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Old March 22, 2000, 09:49 AM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: October 4, 1999
Posts: 317

The thread here about .243 loads for
deer hunting has prompted me to ask for
your help in better understanding terminal

From personal experience, I know what a
165 grain 30/06 round will do on medium
size deer..That is about the sum total
of my eyewitness experience with rifle
ballistics on big game.

With that limited perspective, I have a
hard time envisioning how an 85 or 95
grain bullet from say, a .243 or equivelant
rifle can perform sufficiently to bring
down a 120 pound animal.

I realize the smaller bullet is traveling
maybe 200 to 400 fps faster; but the fact
remains, it's a "tiny" projectile.

Is it's expansion that dramatic? Is the
hydrostatic shock that "explosive"?

Does the extra few hundred fps, indeed make
up for the much smaller bullet.

Given the fact that such small rounds do
work, what is your opinion of a minimum
size bullet (game laws notwithstanding)
that could reasonable be considered sport-
ing and universally acceptable for deer
size game?

I'm asking, in part, because I own a .243
but can't get it to stabalize with bullets
larger than 85 grain. Therefore, I have
never considered using it as a deer rifle.

Convince me that I can reconsider with
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Old March 22, 2000, 02:41 PM   #2
Unkel Gilbey
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Join Date: February 26, 1999
Location: Danby, Vermont
Posts: 349
Hey Sport!

There's probably a bunch out here that could quote line and verse about formula's and graphs and figures about how and why a sub .25 caliber, flyweighted bullet with supersonic muzzle velocities will outperform a slower .30 caliber (and greater) bullet day in and day out. There is probably some theoretical validity to their arguments.

But I've noticed that there is a resurgence of a caliber that is well over 100 years old that is not only a lot bigger, and heavier, but also much slower - the 45/70. Here's a chunk of lead that in it's original form didn't travel much faster than 2000 f.p.s., and yet it's almost the bullet of choice of guides and outfitters in Alaska, and anywhere else there are really big critters. Why is this?

Here's my little bit of insight. I tend to simplify things, makes it easier to relate things and folks understand me better, so bear with me. Here it is, Big bullets, once they are started moving, are damn difficulty to stop. They tend to retain a whole lot more energy whenever they do eventually hit something. Also, they tend to retain that energy longer (that's in time and distance)- when compaired to a lighter bullet.

Here's an example to ponder... Take two items that are similar in size and shape, a ping-pong ball and a golf ball. Hurl them at a snowbank (or sand dune) with equal vigor. Which item will make the bigger impression? Even though lighter, and presumably faster initailly, the ping-pong ball will fairly bounce off your target, whereas the golfball will really whomp the stuffing out of your mark. You could even go so far as to make the compairson a bit more realistic by substituting the golf ball with a softball!

What does this have to do with Terminal ballistics? Well, it should illustrate that it really doesn't matter what the velocity of the round is, all those things can be calculated from data in the loading manuals anyway. What matters is most likely (1) bullet weight, (2) bullet placement, and (3)the overall accuracy of the round. Like the famous Marine Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller once said (about the enemy)... "You can't hurt them if you can't hit 'em!"

Hit your mark, and don't be seduced by the lighter, faster crowd. You don't need a Lazzoroni Superslinger, or a Remington Ultra whatever, you just need a big bullet, an accurate load for that bullet, and you need to hit your mark.

To address your remark about stabilizing a heavier bullet than 85 gn in your .243 Win... My first guess at the problem would be the rifling twist rate. Heavier bullets might require a faster twist. I know that many of the long range (800+ yards) target rifles chambered in .308 Win that I've fired had a twist rate or 1:10, whereas the medium range guns tended to have a 1:12 twist. This could be your problem.

Lemme know what you think!

Unkel Gilbey
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Old March 22, 2000, 08:10 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: October 4, 1999
Posts: 317


We're singing from the same page on
big and slow.

I'm still wondering about the little
and fast. What makes a smallish bullet
at just a few hundred fps faster speed
get the job done as well as the bigger,
more powerful round?

By the way, didn't I see your act on
The Ed Sullivan Show a couple of times?

You really spin them plates good!
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Old March 23, 2000, 09:00 AM   #4
Art Eatman
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Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Terlingua, TX; Thomasville, GA
Posts: 24,126
Having done in a fair number of deer in the 90-pound to 150-pound range, with both the .243 and the '06, I'll try to help.

Whitetails are fairly thin-skinned and light-boned critters. Most anything will punch on through skin and ribs/shoulder bone--even a .22 rimfire. The .243 bullet expands dramatically and destroys a lot of tissue. It will explode about two inches of spine, or turn the heart or lungs to jelly. This is from "autopsy", by the way...I have found it common for part of an 85-grain Sierra HPBT to exit in a cross-body shot. I have never shot a deer "fore and aft", longwise of the body.

The '06 doesn't do anything different; just a whole bunch more of the same.

The last mule deer I killed was a neck shot, with an '06 at around 30 yards. I was amazed that the bullet did not exit! Another mule deer--125-lb, field-dressed--took the first hit just behind the heart. He humped up, looked sad, and walked on up the mountain. The second 150-grain was placed better...

If I'm walking-hunting, and/or hunting larger deer, I'll take the '06. For central Texas "little deer", the .243 serves well. To me, the issue is effectiveness if I make a poor shot. Even the .22 centerfires will easily kill deer--if everything is near-perfect. A bad hit, however, can mean that the animal escapes to die much later...A bigger cartridge is a form of insurance.

Jeff Cooper sez, "A .45 is a 9mm that's already expanded." To an extent, the same is true of a .45-70 and the smaller bullets. But, its effectiveness is more useful on larger animals, relying on a large wound channel and extensive bleeding before the animal succumbs. A .45-70 will penetrate thick-skinned, heavy boned animals better than a .243; the .243 bullet can blow up on a heavy rib or shoulder, for instance.

The smaller, faster bullets rely on massive localized destruction of tissue. The heavier, slower bullets rely more on bleeding from a through-and-through wound channel. Both work.

And now you know how to build a watch.

Regards, Art

[This message has been edited by Art Eatman (edited March 23, 2000).]
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Old March 23, 2000, 02:21 PM   #5
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Join Date: December 6, 1999
Location: Fort Atkinson, WI USA
Posts: 143
Just a comparison to (with out specifics) answer your basic question, how can a .243 be enough for deer when the .30 calibers are more popular, er powerful?
The essence of the answer IMHO is that the .30-06 is TEN times more powerful than it needs to be to take deer. The .243 is maybe three times more powerful than it needs to be... see my point? even though the .243 is smaller, it is still several times more potent than it needs to be.
My rifle is a .30-06, I reload with Joe, whose deer rifle is .30-06, and his son has a .243. Joe knows (and reloads) both rounds, and believes accurately placing either round is the key to taking deer.
I hope this answers the is .243 enough for deer question, there isn't enough time to answer the why is the .30 is more popular question.
YMMV and all the usual disclaimers.
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Old March 23, 2000, 07:00 PM   #6
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Join Date: October 4, 1999
Posts: 317


These kinds of answers are exactly why I
post on TFL.

I understand the why: Dramatic expansion
and internal damage....and the how:
The cartridge is more powerful than it
need be.

Thank you all.

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Old March 25, 2000, 09:47 AM   #7
Stephen A. Camp
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Join Date: April 16, 1999
Posts: 2,570
Hello, Sport. I believe that you've been given sage advice by others and will add only this: Having killed many deer with a 6mm Remington and a 75 gr HP, I know it works, but only when taking broadside or neck shots, in my experience. The heavier rounds like the .30-06 will allow you more lattitude in shots you can take as it penetrates more. For that reason alone, I now hunt Texas Whitetail with a .30-06. Best and good hunting.
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Old March 25, 2000, 04:28 PM   #8
Walt Welch
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Join Date: November 3, 1998
Location: Alamo, CA
Posts: 424
The formation of a 'temporary cavity' is what causes the extreme destruction of tissue with light fast bullets. This is what Art experienced when he autopsied (BTW, Art; isn't that a little overkill? Most people just butcher them! ) his deer and found macerated heart and lung.

The same phenomenon happens with larger, slower bullets, assuming that we are talking 30-06 type loads here. The 45-70 is so slow that no temporary cavity is formed. The '06 has a smaller temporary cavity than the lighter, faster 6mm bullet, but the larger heavier bullet can penetrate vital organs and kill the deer just as dead.

The trick is getting the temporary cavity in the right place. Sometimes, a light bullet essentially blows up after very little penetration; obviously, this is not good.

Another problem facing hunters is the plethora of bullets from which to choose, nearly every one offering excellent performance on game from titmice to elephants. Gun Tests did experiments with bullets in several calibers within the past few years. You may wish to look these up.

Basically, if you have found a combination that works for you, stick with it. If you haven't got one, ask a hunter with more experience.

Hope this helps; all my experience with terminal ballistics has been in human beings. Walt Welch MD
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Old March 25, 2000, 05:01 PM   #9
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Join Date: October 4, 1999
Posts: 317

Without trying to sound flippant;

Speed Kills.

At least that's my impression of the
smaller projectile/higher velocity

The hydrostatic shockwave-temporary
cavity- plays havoc with the internals.

One of the reasons I originally asked
was because of an article I had read about
military R and D on future generation
rifles using sub 22 caliber cartridges.

It struck me there must be a point of
diminishing return.

On deer sized game a 75 or 85 grain bullet
would have to be right at the edge no
matter how fast it's traveling.

Correct or not? Assuming good shot place-
ment at reasonable distance.

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Old March 25, 2000, 10:46 PM   #10
Walt Welch
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Join Date: November 3, 1998
Location: Alamo, CA
Posts: 424
FMJ military rounds, such as the 7.62 x 39 and .223 do NOT cause temporary cavities. This is because they don't expand as do hunting bullets. Military rounds for that reason, are designed to tumble after entering a person, to maximize damage.

Remember in the Philadelphia Enquirer's report of 'Blackhawk Down,' a report of the debacle in Somalia, the American soldiers reported a much lessened effectiveness of the armor piercing round they were using in their M-16's against unarmored humans. Here is the website: The AP round doesn't tumble.

Further considerations are that military rounds are designed to WOUND, not kill. It takes many more people to care for a wounded soldier than a dead one. So attempts to apply military strategy regarding small arms to game animals is an exercise fraught with peril.

Yes, you are correct, a temporary cavity CAN be very destructive. The problem is that performance varies greatly with small, light bullets, based on placement. A bullet which will mince up the heart and lungs on a broadside rib shot may well blow up on the rump or shoulder, causing an entirely different sort of wound, one that is not like to be quickly, if at all, fatal.

Larger, somewhat slower bullets have more latitude with respect to placement. I am not saying you should shoot a deer in the rump, but am saying that on a frontal quartering shot, if you hit a shoulder with a heavy bullet, it stands a better chance of penetrating to the heart and lungs, and downing the animal.

Sorry to disillusion you, but there is no such thing as a silver bullet.

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