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Thread: Defining optimal weights for a given caliber for deer

  1. #1
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Defining optimal weights for a given caliber for deer

    It is my observation that most solid cast boolits overpenetrate on deer. The Lyman 358429 for example, even at 38 special + P velocities penetrates 28" of gel block. I've never recovered a Lyman 429421 from a gel block either. Even at 900 FPS it clears 28" of calibrated gelatin.

    I have not tested (yet at least) lighter solid cast bullets on gel.

    I was thinking that for .429 that the optimal weight would be around 225 grains. I would think that 148-158 would be ideal for .358. ~200 grains for .410. I was wondering if anyone else has shot gel or live medium game (deer) and and knows approximately how light is TOO light (where it fails to penetrate) with solid cast bullets.

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    Not sure I understand your train of thought unless you are looking to reduce recoil.

    Very few would argue that an entrance and and an exit hole provides a better blood trail for tracking. On the other hand lighter faster bullets that expand but don't pass thru can still be effective. With cast I tend to want a large meplat and a pass thru. I have killed several deer with a 357 Herrett with 140 jacketed Hollow points pushed way faster than they were designed for. On a broadside lung shot to call them explosive would be an understatement. They destroyed the lungs but all you would find was fragments on the offside ribcage.

    Personally in a medium to big game I don't believe that overpenetration is an issue ever. Under expansion or under penetration can be a very real and serious issue.

    Lightest cast load I have killed a deer with was 255 grain near pure lead cast at about 800 FPS in a Colt 45 Old Army Clone. Killed two both passthrough's.

    Killed a couple with 158 grain Speer jacketed soft points in a standard 357. They were all pass thru's. They were full size does on bonus tags.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 05-02-2020 at 11:52 PM.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    It's about recoil reduction really. Not about increasing velocity. And finding a sweet balance load. So far the best powders I've found for 44SPL+P are Unique and PowerPistol. Both have very good accuracy and are pleasant to shoot, but their burn rates limit what can be done as far as charges go. 8.0 grains of Unique pushes the 429421 to around 1075 FPS. 8.5 gets and honest 1100 and sometimes more. These loads are both 22kPSI level II loads. I was thinking that a slightly less heavy bullet with the same charge would go faster, drop about the same at 75 yards, and recoil less....and still pass through any deer...leaving the same 43 caliber wound channel that a heavier projectile would leave. I was thinking the ideal weight may be 215-240 grains.

    I've never observed appreciable expansion from any cast solid at normal handgun impact velocities (<1200 FPS). I have done enough testing with cast hollowpoints to know that you don't know what it is doing unless you test it. They are hard to predict.

    I have a friend who for years hunted deer with the Lyman 429215, which weighs around 220 grains. He never failed to get complete pass through. This is why I think this is an ideal weight for that caliber on deer. I wonder if others can corroborate this. These were 44 mag loads and he never had a chronograph. For all I know they may have been stepping fast.

    I don't see any benefit to massive over-penetration. Once it goes through it goes through. Going through at high velocities just makes nasty exit wounds and ruins meat.

    I too have hunted with 357 Herrett and 357 Max. I never used that light of a bullet but I am not surprised at that observation.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 05-03-2020 at 12:04 AM.

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    Boolit Bub 405grain's Avatar
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    Can't say for sure, but I think ballistic gelatin only replicates soft tissue. If you want to replicate hunting conditions there would need to be something to replicate bone in the equation. As a general rule of thumb (at least for me), a good bullet should be able to break the shoulder of a game animal and still be able to penetrate to the vital heart /lung area. We don't get to pick and choose our shots, but the best opportunity in a hunting situation would be the all desirable broadside shot. In that situation, and with good shooting skills, a shot which would both break the shoulder and penetrate to the vitals would anchor the animal from running, and cause the fastest expiration. Those are "perfect" conditions, and rarely does the prey cooperate and is the marksman so sure, but it would present a better picture of the reality of hunting performance if there is a "bone" simulation in the ballistic gel. Again unscientific, but I think a piece of 1/2" plywood would suffice.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    ya id agree in real life I need to go through the inch thick branch in front of the deer then go through the deer at an angle while hitting a small bone or 2 on the way through. and might of heard me say it before that ive had 3 cast deer so far and no exits so im sticking to 300gr for 44cal and 220gr for 30cal. to me heavy is no problem cause I usually hunt with a rifle which is already reduced recoil being how much slower cast is, or pistol caliber rifle which I don't find 44 in a rifle bad compared to what most people use. or if I was hunting handgun it would be a large to x-large frame and long barrel since seeing a deer in the first place is hard enough don't need the extra challenge of a small hard kicking handgun.
    Last edited by bmortell; 05-03-2020 at 02:02 AM.

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    The difference between 215 gr. and 240 is kind of splitting hairs.
    That 25 gr. difference is less than the weight of a .22LR bullet.

    Put one of each side by side, and a pull the bullet from a cheap .22LR and put in between them.
    (Most of them are 30-ish gr.)
    That's all the difference there is. Right around 10%.
    For the same shot--Their different effectiveness on a deer would be so slight, it probably can't be measured.

    I'd push either one up towards the top for speed and where the accuracy hasn't hardly dropped off, and be happy with it.
    If recoil is a problem, sew a kitchen hot pad on the shoulder of your jacket or get a good shooting glove..
    Last edited by Winger Ed.; 05-03-2020 at 03:38 AM.
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  7. #7
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    Your "optimal weights" query kind of got the wheels turning in my fog-ridden noggin . My thoughts were from years back when I was shooting handguns competitively, and the magic term was "Power Factor". To wit, one would take the proven average weight of a projectile and multiply times the average (they generally used an Oehler chrony) velocity of three shots - and, it had to be at, or exceed, a given number. In simple terms, one could shoot (theoretically, at least ) a ten grain bullet at a zillion feet per second; or, say, a 500 grain bullet at a speed slow enough to see it in flight. (Matter of fact, one fellow used to load his .45 acp slow enough that one often it was able to see it fly!)
    Anyhoos -- your question brought up, to me, the query if there is a parallel? E.g., would a lighter bullet traveling at high speed have similar effects on, say, a deer, as a lower-velocity heavier one?
    Just being Curious George here....
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    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    better picture of the reality of hunting performance if there is a "bone" simulation in the ballistic gel. Again unscientific, but I think a piece of 1/2" plywood would suffice.
    I've explored this and it is basically a pointless endeavor as no consistency can be obtained. I process deer semi-professionally and have seen perhaps a hundred actual kill wounds and I also test on gel because there are so many variables with a living animal that outcomes are nearly random. This is the reason why most people are massively cautious and go for WAYYYYYYYYY too much of everything (think a 12 gauge 1 oz slug at 1800 FPS). Deer are just not that tough of animals. And their shoulders in particularly are thin and cartilaginous, not really bony. Even low powered bullets will pass through provided they do not expand and have reasonable sectional density.

    I have put beef bones inside gel and the problem is that the bullet deflects off them at an angle that typically results in the bullet exiting the gel and not being recovered. The only bone that was of much utility is the scapula as it can be positioned almost perpendicular to the projectile's path and doesn't upset the track. But this bone is a poor analog to "reality." This makes data acquisition impossible and expense too much. To make a gel big enough that it would contain all bone-deflected bullets it would have to be something like a cubic yard...thousands of dollars worth of gelatin. Even then my suspicion is that you could never get a reasonable penetration figure since the angle would change and you cant really measure wound channel expect by using a yard stick. I suppose you could poke a wire in but this is just getting silly.

    I am talking about handguns...revolvers specifically. Nothing I've said applies to rifles.

    The way handguns kill (typically ones) is by generating wound volume. I reject fuzzy concepts like "shock" "anchoring" "stretch cavities" I just can't measure these so there is no way to really say anything informed about them. I can measure wound volume...surface area of projectile in medium multiplied by penetration depth. Solid cast bullets do not expand appreciably under ~1400 FPS so you can pretty much multiply the square of their radius by Pi and multiply that by measured penetration depth. This gives you wound volume. My observations from these studies and deer wounds corroborate each other very nicely.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 05-03-2020 at 01:30 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winger Ed. View Post
    The difference between 215 gr. and 240 is kind of splitting hairs.
    That 25 gr. difference is less than the weight of a .22LR bullet.

    Put one of each side by side, and a pull the bullet from a cheap .22LR and put in between them.
    (Most of them are 30-ish gr.)
    That's all the difference there is. Right around 10%.
    For the same shot--Their different effectiveness on a deer would be so slight, it probably can't be measured.

    I'd push either one up towards the top for speed and where the accuracy hasn't hardly dropped off, and be happy with it.
    If recoil is a problem, sew a kitchen hot pad on the shoulder of your jacket or get a good shooting glove..
    Kitchen hot pad, great idea! Thanks

  10. #10
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    PAST recoil pads work well for rifles, mainly by spreading the recoil impact over a greater area. If you think you need the best improvised recoil pad, sew a suede patch to a Strearns life jacket. That 1/2" of semi rigid foam will make things like a Weatherby 30-378 or 340 Wby tolerable. When a coworker told me of this, I asked where he was 30 years before when I started bewating my shoulder. His answer was he hadn't been born yet. :<(

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    Boolit Master Harter66's Avatar
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    I can tell you that a 45 Colts with a 454424 at 257 gr at 1050 MV will pass through at least 18" of 135# boar at 50 yd , 32" of 165# boar through 2 ribs at 17 paces and over 3' in through the right shoulder and out the left ham at 7' . Seems like from a similar carbine a 44 Special or light mag in a revolver would have about the same affect maybe a little more retained energy (or whatever number you want to use) at a given range with the .429-34 Vs .451-3 .
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    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    After 60 years of hunting, I have stopped worrying about what the bullet looks like after impact or what wound channels look like. A bluntish or flat nose bullet of sufficient caliber driven at sufficient velocity will anchor game whether or not expansion takes place. A guide can be a tour of Cartridges Of The World and see what the old dead guys used back in black powder days. Look at the cartridges, bullet weights and factory velocity. The cartridges that lasted into the smokeless era are the ones that were working. A 250 to 350 grain bullet .38 to .40 inch at 1350 fps took lots of deer. 350 to 450 grains, .40 to .50 inch at 1350 fps or so took a lot of bigger game, in fact all but exterminated the American Bison.

    This site got me into paper patching for smokeless cartridges and I hunt with paper patched .30-30, .30-40 and .30-06 fired at factory velocity. My 215 grain .30-40/-06 and 175 grain .30-30 slugs don't seem to expand much if any. Have never recovered any. In spite of that, I have killed 5 deer and 2 antelope in the last 5 years with one shot each save for an antelope last year that I shot on the run and missed my mark and had to finish him.

    Don't over think the question and if recoil pads don't dampen the recoil enough, take up golf.
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    This sounds like splitting hairs really. First off, tier 2 loads in 44 special are NOT in the least bit punishing, I push a 250gr LBT WFN to 1200fps in 45 Schofield in a medium framed Vaquero, the load is under 23,000psi 45ACP+P pressure, it is snappy but not sharp. Pleasantly so matter of fact. It s not the long push of a heavy boolit in a heavy revolver, the gun barks and then it's done with.

    The differences you are talking about, taking 20gr off the boolit with the same powder charge for 40fps appears more of a waste of time than any significant gain in recoil, velocity, penetration, etc.

    It's a hunting load. It is SUPPOSED to recoil, same as a self defense load. You WANT recoil because recoil means you sent something downrange that is intent on doing it's job once the target is reached. You can "tailor" a load to a specific size and weight of deer, but then what if you encounter one 90lbs heavier? All that math and time wasted is out the window now, out of the equation. Have you got enough boolit weight, velocity, to kill the animal cleanly? This is like asking for the minimum possible load to take a deer with, which borders on the un-ethical. Take a good load into the woods. Get er done. Quit worrying over small details that don't amount to nothing.
    Last edited by DougGuy; 05-04-2020 at 04:01 PM.
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    Go get 'em Doug! Im right behind ya...from a respectable distance. LOL! In all seriousness though, i do agree with you.

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    My experience has been that I only notice recoil when shooting at the range. I never feel the recoil when shooting at a deer.
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  16. #16
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    The density of 20% gelatin is slightly higher than that of 10% gelatin and the most notable difference between the two mediums is that bullet penetration in 20% gelatin is approximately 70% that of the same bullet in 10% gelatin. 10% is what most folks use and really only assimilates flesh without any other resistance while using bullets that are designed to expand. 20% is used to test FMJ bullets and could provide much better results when testing non-expanding bullets. Seems the ballistic tests were doomed from the start if only 10% gel was used with non-expanding lead bullets.

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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    For me the reason I go to heavier bullets is that they almost universally shoot better.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougGuy View Post
    This sounds like splitting hairs really. First off, tier 2 loads in 44 special are NOT in the least bit punishing, I push a 250gr LBT WFN to 1200fps in 45 Schofield in a medium framed Vaquero, the load is under 23,000psi 45ACP+P pressure, it is snappy but not sharp. Pleasantly so matter of fact. It s not the long push of a heavy boolit in a heavy revolver, the gun barks and then it's done with.

    The differences you are talking about, taking 20gr off the boolit with the same powder charge for 40fps appears more of a waste of time than any significant gain in recoil, velocity, penetration, etc.

    It's a hunting load. It is SUPPOSED to recoil, same as a self defense load. You WANT recoil because recoil means you sent something downrange that is intent on doing it's job once the target is reached. You can "tailor" a load to a specific size and weight of deer, but then what if you encounter one 90lbs heavier? All that math and time wasted is out the window now, out of the equation. Have you got enough boolit weight, velocity, to kill the animal cleanly? This is like asking for the minimum possible load to take a deer with, which borders on the un-ethical. Take a good load into the woods. Get er done. Quit worrying over small details that don't amount to nothing.
    Another plus for what Doug said, especially "Have you got enough boolit weight, velocity, to kill the animal cleanly? This is like asking for the minimum possible load to take a deer with, which borders on the un-ethical. Take a good load into the woods. Get er done.
    Larry Gibson

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  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Cash View Post
    Don't over think the question and if recoil pads don't dampen the recoil enough, take up golf.
    Now, be nice Dan
    ..

  20. #20
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    Good Morning
    Not sure if anyone mentioned "what is the slug cast of".
    You can smack a corn cruncher with a .375 diameter 275 grain slug cast of Lino and water dropped zipping along at 2200 FPS. That slug will cut right through soft tissue and organs making the nicest round caliber channel and exit to fly through the air or what ever else.
    Cast that same slug of range scrap. Sack that bean eater exactly the same at the same velocity and the exit hole will be far more than .375 diameter. Every issue comes into play with cast. I will hunt with Flat Nose soft cast slugs always when popping white tails and similar critters.
    Mike in LLama Land
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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