Re-thinking HEAVY Bullets

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  • Re-thinking HEAVY Bullets

    The handgun trend for the last 100 years has always been very heavy slow bullets for hunting and bear defense. I've always been curious about this topic. We use expanding bullets for everything else(hunting, personal defense, Law enforcement etc. Why would handgun hunting be any different?? I often hear phrases like " penetration" or "these break bones" when in reality those heavy bullets make a small hole and sail out the other side of the animal, most of the energy is dumped into the dirt. Wouldn't it be better to use like an XTP OR other hollow point bullet that will expand and impart more energy inside the animal and not behind it??? Do you really think a 250 or 300gr hollow point moving and 1800 isn't going to penetrate or break bones? When I was a kid I saw a caribou get shot 4 times in the lungs at 30 yards with non expanding bullets. It just walked away and I had to finish it with a rifle. The next year the same guy used XTP'S AND IT knocked the animal over with one shot, the bullet expanded and was found on the other side of the hide.

    just an observation, I'd appreciate any advice or opinions yall would like to share. Please tell me why I'm wrong on this idea.

  • #2
    Originally posted by tundrawooky View Post
    The handgun trend for the last 100 years has always been very heavy slow bullets for hunting and bear defense. I've always been curious about this topic. We use expanding bullets for everything else(hunting, personal defense, Law enforcement etc. Why would handgun hunting be any different?? I often hear phrases like " penetration" or "these break bones" when in reality those heavy bullets make a small hole and sail out the other side of the animal, most of the energy is dumped into the dirt. Wouldn't it be better to use like an XTP OR other hollow point bullet that will expand and impart more energy inside the animal and not behind it??? Do you really think a 250 or 300gr hollow point moving and 1800 isn't going to penetrate or break bones? When I was a kid I saw a caribou get shot 4 times in the lungs at 30 yards with non expanding bullets. It just walked away and I had to finish it with a rifle. The next year the same guy used XTP'S AND IT knocked the animal over with one shot, the bullet expanded and was found on the other side of the hide.

    just an observation, I'd appreciate any advice or opinions yall would like to share. Please tell me why I'm wrong on this idea.
    That echos my thoughts and experience with heavy HARD CAST bullets. I shot a black bear, broadside at close range with my .454 right behind the shoulder. Punched a clean hole right through. It was early morning with dew on the grass. Super easy tracking. I followed that bear for nearly a mile. Found only 2 drops of blood. My son lost one in a similar manner shooting hard cast from a .444 Marlin. He also had an experience with the same rifle and load on a large bull moose. Shot in the morning. We tracked that bull the rest of the day. Only a few drops of blood. Looked for it the rest of the season. Killed it the next year with archery equipment. The bullet had gone through right below the spine. Broke one rib. I have no doubt expanding bullets would have killed all 3 critters.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    • #3
      I could see hard cast possibly being helpful on a charging bear with a frontal shot length wise where there is plenty of mass to absorb the energy. Broadside. Not so much. That said, I have killed a whole bunch of bears with a .44 magnum. Only a couple of them were taken with solid lead bullets. All the rest were jacketed bullets. They all died.
      Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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      • #4
        Is your question about using heavier vs lighter bullets, or about using expanding vs non-expanding? While the two factors do affect each other, they are different.

        Heavy bullets from a given round will almost invariably out-penetrate lighter bullets. Once you reach the point of over-penetrating through the animal, then yes, your wasting energy and there is no point in going any heavier.

        Expanding bullets are a slightly different story and a separate issue from weight. An expanding bullet will never penetrate anywhere near as deep as a non expanding bullet of the same weight. The more it expands, the more pronounced the difference will be. However this is not necessarily a bad thing, if the round has enough power to get the expanding bullet through, and preferably at least few inches past the vitals of the animal. This is why most rifle hunters use expanding bullets since they generally have plenty of power at their disposal.

        I suspect the reason why non-expanding is more prevalent among handgun hunters, is that they are trying to make up for the usually lower power of their handgun rounds. If their given round doesn't have the power to penetrate deep enough with an expanding bullet, then they try using a non-expanding bullet to penetrate better. The trade off is that they will get a smaller wound channel as the bullet "pencils" it's way through.

        So a light for caliber expanding bullet will always have the least penetration, but widest wound channel at a given point. A heavy non-expanding bullet, will penetrate the deepest but with the narrowest wound channel. Where between these two extremes and with which combination of expansion and weight the right balance lies, is all a matter of the round your using, what your using it on, and a healthy dose of personal preference.

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        • #5
          One of my favorite loads for my various .44 mags is the Hornady 265 grain bullet designed for the Marlin .444 with a healthy amount of WW296 pushing it. The Horny 265 is harder than the typical 240 grain pistol bullet and has a thicker jacket. It works well on beasts of all kind. I also load a lot of the Hornady 300 XTP with a full house dose of WW296.
          Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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          • #6
            What about those heavy loads in bear country? Would y'all pick say a 300gr cast Kieth slug over a 300gr hollow point?

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            • #7
              Might help if you'd say what caliber? For what it's worth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-XNBaQSZZM
              Last edited by Steve8261948; 1 week ago.
              "The Original Point and Click Interface was a Smith & Wesson."

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              • #8
                I had a black bear hunter shoot a blackie after he missed with his bow 4 times. His 300 grain Keith went thru the bear and just pissed it off really bad. My son was filming and as the bear screamed, he motioned to me that maybe he should stop, "just in case PETA got hold of the video". The bear attacked the bait barrel, one arrow on the ground and raised hell. The Air Force Major shot it again and it finally succumbed. The 300's zipped right thru it never really causing any damage.

                I have some 300 Keiths and some 300 soft points. For blacks I lean toward the soft points and in brownie country i lean towards the Keiths.

                Patriot Life Member NRA
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Steve8261948 View Post
                  Might help if you'd say what caliber?
                  I'm guessing this is for his new Ruger 454.

                  I'm not a handgun hunter, but for bear defense when I'm down further south with the real brownies (they aren't to common up here in the interior) I carry a 44 mag with heavy beartooth bullets. As I said though I don't hunt with a handgun, so I'm only worried about a head on charging shot where they probably wouldn't over-penetrate. Up here with the smaller bears, I'd probably use some kind of heavy hollow point in a big bore magnum like that.

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                  • #10
                    Sorry I didn't mention the caliber, I'm talking .44,454, 480 etc. I just get the point of these "hard cast 800gr Kieth @ 150 fps" that's an exaggeration haha. Why would a buffalo bore solid hard cast bullets be better for a charging bear then a hollow point?? Buffalo bore hard cast is very popular all around Alaska. Maybe they are the smart ones, I dunno

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tundrawooky View Post
                      Sorry I didn't mention the caliber, I'm talking .44,454, 480 etc. I just get the point of these "hard cast 800gr Kieth @ 150 fps" that's an exaggeration haha. Why would a buffalo bore solid hard cast bullets be better for a charging bear then a hollow point?? Buffalo bore hard cast is very popular all around Alaska. Maybe they are the smart ones, I dunno
                      More likely to get deeper penetration and hold together after striking bone to continue doing fatal damage.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PRDATR View Post

                        More likely to get deeper penetration and hold together after striking bone to continue doing fatal damage.
                        ^^^This^^^
                        Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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                        • #13
                          But as I said earlier won't that just punch a tiny hole and go through the bear from chest to his pooper. The hollow point will create more damage up close. I don't think we'll have time to "aim for the shoulders, break bones"" I think that is non-sense. A 250gr hollow point cruising at 1500- 1800 (depending on barrel length) is going to break bones I promise.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tundrawooky View Post
                            But as I said earlier won't that just punch a tiny hole and go through the bear from chest to his pooper. The hollow point will create more damage up close. I don't think we'll have time to "aim for the shoulders, break bones"" I think that is non-sense. A 250gr hollow point cruising at 1500- 1800 (depending on barrel length) is going to break bones I promise.
                            If you feel hollow points are appropriate for thick fur/hide/fat/muscle and bone on a charging brown bear, feel free to carry them. The idea in breaking shoulders/bones in a hunting situation is to keep movement minimal. Despite some folks insisting they are faster on the draw and better shots than anyone else- in a charge, you are likely to miss the bobbing skull and hopefully hit spine/shoulder/etc. Bears can cover a great distance with no heartbeat so you could obliterate the chest and still be mauled. Hunting and taking a double lung shot versus trying to stop a charging bear are very different situations.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by AKBEE View Post

                              If you feel hollow points are appropriate for thick fur/hide/fat/muscle and bone on a charging brown bear, feel free to carry them. The idea in breaking shoulders/bones in a hunting situation is to keep movement minimal. Despite some folks insisting they are faster on the draw and better shots than anyone else- in a charge, you are likely to miss the bobbing skull and hopefully hit spine/shoulder/etc. Bears can cover a great distance with no heartbeat so you could obliterate the chest and still be mauled. Hunting and taking a double lung shot versus trying to stop a charging bear are very different situations.
                              I shot a large black bear boar that was charging me right in the skull with my Ruger SBH in .44 magnum. Was extremely close range though. It dropped at my feet.
                              Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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