The ballistic tip: theory VS reality

BuzzH

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2001
Messages
13,942
Location
Laramie, WY
Beings how theres been an interest in the ballistic tip, and how good a bullet it is thought I'd post my evidence/experience.

From the BT fans we hear all sorts of stuff, like they dont bloodshoot bad, they penetrate well, etc. etc. etc. I too was caught up in the hoopla surrounding them. So, I loaded up a hundred or so of them and shot them on game and targets in the 338 over a couple year span from 1995-1997. My loads chronoed at 2930 fps with the 200 grainers, shot well within an inch at 100 yards. Everything seemed fine.

Heres 3 of five bullets I recovered from 2 elk and a moose. I recovered two more from a large black bear, but the got thrown away on accident.

bt1.jpg


Heres another look at the same 3 bullets.

bt2.jpg


The bullets starting from left were from a 5-point bull, cow elk, and moose. The first from the left weighed 138 grains upon retrieval from the off side of the bull. The bullet busted one rib going in and between them going out. The bull ran 230 yards through thick lodgepole before expiring. Blood trail was non-existant, but for a very few drops here and there.

The middle bullet busted one rib on both the entrance and exit sides of a mature cow elk. I found that bullet in the broken fragments of the rib on the off-side. The cow went 150 yards and expired. Again, very little blood, tough blood trail, but the tracks were easy to follow in the snow to the dead cow. It weighed in at 139 grains, nearly identical performance.

The far right bullet was pulled from my Montana bull moose, buried in the spine. The core was never found, just the jacket, which weighed 86 grains. The bullet did sever the spinal cord but failed to get through the entire spine.

Now for the bloodshot theory. I've heard mulitiple claims that BT dont bloodshoot any worse than most other bullets. Really???

bloodshot.jpg


Well, all I can say is this is very typical of the performance I got on sheep and deer when it came to bloodshot. What a damned mess, and its fair to note that the shoulder bone in the picture was NOT broken, just clipped the back of the shoulder blade. I found bloodshot clear back the hindquarters on this sheep. The only reason I took this picture was to satisfy the meat salvage laws for the Alaska Game and Fish.

My over-all impression is that the ballistic tip is a poor performer on large game. Penetration is lacking and these bullets will ONLY work on perfect broadside shots where no major bones are struck. I also concluded they bloodshoot worse than any bullet I've ever used.
 

BuzzH

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2001
Messages
13,942
Location
Laramie, WY
For comparison and as a follow up to further illustrate how a PROPER bullet should perform on game may I draw attention to the Nosler Partition.

Heres the ONLY 3 bullets I've recovered from animals in roughly 30 head killed with the 338 and 250 grain nosler partition.

partition1.jpg


partition2.jpg


From left the bullets were recovered from a cow elk, rocky mountain goat, and another cow elk.

The first bullet upon recovery was 174 graines. The bullet busted the near shoulder and one rib going out. The fair thing to note though, is that the bullet passed through a 5 inch lodgepole before striking that cow.

The second bullet from the goat, busted both shoulders and the spine on the goat at 75 yards. The goat never got out of his bed and the bullet was found while I was skinning the goat. The bullet was hanging by a few threads of goat hair. Recovery weight was 165 grains.

The far right bullet was recovered from a cow elk shot at a very severe raking shot. The bullet busted 7 ribs on the near side entering on the last rib and angled forward and came to rest just under the hide on the point of the shoulder on the off-side. Note the severe deformity in the bullet, I'm guessing caused by the severe angle and the incredible amount of bone that was broken. Recovery weight of 150 grains.

I know I'll probably get at least one person who will call BS on the nosler shooting through a tree and an elk so heres the puddin'.

lp1.jpg


Another look.

lp2.jpg


Now based on these results I have no doubt in my mind the BT would have failed in at least 2 of the above three examples. I doubt the ballistic tip would have been tough enough to go through a tree and an elk. In fact, I wonder if it would have made it through the tree? IF it did, I'm certain the best I would have gotten was one long assed tracking job and if lucky, recovered that elk only with a follow up shot or two.

The goat, I probably would have gotten, but again, I'm glad I wasnt shooting them things.

The second elk, I guaradamntee that would have been a long day tracking a wounded cow elk. No way would the BT have broken 7 ribs on the onside and still made it to the point of the off shoulder. I doubt it would have penetrated even half as far as the partition.

From these findings, I dont believe anybody will convince me that the ballistic tip is a proper big-game bullet. I would say its application should be limited to deer sized critters at the largest, and only used if bloodshot meat doesnt make you squeamish. I cant post any better proof than that.
 

danr55

Active member
Joined
Dec 18, 2000
Messages
4,328
Location
Mesa, AZ
Buzz, I haven't heard that BTs don't create more bloodshot meat than other bullets. That is patently untrue. The concussive effects of the carbolite tip will cause extreme bloodshot meat in all directions on impact. It's the nature of the construction of the bullet. That type of reaction is pretty typical of all carbolite tipped bullets as well as the old Remington bronze tip bullets.

As to the penetration, I've not experienced the same problems you have. I've only taken a couple of animals with BTs, and they've both expired in short order well within sight. I've heard both good and bad, much like you have.

I switched from anything else to partitions some years ago. I do load for some folks who shoot exclusively BTs for elk, deer, bear and everything else....

It's a matter of personal choice like most everything except the fact that the 6.5 Swede is the perfect all around caliber... That's the only thing set in concrete.....

:rolleyes: :cool:
 

1_pointer

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 20, 2000
Messages
18,108
Location
Indiana
I'm not trying to start a pissing match, but I'm not seeing your logic. Except for the core jacket seperation, the retained weight of the BT and the heavier Partition were near identical. Which to me shows that the partition penetrated deeper due to its heavier weight than due to the way it was constructed. Do you think a 200gr Partition would out penetrate a BT of like weight?
 

BuzzH

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2001
Messages
13,942
Location
Laramie, WY
1-pointer, I know a 200 grain partition would out-penetrate the ballistic tip everytime.

I hope you do get the point of the post, really pretty simple.

Retained bullet weight, while important is not nearly as important as penetration on large game like elk. I agree, the BT retained weight is good, but penetration sucked big-time.

I know you're a fan of the BT, but I'll tell you right now, you will regret using them things on elk sized critters someday. You might skate by for many seasons, but they will bite you in the ass in the long run. There will be a day when a partition, particularly a heavier partition, will kill a critter that a BT will only wound. Thats a fact, and one I think I proved beyond a doubt in the above posts. Theres a learning curve to all this stuff, and I suppose the only way to learn is the hard way....I kind of thought this post might save some heart-ache.

Also, the other lesson I learned is to stay the hell away from the 200 grain bullet in the 338. They dont perform, even on deer sized critters, all that well. They work, but I think a 30'06 with 180 partitions is a much better killer on deer and also doesnt bloodshoot game nearly as bad.

The 338 thrives on 250's and to use anything else is really short-changing its full potential. But, thats just my opinion after having killed 40 odd head of big-game with the 338. Like Dan says, to each their own.
 

Calif. Hunter

Active member
Joined
Dec 13, 2000
Messages
5,185
Location
La Palma, CA, USA
If I read the posts correctly, Buzz was comparing 200 grain Ballistic Tips to 250 gr Partitions. I've read that the heavier-for-caliber BTs have dramatically heavier jackets tha the light for caliber BTs.

I agree with Buzz's comments about the 200 gr bullets in the .338, or even the 210 grain partitions. On large game like elk, you are better off using a heavy-for-caliber bullet, or at least a moderate weight like a 180 .308, 225 gr .338, 160 gr 7mm, etc. Why use a .338 to shoot a 200 grain bullet, unless it is your only choice and you are shooting light game?

I have not yet shot any game with a Ballistic Tip, prefering Partitions, Hornady's or Grand Slams. But those 150 grain BTs sure shoot good in my '06, and I'm tempted to try them on deer.
 

BuzzH

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2001
Messages
13,942
Location
Laramie, WY
Cali, the 200 grain BT is the heaviest BT that nosler makes for the 338. It is supposedly the big-game bullet for that caliber.

You are right about the light for caliber BT's on say 243, 25, 30 cal. etc. The light ones are for varmits and the heavy ones for game. But, I still dont think they're worth a tinkers damn. The varmit variety BT bullets are great though.
 

1_pointer

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 20, 2000
Messages
18,108
Location
Indiana
Buzz, no harm is done to me. I TRULY appreciate your oppinion as I'm at the bottom of the learning curve with rifles and hunting. I've worked up a load for the BT and darned if I don't have to try something I've worked hard and spent money on. I don't doubt that a 250gr. bullet would kill better than a 200gr bullet. Just to let you know, I'm thinking of switching to the Barnes 210gr X for my 'game' bullet after I'm done hunting this year. Seems to be best of both worlds?

Why would the 200gr. partition penetrate farther than the 200gr BT? There couldn't be that much difference in frontal area between the two when expanded and if the retained weight was the same they 'should' penetrate to the same level. E = mv^2
 

Calif. Hunter

Active member
Joined
Dec 13, 2000
Messages
5,185
Location
La Palma, CA, USA
Thanks for the info, Buzz. I just got my .338 a couple of months ago and haven't checked out all the bullets available. I don't see a 200 gr BT in a .338 being good for much, personally. (But I don't see using that large a rifle for deer or antelope, either. I'm a self-admitted gun nut, and like having the right tool for the job - playing with loads, sights, etc. so I would never settle for one rifle to do it all.)
 

Delw

Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2000
Messages
5,784
Location
Peoria ,Az
Buzz even though I am a ballistic tip freak, you have some good evidence....

I shot a texas dall Ram in texas(go figure) with a .243 and a 70 grain BT , I forgot I still had the bullet found it today and weighed it... it weighed 49.2 grains and mushroomed nicely...

I shot it from the rear end towards the front. I picked right behind the ribs and just below the spine so the bullet would come out its throat if it came out at all...
There was no meat damage and it wasnt really bloodshot(but then I shot the inside and didnt have a shot like yours) the bullet ended just inside the windpipe (like planned)

We have this shot on video tape and I will try to post a pic, Steve nite was video taping it..... Its the only bullet I have even looked(the skinner there found it) for in an animal.. My antelopes with the same bullet never poked through either.. and I didnt look for the bullet..

I havent killed that many big game with the BT(other than muleys and couse deer) .. 1 elk but it was a spine shot...

I am going to use it on bear in canada if I dont use my bow.. I will let you know how it works out....

Cool pics and interesting facts.... I also like the way the first 2 Bt's mushroomed


Delw
 

JB Florida

New member
Joined
Dec 9, 2000
Messages
951
Location
Florida/Gulf ShoresAlabama
My family and I shoot 30 to 45 whitetails with BTs every year for the last 7 or 8 years. Bloodshot....hell yes.
They ruin many front shoulders on at LEAST 1 side. Deer are thin skinned though and most blow out the other side and leave a 3 or 4" exit (easy bloodtrail)
On the 6 elk and 2 moose we have taken during that time, I don't remember 1 exit hole from a BT. They are usually near the off side skin and 2/3 of naturay weight.
Our calibers are 25-06, 270, 308, 30-06
and 300 Win mag.
The BTs are VERY tight shooters so some use them for head and neck shots, but we all prefer shoulder shots.

Partitions are my choice on the larger game.
I have yet to try north forks or woodleighs though????

This is of interest to me. The 25-06 with 100BTs puts 90% of the deer directly on the ground. But a 270 with 130 or 150 BTs the average distance traveled was 50 yards.
(Both of these are solid broadside hits)
 

FLIPPER

New member
Joined
Nov 21, 2001
Messages
1,616
Location
Tennessee
This is my 1st year using a ballistic tip bullet, but here is my experience so far....I am shooting 150gr Winchester Supreme factory loads out of a Browning A-bolt 300WSM.....I killed two does with it in Kentucky, [on the HuntTalk Hillbilly Fest], the 1st one was heart shot, had a hole in and a slightly larger exit hole, no bloodshot...the 2nd one was shot low in the chest quartering to me and it had entry hole and exit hole...total area open I'd say atleast, 4" x 10" its entire stomach fell out of this hole immediately after the shot and there was only a small amount of bloodshot.

Being as the Barnes X bullets were brought into this discussion, that is the bullet that I shoot in my Browning A-bolt .270, I shoot the 140gr. In my opinion it is a poor choice for deer. I have been using them for about 6 years now and have killed several deer with them, all have fell where standing except one....BUT....they do not expand...same size exit hole as the entry hole on every animal I have killed using them. It has not mattered whether it went through bone or not, or no matter what angle, broadside, quarting, facing towards or away.....NO EXPANSION. In my experience with Barnes X bullets they are for larger game. But it is the best shooting load I have worked up for my .270 and will continue to use them...dead deer = dead deer no matter the bullet.

MEATHEAD's .284 has killed 40+ deer using Ballistic tips so I'm sure he can add to this topic.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 11-18-2002 20:40: Message edited by: FLIPPER ]</font>
 

MEATHEAD

New member
Joined
Mar 18, 2002
Messages
868
Location
ATHENS,TN
We'll I think bullet type don't matter if you have good shot placement.If you shot it in the upper shoulder it's down.Now that's with my .284.Out of the 40+ deer it's shot 1 or 2 have run a short distance.But that's from a bad shot behind the shoulder. That ain't here I like to shot them.Can't say for larger game , never been there yet.
 

Washington Hunter

Well-known member
Joined
May 8, 2002
Messages
4,000
Location
Rochester, Washington
Buzz is right...my 270 couldn't put a 150 grain BT through an antelope at 300 yards, and all it hit was one little rib. In that particular case it worked fine as the antelope went down immediately, but I won't be using them again for any serious big game hunting.
 

danr55

Active member
Joined
Dec 18, 2000
Messages
4,328
Location
Mesa, AZ
There is one common thread through all of these posts. There is not a single report of an animal running off after being hit hard with a ballistic tip. That in it's self says something for the bullets....

I ask again, "what type of bullet failure did you experience when you recovered the bullet from the dead animal?"

I still shoot partitions.....

:cool:
 

BuzzH

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2001
Messages
13,942
Location
Laramie, WY
Dan, are you sure about that? The two elk I shot with them went 230 and 150 yards respectively, and they were hit perfectly hard, behind the shoulder through both lungs. I agree with you on deer, the BT seem to work fairly well, but on the bigger stuff, they are trouble.

I had a bitch of a time finding the 5-point and would have had about the same thing if there hadnt been snow on the ground for the other.

What I wonder is how many critters run off, hit hard, and arent even looked for???? Sure, when you recover the bullet from a dead animal its easy to use Noslers famous quote. But, we never recover bullets, to see how they performed, from critters that are lost.......
 

danr55

Active member
Joined
Dec 18, 2000
Messages
4,328
Location
Mesa, AZ
Buzz, the only thing I can say is that not finding a dead animal isn't the fault of the bullet that killed it. Any hunter who pulls the trigger has the obligation to make sure that the animal is dead or has escaped. I realize that some get away,, I've had a couple of deer run off after being shot and I agonized over them both for months.. wondering if I could have done something more... I still think about it every time I pull the trigger.... but those animals going unfound is not the fault of the bullet or the rifle or knife I had in my pocket... It's my fault for not being up to the job, or the shot, or whatever lacking I may have had. You say the animals went 150 and 200 yards before you found them dead... I say the bullet worked...

Now, all of that aside, I still shoot partitions for everything I shoot 'cept yotes and Prairrie Poodles.. Neither of those go home with me... although I hear that DS claims to have a great recipe for Prairrie Dog Flambe... Cajun style....(YUK!)


:cool:
 

roland from calif.

New member
Joined
Jul 16, 2001
Messages
26
Location
California
Well here is my .02 cents. I've used 180 gr. BT in a 300 Win and they are devastating. Some of the earlier BT's had a thin wall and pretty much exploded on contact much like a varmit bullet and because of that develop a bad rap on big game. I was only using them on Blacktails and immediately retired the load after one deer that was pretty much blood shot head to hoof. I've also used partitions (130 gr) in a 270 and had the bullet pretty much lose 40% of it weight when located under the skin. I'm not knocking Nosler, but I expect a little more out of a premium bullet than that. BTW it happened more than a couple of times. Got to the point that if I wanted to spend hour in the woods just shoot a deer with a 130 gr. partition bullet from my 270 and get ready to start looking for him. As someone else said sometimes thet didn't even act like they were hit. We are talking apples and oranges here price wise. The partition is consider a premium bullet and cost twice as much as a BT. I now pretty much shoot Speer Grand Slams and have never been let down.
 

MLM

New member
Joined
Feb 8, 2001
Messages
64
Location
Milford Center, Ohio ,USA
Now is the USA great or what! Nice talk all. But I just cannot keep it under cover any longer! If you ask me, the new Hornady SST will whip all of the old , new or any of the bullets on the market as of now! Hate to hit and run, but , we must all remember , not all of us hunt out west and is dark timber! So to each his own and from now on, my big game bullet is the SST! MLM is now taking his powder flask to keep it dry and hiding it from all who would use good powder on lousy bullets! LOL
Mike Murphy
 

Pecos

New member
Joined
Mar 10, 2001
Messages
46
Location
Breckenridge, TX
You tell them Mike!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!hehehhe

I have switched to the 129 SST in 6.5 and it works great on these little deer here, I don't need the partition bullet here, its to much, acts like a fmj on these little deer, I quit using Noslers when they quit makin the old solid base bullets, cept for varmints.

I do use the partitions for hogs, and have yet to find anything to beat them.

Pecos
 
Top