Nosler Partition issue


November 28, 2012, 02:40 AM
(Recently posted this on another site, but this one seemed more appropriate)
On a recent hunting trip, we spotted a good buck, at under 40 yards. My friend took a shot with his 30-caliber loaded with handloaded Nosler Partitions. We saw the buck jump several feet high, and struggle to run off. We tracked it quite a ways, especially for a deer that apparently took one in the boiler room. It sought lower ground, fast, and we caught up to it in a tight canyon. He fired several additional shots to bring it down. (definitely NOT an ideal situation)

When we finally had the deer, and everyone caught their breath, we could do a field analysis.
The first shot had hit its mark, made a 3 inch entrance wound, breaking a couple of ribs, and then... stopped! the wound went no further than the ribs, the vitals behind the wound were untouched. We recovered the bullet (on the left)
Another shot hit the head, above the right eye, penetrated the skin, stopped at the bone, and apparently traveled an inglorious 2" just under the skin (bullet on the right)

Since I have a chrono, I took the remaining rounds of the original 50 and shot four randomly selected. Average = 2,726FPS, SD 26 FPS

There were other hits as you can see, but what do you think happened to the first shot and the head shot?

Anyone else get results like these?


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November 28, 2012, 07:27 AM
You said the first shot made a 3 inch entrance wound. That should not happen unless the bullet hit something first or is not stablized during flight. Partions will break apart in some instances but I don't think it's a bullet problem.

November 28, 2012, 10:07 AM
Cal Poly 85 here.:D I am tending toward the above poster's comment. I have never recovered a Partition nor have I seen large entrance holes. This on multiple deer, hogs, elk, a nilgai and a couple of black bears.

November 28, 2012, 10:12 AM
Concur with the above - the bullet was likely deflected by a twig or similar and already losing structural integrity when it hit. Also, head shots are, IMO, notorious for causing a grazing wound due to bullet shape and sloping skull angles conspiring to deflect the bullet unless the impact is perpendicular to the bone.

November 28, 2012, 11:53 AM
What rifle? I use a .300 Wby mag and I have never had anything I shot go anywhere! I shot one deer in the head and all that was left was the ears and a strip of skin with about 2/3 of the nose on the end. I have never recovered a spent bullet in anything, right up to Moose. My son shoots a 30-06 and he has never recovered a bullet nor has he had to chase anything he shot! We both only use Nosler Partition bullets for hunting.

November 28, 2012, 12:18 PM
We need more information. Which 30 Cal, there are dozens. What is the bullet weight and the barrel twist rate? I'm fairly sure that will tell the story. A 3" entrance wound is most probably a tumbling bullet hitting sideways.

A Partition bullet is a time tested bone crusher. A few Deer ribs won't stop it...

Friendly, Don't Fire!
November 28, 2012, 12:34 PM

A 180 grain bullet going 2,700 FPS is going to do a lot different damage than an 85 grain bullet of the same caliber at the same speed. A 30 Caliber can be a 300 Magnum and it can also be a 30 Caliber M1.

By the looks of those two projectiles, it seems to me they may be too light for what you are shooting.

Curt Blunt
November 28, 2012, 02:54 PM
The OP said .30 caliber Nosler Partition which means at least 150 grains at 2726 fps which means at least a .308 Winnie.

November 28, 2012, 07:37 PM
Thanks for the responses guys! Nice to see another CP alum on here too.

The rifle used was a Winchester mod. 70, about 30 years old. Not mine, and I don't have a lot of details.

The broadside shot may have hit some of the branches, but there were only a few thin ones. It looks like the bullet mushroomed "head on" and lost the core. (See the pic)

November 28, 2012, 08:06 PM
If you upset the bullet in flight they usually disintegrate. A twig will easily upset a bullet. The whole idea behind a military .223 bullet is that they turn and basically explode with the cannelure being the initial point of failure.

Once the bullet goes out of stabilized flight the forces acting on it are extreme, the thin front half of a partition is likely to shed off dramatically and the back half could easily come undone.

Bizarre situation in any case!

November 29, 2012, 09:46 PM
Was it a broadside shot, or a quartering shot? The reason I ask is because I had a 130gr ballistic silver tip shot from my .270 Rem 7400 do a similar thing a few years back. The shot was a quartering forward high lung, and aiming for top of his shoulder. I made the shot from the ground at 15yds as the deer was weaving through some trees toward me following a doe. The buck ran about 40yds and stopped behind a big pine and layed down. I thought he had expired, but as I walked up to the tree he jumped up and just stood there. I could hear him wheezing with every breath so I leaned around the tree and put him out of his misery with a shot to the back of his neck. The first bullet hit where I aimed, but it looked like it exploded when it hit the rib. There was a small entrance hole, and about an inch further back was a 3"-4" hole that I could put my fist in. No skin or bones covered that hole, it looked like it exploded from the inside out and all that was there was the mangled diaphragm that covered his lungs. I've killed close to 20 deer with that gun/bullet combo, and most drop in their track, only a few made it 10yds. And I've never had a bullet to pass completely through, and I usally find the copper jacket just under the skin on the opposite side. But all those previous kills were broad side shots, and the ballistic tip did it's job quickly. But now I will do my job and never ever try a quartering shot with them again.

41 Mag
November 30, 2012, 04:44 AM
I have shot a ton of Partitions in the smaller faster calibers like .257, and .243. I have recovered very few bullets in over 20 years. Some of those I have recovers were usually contained in the rear ham or just under the offside hide on feral hogs. With most deer they sail right on through. I have had the 115gr .257 Partition completely pass through from a hard quartering shot on a deer hitting just inside the left front shoulder and exiting the rear ham at just over 400yds. This shot blew out the shoulder and the rear leg socket as well before exiting.

That said every one I have recovered, well almost, look almost exactly like your picture. The frontal portion has shed back to the partition and is usually folded around the rear shank. I have however had a few which slammed into hard shoulder bone or a conjunction of shoulder and spine, even the pelvis and rar leg socket, and had the rear portion completely blown out as well. These however are the rarity and usually the result of around 3100fps impacts on heavier built feral hogs.

As for NOT penetrating the head or even not going but 2", I can only speculate on one of couple of things happening. One, as mentioned the slope of the skull and possibly the base of the antler could have stopped it. Two, when the bullet impacted the deer's head being somewhat an easily movable thing, could have rolled or absorbed the impact which resulted in the shallow penetration. In either of the above mentioned theories, I am with the others in a pre deer impact.

To be totally honest however, having hunted with several calibers ranging from a 30-30 AI Contender, to the 30-06 and using the 150gr PT's, I am VERY surprised you recovered either of them. They had to have hit something before hitting that deer.

November 30, 2012, 08:08 AM
Sounds more like a Ballistic Tip instead of a Partition. Got a picture of an unfired round of same batch of handloads?

November 30, 2012, 02:10 PM
I've shot hundreds of animals with Partitions ranging from 60 grain .224s to 250 grain .338s and have never had a bullet failure that I'm aware of. Even though its an older design, I still consider it to be the "Gold Standard" in hunting bullets.

Is it possible that your friend might have modified the bullets in an attempt to improve their performance? The expansion evident in your photos seems to rule out squib loads being a factor.

The "intervening object" hypothesis seems to be the only thing that makes any sense, but from the photos, it appears that the bullets hit nose first and stable.

Call CSI? :confused:

November 30, 2012, 07:01 PM
How many grains was the bullet? I have seen bullets deflect but nothing like this.

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