View Full Version : Exit or No Exit

September 6, 2009, 01:51 AM
I have this debate with my mates all the time... Do you prefer the bullet to pass right through the animal your shooting or for the bullet to lodge somewhere in the vitals.

I have always opted for a controlled bullet that expands holds weight retention and leaves an exit hole...

Example i use Barnes Triple shock in my .300wm and partition bullets, and most of the time they exit..

My mate prefers a quick expanding bullet that explodes in the animal, usually a ballistic tip or hollow point.. We have both had success but was wondering what your opinions are.. In big game rifles mainly

September 6, 2009, 01:57 AM
Bullets that exit did not expend their energy as effectively as one that does not.Perfect bullet to species will leave the bullet on the far side of the species. Easier said than done,but I do like a bullet to expend all of it's energy in the animal.

September 6, 2009, 03:28 AM
I want two holes. Big ones, if at all possible.

I'm still waiting to have somebody explain to me how "transferring energy" kills an animal. (Other than the guy who tried to tell me that it drives up the animals blood pressure so rapidly that the heart explodes. :rolleyes:)

September 6, 2009, 03:38 AM
Two holes. Larger slower bullet............... But then we shoot up close. Different places and terrain may require a differnt plan.

September 6, 2009, 03:46 AM
Macht Nichts to me... so long as the critter rolls up dead right away if not DRT, I couldn't care less.

Art Eatman
September 6, 2009, 08:42 AM
I'm pretty much with hogdogs. I never worried about it. On Bambi, an '06 generally goes all the way through. A .243 is a sometimes thing. Regardless, the great majority of all my deer have been bang-flops, one shot.

September 6, 2009, 09:09 AM

OK, I will try this.

A bullet kills by shock, energy transfer if you will. It is the sear brute force of the impact that kills. It does not kill by cutting things up, and letting the game animal bleed out like a broadhead arrow.

Look at it this way. A boxer can knock out a dude, making him pass out, right? Lights out, just by impact, shock.

A bullet works the same way, just in the extreme. Bang, huge shock , dead. The bleed out, blood trail, etc. that is all just secondary.

A perfectly expanded bullet, left just inside the animal's skin (on the far side) theoretically means that virtually all energy of the bullet is used up in the killing process (traveling through the animal and expanding the bullet). Thus the comment above about matching the bullet to the game animal.

(Well that is not quite true because energy was expended getting the bullet out of the cartridge, donw the barrel, and through the air.)

Now with all that said, my preference is bullet selection that leaves a wound channel large enough to get the job done but not so hateful as to ruin a large volume of meat. Thus, my thread yesterday asking for wound channel in gel photo website(s).

In practice what this means is that I have been going down power ( down the energy curve) in caliber/cartridge the last couple of years.

September 6, 2009, 09:38 AM
I posted something about this back in 07. I'll go look for it. I did an experiment w/ my 22-250. (not advocating 22 cal here) I shot a deer smak in the shoulder - I had some shoulder issues of my own, and got rid of my 300 win mag. I had that gun for elk hunting but got rid of it because I won't be going elk hunting anytime soon.

Anyway - I shot a 8 pt smack in the shoulder. It was a w/ a 55gr. Sierra Game King - thicker jacket than factory stock ammo. It was reloaded and shooting around 3680 fps. Anyway, Bang flop - imense hydrostatic shock - internals were blown to goo. (heart/lungs) But...no exit. Good thing I got a bang flop. Had the animal ran, tracking would have been downright impossible with no exit, and a small entrance wound. I killed 8 deer, and 3 hogs with that gun, the hogs being shot in the head. Shoulder is better now, Dad passed away, so I have spent some time working up loads and will take his 270 to the field this year, for sentimental reasons, as well as performance - I found myself in an undergunned situation - we were doing some hog management, and on our way out, there was a HUGE boar. I shot for the head, but I hit what I think was in the neck. We heard the bullet smack, andsaw a huge amount of dust fly off in that vacinity from the hog & it took off like nothing. Looking back, we theorized that hog was close to 400lbs. Way to thick a skin for that bullet. Had I had the 270 this would have been a dead animal.

The point is, I'd go with a bullet designed for the game you are shooting, take it up a notch for the unexpected. Down here, where I hunt, large oversize boars are around, and I want a bullet that is capable to take one down, especially if charged. Doesn't mean monster bullet, but for my 270, I'm going w/ the optimal 130 gr. BTSP. In your 25-06, Id go 100 gr or heavier, w/ my preference being 115-120's. I'm not a fan of partitions because of their exposed lead base. Bullet tests show that the base of the bullet has more dffect on accuracy than the tips. I reloaded 25-06 for years until I wore the barrel out of my 25-06. My guess is I ran over 5000 rounds through it. I shot it like I shoot my 22-250 today.

September 6, 2009, 11:58 AM
It's better to have ths skock and have the anaimal drop on the spot then it is to have a hole all the way from one side to the other plus have to track it to find it afterward.

September 6, 2009, 12:35 PM
I hunt whitetails here in Ohio with a handgun. I have since it was first allowed. In my experiences I have had much better luck with heavy cast bullets such as Oregon Trail True Shot.
I had a few expanding bullets not do their job and lost the deer due to no exit wound. I hit a good spot but I'd guess the bullet broke apart on the rib cage and though it may have died , I never found it. (and I searched for hours).
I shoot a Blackhawk .41 magnum with a 265 gr. True Shot WNFP Gas Check over 19 gr. of 'Lil Gun and when I do my part that deer drops where he stands or may go 30 yrds or so. At least I don't have to go searchn'.
I'm no ballistics expert but I know this works. I love using a handgun to hunt in my neck of the woods plus I get to pick a different caliber every year. I sometimes even move to a different gun after I have downed my first deer. Think of all the different guns I can use and calibers. ( Sure , I had to get another safe but it is FUN FUN FUN!!) :D:D:D

September 6, 2009, 01:39 PM
I am in the No Exit school.

September 6, 2009, 02:36 PM
I think ideally you'd have a bullet that just plops out of the far side of the skin and falls on the ground. Fully energy dump + exit wound :D In general i'm more of an exit wound type of guy. But still want expansion, though just not as violently as a bullet that enters and after 8" fragments like crazy and makes everything jello. I feel w/ an exit wound you are usually getting a bit less blood shot meat and also, if at a non broad side angle you have more leeway with a bullet that will usually pass through, than you would on a lighter constructed bullet. Its just preference but i'd always err on the side of more penetration than less.

September 6, 2009, 02:54 PM
I like both but for different purposes for tough or heavy animals i like to use a barnes or hardcast in the shoulders . For deer and the like a nice highly expansive bullet that will upset alot of tissue, like a SST or balistic tip. Darn sure helped trail lots of partition shot deer during the last 30 years, alway died just had to find to many. So i never shot them

September 6, 2009, 03:12 PM
I agree with the thought of it doesn't matter as long as the end results in a recovered animal. I've used quite a few cup and core and premium bullets, and I've had bullets in both styles not exit and blow clean through. I like good blood trails and two holes make better trails, however a bullet properly placed makes tracking a fairly easy task. Shot placement trumps all other bullet charcteristics.

September 6, 2009, 05:37 PM
I've had very few bullets that actually stayed in an animal. I like a bullet that will expand, but I also want it to retain enough weight for good penetration.

I DON'T want a bullet for big game hunting that's designed for shallow penetration and/or fragmentation. They work fine, but they destroy too much meat.

With the expanding bullet, I couldn't care less if it exits or not as long as it penetrates the vitals.

I shot an elk (running) many years ago and didn't hit it quite right. The first shot was at about 100 yards, and the bullet exited. The second shot was around 600 yards, and I still have that bullet. It mushroomed great, and I found it under the hide after it passed through the far shoulder.

More recently, I shot a buffalo at about 50 yards and the bullet didn't exit. It really didn't matter, since the critter fell dead in something shy of 3 seconds.

So, I prefer an expanding bullet that holds together, but whether or not it exits isn't an issue for me. I shoot the same bullets at deer, elk, bear, buffalo, antelope, and any other big game I'm likely to pursue; they exit some, and stay in others, but they've always resulted in a quick kill when I did my part right.

And that's about all I can ask for from a bullet.


Tom Matiska
September 7, 2009, 01:02 AM
Damage to the trees behind the deer doesn't count.... energy that exits is energy wasted.....

September 7, 2009, 07:37 AM
Damage to the trees behind the deer doesn't count.... energy that exits is energy wasted.....

This is true, but energy deposited in an animal isn't what kills the animal. A baseball bat thumped into the rib cage can deliver more energy on target than a bullet, but it isn't likely to kill an elk, or even a deer.

If energy on target was what killed an animal, bullet placement on the animal would be irrelevant.

Damage to the nervous system, circulatory system, and vital organs is what kills an animal. A bullet passing through those organs damages them, and THAT's what kills the animal. Shock to the nervous system, or sufficient damage to the circulatory system to cause massive blood pressure loss is what stops an animal quickly. Energy in a bullet only gives the bullet what it needs to do the job.


September 7, 2009, 11:23 AM
With the deer I have used 00 buck on, they still died right away but I never had an exit nor did any particular pellet have a ton of energy compared to a BT bullet but each combined were effective...:D

September 7, 2009, 11:32 AM
I prefer two holes with the exit hole being larger than the entrance hole. Handgun hits often do not exit the deer if it hits a front shoulder. That is mostly what I use now. Two holes makes tracking a deer easier. But dead is dead. If a deer runs 50-60 yds, no big deal.

September 7, 2009, 11:46 AM
Macht Nichts to me... so long as the critter rolls up dead right away if not DRT, I couldn't care less.


Same here. I pick my shots carefully and the vast majority of my deer and hogs are bang flops. Sometimes they exit and sometimes they don't. Makes no difference to me.

September 7, 2009, 12:06 PM
I'm of the "use enough gun" department and you won't have too much to worry about. I've hunted with a .308, 30.06, 7mm Rem Mag and a .45-70 and on deer and antelope, all of them have made two nice holes on the animals and all of them have either dropped where they stood or ran a short bit and expired.

September 7, 2009, 12:08 PM
Even without a co-conspirator to argue with, I am torn when this question comes up.

I have seen fantastic shots, with DRT outcomes, where the bullet hardly even expanded and blew right through. I have also seen shots with 24"+ penetration, with horrendous wound channels through vital organs, with no exit, and the animal continued on its merry way.

The real reason I am torn when this comes up.... I like to recover the bullets to see what kind of performance was achieved.

There's nothing quite like a good exit wound, though..... (Warning, graphic image.) Exit (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=51457&stc=1&d=1252343140 )

September 7, 2009, 02:03 PM
I've killed two big bucks with an old Thompson Renegade Hunter side lock using 250 grain XTP hollow points. They are not going to go all the way through and the deer is going to run 50 yards or so I don't care where you hit him. If it is really late it is nice to have an exit wound with an immediate blood trail. If you bust him with a big rifle doesn't make much difference it seems.

September 7, 2009, 02:06 PM
The real reason I am torn when this comes up.... I like to recover the bullets to see what kind of performance was achieved.

I like to recover bullets too, when it's possible. That said, I've only recovered three in all my years of hunting (I've been hunting all my life).

One was from a little coues deer buck that was shot at around 80 yards. The bullet was a 175 gr 7mm Sierra Game King, and it didn't exit even though it never hit any bones. The jacket I recovered has no lead in it, and even though the deer dropped on the spot, I consider it bullet failure. Those bullets were loaded for elk, and that bullet likely would NOT have performed well on a larger animal; especially if bone was hit.

Another was revovered from an elk shot at around 600 yards (finishing shot), a 145 gr 7mm Speer BTSP. It mushroomed just like I'd want, and the elk dropped when the bullet hit.

The 3rd is a .22 LR bullet (Velocitor) recovered from the far side of a bobcat's head after it passed through the skull and brain. The entrance was up the nose, and the bullet was just under the skin on the backside of the head.

But, when the bullet passes out the backside, and the animal drops in it's tracks, I don't need the bullet to show what performance I got. If I need more, I can usually tell what happened from the level of meat damage.



September 7, 2009, 03:06 PM
Daryl says:
But, when the bullet passes out the backside, and the animal drops in it's tracks, I don't need the bullet to show what performance I got. If I need more, I can usually tell what happened from the level of meat damage.


And thus my desire for a limited expansion bullet and a pass through - for on these smallish Florida deer - trying to limit the meat damage on an already small animal.

September 7, 2009, 06:50 PM
I'm still waiting to have somebody explain to me how "transferring energy" kills an animal

Well.........I am no expert, but, on our last antelope hunt, my brother shot his antelope once through the chest. It was a good shot, that took 1 and 1/2 lungs, heart, and lots of arteries and veins. What amazed me was when he gutted it. The kidneys and liver had enough energy transfered from the impact of the bullet to literally explode them. All three organs looked like they had ruptured from the inside out, splitting into several pieces each like mud pie left a few hours in the sun, even though the bullet entrance/exits points were nowhere near them. The bullet may not have struck them, but it produced enough of a shockwave (or whatever you want to call it) to travel to, and rupture those organs.

The damage to the kidneys and liver may not have killed the doe, as it was losing blood from its heart and vessels like a firehose, but it was still very impressive to see the damage done to other areas of the animal by the impact of the bullet.

September 7, 2009, 06:56 PM
I prefer to have the subject get full energy transfer to the body.

September 7, 2009, 07:30 PM
The bullets I use (Hornady and Speer) have always shot through and given paralytic performance.

September 7, 2009, 07:58 PM
i want whatever this guy is shooting


September 7, 2009, 08:48 PM
That's a pretty good leak there - i've never seen anything like that.

September 7, 2009, 11:40 PM
I don't really care if the bullet exits or not except that I like to examine and weigh bullets if I can recover them.

As far as killing, damage to vitals is what kills from my experience. From time to time when cleaning animals I have seen enormous damage to the internal organs and they did seem to die faster when this had occurred. I think this may be the hydro-shock some posters have mentioned.

I recall a deer about 20 years ago I shot with a 3006. The heart was the only part of the cardivascular gear identifiable. It was floating in a pile of chunky red goo that used to be the lungs. That deer went down hard. The exit wound from the 180 grain bullet was fist sized.

My moose from two years ago had enormous damage to it's internal organs...but I shot him through the spine at the hump. He went down like a brick. 338wm @ about 100 yards.

Last years deer was double lunged with a 338wm. He ran about 25 feet leaving a blood trail a blind man could follow and dropped dead. No "shock" damage, in and out through the lungs, lungs and heart were still intact. Deer was dead.

Last years moose was double lunged and the bullet clipped the top of the heart. 338wm @ about 100 yards. He took off like he had not been touched - for about 20 feet, then dropped dead. Apart from the significant wound channel there was not that much damage to the organs.

There a couple of examples where I have had quick clean kills with no exit wound and with exit wounds. I have had quick clean kills with the "shock" damage and without it, although I must say when there is "shock" damage they do seem to drop faster.

So with killing stuff the shock damage is fine but a deer, moose, elk, bear, etc is just as dead with a hole in it's lungs or heart. For this reason I feel a wound channel through something critical like a heart or lungs, whether the bullet stays in the body or not, is most important.

September 8, 2009, 04:52 AM
great feedback guys im glad i started this thread, i have learned alot from various opinions and likes.

For an example though i reload 100gr hornady interlock in my .243 for about 2950fps. I have shot many pigs and goats with this load, with 95% exiting on the far side.. The exit holes vary in size but all the animals pretty much drop on the spot..

Some pigs have ran for 50 yds or so but some of them can be tough buggers.

I use 70gr Sierra Blitz king for the explosive thing... They have failed on pigs before especially when they have been caked with mud..

I generally opt for a head or neck shot when using this load. Its a great varmint load though

Our Sambar deer here in Victoria require a hard hitting deep penetrating bullet, i choose the 200gr woodleigh or the 180gr triple shock in my .300

Sambar will rarely go down on the first shot especially if the hounds are on its tail..

They would have to be the toughest of all deer species in my book.

September 8, 2009, 11:19 AM
A bullet kills by shock, energy transfer if you will.Bullets do not kill by shock, they kill by disrupting nervous impulses OR by depriving organs of oxygen by damaging circulatory organs and blood vessels. If a bullet killed by shock, there would be no wounded animals, since the shock would affect the animal no matter where it hit the animal, same as you kill a deer when you hit it in the hindquarters with a car. If a bullet killed by shock, it would also kill the person firing the rifle (remember Newton's laws?). Bullets create wound channels through hydrostatic shock, which is simply the inability to compress the water in animal tissues and bursting the cells around the point of entry.

As far as the original question, to me what matters is whether the animal falls over dead, no exit hole means nothing. Only about half of the game animals I have shot over the past 35 years has been pass-through shots.

September 8, 2009, 12:33 PM
Taking out the bones and fat big game are about 75% water just like humans.

Go shoot a gallon milk jug full of water with a big rifle. I know there are arguments against the notion of hydrostatic shock, but it's like telling me to ignore what I see when I dress a deer.

September 22, 2009, 04:26 PM
G'day, I've been away from TFL for a couple of weeks, so forgive me for my late input.

The comparison should be limited to projectiles with the same sectional dencity. what would be ideal is to only compare one particular prejectile (and caliber) through various guns. One example I will give is SIERRA #1365 .224 cal 55 gr SBT. This projectile will act more like a FMJ at velocities below 3000 fps.

The descussion so far seems to be like trying to compare varios types of racing cars. V8 4x4 mud racer to a NASCAR and a 4 cylinder rally car. How does a V8 taken from the NASCAR go in the 4x4? How does the 4x4 compare to the rally car? Remember you can still have some fun with the old ride on lawn mower that you lernt how to drive on.

Chuck Hawks has a good article titled 'The killing power of big game bullets.' http://www.chuckhawks.com/rifle_bullet_killing_power.htm

September 22, 2009, 05:49 PM
a perfect bullet should stop right before exiting or just drop out of the deer and not keep going. With this happening the bullet has left all its potential in the deer or any game and it has done its job

September 22, 2009, 07:52 PM
I like to shoot 'em in the neck. Quickest drop. But I'd prefer the bullet to pass through in case I were to have to track it. Hey Deerhunter: did you mean deer or your ladyfriend? :)

September 24, 2009, 07:20 AM
I like them to enter at the size of a pencil and to exit the size of a fist.

September 24, 2009, 05:26 PM
In And Out, Baby In And Out. Good Luck

September 24, 2009, 09:57 PM
The perfect bullet should destroy the heart and lungs and allow the animal to freely bleed out, or destroy the brain or spinal chord.
Whether it leaves the body or stays inside isn't that big a deal.