Low velocity bullet advice

NigelM

Well-Known Member
I am currently working on a .308 load. I am putting together a tracking/woodland rifle. It will have a short light sporter barrel, probably about 17 inches, a small 1-4 24mm illuminated scope an no bipod, worn on the back, backpack style, and hopefully not getting caught up whilst being dragged about by the hound.

I expect shots to be taken from PB to 100 yards, so I'm not fussed about BC, trajectories or wind. I also want to load it down to about 2200 fps, just achieving the legal minimum energy with a 165/170 grain bullet. Hopefully this will mean I don't have to moderate it which is another bonus.

The issue is which bullet. It has to expand at velocities from 2200 to 1800 fps, reliably. That seems to rule out the Barnes bullets and anything that is bonded. The ones that seem to come up top of the list on the reliable expansion at low velocity front are Nosler 168 BT, Hornaday 165 SST and 168 AMax (I know...but they do work well at low velocity for exactly the reason that they don't at high velocity) and Speer 165 BTSP.

In terms of load I am looking at a fast burning powder to try to burn all of it before the end of the barrel. Favourite at the moment having done a bit of research is H4895 which people seem to think is pretty accurate in .308's.

The rifle will probably work well on driven Boar as well with something like a 180 Partition at 2400fps, light, quick, pointable with the right scope on top.

Does anyone have any experience of having done anything like this before and if so what bullet/powder combination did you settle on? Any advice on other aspects of the project gratefully received.

Thanks for your help.
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
I can't comment from any experience of doing this but take a look down at the bottom of this page:

http://www.nosler.com/partition-bullet/

It seems that Nosler design their partition for 1800fps upwards so it might do your job. The reason the Partition came to mind is that I considered that perhaps having the second core behind the partition means that you can make the front end softer than might be the case with a normal bullet as you are getting the best of both worlds.

I have a lot of success with a 150 grain Partition from my 308 but it is probably leaving me at 2700fps or so however I've shot deer to about 250 yards with it, giving a calculated impact velocity of around 2100fps, and it has been very effective at this distance and velocity. It must be said that I can't see any logical reason for you to "load down" to 2200 if you can get more.
 

Kiwi hunter

Well-Known Member
Firstly, i have not done this myself so I don't have personal experience. I remember quite a few guys in NZ were developing subsonic loads for various rifles. As you say an issue is finding a projectile that expands adequately at lower velocities. I believe many used 30-30 projectiles in their .308 Win. Do a bit of a Google - plenty of info on this.
Good luck,
Hayden
 

takbok

Well-Known Member
Cant see the need for expensive premium bullets if they're being shot at relatively low velocities. Load the heaviest bullet that will stabilise, and use a basic cup and core bullet from hornady, Speer, sierra etc. I also don't see the point in limiting your velocity. You say that you hope you wont need to moderate it - I don't think it'll be quieter than any other .308
 

mereside

Well-Known Member
Nigel just a question is this going to be a dedicated tracking rifle? if so you don't have to stick with the legal load for shooting deer as you are dispatching an injured deer, My rifle is set to shoot cast loads around 1400-1800 fps perfect for tracking and following up with the hound. very good at dispatching wounded deer even bigger deer, expansion is very good with a lead load light recoil have a look here for a suitable bullets then pick a powder to suite, atb wayne
Web Store - ShellHouse Bullet Company
 

xavierdoc

Well-Known Member
.308 with 17in barrel shooting 165-170gr bullets at 2200fps = LOUD.

You certainly need decent hearing protection. Can't see the point of downloading to 2200fps?
 

NigelM

Well-Known Member
Just nipped off to have some tea and get back to lots of comments. Thanks chaps.

Logic of loading down to min legal energy is based on less noise, less recoil in a light rifle and less chance of ricochet. If it means I don't have to fit a mod less weight as well. At 2200 fps with a 165/168 it will still shoot +/- 1" to 150 yds just in case a longer shot is required on a track.

At 2200 fps the cartridge is running 41psi according to Powley against a .308 case max of 62k psi. That's 1/3 below max pressure. A fast burning powder should not be burning powder outside the barrel and the low pressure should keep it relatively quiet - against loading to 2550 fps/62k psi which you could do. My 6.5*47 Lapua is very acceptable without a mod running 59k psi and 39 grains of R15 and I think the .308 will load lighter than that.

Good point on not paying for premium bullets. Points towards that Speer BTSP. Mereside, really interesting on the cast bullets. How do they perform over 100 yds or are they really just a PB HD option? What load of which powder do you put behind it for those velocities?

Thanks guys.
 

xavierdoc

Well-Known Member
But adding mod will also reduce recoil. Granted it will add some weight and length but that's a price I'd be happy to pay- I realise it's a personal thing, of course.

Incidentally, lower velocity doesn't necessarily mean lower chance of ricochet; often the opposite.

Cast bullets can certainly shoot well enough to take deer to 100yds (and more). If you don't want to cast your own, you can have them cast to your alloy spec (ie. not just hard cast for target) by people like Donald at Shellhouse (UK). Cast bullets are ideal if you aren't chasing velocity (being mindful of the minimum energy requirement, of course.)
 
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srvet

Well-Known Member
Just a thought , would a low velocity heavy bullet not be more likely to ricochet than a higher velocity more frangible design? Think of the 22lr. From what I understand you Are trying to replicate the 30/30. If that is the case why not try the flat nosed 30/30 bullets? They should expand reliably at the velocities you are aiming for
 

NigelM

Well-Known Member
Xavierdoc, I'm hoping that the low powder charge is going to negate the need for a mod. Might well be wrong, need to find out. What bullet would you choose? Soft and frangible tends to reduce the chance of ricochet it believe. I think you know what I'm trying to achieve.
 

xavierdoc

Well-Known Member
Just a thought , would a low velocity heavy bullet not be more likely to ricochet than a higher velocity more frangible design? Think of the 22lr. From what I understand you Are trying to replicate the 30/30. If that is the case why not try the flat nosed 30/30 bullets? They should expand reliably at the velocities you are aiming for
There is a school of thought that the flat meplat enhances performance on game, even without expansion effects (such as "solids").
 

tackb

Well-Known Member
If I was you I'd be looking at the 168/178 Amax in 308 but you may wish to consider the 338 federal (look it up)

also with a 17" barrel one of the latest lightweight compact mods wouldn't be too onerous ?

you could just buy a steyr scout ?
 
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mereside

Well-Known Member
Nigel I am currently loading lead for two calibre a 30-30 and 357 both are used for tracking or dispatch both work extremely well, I would think before long a few more folk from over the pond who shoot far more lead to respond as I am fairly new to this.
My aims where for good expansion but not fragment or still have so much energy to hurt hound or myself whilst tracking.
This suits my needs very well and you can push lead out to faster speeds with gas check on. You would get all you require from lead only even over a hundred yrds

 
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caorach

Well-Known Member
Logic of loading down to min legal energy is based on less noise, less recoil in a light rifle and less chance of ricochet.
I suspect it will leave you with more chance of a ricochet as per the 22LR as the bullet will be less likely to self destruct if it hits something, however this is a percentages thing as at some point a lot of 308W bullets are going to drop below 2200fps on their journey, mine does so at about 200 yards for example. If you were to load at 2500fps then that bullet would spend a lot of its time below 2200fps as it goes down range. So, at best the position that 2200fps is safer may be completely wrong and at worst the logic is sufficiently unsteady that the outcome could go either way.

You will be correct when it comes to recoil but it might not make as much difference as you imagine as I really can't feel any difference between my 2400fps loads and my 3000fps loads. Of course there must be a difference but it is slight enough that I'm not noticing it when shooting. A quick blast with a recoil calculator indicates that at 2200fps recoil with a 165 grain bullet will be around 14ft.lbs and at 2500fps around 16ft.lbs.

Noise is something that I should be able to comment on but I'm not aware of any good testing which demonstrates the effect of reducing velocity on the sound pressure level. A normal 308W produces something around 165 - 170dB(A) at about the position of the shooter. I would be certain that without a moderator your SPL will remain above the 140dB(A) level where potential for instant catastrophic hearing damage is considered to begin. With your short barrel it seems likely, though unsupported by any evidence, that even at 2200fps you will still be in and around the 165 - 170dB(A) area. The potential for damage from high level impulse noise such as this is slightly different from a constant noise but, despite the lack of hard measurement on the effect of reduced velocity on SPL, I'd be pretty confident that you are kidding yourself that knocking off 300fps will make a significant difference to the potential for hearing damage.

Given all of this I'd load it to 2500fps and shoot it and see how it goes for you as I really don't think there is any logical argument for loading down to 2200. If it is more accurate at 2200 or that's where you get pressure signs then clearly that's your load but if not then there's nothing wrong with 2500.

In terms of going for cup and core bullets then that is what I used for quite a while - Hornday spire points. They were accurate and always killed my deer but they didn't kill as well as the Partitions do and as you might be taking less than ideal shots on moving or fleeing deer I'd give yourself all the help you can get. Again, there is no logic in building yourself a rifle for specialized use and then ignoring the fact that something like the Partition can be made with a soft front core for low velocity expansion (what you want) while also having the rear core to give deep penetration in a less than ideal shot.
 

xavierdoc

Well-Known Member
Xavierdoc, I'm hoping that the low powder charge is going to negate the need for a mod. Might well be wrong, need to find out. What bullet would you choose? Soft and frangible tends to reduce the chance of ricochet it believe. I think you know what I'm trying to achieve.
Personally I'd get an 18 inch Marlin 1895 in 45-70 and wear ear defenders! :D

Just being flippant- I do know what you're trying to achieve and it would suit much of my lowland/woodland stalking.

I would go even shorter than 17 inch (staying above the min. barrel/overall length) and use a compact moderator. You might be able to stay close to your barrel length of 17" unmoderated. A reflex design might work but you'd struggle for clearance between forend and chosen mod. Similarly the barrel might be almost "varmint" width so requiring a large spigot diameter.

Certainly don't be scared of short-barrels: they affect resale more than ballistics at the ranges you are considering. Lots about this on the web: for example.

As for bullet choice, aside from the lead option, avoiding heavily constructed bonded and interlocked bullets as mentioned, you are aware of Amax ;) (let's not open that can) and ballistic tips may work in your favour here (eg. SST.) Obviously interlock designs don't matter per se, so long as the jacket/nose design forward of the interlock expands at your likely impact velocity.

Nathan Foster usually has some helpful observations; his hunting is at long range in NZ but paradoxically his requirements for expansion at range become the same as yours at lower velocity close range.

Scroll down to the hand loading section for his take on .308 bullet choices here. It might be worth reading his section on 30-30 as it might more closely reflect the performance you want to emulate in .308Win.

I look forward to hearing what you do and how it performs.
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
There is a school of thought that the flat meplat enhances performance on game, even without expansion effects (such as "solids").
What a flat meaplat does is "shoulder stabilizes" the bullet in flesh.

When a bullet hits flesh then its spin is no longer enough to keep it stable and so it will potentially change direction randomly, tumble and behave in other totally unpredictable ways.

If the bullet has a relatively flat front surface (soft points produce something similar in the mushroom shape after expansion - the pointed shape before expansion would not be stable in flesh) then if the bullet starts to change direction or tumble one edge of this front surface will have to move ahead of the rest of the surface. This "leading edge" will be subject to a higher pressure, and therefore more resistance, than the rest of the front of the bullet and so it will slow down more quickly. The effect of this is to cause any "leading edge" to fall back into line with the rest of the front face of the bullet and so the bullet should progress in a relatively straight line without tumbling.

This is especially important in shots into big game where the vital organ you are targeting may be deep inside the animal as in this situation you can't afford to have the bullet expend its energy in deforming itself but you still need stability and straight line penetration.
 

leec6.5

Well-Known Member
I am currently working on a .308 load. I am putting together a tracking/woodland rifle. It will have a short light sporter barrel, probably about 17 inches, a small 1-4 24mm illuminated scope an no bipod, worn on the back, backpack style, and hopefully not getting caught up whilst being dragged about by the hound.

I expect shots to be taken from PB to 100 yards, so I'm not fussed about BC, trajectories or wind. I also want to load it down to about 2200 fps, just achieving the legal minimum energy with a 165/170 grain bullet. Hopefully this will mean I don't have to moderate it which is another bonus.

The issue is which bullet. It has to expand at velocities from 2200 to 1800 fps, reliably. That seems to rule out the Barnes bullets and anything that is bonded. The ones that seem to come up top of the list on the reliable expansion at low velocity front are Nosler 168 BT, Hornaday 165 SST and 168 AMax (I know...but they do work well at low velocity for exactly the reason that they don't at high velocity) and Speer 165 BTSP.

In terms of load I am looking at a fast burning powder to try to burn all of it before the end of the barrel. Favourite at the moment having done a bit of research is H4895 which people seem to think is pretty accurate in .308's.

The rifle will probably work well on driven Boar as well with something like a 180 Partition at 2400fps, light, quick, pointable with the right scope on top.

Does anyone have any experience of having done anything like this before and if so what bullet/powder combination did you settle on? Any advice on other aspects of the project gratefully received.

Thanks for your help.
What makes you rule out Barnes bullets Nigel?

I will be driving 150gn barnes tsx over H4895 at reduced velocities as we discussed last wednesday in my tracking rifle.
 

NigelM

Well-Known Member
Thank you Caorach and thank you Mereside. Two very different approaches to the problem.

I could cut the barrel so a Hardy mod finishes just in front of the stock, probably about 18". Probably wise to do that first as I can't make it longer again once it is cut! I could run just one load, a 180 Partition and stoke it up to 2500 fps which would probably work at 18". Benefit would be one load for deer and boar. It would end up 4"longer than an unmoderated 16" barrel but would be more flexible. It would be a true 200 yd deer stalking rifle as well as a tracking rifle. It would possibly have a bit too much whack for a PB HD shot.

Alternatively I could go the same way as mereside and have a true HD load, no mod and keep the barrel short. Could still shoot driven Boar with a 180 PT wearing ear defenders which is an option.

Not simple is it?
 

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