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Old November 4, 2009, 08:20 PM   #1
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Ethics (schmethics) of bullet choice

I recently returned from my annual hunting trip to Idaho. I took a decent 3x4 mule deer, but didn't really even see much elk, let alone a bull - which was the other tag I had.

Here's the purpose of my post: One of the guys I hunt with, a former guide, doesn't really put a lot of thought into his bullet choice. I use a .308 win., and use a 180gr Fail Safe over 43gr of 748. I took a lot of time picking my bullet and load, and worked up the load using different bullets and powders, etc. I feel great with it as an all-purpose load, geared for elk, but fully capable of taking deer. The former guide, who uses a 7mm mag., stays out there for nearly a month, and always uses his deer load on the elk. One year he used a 139gr Hornady, one year a 130gr Barnes X, and this year, a 140gr Accubond. Thing is, he's a dead-eye killer, and always seems to drop the elk with humane killing shots, rarely needing any follow-up shot. He took a huge 5x5 (public land) this year with a double lung at 125 yards while it was at a full run, and it just destroyed the innards of it. We recovered the bullet just inside the rib-cage of the far side.

I've tried to talk to him about it, but it's hard to win an argument with the guy when bullets don't seem to matter, and he just keeps one-shot dropping everything. Should I just drop it? Seems like shot placement wins again. Maybe the bullet choice really doesn't matter that much.


Last edited by Tomas; November 4, 2009 at 08:38 PM.
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Old November 4, 2009, 08:25 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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Yes, you should just drop it.

What are you arguing? That a bullet that you KNOW works, through your own eye witness, DOESN'T work?

You should also keep right on using whatever it is that you want to use.

Shot placement is king. Within the realm of reason nothing else matters.

The modern fascination with Dead Right There shots and uber-wonder-super-magnums is just that, modern and a fascination. No basis in reality.

Your 308 is a dandy elk gun, so is a 243, a 30-06, 25-06, 7mm-08, 7mm mag and basically every other cartridge in the general size area.
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The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
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Old November 4, 2009, 08:57 PM   #3
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I'm a bit of a "fanatic" when it comes to bullet construction, and when I can use the same load for more than 1 type of game animal, I chalk that up to Versatility.

I primarily stick to Barnes and Norma Oryx, which are of the Top 5 or 6 most costly, and I KNOW it's NOT necessary, but that's how I choose to do it. It's just my way. Shot placement has always been, and will always be, King. Performance, meaning Expansion and Weight Retention (for penetration) is something I always "factor in", but Shot Placement is #1, and that's why I strive for accuracy (and an accurate bullet), then proficiency.

And, my Hunting Rifle is a .270 Win. No Magnum here.

You Hunt with a .308, which is a GREAT Cartridge, and that .308" caliber bullet, You have the greatest choice of bullets there is. Do Your thing, and do it well. Don't sweat the other guy. It seems like it's working for him.

Don't let it work You up. Enjoy the company and the hunt, and the success of it all. Hunting with a guy that's shooting a 7mm Magnum and can kill, is alot better than hunting with someone that'll wound an animal, and both of You end up tracking for hours or all day, and worse yet, losing that animal.

Sounds like Your Huntin' Buddy/Ex-Guide is a good Huntin' Partner.
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Old November 4, 2009, 10:04 PM   #4
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what a dilemna..

have both the .308 & 7mmMag.

for the .308, using the Sierra 165gr, over the 748 powder, just a tad light,

alway wondered if proper for Elk here in WA. So was able to get purchase a

7mmMag and sighted in using 140gr Federal ammo, but am working up loads,
to use the 162 gr Hornady, trying find accurate load about the 2750 - 2900 (max) velocity.

But as noted about you have seen two different bullets used to best advantage.
But sound like PROPER placement is still the key.
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Old November 4, 2009, 10:13 PM   #5
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I would let it go. Kinda like taking an anti .223 stand here about it being too small for deer.....LOL. It's working good for him. He appears to be very competent so let it be.
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Old November 4, 2009, 10:31 PM   #6
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I don't see a problem with what he is using. In fact I would think the 140'ish gr bullets from a 7 mag would be more effective than 180's from a 308. With todays better bullets the lighter, faster bullets will often out penetrate the older, slower, heavy bullets. Jack O'Connor had no trouble killing Elk, Moose or any other big game animals with a 270 and old school 130 gr bullets. Bullets construction today is much better.
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Old November 4, 2009, 10:54 PM   #7
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For no real good reason,other than maybe Elmer Kieth,the rifle I have been carying lately to look for an elk is a .375 Taylor,a .338 win necked up.
It throws a 260 gr accubond at 2600 fps.
It's on an FN action,a Garret Acralite stock,and a 21 in #4 Douglas bbl.Its light,easy to carry,accurate,and has a fine 300 yd trajectory.
Is it necessary? No! I just like it.

However,if all I had to use was my .257 ,I'd load it wih 110 Accubonds or 120 partitions,and would not hesitate to use it elk hunting.I am sure it would be fine,but,I'd do 200 yds or less,standing still animal,clear heart lung shot,,me very steady,resting on something.A confident prairie dog shot.And,If I could not bring that all together,I'd shiver and shake,go crazy,roll on the ground,but smile as I let the great big bull walk away without firing a shot.

Its no big deal.I haven't killed a lot,but I've killed enough .I release most fish,too,unless I just want to eat fresh fish.It ain't my first rodeo.
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Old November 6, 2009, 08:57 AM   #8
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I do not see what the problem is. He has something that works for him and you have something that works for you.
Too often we get wrapped up in the semantics of the latest, greatest technology and you have to do this or that if you want to make a clean kill.
My step-dad used a .222 to take deer and I use a .243 or a .30-30. He took a lot more deer than I ever have. It worked for him.
In the military we always preached 'know your weapon and its' capabilities.' How many times I have seen someone shoot at something too far away and miss or wait for something to get closer to us and put everyone else in danger, I just can not count.
Your hunting partner knows his weapon and ammo. Sounds like a great guy to hunt with.
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Old November 6, 2009, 11:10 AM   #9
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One year he used a 139gr Hornady, one year a 130gr Barnes X, and this year, a 140gr Accubond.

Aren't those premium bullets?
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Old November 6, 2009, 11:22 AM   #10
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There are a ton of good bullets out there for big game. All the ones you listed are fine. IMO, you've put to much thought into it. Heck, the 7mm-08 is a great elk round and it's standard factory load is 140's. Last time I checked Elk aren't bullet proof. Why would you even think that his choice is bad considering the results. I'm betting he may have a little better insight into than you.

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Old November 6, 2009, 12:36 PM   #11
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You are over analyzing. For one thing the guide is using either premium bullets or decent sectional density for 7mm. The other thing is a lot of deer and elk have fallen just fine to bullets of standard weight and construction in .308, .30-06, .270, 7mm mag, etc. Premium bullets are extra insurance, especially for quartering shots. But if the hunter limits his shots to appropriate range, presentation, and within his accuracy ability, then standard bullets are good enough.
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Old November 6, 2009, 01:16 PM   #12
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I would drop the issue, as there really is none.

I'm planning on using a 140gr Accubond over 64gr H4350 (7mm WSM). I've clocked it at 3250fps. I figure it will do just fine. That is also my deer round. If I ever get to hunt moose, I'll step up to the 160gr Accubond or a 170gr bullet.

But it sounds like your friend is very effective with whatever he has in his hands. That's the best kind of hunting buddy to have...knowledgable and effective.
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Old November 6, 2009, 01:47 PM   #13
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I'd drop the issue. I'd likely go with a heavier bullet myself, but you've stated that he's a dead eye killer and usually drops the animal in it's tracks. To me, it sounds like the bullets he is using are doing the job just fine.

The most important factor to consider when hunting an animal is shot placement above all else and it sounds like the man can shoot.

Seems like shot placement wins again. Maybe the bullet choice really doesn't matter that much.
Super duper primo magic bullets are fine and well, but despite their advertising, they can't correct a poor shot so yes, shot placement wins each and every time.

Again, I'd drop the issue but if you have fun working up loads and bullets, there is nothing wrong with it and you should continue to take pride in doing what you do.
"He who laughs last, laughs dead." Homer Simpson

Last edited by Kreyzhorse; November 6, 2009 at 02:00 PM.
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Old November 6, 2009, 01:56 PM   #14
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I appreciate your concern....

But he's a grown man and he's putting them down. I quit using lighter than 145gr standard bullets in the 7RM because of the destruction and meat loss after 3100fps.
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