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Thread: Terminal Ballistics

  1. #1

    Terminal Ballistics

    I have seen many debates carried out in the rifle and calibre pages, but really, the hole in my pipe is bigger than the hole in your pipe is getting lengthy and sometimes tiresome.

    External ballistics is the viewpoint that many people come from particularly when it is anything to downing the 6.5. Lets try to leave calibre out of it at the moment and I am sure some will attempt to go down that route as quickly as possible.

    Lets try to debate what actually puts a deer on its arse, other than a spine shot .

    I will start the ball rolling by saying that irrespective of the calibre used, the bullet must deform in such a reliable way and maintain its ability to penetrate at least as far as the vital organs with the diameter of the projectile reaching about 2 to 3 times its original diameter, causing a high level of cavitation on its way through. The underlying issue is to have a calibre large enough to actually go through the animal beyond the vitals, but this needs to be coupled with the correct selection of bullet head.


  2. #2
    But shirley dead is dead?

  3. #3
    dead is dead, but how you get there is different.

    You can have a deer drop on the spot, dead within seconds due to massive blood loss and low blood pressure. Or you can have the wrong choice bullet or calibre, the deer running on and dying over a long period (perhaps 24hrs)of time. Both dead, one humane the other not so.

  4. #4


    and don't call him Shirley....


  5. #5
    I'm lost already. Is that a statment or a question??



  6. #6
    I like this set of essays on the subject.

    Having said that, perhaps we can boil it down to these points:

    1. We select a calibre/bullet combination which can be lawfully used for the purpose required
    2. We make the bullet hit the right part of the beast
    3. The bullet, having gone in, comes out again regardless of what it hits on the way
    4. It comes out significantly wider than when it went in
    5. It doesn't fill the beast with bits, or leave it looking like the victim of a RPG attack

    As long as those conditions are met, I don't think there's really much to choose between the common deer-legal chamberings used in the UK.

    One could argue that flatter trajectory and wind- or obstruction-bucking ability will help with 2. above, but really as long as you know your range, conditions and rifle, is there really much in it?

    The debates are entertaining, though!

    p.s. What is a 'bullet head'?

  7. #7
    My thinking on this has very little to do with calibre; purely to do with energy transfer. I think that the correct bullet, fired with a suitable velocity, entering the right point, in any animal will put it down. If the bullet fails to expand then there is no energy transfer. Likewise if the bullet expands too soon the energy is not transfered to the right area, limiting the effects of the hydrostatic shock (though more often than not, still fatal).

    When I started stalking all the talk was of correct powder loads for the best accuracy - no one ever though to mention what effect more or less velocity would have when the bullet enters its intended target.

    I have seen a 6mm barnes 85g TSX go straight through at close range (<50yds). After eventually finding the doe and inspecting the carcass there was no expansion to speak of (fortunatly the bullet had gone clean through one of the major blood vessels at the top of the heart so she didn't make it too far!). The round was from a series of home loads that shot really well and that I had Chrono'd at around 3300fps (45.2g H414). The same bullet pushed out a bit slower (3050fps) has never let me down. This may have been a faulty bullet; no way of knowing - but I feel a lot more confident with a slightly slower bullet as it appears to deliver more energy in the target with less fragmentation.


  8. #8
    Thanks Dalua,

    projectile or bullet

    You have given me what others during their whose calibre is better than whose dont. It is not the actual bullet getting to the quarry, it is actually what happens when it is at the business end.

    Of course there is obviously a high level of importance in the bullet getting to the quarry, but once it gets there, it has to cull the animal efficiently.

    This is another site that shows different terminal happenings.

  9. #9
    bullet choice is the most vital thing of all imo, it allways suprised me that manufacturers don't make more info available about the bullet construction and intended quarry species/velocities. Bullet selection is allways going to be a compromise as i dont think you can get the perfect bullet. If you only shoot roe for instance and you only shoot 100m max and you allways shoot behind the shoulder then you should be able to get close to the ideal bullet but if you then shoot a big red at 250m hit it in the shoulder then how will your bullet perform ?
    In my stalking rifles i've been guilty of using what i can get in good supply and i've been lucky but in the other rifles i've tried lots of different types of bullets and can hohnestly say that too heavily constructed bullets will be more likely to give you a runner that will drop before to long but you might not have a good trail to follow, to light a bullet will often give you an animal that can not be followed up at all.
    when i was lamping 3 nights a week 2 of the lads that i lamped with used to shoot from time to time, one of them uses a 243 AI and the other a 17Rem both were flatter than my 223 and both were more accurate but both injured more foxes than my little 55gn V max in the end he changed bullets in the 243 and it was devastating on any thing it hit, the rem was a lesson in bullet selection.

    Just my 2 peneth worth.
    Cheers Ezzy.

  10. #10

    Re: Terminal Ballistics

    Quote Originally Posted by jingzy
    2 to 3 times its original diameter, causing a high level of cavitation on its way through.
    Hi Jingzy

    In any bullet I have recovered from a deer they have never expanded 3 times there original diameter, close to 2 times at the maximum.

    Also remember that it is the frontal surface area of the bullet that is transferring the bullet energy to the animal and creating the wound channel. Basic maths ( Pi X radius X radius= area) radius= Ĺ the bullet diameter. An example of this would be a bullet of 5mm diameter compared to a 10mm bullet, although the 10mm bullet is twice the diameter it creates a wound channel 4 times the surface area. Therefore a small increase in bullet diameter will give a proportionally much larger increase in frontal bullet area/wound channel.

    The other component to consider is hydrolastic shock, it is usually accepted that the greater velocity leads to more hydrolastic shock.

    The 22-250 was thought a great slayer for red hinds before the deer act was brought in, I guess that was with the proviso you didnít hit the shoulder and put the bullet though the ribs.

    I think Eddy post is a good one. Some bullet manufactures do give data on what velocity range there bullets are designed to expand in. But the bottom line is, less velocity equals less expansion leading to smaller wound channel and less hydrolastic shock.

    Still if every deer fell dead on the spot when would I get chance to have fun tracking with my GWP.

    Best rgds


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