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Tndeerhunter's picture
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Location: Tennessee
Joined: 04/13/2009
Posts: 1136
Bullet penetration test

I am always interested in reading someone's findings when they do standardized bullet penetration tests. I think it can help immensely for a hunter trying to decide on a bullet that's actually up to the task at hand. Anyway, I recently read a very good one on the .444 Marlin.

The fella who did the test used both jacketed bullets and cast ones. The results were pretty darn interesting, ESPECIALLY when he threw in a wild card, a 30/06 shooting a 180gr Barnes "X" bullet to be tested in exactly the same manner as the .444 bullets.

Quite an eye opener. There were at least 8 bullets of the ten tested that equaled or bettered the 180gr X's performance of penetrating 6 gallon jugs of water. Only two of these bullets were cast ones, by the way. I was truly impressed and seeing some of those huge mushrooms and one bullet (300gr JHP) that penetrated 8 jugs and retained nearly 90% of it's original weight was quite darn eye-opening to me.

By the way the SD of a .30cal 180gr is .271 and the SD of a 300gr .429 is .232. Even a couple of lightweights, 265 & 270gr matched or exceeded the 180gr "X". They have a lowly SDs of .205 & .210 respectively.

Gotta love those big bore rifles! Yes

jaybe's picture
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Location: S.E. Michigan
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That's the main reason why I use heavy bullets in my .504 cal muzzle loader.

If you think about it, the same thing that happened in the CF cartridges years ago is taking place in the MZ world today.

The name of the game was FASTER, so everybody started pushing standard weight bullets (then lighter weight) to lightning-fast speeds. But one thing that happened was the guys with the 7MM and .30 Mags and other sizzlers were complaing that they were blowing the front shoulder off a deer, but not putting it down. Reason? Bullet fragmenting on impact and not penetrating.

Granted, the bullet manufacturers have responded to that problem and have started making better bullets for higher velocities so they penetrate more without fragmenting. But if a person isn't careful today, he'll buy bullets intended for maximum penetration and punch a pencil-sized hole through the rib cage of an antelope or deer because he wasn't pushing it over 3,000 pfs.

Anyway, rather than use a 150 grain charge with a 250 grain bullet in my MZ, I use a moderate load with a heavier bullet - 400-460 grains. That big lead slug plows through an animal with authority while still forming a good mushroom on the way.



Critter's picture
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Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4413
While big bullets moving slow

While big bullets moving slow do make a large hole and will penetrate better than a smaller bullet moving fast you have to look at the range that these test were done at.  A .444 Marlin or a .45-70 are 100-150 yard rounds and even at 100 yards those big bullets are losing momentum very fast.  So lets move the medium that you are shooting into for the test out to 150-200 yards and redo the test and then take a look at the results.  I'll bet that they are way different and that the spritzer style of bullet will start to move ahead of the bigger bullets. 

Now if your hunting is done at the 100-150 yard range then they are quite capable but don't expect to head out west where a 200 or even a 300 yard shot is common and expect the same results.   

Tndeerhunter's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Tennessee
Joined: 04/13/2009
Posts: 1136
no argument there

I would most certainly agree that a .444 is not the best choice (nor even mine) for hunting at 200-300 yds, although it still packs plenty of punch at those ranges with proper loads. The trajectory, although better than the venerable 45-70, simply becomes too difficult to decipher at extended ranges.

My point actually was simply to show that it can certainly hold it's own to moderate range hunting styles (as many hunters do see) and the surprising results shown against a very highly regarded .30 cal load. If you might consider the 30/06 as the "gold standard" for calibers (one many are compared to, to show their relative effectiveness) than you might also use the well respected 180gr load from it as a kind of bullet standard for larger game.

It would be ridiculous to expect any one to run out and trade their '06 on a .444 Marlin, no doubt. But, showing the relative performance of the big bore against what many hunters think is a very fine combination, I think the .444 shows itself to most certainly be a very viable alternative for those whose hunting is most always within the 200 yard envelope. And, again, this is performance with jacketed bullets that also offer excellent expansion to go along with the obviously excellent penetration.  Yes

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