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Old November 19, 2018, 08:57 PM   #1
globemaster3
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Match bullets on whitetails - sharing experience

Seems about once a year or so we get a discussion on the merits of match bullet use on game. I normally advocate for the use of hunting bullets since they were built for the purpose of... hunting. Until this year, however, I had never seen anyone use match bullets on game first hand.

This year I had the opportunity to observe the results of 7 whitetails shot with the 6.5 Creedmore using Hornady ELD Match. Here are the facts of my observations:

- All shots were standard boiler-room hits except 1 which was a liver hit.
- Only 1 provided an exit wound
- In the 6 that stayed in, none of the bullets were recovered whole. All fragmented to a large extent.
- All exhibited little-no blood trail. Fortunately, none went too far.

Although the 100% fatal results might give some the impression that this is acceptable, the lack of exit wound and limited blood trail would have made tracking very difficult had it been in more rugged or dense terrain.

On a better note, my 120 gr 6.8 SSTs didn’t let me down and resulted in a meat doe for the freezer on my side and my middle boy getting his first deer, a doe, at 102 yards.
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Old November 19, 2018, 09:44 PM   #2
reynolds357
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Berger hunting bullet is designed not to exit and it is a fine hunting bullet. My hunting with match bullets is limited to 168 Match Kings in .308 Win and .300 Win Mag. In .308 Win, they are hole punchers. In .300 Win. Mag, they blow up and put deer down quick.

Last edited by reynolds357; November 20, 2018 at 07:37 AM.
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Old November 20, 2018, 06:33 AM   #3
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I don't/won't recommend paper puncher bullets for hunting. Having seen the questionable results of .308 155 HPBT on several deer, it's a gamble and often you'll lose.
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Old November 20, 2018, 07:09 AM   #4
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Your observations are identical to what the ELD-X, which is designed for hunting, are showing when used on game.

There are 2 schools of thought on hunting bullets. One camp wants a tough bullet that will stay together and penetrate deep from any angle. Those bullets generally kill game if vitals are hit somewhere along the way. But unless major load bearing bones are broken animals tend to run farther after being hit and you risk not recovering the animal.

The other camp wants explosive expansion and is willing to sacrifice penetration. You have to pick your shots more carefully, but these bullets tend to put game down faster.

Most modern target bullets tend to perform like rapidly expanding hunting bullets. Some older designs performed more like FMJ and should not be used for hunting.

These bullets were designed with target shooting in mind, but that does not mean they don't perform well as hunting bullets. There are too many successful hunters using these bullets to discount their use. In fact in some cases I'm reading of better results on game with the target bullets than hunting bullets. The ELD-M target bullet is proving to give better penetration and than Hornady's SST hunting bullet.
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Old November 20, 2018, 07:44 AM   #5
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Personally i don't care about exit wounds. That just tells me the bullet didn't expend it's energy on the animal. Instead it did it on some tree 50 yards on the other side.

I hunt with Berger VLD Hunting ( the original Berger match bullet), Nosler Ballistic Tips and ABLR, Sierra GameKings. So i run the gambit..

While the GameKings have always performed well, they just don't put em down like the Ballistic Tip or VLD.

Doe hit at 413 yards with 140gr VLD out of my 7mm-08AI looked like i shot a spray can of red paint. Blood everywhere! Only 1 bullet sized entry wound. Heart in 2 pieces and those weree mush. Both lungs destroyed. Found jacket betweel layer of fat and off side hide.

If you want the best of both worlds, get Cutting Edge bullets.
4-8 petals that shear off 3 inches in the animal. Base with the ragged edge from the petals shearing off, keeps driving forwards.
Not cheap, but machined here in Pennsylvania.
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Old November 20, 2018, 08:52 AM   #6
reynolds357
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Quote:
If you want the best of both worlds, get Cutting Edge bullets.
4-8 petals that shear off 3 inches in the animal. Base with the ragged edge from the petals shearing off, keeps driving forwards.
That's funny. They are intentionally trying to do what Barnes re-designed their first generation bullets to keep from happening. Shedding petals was considered a failure of the early Barnes design.
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Old November 20, 2018, 09:20 AM   #7
603Country
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I want an exit wound when hunting deer. Sometimes, no matter where you put the bullet, they’ll run. Years ago I shot a monster 9 point (275 pound body weight) right through the heart and he went about 100 yards into some very thick brush. He left a big blood trail, and I did finally find him. A bullet that fragments totally inside the deer won’t give me what I need.
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Old November 20, 2018, 09:26 AM   #8
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I want an exit wound. I want a blood trail if I have to track one but since I went to a Nosler 165 grain BTBT in my 30-06 I haven't had to track one. They've all been dead right there with jellied heart and both lungs. I still get an exit wound but it's small.
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Old November 20, 2018, 10:09 AM   #9
reynolds357
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Quote:
I want an exit wound. I want a blood trail if I have to track one...
What I have observed with these light fast bullets is you get one of two things:
1. Usually an exit wound.
2. If no exit wound, due to energy pushing out blood, bone, and jellied organs out the entrance hole; an entrance wound the size of a quarter that pours blood.
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Old November 20, 2018, 10:28 AM   #10
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Remember, we are talking about shooting living animals of probably no more then 230 pounds with high powered rifles.
So there is no way you can make a good shot with that degree of power and not kill the game.
BUT_________ There are many other bullets that are far better for the purpose.
You see, the idea of "it killed the deer, so it's got to be good" is illogical like saying "I hauled 2 tons of brinks to the job by carrying them in the trunk of a Honda car, so the Honda is a fine work truck"
No one who has a brain can say a bullet, any bullet, fired from a high powered rifle is harmless to a deer.
That's not the issue however.
FACT #1 is that you don't need and cannot use 1/4 MOA accuracy and even if you could, shooting the deer anywhere inside an 8" circle is as good as anywhere else in the 8" circle, if your penetration is relatively straight and gets to the other side and exits.
#2 Target bullets don't always do that! Many times they will come apart and veer off course, and often blow up, which can result in very dramatic kills, but at times it results in deer being able to escape, leave no good blood trail and be lost, or at least result in a hard tracking job.

My counter-question about using match bullets is simply this:
Why would you want to?

I hear it said over and over...."They are accurate"

So?

They are more accurate then huntings bullets sometimes, but the hunting bullets are way more accurate then they need to be to kill deer, and do a more consistent job at doing it.

(Note: there are some varmint/target bullets marketed today that are labeled hunting bullets, but that's ALL they have going for them. The Label)

So as a hunter with 1/2 century of experience, and as a former guide who has seen so many kills that I lost count 30-35 years ago, I would say "Yes match bullets kill". Sometimes very well. But so does old age and cancer.

But for hunting you will do a lot better over the years using good hunting bullets.
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Old November 22, 2018, 12:14 AM   #11
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Admittedly I haven't investigated Berger bullets for hunting. I wonder, how is a Berger Bullet that comes apart in a game animal different than a Speer BTSP that comes apart inside a game animal? I used various bullets over the years, but this year Barnes TTSX in the 243. I wish I could resize pictures to work in this forum, because I shot an antelope doe at about 200 yards. It was a high chest shot with her quartering to me. The bellet broke a rib goings in, blew the bottom of 3 vertebrate into the exit side rib cage, broke a rib exiting. DRT. It is difficult for me to feed meat to my grand kids with lead scatter in it. For that reason alone Barnes bullets are my choice.
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Old November 22, 2018, 07:08 AM   #12
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What some fail to understand: hunting bullets are designed to expand in a controlled way while "target type" bullets have no such parameter.
Regardless of "how much" expansion is produced by a hunting bullet (it might be fragmentation, moderate, or very little), there is that factor in the design.
A "paper puncher" has no such parameter, it's only requirements are accuracy, velocity retention, or wind drift resistance. As such, there's no expectation of terminal performance so one bullet may expand violently, the next drill a hole, and a third tumble.
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Old November 22, 2018, 08:00 AM   #13
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Many handloaders seem to me to be reinventing the wheel. From over sixty years ago I recall Hornady ads in the American Rifleman showing photos of recovered bullets, claiming 87% weight retention and expansion of 30-caliber bullets to around 0.7 inches. Q: What more is needed to kill Bambi?
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Old November 22, 2018, 08:10 AM   #14
reynolds357
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Quote:
Many handloaders seem to me to be reinventing the wheel. From over sixty years ago I recall Hornady ads in the American Rifleman showing photos of recovered bullets, claiming 87% weight retention and expansion of 30-caliber bullets to around 0.7 inches. Q: What more is needed to kill Bambi?
The magic word being "handloader." We handloaders seek perfection. Reloaders save money. I reload for pistol, shotgun, semi auto rifle (black guns). I handload for my bolt action rifles. My match loads are never accurate enough. If my hunting load delivers bang, flop, cock roach leg twitch; I want to get it down to bang, flop, no leg twitch.
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Old November 23, 2018, 06:40 AM   #15
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Handloaders are perfectionists....but really its about control for the job your going to do. When I am loading I determine which rifle and what purpose. I have 1000yd lasers and I have 200 yrd moose droppers. I don't give a rats furry behind about 1/8MOA on those moose pills....1-1.5 is perfect for the task. Any bullet pushed at reasonable velocity shot from a humane distance will put down an animal. Just like any car with 4 wheels an engine and the means to slow down will get you where you want to go. But if you can optimize why wouldn't you? I don't use my 155g Interlocks to hit a 8" gong at 700yds...
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Old November 23, 2018, 07:31 AM   #16
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I guess I will go by the way of the dinosaur. I still use what has worked for me for more than 50 years. It has been proven and and reasonably priced, for me it will always be the Remington Core-lokt. If somebody offers me a higher priced box of matched bullets, I will not refuse it, but I already know how this bullets perform in my rifle.
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Old November 23, 2018, 07:37 PM   #17
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And the camps form...

To each their own in terms of what you want to use. I cannot force anyone to use a specific bullet (nor would I try), but for those on the fence, this provides some quantitative data for consideration from a first-person account with the blood on his hands from gutting and dull knives from skinning the aftermath vs anecdotal "I heard that" or "my cousin's wife's uncle said..."

I echo Mobuck and Wyosmith in terms of wanting to use a hunting bullet for the purpose of hunting, as they are designed to operate within the parameters of what I expect from a hunting bullet. Match bullets... you get what you get. Once it hits the animal, its done what it was designed to do (get to the target) and all bets are off in terms of what will happen next.

jmr40, I will respectfully throw the male bovine fecal matter weighted handkerchief at the information on ELD-M vs SST. My kids and I shoot SSTs exclusively in the 6.8 SPC and at the same ranges as the 6.5 Creedmore ELD-Ms I posted about... with a couple hundred fps less and 20gr less weight at the muzzle compared to the 6.5 I observed, ALL of ours yielded exit wounds on big Missouri whitetails to Texas whitetails... We are up to 10 deer with that round and every single one had exit wounds. All but 1 were easily recovered with some bang-flops from heart and spine shots, and the regular lung hits went no more than 30 yards. The ONLY exception is when I screwed up, pulled the shot, and blew a hole through the stomach. That one ran a bit.

I also side with 603country on the desire for an exit wound. The animal gets a vote. I saw a whitetail take a pair of .270 Win 130gr Corelokts without flinching then run 100 yards (not a bash on those venerable Remington pills, I shot them for years with no problems); deer with shoulders internally detached run on them for 80 yards, etc. Although I always strive and most times achieve the shot I want, that extra hole is insurance against one getting plugged with an internal organ and giving me a better blood trail for tracking recovery.
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Old November 24, 2018, 12:19 AM   #18
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You might want to check your local hunting regulations, as well. Any bullet can expand under the right conditions, even FMJ will fragment and "open up" some, under the right conditions.

BUT, if the hunting regs specify an "expanding" bullet (One I remember used to say "a soft point or expanding type bullet" then you might be on shaky legal ground if you are using a match bullet, because even while they might expand, they are not considered an "expanding type" bullet.

SO, aside from all the pro's and cons of match bullets doing the job, there is the possibility of violating game regs.

Check the regs, and double check with your local game wardens, to see how they interpret them. The time to beat an "illegal hunting" ticket is BEFORE it gets written.

Good luck.
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Old November 24, 2018, 05:58 AM   #19
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There is something I do not understand. Please realize that I am not trying to be facetious but of the 70+ deer and 20 elk I have taken I have never ever, seen one run the distances I read about after been shot. So I do not understand this. But on the other hand I do use a 30-06 for hunting.
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Old November 24, 2018, 10:36 AM   #20
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Quote:
You might want to check your local hunting regulations, as well. Any bullet can expand under the right conditions, even FMJ will fragment and "open up" some, under the right conditions.

BUT, if the hunting regs specify an "expanding" bullet (One I remember used to say "a soft point or expanding type bullet" then you might be on shaky legal ground if you are using a match bullet, because even while they might expand, they are not considered an "expanding type" bullet.

SO, aside from all the pro's and cons of match bullets doing the job, there is the possibility of violating game regs.

Check the regs, and double check with your local game wardens, to see how they interpret them. The time to beat an "illegal hunting" ticket is BEFORE it gets written.
I agree. My many years in L.E. taught me that what the law says and what it means are rarely the same. The prosecution brings cases on literal letter of the law and the courts toss them due to "legislative intent" of the law.
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