View Full Version : Sierra Bullets: FB & BT

Art Eatman
October 23, 2001, 11:07 AM
I emailed Sierra about the comments we've been making, here, about bullet expansion and suchlike. I got a real good response:

"Basically, flat base bullets are designed for closer ranges and we usually figure that as 250/300 yards and under. Boattail bullets are designed to perform at the longer ranges- 300 yards and above- where the velocity has dropped off, plus they have a higher BC and are more aerodynamic for the longer shots. Usually, what happens if a boattail bullet is used at closer ranges ( often 50-75 yards ) where the velocities are higher than it was intended to perform at, is very violent expansion.

As the distance increases and the velocity slows down, the bullet performs more like it was designed to. Even the flat base bullets will have a more rapid expansion at close range, just due to the high velocity, since the higher the velocity, the faster the expansion. The more a bullet expands, the less it penetrates. I don't mind a bullet expanding violently, but if it does, I want it to expand in the boiler room of the animal, not on the near shoulder or blow out the far side.

I usually use boattails quite often, but if the shot is close, I stay out of the shoulder and use strictly a heart/lung shot. It does so much internal damage that the animal very seldom moves out of its tracks. If the range is long and the velocity has dropped off quite a bit, you may want to use the shoulder to help give you the resistance to get the bullet to expand at the lower velocity. I hope this helps.

Thank You,

Carroll Pilant"

Joke: This guy actually expects folks to pick a
specific point on an animal? Joke, okay?

Seriously, his statements parallel what I've observed, and certainly clarify the issue. I gotta admit that more than once I have not taken his points into consideration in the "heat of the moment".

Hope this helps,


October 23, 2001, 11:44 AM
IMHO, more bullet companies should do what Hornady does with theoir XTP line, and specify a specific optimal velocity range for expansion.

October 23, 2001, 01:58 PM
Sierra does as well in their reloading manual. Take a look at (3rd Edition, Section VI) Rifle Bullets. They'll give you optimum fps ranges for accuracy, hunting, etc.

Decent info when it's correct. I notice with glee, under their .30 cal 220 grain round nose that directly under, they have "Optimum range for varmit hunting: 50 - 250 yards" :D Must be quite the varmit.

In some instances, you can get similar penetration/expansion characteristics by playing with either muzzle velocity or by switching bullet weights (which sorta by default lowers MZ anyway).

Art Eatman
October 23, 2001, 03:14 PM
Poodleshooter, a lot of it is no more than changing times in the world of shooting and hunting. It's normal that after being in the game for a long time, lotsa stuff gets taken for granted.

Heck, 50 years ago there were no commonly available boat-tail bullets, and nowhere near the variety of weights, much less jacket-styles.

For 30-caliber, for instance, there were 110-, 150-, 180- and 220-grain bullets. Your choice, generally, was pointed soft-point or round-nosed. (Plus the 170 RN for the thutty-thutty.) That was about I-T, it.

Lots more access to hunting; far fewer hunters, in most states. Nowhere near as many people even thinking of shooting out beyond 200 yards.

And a lot fewer oh-so-picky handloaders/hunters.

TFL has been good for me, because of how much it's made me think back to stuff I hadn't thought of in 40 or 50 years or more. Stuff I've taken for granted for so long that it didn't even occur to me that other folks didn't know.

And that's why I'm sorta gentle at times in my comments, whether it's in regard to posters here, or about manufacturers of products...

So why not write bullet-makers, asking that the effective-velocity ranges be part of their data? Don't come here and gripe. :)



October 23, 2001, 06:16 PM
Good diggin Art. And you are so right bout a lot of stuff taken for granted and filed away in with the cobwebby part of the mind over the years.


October 23, 2001, 08:13 PM
If Speer is like Sierra I guess that I missed on an 8 point I killed a few years back. See he was hauling a** in a thicket and I hit the front shoulder instead of the rib cage for a heart/lung shot. I do know that that Speer 150 gr. "hot core" (30-06) flat came apart. Course the deer kinda came "unglued" too. Guess I will have to learn to shoot better. ;)

Seriously though we do need to be patient with some of the younger folks here. Art is right as usual...........hell someone has to teach them.

October 23, 2001, 11:39 PM
Matches what I've seen. I often wondered why a certain 25-06 bullet litterally exploded after penetrating the shoulderblade at extremely close rang (under ten yards) I was cussing the bullet maker, but it was all in the design, eh? Next time aim directly for the heart - :D

Long Path
October 24, 2001, 01:07 AM
Wait. Here it is ( www.sierrabullets.com )!

Call 1(800) 223-8799 for Sierra Tech Support. Now, believe it or not, these guys will answer reloading questions about things that have nothing whatsoever to do with Sierra bullets. For free. Until 9PM! Now you can't say Sierra isn't making an effort!!!! They'll tell you every little thing you ever wanted to know about their bullets, and then suggest their favorite loads for that bullet in your caliber. I had a Sierra tech named Paul give me a superb load for .300 Win Mag, which I've used to kill several deer so far. I had been loading the 165g GameKing HP to 3200 fps, but his load provided 3100 fps with their 180g GameKing, which he pleaded for me to use for the elk hunt I was about to go on. "The 165 should not be used on big game at above 3000 fps," he said. While the 165 would be a dandy elk bullet out of a .30-06, it is too lightly made for elk when shot out of .300 WinMag, unless you can guarantee that you will not shoot at the game until it's beyond 150 yds. Good advice. I've stuck with the 180g.

The info is out there. Sometimes you have to look for it, though.


October 25, 2001, 12:06 AM
Been thinking about this thread & Sierra's GameKing performance & just to throw some stuff out here for further what-have-yous.

My bud & me have been using the Federal Premium .30-06 180 Game King (spec'd at 2700 fps) for elk exclusively (I switched to a .308 coupla years back w/Barnes XBT - 'nother topic, but no reason other than a different rifle entailed a bullet switch) for years.

We've taken 10-12 elk, granted mostly cows (but still, a 400 lb animal) with this bullet. All but 2-3 were easily within 40 yards & many at 20-25.

A couple were direct broadside mid-high shoulder shots, breaking both & exiting completely. All others were broadside heart/lung shots.

We have recovered one bullet & that on a sholder shot - perfectly mushroomed, w/~90% weight retention, against the farside hide. A classic "not through" shot.

Every bullet path showed great tissue destruction (especially off-side lungs) w/o anything excessive indicated.

Shoulder-shot elk drop - period. Most lung-shot elk go down within 40 yards, leaving a decent enough blood trail. We did have one LS elk that ran 1/4 mile but that's elk for ya. (That one had the most blatant blood trail I have ever seen, dead on its feet but hadn't quite got the picture yet.)

Sierra recommends hunting velocities at 2500-3100 fps & ranges of 150-600 for elk/moose for this bullet. We're in the velocity ballpark, but well under the "optimum" closeness (for lack of a tech-whiz-o word ;) ).

Velocity/range specs posted in their manual seem to jive with what Art got, but from our experience ... I dunno.

Certainly no argument & as I said, posted for gee-whiz info.

Maybe if we'd shot heavier bone, etc. at these close(r) ranges, we'd be gettin' some bullet blow-up? Probably more expansion, that's almost a given.

Think we'll keep shootin' where & how we do. Seems to work & I loaded up about 200 of these a while back - no sense paying Federal close to $20/20 when I can do 100 for ~$40. ;)

Anyway, FWIW.

Art Eatman
October 25, 2001, 08:21 AM
Thankee, labgrade. That's the sort of BTDT feedback that's most helpful to us all...

:), Art