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Thread: Meplat size for hunting: does it matter?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Meplat size for hunting: does it matter?

    Hey guys. I'm planning to switch to cast boolits exclusively in my .30-30 rifles for hunting whitetails. It seems that most folks who hunt with boolits prefer a big, wide meplat for maximum splat on game. I have the Lee C309-150F mold for my rifles, it makes nice boolits. This mold produces a more modest meplat than many custom designs, it sort of looks like a spire point that has been clipped off. I'm planning to run them up to 2,000 fps or so as I do my j-words.

    I know that actually shooting game is the only way to test a boolit's effectiveness. My hunting time each year is sadly limited, so I'd rather not go into the field with something that may be of questionable effectiveness. Am I worrying about nothing? Or, should get a mold which produces a boolit with a bigger meplat? I rarely shoot at deer more than 100 yards away, nor do I take any exceptionally difficult shots, if that matters. Thanks!
    Currently loading: .32 Long/Magnum/Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, .30 WCF, .45-70 Gov't.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Here is a good read that may be of some help for you. http://www.castbullet.com/reload/meplat.htm

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    I've used a 6.5X55 with a small meplate, and had good luck with a couple deer. On one I remember the wound disruption showing about a 6" area in the lungs. On another, with a shot in the liver, the wound was a shattering effect, about 5". Don't think that there was a lot of bloodshot meat with those wounds, there was not. Place your shot right, and your boolit will do the job.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master




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    I'm a 311041 fan myself. I say that having never used mine of warm meat. But I'm going to. enjoy Mike
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    The 311041 is the classic 30-30 boolit. Lee's 150F and 170F don't give up much in the way of meplat, so if you're getting good groups, use it!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    A lead cast bullet kills differently than a jacketed bullet mostly because expansion cannot be depended on with a cast bullet. The reason a wide meplat is preferred is because the wide flat nose destroys more tissue during passage of the bullet and it creates a greater secondary wound channel because of a hydraulic effect. I have both the Lee C309-170-F and the RD TLC311-165-RF and there really is no comparison between the two except that they are both cast lead. The two deer I shot with the Lee design ran 70 and 120 yards with boiler room hits. After getting the RD mold I have taken 3 deer with it and none went over 40 yards after being hit. One dropped withing about 5 steps. Unfortunately the RD mold is out of production as RD is closing down his shop. I've never used the Lyman 311041 but I think that would be my second choice if I didn't have the RD mold. The RCBS 30-180-FN might be a better choice if hunting Mule Deer or big body Whitetails up north but probable not needed for your Kentucky deer.

    Bottom line is and speaking only for myself, I wouldn't use the Lee bullet if I could get hold of a better design.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    That is a good read. I'm not going to hunt with cast boolits in the .30 WCF this year as i haven't worked up any good deer loads yet. I'll probably just work on getting my powder charges, lube, and sizing diameter right; then do some wet newspaper tests. If I'm still unsatisfied with the Lee boolit I'll probably hit up Accurate molds for a mold with a wide meplat. I should've got a Ranch Dog mold when I had the chance. Oh well, live and learn.
    Currently loading: .32 Long/Magnum/Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, .30 WCF, .45-70 Gov't.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Given an impact velocity of over about 1450 fps with a 12 BHN or softer (wheelweight) bullet a wide flat point is not necessary because the bullet will expand. This makes the flatpoint less useful than at slower speeds.

    So given a reasonable impact velocity and suitable bullet hardness, don't let anyone tell you the bullet point absolutely has to be large and flat.

    2,000 fps velocities and woods ranges do not require a large flat point. At those velocities any of the bullets shown in the link Gohon provided would work fine as long as hardness is reasonable. There would be little difference in killing effect at such speeds because all would expand wider than the flatpoint's diameter on impact, making little difference in their shape as they penetrate.

    Cast bullets can and do expand when velocity and hardness allows them to do so. This is no different than a jacketed bullet, and most alloys will expand to some degree. Chosen carefully, cast bullets of suitable hardness expand very well, even if they possess a small meplat.

    Flatpoint size is more important as impact velocities get lower and bullet hardness becomes greater. If these two things are not present, either individually or in combination, meplat size is of lessened significance.
    Last edited by 35remington; 10-15-2012 at 01:01 PM.

  9. #9
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    At least a little meplat is desirable, However remember that some of the largest game on earth is killed with roundnose solids. Shows the importance of proper placement, especially when the game is as large as a minivan, and any hit anywhere else but the vitals for an immediate kill could result in a game being played that you wouldn't like......
    Cast Boolits, Where lead balloons go over....

  10. #10
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    As a former KY resident, I will attest that the white tail deer are very tenacious of life and need a good smack to anchor them. With that in mind, a friend who used to hunt our farm there, used a .30-30 with the Lee 170F for 2 years. The ones he shot dropped like a rock. I came to favor very heavy bullets for white tail as they worked for me but your 150 grainer should do the job.

    Try 30 grains of R15 under your bullet and a lube similar to SPG or even Lyman ALOX. You will make meat.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master







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    Some years ago I remember an article that compaired the impact/energy factors of a needle or sharp pointed article, a round nosed object, and a flat nosed object all of the same weight, and all driven at the same vol. If memory serves me correctly, the flat nosed projectiles on impact at X distance imparted the most energy. Theory was that the sharp pointed and round nose projectiles tended to pass thru loosing energy and that the flat nose imparted all ot its energy within the target. Think the target was dead pig. I can remembering that I didn't think that the article proved much to me. I think that there are far to many variables inclusive of blt hardness, vol, shot placement, etc.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    If.......IF......the bullet doesn't expand. If it does, all comparisons are out the window. Because the bullet shape has then changed, and the effect of the point is lost.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 35remington View Post
    Given an impact velocity of over about 1450 fps with a 12 BHN or softer (wheelweight) bullet a wide flat point is not necessary because the bullet will expand. This makes the flatpoint less useful than at slower speeds.

    So given a reasonable impact velocity and suitable bullet hardness, don't let anyone tell you the bullet point absolutely has to be large and flat.

    2,000 fps velocities and woods ranges do not require a large flat point. At those velocities any of the bullets shown in the link Gohon provided would work fine as long as hardness is reasonable. There would be little difference in killing effect at such speeds because all would expand wider than the flatpoint's diameter on impact, making little difference in their shape as they penetrate.

    Cast bullets can and do expand when velocity and hardness allows them to do so. This is no different than a jacketed bullet, and most alloys will expand to some degree. Chosen carefully, cast bullets of suitable hardness expand very well, even if they possess a small meplat.

    Flatpoint size is more important as impact velocities get lower and bullet hardness becomes greater. If these two things are not present, either individually or in combination, meplat size is of lessened significance.

    +1, that is how it is. A wide flat meplat comes into it's own with hard cast handgun bullets at lessor velocities. A large flat meplat is not necessary as 35 Remington mentions if the alloy is correct for expansion at rifle velocities. I also use mildly HP'd cast bullets for much better terminal effect.

    Larry Gibson

  14. #14
    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
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    A few swipes of a file and you'll have a wider flat nose on the lee bullet! Just sayin if it would make one feel more confident .
    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!

  15. #15
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    Just as another possible option, you might want to hollow point a few bullets for the hunt, if your concerned about not enough expansion on impact. Either carefully use drill press with some sort of jig or you can use one of the case trimmer setups that have the hollow pointing accessory. A 1/8 in. dia hole about 1/8 in. deep opens up probably enough.

    Good luck hunting and let us know your results... - Bob.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    The way I look at it is eventually the rifle velocity will be in the handgun velocity as distance increases. Sure if all shots are at 50 yards it may not matter but if that 150 yard or beyond shot presents itself the wide meplat bullet in my opinion will perform better. That's the reason a statement that a wide meplat bullet bullet at rifle velocities is not necessary doesn't fit in my opinion............to many variables at play for such a statement.

    Cast bullets generally are not pushed as fast as jacketed factory ammo and as a example, a Winchester White box 150 grain FN leaves the muzzle at 2390 fps and 1902 fpe. At 100 yards the energy has dropped to 1376 fpe. That's a 526 fpe loss with a factory load. With a cast that is not even up to that speed...I need all the advantage I can get. My experience with casts and expansion is the classic mushroom everyone expects from jacketed bullets is not present with casts. The nose simply rolls back and ends up being just slightly larger than the bullet diameter. I don't think that is what most are asking for when they look for cast bullet expansion. I know some disagree but I just think starting out with a wide meplat is the best choice but that's just me.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    For big game up here in Canada I use the heaviest bullet with the largest cast flat point, of course I also use the biggest cal. possible.

  18. #18
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    Wouldn't a soft(or softer) point work on this bullet? Pour the tip with a more purer lead, then a harder for the base to help drive and not deform as much. Or a paper split point? If a person wanted to help expansion. Nose damage in the tube would be the biggest worry.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Given the OP's stated intention of 100 yards and 2,000 fps, the meplat size still won't matter.

    Since 2,000 fps muzzle velocities are comparatively ample, speedwise, simple alloys can work well. Trick two alloy bullets are not necessary. Straight wheelweights can work, or if hollowpointed bullets are used and a bit less fracturing of the hollowpoint is desired the wheelweights can be cut with pure lead to make a more classically mushrooming bullet.

  20. #20
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    Ferguson, if you look at all the pretty pictures of perfectly expanded bullets that the ammo manufacturers put in magazines to advertise their wares, you'll notice that they are designing bullets that turn into large meplats on impact. The idea there is that you want an aerodynamic bullet for travelling through air, but a non-aerodynamic when passing through meat (meatodynamics?)

    With the ranges a .30-30 is used at, the round is more about meatodynamics than aerodynamics, so I would lean towards the largest meplat that will feed reliably. Elmer Keith's formula for an all-purpose meplat seems to have run 65-75% of the boolit diameter. I think that if long range precision was taken off the table, he'd have gone larger. Accurate Mold's 31-170C is listed in their site as a ".30-30 gas check" design with a meplat of .245" - - close enough to 80% to make no difference.

    As to expansion, I doubt a deer is going to be able to tell the difference between being center-punched with a non-expanding WFN of .30", and an expanded spitzer of about .45"-.55". Place it well, and those couple extra tenths won't mean much.
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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check