Rediscovering big, slow bullets


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Cosmoline
May 18, 2003, 04:31 PM
I've been reading a bunch of Peter Capstick press reprints of some of the safari classics. One thing that struck me was the phenomenal success of the early military smokeless powder loadings. These included both familiar and now-forgotten creatures:

7x57 175 RN and 195 RN
8x50R 245 RN (out of the Austro-Hungarian straight-pulls)
8x57J 227 RN
7.65x54 220(?)
.303 215 RN
.30-40 Krag 220 gr. RN
6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer
etc. etc.

You see the point. Actually, the LACK of a point. These are the pre-1905, pre-spitzer loadings. Most of these old beasts made the jump to spitzer loadings intact, or with only minor changes in bore size or cartridge shape. But the old loadings have all but been forgotten.

They were deemed to have too much penetration against human targets in military conflict. Whether or not that was true, these same bullets were extremely successful against big game. Elephants, even. My reading has revealed that hunter after hunters started using his "backup" military surplus rifle in favor of his big double rifle. The more observant of them noticed how well it did against thick-skinned game.

I've been on a quest of sorts to revive these old loadings. I strongly suspect that with the right loadings many of the "old fashioned" rifles and cartridges could make a big comeback. We are constantly beating the bejesus out of our shoulders with the newest and fastest magnums. What if you could get the same performance with a fraction of the recoil? The only thing the magnums really offer is more range, and how many shots are taken beyond 300 yards anyway?

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