View Full Version : Epic Squirrel Thread / Ammo Test

Josh Smith
October 31, 2009, 09:05 PM
This post contains three topics: The first squirrel of the season, a trigger job on an Accutrigger, and an analysis of a Mini-Mag bullet that had been hollowpointed using D Rock’s tool, as some have asked for a report on a live animal.

This post is extremely graphic. While I do eat what I kill, this post contains a detailed dissection of the squirrel so that the wounding effects may be observed. If blood, guts, etc bother you, please close the window now. This is most definitely not for children.


I was reading on Rimfire Central a way to do a trigger job on an AccuTrigger. I had only been searching for a schematic so that I could stone the parts, but when I saw that a very light but safe trigger could be had simply by swapping springs, I gave it a go. I will not go into detail here, but what I did is very similar to procedure outlined in this link: http://www.rimfirecentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=227014

The main difference is that I used new springs and saved the stock ones so that I can return the rifle to its original state at any time. The trigger now measures just a bit less than a pound, and this is how I like it: I don’t really have to think about trigger control beyond the basics; I just exhale and send the bullet.

I would not do this on a hunting rifle without an AccuTrigger.

After I concluded the safety and live fire tests, I saw a squirrel scooting up a tree bordering my range. I had not yet taken a squirrel – they seem to disappear around here this time of year until the foliage is off the trees – and I’ve been wanting some fried squirrel.

As well, it was requested that I report back about D Rock’s hollowpointer tool after I had taken live game with a bullet modified with it. It did stellar in water tests, expanding to .36” diameter, but water is not flesh and I totally understand the request.

The resizer tool…

… and a hollowpointed and resized CCI Mini-Mag.

I hurriedly loaded a magazine of hollowpointed/resized rounds, and proceeded to stalk the critter, which had disappeared behind the tree. She popped out a couple times, but I didn’t have a shot either time, so I held off.

Eventually she showed herself well enough for a decent shot, and I took it. The distance was a bit less than 50 yards according to the parallax settings of my ‘scope, which seem to be dead on.

Because I was in a sitting position using a Hasty sling position, bipod up, I aimed for center of mass of what I could see. I didn’t want to try a head shot and possibly take the animal’s nose off.

When I touched off, the squirrel just dropped about 100 feet, like a rock. It hit the ground and did not thrash at all.
My first squirrel of the season, and the rifle I used to take it.

The following is what I found after the shoot, upon initial exam and a post-mortem prior to dressing.

The bullet impacted high in the right shoulder.

The exit wound was the biggest I have seen using a .22LR. The only other exit wound this size that I have observed was caused by a .22WRM HP.

The bullet path was about 20°, starting behind the left shoulder and exiting at the front of the right shoulder. It did break both shoulders.

Impact was high and took out the spine.

The exit wound with the probe…

I found this all very impressive, and I couldn’t wait to open the animal up to see what sort of damage was done to the insides.

The entrance wound shows more clearly…

… as does the exit.

Despite the trauma, there was precious little bloodshot meat. By 50 yards, this bullet has dropped to around 1050fps, and I was almost at that range. Additionally, I was shooting about 45° upwards, so I’m sure the bullet had slowed significantly from its advertised 1230fps MV.

In addition to the spine being severed, I found a nice gash in the chest meat.

This probably means that the bullet had quickly expanded, and at this point was wide enough to both touch the spine and tear chest muscle. I would very much liked to have seen the bullet!

Upon opening the chest cavity and observing the organs, I could not find any damage.

The heart, lungs, etc were intact, as were all other major organs. I had missed them and struck closer to the neck, severing the trachea and the arteries and veins serving the brain. My hunting dog got a treat of the squirrel head and the viscera as none of this was damaged and did not contain lead particles, showing that the bullet held together.

Tested around 75 yards in milk jugs, these bullets penetrate into the fourth jug (about 20” of water). They show extreme expansion and penetration is on par with a .380acp from a handgun.

Expanded rounds recovered from the fourth milk jug after the water test.

I am extremely pleased with the performance of these modified rounds. My rifle “likes” 40gn fodder best, and most hollowpoint ammunition I can find locally is 32gn to 36gn. I stumble across the odd box of Velocitors, but supply is not dependable.

Being able to hollowpoint and resize fairly consistent ammunition – in effect, making it quasi-target hunting ammo – is a very nice option to have. This is especially true given that it hits the exact POI as does the non-modified ammo, so I do not have to run it through the tool if I do not wish to do so.

I hope this has answered some questions, and has been an enjoyable and educational read.

Josh <><

Josh Smith
November 2, 2009, 10:44 AM


I just took another one that was on my range near the 75 yard marker. No time for 'scope dial-in; I cranked it to 100yds on the objective and fired, using Kentucky windage. I hit it right behind the ribs.

Instant pile-up. It thrashed for less than five seconds. A LRN at this range and placement would have let it run - I've even nailed squirrels with Remington subsonic HP (no expansion) in the chest and they've required follow-up shots.

At this range it was going about 1040fps, maybe a hair less due to the changed BC.

I still don't believe in hydrostatic shock below 2,000 fps or so, but I'm starting to reconsider other types of shock which I've dismissed in the past.

Josh <><

November 2, 2009, 11:21 AM
Very good info. I can't see the pics on my work computer but I can't wait to get home. Now let's say- hypothetically- that some of us other squirrel hunters wanted to get our hands on such a device, how would we go about doing that?

Josh Smith
November 2, 2009, 11:33 AM
Contact D Rock at Rimfire Central.

Alternatively, do a search on Paco Kelley's resizing tool (this one is brass).

There is also a fellow out there who makes one specifically to fit in a reloading press - the name escapes me right now. But it's about $50 more than either D Rock's or Paco's, though I may end up getting it for speed of use.

Josh <><

November 2, 2009, 11:40 AM
Excellent study on terminal ballistics, but your assumptions about velocity are confusing me.
By 50 yards, this bullet has dropped to around 1050fps
I just took another one that was on my range near the 75 yard marker. . . At this range it was going about 1040fpsCCI MiniMags start out right around 1,300 fps, and should not drop below the speed of sound until around 150 yds or so, yet you have them dropping to 1050 fps within 50 yds (250 fps velocity loss), and only 10 fps velocity loss in 25 yds beyond that. Instead of making assumptions about velocity, why not sit down with your rifle, ammo, and a chronograph at different ranges and really find out what your rifle is doing?

Josh Smith
November 2, 2009, 12:02 PM
Muzzle 50 yards 75 yards 100 yards
1235 1092 1040 998

I mis-read and didn't proof read. I apologize.

The above is from CCI's website. But you're right, I do need to pick up a chronograph. It just keeps slipping my mind.

When I start reloading again in the spring, it'll probably be on my mind a bit more.

Josh <><