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Old July 18, 2013, 12:12 PM   #1
Texascoonhunter
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Bullet size. large verses small

Bullet size ? I want to know your experiences concerning large grain bullets verses smaller grain bullets when it comes to the matter of damaging meat and meat loss. I have shot lots of deer in my life time. Heavier bullets mushroom/expand but stay together with less fragmentation than a lighter bullet. I prefer to shoot a deer with a 30.06 w/180 grain bullet at 2800 fps than a 243 w/100 grain bullet at 2800 fps. The shock/bloodshot damage to the meat seems to be less with the 180 grain as compared to the 100 grain bullet. I feel that I loose less meat with the 06. I get fragmentation from the 243 and I don't with the 06. Why is this so? I appreciate your knowledge/reply on this subject!
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Old July 18, 2013, 12:23 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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I prefer to shoot animals in places that aren't meaty. That way, I don't ruin meat.

As for "heavy" versus "light", I don't think I've seen a bullet that does more meat damage than a 300-400gr 12ga slug at 1,300-1,900fps.

You probably get fragmentation with the .243 and not the .30-06 because you're using a .243 bullet that isn't designed for big game. It's also possible that your sample size is simply too small and you've seen a fluke. Even shooting 10 deer with the same bullet is really a minimal effective sample if you want to know what the bullet will do. 1 or 2 or 3 tells you next to nothing.
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Old July 18, 2013, 01:00 PM   #3
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I normally shoot between 3 and 5 whitetails a year, and seldom have any real meat loss to any caliber. I shoot different calibers from a .350 Rem mag, .257 Roberts, .308 etc.. Last year I shot one with the .350 facing me where I held just a tad low on the neck and got a little bit of damage over the front shoulders. I think the whole situation just boils down to bullet placement, and I opt for neck shots whenever possible, or heart shots if I have to.
I guess a really fast bullet next to a meaty portion of the animal could cause damage, but I would doubt a few hundred fps would make a big difference.
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Old July 18, 2013, 05:12 PM   #4
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I have heard or seen this debate quite a lot over the years. I think the big differences are because of what people call meat loss. Some guys take only the best cuts off. Some guys debone every little bit and keep the organs. I had a butcher tell me the best place to shoot a deer is the neck to avoid meat loss. Some people throw the whole neck into a roasting pan (- the esophagus). Now and then I get a safe headshot. Beyond a doubt, someone in a group of guys will say "You ruined the brains". Best to do what is going to work for you and not worry about it.
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Old July 18, 2013, 06:05 PM   #5
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The only meat I ruin (on a good shot) is ribs. Almost nobody bothers with rib meat on deer.
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Old July 18, 2013, 08:25 PM   #6
Art Eatman
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If you don't shoot Bambi in the eating part, it doesn't matter at all.

For instance, I've tagged a couple of dozen bucks via Mr. Sierra's 85-grain HPBT in my .243. That's a for-sure blow-up bullet. But I only take neck shots or cross-body heart/lung shots; no angling shots. So, never any damage to what I consider the edible parts.
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Old July 18, 2013, 08:40 PM   #7
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My idea of the best deer round (without being cartridge specific) uses a bullet that will reliably, fully expand whether it hits the shoulder or ribcage, but will still hold together and retain most of its weight and make a passthrough every time. Also I personally like rounds that have over 3000 fps muzzle velocity that use bullets under about 120 grains and don't have a lot of recoil. I shot my first deer when I was 11 with my dads .220 swift, right behind the shoulder of a small spike, the bullet did not exit but the vitals were mush and the deer didn't travel even 15 yards. So I guess you could say I've had influence since a young age that the lighter calibers work. My dad always taught me that shot placement was everything, and that using the right bullet was more important than using the "right" cartridge. I still believe that to be true. I realize not everyone agrees.

This is just what I prefer, there are plenty of other ways to "skin the preverbial cat". This is just how I like to do it.

Also I'm not trying to say a .224 is the ultimate caliber for deer, in fact I believe .243/6mm is the smallest "ideal" caliber for deer if you plan on hitting solid bone.
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Old July 18, 2013, 10:04 PM   #8
big al hunter
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Quote:
I get fragmentation from the 243 and I don't with the 06. Why is this so?
The 243 bullet is designed for deer sized animals. The 30/06 bullet is designed for elk sized critters. It has a thicker jacket that holds it together better. If you switch to 150 grain bullets in the 30/06 you will likely experience similar results to the 243.
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Old July 18, 2013, 10:39 PM   #9
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I generally prefer the heavier bullets for any given caliber, For Mule Deer I use a 30-06 with 180 grain bullets, for elk I use a .338 with 250 grain partition. I don't hunt white tails much but .243 with 95 grain partition is my choice.

I guess the exception would be my antelope setup, a .270 with 110 grain bullet.

I haven't ruined any meat in quite a few years due to shot placement, and really only once, when I took an animal through part a front shoulder on a dead run do I recall ruining meat to speak of. A large, quality bullet through the vitals is the quickest kill.
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Old July 18, 2013, 11:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
I get fragmentation from the 243 and I don't with the 06.
However one looks at this particular situation concerning expansion. One caliber verses another. My opinion. Mr. Eatman's advice as well as all the other members who commented here are indeed spot on. Honestly there is nothing I could add to this thread that hasn't already been mentioned._

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Old July 19, 2013, 09:32 AM   #11
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The fragmentation you get from the 243 is most likely due to bullet construction. You might want to try Barnes bullets, I've had really good luck with them.

As for bloodshot meat, I've always subscribed to the theory that projectile speed has the biggest effect on how much you'll get. P.O. Ackley had an article in one of his books about .17 calibers shooting around 4500 fps, and how there was so much blood shot meat from the wound it was not a good meat hunters rifle. I've seen this in my endeavors as I starting hunting with a 300 Savage, move to a 30-06, and now shoot a 300 Winchester Mag. The deer I killed with the Savage had little blood shot, the deer and elk that I took with the 30-06 had more but not an excess, and now the 300 Win, which creates excessive blood shot. Velocities with the ammo I used were 2300, 2700, and 3100 fps respectively.
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Old July 19, 2013, 09:35 AM   #12
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I always tend to hit too far forward and take out the front quarters. my weapon of choice is a 243 with 100gr federal power shoks(any other bullet I've tried has given pretty poor results. if I don't hit bone it punches through the other side in one piece with very little damage. if I do hit bone well at least I only ruin one quarter.
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Old July 19, 2013, 09:56 AM   #13
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Bullets, heavy and light, small and big, hard and soft, are designed for different things.

I light 100 gr 243 at 3000 fps through the lungs of an antelope would turn those lungs into the consistency of coffee grounds.

A heavy 180 gr 30 cal. bullet will pass through, maybe open up, leave an exit hole bigger then the entrance, leave a blood trail, and from what I seen this critter will run much further then the one shot by the 243.

A 100 gr 243 at 3000 fps would probably blow up on an elk before it got the penetration needed to do the damage.

The 180/30 cal. bullet expands more on this elk there for doing more damage, plus it has the penetration.

Lets move away from animals. I shoot a lot of bowling pins. In practicing a couple weeks ago, for kicks I shot a bowling pin with a 32 gr 204 going over 4000 fps. It went plum through the pin, hardly moving it at all.

Then I shot a pin with my 45 ACP, 230 gr cast lead bullet going a bit over 700 fps. It didn't totally penetrate the pin, but it picked it off the table and deposited it on the ground about 6 feet behind the table.

Don't mean the 45 is better, I sure wouldn't use it on prairie dogs.

It means nothing more then they are different. They have different missions.

Shoot more then one venue so I need more then one gun and more then one bullet style.

Same with vehicles. If I'm going across country, staying in motels, I 'm not taking my F-250 HD Diesel. I want a small car with better gas mileage. But if I'm going to haul 10 or so large hay bales for my horses, I certainly wont pull it off with my wife's little Mustang.
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Old July 19, 2013, 11:33 AM   #14
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The 100 grain bullet thing brings something to mind. It was a slow day at the range (Really hot) and there were only about 5 shooters there, so we all decided to take a break under a tree. We started to talk hunting and I mentioned I had problems with my .257 R the previous year. I shot at a big doe and the bullet went through like a target point arrow. Two other guys said "Hey the same thing happened to me". Turns out we all had shot at deer under 60 yards. One guy with a .257 and one with a .243. We all agreed we did not have that problem over 100 yards. The two of us using .257's had loaded with Hornady 117 gr RN with +P specs. The .243 guy used box ammo but I don't remember what type. What is up with that?
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Old July 19, 2013, 11:55 AM   #15
Brian Pfleuger
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Actually, that makes no sense at all. It seems to follow the old myth that bullets need "time to expand". Bullets don't need "time", they need energy.

Typically, what happens with bullets that can't handle the entire energy range is that they will shatter/explode at close range and may not exit, mushroom properly at medium range and at long range not mushroom at all and pass through "like a target point".

The only plausible explanation, IMO, is that you've experienced a statistical fluke. In order for the observation to represent a valid phenomenon, you'd have to repeatedly shoot similar animals with the same bullet type, from the same distance, in the same spot on their bodies, not 2 or 3 or 5 times but 10 or 20 or 30.
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Old July 19, 2013, 12:25 PM   #16
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I don't know, bullets can be weird. I remember shooting a groundhog that was foolish enough to come out at the 100 yard line on the range. I was using a 6.5 Swedish with 160 gr Speer bullets. It actually tore it in half. Only about an inch of skin holding it together. On frontal chest shots on deer they penetrate and stay together pretty good. You get the same effect with jugs of water, but I have never been able to find a bullet afterwards to see what is going on. I have had the same thing happen with other calibers. My .300 Savage comes to mind. I hit one a little far back (Did not even clip a rib) and it really made a mess in there. I suspect that bullet opened as soon as it was through the skin. On the other hand, if you hit something solid the bullet usually stays together pretty well and you find it in the deer. That REALLY makes no sense. I was swinging on a running deer and shot a 6"-8" maple tree about 30 feet in front of me. The bullet (7x57 140gr) went through, although the hole coming out was roughly 2" and pretty ragged. I can only think that you rarely have it both ways with bullets.
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Old July 19, 2013, 02:20 PM   #17
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I'm one that tends to go for bullets on the medium to heavier end of the spectrum for that caliber - mainly because that is where I seem to get better accuracy. In 30-06 for example, I used to shoot only 150s. Now, one of my 30-06 rifles gets 165's and the other gives me almost one-hole with 180s.
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Old July 19, 2013, 10:48 PM   #18
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I shoot a lot of deer every year and I will never mess any meat up. I'd pass if I dont get a good shot. I almost always shoot in the head with a 22-250, 223, 30-30, or a 30-06. No trailing them, instant drop and I even prefer the smaller calibers for less recoil and a small bullet going fast equals half a head. They really do some damage when they don't have to penetrate much. And I believe the way Kraigwy put it.
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Old July 20, 2013, 01:55 AM   #19
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I guess I am a middle-of-the-road type of guy. In my 7X57, I use 140 gr at 2900 fps. Works fine. They drop within about 20-30 yds and little or no bloodshot meat. When I used my 375 H&H, I used a 270 gr bullet at 2600 fps. Seemed like they went maybe a bit further, but still dropped pretty quickly. With my 243, I used an 87 gr HPBT bullet, and the one deer I shot with that went about 30 yds. My 8mm Rem Mag dropped a 200 lbs pig on the run, it stumbled, nosed in, and rolled down the hill. I have found that it makes more of a difference where you shoot them than what you shoot them with.
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Old July 20, 2013, 05:32 AM   #20
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Well put !
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Old July 20, 2013, 08:46 AM   #21
steveNChunter
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Quote:
it makes more of a difference where you shoot them than what you shoot them with.
The question asked by the OP could be completely answered by that statement.
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Old July 21, 2013, 12:26 PM   #22
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I've shot them with 100 grain .243s at 3000 fps, and I've shot them with .54 Maxi balls at 1300 fps. I will say that with the big, slow, pure lead bullets, there is no meat loss. You can eat right up to the hole.

Nowadays, I prefer a nice 30 caliber bullet. It's so much more convenient than packing that possibles bag. It's easier to unload the rifle, too.
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Old July 21, 2013, 05:04 PM   #23
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I've been an active deer hunter since 1968. Over the years, I've toppled over 60 deer with a variety of rifles.

44 MAG - makes big holes with much tissue damage. The animal typically goes down within a few steps.

.243 - produces ghastly internal damage. The animal typically goes down within a couple jumps.

30-30 - makes smaller holes than 44MAG but hits hard within reasonable woods range. The animal typically goes down within a few steps or less.

.308 - makes big holes with much tissue damage. The animal typically goes down in it's tracks.

35 Remington - makes holes about the same as 44MAG. The animal typically goes down within a few steps or less.

45 cal. flintlock - makes fairly large holes. The animal typically bounds away but topples after several jumps.

50 cal. modern in-line ML - makes big holes with much tissue damage. The animal typically goes down in it's tracks.

12 gauge slug gun - makes big holes with much tissue damage. The animal typically goes down in it's tracks. Recoil is very unpleasant!

Hope this is helpful.
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Old July 23, 2013, 07:08 AM   #24
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Small bullets can be destructive under right conditions.
I hunt fairly close, so I favor light fast bullets
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Old July 23, 2013, 08:09 AM   #25
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Of the rifle calibers I've killed deer with, my old 35 Remington, with the 200 grain CoreLokt bullet at 2000 fps MV, killed about as well as anything. My switch to the 270 was more about being able to hit at longer distances, but I don't think the 270 kills em any faster.
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