Bullet Failure

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redneck

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I posted a pic of this doe in the 2018 picture thread and I bet some of you wondered why I didn't show the back half of her body. Well, its because she was half gutted when I got to her. I spent an extra hour processing her, and went so far as going back out to the field to inspect the gut pile to try and make sense of what happened. I was hunting with a ruger ranch rifle in .450 bushmaster using hornady custom ammo loaded with 250gr flex tip bullets.

Here is the basic run down...
My stand faces east and 2 does came from the northwest and started to sort of skirt around me at roughly 40 yards. They were at a steady trot and stirred up, but not really trying to bolt. So I whistled at them, and surprisingly enough they stopped, only I was too surprised that it had worked to take a shoto_O. Might as well be honest, I whistled, they stopped and I just sat there with my rifle at low ready and thinking "I'll be D...." and then the lead doe was moving again :rofl:.

She turned east and wasn't leaving me with a good shot, so I got on the scope and swung to the 2nd doe and whistled again. I didn't really get a full stop but I got enough of a pause I swung just a little ahead of her and shot her on the next stride.
Coming out of the recoil, I see she has jerked hard, and she starts trotting in a little spiral like shes going to flop over. I work the bolt and track her in the circle, and just as she gets to about 9:00 in the circle and is facing away from me, she lets out the loudest maddest bleat I have ever heard, and then kicks it into road gear and starts running flat out, straight as an arrow showing me nothing but her tail.
I debated whether I had even hit, decide I must have, and pull the gun up. I held about a foot over her head/in front of her hold my breath and squeeze the trigger and she piles up a second later.

At this point she's so far away I have trouble seeing her laying int he corn stubble without the scope, so I climb down and start walking. I find blood and follow it all the way to her. First shot had to be a hit.

So I get to her and its a real mess, belly opened up and a back leg taken off at the hock. I immediately start beating myself up thinking I gut shot her with the first shot and then anchored her with the leg on the running shot. The leg was hit back to front judging by the exit.

I hung her up and started processing and this is where it got weird and I came to the conclusion that I had a bullet failure.

After taking off the left front quarter, I find the jacket of the bullet lodged between the 4th and 5th rib, with a 2nd larger hole between the 3rd and 4th.

Removing the right front quarter I find an entrance wound the size of my finger, right at the base of the neck, that angles towards where the jacket was, and there are a couple oddly shaped holes in-between ribs farther back.

When I bone out the left front shoulder, I find HALF of the core of the bullet lodged against the bone. I couldn't get a pic that shows it well but it is like someone took the typical mushroom shape and cut in half vertically.

In the gut pile, the stomach is split lengthwise, and the lungs are intact, the heart has just a slight nick in it. Can't find anymore bullet pieces.

So to the best my knowledge, I believe the bullet broke up on impact, half of it went diagonally through the chest cavity and out the other side to lodge under the shoulder, and the other half veered left and took out the guts. For the angle she was at it was probably a little far forward, but should have at least broken a shoulder and slowed her down. Instead, it made a real mess of a nice deer without slowing it down at all.

The 2nd shot ended up being around 200 yards. I stepped it off and it was 199 paces from the gut pile to the base of my stand. I'm not saying I'd make that shot again if I tried, but I do think this is a very capable rifle and cartridge. I also think I am going to have to try the offerings from remington or winchester next year. If I make it back out again this year I will have to wait for a broadside shot and avoid the shoulders as I can't get new ammo and get sighted in before the season ends Sunday.
 

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I shot a hog Sat night with the 250 gn Winchester XP PT round. It was a shot on a running animal made from a moving vehicle, so was less than ideal. Long story short the back half of the animal was mush. It was down for good though even with a poor shot, I’d use it again for varmits, at least the back strap was still edible.
 
Interesting results. I had read of similar FTX bullet/jacket failure results over at 450Bushmaster.net forums. The 450 Bushmaster is pushing the 250 gr FTX bullet pretty hard. I believe the FTX and SST bullet differ only in the polymer used for the tip. The SST and thus the FTX really started life as a muzzle-loader bullet and 450 Bushmaster might be pushing them to their limit.

Do you know what muzzle velocity you where getting with your rifle and that ammo? At 40 yards you had not lost much velocity yet and it sounds like your bullet hit a fairly major bone, front leg or shoulder blade, going in. Your second shot sound like it broke the rear leg. A bullet impacting a bones that substantial is going to stress even the toughest bullets and a bullet like the FTX that is probably not a tough bullet and was going about as fast as its designed to go (at least for the close shot) might have contributed to the bullet failure.

For my 450 Bushmaster I am hunting with my own loads. Shooting 275gr Barnes TSX bullet at ~1900 fps. A bit heavier and slower than factory 450 BM ammo. I have not killed a deer with it yet but hopefully I will give a similar autopsy report on the TSX soon. I did get a mini test opening weekend where I killed a Raccoon (and an Armadillo) with my 450 Bushmaster and manage to recover the bullet (from the coon kill). I hit the raccoon in the back, going away from me, at about 20 yards and the bullet went in the size of my finger and the bullet, and everything else, came out the front side of the coon through a softball size hole. I was fortunate enough to recover the bullet after it left a roughly 3 foot long furrow in the forest floor. A little bit of digging recovered a beautifully mushroomed bullet.

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100% weight retention after going though a moderate size raccoon and ~3-feet of forest floor. I have high confidence that if I get a shot on a deer it's going to do very nicely for me. Hopefully my luck will turn for me this weekend. I will be sure to report the results if my luck does turn. Thanks for sharing OP.
 
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I don't have a chrono to test it. The box says the muzzle velocity should be 2200fps for whatever that is worth.

I shot a larger doe last year with the same load and it took out several ribs on each side and left a huge exit. It really made this load look like it would shoot through anything deer sized from any angle. I still think the cartridge is capable but will have to find a tougher bullet.

Eventually I would like to handload for it but that isn't in the budget for time or money at the moment.
 
Bookmarked that, I hadn't come across them before. Its nice to know there are more loadings available. For the price, I think I will try the remington or winchester offerings first. Both have reviews on midwayusa claiming better penetration than the hornady.
Goal is to start hand loading sometime soon but I will be starting from scratch buying a press and setting up a workspace, so its not something I want to rush into and I have a lot of projects to finish up first.
 
With it being a bolt gun could you not load some tough bonded pistol bullets made for the 460 magnum and full house 45-70 loads. My personal reccomendation is obviously the Barnes bullet but they cost $$$, or find some Speer 300 gr Deep Curls. I shoot full house 460 magnum with the Speers and I've tried and tried to get one to fail and that bonding process they use WORKS everytime and they expand very nicely too.
 
With it being a bolt gun could you not load some tough bonded pistol bullets made for the 460 magnum and full house 45-70 loads.

The 460 and the 450 use .452” “pistol” bullets. The 45-70 and 458 socom use .458 “rifle” bullets.
 
Hornady bullets, welcome to experiencing failure. Theyre plenty accurate but dont shoot anything too big with em.
 
Hornady bullets, welcome to experiencing failure. Theyre plenty accurate but dont shoot anything too big with em.

I have had good experience with Hornady XTP-Mag bullets. I have killed a bunch of deer with them and despite heavy bone hits I have never recovered an XTP from a deer as they have always passed through. One of my largest buck was killed by a 300gr .452 dia XTP from a muzzle loader sabot. It broke a shoulder going in, went nearly the entire length of the deer body cavity and exited the opposite side just forward of the hip and kept going. Two doe two years ago dropped in their tracts from hits by 200gr .400 dia XTP-Mag from a 10mm revolver. One bullet went though a shoulder blade and spine and still exited. The FTX/SST may not be the toughest bullet going but so far the XTP-Mag has served me well. They shoot pretty good in my 450 Bushmaster too (both the 240gr and 300gr XTP-Mag) though I have not killed anything with them yet. They would probably be my second choice behind the Barnes TSX and certainly more affordable.
 
The FTX seems a little frail. I have had no issues with the 160 grs .308 FTX in 30-30, but I no longer load the 225 grs FTX in 444 Marlin because it has disintegrated on hogs. I have not used the 265grs FTX and I am leery of doing so.
 
''I was hunting with a ruger ranch rifle in .450 bushmaster''.................... thats what happend. :D

For good or bad, Bullet placement is everything.

I'll own poor shot placement but if you lived in ohio and wanted to hunt with a bolt action, you'd probably be carrying a ruger ranch rifle too. We were shot gun only for years and they finally started allowing straight wall cartridges in rifles. I think the .450 is the only one on the list that doesn't have a rim.
 
I'll own poor shot placement but if you lived in ohio and wanted to hunt with a bolt action, you'd probably be carrying a ruger ranch rifle too. We were shot gun only for years and they finally started allowing straight wall cartridges in rifles. I think the .450 is the only one on the list that doesn't have a rim.

Ohio drop the list two years ago. Any straight wall rifle or pistol cartridge .357 to .500 caliber is now legal.
 
I still can't think of many cartridges that qualify and are commonly available in a bolt action. Ruger does or maybe used, to make a 77/44 and a 77/357, but otherwise its all stuff that's more at home in a lever gun or single shot.
 
I have had good experience with Hornady XTP-Mag bullets. I have killed a bunch of deer with them and despite heavy bone hits I have never recovered an XTP from a deer as they have always passed through. One of my largest buck was killed by a 300gr .452 dia XTP from a muzzle loader sabot. It broke a shoulder going in, went nearly the entire length of the deer body cavity and exited the opposite side just forward of the hip and kept going. Two doe two years ago dropped in their tracts from hits by 200gr .400 dia XTP-Mag from a 10mm revolver. One bullet went though a shoulder blade and spine and still exited. The FTX/SST may not be the toughest bullet going but so far the XTP-Mag has served me well. They shoot pretty good in my 450 Bushmaster too (both the 240gr and 300gr XTP-Mag) though I have not killed anything with them yet. They would probably be my second choice behind the Barnes TSX and certainly more affordable.


Theyre not the worst, theyre about 5th on my list, maybe 6th of jacketed bullets to use. Had a good run for awhile with the xtp mags the some spectacular failures. Swifts are tops then barnes then speers and then somewhere after sierra and hawk and a few others come hornady’s in reliability
 
I'll own poor shot placement but if you lived in ohio and wanted to hunt with a bolt action, you'd probably be carrying a ruger ranch rifle too. We were shot gun only for years and they finally started allowing straight wall cartridges in rifles. I think the .450 is the only one on the list that doesn't have a rim.

It could have been a 30-06 or a 12 gauge slug. Ive made 'bad hits' before and done the same as you have here, which is why I call it as I do...... :D

If I were there, in your shoes, Id use the Ruger.
 
Been hunting deer almost exclusively with .50 caliber inline muzzleloader rifles since 2000. i've killed 90 or more deer with Hornady bullets. Every year i kill four to seven deer with muzzleloaders. My shots are picked carefully.

The 240 grain .430 XTP worked very well for me as did the 300 grain .430 XTP. For about ten years, my go to bullets, depending on rifle used, have been the 250 grain SST and the 300 grain .452 magnum.

Have killed a bunch of wild hogs over 300 pounds using the 250 grain SST bullet, including the one at my avatar.
 
I used to use SST slugs and never had one fail to give a complete pass through. $15 for 5 slugs and the fact I never really got all that attached to my mossberg 500 made switching to a rifle seem like a no brainer when it became an option. I am sure hornady has better bullets available, just not sure why they aren't loading them in the .450.
 
It could have been a 30-06 or a 12 gauge slug. Ive made 'bad hits' before and done the same as you have here, which is why I call it as I do...... :D

I hafta agree with caribou. Seen bullets do strange things once they hit a deer. Have also swore I made a perfect shot on deer only to realize upon processing, I didn't. Did I miss it someplace....did you hit the deer on the second shot and if you did, where? Was the rear leg the second hit? Sounds like to me, the bullet did not really "fail". More like with the wound from the first shot the deer was dead when running. It may have not performed the way you wanted it too, but it still killed the deer, as it seems it did not die from the " Hope and a Prayer, Texas heart shot".

That said, I gave up on Hornady's 200gr FTX in my .460 because I have deemed it way too fragile for deer at close range. Their 300 gr XTP mags do do a great job tho of anchoring deer and I have yet to not get a pass thru with them. Problem with some boutique calibers is the availability of ammo. Not just quantities, but selection. I see Hornady claims their 250 gr FTX ammo for .450 Bushmaster, while good for large game up to 1500#s is also recomended for SD/HD. That's something that makes me wrinkle my eyebrows...........:scrutiny:

Ain't trying to chastise you, I'm glad you got your deer. While there may be a tad of meat loss, and I'm sure gutting her was not the most pleasant, at least you got her and she didn't suffer.
 
The 2nd shot took the rear leg out and stopped it in its tracks. There is no way a bullet that entered the base of its neck and left half the core in the opposite shoulder also took a rear leg off at the hock. It was running when I took the 2nd shot, dropped immediately, but was still alive when I got to it.

The first shot had to have entered in front of the right shoulder and blown up. I found fragments on the inside of the opposite shoulder, and the gut was opened up. It did not hit the shoulder blade on entering, both shoulder blades were intact.

There is no way that one shot simultaneously punched holes in the rib cage on both sides, left half the core against the inside of a shoulder blade, and also took a rear leg off at the hock 6 inches below the body line.
 
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