a good bullet for the wrong animal, this is more common that most think, especially in the hunting fields of North America. We ( the generic "WE") Americans tend to want our rifles too light, and our bullets too fast, then choose light bullets to reach that end. IMO, that is a mistake that has cost a lot of hunters to have bullet failiers that were their own fault, not the bullet maker's! DEAD, is not DEAD till you cut the cape away from his lifeless body, and lost game is a failier, no matter if it is the bullet, the loader, or trigger driver! Think

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Location: Nova Scotia
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Bullet failure
remington wrote:
I would not have retrieved my "failed" bullet from my deer if I haven't tracked it and put another pill in it.

Guess the second shot failed too! neener!

Just trying to add some humor and NOT tempers here guys.

I have faith in the bullets I shoot my animals with.

.

Actually the second bullet was shot just behind the first and was not recovered because it went straight through so if it failed... it failed beautifully. lol Thumbs up

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Location: Ouachita Mountains Arkansas
Joined: 03/02/2004
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Bullet failure

Thats an awsome hog!

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