I’ve recently written that one of the ways we can evaluate the appropriateness of a bullet for a specific hunt is by its visual appearance. That combined with it’s known structure, and side by side with others that could be used for the same hunt, will give an impression that’s not completely wrong, and should be incorporated into any assessment.
A lineup is presented here that, with a description of each, could inform us as to their suitability for certain classes of big game at particular ranges. They go from 7mm (.284-cal) and .308-cal for general BG hunting to a couple of medium bores in 9.3mm (.366 – cal), and on to large bores in .458-cal. These are presented as examples of how analysis in part could take place before going afield. This is NOT to be interpreted as the only or main source of any evaluation, but as a part of that assessment, and perhaps a significant one.
As an example of an aspect of that analysis, do we think that the BC of Nosler Partitions stacked in a rifle magazine will remain in tact as advertised after one has been fired from a BG rifle? That’s assumed by Nosler and writers in both ads and articles found in outdoor magazines, and in promotional videos. In truth, however, the BC of those remaining in the magazine will have had their BCs altered by uncertain degrees due to a flattening effect caused by recoil as the front wall of the clip or magazine slams into their tips! The amount of that flattening will depend on the speed of recoil, which is magnified in magnums unless rifle weight is impractical for field use.
But by how much, is the question. In comparing the “regular” Nosler 180gr Partition in .30-cal with their “Protected Point” in BC will inform us that a given .474 for the “Spitzer” (pointed one) and .361 for the more blunt “Protected Point” does affect BC. So when the point of the “spitzer” is damaged to a certain degree in the magazine under recoil, what difference would that make at 350 yards with the MV at 3100 fps? Of course, there’s no way of knowing apart from testing the undamaged spitzer alongside a damaged one. But the Nosler 180gr Spitzer would be going 2450 fps with 2400 ft-lbs of KE at 350 yards in the ambient conditions of my hunting area by mid-fall, and the 180gr “Protected Point” would be going 2285 fps and 2050 ft-lbs at 350 yards.That’s a loss of 185 fps and 350 ft-lbs in replacing the “Spitzer” with the “Protected Point”! And the trajectory is also negatively affected somewhat, but perhaps not enough to make a big difference on a BG animal. But, certainly, a loss of 350 ft-lbs could, under certain particulars, sway the outcome!
But could that “Spitzer” actually be reduced in BC in the magazine under recoil to a “Protected Point” in BC? Perhaps not, but it still should be a consideration. I know from experience that the 286gr NPs that remained in the clip magazine of my 9.3 x 62 didn’t appear nearly as “pointed” after firing one shot (one shot and done) into a black bear! In fact, I decided NOT to use them in hunting again because of uncertainty of where they might hit at long range. Later on I did fire most at 100 yards at the range and was unimpressed with their accuracy! Previously they shot into sub-moa! In a later hunt I went with the 250gr AccuBond with the white plastic tips, and it appeared they worked at least equally well as the Partitions, and perhaps even better! So visual impressions do matter along with knowledge of the bullet’s structure. I still have over a full box of the 286gr NPs and they will not remain “forever” in their boxes! But nearly a full box of the 250gr AccuBonds will give assurance of consistent results downrange. I find it more than interesting that most bullet companies are going, or have gone over to PPs (protected points) for lead filled jacketed softs, or hollow points for monolithic expanding bullets (some with plastic tips). No doubt that’s the future for all manufactured bullets to avoid damaging the tips that can spoil long range shooting of game or targets. At relatively short ranges, BC numbers have limited meaning… even a flat point may be a better choice if range is known to be short, as in 100 yards or less.
< This is an interesting lineup of bullets from 7mm to .458″. A few have the older typical pointed lead tips, a couple have Nosler’s sharp pointed white plastic tips, and the rest have “protected points” or hollow cavities. (Right click on image for “open in new tab”; left click on that and then left click on “new tab” for a larger image.)
Apart from knowledge based on experience, what could we possibly learn from a visual inspection in combination with information on structure?
From left to right: a 175gr 7mm Partition; 165gr Partition in .308″; 200gr Nosler AccuBond (bonded core) in .308″; 250gr AccuBond (bonded core) in 9.3mm (.366″); 286gr Partition in 9.3mm; 286gr Partition in 9.3mm with damaged lead point; 286gr Hornady in 9.3mm with a protected tip; 320gr Woodleigh in 9.3mm with a protected point and bonded core; 400gr Barnes X-Bullet in .458″ all copper with hollow cavity; 450gr Swift A-Frame in .458″ with a semi-protected tip, bonded front core with a partition separating it from a rear core; 450gr Barnes X-Bullet all copper with hollow cavity in .458″; 450gr Barnes TSX all copper with hollow cavity (larger cavity than the original 450gr X-Bullet) in .458″; and a 480gr Hornady DGX with a thin copper “layer” (for protection of the rifling) over a thick steel jacket that holds a “hardened” lead core. The tip is flat and 1/4″ wide with lead exposed. The one pictured isn’t bonded though later editions of the same bullet has a bonded core.
Some information and data: Knowledge of sectional densities (SD) and ballistic coefficients (BC) of each bullet would also be helpful, and they are listed in handloading manuals.
175gr, 7mm (SD = .310, BC = .519). I’ve used that bullet in two 7mm magnums, a Ruger #1 with a 26″ barrel in 7 Rem Mag, and also in my 7mm Wby Mag Rem 700 bolt action with a 24″ barrel. It shot very well in each at about 3000 fps. From the 7mm Weatherby Mag I killed a black bear at 65 yards with a single shot. The bear was not large and the bullet went completely through from a hit between neck and right shoulder while making exit in offside flank in front of the hip. I had no doubts of the outcome though the bear raised its head once. I’d gladly use the same load on an adult moose to 350 yards depending on physical conditions, size of moose and angle of shot. Bullet velocity at 350 yards should be about 2415 fps, or 2266 ft-lbs. My original TE formula (forget the “reworked” one) grants a maximum of 1106 lbs, which I think is a good enough guide.
165gr, .308″ (SD = .248, BC = .410). From a recent review of past handloads, I discovered I’d fired a lot of these from .300 magnums, but never killed any game with one. For some inexplicable reason, I never got the accuracy from them (or any 165s) as 180s, so 180s and 190s became the go-to bullets for my 300 magnums at around 3000 to 3200 fps. In contrast, 165s became my favorites from .30-06’s.
200gr, .308″ (SD = .301, BC = .588). This is a bonded core, very sleek bullet with a plastic tip to enhance the BC number and aid in expansion at long ranges. If my experience with the 250gr, 9.3mm AccuBond means anything in regard to this 200gr in .308″, I’d say it’s a super bullet for .308 calibers, starting at .30-06 speeds. If you do a ballistic profile for a magnum .300 starting at around 3000 fps, you’d be very impressed with results at 500 yards! I was, so a box was bought for my young “Big Ben” friend’s .300 Win Mag as well as for my own. The 9.3, 250gr from my 9.3 x 62 at +2700 fps went completely through a good black bear leaving a massive blood trail!
250gr, 9.3mm (.366″) (SD = .267, BC = .493). This has a good reputation on big dangerous grizzly. That’s enough for me, to say nothing about my own limited experience. But it flies fast and flat when started around 2700 fps, all the way to 500 yards for moose size game. I might like to choose the 286 Partition, or even the 320gr Woodleigh, if confronting a Brown Bear at relatively close range, but I wouldn’t back down if all I had loaded were some of these 250gr AccuBonds.
286gr, 9.3mm Partitions (SD = .307, BC = .482). Nosler says the SD is .307, so that’s what I quote here, but despite the math they used, it would be normal to say a 286gr/ .366″ has an SD of .305. A good bullet it is for whatever might be hunted, except the pachyderms that normally require solids. I have two that were retrieved after firing: One from test media and the other from a black bear. Both retained 73% of initial weight at 209 grains from media and 210 grains from the bear. It looks like that could be counted on no matter what it hits (or what hits it!). The mangled looking one went through very tough media about 8 inches and then was “punched” by a 300gr TSX from my former Ruger #1 in .45-70 LT at an impact of “whatever” after leaving the muzzle at 2650 fps. See the pic of that 300gr TSX after punching the 286gr Nosler Partition and still showing a normal look for expansion! The 300 TSX/.458 cal also did more damage to the media than the 286 NP!
<From left to right: The 286gr NP “punched” by the 300gr TSX on far right. The front end of the 286gr is on the left, and the “punch” is obvious by the dimple on the side. The middle bullet is the 286gr NP retrieved from a bear in skinning. And, of course, the 300gr TSX on far right is obvious. It retained 300 grains! (The wood strip backing was for focusing purposes.)
A great deal has been learned about those bullets from a visual impression and inspection! I’ve mentioned that the 300gr TSX in .458 caliber is one of my favorite bullets for the .458 Win Mag. That assessment came in part from what that bullet did in the very tough media, and what it did to the 286 NP, as well as it’s accuracy from both Rugers #1 in .45-70 LT and .458 Win Mag. From the LT it could make +2700 fps but its accuracy node was 2650 fps. And in the .458 it has gone to 2980 fps with fine accuracy, as well as 2775 fps which is my hunting load for that bullet. In fact, I don’t know of any animal in North America I wouldn’t hunt with that bullet — including a Brown Bear! For caribou or moose at long range it does loose velocity more quickly than heavier TSX’s in .458″ due to a BC of only .234. But at 2980 fps MV it should still expand at 1645 fps (according to Barnes) and 1802 ft-lbs at 400 yards giving a TE of 60.6 (original TE formula which I’ll stick with until something better evolves). That should be good enough for a big old bull moose of about 1200 lbs if hit through the lungs. Recoil from that load in my .458 would be around 45 ft-lbs. In comparison. The 350 TSX at 2780 fps would recoil at about 47 ft-lbs — a modest amount more for a bit more effect at 400 yards. They too are very accurate from my Ruger #1 in .458. And I do have some of the 350 TSXs, but not the 300s on hand- I’ve exhausted my supply in developing, testing and hunting loads from the two #1 Rugers in .45-70 LT and .458 Win Mag.
So a collection of retrieved bullets from both carcasses and media can impress us visually as to their worthiness in hunting activities. So get out there and do some testing for yourself! I hope and intend to do more of that, no doubt shooting more into media than animals. There’s planning and work involved but, hey, anything worthwhile doin’ involves work! Just think… you might become one of those Xperts!
Til the next: Comments on the rest of the lineup from the 286gr Hornady to the 480gr DGX. And that should be on October 9, if God is willing and all goes as planned (St James Epistle ch 4: verses 13 to 17).