There are advocates for each end of the spectrum. Yet it’s true that the majority of hunting bullets are somewhere near the middle of that spectrum. However that may be, my blogs are focused mostly on Big Bores, and secondly the “Mediums”. In over a decade of writing on themes related thereto, bullets have played the major role. Still, it is possible and practical to utilise a range of weights and styles where the current topic is fitting.
A suitable example might be what weight/design bullet should I use from my .458 Win Mag in an upcoming bear hunt? There are literally scores of potential choices from 250grs all the way to 585grs if cast bullets are included. That’s “lite and fast” to “heavy and slow”!
But then, as an example, it’s also possible to use one of the multiple 400s as a “one-bullet-does-it-all” sort of thing… which one? Then, if using a 405gr Remington from 2000 fps to 2300 fps, would a 250gr AccuBond from my 9.3 x 62 at +2700 fps be a better idea? So it would be a comparatively heavy 405gr at up to 2300 fps (max because of construction, not ballistic potential) vs a relatively “lite” 250gr at +2700 fps. But let it be noted that +2700 fps for the 250 AccuBond is max whereas the 405 at 2300 fps is a reduced load. Felt recoil will be slightly less in the .458 WM at about 38 ft-lbs due to its 10.75 lbs with 5 cartridges in a stock cartridge holder and the Mag-na-porting. The 9.3 x 62 will be three pounds lighter at 7.7 lbs with four cartridges, and felt recoil at 42 ft-lbs. (Of course, more is involved in “felt recoil” than ft-lbs numbers alone — but it suggests which might be more manageable. Though, from experience I already know the .458’s recoil will be somewhat “slower” and the 9.3 x 62 somewhat “faster”). Balance of the rifles would be a factor as well in matters of handling and comfort.
So this is something I’ve been “aiming” (pun intended) to do for some time — comparing proposed bear loads from my two big game rifles. Both loads are real and very accurate. I’ve already used the 250gr load on a black bear at 85 yards… it’s very accurate and lacks nothing. I’ve also used the 405 Rem on a black bear at 100 yards at an MV of 2110 fps. That was from a Marlin and was also very accurate. The bear hit by the 250gr (9.3) at 85 yards from an MV of +2700 fps ran 20-25 yards and died in stride without bawling. It left a trail of blood a blind man could follow. The 405gr from the Marlin was a “bang-flop”, the bullet was a pass-through from left flank (going-away shot) to just behind right shoulder. So neither bullet at their respective ranges and MVs lacked anything in accuracy or finished product — except the .458″ bullet was a DRT in result and the 9.3 was a dead bear at 20 – 25 yards.
So at issue is any advantage of “heavy and slow” vs “lite and fast”. That’s the question I’ll seek to answer in the analysis that follows.
A 550gr/.458″ Woodleigh bullet at 1364 fps/2272 ft-lbs has an MTE of 140 at the muzzle; same as a .340 WBY shooting a 250gr at 3000 fps/4995 ft-lbs at the muzzle. That’s a good example of heavy and slow vs lite and fast… but they have equal MTE starting out. How is that possible? Answer: the momentum is equal starting out and the .458-cal will make a bigger permanent cavity and has a greater SD for penetration. The .340 WBY will shoot flatter and maintain its velocity better downrange, true enough, but that’s max MV for the .340 and a very mild load for the 550gr/.458-cal. But there’s still plenty from the .458 load at 250 yards for a 2000 lb animal, with a much milder recoil factor – about 25 ft-lbs vs 54!
Did you notice? That’s less than half!
Therefore, if I went north again for a bull moose (not bear), which would I take, my Ruger “Tropical” in .458 Win Mag or the 9.3 x 62?
The question is “which WOULD I take”, not “which SHOULD I take”? Either will kill a bull moose at 500 yards.
Since I’ve already stated the case for the .458 in a recent blog using the 400gr Barnes X-Bullet at MV = 2590 fps/5957 ft-lbs, and MTE 120 at 500 yards, I know that the 9.3 x 62 firing a 286 NP at MV = 2631 fps/4395 ft-lbs and 1820 fps/2103 ft-lbs at 500 yds = 68 MTE, can’t keep up with the larger bore and heavier bullet.
So what are the advantages of one over the other, if any, since both rifles and loads are capable for a bull moose at 500 yards?
.458 load = 48.5 ft-lbs (including 15% reduction due to the Mag-na-porting)
9.3 x 62 = 47.5 ft-lbs recoil
.458 #1 Ruger = 10.75 lbs (including 5 cartridges in a stock holder, + scope)
9.3 x 62 TIKKA = 7.7 lbs (including 4 in the clip magazine, + scope)
#1 Ruger = 40″ (24″ barrel)
TIKKA T3 = 42.5″ (22.44″ barrel)
Ballistics: (as presented above)
#1 Ruger .458 = 5957 ft-lbs/MTE 267 @ muzzle, and 1735 fps/2673 ft-lbs/MTE 120 @ 500 yards
9.3 x 62 TIKKA = 4365 ft-lbs/MTE 140 @ muzzle, and 1810 fps/2080 ft-lbs/MTE 66.6 @ 500 yards
Recoil isn’t an issue of choosing one over the other.
Weight: The 9.3 x 62 TIKKA is the obvious choice being 3 lbs lighter IF walking miles in a hot sun would make a difference to someone already overweight and possibly having other health issues, such as a heart condition or poor feet!
However, as I’ve written in other blogs, 3 lbs extra weight on the shoulder or between the hands isn’t a serious consideration IF IN FIT PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONDITION.
I include MENTAL conditioning because attitude is involved in toting a possible 20 – 25 lbs of weight added to our normal weight when we step on our bathroom scales. That extra weight that’s toted for 6 to 10 miles a day in rough, challenging terrain will surely test our mental as well as physical fitness before one hunting day is done!
However, in today’s world of hunting, nothing of that sort is allowed to transpire if under the control of outfitters and guides. The regime is a comfortable cabin, an ATV ride (or Ford, Chev, RAM or Toyota truck) to the hunting destination where we may sit for hours waiting for the game to come to us! So a rifle of three extra pounds need hardly be a consideration when leaving 20 extra pounds behind in the cabin, truck or ATV. But I’ve done the 6 – 10 miles per day thing in challenging terrain, toting about 15 to 20 lbs of extra hardware, clothing, drinks and food! So I learned how to carry not only a back pack, but my rifle. The rifle, whatever its heft, is shifted to multiple positions so its weight (8 lbs or 11) never becomes a burden to any particular part of the anatomy — hands, arms or shoulders. (Left click on pics for a better view.)
I used an 11.25 lb CZ550 in .458 Win Mag on a moose hunt to the far north of our province over a decade ago. And even then I was no “spring chicken” at age 73! And I never travelled on an ATV to get to hunting areas — I walked it up! Sometimes through thick alder patches, at others climbing “mountains”. And frankly, the only time I noticed the CZ550 was a bit too much was in the alders. And that was it’s length, not its heft. In the alder patches I’d have preferred something like a Marlin GG with an 18.5″ barrel in .45-70. (I nearly had my Marlin Classic shortened from a 22″ barrel to a 20″ when I did some trading and the Marlin was included. It was already at my gunsmith’s shop for a week or more and he hadn’t yet touched it. In my view, Marlin should have made at least one in a 20″ barrel version for the .45-70.) Apart from that, the CZ550 balanced well and was much more agreeable for offhand shooting than a ” Tikka T3 Lite” might be when the heart’s pounding and we’re struggling to fill our lungs with fresh air (Without a mask! I hate those things – you end up sucking in your own exhaust.)
The Ruger No.1 Tropical in .458 Win Mag has the heft for long, offhand shooting and the shortness for alder patches!
Ballistics again: Both have the potential for long range shooting of large soft-skinned game. But the .458 Winchester has this advantage — the 400gr at over 1700 fps at 500 yards WILL produce a larger hole and a more convincing permanent wound cavity, causing more immediate trauma and faster blood loss — which could result in a much quicker termination of the moose. Also, if the shot isn’t perfect in either case, the larger cavity might also involve large bones, that due to the heavier bullet could be perforated or broken more readily than less momentum and energy. So, I favor the .458 Win Mag in ballistics.
But the question is: Which would I take? Not should.
The Tikka in 9.3 x 62 has a clip magazine which I prefer over a bolt-action magazine repeater with no clip. That’s another issue that I’ll not go into any depth at the present time, but many woods hunters in our area prefer rifles with clips — just have an extra one loaded in your jacket pocket. And when the time comes to “unload” your rifle, and load it again, it’s much simpler and faster. All that to say that the advantage goes to the 9.3 x 62 for repeat shots, if necessary, over the single-shot Ruger #1.
Yet, with practice, one can be quite adept at loading a second or third shot from a single-shot rifle. I’ve written at least a couple of blogs on that point in the past. And, I’ve noted on videos that even “experts” can fumble second and third shots from a bolt-action repeater under pressure!
Regardless, mental attitude under stress is the issue whether using a single-shot or a so-called “repeater”. A “single-shot”, so-called, is potentially a “repeater” when several cartridges are handy to the action as in a stock holder. I’ve owned quite a few “single-shots” and never felt handicapped. They all went hunting. The only caveat would be in following up a wounded DG into thick brush.
Which would I take? The .458 Win Mag in the Ruger No.1 Tropical with the described load would likely get the nod as I yet want to bloody it! But if travelling far from home the 9.3 x 62 would come along as a suitable backup “just in case”.
Another comparison of Heavy and Slow vs Lite and Fast might be a .44 Mag vs a .30-06. In the .44 , a Ruger 96/44 with an 18″ barrel, I’ve fired many 300s (Speers and Hornadys) at between 1600 to 1700 fps. In the .30-06 we’ll shoot a 180gr at 2700. As a start, I’ll make this assertion on behalf of writer/hunter Brian Pearce, who declared in an article published in a WOLFE periodical that a .44 Mag was as effective on elk at 150 yards as a .30-06, though he didn’t specify loads for each or elk sizes. So I’m about to test that based on MTE. The bullet for the .44 is one I’ve used in load development for my former Ruger (and shot a couple of crows with), and toted for bear defence while scouting along trails and bringing in bait for bear hunting at particular sites.
Cartridge: .44 Rem Mag
Bullet: 300gr Hornady XTP
BC = .245
SD = .232
MV = 1650 fps/1813 ft-lbs/ 61 MTE (I seated bullets longer than standard)
50 = 1524 fps/1546 ft-lbs/ 52 MTE
100 = 1407 fps/1319 ft-lbs/ 44 MTE
150 = 1303 fps/1130 ft-lbs/ 38 MTE (optimum game weight = 950 lbs – not many elk would surpass that weight.)
Rifle: Bolt action .30-06
Bullet: 180gr Hornady SP
BC = .427
SD = .271
MV = 2700 fps/2913 ft-lbs/ 58 MTE
50 = 2607 fps/2717 ft-lbs/ 54 MTE
100= 2517 fps/2531 ft-lbs/ 51 MTE
150= 2428 fps/2356 ft-lbs/ 47 MTE (optimum game weight = 1175 lbs – more than enough. But a mature bull elk at 800 lbs would be easy-peasy with either load. Brian Pearce was right!
150 yards may be an average distance for elk shooting. But averages assume both shorter and longer ranges than 150 yards That was a max load in my Ruger .44, and not necessarily a max .30-06 load that can shoot a 200gr Partition or Accubond at 2700 fps. So the .30-06 has distinct advantages over the .44 at longer ranges than 150 yards for elk, big bears or moose-size critters.
The advantage of the .44 Rem Mag in my rifle over a .30-06 was obvious for the hunt ranges in my employ — less recoil, less weight, faster handling and shooting.
There’s an example of Heavy and Slow being better than Lite and Fast. That’s one I should still have in my locker. It was also more economical for much shooting.