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Thread: What makes the best hunting bullet for caliber?

  1. #1

    What makes the best hunting bullet for caliber?

    This can probably be very simple, but also very complicated to get it right .
    Knowing I need a new Barrel for dedicated cast boolit hunting / shooting . With my beloved 303 Lee Enfield sporter , I have a few options on the table!
    Option 1 Keep it 303 caliber & use what I already have.
    Option 2 use a wildcat of .30 or 35 cal . Because of the throating options available to better suit cast boolits, ie wide rnfp .
    If hunting & killing performance from cast is basically meplat area , sectional density, weight & velocity & possibly twist rate . ď isnít going to 35 cal the obvious choice ď ????
    Iím sure 303 is very nostalgic & quite capable! But very limited when it comes to components especially off the shelf ones.
    If hunting ranges are mostly sub 100 yards & a long shot is 150 y .
    Should i base my boolits & cartridge combination around the biggest boolit that will fit / feed in my action ?
    This is for large game & close range .

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Bad Ass Wallace's Avatar
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    Anything in Australia that cannot be pacified with a well placed shot with a cast boolit from a 303 is probably going to eat you!

    All of these cast boolits were recovered from pigs and only driven at 1400fps!

    Hold Still Varmint; while I plugs Yer!

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master


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    A flat nose with the nose at least 1/3 of the bullet diameter. Cast weight heavy enough for complete penetration.
    "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Male Guanaco out in dry lakebed at 10,800 feet south of Arequipa.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Ass Wallace View Post
    Anything in Australia that cannot be pacified with a well placed shot with a cast boolit from a 303 is probably going to eat you!

    All of these cast boolits were recovered from pigs and only driven at 1400fps!

    Wow . Super impressive.
    What alloy is that ?
    I have about 40kg of wheel weights.
    25kg of bullet metal from northerns smelters.
    & about 40kg of pure flashing lead. Any suggestions on alloy mixes?

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Bad Ass Wallace's Avatar
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    Killed over 700 wild pigs with cast boolits with 303, 30.06 and 45/70. The very best alloy is one that won't strip in the rifling at moderate velocity. Most of those recovered boolits in the photo were with an alloy of just 2.5% tin (1:40) and the 30.06 with an alloy 1:30 at a velocity of 1720fps. Too hard an alloy at high speed will just punch through like a FMJ.



    Having said that, recent experiments with powder coated and gas checked 100gn boolits (cast with 92:4:4) in a 303/25 at 2500fps simply shatter when shot into a milk bottle filled with water. I gave some to a friend who shot pigs with them and reported huge wound channels and broken bones. The three pigs were all 'one shot' kills.

    Hold Still Varmint; while I plugs Yer!

  6. #6
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    If your throat is worn out, can you seat the bullets longer to engage the rifling? This might save you a rebore job.
    If you need a rebore, then 35 sounds like a great place to start. I'd make sure you could get dies for your anticipated caliber first though.
    There was a guy on here that did a 405short, 303 blown out straight, Von Gruff I think, a little googling might turn up his notes. I think he did several variations on a Lee Speed Rifle?

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Good Cheer's Avatar
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    Why not go for a very long very blunt boolit?

    But then again and just curious for the sake of conversation, what necessitates changing the barrel you have?

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    in order to go forwards...look backwards..... ???? you say WHAT?????

    go back to the beginning of the .303 British cartridge...it was black powder and a 220grn round nose projectile
    you dont need to reinvent the wheel... find a big fat round nose above 200grns and push it along at pedestrian speed.... plenty of folks are doing it already,if your barrel isnt poked beyond usable...just keep using it.
    at ranges you talking you dont need super accurate,just accurate enough to ensure 100% humaine shot placement.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Pure lead at about 1200 fps or a bit less, will do everything you are looking for. 220 grn will do very well in your old 303 if the rifling will stabilize ? May need to go to a lighter and shorter bullet ? With a good hit will but most everything on this planet down.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master



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    With pure lead or 40-1 I am not sure point shape plays a significant role since expansion tends to be very good above 1,200 FPS. Even at 900 FPS I got good expansion with 40-1 with a Lyman 454190 out of a 7 1/2 Colt 1873 on deer.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 10-01-2022 at 01:07 AM.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    If you're worried about whatever it is you're hunting squashing you into a thin, red paste, then quit screwing around with half measures and start with a .375 H&H.

    Your proposed build limits are:

    The magazine length of the Lee Enfield, combined with the neck length of the .303 case - if indeed your intention is to work with .303 brass as a canvas for a minimalist reworking of the brass. You want to keep your gas check and lube grooves contained within the neck of the case and not intrude into your powder capacity. Nose length and geometry are limited by what the action will feed.

    The pressure limits of the L.E. action.

    With that formula, you're stuck with a bullet that is as long as what you can push out of a .303, and probably aren't going to push it at a significantly different speed than the MK1 through MK6 215 grain/2000 fps loadings. You'll probably pick up a gain of 20-40 grains of bullet weight and maybe around .03" or so of meplat.

    Having been involved in the creation of a number of Ackley-Improved versions of modern cartridges, as well as the forming of antique cartridges from more available parent cases, I will tell you that wildcats are a PITA, and that I doubt you'll see sufficient benefit from the above re-working of brass to make it worth that effort.

    Having also seen a little 100-ish pound deer take a cast 405 grain .45-70 load that was bordering on a baby .458 Win Mag through the heart and not immediately fold, I would suggest you temper your expectations with the reality that no rifle round is a lightning bolt, and that animals will fall over when their brain runs out of blood. A few hundredths of an inch in nose diameter is not going to change the speed of that math significantly. A hard, heavy, flat-nosed .303 will penetrate straight - and plenty - along the path that you send it on. If that path is through pipes carrying the red stuff, you'll get your bag.
    WWJMBD?

    Is the mightiness of the pen still relevant after we roll the writing paper into cartridges for a Sharps?

  13. #13
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    Look at what designs the bullets have that are used for serious killing of dangerous game in Africa.
    Bullets for the big Rigbys and Express rifles that have been around and done well for over 100 years.
    They're big on round nose, or a small flat point, and heavy weights for the caliber.

    I would work on accuracy more so than trying to be all scientific on the design.
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  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master
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    The Canucks have been shooting moose with the .303 for decades. Might not be the ideal caliber, but for a lot of poor folks that was all they had.

    CIL...known as Dominion, made a 215 gr “Kling Core” bulleted round for the .303 when I was a lad in Canada. Not sure what is offered now.

    I have the same opinion of wildcats as Bigslug. Mostly a waste of money but others love them.
    Don Verna


  15. #15
    Thanks so much guy’s. I believe the advice is leaning towards using the standard 303 cartridge! I have absolutely no problems with that at all .

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    Cool!

    One more thing I'd like to throw out at you that may help your thought process:

    Those of us who grew up in the shooting community in the 1930's to the 1990's were raised in an era of soft-core, copper-jacketed, soft-point hunting bullets. These of course are designed to mushroom and many were known for shedding a lot of their weight as they did so, which compromises ability to penetrate. Therefore, most of us grew up with something like this generalization that was applied to the .30-06: anything lighter than 130 grains was a varmint bullet; 150-165 was for deer, and 180 and up was for the big stuff.

    That same era also contained Roy Weatherby and his notions of energy transfer and "shock effect", which filtered their way down into handgun territory in the form of the largely debunked "stopping power" concept. What's turned out to be true of handguns is also largely true of cast bullets - the impact speeds are either not near (handguns) or barely above (fast cast rifle loads) the threshold of hydrostatic displacement being violent enough to destroy tissue much beyond the diameter of the bullet. With either, we're mostly trying to make an effective drain to let blood out and air in.

    A lot of us have carried those old prejudices forward, but with the mono-copper bullets like the Barnes and tough cast alloys, the starting weight rule for ablative bullets simply does not apply anymore. The medium-to-large meplat with a harder, non-expanding alloy is an excellent compromise for creating a decent wound channel, maintaining accuracy when driven hard, and giving reliable penetration regardless of impact velocity:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    .45 ACP - 230 grains at 830 fps.

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    130 grain .320" Martini Cadet at 1250fps for both bullets.

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    135 grain 9x19mm at 1030 fps.

    All of the non-expanding ones stopped after penetrating nine one-gallon plastic milk jugs full of water (the 9mm nearly made it into ten) - basically six feet. While none of this convinced me that my 1911, Glock 17, or my Australian Boy Scout rifle should be my first choice for elk hunting, it did convince me of that there's no reason those rounds couldn't do that very job were I hungry enough and applied the shot with enough care. The .303 is considerably more medicine than any of them.
    WWJMBD?

    Is the mightiness of the pen still relevant after we roll the writing paper into cartridges for a Sharps?

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Good Cheer's Avatar
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    Something I almost tried once upon a time with heavy soft cast sharp pointy boolits was a hollow point just deep enough to make the streamlined aerodynamic nose break off. Maybe some day.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    Most former military rounds like 303, 30/06, 308, etc, are all suitable for hunting medium game. One might argue, that for some of the biggest animals in Africa, more power would make it easier.
    However historically, many big beasts have been take by military calibers.

    The most important thing is boolit placement. You can spend a lot of time working up a good round, but that needs to augmented with the same time at the range. Getting to be very accurate shooter is similar to playing a piano. You need to practice regularly. Riding a bicycle you can learn once in your life and always be able to do it. Shooting is a skill that needs to be maintained with regular practice.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Good Cheer View Post
    Why not go for a very long very blunt boolit?

    But then again and just curious for the sake of conversation, what necessitates changing the barrel you have?
    It shoots ok , but has a dark ruff bore. I’m keen to try find a way to remove the rust as best I can !
    That’s why the new barrel. I know cast needs a clean smooth bore to help prevent leading.

  20. #20

    Just had my 1st casting session in 5-6 years

    Made a bunch of 190gr gc fp .314
    20ish .458 500gr r2 Lee pointy bullets to size down to .454ish in the Rossi 454 casull carbine & some 405gr Lee hollow base .458 to also try in the casull carbine . Just for experimenting sake.

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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