Hornady 7mm 120gr HP for deer?


February 18, 2013, 05:00 PM
Anyone have much experience with this bullet? Hornady lists it as "with explosive expansion". I picked these up some years back. The HP is TINY, and the jacket seems rather thick. Performance on water jugs doesn't suggest they are 'explosive' like I'd expect from a typical HP. I'm shooting a 7x57. They shoot well for me. Opinion - good for whitetail?

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February 18, 2013, 05:31 PM
My family enjoys eating the venison we shoot, and on fortunate years, so do other folks we know.
I've not a lot of first hand experience with rifles and deer being from Ohio, but with damage control permits, I was able to kill some with .284 140gr Nosler Ballistic Tips.
I'd not even think of using those 120s you're talking about.

I've killed g-hogs with Hornadys idea of "explosive expansion", and "eating" was out of the question.

February 18, 2013, 06:32 PM
My Hornady manual(7TH edition) shows the 120 grain hollow point #2815 as suitable for varmints,and medium game,at 2600 to 3600fps.I would not expect it to penetrate well on a raking shot,but I would see no problem on broadside deer.Just aim for lung,not shoulder.

February 18, 2013, 08:23 PM
That's my thinking too. Of course, I'm not interested in destroying meat. After I posted this I got the idea to check on Midway's site on their customer reviews and found several folks that describe excellent results on deer, that is not unlike Sierra GameKing HP's, these don't appear to behave like a varmint HP.

February 18, 2013, 09:33 PM
Using hollow points on deer is risky business. They blow up in the lungs if shot boadside in the chest BUT if you hit a bone (shoulder, etc.), that deer will usually run off wounded and die. Feed for coyotes and buzzards.

February 19, 2013, 12:11 AM
Not my first choice in 120gr, that honor belongs to the Sierra Pro Hunter, but from what I have heard about the Hornady they do hold together well enough if you keep the speeds reasonable, just don't expect super performance on sharp raking shots and you should be OK.

February 19, 2013, 07:16 AM
Only at reduced velocity for a recoil reduction. After shooting quite a few deer with 139-140 grain 7mm bullets, I would not personally use anything lighter except a tool for lowering recoil for a specific purpose.

February 20, 2013, 02:14 AM
I concur with the 139-145 grn recommendations. My personal deer load is a 7x57 loaded with a Hornady 139grn Interlock at a hair over 2700 fps. It's my one stop shopping solution for venison in the freezer.

I would be very concerned with too rapid of expansion using those 120 grain varmint bullets for any max-load type velocity. Shooting water jugs and shooting critters are two different things. Any contact with shoulder or rib bones could have a drastic negative impact on penetration with that bullet.

If you're looking for recoil reduction or accuracy, load a 139-145 grn bullet about halfway between starting and maximum loads. It should be exceptionally accurate, very pleasing to shoot, and it will kill anything that walks within 200 yds of you.

February 20, 2013, 01:03 PM
I shoot a 150 Game King from my 7 mag. It's explosive at 3200 fps at close range. At 7x57 levels, I'd think it nearly ideal. It works GREAT out 150 yards or more, drop like a rock, DRT if I do my part.

120 is too light, more for vermin than for deer sized game. I'd agree with most here and say move up in weight a bit, and less explosive.

February 20, 2013, 01:36 PM
My 7mm-08 is feed a steady diet of 140gr Game Kings and Big Game, she won't shoot anything else. Not a light kicker load in my rifle though, she likes them very near or right at max which feels more like a 280. listed speed is 2953fps.
If you can back a 140 down a little it might be a better low recoil load then a 120gr.

February 20, 2013, 02:59 PM
Thanks for the replies guys, good information! I have used the Sierra 140gr ProHunter, and it has been my favorite for accuracy and it is more than effective on the biggest whitetail you'd find in IN. Got these 120's cheap, but I'll probably stick with 140's or might give the Speer 130gr SP a try if I get a chance.

Lloyd Smale
February 21, 2013, 06:39 AM
Id be skeptical but not for the reasons you think. I was given 4 boxes of 257 120hp hornadys by a guy who quit loading. I looked on the hornady web site and they claimed it was a good bullet for lighter big game. I loaded them in the 2506 and 257 wby and took them out crop damage shooting. After 4 near disasters i pulled them all and gave the rest away. They didnt over expand they penciled through without any expansion. We recovered the deer but spent more then a couple hours following almost non existant blood trails. Is the 7mm bullet the same? I dont have a clue but would be a bit skeptical.

Sav .250
February 21, 2013, 07:36 AM
Folks shot deer with a lot smaller stuff............... Bullet wise.

February 21, 2013, 08:16 AM
I took 4 deer last fall with the 25 caliber version of that Hornady bullet. All did the job as required.

February 21, 2013, 08:58 AM
two deer shot with a rem LH 700 useing 120 nosler BT,s with 43 grs varget, they didn,t move 10ft. and no meat wasted,pick your shot and your good to go. eastbank.

February 21, 2013, 11:53 AM
For those posting results using .257 caliber 120 grn bullets, your experiences have very little to do with a .284 120 grn varmint bullet. The 120 grn .257 bullet is a heavy for caliber load, in fact, the heaviest bullet that Hornady offers for the .257. The 120 grn bullet in the .284/7mm is a very light for caliber bullet, also the lightest that Hornady offers.

Bullet weight is not the only consideration here. Bullet construction and sectional density is what cleanly kills game. A 120 grn bullet in a .257 is a great deer round. However, you wouldn't go deer hunting with a 75grn hollowpoint, which is Hornady's .257 equivalent to the 120grn/7mm bullet.

Heavy for caliber is proven time and time again to work excellent on game. Light for caliber is good for varmints. Many have used them on deer, and many have had success. Many have also failed to penetrate bone, or blown up on the near side, resulting in a wounded animal. The popular 7x57 load of old was a 175grn bullet. The 139-150 grn is a great compromise for medium sized game hunting. Leave the 120s for hunting bobcats, coyotes, etc, like they were designed to do. Or use them for cheap plinking and get some lower recoil offhand practice out of them. I shoot a lot of 85grn hollowpoint bullets out of my 6.5x55. They're devastating on small critters, but clearly not designed for deer. You're dealing with the same weight construction in those 120grn 7mm bullets.

February 21, 2013, 02:13 PM
i,ve killed well over 150 whitetails and wait and pick my shots and have used most normal calibures and a few not so normal, if you can put a 120 gr 7mm bullet at 2800 thru the lungs,they are as dead as they will ever get. don,t believe the 75gr .257 bullet is the same as a 120gr .284 bullet. SD for the .257-75gr is .162 and a BC of .290 while the 120gr .284 SD is.213 and the BC is .365, if you ham or gut shoot you have not picked your shot and should pratice more. all my shots thru the lungs have been double lung pass thru,s with the 120gr bullet, none have failed to go thru the chest cavity,s of grown deer. deer are not elk or moose. eastbank.

February 21, 2013, 03:38 PM
You are also using 120grn Nosler BT, designed for deer sized game, not 120grn hollowpoint Hornadys, designed for "Explosive expansion, even at low velocities" (from the Hornady website). The .75grn .257 is the light HP offering from Hornady in that caliber, and is coincedentally also designed for "Explosive expansion, even at low velocities". They may have slightly different SD and BC (as would be expected from two completely different calibers), but they are both designed to do the same thing, and have very similar bullet construction. I can guarantee you that the 120grn .257 bullet and the 120grn .284 bullet are designed to do completely different things. Notice that the 120grn .257 bullet has a "Tapered jacket for deep penetration and controlled expansion," "InterLock ring locks core and jacket together," and "Lead alloy core is tough enough for any game." See the difference?

No doubt, with a broadside shot straight through the lungs, it will perform excellently. It is also quite questionable what would happen to a bullet of such light weight construction on a quartering shot, or a shot that encounters a shoulder bone, or even a rib bone at any angle. I've seen the result of firing light weight 6.5x55 Varmint bullets at full velocity. They literally rip apart rabbit-coyote sized animals, but they are not designed for anything less than the ideal broadside lung shot on medium sized game.

The real question is, why would you take one of the best all-around non-dangerous game cartridges ever designed, with an awesome reputation for clean, quick kills and minimal tissue damage using 139-175grn bullets, and turn it into some kind of explosive mess with penetration issues? One of the real benefits of reloading is that you get to choose the best bullet for the game that you are hunting. Leave the varmint bullets to varmint hunters, and get something that's designed for the job you are trying to accomplish.

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