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Thread: Bullet failures, let's hear about yours

  1. #1
    Member The Kid's Avatar
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    Default Bullet failures, let's hear about yours

    So every time we log into a forum or read a gun magazine we udoubtedly here about a "Bullet Failure". Now most times these stories are a hard sell to readers because unless the game was recovered, we can't say for sure that it was the bullet and not poor shot placement. So what do you fellas consider a "Failure" when it comes to bullet behavior?

    Secondly, we know that everybody who has ever slain a big game animal, from pronghorns to moose, has a favorite bullet, generally either a TSX or a Partition. But what is worst that you have used on game and why.

    My story goes like this. When I was a little guy,8 or 9 years old, my dad decided I was old enough to hunt deer after I passed my HE course. For the first couple years I didn't know much less care what a good bullet was, rifles are loud they must be powerful right. I only had one choice in ammo, 90gr Fed Hi-Shok SPs for my Great Grandad's 244rem he had loaned me. I shot two bucks with that rifle and never thought twice about the cantaloupe sized ENTRY wounds they had, the exit holes of course, well there were none. Next I got my first real rifle of my own, a M7 in the then new 260rem cartridge. Being brand spankin new there was only one load for that cartridge, a 140 Core-Lokt. Well I had read some by this time and just knew that this thing would shoot through any buck deer that ever walked, heck it was nearly a twin to WDM Bell's 6.5x54MS, and he shot elephants. Imagine my surprise when the first buck I happened to luck into had a softball sized hole in his neck and little shiny pieces all over the place even though I had hit no bones. Fluke I thought, and yet it continued to happen. I finally swore of Core-Lokts in that gun after several years of less than satisfying performance. I remember shooting a buck BETWEEN two ribs and getting no exit, only a shotgun pattern of jacket and core prices in the ribs. That deer dressed at a whopping 98lbs, it in the south I can't help the size of our deer.

    Fast forward to highschool with many deer between and I had procured a 30-06. I had started handloading by this time but still shot some factory ammo as buying empty brass was a foreign concept to me at this point in life. I generally bought Winchester 180gr Silvertips of the old neat looking variety, that shiny tip has to do something neat right? Well imagine my surprise when I shot a very large hog right in the shoulder with one and after a bit of thrashing about he gets up and heads out not to be hit again with the rest of my magazine of cartridges. Normally I would think I had made a less than stellar shot, but when a cousin killed a remarkably " similar" hog in the same area guess what he had buried in his shoulder muscles? You guessed it an inside out 30cal Silvertip.

    So for the last nearly a decade now it has been nearly all premium bullets for me. If I use a regular old bullet it's either very heavy for caliber, ie 220gr in 06, or in my 30-30 or similar low velocity number.

    Share your stories of "failures", I'd be interested to hear them.

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    I have never used any of the premium bullets on any game animal and in some 45+ years of hunting, I have only had one bullet that I would say failed. Even that was more poor placement than total failure. I tend to shoot somewhat heavy for caliber bullets, so I'm sure that helps. The one bullet that didn't perform as I would have liked was a 180gr Nosler Ballistic Tip from a 300H&H at about 2950 muzzle vel. I shot a med sized black bear at an estimated 320 yds and due to jerking the trigger I got a hit on the rear thigh. The bullet hit the thigh bone and took out about 5" of the bone. It then traveled to the far side where the empty jacket was against the hide with no hole in the far side. It made a funnel of hamburger about 2"dia from where it entered to about 6" dia. on the hide of the offside thigh. Now, I did get the bear but there was nothing left of the bullet except the jacket and small bits of lead. I switched to Speer BTSP and no longer recover bullets.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I have never recovered a failed bullet from a live animal.... That said 150grn core-lokt vs moose spine at 50 yards from a 308 completely destroyed both the bullet and the vertebrae. I would prefer a bullet that held together better than that though the moose was DRT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    I have never recovered a failed bullet from a live animal.... That said 150grn core-lokt vs moose spine at 50 yards from a 308 completely destroyed both the bullet and the vertebrae. I would prefer a bullet that held together better than that though the moose was DRT.
    Like you I prefer more terminal performance, but a moose vertebrae is asking a lot of any bullet at 50 yards. I've recovered lots of bullets (TSX, NPT and others) from moose necks shot at close range.
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    I normally use either partitions or TSX bullets in all my big game rifles. Mainly dictated by velocity. If its over 3k fps it gets a TSX. My only time I had bullet failure was with a 30/06 shooting 165gr Winchester PP ammo. My dad had gotten a good deal on 5 boxes of the stuff at a sporting goods closeout sale.

    I was visiting my parents in michigan for the start of the whitetail rifle season. I brought my encore with 30/06 barrel since dad had all this ammo. Having killed many whitetails with the lowly .243 I didn't think anything of taking the 165gr winchester PP ammo out after deer.

    As luck would have it the ammo shot very well out of my rifle and matched up with the nikon BDC system. I ran thru two boxes testing it out at various ranges out to 400 yards at the local range a couple days before season. I was very confident in its ability.

    Opening day I shot a 7pt at just under 300 yards bullet entered behind the shoulder and exited out far shoulder. I watched the deer run 80-90 yards and crash in a stand of brush. Walked right to it so no tracking was involved but noticed that there was very little to no blood trail from where it was shot. I didn't think much of it at the time.

    Next day I shot a large doe at about 80-90 yards. Shot felt good, right behind the shoulder when the trigger broke. Lost the deer when it ran behind a pine tree. Got down a few minutes later to get it and low and behold, no deer, and no blood. I followed all the game trails leading away from where she was and even walked the brush edge all around. Did some circling, nothing... I looked for a couple of hours thru some really thick brush, everywhere I would have thought she would run to. Nothing. I couldn't believe I had missed.

    next day I shot another doe and at the shot she did the customary high kick, generally indicating a good solid hit, stumbled and fell, got up and ran to the wood line. I walked over and again no blood trail of any kind, I walked the wood line and nothing, I followed the most obvious deer trail where she had ran into the wood line and about 10-15 yards in there was a small drop of blood. Then further on another small drop of blood, finally the blood trail opened up 40-50 yards into the woods and led to the doe. This one hit right behind the shoulder and exited out in front of the opposite shoulder. Looking at the bullet hole there was little to no expansion, same as on the buck.

    The next day while doing a deer drive in the brushy CRP field I had shot the first doe in we came across the doe I had shot at 90 yards. It had ran uphill into some tall grass and died about 120-130 yards from where it was shot. Again no blood trail at all, just a small pool of blood where it lay. Sadly the coyotes and barn cats had already worked it over pretty good and nothing was salvageable but a quick autopy showed that again the bullet had very little if any expansion. This one was a cut and dried behind the shoulder in and out lung shot, a little high thru the lungs. There wasn't even that much damage to the lungs themselves, just a slightly larger than caliber hole penciled thru the deer. This really bummed me out it was the first deer I ever lost with a rifle.

    Did the bullets fail, I think so. Granted I did kill all three deer in a relatively timely fashion but the lack of expansion and resulting very poor blood trails was a failure. Granted they shot well and all the deer where hit exactly where I was aiming but the bullets were simply too hard, I would have been much better served with the sierra game kings or nosler ballistic tip I had used in the past. is the last time I ever skimp on my ammo. I would have never thought that I would have had a problem with that winchester loading. I guess I know why they discontinued it.

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    Member trapperbob's Avatar
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    I hunt almost excllusively with my .308 anymore and have shot more factory loads in this caliber than any other I have shot. This year after I was no longer able to get federal HE trophy bonded bear claws I tried some Hornady super performance SST's. My gun shot this ammunition very well at the range. I had read where people were not having good experiences with these in very fast belted magnums, but I figured in a .308 it should work well on a black bear. So into the field on a black bear hunt where I ended up getting a shot at 35 yards on a slightly quartered to, broadside 6' black bear a little bit over 200 Lbs. The bullet hit the bear on the close leg bone about 2" below the shoulder jointand never exited that leg. The entrance was about an 1 1/4" hole the bone was shattered but the small pieces of the bullet were all down the leg toward the elbow with a few very small ones exiting out the hide. The bear ran off without a possible follow up. He collapsed and fell back down the mountain about ten minutes later. A lucky recovery in my opinion, and worst bullet performance I have ever witnessed. I don't think every manufacturer needs to shove a plastic tip on their bullet. The new trophy bond and triple shock included.

  7. #7

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    I've only ever had one bullet "blow up." I was in college back in the early 70's and reduced to one rifle, a 308 M-70 Fwt. Had a chance to go on a mule deer hunt, and bought the line that I needed flatter trajectory. Loaded up some 125 grain Sierra's to max and a nudge, and went for it. Never got a shot at a mule deer, but had a coyote cross right to left in front of me at about 30 yards. Wham! DRT in a pink spray. When we flopped him over the remains went way beyond exit hole. Most of the rib cage was gone, and we literally never found the right leg. Gone, and we looked for it.

    My other failures have been in the opposite direction- zero expansion. I used the 7mmTCU and 6mmTCU Contenders in their first years before Sierra brought out their Single Shot Pistol bullets. Push your shots much past 100 yards and certainly past 150 with either round, and you had pencil holes through and through. You could easily hit deer to around 250 with them, but be ready to do some serious tracking. The SSP bullets fixed all that.

    In rifles I had AWFUL luck with several of the early monoliths in 7mm and 30 cal for long range shooting deer and elk past 400 yards. Didn't seem to matter how fast I drove them, exit and entry were the same and you had a tracking job. Noslers did better, but Sierras became my official long range bullets for reliable expansion. Just don't shoot eating meat with magnum loads inside 50 yards.

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    You know i had a weird happening with a 12ga slug. I shot a 6pt buck right behind the shoulder. I knew i hit it. I looked for blood and found none where i hit it. I followed the trail it was on and found just a few specks of blood. Just specks. i found the deer 60yrd away from from where it was hit. I blew a hole through it .75 across. It was a big hole. No blood trail other than a few specks. Nothing failed. you cant do better than blow a 3/4 hole through a deer right behind the shoulder. there was patchy snow on the ground as well. We still talk about the deer that did not bleed. All we could think of is the heart stopped when it got hit and it was on a dead run litteraly. No heat pumping then no bleeding? Thats all we could think of

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    The one failure I've had in recent years was a Hornady 165 Interlock... I shot a fox at about 35 feet expecting a clean in and out wound.

    Wrong. Bullet hit dead center on the sternum and I pulled the biggest piece (about 40gr) out of his hip. No exit at all, other than splitting him open with pressure.

    Glad it wasn't a moose.

  10. #10

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    When I was a kid in the 60's I shot caribou in the lungs and head from about 30' to a couple of hundred yards with the 150 grain Silvertip out of and old Springfield in caliber 30-06 and moose in the lungs with the 220 grain Silvertip out to 200 yards. They worked fine. In the early 80's I shot a small bull moose in the forehead with a 250 grain Speer Grand Slam out of a .338 Win. Mag. It was about 20 yards away. It killed it right away. The entrance hole was about the size of a base ball, no kidding, no exit hole. Never used them again. From then on it was 200 grain Nosler Partitions in the 30-06 and 250 grains in the .338, worked fine. Switched to the 180 grain Barnes X for the 30-06 and 250 grain X for the .338 when they showed up in the mid 80's. They have always worked well. I am looking at the 168 grain X bullet for the 30-06 since my 180 grain supply is low. I also am going to load up some 210 grain X bullets for the .338 since they will end up weighing more then then a 250 grain Nosler Partition. So I guess I had what I consider a bullet failure on the one dead moose.

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    I've pulled three .300 mag 180gr. partitions from the opposite hide on three different moose (found while skinning). Perfect performance. All three bullets weighed about 50 gr less than the 180 they started out at and were perfectly mushroomed. Shots were all 150-300 yards.

    I don't like the hot-corr bullets, they destroy too much meat if the shot isn't perfect. I don't think I'd trust them if they hit solid bone either.

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    Member Darreld Walton's Avatar
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    Only had one instance that I'd call a bullet a failure. For some reason, I loaded Sierra 165's into a .30-06, probably because they made those neat little clover leaf groups on paper at a hundred yards. Hunting mule deer up on Square Butte, in Montana, I had a good sized doe run across in front of us out around 75 yards. The bullet hit a rib squarely, made a hole in the hide about the size of my hand, and stood there looking at me. My Bud shot it in the lungs with a 120 gr. Hornady from his .257 Roberts, and she jumped straight up, ran about 50 yards or so, and piled up. There was not a single fragment of that Sierra deeper than the muscle tissue between the ribs. I have not shot a Sierra game bullet since, but their Match King bullets still shine, and DO penetrate paper targets!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    The one failure I've had in recent years was a Hornady 165 Interlock... I shot a fox at about 35 feet expecting a clean in and out wound.

    Wrong. Bullet hit dead center on the sternum and I pulled the biggest piece (about 40gr) out of his hip. No exit at all, other than splitting him open with pressure.

    Glad it wasn't a moose.
    hodgeman, how fast were you running those 165 grain Interlocks? I've always had good luck with them but then am only pushing them around 2650 out of a 308!

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    Quote Originally Posted by elmerkeithclone View Post
    hodgeman, how fast were you running those 165 grain Interlocks? I've always had good luck with them but then am only pushing them around 2650 out of a 308!
    Those were a factory loaded Light Magnum and published data said about 2850fps with a 24" barrel- I believe it too.

    Since the fox was so close he caught very close to full MV.

    I'd bet at 100 yds when the bullet had slowed down a bit the performance would have been quite different but I got leery of them after that. Soon after I switched to Accubonds and a .300WSM for big game and I'll be trying Trail Boss loads (150gr.@ 1650fp) for varmints called close.

    If I switch back to the .308Win I would likely go with 150gr ABs- performance with the 180s has been stellar to date.

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    Darreld: completely unrelated to the story line. I spent some time around the area you speak of, staying with my Grandmother when I could and working on ranches during the summers. It was in my early driving days and when you'd drive north along the road, Square Butte to Geraldine, the grain elevators would appear like two semi-trucks passing each other coming at you. Always one of those "Oh S#%*" moments. We never hunted on top of the butte, but the general area was a wonderful place to chase deer and antelope.

    I thought I'd move back "there" when I retired. The wife drug me off to AK on a cruise and my life plans haven't been the same since.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    You know i had a weird happening with a 12ga slug. I shot a 6pt buck right behind the shoulder. I knew i hit it. I looked for blood and found none where i hit it. I followed the trail it was on and found just a few specks of blood. Just specks. i found the deer 60yrd away from from where it was hit. I blew a hole through it .75 across. It was a big hole. No blood trail other than a few specks. Nothing failed. you cant do better than blow a 3/4 hole through a deer right behind the shoulder. there was patchy snow on the ground as well. We still talk about the deer that did not bleed. All we could think of is the heart stopped when it got hit and it was on a dead run litteraly. No heat pumping then no bleeding? Thats all we could think of
    was it high lung?

    I shot a moose high lung, and there was not a single drop of blood on the ground.. not a single drop.. till you gut the critter, and his entire chest cavity is full of blood. I like the high lung shot, but it does not leave much blood trail.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    You know i had a weird happening with a 12ga slug. I shot a 6pt buck right behind the shoulder. I knew i hit it. I looked for blood and found none where i hit it. I followed the trail it was on and found just a few specks of blood. Just specks. i found the deer 60yrd away from from where it was hit. I blew a hole through it .75 across. It was a big hole. No blood trail other than a few specks. Nothing failed. you cant do better than blow a 3/4 hole through a deer right behind the shoulder. there was patchy snow on the ground as well. We still talk about the deer that did not bleed. All we could think of is the heart stopped when it got hit and it was on a dead run litteraly. No heat pumping then no bleeding? Thats all we could think of
    was it high lung?

    I shot a moose high lung, and there was not a single drop of blood on the ground.. not a single drop.. till you gut the critter, and his entire chest cavity is full of blood. I like the high lung shot, but it does not leave much blood trail.

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    Member akgun&ammo's Avatar
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    Back in the 80's I tried the "new" noslers on deer in Texas, The first doe I shot stood there for me to put three rounds in before she ran off. Both my father and I looked till well after dark and didn't find any blood, or other sign that I had even hit her. Two days later we found her about 150 yards from where I shot with three 270 sized holes on each side of her ribcage. Perfect entry and exit, good placement- but no expansion. I cut open the chest and the lungs still looked pink and almost healthy-considering there was holes completely penetrating them. Meat was no good. Still remember cutting my tag, and writing "shot and lost". It really affected me back then. Nosler corrected that hard jacket and made a very good bullet soon after. I still think about that doe when I pick out bullets to harvest game with. On a side note the Buck I shot the day after the incident doe with the same bullet and load only went about 20 yards and piled up DRT.

    Chris

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    Forgot to say the night I shot the doe, when we got back to camp my shirttail was cut off for the "miss".

    Chris

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    "ice picked" a dandy bull elk at under 200 with a 180 grain Scirocco from a 300 win mag, never did catch up to that bull .... I have "heard" that Swift cured that problem but it's hard to trust them again ....

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