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Old June 8, 2014, 09:52 AM   #26
Unlicensed Dremel
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I would think ESPECIALLY in the case of ML hunting that one would select the most anchor-on-the-spot target location.
Well, exactly - that's my point.
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Old June 8, 2014, 11:28 AM   #27
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To me a broad side heart/lung shot is more practical than a CNS shot, especially when using primate equipment. It offers a larger target area and still provides quick clean kills. I still prescribe to the aim small miss small theory, but am not above hedging the odds in my favor.

Limiting yourself to only neck shots is unnecessary and silly if you are using an adequate projectile and powder charge. Stepping up in bore size isn't really going to make a difference either once you get to .50 caliber or larger. Elk aren't bullet proof nor that hard to kill as long as you put a projectile that offers adequate penetration where it belongs.
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Old June 8, 2014, 11:59 AM   #28
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Like I've said, I've never hunted elk with a ML so will defer to those experienced... and leave this discussion.
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Old June 8, 2014, 01:00 PM   #29
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OK, I guess it’s time for an “article” it’s going to be long, but I hope it’s educational.

As I read such posts over and over (another re-hash) I am struck by the fact that the "gun-rags" have convinced so many shooters over time that they really need "new science", new technology and a new need to spend money because physics no longer apply in the "modern world"

Guys, that's simply not true.

As someone that has hunting with muzzleloaders (with very good success I might add) for about 40 years, and a man that has hunted with other men that use muzzleloaders for the same amount of time (also with good success) I can assure you FROM EXPERIENCE) that a 50 cal ball or larger needs make no apologies for it’s lack of power and effect. I for one like to see 54 and bigger used for elk, but 50s will do if the man knows how to shoot it and used hard balls.

Also I would like to point out that contrary to most misguided beliefs, the killing effect of most modern rifles is NOT better than a large caliber round ball.

A bit of personal background here may be in order.
I am the former CEO of a bullet company. Cast Performance in Riverton Wyoming, (originally from Gardnerville Nevada and then later Yerington Nevada)
In my time as the owner, and later co-owner of that company I was involved in the production of MILLONS of high performance bullets for modern rifles and handguns. I was also a man that tested our products both on the range and in the lab, but also in the field and so did all my employees. I used to get letters and reports daily from all over the world from customers. An average of about 4-5 a day, and some days we’d get 20 or more.

I used to buy our competitions bullets too, by the thousands. We wanted to test out products against theirs head to head. So I have fired more Sierra, Hornady Nosler, Speer and some imported bullets than I can count, and I also hunted with these bullets on and off since I was 12 years old.

The reason for this info being written here is simply to make a point that I know a bit about bullets and how (and why) they work or don’t work to varying degrees.

With all that said, I will point out a fact that all hunter know (or should know) but it’s not said enough to keep it in the forefront of our minds.

Guns don’t kill
Ammo doesn’t kill.
Bullets actually don’t’ kill

Bullets make holes. How deep and how wide as well as how much they bleed make differences in the demise of game. At high enough velocity a bullet can cause the red blood cells to rupture and in dong this they dump a coagulant that causes fast and massive clotting. How many hunters have seen an antelope or deer hit with a rifle and run as if they were missed? Lots of us, right.
In many instances that hit is made in a vital area, but the animal runs because the clotting works fast enough to keep blood pressure from dropping below the point that the brain shuts down, so the fear instinct takes over and the animal runs, sometime a fair distance.

How many of us have seen the effectiveness of older slower bullets killing game. Most of us over 45 years old…right?
303 Brit, 30-40 Krag, 8MM Mauser, 30-06 with the old 200 and 220 grain bullets….the list goes on and on. On paper they don’t look too impressive, but in the field they kill very well. One reason is that at a bit of a lower velocity the clotting is often a lot less evident than it is at impact velocities over 2500 FPS because at over 2500 FPS impact velocity the red-blood cells rupture far more then at lower velocity. Look at the effect of a large sharp broad head on an arrow. Even though they are VERY slow compared to a 22 short, they kill very well. The WOUND is doing the killing, not the broadhead itself.

So that brings me to my little lesson here.

Lets look at a 300 magnum shooting a 180 grain bullet at 3200 FPS.
What do we know?
Well, we have a 180 grain projectile.
It’s leaving the muzzle at 3200 FPS.

Let’s say the elk is at 250 yards. The impact velocity of the 180 grain 30 cal bullet is about 2600 FPS. With a good hit the elk dies quickly and we have a very happy hunter.
Now I will reveal a few things most hunters do not know.

When a soft point bullet strikes an animal the expansion starts instantly. Depending on the bullet it can come to full expansion of break up within a very short distance in the animal, or in the cases of tougher bullets, they expand slower and open up less, but retain more weight so they do deeper. A Barnes X bullet will hold more weight and expand well, but not come apart as much as an average Sierra bullet as an example. But the little detail that most hunters do not know is how FAST the bullet sheds it’s velocity.

Using high speed photography and using clear gel we can and we have measured velocity drops within the impact channel. An impact of our 30 cal 180 grain bullet at 2600 FPS is reduced to about 1300 FPS within the first 4 inches of penetration and the energy is used to both blast out tissue as well as to cause the expansion of the bullet itself.
So 4” into your elk you have a 1300 FPS projectile that is now about 45 to 50 caliber, driving through the vital and making a wound that will kill the elk quickly and humanly.

If a bullet over-expands or breaks up the penetration is severely impaired.
That is exactly what has led to the market demands for better and better bullets for larger game.

Again I refer to the arrow. If the archer can get his blade clear through both lungs of an elk without the blades breaking off will bring home his elk probably 99% of the time. He has a blood trail and a lot of blood on it, so he follows it to his dead elk and gets his knife out.

If our rifle hunter does the same thing with a good bullet he also starts to gut his elk.

If however the elk is hit with an arrow or a bullet that gets one lung but leaves the other working to any degree that the elk can still get oxygen to it’s brain the chase is on. And often the elk get away and either dies un-harvested, or heals up

If our hunter was using a good tough 180 grain bullet the would is going to be large enough to bleed out the elk and go clear through to the other side, so the elk will not get away and be waisted.

Now let’s get back to the original subject.
A 30 cal 180 grain bullet when it expands is about 50 cal, and if it's an outstanding bullet, it will weigh about 170 grains or more when it stops.

A 50 cal ball is 50 cal (well, .490 or 495 if you want to split hairs) and weighs 180 grains. Both go through the elk at about the same speed. They don't hit the elk at the same speed, but they go through it's body at about the same speed. You see, the ball doesn't loose 50%-80% of it's velocity by expanding. It sheds it's velocity at a relatively even rate.

Both the 50 cal muzzleloader and the 300 magnum make wounds of about the same size and depth at their respective useful ranges.
YES the 300 mag has a LOT better range.But within the ranges that both rifles should be used at (lets say 150 yards for the 50 cal and 500 yards for the 300 mag) both kill about the same.

The reason bullets replaced balls in the militaries of the world and also in the hunting fields was RANGE, not killing power. Balls kill extremely well, but can't fly as well.

Where you really start to see how well muzzleloaders kill is when you keep your range to 100 or under, you shoot a hard ball (not a sub bore-size bullet ) and you use a rifle of 58 cal or larger.

In British colonial India in the mid 1800s the 66 cal (16 bore or “One Once Gun”) was considered the best all around hunting arm in the field for all game up to elephant. ELEPHANT GENTELMEN!

Yes Indian elephants are smaller then African elephant, but they are bigger than elk!

Hard balls from these old guns would not exit game over 2500 pounds, but they would exit game under about 2500 pounds, and they killed well even when they didn’t exit because the WOUND was huge and deep.

In Africa the 16 bore and the 12 bore (66 cal and 72 cal) were more popular. The 8 bore was considered the standard for elephant. An 8 bore is 82 cal.

But if we look at things with honest eyes and ask ourselves “is a 160 year old 66 cal British muzzleloader, less effective than my 300 mag or my 280 Remington?” we’ll be forced to admit that our 300 and our 280 would be marginal for elephant today. Yes it can be done and yes it has been done, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice.

However when we look at the killing effectiveness of the old "one once guns” of the British Empire and compare them to the effects of a modern 416 or 375 we are again forced to admit that the old 66 cal is as effective and perhaps more effective than many modern guns.

There were failures at times. That’s true.

But if we had the opportunities to shoot tens of thousands of animals over 2500 pounds and up to 14,000 pounds today with a 416 do you think you’d never have a failure? Might your modern rifle fail you a few times if you killed dozens of animals every week for 45 years?

If you didhave a few failures do you think it might be something you’d remember?
I bet it would be, and I bet you might make a record of it.

If your 458 or your 404, or 416 failed a few times over 40 years that would “prove” it’s not good……..right?

So when we read of a person using a 45 cal or even a 50 cal muzzleloader to wound an elk or a deer with a soft swaged round ball, it’s proof that a round ball or any other size is also not up to snuff…right?

MANY people I have guided who have used bullets too light or too “soft” and wounded their elk with 280s, 30-06s and a lot of 7mm and 300 mags. That “proves" these rifles are not good for elk.


If you shoot within the real range of your weapon, and you use a heavy enough projectile that it can get out the other side of the chest, it doesn’t matter if you use an arrow, a 243, a 30-06 a 338 mag or a round ball. Wounds are what kill.

Make a ¾” or larger hole clear through the lungs and heart (or liver) of your elk and you’ll eat elk steak.

Leave one lung working at 40% or more and you’ll eat crow and a lot of your pride.

Last edited by Wyosmith; June 8, 2014 at 01:13 PM.
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Old June 8, 2014, 09:40 PM   #30
big al hunter
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Thanks Wyosmith, very educational and well thought out.

So if you're "hampered" with technology that doesn't have the same chance of a GOOD exit hole, it makes sense to hit CNS, carotid,jugular, and trachea in one explosive devastating shot instead. But I dunno for sure; that's why I'm asking. Just my guess.
Muzzle loaders do not generate the velocity needed for an explosive devastating wound. It punches a hole through without much deformation of the projectile.
If you miss the CNS you will only be causing a nasty, painful, but not quickly lethal wound. The animal is likely to starve to death. A solid hit in the lungs will kill quickly.
You can't fix stupid....however ignorance can be cured through education!
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Old June 8, 2014, 10:30 PM   #31
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Ok, Wyosmith has the win for most informative.

I'll just say this. My 50 took down a 5x5 with conicals very quickly. The 2 elk that I missed earlier that week didn't go down at all.

First, hit your target or all good info is just theory. If you can pick your shot, you're that much better off, but practice bunches so that you can hit whatever shot you pick.
I'm right about the metric system 3/4 of the time.
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Old June 10, 2014, 07:38 AM   #32
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Muzzle loaders do not generate the velocity needed for an explosive devastating wound. It punches a hole through without much deformation of the projectile.
If you miss the CNS you will only be causing a nasty, painful, but not quickly lethal wound. The animal is likely to starve to death. A solid hit in the lungs will kill quickly
Alrighty then - it sounds like the consensus is that this is a bad idea. I will stick with a heavy conical bullet and a heart/lung shot if I draw in - thanks all. That's what I needed to know.

Special thanks to Wyosmith for all the wisdom.
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