View Full Version : bullets for deer hunting

December 8, 2008, 09:05 PM
Hello, I'm new to ML just bought my first one this year for dear season. I purchased a CVA wolf and I also bought a seperate starter kit from CVA which included 295 grain powerbelt hollowpoint bullets. The gun/bullets were very acurate and consistent out to 100 yards with 2 triple 7 fifty grain pellets (all I tested) and I was pleased with them. However, yesterday afternoon I shot a doe at ~40 yards with a perfect shot into the boiler room. When I went down to look for her I found only a few specs of blood and a very light blood trail for ~10 feet then nothing. Luckily there was a light covering of snow on the ground and I was able to follow a set of fresh tracks and find her (a few drops of blood here and there along the way). She ran ~200 yards. When I found her I verified it was a perfect shot however there was no exit wound. Not very pleased at all and I was lucky to have found her out in the woods. I got online today and read that numerous other people have had this problem with powerbelts. Well I would say I am looking forward to going out again this year with the ML and future years but I can't risk loosing a deer using a bullet that doesn't leave a blood trail. So what do you recommend that is easy to use and clean for a new guy and would be effective on deer and accurate out to 150 yards.

December 8, 2008, 10:05 PM
I have a .45 T/C omega that is scary accurate with 150 gr of goex clear shot and 200 gr hornady SST bullets. Does quite a number on deer. Give them a try and see how well they shoot in your rifle.

December 10, 2008, 12:29 AM
There's over 85 user reviews for the Wolf at Cabela's, some of which offer some excellent bullet recommendations.
The regular Powerbelt bullets are said to penetrate better with a lower powder charge of about 80 grains, while the 348 grain Platinums hold together better shooting with more powder due to its thicker jacket.


December 11, 2008, 09:36 AM
I'd recommend a pure lead conical bullet if the rifle has the fast rifling twist with relatively shallow rifling(.004 to .008 inch) which I assume it does(at least 1-48 twist or faster). I'd recommend that bullet have as flat a metplate or nose as possible. "Round nose bullets just seem to slip thru game", quote by Elmer Kieth. I can attest to the consistant killing power of a large diameter conical muzzleloading lead bullet since I've deer hunted with a muzzleloader for more than a coupla decades and have shot plenty of deer with the relatively slow moving muzzleloading bullets. Just be sure to load the bullets straight and true. If they go in crooked they will shoot crooked. Reaming the end of the muzzle to remove the rifling down to exactly bore(groove) diameter for about an inch so the bullets can be inserted and thus supported to load straight and true. Having the bullet sized .001-.002 inch over griive diameter is helpful.
The flat nose bullets will inpart more energy to the game animal while still shooting clear thru and giving a good blood trail which shouldn't be need to track the game since they go down within eye sight usually. The flat nose does maximum damage with a wicked wound channel that is quite human with a quick clean kill.
Using hollow point bullets can be tricky not knowing how they hold up upon impact. When a bullet mushrooms or expands because of the hollow point velosity decreases greatly and there may not be an exit wound. Just like with choosing the correct bullet for a certain type game hunt with smokeless powder high pressure cartridges ,like the 30-06, the bullet has to be constructed properly to hold together after it mushrooms. Choosing the proper bullet for muzzleloading is difficult since there is little info about the bullets construction. That is why I recommend the pure lead bullet. It has plenty of info to back it up as a low velosity game bullet. Muzleloaders are low velosity rifles and depend on bullet diameter and weight to be good game bullets.
The lead bullets can be home made with a casting outfit which can be minimal and low in cost. The cost of the equipment is quickly recovered by the cost of the bullets when compared to the very expensive commercially available conical bullets that can cost a dollar or more for each bullet. More than the cost of most highly refined and properly constructed jacketed bullets for high power smokeless cartridges. Save a lot of money and use a time proven pure lead constructed bullet with a flat nose that will knock game down like a train and kill quickly and ethically. Take this recommendation from an old hunter and muzleloader rifle builder. One who has had a Muzzleloading Rifle Shop that was successful and who has hunted for over two decades with a muzzleloading rifle. One who has killed many large buck deer with a hand made Hawken rifle shooting a lead conical flat nosed bullet in 45 cal. weighing 500 grains shooting 75 grains of FFg blackpowder from a rifle with a 45/70 barrel made of ordanance grade steel with rifling .004 inch deep and a twist of 1-22. The bullets loaded straight and true since a bullet swag made from the rifled barrel is used to impart the rifling grooves to the bullet before the bullets are loaded. That is the only way to get a bullet made for a blackpowder cartridge into the muzzle without beating it into a mushroom. The bullets slip in with finger pressure and are bumped up with the ramrod so they stay put and don't slide back up the bore. I can't recommend that type bullet for a commercially made muzzleloader. A bullet for a factory made gun has to slip into the rifling easy enough without distortion probably sized a coupla .001's inch over the bore diameter(land diameter) and thus would need a hollow based construction like the "Lee Improved Minni" to be obtuated(bumped up by the gas pressure upon ignition)to fill the grooves of the rifled barrel. The Thompson Center Maxi bullets are good ones also since they are a smaller diameter at the base and get wider towards the front of the bullet thus they load easy. Lyman still sells that bullet mould I think. If casting your own bullets is out of the question there are the Thompson Center Maxi's and the Hornady Great Plains Bullets sold at retail store that is an outdoor and hunting outfitter. The Great Plains Bullets can be had in hollow based construction and are pre-lubed.
Take my word for it. The pure lead bullets are the ticket even for the newer inline muzzleloaders. They are heavy enough that they don't need to be driven by the ridiculous heavy loads of 150grains of powder advertised by the industry. The 45cal and 50cal. rifles using heavy conical bullets can use less than 100 grains of powder and still kill deer out to 200 yards if a hunter can shoot that well in the field. The 54 cal. and the 58cal. rifles using the heavy conicals can use up to 100grains FFg powder to get up the velosity needed. It's true the bullets shoot like the old Sharps and Remington Rolling Block and Ballard rifles of the buffalo hunting years of the past. They will shoot a trajectory like a rainbow and the hunter has to be very familiar with assesing distance. That is why responsible hunters usually limit the shots on game to 150 yards. That way there is less mistaken distances fired at. I recommend the shots at game be limited to 100 yards by the average hunter that has practice time at a minimum due to work loads on the job and family responsibilities. Practice is very very very important so when the time to shoot game comes the hunter/shooter has instilled the actions needed to shoot well into the instinctual realm. Like they do in the Army. Practice until it(shooting the rifle and loading it) becomes instinct that needs no time consuming thoughts before acting. Practice until the proper load for the rifle is discovered and is maximized. Never shoot at game over the distance at which you can 100% hit the bulls-eye of the practice targets. That is being an ethical and responsible hunter. Don't rely on long range shooting,which a muzzleloader shooting conicals bullets can definitely shoot well at long range, but rely on hunting ability to get relatively close to the game. Never shoot unless the perfect shot is presented. Sorry about the long post Pards.:o
Take care Buds,Enyaw:D

December 11, 2008, 12:43 PM
You are not the first I have heard complain about the 295 Powerbelts, far from it. Just be glad you didn't try it out on an elk. I am surprised the Powerbelt company continues to make such a flawed bullet.
That Platinum Powerbelt was designed to cure this problem and I understand it works pretty well.
I agree with the posting about the big lead slugs.
If you want to stick with sabots the SST is a winner. I have killed 2 deer with the 250 SST with my muzzleloader, and it is one great deer slayer.
I had good exit wounds both times, and one was a shoulder shot, took out the spine, and the far shoulder bone, and kept going. Two inch exit wound, of course, when the deer drops in his tracks you don't need to do much tracking.

December 11, 2008, 01:01 PM
The sst are probley a little more accurate out passed a 100yds.With the pointy tips.But I would perfere the faster expanding, bigger hollow point of the xtp.They are still super accurate out of my knight.Half inch groups at 80yd.This is the only set up,I would feel safe taking a head shot with.Plus wouldn't hesitate on taking a 200yd+ shot.Im using 130gr. of triple seven loose powder.These bullets mushroom picture perfect every shot,with a wet phone book test.You WILL find lots of blood with these.

Wild Bill Bucks
December 11, 2008, 01:17 PM
I have 9 guys here at the plant, that ML hunt every year. We have probably tried every bullet powder combination that the manufacturers have come up with over the last 10 years or so. I asked all of them what they are shooting now, and every one of them are shooting the 250 and 300 grain XTP from Hornady.

We have all tried the powerbelts, and it seems like all the guys including myself, didn't have much luck with them on game. Everyone says they shoot great as far as accuracy, but unless your killing paper, I would get some Hornadys and a good MMP sabot, and go with that.

I like the Barnes bullets also, but they are way to proud of them price wise for me to shoot them.

December 11, 2008, 01:31 PM
Save your money & shoot round balls just as good out to 100 yards JMO ;)

December 13, 2008, 09:54 AM
Yard Dog you have a good point about the reliability of round balls. The famous Elmer Kieth said in one of his books that the lead round ball was the best killer of man and game. I've seen studies about wound channels and the round ball makes a different type of wound channel that is very reliable for killing game. Thing is most people have the newer high power high velosity inline rifles with a rifling twist specifically for the conical bullet and high velosity. Some of the guns can reach to and beyound the 2,000ft/sec velosity. Compare a 250gr. pistol bullet from a high velosity muzzleloader going somewhere around 2,000ft/sec (don't remember the exact) and look at the loading data for a 458Winchester Magnum smokeless cartridge rifle. The muzzleloader is up in the range. Pretty danged powerful. What people have to understand is that to use a hollowpoint muzzleloader bullet and push them as fast as some people do the bullet has to be one of the best or it will fail. The bullet has to retain as much of it's weight without coming apart or the wound channel will be too shallow and the game will run off to die and be wasted. I don't believe there is any better than the Barns bullets made of pure copper. They are like a mechanical devise that reliably expand and stay together. The slits in the copper for the petals of the mushroom when it opens are reliable and deadly and the bullet retains it's weight so it can have an exit wound in most any North American game. Maybe not in grizzly bear but certainly in deer and probably elk. I've read a lot of good about the Barns bullets.
When it comes to the newer and expensive saboted muzzleloader bullets I'm no expert for sure. All I kow is that a person has to do their homework about bullets construction and pick one that doesn't mushroom and come apart or have a mushroom so large that the velosity of the bullet after it hits the game causes too much velosity decrease.
If a person finds a good structured bullet and has a well designed inline and practices with that they would be outfitted well and for sure be a deadly and ethical hunter. I think if a person is going to shoot at game where they spend money and time to get to that point they may as well use the best bullet and gun they can find. I'd probably use the Barns bullets. Which gun? I'd have to do some homework on that one since there are so many quality guns out there. Quality doesn'T just mean a high price niether. There are good guns that are economical to buy.
I'd hesitate to call a hollow point of most any kind good for head shots even on deer. Even the Hornady XTP may break up and severly wound but not put down a good size deer. The Barns bullet most likely would.
I've shot deer in the neck with my Hawken and pure lead 500gr. Lyman Govt. 45/70 bullet bullet traveling at least 1,200ft/sec . Using 75 grains FFg Holy Black and the 500 gr. bullet(more energy than a cartridge 45/70 loaded to the hilt which would carry about 67gr. black powder) the impact on game is reliable but......one instance I can recall(memory going since I'm getting old ha ha )...... I shot a nice big buck in the neck from the front at 30 yards. The deer went right down since the neck bones were hit direct. The bullet didn't exit. The bullet went in..hit the neck bones....exploded the bones into small sharp shards...and also cut the bullet into pieces. It was like the bones and the bullet exploded. All the bones and pieces of lead stayed there at the point of impact. I'm just giving this example as food for thought when it comes to hollow point bullets hitting bone. Bone can really deform bullets and break them up into pieces. I'd hesitate to shoot a good size buck in the head. I'd wait for a better shot or not shoot at all. I've seen my brother shoot bucks in the head. The bucks can keep going with severe head tramma. If a buck can take a Winchester deer slug square in the head and stay on it's feet and keep going I'd say the head shot isn't the way to go. One buck my brother shot that way lost a good deal of brain and antler. I still went and had to be tracked and shot several times with Winchester deer slugs of the Foster type(the old type and not the saboted kind). Several more shots to the neck is what it took for my brother to finally put the buck down for good. It would get knocked down with the neck shots and get up and run. Run fast too. A person would think a Winchester deer slug would be pretty reliable but there was trouble in the instance I mentioned. I've a buddy that had the same type problem when neck shooting a big buck with Federal deer slugs and a 12 gauge shotgun. Five shots to the neck to put it down for good. Big buck....lead that must have been too brittle....trouble. The slugs broke up when hitting the bones of the neck. I imagine the head would be sort of the same. I'll stick to the broadside shot to the heart/lung area. If I don't have that shot I just watch the buck walk away. ha ha ha I used to take neck and spine shots,never head shots, when my eyes were better and I could shoot better. When I could hit the small areas like the neck bones or directly to the spine. Those areas are pretty small. A deer head and the portion of it that has to be hit to down a buck without horribly maiming it(like blowing it's jaw off or something like that) is smaller than a person may imagine. Same as shooting a rabbit at close range with a Colt 1851 Navy revolver. The kill zone has to be hit and that zone is small.
I don't think I'd take head shots on deer but if I did I'd probably want to be using a Barns Bullet. There are so many variables. The angle of the game, the bullet construction, the ability of the shooter, the accuracy of the gun and it's load, the cold, the dark winter light ect.ect.ect. Sorry for the long post. Later Buds.:D

December 17, 2008, 12:16 PM
300gr Hornady XTP mags accurate and put em down!!!