Hunting with HP's

Ben

Moderator
Staff member
#1
Chris asked me to make a few comments about hunting with HP's.
I'll start this with hopes that others will join in with their experiences.

25 years ago, I took a big interest in HP cast rifle hunting bullets.
At that time, I thought that it " was the only way to go ".
Since that time and seeing a lot of HP failures in the game field , I've mellowed my " heat " for HP's "

25 years ago, I knew very little about HP pin depth and diameter, along with alloys, as to their contributions to performance and performance failures.
That lack of knowledge led me down the road of what I call stinking thinking........." The deeper the HP Pin , and the larger the HP pin diameter, and the faster the velocity ", the better things were going to be.

In my experience that is flawed thinking ! ! !

I have experienced many " Blow Ups ". See the photo below of the performance of the 31141 HP shot from a 308 Win. on a deer that weighed about 120 lbs :



Notice the size of the entrance hole, the bullet is beginning to explode from contact with a rib, it has not even come close to getting to vital organs yet.



Here is the exit.............basically shrapnel from my " flying bomb ".



By the way, the deer was dead. However, I did not get the exit hole that I was looking for. At a later date, one of my friends ( who is an expert shot ) used the same bullet at about the same velocity on an 8 pt. buck. The deer had an entrance wound but no exit hole, went almost 1/2 a mile and was found dead. The bullet placement was perfect, the pullet performance was terrrible. When that deer was skined , there were 50 or more tiny bullet fragments inside the body cavity, but no exit hole.

This kind of performance is not a one time occurrence for me. When the HP pin is too large and too deep, exasperated by brittle alloy and high velocity, bullet failure is real and probable.

What is the answer ? ?

I've tried shortening the HP pin, using smaller dia. HP pins, changing alloys to make them more malleable and less brittle. I've not given up on HPs just yet. However, I'm making a turn towards larger dia. cast bullets like the 35 cal. and the 45 cal in my 45-70, possibly being used as solids without any HPing. These calibers with large meplat bullets designs like the one you see below are great killers WITHOUT the need for HPing.

Here is my 405 gr. Accurate 460405 V that I'll be shooting from my 45/70 , obviously it will carry a big " smack factor " with a sizeable entrance and exit hole on deer :



What are your experiences ? ?

Ben
 
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gman

Well-Known Member
#2
The only deer I've shot with cast hp's was the same as your example Ben. They were given to me so I really am not sure of the alloy. Deer was DRT though. Never took a step. Use solids now.
 

Rick

Moderator
Staff member
#3
What are your experiences ? ? Ben
Very much like yours Ben. Too hard and/or too fast with a HP will most likely give undesirable results.

Perhaps Glen will chime in here, he is a devout HP handgun hunter. I went pig hunting with Glen several years back and while I did kill the pig the initial shot with a HP failed miserably. Never did conclusively figure out why and Glen and me came to different conclusions but the bottom line is that the HP failed and I had to trot across the country side to put a finisher in it.
.
 

Ian

Well-Known Member
#4
HP pin depth/shape, alloy, caliber, and velocity have to be balanced or performance will suffer as you showed, Ben.

Glen Fryxell wrote and excellent article or two about hunting with hollow points and one point he makes cannot be re-iterated enough: The sides of the HP cavity must be at a greater angle than the net angle of the ogive of the bullet to get proper expansion instead of collapse inward. Also, with smaller calibers such as .30, a small, shallow, cup-shaped point works better than a deep, steep hole. The cup, at higher speeds, will initiate expansion without causing total nose disintegration, particularly if a rib is hit going in.

I like lumbering, soft, wide-nosed bullets of large caliber and high mass. Easy on the shoulder, hard on game, and while a .30 caliber can fail to expand, a .45 won't shrink. With all the unknowns during a hunt, I like as many "dead sure" things as I can have on my side.
 

Ben

Moderator
Staff member
#6
Here are my " cup point " , Lyman 311290's.
It continues to be one of my favorite .30 cal. cast HP rifle bullets.

 

RicinYakima

Well-Known Member
#8
Well, I still shoot coyotes with 311316 HP from the 32/20 at 1450 f/s. Alloy is 1/2 WW's and 1/2 Pb and works OK, cause I just want them dead and don't care how far they run. If I were going to shoot game, I would go Ben's direction, a pre-expanded bullet with flat point. Then I would shoot my animals the way the British did, break down the structure. The lung shot is an invention of the jacketed expanding bullet at high speed. Read your history of Brit's hunting all over the world with cast bullets from black powder cartridges. Their experience is well documented in many books from the 1800's. FWIW, Ric
sir-samuel-baker.jpg Sir Samuel Baker
 

Chris

Well-Known Member
#9
Thanks for introducing this topic, Ben. I appreciate it.

I have no experience hunting with HP's in any caliber although I own a HP .45/70 mold... but do have experience with calibers .35 and up using cast RN and FP. I have said that for big game... for me that means large body size whitetails and maybe a bear... begins being practical with larger caliber bullets meaning over .308.

I think there are some real questions here. We all know that a .460 slug makes a bigger hole going in than smaller calibers make going out... so can a correctly designed HP bullet in .30/30, '06, etc. become a better large game bullet and be fit to hunt with? What are the variables that would make that so? I want to believe there's a way to do it, I want to hunt with my '06.

Take it a step further and think about the mechanics of tissue destruction an shock on game... Veral Smith talks about temporary and permanent wound cavities. So contrast a WFN design, for instance, with a RN or HP and their effect on tissue. from your experience.

So what we are really talking about is how to make bullet nose designs more lethal for ceratin game. Compare a FN large meplat with nice sharp edges to a similar FN using a softer alloy, then again compare to the same FN using a shallow cup point in an alloy soft enough to expand a bit.

Now how do the above compare to a HP design given the variables of bullet diameter, alloy, and velocity.

Now I don't think this should be impossible to analyze and I think it is relevant to serious and ethical hunters. Just that I have limited... but potentially valuable... experience and so do a bunch of you guys. Be interesting to have a discussion about HP's and nose configurations.
 
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Ian

Well-Known Member
#10
Michael Reamey who many know as Ranch Dog studied this problem a bit and his solution was to start a whole company more or less based on custom, WFN Lee bullet moulds designed to fit and feed in Marlin lever action rifles. This is the "medium velocity solution". For years I hunted with either a .30-30 or .30-'06 and found that with a tough yet malleable alloy and plenty of VELOCITY, nose shape became pretty much irrelevant. 2100 fps for a .30-caliber bullet cast of water-quenched (from the mould) 50/50 wheel weights and soft scrap with about 1% tin added for 19 bhn (not the maximum hardness attainable via a full heat-treat in an oven) and put anywhere in the "boiler room" would reliably put down Bambi within 100 yards. Not so good at 1700 fps.
 

Chris

Well-Known Member
#11
Michael Reamey who many know as Ranch Dog studied this problem a bit and his solution was to start a whole company more or less based on custom, WFN Lee bullet moulds designed to fit and feed in Marlin lever action rifles. This is the "medium velocity solution". For years I hunted with either a .30-30 or .30-'06 and found that with a tough yet malleable alloy and plenty of VELOCITY, nose shape became pretty much irrelevant. 2100 fps for a .30-caliber bullet cast of water-quenched (from the mould) 50/50 wheel weights and soft scrap with about 1% tin added for 19 bhn (not the maximum hardness attainable via a full heat-treat in an oven) and put anywhere in the "boiler room" would reliably put down Bambi within 100 yards. Not so good at 1700 fps.
Ian, it sounds like you were seeing expansion in the animal then? So presumably you were not seeing it at 1700 and therefor the lack of lethality? Would you mind commenting on what you saw vis-a-vis wound channel, tissue destruction etc? Would a FN wide meplat have worked better? I remain curious about the why of this in our hunting loads.

Maybe the medium velocity solution using WFN is the best, but curious if that is the solution for say 7mm and 30 cal.
 

fiver

Well-Known Member
#12
the 7mm solution is to use a mushy nose and hope for the best.

I went to cast bullets with flat points for hunting after having 2 Hornady XTP's fail to open for me on 2 different occasions.
now part of the issue was my velocity [my mistake]
but I figured if I was just gonna break through one side and out the other I might as well be doing it with a little mush and a flat nose for radial damage.
plus a quarter versus a nickel appealed to my cheapass.
 

Ian

Well-Known Member
#13
With the tough alloy and plenty of speed I was seeing a decent amount of expansion, and almost always two holes. I actually found very few bullets as they kept on trucking, but the amount of damage and size of the exit hole in the hide indicated that at least the point had flattened enough to deliver a lot of energy and shock to the vitals. 2200+ fps at the muzzle does the trick if the bullet isn't too brittle or too soft.

"Armor-piercing" bullets as I call them, such as round nose bullets cast from very hard alloy, will just poke a pencil hole, do little damage, and I would have to track what seemed like forever on a lung shot. I've had similar experience with jacketed spitzer hunting bullets, too, and had a couple of experiences that soured me on some of the Sierra Gameking offerings. All that contributed to my switch to cast bullets and learning how to develop loads with them to good effect. Below 1800 fps, unless the bullet had a cup point (drilled post casting), no expansion and not much hydraulic damage would occur, similar to higher velocity hard, pointy bullets. I only shot one deer with a cup point (.30-30 at about 1850 fps before I learned how to load cast bullets to the upper end of the cartridge's capabilities) and it did well, but not as much damage or as quick of a kill as softer, round nose bullets going much faster.

As for the medium-velocity solution, I personally lean toward WFN and large caliber. .30 caliber and smaller really has no place for boiler-room shots at medium speeds, regardless of nose design. YMMV, but it's just too unreliable to me. For slow stuff, nothing beats pure lead, and big bore, with shape meaning little to nothing.

I've been re-evaluating my hunting loads in the past few years and am working on larger calibers. Right now, my .35 Remington Marlin is just perfect for the areas and game I hunt, so I'm working on that as we write and if I get an invite to hunt in more open country, for now I'll take along my .308 and use some cast spitzer loads that rock along about 2350 fps. If I decide to shoot one of the yard deer this season, I'll likely either poke it in the ear with a suppressed 300 Blackout cast bullet or with a paper-patched, soft lead .45 Colt bullet from my Handi rifle.

What you can take away from my opinion on hollow points is they mostly aren't for me. I have no plans to develop any more hunting loads for hollow point bullets aside from varmint control or personal/home defense.
 

Chris

Well-Known Member
#14
It's interesting, thanks. So regarding turning possibly suboptimal calibers into effective hunting projectiles seems to involve the correct ductile alloy and enough velocity. Makes sense.

has anyone tried (fiver with your 7mm?) hollowpointing and casting of a ductile alloy and shooting at a velocity where there is adequate nose expansion without explosion/fragmentation? Like you see some HP pistol pullets fired into medium, like a beautiful mushroom? Is that possible?

Or is a FN made of ductile alloy better than a tougher FN that won't expand at all? veral Smith says good, sharp meplat and no expansion is what you need. I'm not certain that is true anymore is why I ask.
 

fiver

Well-Known Member
#15
personally I prefer a flat nose and I demand 2 holes. [even with my jacketed loads]
I took a near 300 lb Buck this year with my 0-6 and a home made jacketed bullet, the shot broke 3 ribs on the way in and took the deer right off it's feet but didn't exit [I found the bullet under the hide on the off side shoulder] many would ask what the problem is.
my issue is that I could have shot the deer going up a ridge into some thick cover at 300yds across a canyon and not have a blood trail to follow when I got there.
so I am abandoning a bullet that will shoot under 1/2" groups [on demand]
well that got off topic.

the issue with the 7mm is it is too easy to get 2 holes, it just doesn't have the internal terminal performance I would like to see.
it could be persuaded to do more internal damage but [IMO] a hollow point isn't the answer.
after mucking about with a couple of them for a bit I made the decision to not pursue the matter for anything bigger than coyotes.
finding the 7's balance point I'm sure is doable, but it is just that, a balance point that would require more testing than I am willing to do.
it might be because I have spent a bunch of time and effort finding a jacketed load that works so well in them that I'm loathe to put forth the effort with cast.
I have used a pet load in a few X57 rifles to take everything from coyotes to moose within 250 yds with such good results I just cannot see myself getting away from that set up for hunting.
 

Glen

Moderator
Staff member
#16
Yes, I do like hunting with cast HPs. I think a lot of this fondness comes from the fact that I am primarily a handgun hunter, but I use them in rifle cartridges too. My experience has taught me that, in general, cast HPs will blow up like a grenade if the impact velocity is too high (e.g. 1800+ fps). At more moderate impact velocities (e.g. 1100-1600 fps) I have been very pleased with the expansion of cast HPs on deer and hogs (in fact, I am loading some up today at 1575 fps). I really like the idea of cup points, but I must confess that I have never hunted with them (other than a few varmints). I am really at a loss to explain the blow-up that Rick described above -- weirdest thing I have ever seen with a cast HP. Shot placement was perfect, and with a 300 grain cast HP from a .44 Mag on a 250 lb hog, that sow should have gone down like a sack of potatoes. [silliness warning] I think maybe he was loading his Ruger .44 Mag with top secret government grade C4 and got the velocities up to about 4000 fps and atomized the lead to make a molecular beam of heavy metal atoms that roasted that pork shoulder without a barbeque grill. [silliness off]
 

freebullet

Well-Known Member
#17
I love hollow points. Finding the proper balance is the key. Don't matter if jax or lead the balance must be correct for the application.

On varmints I'd prefer no exit or tiny exits like Ben's deer shows. Usually less hide damage that way. On deer we all seem to want drt performance and they are tough unpredictable(when shot at least) critters. I've found 2 ways to get that consistently. 1. 27cal or larger moving 2600+ 2. 45cal or larger moving at 1k+. Both of those or better usually nets me a drt deer if placement is good.
 

Rick

Moderator
Staff member
#18
Glen is fairly convinced the bullet blew up on impact. Was a 7 1/2 inch Blackhawk 44 mag with the RCBS 300 gr SWC, bullet was HP'd by Erik with what I call the Fryxell Profile HP (HP cavity of .150" diameter at the mouth, cavity with 7 degree taper and extended .250" into the bullet with a rounded tip). Alloy was air cooled CWW +2% Sn. Shot was off-hand at about 40 yards and hit the sow center elevation just behind the right shoulder and took the pig off it's feet landing on it's back. About the time I thought dead pig it jumps up squirting blood out of a .430" hole in it's ribs. It took off running at full speed, at about 50-55 yards I took three more shots hitting it twice but both in the throat. Hey, a full speed pig at 50 yards ain't the easiest shot. It kept going and when I caught up with it it had holed up under some brush in a dry creek bed. I reloaded the Ruger with 300 grain SWC and put one in the top of it's head taking the argument out of it.

I'm fairly convinced the bullet did not blow up and here's why. When we got it back to camp & hung up when skinning it there was not a trace of bullet fragment anywhere in that pig. Not a single tiny piece. My theory is that the initial shot hit a rib and that rib acted just like a leaf spring and the bullet came right back out. There was some blood shot rib meat around the hole and a partially blood shot lung but the lung was not penetrated. I further convinced myself that's what happened when back at camp that evening I discovered a serious oopsie I had made. The ammo was in a 100 round MTM ammo box with about 25 rounds on the right side of the box for the hunting ammo. There was about 25 rounds on the left side of the box that had been used in load testing. All of the rounds in the box were the same bullet but the ones used for testing ran about 1100 fps or a little under. The hunting loads where about 1350+ fps. When we got out in the field that morning I loaded the Ruger with the test rounds and they just weren't enough for the pig.
.
 

Will

Well-Known Member
#19
I've had mixed results with hp's. I shot several deer with the NOE version the RCBS 35-200 hp. All of the deer died within about 50 yards of the initial shot. I did not feel the damage was anything special. Pretty much just a hole the size of my pinky going in and out. The were cast from 50/50 COWW/pure lead water dropped out of the mold and running about 1950fps.
I killed a doe a couple weeks ago with the 460-405V bullets that Waco sent me and the deer just melted and slid down the hill. I hit her right behind the shoulder through the heart and out. That would had a pretty large entrance and a caliber sized exit. I need to run that load across my chronograph but I'm guessing it's around 1400 fps.
I'm planning on using a NOE 460-425 hp next year just to see what kind of results I get. I know this is not necessarily but I like trying different things. I was able to get a few loaded up the other day.


Don't mind the ring on the ogive of the bullet in the front. That was when I was trying to crimp with my seating die and it was hitting the ogive. I ended up using the FCD on these.
My best results with cast have came from using a flat nose bullet in my 44 magnum revolver about 1200fps. I honestly believe with large calibers and big meplats that you can have too much velocity. Seems the 1400fps and down perform great.
 

Will

Well-Known Member
#20


Both are entrance wounds from accurate 43-255R going 1300fps. Shot was about 30 yds.
Deer fell straight down and was spraying blood out of the entrance wound every breath.