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Bullet Tests

by Mike Rocole

Well itís that time of year; time to get ready for my annual trek out west in pursuit of the majestic Elk. The hunt planning begins right after last years hunt. We had to make the decision where to hunt, who is going again gather data about the new area and of course acquire a new gun for this years hunt. This year began with the decision to hunt the Salmon Area of Idaho. Then of course the biggest decision is what gun am I going to use?

Well one of the problems with owning so many guns is that itís tough to narrow down your choices. I have my tried and true 475 Linebaugh in a handgun and No. 1 Ruger Rifle. Always an excellent choice the two-guns have proved themselves many times over. Yeah, gun nuts got it rough. Well a new addition is my Ruger No.1 Stainless with a Black Shadow Composite Stock. I love the 45-70 it is powerful and it has history. The No.1 Ruger? Well my thought is, it is a fitting tribute to the man that made such difference in the Gun Industry, Bill Ruger. After all if I could harvest a nice Bull Elk with that rifle it would certainly be a fitting tribute to Bill Ruger.

So thatís the decision the 45-70 as a primary rifle on my Idaho hunt. By the way we hunt on our own and we use Wisconsin Whitetail tactics to hunt Elk. It works I have taken many Elk this way.

But this is about testing bullets so lets get to that. There are many new bullets out there. I like to test them and use the data for comparative reasons. I use this data to help me make a decision as to which bullet I will use for my hunt. My media is simple. Water soaked newsprint. I soak them for 24-36 hours to make sure that media is completely soaked. I then set up at a short distance 10 yards and fire into the media. I look at the wound channel left by the bullet and distance the bullet penetrates. I also take into account the velocity that the bullet strikes the media retained weight is another aspect that is important to me. Once I have a bullet choice, I then load for accuracy at a top velocity. I then load the bullet to different velocities and shoot into media at the hunting ranges and see if the bullet is still performing to my standards.

This is the first step the elimination phase.

The Guns used:

  • Ruger No.1 Stainless in 45-70
  • Ruger No.1 475 Linbaugh.
rifles.jpg (28243 bytes)
Rifles tested
robbie.jpg (89958 bytes)
My helper Robbie

Note that the load is not important at this time as I setup the Chronograph within 5 feet of the test media to measure the velocity right at the media.

(See the accompanying chart for the results of each load tested.)

Summary of the tests.

45-70 Bullets

Load #1 the Hornady 300 grain Hollow Point was very destructive. I ďover droveĒ this bullet and would not use it at that velocity on game. To do so on deer would surely result in much of the delicious venison being ruined and having to be discarded. This bullet is not designed to be driven at these higher velocities.

The Barnes-X 250 grain had real nice wound channel that was classic and the bullet drove straight. Of the 3, 45-70 loads I tested, this is number 2 in penetration. I like this bullet but feel the 300-grain X bullet to be better choice for Elk. The 250 would likely work, but I know I would get better penetration from the 300 grain and retained velocity would be better. Other tests with the 300 grain showed results that rivaled WFN hard cast bullets with slightly better wound channel size.

The new Nosler Partition 300 Grain Protected Point did a great job with over 24Ē of penetration and an excellent wound channel. The retain weight and deep penetration of this bullet make it my choice for the Elk hunt. I would certainly put this up against any WFN cast bullet. Thatís how good it is. Now if it shoots as well as it did in phase on of testing it will be real winner.

BarnesX250458.jpg (43402 bytes)

Hornady_300_Gr_HP_.458.jpg (44331 bytes)

NoslerPtp300Partition458.jpg (39067 bytes)

Barnes 250 g. X Bullet 

 Hornady 300 gr. HP

  Nosler 300 gr. Part  .

475 Bullets

I used the Rifle for testing the 475 bullets to drive them fast, as compared to the handgun.

The hard cast bullets are ďkingĒ for penetration. What is real interesting the wound channel for the 350 grain bullet very similar to the best-jacketed bullet. It was little narrower but as the picture depicts it is disruptive just the same. I think Jim would attest to the same results on game. As I recall he took a big doe with one and the entrance and exit holes where substantial without allot of blood shot meat.

Of the Jacketed bullets the Speer gave the best overall combination of penetration and wound channel size. The retained weight of the Speer Gold Dot was excellent. Not as high the hard cast LWFN but it was over 90%. The XTP did not fair as well in the retained weight category. The Hawk performed well in both retained weight and penetration as well as wound channel. Especially considering the lower velocity. I took a buck last year with the Hawk out of my handgun and it did and outstanding job. My choice for this upcoming hunt will be the Speer. One other good aspect of the Speer is the price. It is a better bargain than the XTP. Better performance at a lower price? Easy choice.

CastLBTWFN420475.jpg (33736 bytes)
Cast LBT 420 gr.
Hawk300SPFP475.jpg (36327 bytes)
Hawk 300 gr. SP
Hornady325_XTP475.jpg (35521 bytes)
Hornady 325 gr. XTP
Hornady400475.jpg (39176 bytes)
Hornady 400 gr.
PerformanceCast350.jpg (33204 bytes)
PerformanceCast 350 gr.
Speer325GoldDot475.jpg (41845 bytes)
Speer Gold Dot 325 gr.

Then just for heck of it I shot my 62-caliber muzzleloader into the media at low velocity. The ole round ball is a magnificent performer on game and its performance a that low velocity rivaled anything I tested in the 475 class with the exception of the hard cast bullets.

RoundBall600.jpg (31141 bytes)

Well thatís the summary I hope you enjoyed it and try some of this testing as it is fun and can be informative as well.

Rifle Caliber Bullet Velocity Inches of Penetration
Ruger #1 Stainless Steel 45-70 300 Gr. Hornady HP 2376 fps 9.5"
Ruger #1 Stainless Steel 45-70 250 Gr. Barnes -X 2335 fps 13"
Ruger #1 Stainless Steel 45-70 300 Gr. Nosler Partition 2261 fps 24"
Ruger #1 475 Linebaugh 325 Gr Hornady XTP 1740 fps 12.5"
Ruger #1 475 Linebaugh 325 Gr Speer Gold Dot 1659 fps 12.5"
Ruger #1 475 Linebaugh 300 Gr Hawk FP SP 1387 fps 12"
Ruger #1 475 Linebaugh 400 Gr Hornady XTP 1508 fps 11"
Ruger #1 475 Linebaugh 350 Gr LWFN LBT 1592 fps 26"
Ruger #1 475 Linebaugh 420 Gr WFN Home Cast LBT 1316 30"
PRC Zypher ML 62 Caliber .600 Dia. Round Ball Home Cast 1320 FPS 16"

All loads shot into media from 10 yards
Media wet newsprint soked for 24 hours and changed after each shot
Chronograph located 5 feet from newsprint





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