Expansion of Silver Bear .308 for hunting


January 2, 2010, 12:17 PM

I have shot approximately 13 deer this season, and only been able to find one of them. I have been using 140grain Silver Bear .308 ammo as seen here.


Silver Bear is supposed to be "soft point" (a la Core-Lokt or Powerpoint or etc.), but it seems to not be expanding. I've been able to find blood for all of these deer, but not able to recover the animals. I'm worried that this Silver Bear stuff may be piercing right through like a FMJ.

All shots have been broadside BTW.

How have your experiences with Silver Bear .308 expansion/hunting been?

If you enjoyed reading about "Expansion of Silver Bear .308 for hunting" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
January 2, 2010, 12:55 PM
If you shoot 13 deer and only find one, then you need to stop. Something is very wrong, be it your ammo choice, shot selection, or ability to put the bullet where it needs to be.

January 2, 2010, 01:37 PM
Wow. Why didn't you try a different load or anything sometime before your 'score' hit 1 for 13?

January 2, 2010, 01:39 PM
If you shoot 13 deer and only find one, then you need to stop.

No kidding. I've shot and killed four deer with one shot each and that with a 30-30. You are wasting ammo and most likely scaring deer. Something definitely isn't right.

January 2, 2010, 01:39 PM
I strongly agree with Kilgor. You should stop shooting deer until you get this figured out. Is the gun holding zero? Can you hit the target at the range? If the gun is hitting the target accurately, ditch the Russian ammo and get a box of cheap Remington core-lokt.

January 2, 2010, 01:42 PM
my nephew uses silver bear softies in my sks and has taken 3 deer. combined they only went 50 yds or so. no bullets yet recovered and wound channels were pretty good.

im not one to jump on someone but i gotta agree with the others. i think something else may be at play here. where are you placing shots? even a fmj through the heart will stop a deer (though we all know its not legal).

January 2, 2010, 02:06 PM
shooting an sks with ammo going 2400 fps, and shooting soft point , in a very light bullet, which is proly hot loaded and doing nearly 3000 fps from a 308, is a very diff thing. Yes your bullets are going right through, and not opening up hardly at all; I have had this same experience with that round.
Look for the brown bear hollow points, if you wanna keep using russian ammo, and it should also be quite accurate- it will be heavier and slower as well, or it should be.

Silver Bear ammo, in my experience, is allways a hot loaded round...

Average Joe
January 2, 2010, 02:08 PM
Are you sure you actually hit them ?

January 2, 2010, 02:18 PM
Here is an idea for you, go out and get a some Remington core-lokts or other reputable hunting ammo. You owe it to the deer to not be so cheap you aren't willing to spend $20 on a box of ammo. Also, make sure the rifle is zeroed and you are able to make the shot. You also may need to spend more time tracking the animals.

January 2, 2010, 02:35 PM
Good gawd, why didn't you ask this 11-12 deer ago? I have no experience with the stuff, but you are either (in order of likeliness):

1: using really crap-tastic hunting ammo.
2. hunting out of *your* effective range (for rifle and ammo accuracy/trajectory/energy and/or your skill level).
3. a horrible shot.

Start with no. one, and do a little testing on inanimate objects (wet newspaper/phone books?) before trying unproven/tested ammunition on critters.


January 2, 2010, 03:11 PM
If the ammo is hot loaded as rangerruck said, then it's more likely the bullets blowing up and failing to penetrate rather the zipping through and not expanding. I'm assuming that being 140gr the bullet is lightly constructed. You can't push a lightly constructed bullet fast enough to get it to pass through a deer size critter without expanding at all. In fact, the faster you push it the more violently it will expand and probably fragment. Hit a heavy bone and the bullet may well not get past it, or not far enough past that bone to quickly kill the deer.

I do agree with the other posters that you should have stopped well before getting to 12 wounded and escaped deer. I can understand one or two, but dang.

Go buy some ammo that has a good reputation for effective terminal ballistics. Lots of options for around or under $20/box. Rem Core-Lokt, Federal Power-Shok, Wolf Gold, Winchester Super-X, S&B Cutting Edge, etc would all be much better than Silver Bear. Then make sure you're properly sighted in and that your sights are holding their zero. Then look up the appropriate point of aim for a deer and study their anatomy. Then make sure you have a good enough rest for the rifle to be able to accurately shoot at the range you're seeing the deer.

January 2, 2010, 03:34 PM
Here is an little help on shot placement. http://www.tnoutdoorsmen.com/killzone.htm
Aim small hit small, heart lungs (not broadside) it's very easy to hit them high also, hold it down in the boiler room. On angling shots you're going for the center of the animal, good luck. Oh, just get some Core Lockt or Power Point they aren't expensive but are certainly tried and true.

January 2, 2010, 03:49 PM
Federal PowerShok is very reasonably priced (.308Win. is less than $15/box at WW) and performs reasonably well.


January 2, 2010, 03:56 PM
Back when I was shooting a Saiga .308 I bought some .308 Silver Bear for training purposes. I shot some of it, and some Remington UMC 150 grain FMJBT, into some dry phone books. The wound channels were virtually identical, and the Silver Bear bullet looked unfired except for rifling grooves.

Just my .02,

January 2, 2010, 04:17 PM
I agree with the rest, you should have stopped after one or two. But it's not the ammo. FMJs will kill deer just fine even if they go right through.

January 2, 2010, 04:37 PM
You said you found blood from all of the non-recovered deer. How long/far did you attempt to track them? How long did you wait before beginning the track? 15 minutes is a usually the minimum recommended wait time, some will say 30 minutes or more - if you start too soon you can give the deer a surge of adrenalin that will let it go A LOT farther than it otherwise would.

What's the farthest you've ever successfully tracked a wounded animal?

The one deer that you did recover, what were the details of the shot? Did you double lung it, get the heart, break front leg bones, spine hit, etc? How far did it go before you found it? Was there an exit wound, and if so how large? If not did you recover the bullet from the carcass? What degree of expansion did it exhibit?

I'm thinking that you probably suffered from some combination of poor hit location, poor terminal ballistics, and lack of skill and/or diligence in tracking, and possibly starting the track too soon after the shot. A well hit deer, even with an FMJ shouldn't run more than a couple hundred yards before expiring (they can go farther though), and if not pushed by a track started too soon they will often expire after runs under 100 yards.

With one exception that I'm confidant was becuase of clean misses, ever deer or elk I've shot at was recovered within 35 yards of where they were standing when first shot at. That one that went 35 yards was a cow elk and was my first ever big game animal that I brought down. She didn't leave a single drop of blood, even at the location she pilied up, so I was grateful she didn't go farther. I had to trail the hoof prints.

January 2, 2010, 04:43 PM
What you want to bet there are 12-13 gut shot deer out there drying of peritonitis?


January 2, 2010, 06:40 PM
But it's not the ammo. FMJs will kill deer just fine even I'd they go right through.So will a .22LR, but I wouldn't advocate its use either. The hits were likely not perfect, however it is not responsible to willingly use a FMJ or non-expanding bullet to take most game (large, dangerous game being the exception, due to the need for greater penetration).


January 2, 2010, 07:10 PM
The Silver Bear SPs are NOT lightly constructed. Most all steel-cased Russian rifle ammo has a soft STEEL jacket. Terminal effects are probably more like FMJ, and I would guess if shot through the boiler room, deer will still go down. More than likely an ineffective, missed, or grazing shot.

One individual shoots Texas deer with FMJ out of his SKS (not recommended) and claims 100% success.

January 2, 2010, 07:17 PM
I dont even know how to react to that... it isnt your bullets... losing a couple of deer you can blame the bullets...losing 12 of the 13 you have landed shots on... that is unacceptable and just plain wrong... spend some time shooting, learn where to shoot the deer and choose your shots based on more than...oooooo brown!!!

January 2, 2010, 09:20 PM
yep , that is right, they are soft steel core, steel jacket, copper washed; they are zipping right through, so unless you are going through the heart or lungs, they are running away, and then bedding down, so you don't find them.
where is your aim point? I allways aim for low and front, on the shoulder, if a side shot, or low chest, if a front shot, or low armpit shot, if quartering away.
Allways lowish though, never on the high side of the shoulder for me...

January 2, 2010, 11:42 PM
i don't think it's the round...either it's the gun/scope or it's you.. even an FMJ+well placed shot will take down a deer... time to recheck the zero..

January 3, 2010, 02:14 AM
It is a free country and wounding a dozen deer does indicate a certain amount of determination. However, take pride in doing the job right. Go to the range and be sure the weapon is holding zero. Be certain that you are familiar with where you need to aim. Buy a box of reputable hunting bullets and resist the temptation to take hurried shots or those presenting a bad angle. You have seen and shot plenty of deer,so the goal now should be a quick and clean kill. good luck.

Texas Gun Person
January 3, 2010, 02:21 AM
I'm going to go with the norm on this post and say there is something else happening.
I have killed two bucks in the last few weeks. Both with Silver Bear. First buck dropped immediately after being hit. The other went about 5 yards. Both over 200 pounds. They drop game just fine. :)

January 3, 2010, 02:38 AM

Unless the OP responds soon I'm smelling troll. If this is genuine it certainly isn't the ammos fault. I'm not overly soft hearted but damn.... Either you've gut shot a dozen deer and left them to die, or you've killed a dozen deer cleanly and didn't bother/weren't able to find them so they weren't wasted. A bad deal no matter how you slice it.

Edit: also, how does one shoot "approximately" 13 deer? Are you just firing wildly into a herd or something?!?! This isn't combat; one does not need to lay down suppressive fire to support an advance on the deer. Sweet baby Jebus...

January 3, 2010, 07:05 AM
If this poster is legit. I'd posit he is shooting for the "center" of the deer. Too far back and gut shot. I'd suggest high shoulder aim point in his case. Break both shoulders and he can't move far. And if he does a blind man can follow the trail. Break his shoulders and shoot a round capable of doing that. A .308 will do it easily with the right round. Just my two cents.

January 3, 2010, 10:28 AM
This isn't combat; one does not need to lay down suppressive fire to support an advance on the deer. Sweet baby Jebus...LOL, make sure and bring a LMG with you for the hunt.

FWIW I do not believe that the OP is a troll, he has been a member here for 5yrs, and has several hundred posts...now whether or not he is a good hunter is debatable.


rust collector
January 3, 2010, 11:27 AM
I'm sorry to hear about the losses and hope whiteknight can fill in more details. While accuracy is suspect on more than one level, I am left to wonder why.

I bought a boatload of cheap 7.62x39, 7.62.54R, & 7.92x57 for fun with surplus guns, and that's all I feed my Soviet and German ordnance. The idea of buying steelcase 308 or 223 bothered me even before reading this account, however, because a. there is no accountability by the mfr, b. there are few reviews of performance and c. seems to me we are gutting our domestic manufacturing capability whilst sending cash overseas.

I have worked hard on my tightwad reputation, but saving a few dollars on shotshells or rifle rounds used in taking game? C'mon. If you respect your quarry, you should care enough to send the very best. This include Lapua and Norma, because they're good & they charge enough to be no threat to Olin et al. Besides, there's enough trash on the ground without adding rusting empties to the mess. Scavenging and reloading is fun in its own right.

I'm not trying to pile on. I just hope next time you're picking up game ammo you'll think about the big picture. Thanks.

Arkansas Paul
January 3, 2010, 01:09 PM
I don't buy that it's the bullet. My brother hunted with Silver Bear ammo last year and shot 4 deer, never having to pull the trigger more than once. They expanded fine. One of the deer was a 159 6/8 ten point, shot from about fifty yards. He ran about thirty yards and piled up, very dead. The bullet expanded fine, going all the way through. The exit hole was much larger than the entry. The fact is, if you put the bullet where it'll do the most good, you won't loose 12 out of 13 deer. Period. This is not an opinion, it's a fact.

January 4, 2010, 12:01 AM
1 out of 13 is better than I did this year. After wounding 23 elk and 4 bear, I also gut-shot 5 antelope and a moose. Am I doing something wrong?

January 4, 2010, 12:05 AM
1 out of 13 is better than I did this year. After wounding 23 elk and 4 bear, I also gut-shot 5 antelope and a moose. Am I doing something wrong?

Well, bad_aim_billy, at least you are well named.


Arkansas Paul
January 4, 2010, 01:00 AM
LOL. You're doing fine bad aim billy. Just stay persistant and you'll eventually hit one in the vitals. That's good stuff.

January 4, 2010, 01:09 AM
13 Deer?! Are you using a M60??? Balog said it the best "one does not need to lay down suppressive fire to support an advance on the deer.".

What little hunting experience I've had with silver bear (SKS, 7.62x39) suggests that it's fine for deer. But being loaded in a hotter cartridge, who knows? Maybe you bought the one box marked "Soft Point" that was really loaded with FMJ.

If you enjoyed reading about "Expansion of Silver Bear .308 for hunting" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!