View Full Version : Bullet Weight For Different Hunts

March 18, 2002, 11:55 AM
With any luck, and my points, I am going to draw three tags this year. Previous to this year I have hunted with a Remington 7400 in .270. I used this for both mule deer and Cow and freezer Bulls.
This year is different. I now am the proud owner of a SIG SHR 970 in 30-06. My hope is to draw for mule deer, antelope, and an ANY BULL tag.(Trophy hunt)

Previously I used various 130 gr bullets for mule deer, and 150 gr Speer Grand Slams for COWS AND SPIKES.

I'm not a hand loader.

NOW that I have the basic 150 - 180 gr option, and am looking for suggestion for the Mule Deer and Antelope. I have aquired a box of Federal High Energy ammo, loaded with 180 gr Trophy Bonded bullets, and thus have my Elk round. I think this is a little bit of overkill for antelope and mule deer. I have no experience with mid weight 165 gr .

My mule deer hunts can vary from wooded to open hillside, shots usually at around 80 - 120 yards.

Antelope are much more open, with shots at 100 - 200 yards.

Anyone out there have suggestions for 150's or 165's, One of the guys in my crew uses 180's for everything, but I'd like some other input, while I still have plenty of time to try out different loads.

Art Eatman
March 18, 2002, 03:24 PM
Well, you can always be a cheapskate and do like your buddies; use that box of 180s for all of 'em. :D That 180 oughta be the ticket for elk.

After 200 yards or so, there isn't a lot of trajectory difference between the three bullets--surprisingly! Some, of course, but not a lot...

If you're gonna experiment, try a box of the High Energy 165s. I've had some email correspondence with a guy in Australia who swears by them; sez his chronograph agrees with the velocities on the box. Anyhow, oughta work great on mule deer.

Whatever groups best in your rifle with either a 125-grain or 150-grain, for antelope. They're not real big. I killed mine with a 150-grain Sierra SPBT at around 100 yards or so; angling frontal chest shot; the bullet blew right on through.

I've done some 500-yard comparison with the 150s, 165s and 180s. The 150 makes about a 1/16" dimple in steel. The 165, maybe a 1/8" dimple. The 180, a 1/2" "moon crater", with a splashback of metal and a depth of maybe 1/4" to 3/8"--a noticeable difference.


March 18, 2002, 06:16 PM
I played around with 150's for antelope and 180's for elk for years, after a while I got sick of resighting my rifle between antelope and elk season (the busiest time of the year at the range) so I opted for the 165gr bullet. A factory rolled Federal Premium 165 sierra game king in no laughing matter and ballisticly its VERY close to the 168 matchking at long range. Its a sweet compromise on weight, velocity and energy.

Antelope aren't terribly hard to kill and most bullets from reasonable rifles won't expand much. You can pretty much expect 2 holes any time you shoot an antelope. Bigger heavier bullets are also slower, and actually do LESS tissue damage on a small critter like an antelope than a light fast one.

Pick one load you like and shoot it a lot.

March 19, 2002, 07:00 PM
I agree.

Both the 165 & 180 in the '06 are "all round" loadings. If you have a chance at a very nice bull, the 180 would get my nod for the better penetration & sounds like you're already sold on that.

No such thing as "over kill," BTW & forget about any "explosive expansion" on the deer & antelope with that bullet. Won't happen at '06 velocities.

Shoot the one you chose for elk on all of 'em.

March 24, 2002, 12:55 PM
Much like Art I do things a little different than the hunting magazines will have you do. I pick pretty much one bullet weight for a chosen caliber and use it for everything. With the 06 I prefer a 165 gr or 180 gr well constructed bullet. They work great on any thing from Coyotes to Gemsbuck. Killed a few elk with em too. The advantage to this is I don't waste a lot of time and money resighting my rifle and despite what many people think heavier Slower bullets give better penetration and do less meat damage. A whitetail doe shot with a .375H&H is not "blown in half" as many would think rather it puts a nice little 37 caliber hole in and out with very little meat damage. Much the same performance as a 180 gr 06 will do.

March 24, 2002, 08:02 PM
The 180 GR. Bullet in 30.06 has always done a great job for me on deer sized game. Like the other guys said I think it tears up less meat when compared to the smaller bullets. :)

March 25, 2002, 01:34 AM
I like 180s in the '06 velocity range & 165s in the .308 velocities .... but pick a different bullet entirely for the .308's "whimpy speeds." (do read on)

Depending upon the bullet (boat tails, etc.) used, there's a very fine blend of what's "best" in a 2400 through 2700 fps range of the .30 caliber bullets.

I'm using a .30 cal 14" bbl T/C handgun (.309 JDJ wildcat) & an 18.5" bbl rifle (Rem M7 .308 Win) ... within that range of velocities achieved, a 165 Branes XBT does the job perfectly - total through penetration & expansion + DRT.

However, if I can boost the velocities another 200 fps (to '06 speed & not acheivable in the two aforementioned platforms, but what can be done in my 24" bbl '06) I'll shoot the Sierra 180 SBT GameKing which gives everything I'd ever ask = total penetration, no over-expansion & DRT, within reason.

Ya picks yer bullet to do what you want at the expected range & terminal velocity.


Very difficult to argue with one who has a good load which shoots where you want it to hit. Whatever platform I use, I have one load/bullet for it - period. That platform is optimized for "a load" & I'll shoot everything with IT - you'll know where it shoots & no matter = whatever you shoot will be DRT.

Any controlled expansion bullet from an '06 will most certainly do the job with zip to zero meat loss on any critter you choose to shoot at. & I'd go with the heavier weight bullet to make sure .....

If it does elk well, it will most certainly do anything else "lesser" to boot.

Art Eatman
March 25, 2002, 09:15 AM
Reading this thread got me thinking--always dangerous--and so, a few points:

I started in with the '06 in 1950. I used the same bullets as my father and uncle, the Hornady 150-grain Spire Points of the old, straight-taper design. I shifted to the Remington Bronze Points, probably as much from aesthetics as anything else. They looked neat! :)

Think of 1950. No TV, no computers/Internet. No specialty gunrags; just Field & Stream, Sports Afield and Outdoor Life. The American Rifleman, of course.

No specialty bullets. Few manufacturers. DuPont IMR and Hercules powders.

I won't even begin to talk about the scopes of that era...

For that matter, there wasn't a bunch of choice in cars. Ford or Chevy for po' folks, or maybe a Plymouth. Middle class "moved up" to Buick or Mercury or Dodge. Etc. And you paid cash, unless you had a friendly banker and a line of credit.

Whole different world.

But deer got killed--and, I think, with a lot less argument. :)

Y'all be good,


March 25, 2002, 12:58 PM
I've pretty much standardized my .30/06 hunting ammo to a 180 grain Nosler Partition. From deer through impala, up to zebra and kudu, it's done the job well.

If I knew I was going to be taking a l-o-n-g shot at pronghorn, I'd switch to a 180 Nosler Ballistic Tip - it exhibits better accuracy than the Partition and expands faster.

Since you don't handload, I'd suggest you try a couple of 165 and 180 grain premium loadings, and settle on the one that shoots best in your particular rifle.

March 25, 2002, 02:48 PM
Fancy bullets! Bah! :D
My .30cal bullet selection consists of bulk 150gr and 165 gr Remington CoreLokts for reloading purposes, a box of 150gr BTSP for that antelope hunt I'll probably never take, and 100 168gr BTHP for fun. Unfortunately, we have no elk, so there is no purpose for 180gr.
The 165's do an honest 2800fps out of my .308.
I have great faith in all of them,even though they cost less than Barnes X bullets, or Winny Fail Safes.