View Full Version : Bullet weight vs. design?

January 2, 2002, 01:11 PM
Ok I have been pondering something recently...

If you had to choose between a heavy bullet of classic design or a middle weight bullet of premium variety which would you choose for Elk?

This may end up getting more complicated later, but for now lets just look at 30-06 for simplicity's sake. Would you shoot a 150 grain premium bullet (Barnes X, Swift, etc) or a 200-220 grain classic bullet (Hornady Interlock, Rem. Core-Lokt, etc)

I wonder how others choose different bullets for different hunting situations...

Roman Knoll
January 2, 2002, 01:22 PM
I believe that for every catridge/caliber there is a optimal bullet weight. I use solely 180 grainers in .30-06 and .308. There is the whole point of going up on caliber scale - shooting heavier bullets.

If I wanted to use 150 grainers on elk (in my neck of the woods it would be moose) I would rather take 6.5x55 or some of 7 mm. It would give me better sectional density and in result better penetration.


January 2, 2002, 02:08 PM
Wow, actually you hit the nail on the head. I am looking at loads for my 6.5x55. Which do you think would be better 140 or 156-160? Which is the optimum bullet weight for this Swedish dream rifle?

Also what do we think are the optimum bullets weights for the .270 win and 7mm Rem Mag?

Roman Knoll
January 2, 2002, 02:37 PM
We use 6.5x55 a lot. Even for moose. Our European variety is about the size of North American elk.

I would settle for 156 grainers for this cartridge. Recently I load Norma Oryx. I can push it up to around 2500 f/s

With this velocities you don't need any premiums. Any decent soft point will do just fine.

I never loaded or used 7mm or .270. For 7 mm (.284) I would go as high as 170 grains. For 270 I would probaly choose about the same as for 6.5x55.


Art Eatman
January 2, 2002, 05:10 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember reading that the Scandinavian moose and the American elk are of the same family. The Scandinavian moose and the American moose are totally different.

In my playing with loads for my '06s, I've never been in love with just one weight of bullet. 110-grain for little stuff, and 150-grain for whitetails. 165- or 180-grain for mule deer, and I'd probably stay with the 180s for what I expect as an in-range elk shot. (That is, I wouldn't shoot at an elk farther away with a 220-grain than I would with a 180-grain.)

Regardless of the sectional density of a bullet, heavier bullets are more likely to go all the way through an animal than lighter bullets. (Think of a 300-grain .45-70 bullet as compared to an 85-grain .243 bullet) So, if a 150-grain 30-caliber bullet goes all the way through, what gain is there from a 180- or 220-grain?

Biathlonman, I'd guess that if you compared bullets' BC and SD in something like the Sierra handbook, you'd probably find the optimum for the 270 and the 7mm. (Don't have my book here with me.) So I'm guessing at (roughly) 150-grain and 160-grain, respectively.


January 2, 2002, 05:25 PM
Well the .270 and the 6.5x55 is where I have been seeing items that made me start to wonder. For instance on Winchester's website for large game in .270 they recommend the 150gr. powerpoint as the best bullet, but they don't mention the 140 failsafe or partition.

I have yet to find factory loaded premium bullets in .270 of 150 gr. I can't find any premium bullets above 140gr. in either the .270 or the 6.5x55. Both look to be more effective, with higher weight bullets, and yet no one seems to makes them.

Am I the only person that sees that as kind of strange? :)

Just one of the many things I like to ponder in my free time...

Roman Knoll
January 2, 2002, 05:36 PM

European Moose looks like American but is smaller. It is of the same size as Elk. In German "moose" is "elch" that's why this two animals are sometimes mixed. Our "elk" is red stag which is bigger than mule dear but smaller than elk.

Whether lighter bullet penetrates as deep as heavier is a matter for discussion. Much depends on the bullet. All I know for sure that heavy bullet (of proper design and in right velocity) will always outpenetrate lighter bullet. Especially with quartering shots or through heavy bones. I don't care much for energy figures. In my book it is momentum that counts.

For hunting I usually use one and the same load in my rifles. I hate waisting expensive bullets to re-zero. I go for heavy bullet and moderate velocities because I eat what I shoot.

We seldom shoot on distances over 200 meters so medium magnums for flat trajectory don't appeal to me. Their stopping power is overrated. .300 Win won't do much better on this distance than .30-06 appart from ruining venison.

I did lot of hunting for plains game in Africa with .30-06 (180 grains). My rifle and loads did just fine up to 300 meters. I can't shoot on longer distances anyway.


January 2, 2002, 08:28 PM
I've only shot 1 elk so far and he ran right in front of me,maybe 50"away. The 180 gr fail safe went right through his chest, he ran about a 100' and stopped. I had to shoot him again. I would have been better off with a 220 gr soft point, thats what I'm going to use next time.

Roman Knoll
January 3, 2002, 05:06 AM
I wouldn't draw fargoing conclusion basing on one shot.

With Oryx .30-06 /180 grains I've taken 16 game of different sizes and I'm still not any wiser. Depending on distance (read velocity) the bullet behaves differently. Still, if shot in right spot the game will drop sooner or later.

Stopping power of hunting bullet is a function of penetration and expansion. If one of this two element fails, the demise of the animal will be prolonged. From my personal experience I value penetration as more important.


Judging from your story you shot your elk on relatively close distance. Since you haven't recovered the bullet we can only guess what happened. Most likely - because velocity was still high - fail safe petals were cut of while penetrating. Here we're talking bullet design/velocity range not the bullet weight.

You don't say which caliber you shot with. On this range the effect of slower/heavier bullet would probably be better. But again, it would depend on the design. If the heavier bullet was slow enough to screw up expansion you would get same effect - through and through penetration with small permanent cavity.

Anyway, if your elk had been shot through the chest - as you say - it would be dead. Few more yards run off and it's down.


Steven Mace
January 3, 2002, 06:06 AM
Biathlonman, Remington does list their Premier Partition Ammunition (http://www.remington.com/ammo/PAGES/centerfire/pre_partition.htm) for the .270 Win. cartridge using the 150gr. bullet. Winchester also lists their 150gr. Supreme Partition Gold (http://www.winchester.com/ammunition/store/cfrlist.eye?cartlist=MjcwIFdpbmNoZXN0ZXI%3D&uselist=none&brandlist=none&image=on&summary=on&velocity=on&energy=on&shortrange=on&longrange=on) round for the .270 Win. cartridge. Hope this helps!

Steve Mace

Art Eatman
January 3, 2002, 10:22 AM
Seems to me that there are several causes for our decision-making problems with these premium bullets. One, I think, is that we "don't read the directions". That is, we don't read or ask the factory folks about the specifics such as we've discussed, above and else"when" on this forum.

We did have a pretty good Input from a Sierra Factory person, some time back, concerning the effects of range on velocity and therefore on bullet behavior...

Another problem is that we just can't do enough field-testing on game. One or two shots on one or two animals just isn't enough to allow definitive comment.

I guess I could call it a problem in that it's difficult to acquire only one or two bullets of each type so any of us could take a hacksaw and cut them apart and look at things like jacket thickness, etc. However, many of the gunzine articles do just that--so there is value to the 'zines whether one likes the tone of the articles or not. :)

One sorta philosophical point to all this: I've never had any trouble killing deer with standard bullets. The deer all died quickly. Because of this, I have a sort of "Why bother?" attitude about premium bullets. I figure it might be different for an African hunt, since from reading about it, it seems that penetration is more important than expansion--and the premium bullets are supposed to hold together better, to penetrate better. So far in my U.S. hunting, that hasn't been a particular problem.

'Nuff fer now,


January 3, 2002, 11:02 PM
Well on the .270, 150gr. Partitions great call, just bought two boxes for my brother to try out!

I am intrigued by bullet behavior and ballistics, what can I say I am a gun nut. I often times have a hard time believing some animals are as hard to kill as folks say. Shoot it where it counts and it can't live, thats just the way it's got to be.

I suppose there is something to be said for using enough gun, but what is enough is a very hazy line. Same thing for Art's comment about shooting all the way through with 150 as apposed to 180s, well what exactly is "all the way through" is much different broadside as opposed to a Texas heart shot.

I suppose I should feel fortuanate that I am only 21 and with a little help from God should have a lot of time to figure out what works for me :).

Premium bullets also cause me to wonder. Do I really need them, do they offer me anything a "lesser" bullet doesn't, do they really perfrom better? Beats me, it would seem that they do, but I really have no idea for sure!

Oh well...enough rambling for now...

January 6, 2002, 06:22 PM
I agree 100% with Art Eatman on the premium (aka expensive) bullets. We've been killing everything from squirrels to bear to moose with standard bullets for how long? Now, because of some slick magazine adds, somehow they're not good enough. Premium bullets are made to hold up to high velocity magnums at short range. If your under 3,000 fps (like the 30-06, 270 etc), standard bullets are what you want. They're designed for penetration and expansion at those velocities. Standard bullets are even excellent out of a 300 Win mag if the shooting is at a long range (before anyone gets spun up, I'm talking about bullet velocity at impact, not the barrel). As far as heavy vs. light bullets, if hit in the chest, which will more likely knock you over, a baseball or a bowling ball. If you look at the charts, heavier bullets have a lot more foot pounds of energy on impact.