View Full Version : How much K.E. is required?

NorCal Hal
November 24, 2010, 10:53 PM
OK.... I have a chronograph and I know my muzzle velocity and I know how to calculate kinetic energy @ the muzzle. But the two illusive data bits are; 1) what is K.E. at point of impact, ie 300-400 yards? I can make a S.W.A.G. (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) based on my known muzzle velocity and "assume", the say 400 yd, velocity is XXXX FPS based on ballistic tables for similar bullet weights and cross section drag coefficients but I don't "really" know. (I'm not willing to risk my chrony by trying to pass a bullet through at the terminal distance.)
2) How much is enough energy to force the bullet through the vitals of game animal for a quick and clean kill again based on; A) you hit a rib on entry, B) the animal is an Elk or Moose size critter (dropping a Whitetail, Blacktail or Muley is not a concern of mine)?

November 25, 2010, 12:44 AM
Whooa, that is some question!!

Not one that anyone can answer. It is going to be dependent on 1. What caliber you are using, 2. The weight of the bullet, 3. The type of powder you will be using (fast or slow burning), 3. The amount of powder you can use, 4. The altitude that you will be hunting at, 5. How tough the skin of the animal is that you will shooting, 6. And last but not least, how good a shot you are.

The general rule of thumb is you want at least 1,200 fps at the point of impact to penitrate and expand the bullet correctly (with whatever bullet you are using).

At 400 yards, that would fall into a hot 30-06, 7 or 8 mm, 7mm mag, 300 win mag, 338 luppa mag or something there about.

You will also need to consider the weight of the bullet and the type of construction and the muzzle volocity to start with.

Outside of that it is an easy question to answer.

November 25, 2010, 01:29 AM
You have a chronograph, you know what bullet you are using, You should know the temp, elevation at the time and location of your shooting.

You'll need to find out what the ballistic coefficient of your bullet, you can get that from your reloading manual.

Plug those numbers into a ballistic program and it will give you the velocity at any given range you choose.

Berger bullets have the best program and you can down load it free:


Once you have the velocity, and bullet weight you can compute the KE at that range.

I'd recommend 1000 ft lbs at the range you intend to hit your target, that is 1000 Ft lbs for deer, and 1800 for elk.

November 25, 2010, 04:33 AM
Since you're using a calculated velocity and KE is a function of the velocity squared you're working with iffy numbers at best. I suggest your best bet is to assume an end velocity using the ballistic tables and a similar bullet. You won't really "know" unless you take the chance and set your Chrony up at 400 yards and fling a bullet through it.

If you're willing to shoot game at that distance I'll assume you can place a bullet between the uprights at the range. :)

As far as the KE required to inflict the damage you describe? I dunno. I think there's more to it than energy. Momentum, sectional density, and cross sectional area must have something to do with it too. I can picture a heavy-for-caliber, slow moving bullet penetrating more than a fast, light bullet with the same kinetic energy.

November 25, 2010, 05:44 AM
I have been fortunate enough to live during a time there was an abundance of game and access to private land was available when you asked permission. A time before the hunting rights on private land was bought and sold.

I can tell you my personal experiences in fair chase harvesting fairly high numbers of big game animals with a wide variety of cartridges. I have used these rifles: 222, 6mm Rem, 6.5X55, 270, 280, 303Sav, 30-30, 30-06, 300WinMag, 338WinMag, 375H&H, and 444 Marlin; Pistol: 32-20, 38Sp, 357Mag,44Mag, and 45 Colt.

And I also think sadly of the several winters I participated in special harvests where deer were destroying winter pastures. Because the deer would filter in with livestock, public hunts could not be conducted. I used 222, 6mm Rem, 6.5X55, 270, and 30-06

Even though I have chronographed my loads for over 25 years, I will not even attempt to calculate the K.E. for any of them. My favorite deer rifle has always been a custom built 6mmRem. While hunting late season deer, I have taken 5 elk using 100gr Nosler Partitions, all between 175 and 200 yards. All were one shot kills. I’m not advocating the 6mmRem as an elk rifle, just a point of reference. All the bullets were recovered on the opposite side of the elk, just under the skin. The H mantle remained while the front lead exited.

My point is: bullet design and performance is more important than having a high K.E. As an example, a bullet designed for target shooting may have more than enough K.E., but will not perform well as a game getter. Bullet design and shot placement are far more critical to consider than K.E.

If you would be so kind to tell us which cartridge you are using, we collectively can give you better advice.

NorCal Hal wrote:(dropping a Whitetail, Blacktail or Muley is not a concern of mine)?
After harvesting trophy mule deer in the Missouri breaks and high up along the continental divide in three states, I have some interesting observations: Trophy mule deer bucks will take as much punishment, if not more, than any large bull elk I have harvested. For North American ungulates, without a doubt in my mind, the Mt. Goat takes the most punishment to bring down.

November 25, 2010, 11:36 AM
In the FWIW column:

A 30-06 driving a 180gr SierraSPBT over a 10% compressed load of RL-22 for 2,900fps out the muzzle ... has still got 1,000 ft-bs at 800 yards. (and the gentle reader is again reminded of why this grand old cartridge has stayed at the top of the list for so long.)

That's 1/3 more energy than if you stuck a 45 colt (Ruger loadout) up against it's ribs and pulled the trigger.

Lost Sheep
November 25, 2010, 12:46 PM
For less than $50 I armored my chronograph. A couple of pieces of channel iron (one angled down in front and another between the sensors). The iron will take a (low-angle of impact) 2,900 ft-lbs of energy hit without damage. I tested it on the ground.

I have never hit the iron while my chronograph was under it, though. I hope the housing is strong enough to survive without being dented.

Just a thought. But how you read the readout at that distance is up to you.

Lost Sheep

NorCal Hal
November 25, 2010, 02:15 PM
OK, a LOT of good ideas and questions. You got my mental gears grinding so let me respond. The comments of having 1000-1200-1800 Ft lbs @ impact are good and what I was looking for as one of my concerns was that many 30-06 loads are OK for the 1000-1200 FP but fall below the 1800 FP at the 300 yards.

For purposes of this discussion lets use my 30-06 data, for which I have quite a bit. Using 165 gr Nosler partioned bullets with 52.5 gr IMR-4064 I get 2850 FPS and with 59.0 gr IMR-4350 I get 2950-2975 FPS using CCI # 200 primers. I have found that I don't get good tight groups with the N.P. and get better consistency with 150 gr Sierra which are OK for deer but probably too light for Elk & Moose (but those are subjects for other threads).

With the 150gr Sierra Pro Hunter bullet I get 2960 FPS with the 52.5 grs of 4064 and 2945 PFS with the 59.0 grs of 4350. All velocities are averages of several shots over several days.

I too have had the concern that high velocity withour sufficent mass (bullet weight) result in poor penetration. I would seem that there is a point or range where the mass X velocity gives the necessary penetration and shock. Some of my concern comes from the fact I have shot hogs with my 7mm Rem Mag where the high speed bullet passed through without expanding and the pig kept going where a 30-30 with a 180 gr Rem Core-Lokt might have performed better.

I was also surprised on a Moose hunt two years ago when I shot a 3-4 year old bull at about 75 yards with the 7 mm R.M. using Federal Premium Nosler Partions. I hit a rib on the way in and the bullet (and probably chunks of the rib) passed through both lungs and the bullet did not exit the far side. It ended up behind the far shoulder. After absorbing all that energy the moose did not grunt, jump, flinch or show and signs of being hit - continuing to walk for another 50 feet before another bullet in the spine dropped him.

The hit and location were good, so did the bullet lack energy, expansion or what?

If almost 3000 Ft-Lbs of energy from a 160 Gr N.P. 7MM didn't drop the Moose with a well placed shot I have to wonder what would happen if I hit an Elk or Moose with the 165-180 gr 30-06 bullet with 1000-1200 or even 1800 Ft-Lbs?

November 25, 2010, 02:59 PM
Nicole Simpson took 5 foot pounds to the throat.

Lost Sheep
November 25, 2010, 03:22 PM
Nicole Simpson took 5 foot pounds to the throat.
Nicole Brown-Simpson is not any kind of ungulate and the weapon was a knife, which is quite different from a bullet.

Lost Sheep

November 25, 2010, 03:38 PM
Simple - Plug in your bullet and velocity data in this Handloaders.com Ballistic Calculator (http://www.handloads.com/calc/)and it will show you the velocity and ME at each of the distances you specify.

Lost Sheep
November 25, 2010, 03:54 PM
No necropsy ever listed "Energy" as the cause of death.

The hit and location were good, so did the bullet lack energy, expansion or what?
Neither, probably. The moose was just bigger and more resilient than the bullet. A rock does not bother sand.

Most often, the energy of the bullet does not produce the kill. It just produces the damage. Damage something non-vital (even extensively with lots of energy) and the animal survives. Damage something vital (say, the stomach) and the animal may survive for days. Take out a major vein and the animal may survive for minutes to hours. Take out a major artery and minutes is the norm. Take out a major bone and the animal will probably not run as far or fast, but don't expect him to stay still.

Yes, a spine shot will put him down, but was he still alive afterward?

Veterinarians or hunters with more knowledge, feel free to weigh in and correct any misconceptions I have.

Depending on how badly the lungs were torn up, he might have survived for quite a while. It is not uncommon for a mortally wounded animal (or human) to continue to function for some time before expiring. That's why tracking a blood trail is a good skill to have. You give up the chase for a while. The animal, detecting no pursuit, rests for a while and never gets up again, expiring from blood loss or drowning as its lungs fill with blood.

If the wound path(s) did not intersect any immediately vital nerves or major blood vessels, don't expect the animal to die until infection kills it.

Even a heart shot will not drop an animal immediately. A few to several seconds worth of oxygenated blood remains in the brain and muscles even if the blood flow stops immediately.

Lost Sheep

NorCal Hal
November 25, 2010, 04:44 PM
Thanks COSteve I will try to calculator, and I agree with you Lost Sheep. I once shot a deer through the heart and he continued to run for 70-90 feet before he dropped over dead. When I saw all the blood on both sides of the trail at point of impact I was upset with myself for taking a shot at a running deer at quite a distance as I assumed a gut shot.

I guess I have always assumed the shock and massive hemoraging produced the quickest kill. To get shock and hemoraging you need Kinetic Energy and proper bullet penetration and expansion. It would seem that bullets that pass completely through the animal would be best as the exit wound is normally larger than the entry wound allowing for blood loss and shock. Arrows may not pass completely through the animal but the heavy broadhead penetrates and the sharp blades lacerate causing hemoraging.

NorCal Hal
November 25, 2010, 05:22 PM
Simple - Plug in your bullet and velocity data in this Handloaders.com Ballistic Calculator and it will show you the velocity and ME at each of the distances you specify.


That Handloaders.com Ballistic Calculator is really slick ! I like that...


November 25, 2010, 05:29 PM
NorCal Hal

Gut shots have little to no blood leaving the wound. A stomach shot will sometimes spew stomach contents and a little blood. Intestinal shots will have the fat seal the wounds quickly, leaving little bleeding externally for quite some time and distance, again depending on bullet type and what else is damaged internally.

A bullet with more energy may or may not kill more quickly than a lesser energy bullet. Bullets that expand and deliver most of their energy to the animal are preferable to lesser damaging bullet types.

Hydrostatic shock from very light and very fast bullets will kill very quickly. I knew a fellow who used a 220 Swift on deer. The carcasses were blood shocked from end to end and that promoted quick spoilage of the meat, as well as bad taste.

My observations with an 06, having taken around a dozen elk with one, was that the 165 gr bullet not only had more energy at the muzzle and down range as compared to a 180 gr or 200 gr bullet, but they killed the elk very nicely with complet body penetration. However, I settled on using a 300 WinMag with 200 gr Nosler Partitions as a much better elk harvester. And yes, that bullet weapon combination has more energy than any 06.

November 25, 2010, 07:49 PM
My observations with an 06, having taken around a dozen elk with one, was that the 165 gr bullet not only had more energy at the muzzle and down range as compared to a 180 gr or 200 gr bullet, but they killed the elk very nicely with complet body penetration. However, I settled on using a 300 WinMag with 200 gr Nosler Partitions as a much better elk harvester. And yes, that bullet weapon combination has more energy than any 06.

I agree w/ the last sentence; and agree the 165gr'r will kill heavy game very effectively. But I disagree with the 165 holding a velocity advantage over the 180 at any significant range.

With the `06 pressure max'd out at 58,000 (a stout load indeed) and the 165gr going out at 2943fps with a muzzle energy of 3,170ft-lbs.

For the same max`06 pressure, the 180gr will go out at 2848fps with muzzle energy at 3,242ft-lbs. The heavier bullet therefore wins the energy game from the very start.

All things being equal (yeah, I know),... penetration is more a function of momentum (MV) that that of energy (1/2*MV^2). The heavy bullet wins that one too at range:

All loaded 2kpsi under MAX
*Rifle* Bullet Vel(400m) MV
300Win.. 180.. 2360... 60.7
30-06Sp 180.. 2150... 55.3
30-06Sp 165.. 2071... 48.8

November 26, 2010, 05:47 AM

I'm not sure where you came up with your velocity of 2848 for a 180 gr bullet, although I am sure it is an over max load. The best velocity I could find in any loading data was just at 2800, 60.0 gr RL19 in the Alliant manual. The highest 165 gr velocity I could find in any reloading data was 2943, 60.2C IMR4350.

Using Point Blank software, here are the Velocity/energy tables for the two loads above. I used the same profile bullet from the Hornady:

165btsp --- BC .435 ---- 60.2C gr - IMR4350 ---- 30-06
Range (yards) --- Muzzle -- 100 --- 200 --- 300 --- 400 ---- 500
Velocity (fps) ---- 2943 --- 2736 -- 2538 -- 2348 -- 2167 -- 1994
Energy (ft.-lb.) -- 3173 --- 2742 -- 2360 -- 2020 -- 1721 -- 1457

180btsp --- BC .452 ---- 60.0gr - RL19 ---- 30-06
Range (yards) --- Muzzle -- 100 --- 200 --- 300 --- 400 ---- 500
Velocity (fps) ---- 2800 --- 2607 -- 2421 -- 2244 -- 2074 -- 1910
Energy (ft.-lb.) -- 3133 --- 2716 -- 2343 -- 2012 -- 1718 -- 1458

Just for git and shiggles, I included data from my 6mmRem, the velocity is measured and load was from a Pacific manual, which is well over todays max loads, but has never shown pressure signs in my rifle:

100NslrPrt --- BC 0.383 ---- 60.2C - IMR4350 ---- 6mmRem
Range (yards) --- Muzzle -- 100 --- 200 --- 300 --- 400 ---- 500
Velocity (fps) ---- 3210 --- 2961 -- 2726 -- 2503 -- 2291 -- 2089
Energy (ft.-lb.) -- 2288 --- 1947 -- 2726 -- 1391 -- 1165 -- 969

If you don’t shoot beyond 200 yards, it looks like my 6mm is the clear winner.

November 26, 2010, 09:18 AM

You can put 60.2 grains of I4350 into a 6mm case? I can barely get that into a 30/06. I'm sure it was a typo, just being a smart A:D.

No matter what the ballistics show, the 06 is going to have better penetration and shock value with the heavier bullet than the lighter 6mm. Just an opinion.


November 26, 2010, 10:21 AM
If you don’t shoot beyond 200 yards, it looks like my 6mm is the clear winner.
Which is why I used my .243 most... even on Muleys. :D


Now.... as to how I got 2,848 out of a 30-06/180grainer, you do it by stuffing a mean bikini....


NOTE: The gentle reader should not take this as a recommended load for any`ol 30-06. (And I could drop almost a 1,000psi for only 10fps loss by moving the bullet out to 3.36")

By pressure comparison, however, Hornady puts out a 180gr SST /300Win load that I chronographed two weeks ago. It averaged 3,250fps for five rounds out of my 26" Springfield/Krieger barrel. I looked down at the Oehler readout to say, "Wow." Back at the (QuickLoad) lab I asked for all powder combinations that could give me that velocity. There wasn't anything under 63,100 psi.

Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses... wow.

November 26, 2010, 05:00 PM
Old Yesterday, 03:22 PM #10
Lost Sheep
Senior Member

Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Posts: 1,128

Originally Posted by Clark
Nicole Simpson took 5 foot pounds to the throat.
Nicole Brown-Simpson is not any kind of ungulate and the weapon was a knife, which is quite different from a bullet.

Lost Sheep

I know how to calculate energy, but I am having a hard time seeing where the equation of a knife is different from a bullet.

If he threw the knife, would that be a bullet?

If we made bullets shaped like knives, would they be knives or bullets.

What does it all mean?
We are going to have to find the energy death mechanism and write and equation for death so we can graph energy death and see the dotted line between knife death and bullet death.

What does THAT mean?
I am making fun of the "How much K.E. is required?" question.
Many people fall for it.
I often make fun of people with one out of control variable, but this one has a million out of control variables.

Still, they can imagine it, like they can imagine a time machine.

November 26, 2010, 05:13 PM
I have an easy answer. Use a .338 Winchester.

November 26, 2010, 05:17 PM
We are going to have to find the energy death mechanism and write and equation for death...
LOL........ People have been trying to do that for hundreds of years. :rolleyes:
(`Course the new Health Care bill may finally give us some examples)

Personally, I'm a fan of the slow-moving freight train theory [i.e., 45ACP, 45 Colt, 45-70, 45-3-1/4" Sharps, 458WinMag (etc, etc) ]

Problem is, `dem elk-type critters and da like wone lemme close enuf ta where'n I d'on need ma artil'ry reqistration chart. :D

So's I's do ta bes' I can.... use a bullet dat t'inks it's a big honking hummer once't it gets wher'n it goin'.

Ah stil lak ma simple 'MV' factor at da end thoe.... Al' dat 1/2MV^2 ciph'rin tend'ta dew di'frent stuff onec't it get whar it t'ink it goin'.


`Course my 220 Swift's in a class by itself when it comes to endgame destruction.... So go figure.:eek:

November 26, 2010, 06:29 PM
LOL........ People have been trying to do that for hundreds of years.
(`Course the new Health Care bill may finally give us some examples)

We'd all die of old age before we got past page 1,876. Or thereabouts.

I'm a big believer in poking holes through critters, in line with stuff that matters. Of course you can poke some pretty spectacular holes at 3000+ fps.

November 26, 2010, 06:32 PM
FWIW "Killing Power":
Energy(100Yrd) x Sectional Density x Bullet Frontal Area

.223 WSSM (64 grain at 3600 fps) - 10.1
.243 Winchester (100 grain at 2960 fps) - 18.1
.243 WSSM (100 grain at 3100 fps) - 20.0
.25-06 Remington (120 grain at 2990 fps) - 26.5
6.5x55 SE (140 grain at 2700 fps) - 30.7
6.5mm Remington Magnum (120 grain at 3210 fps) - 30.2
.270 Winchester (130 grain at 3150 fps) - 35.0
.270 Winchester (150 grain at 2850 fps) - 37.4
.270 WSM (140 grain at 3125 fps) - 40.1
7mm-08 Remington (140 grain at 2860 fps) - 33.6
.280 Remington (140 grain at 3000 fps) - 37.1
7mm Remington Magnum (150 grain at 3110 fps) - 44.8
.30 Carbine (110 grain at 1990 fps) - 7.4
.30-30 Winchester (150 grain at 2390 fps) - 22.8
.30-30 Winchester (170 grain at 2200 fps) - 25.4
.300 Savage (150 grain at 2630 fps) - 30.0
.308 Winchester (150 grain at 2820 fps) - 34.7
.308 Winchester (180 grain at 2620 fps) - 46.2
.30-06 Springfield (150 grain at 2920 fps) - 37.3
.30-06 Springfield (180 grain at 2700 fps) - 49.2
.300 WSM (180 grain at 2960 fps) - 59.5
.300 Winchester Magnum (180 grain at 2960 fps) - 59.5
.300 Weatherby Magnum (180 grain at 3240 fps) - 72.8
7.62x39 Soviet (123 grain at 2365 fps) - 15.7
.303 British (180 grain at 2460 fps) - 40.1
.32 Winchester Special (170 at 2250 fps) - 25.4
8x57 JS Mauser (195 grain at 2550 fps) - 52.0
.325 WSM (200 grain at 2950 fps) - 75.6
.338x57 O'Connor (200 grain at 2400 fps) - 39.7
.338 Winchester Magnum (250 grain at 2650 fps) - 94.8
.357 Magnum (Rifle) (158 grain at 1830 fps) - 12.7
.35 Whelen (200 at 2675 fps) - 56.4
.350 Remington Magnum (200 grain at 2770 fps) - 60.9
.375 H&H Magnum (270 grain at 2690 fps) - 106.2
.416 Remington Magnum (400 grain at 2400 fps) - 188.4
.44 Remington Magnum (Rifle) (240 grain at 1760 fps) - 26.4
.444 Marlin (265 grain at 2325 fps) - 63.4
.45-70 Government (300 grain at 1810 fps) - 50.1
.45-70 Government (405 grain at 1330 fps) - 55.0
.450 Marlin (350 grain at 2100 fps) - 88.9
.458 Winchester Magnum (500 grain at 2090 fps) - 217.3

NorCal Hal
November 26, 2010, 07:46 PM
Boy that .458 Winchester Mag is sure THE BIG DADDY! I don't want to think about the recoil that must have ! Maybe it's available with wheels....hmmm :D

November 26, 2010, 08:46 PM
Good eye! That 60.2 gr in the 6mm was a typo, as I copied the format from the 165 gr load. I used IMR4831 at well over today's max, but with no pressure signs in my weapon.

Did you actually shoot the 2848 load in a weapon or is this an on paper load only? It is not a listed load in any literature I find and the 108% powder density would be hard to maintain without having the bullet push out over time. The compression would also have the powder dimple the case upon compaction, making it difficult to chamber.

My experience on bullet damage comes from examining animals taken in the field. This includes the hundreds of deer killed during predation hunts. and from personal experience, I would not hesitate to shoot an elk at 200 yards with my 6mm, but would not even consider it with a 243.

PS I refuse to even read posts by those who dumb down to "gutter speak"! If you're intelligent, then show it.

November 26, 2010, 09:27 PM
PS I refuse to even read posts by those who dumb down to "gutter speak"! If you're intelligent, then show it.
If you you think of it as "gutter" speak, then you haven't read much Mark Twain. Gutter speak takes great skill these days.

Second, please do not read further if the facts are less important than the language.

Third, I have pushed heavy bullets fast. Have I run THAT particular load? No. Have I run a 180 up to the low 28's? Yes. (Back in 1971 with a Springfield I built out of parts and had access to a very expensive chronograph at a military lab -- and long before anything as neat at PCs were able to run internal ballistics programs). Was it the most accurate? No. Was it a load I would use on a regular basis? No. Did I run even heavier bullets at high speed out of that `06. Yes. I don't shoot those loads either. I don't have to.... don't need to.

But numbers are numbers. The heavy `06 180 SPBT will outperform its brother 165 for the same pressure from about 100 yards on..... Do I need that performance on white tail? No. (though I've shot them with everything from .243 in Virginia to a loaded-down 458 in Alabama.)

I've used my .243 for Antelope/Muleys along with a 300 Winnie and heavy 30-06 interchangeableyfor both Muleys and Elk in New Mexico. For the last five years I've taken the 375HH that effectively duplicates the `06 trajectory out to Colorado--but with a bullet that's 80% heavier. Why? Because I think the cartridge is really neat, and my father had one that I remember fondly from back in the early-mid fifties before we (he) took it down w/ us to Guatemala for three years in the late fifties.

But in the end I look at numbers. In the end it's a bullet of specific design that hits an animal--human or otherwise--at a specific velocity. The animal doesn't care what rifle, or cartridge, or distance that bullet started from. It only cares about what it is when it gets to him. That means a lot of weeping and wailing at the edges is irrevelent when so many weapons overlap in their performance as the real world descends upon them.

But emotions run high. I remember an argument starting on a military forum about the loss of the Garand and how things had gone downhill ever since. I made the mistake of telling one forummite that the M14 was every bit as effective as the Garand. He wasn't having any of that. The Garand was 30-06. The M14 was a measly 308.

The fact that they were--very deliberately--identical when it came to military ball ballistics for each rifle at the muzzle was lost on him.

"That Garand/30-06 will always be more powerful. Ballistics`n stuff be damned."

post: I've still got that Springfield I built in 1970.... always will. It will be the last of the guns my son now down at Benning eventually gets.

post post: Compressed loads do not necessarily push bullet out/deform cases over time with extruded powders, particularly as the powder tends to be pushed out and up around the bullet if/as it extends past the neck into the shoulder area.

post post post: I could have used a number of other powders and gotten little or no compression. RL17, W760, Ramshot Hunter

November 27, 2010, 01:56 AM

I find it humorous that you use an imaginary load, one that is not listed in any data, one you have never loaded, one that you have never shot, and use that as proof positive that the 180 gr bullet/load is superior to any 165 gr load.

Your credibility with me is not only below "in the toilet", it flushed right to the bottom of the cesspool.

I could suggest that you go ahead and load up that wonderous imaginary 180 gr load that will do 2848 fps, and then shoot it. However, I don't condone self abuse, so I would't say that to you.

Sleep well!

November 27, 2010, 10:53 AM
Well pardon me all to hell. Did you read that I had loaded such loads/had chrono'd them--38 years ago in a military lab situtation? Did you even bother to look at the internal ballistics?

Did you also read that such high pressure loads/though not recommended by me for any rifleman/rifle unless worked up are put out by manufacturers--and the chrono data shown? (that Hornady 180SST/300Win for example. Would you like to state for the record that was outright falsification?)

Did you bother to look at Hodgdon's site for their standardized ~2,800fps loadout with 180/57.5gr/H4350? (The same load in Quickload calculates out to 2,820fps at 105% loadout for the 180SST -- strange. It hits 2,848 [surprise!] with Hornday's 180 Interbond.) Somehow you think that another 18fps with another powder can only come from the ether?

More imortant, Quickload tell me that the published data is overpressure. So I am to trust "published" data but not look at the internal ballistics predictions because that's not to be trusted?

Methinks I detect some severe not invented here and don't-want-to-consider here discussion. The very emotional response moving very quickly to very personal attack clinches it.

My apologies to all who have read any part of this diatribe.


The original issue was the ability of a 30-06/180gr load to outperfom the 165 load at at realistic western hunting distances, Several under max loads were listed.

It will do so.

44 AMP
November 27, 2010, 03:36 PM
FWIW "Killing Power":
Energy(100Yrd) x Sectional Density x Bullet Frontal Area

But it doesn't mean spit in the real world. Sorry.

Guns are not magic death rays. All velocity and energy do is allow us to hit the target and penetrate to the vitals. More is better, but its not a linear calculation. Two things shut off living creatures, CNS destruction, and loss of blood pressure in the brain. Depending on the details of the hit, and the animal, blood loss to the brain can take seconds, or minutes.

Hydrostatic shock disrupts tissue, and can increase effectiveness over an identical hit without the same shock, but again, there does not seem to be a linear equation that covers this. Possibly because each animal (and each hit) is different.

Bigger bullet make bigger holes, and bigger holes mean faster blood loss. Don't have an equation for that either.:rolleyes:

Taking arbitrary factors of bullet speed and construction and calling them Killing Power is possibly useful for comparing cartridges to each other, but has little applicability to the real world performance on game animals, with all the other variables that are involved.

Assuming proper hits, of course, I don't see a .30-30 (22.8) being a better killer than a .243 (18.1), and nothing is 12 times more dead (or dead 12x faster) with a .458 Win (217.3).

roy reali
November 27, 2010, 07:37 PM
Kinetic energy is an overused and missused figure.

A .22-250 load has more muzzle energy then an "old-school" .45-70 load. Yet, a thinking person would prefer the .45-70 if faced with a charging bear.

Numbers don't kill. Holes into vital organs do.

November 28, 2010, 02:08 PM
This is a polite discussion, but I have been reading on line gun forums since way before the WWW got going, and I have seen plenty of flames over terminal ballistics.

My view is so simple, that it does not really raise my, or anyone else's blood pressure..

Slow bullets make holes to bleed out.
Fast bullets make shock waves that turn flesh into mush.

If I can put 5 rounds of 36 gr 22LR hollow point 1200 fps through the lungs of a 1 pound rooster chicken, and he does not even limp, then a 22 pistol may not be adequate for self defense.

If I put one round of a 33 gr .223 3500 fps into the lungs of a large rodent, and it blows a pound of flesh into pink mist, this round seems adequate for self defense.

November 28, 2010, 03:33 PM
To embellish a little on what Roy said, a fully loaded semi-tractor trailer drifting forward at 1 foot per second has 2000 ft-lbs of kinetic energy, but if you stand in front of it, as long as there is nothing for it to crush you against and you don't get under one of its wheels, letting it run into you at that speed will not do any immediate damage. At the other extreme, a study of blow guns found a child can propel a light 1.6 gram (25 grain) dart to about 105 fps and penetrate 7 mm of pork bone; and that's just 0.6 ft-lbs of energy. Still, if it hit you just right, it might prove lethal.

The astute reader may point out the above examples are not bullets. The truck is blunt and can't "dump" its energy into you without some intermediate mechanism, while the dart is sharp, so its penetration is no surprise, given that your physician doesn't need to get a hypodermic up to anything like 105 fps to inject you. But that objection makes my point. As soon as you say those examples aren't bullet-like, you are admitting it is not the presence or absence of a certain quantity of energy that is the killing influence, but rather it is something else in the nature of bullets that is responsible. Bullets have a range of sizes and velocities within which there is some degree of correlations between damage and kinetic energy, but it's not a causal relationship.

Duncan MacPherson points out that, indeed, there is nothing in the analysis of small arms terminal ballistic events that involves an energy calculation. Actual terminal damage is all about the magnitude of forces acting in transferring momentum from the bullet to the target, including portions of the momentum that are translated perpendicular to the bullet's original direction of travel (such as those contributing to a radially expanding cavity). About all the energy tells you directly is how much warmer the target was after absorbing the hit.

November 28, 2010, 08:06 PM
Since "Killing Power" is such a flame attractant, and everyone's got a different (and very emotional and not much else) opinion, let's go back to a different subject -- that crusty old 30-06 which got so little respect.

I think the argument went along the lines that there was no way the `06 /180 would outperform the whizzbang 165gr for the same pressure -- so much so that one member (I forget who) said that if a certain 180gr/2,848fps load it wasn't in a loading manual it just didn't happen... internal ballistics be damned. I seem to remember someone making very interesting statements that such capabilities were all "made up" and cast aspersions on anyone who said otherwise -- even though "Otherwise" stated he had already done it and the data said it was a nobrainer.

So Otherwise went to the range today..... Sunny, 50degr, slight 10mph breeze

Rifle: Model 70 (new model)
Barrel: Medium/24"
Bullet: 180SMK (Otherwise could have just as well used some HNDY SST's he has.....)
Case: WW (1st fire)
Primer CCI-BR2 (that Otherwise uses in everything, M1A. Garand, 458Win, 220Swift, etc)
OAL: 3.28" (10/1,000ths off the lands by Stoney Point measurement)
Powder: Vihtavuori N560 (which Otherwise has found very useful w/ Hvy bullets in the 300Win)

Otherwise did exactly what he previously said he'd done: run QuickLoad calculations to find the best probable combo for highest velocity/least pressure (< 58,000) with both the SST and the SMK.

Otherwise also rooted around in his reloading manuals to find that Bob Nosler didn't find the magic 2,848fps bullet to be such a big deal. And gosh, if it's printed in nice binding it must be so.....
... even if other manuals (an even half dozen of them) had other loads with other powders all stopping someplace else, and most had wildly varying min/max loads as much as +/- 4-5 grains difference.

Nosler said it could be done with relative ease. The only question was "...who do you trust? " Sierra, Lyman, Hornady, Hodgdon, Speer are all over the place. ...`Back to QuickLoad so Otherwise can at least see what's happening as things ramp up. While RL22, IMR-7878SSC, H4350, all played to some varying degrees/compressions, QuickLoad said N560 had the edge.

So Otherwise worked it up from a predicted 51,000psi load to that just over 58,000 -- and watching the velocities that provide correlation to pressures. (Did anyone ask about Chronographs and safety in another thread? Oh yeah. "Don't worry if you stay within published loads." Problem here is that published loads are all over the map.)

Anyway, with trusty Oehler, a Starrett micrometer for the web/rim, a loaf of bread and thou....
We get...
"Actual" is in blue, and is limited to three rounds as I figured I'd bump up against velocities and/or rim expansion/bolt lift that told me pressure was exceeding my allotted 58,000. `Never happened. (SD for three rounds is a fiction... But it does give a sense of repeatability.)

In the end, for a load that's supposed to be way out of bounds for accuracy when pushed hard and heavy, this is just putting crosshairs generally on target for that last 62.3grain load, and focusing on the Oehler.

Did I say compressed load? Not even a whisper as Otherwsie uses an engraving pen to vibrate the case for a second or two after loading. `Drops things a good 3/16" down into the case. (Works good on BPCR's too ... in fact works great.)

As to all the screaming and yelling about killing power, I'm gonna to see some angels about rental property on the head of a pin.....

November 28, 2010, 10:13 PM
Open message to Moderators:

Member mehavey has written several incomprehensible diatribes (his words) in this thread. He has violated:

Sticky: REQUIRED READ for those posting Extra Heavy Load Information
by Johnny Guest
- - - - - We owe it to one another to include proper cautions whenever we post ANY load in excess of published information. To fail in this duty may well endanger our forum associates - - either their firearms or their health. - - - - -
In two posts there are dangerous 30-06 and 300 Wichester Magnum loads listed without the appropriate caveats. These should be removed.

As another member refused to read his posts, the Moderators have apparently removed the “gutter speak” post as it was labeled, because it violated forum rule #4:

4. Mangling of the English language whether through ignorance, age, sloth or intent diminishes and embarrasses each of us, and is disrespectful to the reading membership. Posts which are indecipherable due to inability to translate thoughts into coherent written statements will be deleted without explanation. Recidivists will be removed.

Posts 19 and 34 should also be removed.

November 28, 2010, 11:16 PM
If anyone can read:

There is no 300WinMag load in either #19 or #34. In #19 there is chronograph data only from Hornady's comercial 180gr SST 300WinMag round. The chronograph when matched against QuickLoad indicates a high pressure commercial round.

The #34 analysis says one must be very careful when moving up into high load-outs, in this case a 180gr 30-06. One does that using (a) internal ballistics data, (b) a chronograph, (c) great care in watching for pressure signs to include over-velocity (when compared with the balistics predictions) and brass stress (rim/web expansion and/or shiny brass on bolt lift.) #34 takes great pain to point that out.


B: DO NOT BLINDLY TRUST MANUALS AT THE TOP END -- ESPECIALLY IF/WHEN MANUALS DISAGREE WITH OTHER Nosler's data is a case-in-point. QuickLoad predicts 61grains of RL-22 under a 180gr Accubond produces well over 60,000psi... which is why it was not used here.

And finally....

C: DO NOT USE THIS #34 LOAD DATA OR ANY OTHER LOAD IN YOUR RIFLE AT ALL unless and until you develop/use the same techniques for your rifle.

I would have thought that would have been painfully obvious.

November 29, 2010, 01:07 AM
At the bottom of post 19

mhavey wrote
By pressure comparison, however, Hornady puts out a 180gr SST /300Win load that I chronographed two weeks ago. It averaged 3,250fps for five rounds out of my 26" Springfield/Krieger barrel. I looked down at the Oehler readout to say, "Wow." Back at the (QuickLoad) lab I asked for all powder combinations that could give me that velocity. There wasn't anything under 63,100 psi.

Yeah! Right! They would be calling you ol'mahalfahand!:D

November 29, 2010, 09:39 AM
I half-expected Hornady's 180gr SP 30-06 load-out to be similarly hot.
But when I chrono'd it yesterday, it averaged only 2,650fps. That translates to a high 40's pressure profile when using usually-available American powders that fill the case/burn efficiently (e.g., 4350).

I can think of any number of reasons why a commercial round would be kept this mild, but most of them revolves around the endless number of actions (and their age) chambered for the 30-06 (Examples Win`95 leveractions and Remington pump/slide actions) -- as opposed to the more tightly-wound 300WinMag actions (all bolt as far as I know).

November 29, 2010, 09:43 AM
it is important to note that some new bullet constructions (in particular, the solid copper/solid gilding metal types) don't expand at velocities below about 1,900-to-2000 fps. At lower velocities, they will tend to penetrate more, but not make really substantial wound channels because they retain a particularly streamlined nose shape. Nose tips that act as wedges on impact can help, to lower the velocity at which expansion will occur, but not to the degree that a the minimum expansion velocity will go as low as what will expand a soft lead nosed bullet.

So, as others have mentioned, bullet construction, the game's physical characteristics and the range ALL need to be considered to arrive at an effective combination.

In that regard, it is better for a poster to specify his intended game from the beginning, and perhaps the choices of cartridges he is considering, THEN ask what bullets and loads are sufficient for various ranges. Replies of EXPERIENCE with loads that fit those parameters would be much more helpful that theories and equations, since nobody has yet come-up with a complete equation that gives promptness of death as a function of easilty measured ballistic information.


NorCal Hal
November 29, 2010, 09:01 PM
I don't have access to the QuickLoad software to calculate chamber pressure and I was wondering if someone could run this. I loaded 59.0 grains of IMR-4350 in my 30-06, shooting 165 gr Nosler partition, primers were Winchester Western 8 1/2. seated to 3.30" OAL. Fired in Winchester model 70 if that is relevent. I got muzzle velocities of: 2948-3132 (averaging 3012 fps over 10 shots) which is pretty fast for a 30-06 and a 165 grain bullet.

I had a strong sharp retort with "perhaps" above normal recoil...Hard to say. I could detect no case swelling or splitting, no primer or cartridge base deflection. The Hodgdon tables I have show 60.0 as the maximum compressed charge for the Sierra 165 gr SPBT and IMR-4350. They show a muzzle velocity of 2934 and 57,600 psi.

What does the Q-L show as a chamber pressure. Am I OK with this load or do I need to back off a little?


November 29, 2010, 09:39 PM
gives 2993 fps and 63,300 psi in a 24" barrel with the default parameters for the .30-'06. You did't say what barrel length YOU are using, so I don't know how close that really is.

But, you wrote that you extreme spread was 184 fps from a ten-shot string. That is A LOT, and that type of velocity variation goes hand-in-hand with pressure variations.


NorCal Hal
November 30, 2010, 02:56 PM
Is 63,300 psi beyond the maximum safe pressure for this rifle?

This is a 1996 Winchester model 70 with BOSS so the OAL barrel is 24". If you took off the BOSS the actual barrel is probably 21-22".

I called Winchester and asked them the maximum safe chamber pressure and barrel length (they said 24"). On the max pressure question Win tech Rudy referred me to the SAAMI standards, which are 60,000 for 30-06.

Why am I getting that big of a velocity range? I get what seems to be a large variation. Looking back in my records I see 5 shot spreds of 139 fps, 75 fps, 82 pfs. Not all are that big some 5 shot spreds are 26, 24, 41, etc.

I use the same manufacturers cases. I measure all charges with an electronic powder scale calibrated before each loading session (currently using the ISD Smartreloader) and measured to the one tenth of a grain, I seat all bullets to the same depth using an RCBS turret press.

Is Quickload available on-line or is it a program that you have to purchase?


November 30, 2010, 03:34 PM
63,000 (if that's what you are really at) is 5% over max. If nothing else you will quickly lose your primer pockets at that pressure.

As to velocity variations, I'd look at your OAL. The first thing I noticed on my Model-70 was that the lands started at 3.287" for the 180SMK, and 3.290" for the HNDY 180-SST. By any chance do you have a Hornady/Stoney Point gauge to determine where the lands start in your rifle, for your Nosler-design bullet?

That you may be at/into/just off the lands at 3.30" may be a factor in the wide velocity variations. Once you decide where the lands are, I'd back out of them a solid 10 thousands(+) given you are operating at the case/cartridge limits.

QuickLoad is available at http://www.neconos.com/details3.htm
I know of no comparable internal ballistics software available on the net.

NorCal Hal
November 30, 2010, 03:55 PM
No I don't have the Hornady/Stoney point guage. I have tried the blackened bullet tip in an unloaded cartridge but I CAN'T SEE the marks or depth. I did load some to 3.380 OAL and the bolt was hard to close so I backed off but haven't established a positive fixed OAL for various bullet weights and designs.

I'm sure I have loaded some 150 gr Sierra Spitzers and the 165 Nosler partition with the same seating die setting thinking that for accuracy I needed to keep the bullets OAL and loaction relative to the rifles lands consistent.

I noticed my latest batch of six cartridges all measured right at 3.318" and require a small amount of force to close the bolt compared to closing on an empty chamber. All have been resized in RCBS depriming die prior to reloading. Empty cases are measuring 2.506".

I had never seen, or heard of, the Hornady guage. Am I looking for the headspace or over all length tool, or both?. From what I can tell on the hornady web page I need a tool and the bushing for whatever caliber I want to check. Is that correct? Are the accurate and easy to use?

November 30, 2010, 05:11 PM
Here is the Hornady Overall Length gauge:
It's the one you should get for this particular problem.

It (and the additional modified cartridge case that fits on the end) is available at any number of internet locations: Cabelas, MidwayUSA, Sinclairintl (etc). Combined with a digital caliper, it is the most accurate way to determine a correct overall length for a cartridge ...for a specific bullet. Note that different design/weight bullets will produce a different distance-to-lands due to their different shape.

Lacking the Hornady/Stoneypoint gauge, there is another way to approximate your maximum cartridge/bullet length. It uses a cleaning rod but is much less precise. It's used this way:

1. Take a wooden dowel and gently press a bullet (only) into the chamber until it stops up against the rifling. Insert a cleaning rod (no jag) down the barrel until it meets bullet.

2. Rock the bullet back & forth a bit with one hand on the rod and one on the dowel until you're comfortable it's gently seated but not 'jammed' into the rifling

3. With a razor blade (or really sharp pencil, mark the cleaning rod exactly at barrel's end. This is your reference point for zero clearance.

4. Pull the rod out and mark another reference point 30 thousandths further out on the rod. (In case you're wondering, that's about the diameter of a standard office 1-1/4" paper clip wire.) http://www.whimsie.com/gauge%20wire.html

5. Seat a dummy cartridge/bullet (OAL 3.30" to start) in the chamber and use the cleaning rod to see where the bullet tip is relative to the mark. If the rod is pushed out past the zero-clearance mark, the bullet is jammed into the rifling.

6. (Assuming the cartridge OAL is too long) gradually seat the bullet further into the case until the rod's second (paper-clip) mark is at the muzzle. You've now got 30 thousandths (approximately) standoff from the lands. Measure the cartridge OAL and that's where you stay (for that bullet) until you get a Hornady gauge (and the modified case it requires).

7. (And this is important) You've probably now seated the bullet deeper in the case at this point. You have now raised the chamber pressure. No matter what, I'd back off at least 5 grains of that 4350 and start over.

November 30, 2010, 05:39 PM
You posted that you weighed each charge on an electronic scale. I have found that some electronic scales don't register each 0.1 grain addition as kernals of powder are trickled onto the scale. Sometimes, I am able to get over half of a grain on the scale before it changes readings.

I can get a similar effect on balance beam scales if there is a tad of dust on the fulcrum point.

Maybe these issues are not your problem, but I thought I should offer it for your consideration.


NorCal Hal
November 30, 2010, 06:24 PM

Mehavey; I will try the measurement the way you suggest and see how that compares with what I have been doing. I think the Overall length guage is in my future. I hate to think of all the reloads and powder, seating and bullet adjustments I have made without first establishing the bullet depth - a lot of wasted effort!

I assume you need a different OAL length for each bullet configuration is that correct or once you get the measurement for a particular rifle you set the seating dies to that and use it for all bullets ? ( 150 Sierra, 165 N.P., 175 Hot core)

I know what you mean about the scales accuracy SL1. I usually wait a second or two after the dispenser stops as the digital readout sometimes jumps up another .1. I also periodically weigh the electronically thrown charge on the old RCBS balance scale.

November 30, 2010, 06:33 PM
I assume you need a different OAL length for each bullet configuration ...
Corecto-mundo. Each bullet design has its own curve shape.

And don't be fooled into thinking that a lighter bullet possibly needs to be seated further out. I learned that nasty little fact when I found my 77gr Sierra Match King was 20 thousandths off my AR's lands when the OAL was magazine length,... while Sierra's 52gr Match King was jammed 15 thoundths into the lands at the same OAL.

No free lunch/one-setting-fits-all here. :(

NorCal Hal
November 30, 2010, 06:57 PM
OK I just completed Mehavey's suggestion and here is what I got. 3.212" is the correct (ideal) cartridge OAL length .030" back from bullet contact on the lands.

My seating dies and the latest loads I have made are setting bullets at 3.218-3.220" so I am less than the MAXIMUM OAL of 3.212 + .030 = 3.242" (assuming my .030" is really .030").

I HAVE been seating lighter bullets the same as the heavier! I used the same seating die setting for the 150 gr Sierra Spitzers that I used for the 165 gr Nosler partitions..Same OAL in all cases .Ooops

I thought once I determined OAL length I LOCKED THE DIES in and used that OAL for all cartridges fired in that rifle...

November 30, 2010, 07:51 PM
If read you correctly, you are less than 30 thousandths off the lands, but 20 dependable thousands off is OK. (The paper clip's 30 thousandths was a ballpark figure to deal with the ballpark cleaning-rod method.) Just be sure you aren't ballpark ON the lands. (I again marvel at the apparent shortness of the Model-70 throat)

That being the case, it does sound that the ~63,000psi/59gr IMR4350 load is undergoing unstable pressure/burning to give you those wide velocity swings. (And with the shorter actual OAL ~3.20" you mention, pressure could be as high as 65,000.)

I'd again back off to a mid ~54-55gr/IMR4350 load and see if things settle down.
(Nosler 6th ed says 57grains is MAX)

NorCal Hal
November 30, 2010, 08:29 PM
The Hodgdon reloading data I took off their website says 60.0C is maximum load for IMR-4350 using 165 Gr Sierra SPBT. Would my using the 165 Nosler Partition Spitzer make any difference?

I find this all the time powder or bullet mfgrs provide data for some, but not all, combinations of bullets, powders, primers, etc. so it seems likle there has to be some degree of expermentation to test all the combinations.

Brian Pfleuger
November 30, 2010, 08:35 PM
....using 165 Gr Sierra SPBT. Would my using the 165 Nosler Partition Spitzer make any difference?

It depends on the length of the bullets. Likely, they are not the same length and, if that difference is very much at all, you would need to change the data accordingly.

JBM's bullet database lists the Sierra at 1.186 (I think that's the right bullet) and the Nosler at 1.175.

Assuming those numbers are correct and all else being equal, the pressure should be slightly lower with the Nosler.

December 1, 2010, 01:33 AM
For 30-06 & IMR4350.....

Nosler 6th has 57gr Max (various165-168gr wt/designs, 3.34" OAL assumed, no pressure)
Lyman 48th has 57gr Max (165gr BTBT, 3.285" OAL specified, 56,600psi)
Sierra 5th has 56gr Max (165 HPBT/SBT, 3.185"/3.30" respectively, no pressure)
Speer 14th has 58gr Max (165gr various designs/various OALs, no pressure)
Hornady 6th has 57gr Max (various HNDY 165-168gr: [email protected]", [email protected]", etc, no pressure)
Ackley Vol II has 59gr Max (165gr, no pressure)
Hodgdon/IMR Web has 60gr Max (165 Sierra SPBT, 3.30" OAL, 57,600psi)
QuickLoad says 56.74gr (nominal 68.2cc Case Volume, 165 NoslerPartition, 3.2" OAL, 57,600psi)

Now you know why people get gray hair.

On a lighter (and less scientific) note: The "average" of all the MAX numbers above is 57.6gr..... which QuickLoad still says exceeds 60,000 psi for a 165 Nosler Partition/OAL of 3.2".

Eye of toad, tongue of newt.....

NorCal Hal
December 1, 2010, 06:44 PM
Your data reports what I was finding. The maximum load is all over the place depending whose data you use. You don't give velocities but SL1 reported that Quickload indicated 63,300 psi for a 165 gr bullet and 2993 fps.

I loaded up a batch more last night and shot today. All were 165 gr Nosler Partition in same mfgr case, IMR-4350 powder, CCI 200 primers, all seated to 3.235-8" and all fired from the same Win Model 70.

1) 56.0 grains 5 shot average = 2731 fps
2) 57.0 grains 5 shot average = 2790 fps
3) 58.0 grains 5 shot average = 2844 fps

With the 59.0 grains I got a seventeen shot average of 2962 fps (some as high as 3050 fps) seated to 3.30" which we have established was too high of pressure.

The 56.0 grains yielded a three shot triangle measuring 1" X 5/8" at 100 yards and a 1 5/8" group at 200 yards which is comparable to the performance I was getting with the 59.0 grains but 230 - 310 fps less velocity.

The 57.0 grains was 1 1/4" X 5/8" at 100 yards and 2 1/2" at 200 yards.

December 2, 2010, 09:45 AM

To address your question a couple of posts back, yes the bullets make a difference. For one thing, the manufacturers don't make the jackets the same thickness, and thicker is harder which raises start pressure which raises peak pressure. When you see all bullets of the same weight clumped together, as in the Hornady and Sierra manuals, you'll note they are given different C.O.L.'s that depend mainly on their shapes. The seating depths of the bullet bases then wind up consuming different amounts of space in the case that would otherwise go to powder, so the loads listed are for the bullet that causes the most pressure in the bunch. I have a very old Hornady manual that just gives seating depths and no C.O.L.'s because matching seating depths matters more to pressure unless a shape is so long that it is closing in on the ogive touching the lands of the rifling in the throat.

So, some information tidbits:

Seating Depth = Case Length + Bullet Length - C.O.L.

Use seating depth for consistency where the bullets aren't very close to the lands (this would be at or below pressure minimum for the bullet in the plot below). Use a standard case length, and not case-to-case differences. It's the volume under the bullet you are trying to keep constant.

Once you have an established seating depth. You can rearrange that formula, when you want to figure out what C.O.L. a different bullet will need to match the same seating depth.

New bullet C.O.L. = Case Length + Bullet Length - Seating Depth

The plot below is peak pressure verses seating depth for a 180 grain round nose bullet in .30-06. Common pointed shapes cause pressure increase near the throat to change faster. Note that there is a seating depth that minimizes pressure and that seating deeper raises it higher due to reducing powder space. There are about a dozen major influences involved in different maximums being given by different manuals.


The dozen differences are:

1. Different chamber volume (including headspace difference)
2. Different throat distance from breech (including freebore length difference)

3. Different primer
4. Different case
5. Different bullet (including jacket weight, length, ogive radius, and total weight)
6. Different powder lot

7. Different seating depth (same effect as different C.O.L.)
8. Different bullet ogive distance from the lands
9. Different loading equipment setup (e.g., degree of crimp; different primer seating force).

Conditions and circumstances:
10. Different test temperature
11. Different test instrumentation
12. Different test technician

I had occasion to disagree with Hodgdon on a .38 Special wadcutter load at one point and had some back and forth with one of their technical people who was kind enough to go back and look at their test data. The bottom line was, as he said, these are the results one technician got in one gun on one day with one lot of powder. It's dated and signed off on, so it's what we have to go with. In other words, YMMV.

I have a list of pressure signs I try to update when I run into a new one. It is here (http://www.shootersforum.com/showthread.htm?t=58763). Keep an eye out for them.

Below is an illustration showing how two bullets the same weight can have the same distance off the lands, but different COL's and different seating depths. So you can see how the peak pressure with the same charge could be rather different for each, and this is before discovering what distance off the lands is actually optimum for each bullet shape.

The bottom line is, you have to work up your loads with each component combination. No escaping that.


NorCal Hal
December 2, 2010, 11:43 AM
Thanks. Lots of good information. I have made copies and read (and will re-read)many of the referenced data. The more I learn the more I realize how little I know about reloading!

This forum and your inputs have been invaluable - I have been shooting over pressure ammunition for a couple of years. Fortunately without incident or injury.

I have ordered the Hornady OAL length gauge and modified cartridge adapters.

December 3, 2010, 12:59 AM
This has got to be one of the most fascinating posts I have read in a long time! No joke, the information presented still has my brain spinning.I do not yet understand much of the data you all have presented yet but I will be spending a lot of time re-reading this entire thread so that I may be able to improve my understanding of ballistics and the sciences behind energy, max pressure and a whole lot of other data that you have presented in a MOST LIVELY MANNER!! I am not being sarcastic in the least, I want to thank everyone who participated, because you have given me the opportunity to vastly increase my knowlege of ballistics and the physics of energy. I have been handloading for about twenty five years now, mostly to my great satisfaction, and you all have shed a lot of new light on the subject and how I think about it. Way beyond - "I got 2725fps with my 30-06 180 Ballistic Tip from my custom '03(which is a gorgeous peice of gunsmithing by the way) and am still getting
1/3" groups at 100 yards:o."(And she will do every bit of that:D)
I hope I do not sound too pin-headed though, when I give my thoughts on what my opinion is on the OP. That is, and Roy Reall kind of beat me to the punch; a LARGE Brown Bear is coming at you like you just slapped his momma across the face. He is about 50 feet in front of you bearing down on you as if he had been shot out of a cannon:eek:. You have two loaded guns right at hand, each with one in the chamber and one more in the mag. One is chambered for a .223 with a 55gr. V-Max @ 3600fps, giving you 1582lbs. of energy, The other is a .458, 350gr Hard [email protected] with just about the same energy, 1523lbs. Which gun are you picking up? :D
I know that this is way too simple of a comparison and it may actually be almost an insult to the level of conversation here but this is how I am thinking of the issue.
Again thank you all, by re-reading this post several times I will be able to increase my knowlege. Knowlege and love are the only two things of true importance in life and you have helped me with one of them.

Bill "Willy" Henderson

December 3, 2010, 09:44 AM
I know that this is way too simple of a comparison and it may actually be almost an insult to the level of conversation...
Actually not.

As is often the case when people get wrapped around the axle in the throes of exquisite argument, it is the answer to the boundary-value problem that tests the asssumptions. ;)

December 3, 2010, 10:02 AM
Now you've caught on to why there are so many different stopping power/knockdown power formulas. Nobody yet has figured out how to roll them all into one with the correct weighting on each element. If you really want to get people screaming, apply the same logic to self-defense loads.

An interesting and slowly spreading technology was begun by Veral Smith long ago to produce flat tipped solid rifle bullets that intentionally don't expand. At rifle momentum levels they produce damage that is very impressive. The wound channels tend to be less wide (but still much wider than a round nose bullet produces) and longer than expanded bullet wounds, so they don't necessarily produce less bleeding surface area than an expanding bullet produces. They typically go through and through. The flat nose causes hydraulic translation of momentum to produce damage all around its line of penetration. Game is stopped impressively fast by them. In more recent years, Barnes and GS Custom have produced solids with those nose forms for large and dangerous game. The only drawback to the concept is ballistic coefficients that aren't best for long range shooting.

December 3, 2010, 11:09 AM
How do those compare to what I will call the classic "LeadHead" design?


December 3, 2010, 12:21 PM
That looks pretty much like a Veral Smith LFN (long flat nose) design from 30 years ago. He also came up with wide flat nose (WFN) and shorter flat nose (FN) designs. You can see pictures by downloading his catalog here (http://www.lbtmoulds.com/orderform.shtml).

For rifle, I was thinking of somewhat longer and higher sectional density designs. Here's GS Custom's line (http://www.gsgroup.co.za/03fn.html). This one is a Barnes (http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=212085), which has more corner radius than the Veral Smith designs for magazine feed, I expect. I have a 434 grain .458" mold from NEI that is similar.

I don't mean to suggest Smith invented the flat nose. Wadcutters have been around since the 1800's. It is just that Smith's book was the first place I saw some comparisons to jacketed expanding rifle bullets being made that favored the flat noses in any way. Beartooth Bullets sells these designs, and the Shootersforum.com, which is funded by Beartooth, has had some past threads with posts including photos of their effect on game. You could search out some of those.

NorCal Hal
December 3, 2010, 02:54 PM
I had a VERY INTERESTING long conversation with Mike in the technical support dept of IMR / Hodgdon yesterday. I can't begin to cover (or remember) all the topics we discussed but some of the salient points he made were;

1) The max load values publised for the 30-06 have to cover ALL rifles of that caliber including some from WWll and that modern rifles can handle more than the 60,000 psi.
2) He said ALL load information in the Hodgdon tables / websites have been extensively tested and they stand behind the data as being accurate. ie. 60.0C grains of IMR-4350, although my 59.0 grains is getting 3000+/- fps.
3) 3000 + fps is not unreasonable for 30-06 loads in modern weapons when properly developed, tested and loaded.
4) In agreement with earlier posts on this thread I need to establish the proper bullet seating, which will vary with each bullet size (weight) and shape / style. That just because two bullets are the same weight (say 150 grains) that does not necessarily mean they should be seated to the same OAL. The shape of a Sierra may be different than a Nosler, Swift, Berger, etc.
5) This may cause some ire but he said "Nobody in the powder manufacturing business uses QuickLoad" and gave the amazing history of Q-L back to it's being developed by the Russian KGB. He said that when the KGB maintained the data base it was "extremely accurate" and undoubtedly the best data base in the world. However, after the 1990 fall of the USSR and the KGB and in the subsequent conversion of the software to personal computers by a German a lot of the accuracy was lost. He said that the KGB spent "millions" to develop and maintain the data and that they tested every combination of powder, bullet, primer known to man to establish the baseline of the program. He said no company, or country, can afford to spend that kind of money to keep the data base currrent with the new calibers, new powders and combinations thereof. So newer data (less than 20 years old) is extrapolated or is an educated guess based on previously data and performance.
6) That flat base bullets sometime have better long range accuracy than the boattail and that the base of the bullet has as much, if not more, affect on long range accuracy as the point of the bullet.
7) He also pointed out that the primer type, bullet seating depth, barrel length and other parameters which do not appear on the Hodgdon reloading website page is shown when you select "print" on the specific load screen.

I have to agree with the previous post that the discussion, responses and research that have gone into some of these responses has far exceeded my expectations when I started the thread. I have learned a lot!


P.S. While QuickLOAD may not be perfect I have decided to order a copy anyway. The way I look at it, it is one more arrow in the quiver whether I use it or not. As it is now I have NO WAY of estimating chamber pressures and at least Q-L will give me SOME idea!

December 3, 2010, 03:11 PM
"...history of Q-L back to it's being developed by the Russian KGB...."
Ya just can't make stuff like this up.
No one would believe it.

(post: Good sleuthing)

December 3, 2010, 06:18 PM
I've only ever heard the Russian story from Hodgdon. It does not comport with the information in the introduction to the QuickLOAD manual. In that document Hartmut Broemel describes developing the first code in Focal for a DEC PDP8 in 1969 at Darmstadt Technical University, and testing its predictions using data from 4 military powders and anti-aircraft gun firing data. The fact he had access to the military data, added to the fact his bibliography references papers not readily available to the public, suggests he was doing this work in the military arms industry and has or had some level of clearance to read secure documents.

After that initial work he says he rewrote and compiled the model for a (then) more modern PDP11, and in the 80's moved it to a DOS based PC. At that point he had 15 powders in the database and began sharing the program with friends working in ammunition test labs. They used it in conjunction with their work and with making ammunition. They liked it so much that they encouraged him to create a commercial version. (So much for Hodgdon's claim that nobody in the industry uses it.)

Broemel then goes on to credit powder companies with supplying him with a lot of the data. Also for facilitating his purchase of used test lab equipment, so he has his own lab to gather at least some of the numbers from. He doesn't specify which ones, but obviously he knows the European makers and their technical people, so it could come from any of them.

Vihtavuori's full size manuals include photos of their lab facilities, so they are a possible source. They are one of the few powder companies that perform the full manufacturing process from designing the powder to making the nitrocellulose to making and testing the finished powders. That total control from raw materials to finished product is one reason their powder burns so cleanly. And of course they do complete testing in that lab. It wouldn't surprise me if they or other powder makers test their competitor's popular products from time to time, and any one of them may have passed some of that information to Broemel. I don't know. Vihtavuori came to mind because they do publish some data, like the energy content of their powders, that others do not.

As to the Russian connection, it sounds to me like someone who couldn't explain where Broemel got the powder data hit upon that as a possible explanation, then promoted it as fact. But I don't see, from Broemel's own introduction and assuming his veracity, any suggestion that such a connection ever existed. Broemel was in NECO's booth at the last SHOT show, so Hodgdon could have just gone over and asked.

Hodgdon is, to my mind, excessively prickly on the topic of the QuickLOAD, but they certainly are correct to avoid endorsing its results, even if they are confused about the program's origins. The program itself claims to be for advanced reloaders who know to work up to a predicted load while watching for pressure signs along the way. It points out that it is just one model among several for internal ballistics, and that its results may not be expected to be exact (except by accident). It's many influencing inputs mean that it obeys the garbage in/garbage out rule for computer software. It warns you not to trust loads developed in conjunction with QuickLOAD that exceed data manual maximums. It warns you not to trust such loads in guns that have unsupported or partially unsupported cases. It warns you not to trust such loads in bolt rifles that don't have safety lugs and that can blow a bolt back into your eye in the event of a case failure.

Hodgdon's tech told me they've had a number of incidents in which someone damaged a gun using a load some self-proclaimed expert posted on the Internet, then expected Hodgdon to make reparations for the damage. Since QuickLOAD may embolden incautious persons to make unfounded claims and ignore Hodgdon's published maximums in contradiction to the advice in the instructions (easy to do, if you've never read them), I can see why Hodgdon doesn't want to encourage that kind of "help".

Hodgdon does stand behind their load data, but as one of their customer service reps told me, that data is for one lot of powder and primers and cases, performed by one technician using one test gun. You still have to know how to work loads up on your own cases, with your own primers, using your lot of powder and your bullets while watching for pressure sign.

Not too long ago we had a thread by a fellow using Speer's data to load a .243 Winchester. Half a grain below the maximum load his Handy Rifle was popping open with every round fired and despite his having carefully checked and cleaned the latch. His velocities were 200 fps faster than the manual said they should be. Based on that velocity, I was able to use QuickLOAD to estimate his pressures were likely at around 77,000 psi—proof pressures. He called Speer, and they said they stood by their pressure test data, which is conducted by Alliant, I believe, since they are both owned by ATK and their load data is often identical. But the actual behavior of the gun and the effects on his cases suggested QuickLOAD was closer to correct about how the round behaved in his gun. So, in this instance QuickLOAD erred on the side of caution and was more correct than the manual.

While the load data authors do their best, Hodgdon is correct that their findings may not apply in your gun. I look at published load data as a suggestion you should eye with suspicion. I look at QuickLOAD as one more such source. Velocity feedback and, better still, pressure feedback from a strain gauge instrument, will help you adjust the program to better model your particular powder lots and guns. But until you actually work up a load in your gun with your components, any source of load data may just be smoke.

December 4, 2010, 10:54 AM
Having read your post, and then searching the net again for all references to (including his direct forum participation on
I can see where some might regard him as legend. What I cannot figure out is where the "KGB" connection came from. Barring some unknown/unstated source. it appears to spring from whole cloth.

That said, and reading the googled references/Hartmut's own comments, I don't think I'll be pouring those last teaspoons of an otherwise empty can of powder into the next lot of that same powder any longer. :(

December 4, 2010, 11:06 AM
Yes, I've done that in the past, too. It's only sure to be safe if the lot numbers match and no deterioration has occurred. The powder makers blend different lots to adjust burn rate of new lots. But they know what they are blending came from the same factory and recipe and they have equipment that ensures the blend is truly homogeneous, which most hand loaders can't guarantee. Assuming you succeed in that exercise, your loads then have to be worked up all over again anyway because you've created a new animal. Much bother. Easier just to use the stuff up before moving on to the next container. Volume shooters often buy several 8 lb jugs at a time to get the same lot number, then not have to worry about it for awhile.

NorCal Hal
December 11, 2010, 06:44 PM
OK I received and used the Hornady OAL gauge and BOY is that nice! I now see that I was guessing and all over the place before! With the Nosler partition 165 gr bullets in my Win model 70, 30-06 the max OAL is 3.307 so as mehavey said earlier my wide spread in velocities may have been from my seating the bullet too far into the chamber. I had 3.30" only .007" under the max.

Now I see some people say back off .010" and others say .020" which is correct? I have already fired 60-100 rounds at 3.30" so I don't see the need to back out a lot and work my way in.

How important is it to have the bullet comparator tool that clamps to the micrometer jaw? I know it will give the OAL at a point on the ogive (but not necessarily the same ogive as my rifle's) instead of measuring to the bullet tip as I am now.

That brings up another question. Now that you guys have me squared away with proper bullet seating relative to the lands (Max cartridge OAL) what about the proper cartridge length itself? When necessary, and it's usually not necessary, I have been trimming my 30-06 cases to 2.484" iaw McPherson and Speer manuals. Is this correct or is there some way I can determine the best case length for my particular rifle? Or isn't it worth worrying about?

December 12, 2010, 05:48 PM
Now I see some people say back off .010" and others say .020" which is correct?
Now you're in the realm of rifle personality. :D My "personal" methodology has been to start at 0.010" OFF to test powder loads, then work it off further 5-10/thousandths at a time. (UncleNick convinced me that some rifles like things Waaaay out.) Sometimes the rifle likes the bullet actually engaged. (0.005" is my limit so as not risk pulling the bullet from the case if/when unloaded. This is also a reason not to use these loads for hunting deep in the wilds. :() While I've not personally seen major velocity jumps when bullets are engaged this way using moderate to slower powders, it's recommended that you work this up carefully.

How important is it to have the bullet comparator tool...?
You can get away without a comparator for Match/hollow-points and FMJs--as long as you're not trying to get too close (coupla thousandths) to the lands. When dealing with malleable soft-points, however, I've found that the comparator is very comforting.

...what about the proper cartridge length itself?
Again in my experience, as long as all the cases are the same length/in spec case length is not a major player.

NorCal Hal
December 12, 2010, 06:11 PM
Should I be looking at velocity, accuracy or ??? as I move in or out from .010" ?

I assume your deep woods comment refers to a possible injury while far removed from help or having a bullet stuck in the chamber and no rod with which to remove the bullet?

December 12, 2010, 07:10 PM
Velocity won't change that much. On the other hand, you'll find a grouping "sweet spot" at some point in the mix. (As Townsend Whelen said once; "Only accurate rifles are interesting".) :)

As to the "boondocks" drawback of engaging into the lands, you haven't lived until you've opened the breech to watch an unfired case dump all its powder load into the action recesses -- and the bullet's still stuck in the throat.

Even in the best of circumstances you're dead in the water for ~five minutes while cleaning powder out of all sorts of small places/running a cleaning rod down from the muzzle. (Many :( -- especially if ball powder)

In worst field-case you're all through til you get back to camp or find someone with a ramrod. (Many, many, many :( )

NorCal Hal
December 13, 2010, 02:43 PM
McPherson's Metallic Cartridge Reloading 3rd edition recommends starting with an OAL of .015" from the rifling and moving BACK as far as .075" (which seems like a long ways). They suggest 5 shots at each setting.

They warn against seating jacketed bullets any closer than .015" and say that any homogeneous copper or copper-alloy bullet should have a minimum of .050".

They advise that once the best group is located try .005" on either side (longer/shorter) of that OAL setting.

December 13, 2010, 04:13 PM
That's good general advice. Unless one really knows what they are doing and has the right tools (chronograph, Stoney Point gauge, Comparators, quality calipers, etc), it's best to stay away from the lands by at least that 1/2 paper-clip distance.

The minumum 50 thousandths figure puzzles me, although that's what seating the Hornady 150 FMJ-BT to recommended length in the Model-70 got me (actually 56 thousandths). As noted in another post, however, blindly seating to bullet manufacturer's recommended lengths for other bullets were found to all over the place for that particular Model-70.

December 13, 2010, 09:14 PM
And it gets worse. Berger now says their VLD's tend to perform seated out further than shorter ogive radius bullets; as much as 0.165" off the lands, but as little as 0.045" off. So the geometry of your particular chamber as well as that of the bullet come into play. Nobody yet can predict this in advance of experimentation.

Dan Hackett, writing in the Precision Shooting Reloading Guide said he had a 220 Swift he could not get to shoot groups of 5 any tighter than 3/8" at 100 yds. Then one day he was loading some 50 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips for it and turned the micrometer on his seating die the wrong way, setting them in 0.050" off the lands instead of his intended 0.020" off the lands. He had always assumed anything over 0.025" off the lands would be too big, per conventional wisdom. Anyway, he had a whole box of 20 loaded before he noticed his error, so he decided to shoot them for practice. When he did, he got two groups of about .25" and two bug holes in the low 1's. So much for his magic number.

I recommend you shoot a Newberry round robin (http://optimalchargeweight.embarqspace.com/#/ocw-instructions/4529817134) with a reduced powder charge, substituting seating depth differences for powder charge changes. When you find which depth is best in your particular gun for that particular bullet, then run a second round robin with powder charge steps to finish tuning it in.

NorCal Hal
December 14, 2010, 04:39 PM
Sounds like good advice Unclenick that I will follow and thanks for the "Newberry round robin" link. Although I have heard the term used I had never seen the description as given here.