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Effects of FMJ bullets on big game. Thoughts?

MaxPower

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*I know it's illegal and unethical.

I lately became friends with a game warden, and he mentioned he'd recently busted someone for using FMJ bullets on an elk hunt.

Now, questions aside as to why someone would do something so terrible, my question is about the actual effect this might have on a big game animal. My thinking is that FMJ bullets aren't unstoppable juggernauts, but they're going to be very hard to stop.

So tell me what you'd think would happen if you shot an elk, at say 200 yards, with any common elk rifle (308/270/30-06/300WM/7MM etc).

What would happen to that bullet and the elk if the bullet went through both lungs behind the shoulder and never hit bone?
What would happen to that bullet and the elk if the bullet went through both lungs but also went through both shoulders? Or would it make it through both shoulders?

Personally, I think that if no bone is encountered that bullet will whiz right through the animal with very little deformity or lost velocity. If heavy bone is encountered, like a shoulder blade or two, I think the bullet still exits with little deformity.

Strange musings I know - just curious if anyone has ever seen it happen.
 

brockel

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Hit bone and the fmj could banana and tumble. A tumbling bullet still does lots of damage. Don’t hit bone and it will punch through not doing much damage. Animal may die but it’s going to make it quite a distance
 

EastTNHunter

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I’m not sure if a double lung hit by an FMJ would allow an animal to live, but I doubt it. Unlikely to leave a good blood trail or make a clean kill regardless. Hitting solid bone would likely cause deformation and disruption to the bullet, but not a reliable wound channel like an expanding bullet
 
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PorterHouse

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Doesn’t matter what type of bullet it is, put one in the boiler room and the animal is going to die. How quickly and how good of a blood trail it leaves behind, well that’s another story.

Hard to say how it would play out. And I’d venture to say that even with consistent shot placement, results would vary from animal to animal (excluding hits to the central nervous system). Meaning if you shot 10 different elk the exact same way, you’re not going to get 10 identical results…one may drop like it was struck by lightning, one may run 50 yards with great blood to follow, one may run 20 yards with almost no blood to speak of, so on and so forth.

Bullets do weird things sometimes, regardless of type and construction.
 

Farmerj

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I’m thinking the game warden and a lot of people don’t understand the terminal ballistics and what a FMJ does when it impact soft tissue.

The physics of any bullet is the weight is behind the Center of Gravity. That’s why they are spin stabilized.

Once any bullet strikes a target mass, it will mushroom or yaw depending on design. One designed to mushroom like a hunting bullet continues on its path.

A FMJ, by shear physics, will yaw wanting the weight to go forward and as it yaws in the soft tissues, it reaches critical strength and essentially tears itself apart.

FBI studies and trauma room images and testing supports all of that.

A lot of this is highly dependent on bullet velocity. Seems supersonic rounds, greater than 1100 fps and really more than 1800 fps tend to be violent in this aspect

“Handgun” or low velocity ammunition, not so much.

There used to be a website called “theboxotruth”. Couple retired guys that spent a lot of time shooting stuff with all kinds of guns. The stuff is still online and even their videos show all this as well.

 

Don Fischer

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I believe you use the bullet you used the way it was designed, and it will work! Take that FMJ bullet and shoot the elk in the neck breaking the spinal cord and you have an elk down right there. That is not to recommend using FMJ bullet's but if it was all I had and I needed the food, it would do the job. One of the things about early Mono bullet's that bothered me was that if the HP closed up there was no telling what the bullet might do. Winchester admitted that the tip in their mono bullet was to insure expansion. I shot some SMK bullet's out of a 308 into newspaper years ago at 100 yds. The HP closed up and the bullet bent. Yep but even though does not mean it would fail if it hits the right spot. For me the idea about premium bullet's is that they really do give you more options for bullet placement for no other reason than ability to penetrate. But placement is up to the shooter, bullet's don't place themselves.
 

mtnrunner260

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Not the trigger man but a tungsten armor piercing round from a 556 will dispatch an injured feral horse where it stands when shot through both shoulders.
 

brymoore

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I’m surprised using FMJs is illegal. Millions of dead humans killed by FMJs.

FMJs are going to pencil threw animals similar to what I experienced years ago with first generation copper bullets. Blood trails suck and they’ll run longer than partitions but the elk will die.
 

88man

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I seen fmj kill because they had to.
Obviously never a first choice on western game
 

Wind Gypsy

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FMJs aren’t all the same far as I know. I see no reason a lightly constructed fmj wouldn’t fragment frequently and kill quite well in many occasions. They are probably less consistent in how they behave in tissue though?
 

grizzly63

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They were designed to wound people and take more of the enemy out of the fight to take care of the wounded. Mandate by the Geneva accords? They are probably cheaper to make and they do ring steel nice but the first line about not being ethical sums it up. Head shots and neck shots can be very deadly but Imo they are not really ethical on game animals. You miss the spinal column and don't get a jugular, you have probably killed the critter but you might not ever find it, taking a long period of time to die. Or blowing the lower jaw off?
 

Don Fischer

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They were designed to wound people and take more of the enemy out of the fight to take care of the wounded. Mandate by the Geneva accords? They are probably cheaper to make and they do ring steel nice but the first line about not being ethical sums it up. Head shots and neck shots can be very deadly but Imo they are not really ethical on game animals. You miss the spinal column and don't get a jugular, you have probably killed the critter but you might not ever find it, taking a long period of time to die. Or blowing the lower jaw off?
I don't think Geneva required FMJ bullets, or so I read at one time. The U.S. is one of many that do use them though. They aren't so much designed to wound but rather not to mess someone up to bad to be able to fix them up. I doubt they were looking to take a lot out of the fight either but you would some and it takes more to care for them. If wounding was the intention it would be easy to simply fire wounding shots with whatever bullet's you had.
 

Ridgerunner6901

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Ive shot varmints with 147 gr fmjs from 308 velocities.. not impressed. Watched many hit hard run off.. wouldnt want to try hunting big game with them.
 

Redman

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I’m surprised using FMJs is illegal. Millions of dead humans killed by FMJs.

FMJs are going to pencil threw animals similar to what I experienced years ago with first generation copper bullets. Blood trails suck and they’ll run longer than partitions but the elk will die.
Can't compare humans to animals. Animals are tough and pain or what we would consider pain doesn't impact them. How many animals have you witnessed take a bullet or arrow (no major arteries,
or nervous system hit) and not die? They don't go to the ER. You shoot a person and if they don't go to the ER they will more than likely die and they will definitely not be seen a few days later trying to take on some guy over a "doe in heat"!
 

Doublecluck

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Years ago I heard about a guy who had “trouble” purchasing guns who picked up a old military surplus 7.62x39 because it didn’t require a background check. One day the fellow goes out deer hunting, with some of that wolf steel case fmj ammo. Stuck one right in the shoulder of a buck, the damage I hear would make a ballistic tip or vld look tame.
 

Farmerj

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Years ago I heard about a guy who had “trouble” purchasing guns who picked up a old military surplus 7.62x39 because it didn’t require a background check. One day the fellow goes out deer hunting, with some of that wolf steel case fmj ammo. Stuck one right in the shoulder of a buck, the damage I hear would make a ballistic tip or vld look tame.
Because as it yaws, turns sideways, the bullet starts to flatten. As it flattens and turns further, the jacket actually fails and it fragments violently.
 

Seamaster

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I can opine on this subject as I have a bit of actual experience with solids on big game, and used FMJ bullets extensively in the service many, many years ago. A good solid does not usually change direction or deform much when used for big game, but often they will pass through and not be recovered. The better solids have a fairly flat point on the bullet. They work quite well for the big stuff. I have taken game as small as steenbok (maybe 40 lbs. on the hoof) with them with good effect.

The bullet points on modern military type FMJ bullets are quite different, as they are shaped as a spitzer. The old ones that I used (M16 with a triangular handguard) had quite the reputation for losing stability upon impact. On a sunny day you might me able to see the sun glint off the bullet as it tumbled if firing at longer ranges. I have had a couple of 20 year old fellows assure me that this was not possible, but my eyes have seen it. The FMJ bullets fired from a 30 cal. (M60) did not seem to have this problem.

Guys hunting with military type FMJ bullets could be a problem, but a well designed solid is very different.
 
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