Some bullet performance from the 2004 season


New member
Jun 21, 2001
Rural Wa. State/ Ellisras South Africa
This year my hunters took quite a few animals and used a rather wide selection of guns and ammo. Here are a few things I found interesting to add to the data base.

I'm not a fan of the 7mm mag. Throughout my career I have seen this cartridge used often. It seems to have a lot of trouble keeping game down with one shot. Or finding it after the shot. It's probably why I prefer the calibers .308 and larger for big game. It's also refered to as the "hit em again 7" in Alaska by many of the guides there. Because of the need for multiple hits to stop bigger animals, especially bears and goats.

In all Fairness the cartridge is not completely to blame. Much of the problem is due to the closer shots with very fast light bullets. This year I had 3 hunters with 7mm mags and all were successful. 2 used Nosler partitions in the heavy weights and one guy used trophy bonded bullets in 170 grain weight. Every guy hammered the game and as I recall nobody lost an animal. I think a couple were recovered with the use of a dog but the dog is used on lots of game shot with different calibers and cartridges.

When you shoot a 170 bullet from a 7mm mag you have a cartridge that is very close in performance to the 30/06 with a 165 grain bullet or even a 180 grain bullet. Very lttle difference between the two. The 7mag with a 170 grain bullet will shoot a touch flatter which is not needed in the African bush. The 30/06 makes a bigger diameter hole by a small amount.

In any case the 7mag has proven to be a capable plains game round with proper loads and good marksmanship. These three guys hunting together were good shooters and used good loads. I still prefer .308 as a minimum big game cartridge but in the right hands with proper bullet choices the 7mag will work. Blood trails are very poor though with sub .308 diameters.

Another hunter used a 338 and just absolutely folded the game where it stood. I think he had one or two animals run. The rest,..... which was about 7-8 animals just fell in their tracks. The .338 is a very serious and 100% functional plains game cartridge. It's one of my favorites when the hunter can shoot it! One of the animals shot with the .338 that ran was a blue wildebeast and it went 200 yards or there about. Not a drop of blood came from the bullet holes for tracking. If a .338 does not allow a functional blood trail with a perfect lung shot animal then smaller bore diameters have very little chance!

I watched this bull run and found a track to follow for a while until I started seeing blood and then splashes of blood everyplace. When I found the giant old bull it turns out the blood was dripping only from the nose and mouth, none at all from the bullet holes.

Another hunter used a .308 and had little trouble killing game. The bullets were properly placed and the game went down nicely. Surprising as it may seem even the most difficult animal, the blue wildebeast went down in about the same distance as the one shot with the 338 just a couple days before.

Another hunter used a 35 whelen and had excellent success although he did hit and lose a warthog everthing else was killed well when he had good shot placement. The fella was shooting Speer grandslam bullets. We recovered about 7-8 of them. From this experience let me suggest that you should stick with bonded technology. These spears did not perform any better then a conventional jacketed bullet and were shot from a non-magnum rifle. Most were in pieces and have jacket core seperation. A couple looked OK but were about 1/2 the weight or less then original. They also seemed to have erratic travel through the body. None seemed to go straight through after the hit. For my money there are much better choices then these.

The 458 Lott has continued to just crumple big game. The 450 grain X bullet at 2300FPS is like a bolt of lightening from heaven. A few interesting things to mention. I had more follow up shots this season then ever in one year. I actually lost count of how many anumals I had to finish off. Anyone who read the other post about the marksmanship issues I had with 3 of the hunters knows why!

The amount of anger and adrenilin an animal can muster when wounded has to be seen to be well understood. Especially when cornered by the tracking dog and bayed up. When you run in on this situation you're looking for trouble from even the little mild manered impala. These wounded animals when cornered and sick see you as a major threat when you run in and often decide to come right for you or the dog. Gemsbok and Bushbok are very serious problems in this situation. Blue wildebeast have also surprised me several times.

I shot an impala square through the chest at 20 yards which was previousley gut shot by a hunter and bayed by the tracking dog. When I could hear the dog fighting I ran and busted trough the bush and saw the impala charging the dog. I sent a 450 grain X bullet clean through the impala's chest at 20 yards. I thought I missed as the impala just stood for 7-10 seconds after the shot. I was staring stunned and going to shoot again when that impala fell over dead. 10 seconds is a long time to live with a .458 hole clean through the chest!

Another memorible event was chasing a wounded Blue wildebeast bayed by the dog. The Bull was originally shot quartering towards us by the hunter. The bullet ran the length of the body under the skin and was recovered under the hide near the hind quarter. Nothing lethal was hit and not a lot of blood to follow.

When I heard the bull and the dog fighting I knew I had to sneak in to finish it because he was a very capable runner and would likely run if he saw or smelled me. When I was coming from the back of him the dog unfortunately spun him around and he saw me and began charging instantly. I shot him through the tip of the nose out the bottom jaw and into the chest exiting the belly near the diaphram. He folded in his tracks about 12 feet in front of me.

Another Blue wildebeast was bayed by the dog after a gut shot. As I snuck in on this fight The Blue wildebeast was really sick and putting his head down to run at the dog. At the instant of the charge ( at the dog) I shot broadside into the chest. The bull fell to his knees but his back legs were up. At that instant the dog bit his nose and the bull jumped up to his front legs and went after the dog with everything he had, I shot again breaking the majority of bones in the shoulder area and that was that.

I did finally manage to find a 458 Lott bullet in yet another Blue wildebeast follow up which was originally shot through the pelvis and required another finisher. The Hunters Model 700 Remington fed both the empty and the new cartridge into the magazine at the same time and jammed up pretty tight. I followed up the bull and put one in him going straight away. That bullet we in the skin just infront of the shoulder on the opposite side of the entry. All the petals were missing and it looked as if it were a small section of .458 diameter copper rod.

As I get time I'll post a few more.
The X will limit shots that hunters can take to those with nothing behind the intended target animal. Beyond the target animal it must be clear of all potential animals for a long way. X bullets tend to exit 99.9% of the time as they are very much like slightly expanding solids. They work well but are not my favorite bullet for herd animals or general plains game "hunting".

For my 458 Lott which is not intended as a "hunting rifle" but rather an insurance policy, I like to use the X because when game is running away wounded I can get to the vitals by shooting straight up the tail.

I feel the Interbond and Swift A frame are good choices along with most other bonded core technology. That bullet design gets the job done just right. The interbond bullet is an exceptional performer in standard cartridges and the Aframe is the ticket in Magnum cartridges. The Trophy Bonded is also an excellent choice but due to the solid shank it offers higher pressure in some guns with some loads.

The monolithic expanding bullets are a specialty item with less overall funtction then the bonded bullets in my opinion. Although they have provided exceptional one shot kills that is the exception when compared to the bonded bulets. I'm basing this on 12 years of watching 1000's big game shot with about every kind of bullet and cartridge made.

There are of course exceptions to everything but this has been my experience.
There is an article with some measured penetration and retention of the newer 30 caliber 180 grain bullets in the July Peterson's Hunting.

There are definite differences. Penetration ranged from 10 inches to 29.2 inches and percent retention ranged from 61% to 93%. The Speer Trophy Bonded looks pretty good at it all in those tests. 18.5 inches of penetration with 83% retention and the expansion pictures look good at low and high speed. Only the Barnes triple shock had more penetration and only the Swift a-frame had more retention and neither of those expanded as much. I didn't check how that compared to older bullets in that seahook site test data, but I should.
At a quick glance it looks good, if not better, compared to any older bullet.

I'm thinking Speer Trophy Bonded. What if a guy shot an x bullet through the shoulder bone all the time, into the lung area? Wouldn't that be a good way to do it? I'm starting to think that stops them from running, but the x will go through the bone. Comments?