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Bullet type.... Does it really matter?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Texasgrillchef, Apr 2, 2020.

  1. Texasgrillchef

    Texasgrillchef Member

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    By bullet type, I mean FMJ, Lead cast, JHP, Solid, Round nose, Flat Point, SWC, Controlled Fracturing, Xtreme Defense Xtreme penetrator such as from Lehigh defense, or other similar type bullets and combinations of the above. Regardless of caliber.

    If you make a head shot to your intended target, and the bullet has enough energy to penetrate the skull of your target. Does it really matter which bullet was actually used? Barring of course those areas that are starting to phase out and make illegal the use of “lead” bullets. Thankfully Texas has not yet done so.

    Will one type of bullet be easier to penetrate a target skull better then another type of bullet? Assuming same caliber, weight and speed are equal and the only difference is bullet type.

    Yes, over penetration and exiting out the other side of the skull is always of concern for safety reasons.

    I hunt hog and Javalina. I use a 45-70, and have tried multiple different bullets from JHP, lead cast, & Lehigh defense XP, XD and CF and flat nose, to Hornady FTX/FTP in weights from 300 over 400. Every bullet tried always took the animal down in one nice clean head shot ever single time. Not once has the bullet ever exited the animal and become a safety concern.

    As a result, I wonder does it really make a difference. Some of the animals were shot through heavy Bush, others nice clean no interference shots. Ranging anywhere from 20 yards to 100 yards give or take 10 yards.
     
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  2. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Head shots have higher likelihood of missing the target which would also put a bullet out in the world. Presumably into a safe backstop....which should be considered before a shot is ever fired anyway so why the worry about pass throughs?

    I would say generally speaking and on those animals, no it doesn’t matter what bullet type would be used for a headshot. Any of them will instant kill a hog or javelina. I would still use a soft point or all lead bullet for legality and energy transfer.

    Tougher animal with thicker skulls would require a tougher better bullet or just shoot them in the shoulder area with a slightly weaker bullet.
     
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  3. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

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    Shot placement is most important by far.
    A shot through the head is pretty much instant no matter what you put through it. The heart will be quick, an maybe so much so that you won't notice the difference between FMJ and perfect expansion.
    But expansion likely will matter for shots through the lung or otherwise lethal shots that will rely on blood loss. It might not make it more lethal, but will make it faster and therefore easier to track and more humane, and with enough energy cause hydrostatic shock.
    If you could deliver a perfect shot every time, you wouldn't need anything more than a solid .17 HMR. But relying on a direct shot to the head or heart isn't always possible, and the head tends to be a small, mobile target. So something that will expand through the lungs and/or heart is almost as certain and a much larger target, and something fast that will deliver hydrostatic shock to a hug's spine via a neck shot is an easier shot and instant drop.
     
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  4. readyeddy

    readyeddy Member

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    Bullet type for 45-70 probably isn't as important when compared to smaller cartridges. That 400 grain bullet will likely do the job on all non-dangerous game.

    But for 9mm or 38 Special, bullet selection would be important for self defense.
     
  5. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Yes it can.

    Head shots aren't usually a good idea, but if that is what you want to do, with the game you're hunting all you need is a 22. I wouldn't attempt a head shot on big game. Too small of a target with the risk of a wounding shot and a slow death with no recovery.

    If you're not getting complete penetration on game that small with a 45-70 something is wrong.

    The keys are placement, penetration, and expansion. Construction plays a big part in determining expansion and penetration. Old school, large diameter bullets will get the penetration they need if they are heavy enough and since they are already approaching 1/2" in diameter they don't need to expand.

    Really lightweight, large caliber bullets will often give poor penetration, a 180gr 45 caliber bullet for example will often give poor penetration. Your 45-70 with 300-400 gr bullets will work with most any bullet.

    With most modern bullets the type becomes more important. Especially when you start using smaller caliber rifles. If you stay with something 30 caliber or larger bullet choice is less important for deer size game, but as you start movoing up to larger game then it starts to be more important.

    With carefully chosen bullets a 30-06 will give much deeper penetration than 45-70, and with bullet expansion it will make a bigger hole. And do it with 1/2 the recoil and the ability to make hits at 3 times the range.
     
  6. Steve Milbocker

    Steve Milbocker Member

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    Manny over on Gateway To Airguns kills some pretty big hogs over in Hawaii with his PCP pellet rifles. Of course he waits till he has a perfect head shot but they drop like their poleaxed. Pretty impressive.
     
  7. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    With head shots? By and large, no- assuming the shot hits the brain. Animals like deer have a lot more than brain in the head, so it would be easy to deliver a non-lethal head shot to a deer, at least non-lethal from the standpoint of a humane kill.
     
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  8. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    This is all context based. Different animals have different thickness of bones. So head shots with different bullets may or may not penetrate well. Humans are not thick boned animals, so I doubt bullet type matters much, but could. Certainly a hard cast or monolithic will have less chance of deflection at a bad angle. So I think for hunting applications it makes sense to consider what you are shooting.

    The more important question even though off topic, is if we are talking in the context of humans, do you want to stop the threat, or kill an attacker. Personally I would rather explain to a jury I shot an attacker to make them stop attacking me rather than why I shot someone in the head if I didn't need to. The arguments could really go around the block on that I'd think. But maybe that's overcomplicating the thought process here. I have a habit with that...……….
     
  9. daniel craig

    daniel craig Member

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    It does when the DNR/DEC/Game wardens make FMJ illegal for hunting in your state
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  10. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Would not that depend on the size of the head. Elephant, big time difference, squirrel, not so much.
     
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  11. 40-82

    40-82 Member

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    This surprises me, that a head shot from a 45-70 with virtually any normal load, jacketed or cast, wouldn't come out the other side of a hog's head. Are you describing broadside shots or facing shots that might penetrate through the head, and be stopped somewhere in the body? My experience is mostly with lighter animals like deer and what I would guess would happen on a hog could easily be wrong.

    With perfect placement, provided you use a bullet with the capability to reach the brain pan, it probably doesn't matter what you use. My tendency is to think that a .45 caliber hole put in the right place is going to kill anything in North America. I'd also guess that you wouldn't want to expect most animals at most angles to reliably contain any 45-70 bullet. Smaller calibers have to have expansion to kill reliably. 45-70 doesn't. My experience suggests that even if sometimes the fired bullet is contained by the animal that this isn't reliable enough to be counted on as a safety measure. In other words, if the background is questionable, don't shoot. Even if you do expect the bullet to be contained by the animal, people sometimes miss.

    The valuable thing about your post is that you're describing actual in field performance of bullets, a level of experience very few people have. Most opinions on bullets come from reading or advertising, and often a heatedly defended position comes from a complete absence of actual field experience. So, I hope you'll go into more detail because the actual field descriptions of bullet performance are the only way we can expect to learn aside from hard won personal experience.

    My guess is that it's possible that a jacketed bullet in a 45-70, which would probably only expand at close to moderate range, otherwise it would act much like cast, might give you a kill you wouldn't have otherwise had with cast on a marginal shot, but it wouldn't be a reliable enough thing to count on. The truth is my experience with 45-70 is with cast, and everything else is a guess.
     
  12. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Depends on where in the head you hit. If you have a cow standing still and put a .22 short right in the sweet spot, they drop like a light switch.

    Shooting hogs in a trap where they are moving around like crazy gives you a less precise placement of bullets. I have seen varmint bullets do better, for instantaneous death, in this application over FMJ’s but in the end, they are all dead.

    There are some gun shot to the head wounds that are survivable despite bullet construction, some that are fatal despite bullet construction and some in between where bullet construction could be the difference between the two.

    So, I’d go with yes, sometimes but not always.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
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  13. HB

    HB Member

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    I used to think it didn’t matter.

    I shot a doe with a 308 HPBT loaded by Prvi. Approx 50 yards through lungs and the deer took off running. I shot it in the rump (no bueno) as it crested a hill.

    Upon field dressing, the chest shot was as insignificant as I’ve ever seen a bullet do to a deer.

    I now shoot AMAX reloads and the bullet basically explodes. I like this for broadside lung shots. No exit and the deer get smacked.
     
  14. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    A head shot is a perfect shot.

    With a perfect shot, no, it probably doesn't matter too much.

    But are you going to make that perfect shot every single time?

    That's just not something I am going to bet on.
     
  15. Casefull

    Casefull Member

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    You can’t separate bullet construction from bullet velocity. Higher velocity makes a huge difference in the wound size. Slow moving bullets, even large ones do not tear up a lot of tissue. They can also deflect easier when hitting hard bone at an angle. Way too many people look at the diameter of a large bullet and think that it’s going to really do the job but if it’s moving at 1000 ft./s not so much.
     
  16. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    You're shooting a caliber designed to kill buffalo with primitive lead slugs; I don't think any bullet could perform poorly enough to fail on javelina. Bullet performance matters as the caliber-to-game relationship becomes more demanding.

    On the other extreme, imagine killing an elk with a 6.5CM; that's a great caliber choice for the game, but terminal performance is critical. A bullet that blows up (VMax), or pencils (FMJ), or separates (dumb SP style), or stops on the first massive bone (soft lead) will loose you that animal.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  17. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    It all depends on what it is you are hunting as they most definitely aren’t all the same. I don’t consider a head shot a reliable shot. In which case the bullet is everything.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  18. Texasgrillchef

    Texasgrillchef Member

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    I have yet to miss a head shot to a hog or Javalina as of yet. I take my time before I make a shot. Sometimes passing up opportunities until I am sure I can make the shot. So have yet, have not yet missed any head shots that I have taken.

    I recently just started to reload 45-70 and noticed a huge choice of projectiles, all from an inexpensive 31 cents a piece to well over $5 a piece. Up until now I have just been using Winchester 300 and 400 grain JHP. I think one time I used Herters 400 lead cast. A few times I tried some of the more expensive Lehigh Defense rounds, as well as some heavy lead cast loads.

    So that’s why I posed the question.

    Bullet selection when your shooting your target in other parts of the body, Heart, Lung, or other body parts to either kill, or at least mame until you can get closer for a killing head shot (Such as well n a self defense against a dangerous animal), can be and I do easily see how it could be important. Especially for penetration and damage.

    Yes, here have been times some of my head shots have exited, but went into the ground or a tree behind. I take the backdrop of my shots seriously. I dont ever shoot unless it’s safe to do so. no matter what I am shooting, or what gun/caliber I am shooting.

    Several of you have brought up very good thoughts.

    Some don’t consider head shots reliable simply because of the difficulty of making the shot. This of course I think all depends on what your shooting, and the situation. Making a head shot from 6’ shouldn’t be an impossible shot, however making a head shot from a running animal at 100 yards is another story.

    When I have made totally clear shots with no “brush” between me and the animal it didn’t seem to make a difference in what Ammo I shot.

    On the other hand through brushy bush, it seems to me that the heavier bullets seemed to not be affected by the bush. I have noticed several shots go right through a tree limb and into the Hog, or shatter a few branches, or even scrape a few branches, and still continue to make the kill. Probably why some consider the 45-70 a brush gun.

    That’s all why I have thought that bullet selection for head shots probably isn’t that important. Caliber, location of shot placement, animal your shooting, and even what you may have to shoot through I am sure bullet type would be important.

    Which all makes me wonder, if there is an ideal bullet selection to use on bear in self defense versus hunting bear?
     
  19. Axis II

    Axis II Member

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    Quit being cheap and buy a good hunting bullet! We owe it to the animal and the creator that offered the animals life to you to spend an extra $10 on a good hunting bullet and make a ethical shot. If FMJ and head shots worked 100% of the time companies wouldn't put thousands into research for hunting and SD bullets.
     
  20. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    I don’t think shooting through brush is ever a good idea. It takes very little to deflect a bullet irrespective of caliber. “Brush busting” is a myth IMHO.
     
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  21. Terry Vincent

    Terry Vincent Member

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    Who recalls Walter Bell’s African hunts with 7x57 Mauser and .275 Rigby using military FMJ exclusively to take African game up to elephant (over 1,000)? He is quoted as saying he would never use soft point bullets.

    It may be suggested his vast empirical experiences verify FMJ lethality. Look at his bio on Wikipedia for a complete examination.
     
  22. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    True, however there were no real “premium” bullets in his day.
     
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  23. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    Hard for me to believe that you have no qualms taking head shots thru heavy brush, yet you claim to have never missed.
     
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  24. Aletheia

    Aletheia Member

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    My grandfather once told me after I was upset about a shot I thought I should have made but didn't, "If you ain't never missed, you ain't done much shooting."
     
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  25. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    IF everybody shot their animal through the eye and into the brain at 50 yards, then the only hunting cartridge would be the .22 Long Rifle. OH the metal composition might change, but still....., OK maybe the .22 Magnum.....

    You're asking, when you explain your parameters, if it matters between a 2 lb. hammer and a 3 lb. hammer.? You could be using a 225 grain .530 round ball from a flintlock, and likely get pretty similar results. You could be at such a range that your bullet didn't penetrate past the skull, but severely fractured the skull to the point that the animal was knocked unconscious, and the resulting brain swelling crushed the brain-stem killing the animal in a couple minutes as it lay there.

    So in your case, no, the bullet probably doesn't matter much so long as it's accurate. You're using 1873 technology, with some modern upgrades like a jacketed bullet, and smokeless powder, but essentially you could use a 405 grain lead alloy bullet and get the results.

    Other hunting applications at other distances ???...., change the parameters of the question and you may get different results.

    LD
     
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