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Nosler Bullets and deer hunting

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by whatnickname, Dec 21, 2020.

  1. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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    I’ve been hunting deer for 50 years with everything from the 30-30 Winchester to the 338 - 06. My choice of weapon has depended on terrain and anticipated distance. I’ve lost track of the number of deer I’ve taken...easily around a100. Most have dropped in their tracks. Those than ran never went further than 50 yards or so before they piled up. I have long since understood the value of shot placement. The majority of the deer I’ve taken have been harvested with Nosler bullets. Most were taken with high shoulder and neck shots. One of my favorite shots is a quartering away shot. I aim fairly high at the shoulder I can’t see (off side shoulder). The result is an instantly dead deer 99% of the time.

    This year was the exception. I made the decision to cull a poor quality 4 year old with a poor set of antlers. The shot was under 100 yards and broad side with a good 20 foot elevation advantage looking down into a ravine at the deer. I had the wind in my favor, but he came out from an unexpected spot and saw me. He stood there for a while and decided to calmly leave. As he cleared the brush his pace started to pick up. At that point I knew I had a limited window of opportunity. The cross hairs came to rest squarely in the middle of his right shoulder when I sent the round down range. My rifle in this case was a Ruger M77 MKII in 25-06. My bullet was a 115 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip that I had loaded up to 3100 f.p.s. He kicked in the after-burners but that right front leg was a done deal. I was impressed by how fast he ran on three legs but, once again, he only covered a short distance before he piled up in spectacular fashion.

    The postmortem on my deer was as expected. Ballistic Tip bullets are pretty much like throwing hand grenades. Both lungs were blown up and there was quite a bit of damage to the heart. That round turned his right shoulder to mush. However, there was no pass through. This started me thinking. Had I been using a Nosler Partition I would have broken both shoulders and he would have gone down in his tracks. I’m sure that a good bit of the reason was shot placement (heavy bone) and velocity. At that short distance that bullet was screaming hot and blew up pretty quickly. I’ve killed deer with partitions with good results, but I’ve always felt that Ballistic Tips gave a much more effective performance when it came to expansion...explosive expansion in fact. So here’s the question: Am I straining at gnats here? Either way the result would have been the same. Things don’t always come out in the field the way we want them to work out. Would I be better to go with partitions in the future? My guess is six of one, half a dozen of another. Shot placement IMO is the most important component of the event. Your thoughts please?
     
  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    The b tips were always a little to soft, down at 2700 or less there ok but still come apart. You don't always get the best shot but there still shots that are ethical and not to the point you shouldn't shoot. I'd go with the partitions.
     
  3. entropy

    entropy Member

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    I like my bullets to be nosey. the nosier the better. ;)
    Seriously, I like Partitions, but bt's work if they have some velocity, like a grenade as you say. I don't eat the lungs, and I'll sacrifice the top half of the heart to hit the aorta. My son prefers Hornady V-Max (essentially the same thing.) Matter of fact the only difference between his deer loads and mine, is mine are topped with 55 gr. Ballistic Tip Varmints and his with 55 gr. V-Max. I really need to work up a 60 gr. Partition load, though. I only used partitions in 165 in .30-06 for deer, and they always did the job.
     
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  4. LNF150

    LNF150 Member

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    In my 7mm-08, 120 gr nbt is about all I hunt with (although I have huge range of 7mm bullets at my reloading disposal). I've kind of come to learn that not all nbts are created 'equal'. Some seem to have thicker cup walls than others to control expansion. This is across different calibers and weights of nbts within those calibers. Longtime ago in my reloading youth, I found that 180 nbts in my 30-06 were the absolute cat's meow in terms of incredible accuracy, but in those days (unbeknown to me) 180 gr nbts were thin walled. Normally, I'd never use a bullet that big on a deer because deer are easy to kill, but I wanted to try it out. No doubt one of the stupidest things I have ever done, too. The exit hole was the size of a softball and I've never shot a 30 cal. 180 nbt since.

    I think nosler has redesigned some of their nbts to have thicker cup walls and kept some the same. Seems that the 7mm 120 gr nbt has always had that quality. The 7mm 140 gr. nbt was kept the same and the 7mm 150 gr. nbt was beefed up. I read somewhere that Nosler over the past 3-4 years did that to other caliber nbts too. Beefed some of the cups up and kept some others the same, but I can't remember all the calibers and bullet weights involved.

    This picture is one I took of both scapulas from a NM elk my wife at the time shot with a 7mm-08 using a 120 gr. nbt @ 235 yards. If you are using nbts, research and double check their cup wall thickness. This bullet held together very well and I found it on the inside of the offside shoulder skin.
    UKzTSL5l.jpg
     
  5. Aletheia

    Aletheia Member

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    If you want a bullet that will work well in many situations, like shooting through a shoulder, use Partitions (or several others as well, but ......) If you want dramatic performance on deer with the risk of some not so dramatic results in other situations (like shooting through a shoulder) us a Ballistic Tip. Rapid expansion can work amazingly well on deer with some shot placements, but can expand too quickly in others. Partitions will work very reliably in almost all situations, but may lack drama in some. I liked Partitions for many years, but have experimented with Accubonds for a few years now, and they may well be a better choice at this point. Not enough data yet to be sure, but no issues so far.

    I have also come to believe that the blood trail from Partitions may be less obvious than the blood trail from Accubonds (or Bal.Tips) due to a smaller exit hole made by the almost solid rear shank of a Partition after it loses its front half. YMMV of course.
     
  6. gspn

    gspn Member

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    I don't think you can go wrong with either. I've killed over 100 whitetail, and most of them were killed with a ballistic tip from my 7mm Rem Mag at distances from 5 yards to 300 yards. My preferred shot is a double lung shot, and as you pointed out, they go off like a grenade in there. I usually pour the lungs out.

    The only drawback to the ballistic tip in my experience is that if I hit the far shoulder, it pretty much ruins it. The shrapnel slams into it and turns it into an almost foamy-bloody mess that's impossible to clean up. For that reason I try to get a perfectly broadside shot (not necessary, but it helps minimize the collateral damage). Most of the time I find whats left of the bullet piled up just inside the hide on the far side. I don't get many exit wounds because the bullet sheds about 70% of it's weight and doesn't have enough umph left to breach the far side of the hide.

    If you really need an exit would, the ballistic tip would not be a great choice. If you take shoulder shots, again I'd probably pass on the ballistic tip.

    I've been using them for around 20 years, and will continue to do so. I'm fine with the way they work, and I don't necessarily need an exit wound because they're just not going far after their lungs get destroyed. A typical run is 20 to 30 yards and then they drop and bleed out.

    I'll use any hunting bullet they make, they all do the job, some just do it differently than others.
     
  7. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    It is a good idea to use something that will also work when what you plan for fails.

    IOW, if you plan for a behind the shoulder shot, use something that will be effective if both shoulders are shot.

    A partition type bullet along with the Barnes TSX series and probably a few others (Swift A Frame is one) are the best compromises we have at a bullet that can both offer expansion on soft tissues but still have enough energy to break a bit of bone. They seem to do a better job of breaking bone when the need arises than making quick kills when shooting behind the shoulder but to me, that is a fair compromise.

    If you want reliable double shoulder penetration, then I am not a believer in the NBT. The Partition or the Accubond will probably get you there though as well as the others mentioned.

    A .308 or similar would also help a lot.
     
  8. nick22

    nick22 Member

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    I am a big fan of an reliable expansion for any large game near or far which leads me towards Nosler partition and Barnes TSX not huge holes on the exit but at a quartering away or toward I know it my hold is good there will be a cleanly killed deer.
     
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  9. wombat13

    wombat13 Member

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    I hunted for years with 165 gr TSX in .300wm. Plenty of velocity but some didn’t open on double lung shots so I gave up on them. Too bad they were super accurate in my rifle. This year my BIL shot two deer with 180 gr TTSX in .30-06. Heavier bullet going 300fps slower than my 165 TSX and they expanded very quickly on heart shots. If you want to use Barnes bullets and you want quick expansion definitely use the TTSX. Look at cross sections of the TSX and the TTSX. The nose cavity is much larger in the TTSX. I am going to work up a load with 150 gr TTSX for my .300wm for next year.

    I only have one data point with partition. Shot a doe quartering away at 60 yards this year with 100 gr partition in .25-06. Advertised 3300 FPS. It split the heart in half and the deer dropped in its tracks.

    For your hunting style, I would use the partition or TTSX. I’m working on a load with 110 gr accubond, but I have no experience with that bullet.
     
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  10. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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    That’s impressive!
     
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  11. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    I'd say yes....you are kinda straining at gnats. While broken shoulders do put deer down, it doesn't kill them any faster. While pass thru shots give a better blood trail, they too do not necessarily kill any faster. If you always see the deer go down, there is no need for a bloodtrail. Many times how deer react to the shot, makes a difference to how far they go. Sometimes relaxed deer don't go as far as alarmed deer after being shot. Anytime one aims for a mass of bone with a high expanding bullet, they have to expect the bullet may not pass thru. If your confidence is shot with the BTs and you would be more confident with the PTs, that could be all the reason you need to change. Me....I would stick with what is working.
     
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  12. wild willy

    wild willy Member

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    The only ones I thought were a little fragile were 100 gr. in a 25-06 and speed may have been a factor.120 gr in a 7mm-08 and .260 work fine.How old are your bullets supposedly Nosler toughened them up a little but that was years ago.
     
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  13. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    My thoughts are 115’s are lighter than I generally use on deer and I also prefer partitions over ballistic tips, because I think we both have the same experience with the two style projectiles.

    As far as “explosive” doesn’t equal penetration. Varmint bullets are explosive, heavy solids penetrate much deeper.
     
  14. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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    These are relatively new bullets.
     
  15. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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  16. Garandimal

    Garandimal Member

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    For the woods, heavy for caliber SPEER Grand Slams at moderate speeds work fine.

    For longer ranges and the big stuff, switch to the heavy for caliber Partitions.

    TSX for restricted area hunting.




    GR
     
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  17. WisBorn

    WisBorn Member

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    I have used Partitions, Accubonds, and Ballistic Tips.

    The only time I used a ballistic tip (used in a (30-06) I lost the deer. The only deer I have shot with a rifle and lost. I think the bullet exploded and did not penetrate. It was a early design. The bullet has improved with later versions.

    The Accubonds and Partitions preformed as expected shot from 300 wm and 300 wsm.
     
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  18. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Bullet failure is extremely rare. They do exactly what they are designed to do virtually all of the time. People often use them outside of their design parameters and when the bullets do what they are designed to do they are disappointed. Ballistic Tips are designed to work best when they impact between about 1800 fps and 2800 fps. Within that range they will expand and stay together to give good penetration.

    If you need bullets that stay together at faster impact speeds you need a tougher bullet such as the Accubond or similar bonded bullet. Or if you want to use Ballistic Tips or similar soft bullets you need to go heavy for caliber to slow it down and help with penetration. The all copper bullets are known to work well at high impact speeds too.

    But you don't always need a lot of penetration. Deer are small and usually easy to kill. Even a bullet moving faster than it is designed to work will usually penetrate enough and will often result in dramatically fast kills. It is when hunting game larger than deer that penetration starts to be a concern. Especially if shots are taken from bad angles.

    The Partitions are a unique design where the front half expands, but the rear stays together to give good penetration even if the front blows up. It is a proven design since the 1940's, but I doubt they are really any better than a modern bonded bullet. For that matter even conventional bullets tend to give more than adequate penetration if heavy for caliber bullets are used.

    And then there is the animal. Some just don't want to die regardless of shot placement or bullet performance. I've seen deer with a double lung shot, complete penetration and a 2" exit hole run 100 yards before showing any signs of being hit.
     
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  19. LNF150

    LNF150 Member

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    JMR, that is true, along with the others you mentioned. I took the top of the heart off a 'drunk on adrenaline' deer that then ran from one side of an alfalfa field to the other and crash right into a 5 strand barbwire fence. Pretty amazing sight.
     
  20. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    You are straining at gnats and I agree, shot placement is the most important component of the event. That said, I would try some things with one bullet that I might not try with another.

    Maybe strange to say, I've never used a Nosler Partition in any gun I've shot because I've heard they don't deliver quite as good accuracy as other bullets. Admittedly, that information could be wrong.

    I've taken deer with a 204 Ruger using heavy (LOL) 45 grain bullets, with a 222, with a 22-250, with a 308 Winchester, with a 25/06, with a 300 Winchester Magnum and probably others I don't remember. They all work and I've used a variety of bullets; even some honest-to-goodness varmint bullets.
     
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  21. DM~

    DM~ Member

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    I wouldn't doubt it, IF you mean better as in, penetration...

    NP's penetrate better than the bonded bullets of the same size, I even read that Nosler made that statement.

    In another life time, I designed/swaged/sold bonded bullets, and I can tell you from MY experience, that NP's will out penetrate a bonded, of the same size ect...

    The REAL question is, do you need that much penetration for cartridge and animal you are hunting?

    DM
     
  22. Mr. Zorg

    Mr. Zorg Member

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    Thus far I've been very impressed with both the ballistic and terminal performance of the 110 grain Nosler Accubond at 3100 - 3250 fps MV from my 25-06 Remington rifle with 23.6" barrel.

    I was unimpressed with the 115 grain Ballistic Silvertip in that same rifle.
     
  23. wombat13

    wombat13 Member

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    Agree with jmr40 above. All these bullets do exactly what they are designed to do.

    The first load I developed for my .300wm was a 180 gr Nosler ballistic tip. It worked very well on deer. I probably could have just stopped there, but I like handloading so I tried the TSX. As I wrote above, I don’t think the TSX is the best choice for deer unless you specifically intend to shoot bone. I look forward to trying the TTSX because the nose cavity is much larger than the TSX and I have witnessed fantastic expansion on boiler room shots.

    My .25-06 so far shoots 100 gr bullets very accurately but not the 117 and 120s that I tried. From what I’m reading here, I’m going to use partitions or TTSX in that rifle for deer, unless my 110 gr accubond load is as accurate. The 100 gr ballistic tips will be for targets or varmints.
     
  24. Captcurt

    Captcurt Member

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    The Accubond has been my go to bullet for several years and several calibers. Shot the 110gr in a 257 Weatherby at around 3400 fps. They stayed together and dropped everything that I hit. The only bad experience with them was last year when I loaded some 150 gr for my 300WSM. I shot a fryer low in the shoulder and blew the chest open. I'm talking cracking the sternum. I went back to my 165gr.

    I have shot a few deer with the Ballistic Tip and they are not for me. If you like maximum upset you will like them as well as the Sierra TGK.
    That said, you really can't go wrong with a Partition and the rumor that they are not accurate is not true. I mean, sure, they are not a target bullet, but you don't have to shoot 1/2 MOA to kill game out to 400 or 500 yards. I have a friend who loaded 175 Partition in his Bergara 7mm Mag and shoots Sub-MOA. We regularly shoot 300-500 yards. He took a cow elk at 496. If you've done it, it ain't braggin.
     
  25. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    I've used the 130 BT in .270 at over 3100FPS on a chitload of deer, some Chamois and a couple boar.

    The only issue I've had with it was with the initial design, when I hit bone up close, it resulted in fragmentation and a lot of shot up meat. For double lung shots the bullet was about perfect, dressing them out revealed lungs that received massive trauma. I've never lost an animal using BTs in .243/6mm, 6.5x57, .260 Rem, .270. and .300W. When I transferred to Ft. Lewis I developed a .270 "woods" load for blacktails using the 130 Partition at 2900 because a loooong shot in that terrain was like 70yards. The POI was close enough to not bother zeroing for it at the distances I was hunting.

    My new .270 clocks in at 3170 with it's 24" tube and I now load 130 Accubonds for hunting and load the 130 BTs for practice. The POI for the 130 BTs is only a couple clicks off. The 120 BT is still my primary whitetail bullet for my .260. The combination of the newer construction and lower MV works well.
     
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