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Old August 17, 2013, 08:25 PM   #1
skoal3
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choosing a deer bullet

I had planned to use Barnes TSX for deer this year in my 7mm08 but now I can't find any, don't reload yet, so what else should I use if I can't find a box or two in the next month? There are so many different bullets out there that its making my head spin. I want to just get a couple boxes of Remington core lokts and forget about it because I know they have been successfully killing game for many many years and would work just fine but I also believe there are better choices so why not take advantage of them? I will be going to the snake river unit in Oregon this year for the first time and I'm thinking there is a very good possibility of some longer shots, it is called hell's canyon for a reason, so a bullet with a high b.c. would probably be good. Here's what I have on had at the moment and at least a box of each so I will have plenty for the trip.

Hornady sst 139gr
Hornady gmx 139gr
Hornady interlock 139gr (American Whitetail)
Remington core lokt 140gr
Federal vital shock trophy copper 140gr

Which one of those might be the best on a mulie or possible whitetail anywhere out to maybe 300 or 400 yards, I won't take a shot any further than that, I know they will all kill with a good shot but what have your guys' experiences been?
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Old August 17, 2013, 09:01 PM   #2
Sierra280
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Much of my close family use core lokt every year, and have taken some great cow elk and large mulies.

The Barnes are great bullets but seating depth can be problematic since they are long than other premium hunting bullets of the same weight (since Barnes are all copper.

Personally I think that good ol' Nosler partitions are the best, great controlled expansion, great weight retention (great terminal ballistics) and darn accurate.

Edit-don't know much about hornady, but pretty sure the 140 Nosler sp, has a better bc
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Old August 17, 2013, 09:25 PM   #3
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I'd say at even at 3-400 yards, the deer will never be able to tell the difference between any of the ammo you listed. But if it were me I'd probably choose the Hornady 139 gr SST's. I like the fast reliable expansion you get even at lower velocities with a "ballistic tip" style bullet. All of those are good ammo though. Pick what you have the most confidence in and go
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Old August 17, 2013, 09:32 PM   #4
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All of the stock you already have will do the job. Use the one that is most accurate in your rifle. Most of the canyon is rolling hills. My bet is your long shot will be 200 yards or steep uphill or downhill. There is the off chance for a real long shot, but you should be able to stalk closer.

Get some practice on the awkward shots at steep angles up and downhill. Use the ammo you don't want to take hunting.

And pay attention to small areas of heavy cover. Thats where I saw most of the big bucks in that area. I grew up near Hells Canyon.
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Old August 17, 2013, 09:36 PM   #5
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I was kind of thinking the same thing, I know each one will kill a deer just as dead as the other. I guess I'll shoot a few rounds and see which ones I get the best groups with. The SST's don't explode like a ballistic tip do they? Sounded to me like they held together a little better.


Thanks big al for the tip. I've never been in that area but it sounds like a fun trip, looking forward to it for sure and I'm hoping we can find some decent bucks.

Last edited by skoal3; August 17, 2013 at 09:42 PM.
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Old August 17, 2013, 09:42 PM   #6
big al hunter
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Sst's are designed for big game. They hold together well but expand well. I shot a coyote in the head with one and it took the far side off completely. The year previous to that I shot a deer with the same bullet/ gun combo and had complete pass through. Found it less than 20 yards from where it was shot.
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Old August 17, 2013, 09:50 PM   #7
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An SST is very similar to a Nosler ballistic tip. And no, they don't "explode" unless you buy the lighter weight ones that are made for varmints. An SST, BT, etc. is simply a hollow point bullet with a plastic tip stuck in the end of it to make it more aerodynamic and give more reliable expansion when the tip is pushed back on impact. That's the way I understand it anyway. While they aren't "explosive", they will come apart easier than a solid copper, bonded or solid base bullet. But at 3-400 yards, you want a bullet that will expand a little easier because your velocity is considerably less at that point.
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Old August 17, 2013, 09:53 PM   #8
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Ok good, hopefully they group well. I bought a box of HSM ammo loaded with Berger VLD's and I loved the accuracy, about an inch and a half group at 200 yards but I'm not to crazy about how explosive I've heard they are. I'm sure they kill just fine if put in the right place but I know from experience that doesn't always happen and would hate to ruin a whole bunch of meat.
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Old August 17, 2013, 10:37 PM   #9
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To me, accuracy and availability is the most important in choosing ammo. Its useless to fall in love with a particular bullet if its next to impossible to find. I always start out with cheaper more accessible ammo like Winchester Power Point and Remington Corelok. Worst case senario and you need to buy bullets in a hurry, you probably can find these anywhere. I have killed so much game with good old cheap PowerPoint ammo and they did the job just fine. They dump the energy quick.
Then I move up the ladder to the more exotic ammo and see how they shoot. If there is a measurable accuracy difference, I will buy the better stuff but if the accuracy is only marginal, I stick with he cheap stuff and call it a day unless I need a bonded bullet for very big game.

The Hornady family of bullets are very impressive. I have used them or years with handgun hunting but more recently with rifle ammo. I think they are reasonably priced and very high quality. I am going to use the SST for deer and the SST Superformance interbond for bear this year with my 270. The SST interbond (bonded bullet) Superformance are smokin fast and a great elk, moose choice with the 270 but not nessissary unless you are shooting past 300 yards. I think I could be happy with any of Hornady's bullets for hunting all my game but I bought various types to see how they shoot and all of them have been very consistent and interchangable in accuracy in my rifle. My favorite cheapo ammo is the Federal Fusion. I get great accuracy and the field reports are very good on the Fusion bullet plus they are a bonded bullet for a steal of a price at $20.00 a box.
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Last edited by Mystro; August 17, 2013 at 10:56 PM.
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Old August 17, 2013, 11:09 PM   #10
skoal3
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I guess availability is a very good point, it doesn't matter how good it shoots or fast it kills if you can't get your hands on it. I've always got a couple boxes of core lokts sitting around though and wouldn't be afraid to use them as I know they are a fine bullet. If all else fails those green and yellow boxes will be happy to make the trip with me.
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Old August 17, 2013, 11:25 PM   #11
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I have used the federal 140 grn .277 vital shock bullets with great success in my .270. All the bullets you have listed seem fine. I have used Remington Core-lokt in .270 too. The Federal seems better at distance from my experience. They hold together fine too at shorter ranges.
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Old August 18, 2013, 01:50 AM   #12
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deer bullets?

any quality cup & core bullet should do the trick on deer,
core-lokt, hot core, interlock, pro-hunter, etc...
if elk or bear are on the menu, I would step up to partitions,
deep curl, tsx, A-frame etc...
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Old August 18, 2013, 06:32 AM   #13
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I'm a fan of Ballistic Tip/SST type bullets for deer especially if range may be longish. No need for the TSX bullets and maybe even a handicap. A bullet that expands more rapidly and does some serious damage within the animal is much preferred to one that punches right through and digs a hole in the hillside. I've shot close to 50 deer with 140 grain Ballistic Tips in both 7x57 and 7mm08 with very good results and feel that's the optimum deer bullet for that class of cartridge if it's suitably accurate in your particular rifle.
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Old August 18, 2013, 08:04 AM   #14
steveNChunter
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Quote:
SST Interbond
Those are two different bullets aren't they Mystro? I have heard of SST's and interbonds, which are both great bullets for their intended uses, but never heard of an SST Interbond.
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Old August 18, 2013, 10:29 AM   #15
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Any bullet will do. Another good lesson on waiting till the last minute.
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Old August 18, 2013, 10:34 AM   #16
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I'm going to echo what a few others said.

Get the common, easy to find ammo, have fun at the range discovering which one your rifle likes best, and go with it. All of them are proven performers. Of your list, I've taken deer and hogs with SST, Interbond, and Core Lokt. They've all performed as advertised.

Best of luck on the trip! Sounds like a great hunt. Make sure to post some details afterwards so we can see the results of your labors.
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Old August 18, 2013, 12:20 PM   #17
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Will do globemaster3, hopefully ill have some good pictures to post of some nice bucks.

In my defense I would like to say I don't think I really waited till the last minute, I got the TSXs on one of my outings somewhere, either Medford, Bend, Portland or Salem, they range from 1.5 to 6 hours away. I got them just to see how they would shoot and I still have 4 left. Had I known the rifle would like them the way it did I would have got a few more boxes. I'm sure I could find them again but I don't want to drive all over the state just for a box or two of ammo, they aren't magic or anything. So I'm just trying to decide on something that can be found locally since I do not feel 4 bullets would be enough for a week long hunt. Should be plenty for one buck but who knows how many other critters that want to be shot at will show up.
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Old August 18, 2013, 01:41 PM   #18
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Well then, with 4 bullets you can shoot three and make quick adjustments or atleast you know its on and still have 1 more for that buck. You're good to go !!!! LOL
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Old August 18, 2013, 06:35 PM   #19
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Whatever you can readily get and groups well will do all right for you.

The important thing, at that distance is that you do your job and put the bullet where it needs to go. None of those bullets will save you from a bad shot.

Personally, I've always had good luck with ballistic tips and Core Lokts.
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Old August 18, 2013, 08:19 PM   #20
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I realize Federal Fusions weren't on your list and maybe your lgs doesn't have any in 7-08 but that was my go-to factory ammo in .25-06 and .243 until I started reloading. Now I find myself loading mostly nosler ballistic tips and partitions, but I'm about to start developing a load with 80 gr Barnes TSX's in a .243

I believe using the proper bullet for the job is much more important than bullet diameter/weight or velocity. That being said the perfect deer bullet for me here in NC may not be the perfect bullet for somewhere with different size deer and different ranges. That's why we have so many great choices from all the bullet makers and so many cartridges to load them in.
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Old August 19, 2013, 03:38 PM   #21
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We hunt the forests and foothills with medium velocity cartridges and round nose bullets with great success.

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Old August 19, 2013, 10:59 PM   #22
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FYI...If you're anywhere near Eugene/Springfield, Cabelas is stocked up right now. As are several other shops in town.

Good luck

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Old August 20, 2013, 12:02 AM   #23
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IME:

139gr Hornady Interlock, handloaded down to 2400 f/sec in my kiddoes' 7-08 Ruger Frontier ....... 4 1/2 year old whitetail buck, over 200 lbs on the hoof, 75 yards, quartering away. Bullet struck last full rib on the near side, traversed the top of the lungs, hit a rib on the far side under the shoulder blade, broke it and stopped under the shoulder ..... deer ran 50 yards or so and piled up. The recovered bullet retained most of it's weight, and the core did not separate from the jacket.


I've never used any of the bonded bullets on deer, nor any of the all copper/guilding metal ones. The one time I did use a bullet designed for penetration (170 gr Nosler Partition RN in .30/30) did not turn out so well, making a real mess out of what should have been a very tasty button buck.

My reasoning against these "modern controlled expansion" bullets is that many of my shots are short range with the deer facing me. If you have ever field dressed a deer that has a had a bullet pass through his guts, you will understand why I am not interested in them.

I have settled on Sierra's 150gr GameKing BTSP launched @ 2900f/sec from my .270WIN ...... It is a relatively fragile conventional cup and core bullet with no cannelure ("Interlock") ...... on those close (50 yards or less) frontal shots, the bullet has always entered the chest and come apart, making hash out of the heart and lungs, with no bullet fragments getting past the diaphram ..... yet at distance, has always held together well enough to pass through on broadside shots, leaving an exit wound that makes a blood trail a blind man with frozen hands could follow ......

Quote:
had planned to use Barnes TSX for deer this year in my 7mm08 but now I can't find any, don't reload yet,
Why do you not reload yet?

The very best reason to reload is that you will shoot your rifle so much more- competenc comes with familiarity, and having a couple hundred loaded rounds laying about begging to be shot is conducive to that......
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Old August 20, 2013, 09:18 AM   #24
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skoal.
actually it's called hell's canyon because once you drop down you never come back up, it is the deepest canyon in the US.

that said, any of the bullet options you listed are more than capable of taking deer, even a 250LB hells canyon mulie(I'm assuming that's what you're after).

I'm kindof partial to good ole fashioned federal powershok cup&core bullets but the vital shoks are good too. I just started getting into hand loading this year so now I hardly ever think about factory options anymore but I would recommend anything with federal on the side of the box.

you might look for some of their new camo boxed ammo, I think they are loading up speer deep curls in that(my 30 cal bullet of choice for elk).
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Old August 20, 2013, 09:56 AM   #25
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I am currently loading the 150 grain Interlock boat-tail in 30-06. Based on what I've seen water jugs backed with plywood, they are expanding quite well at 300 yards when started about 2880 fps. Accuracy from my old Remington Model 78 is around 2" for three shots at 200 yards.
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