Bullet choice, pass through or not?

Shane071489

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Jul 8, 2019
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I currently am shooting a 6.5 Creedmoor and I’m seeing so much debate on shooting close and bullets fragmenting and bullets not passing through so no blood trail. I have shot 3 bucks with mine this year (just got it) one being the best buck of my life so far. The first two deer shot with Sierra game king 70 yards and 40 yards both dropped immediately I follow the back of the front leg up to center mass or a little lower and pull the trigger. The third buck was my first handloads of ELDX 143 at app. 2700 fps deer was shot at 60-70 yards and ran about 30 yards, pass through decent blood trail. I hunt in very thick wooded areas, I feel like I need a blood trail. What are yalls thoughts? If you shoot a deer without pass through and bullet sticks on the inside hide of the deer and the deer runs, how do you find it? Is there more to this? I can’t wrap my head around searching for a deer with no blood trail. I know you want 90% of energy to dump into the deer and just pop out the other side. I’m leaning toward shooting accubonds currently, unless you guys make me see this differently.
 

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AlleghenyMountain

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The guy I used to hunt with got into reloading and was using ballistic tips in a .270, I think 150 grains. I watched him shoot a buck at a distance of roughly 45 yards. It's a good thing I saw it, no blood, no hair, nothing to indicate a hit. I found the buck about 60 yards away, absolutely no blood anywhere. I had switched back to cheap 150 grain Winchester power points, also in .270, and killed two deer the same year at distances between 100 and 150 yards. Both dropped like a stone. It's my opinion that at shorter distances the rapid expansion did a better job. That being said, the following year he dropped a big bodied buck in its tracks with that ballistic tip and it sounded like jello sloshing around when we went to gut it.

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Backpack Hunter

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I think I prefer an exit to get a blood trail. I have shot quite a few deer with fragmenting bullets, all resulted in quick deaths due to shot placement. Having said that, if the deer did not drop on the spot it always resulted in a grid search as there was no blood trail. In more open areas that was no big deal as you could watch them drop within 50 yards or so. In thicker areas where they can disappear in 10 yards it becomes a bigger issue.
 

mcseal2

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I've used bullets on both sides of the argument with good results. The main thing will always be shot placement, but bullet performance is also important. My results I'll share are from dead deer, so the bullet did it's job in each case. How it did it varies.

A friend and I used Nosler E tips on whitetail last year since our 300 win mags were already dialed in with them from our moose hunt. Another hunter also used my rifle on another deer. My buck was facing me and dropped in it's tracks, the bullet penetrated awesome and mushroomed perfectly. The other two bucks the bullets exited. Both bucks ran around 80 yards after the hit before dropping. In both cases there was almost no blood trail. The entrance and exit were small enough they just didn't leak much. Not a bullet failure, just a result of what the bullet is designed to do. Reliable but not extreme expansion and extremely high weight retention. My 180gr bullet I recovered weighed 179gr.

On the other end of the spectrum I've used Berger VLD hunting bullets and Hornady ELD-X bullets. My buddy used the same 300 win with a 185gr Berger and shot a muley at 12 yards this season. Due to brush he shot it a bit further back than is ideal, but still got the back of the lungs. That bullet exploded inside the buck and did not exit. That deer ran about 400 yards down the mountain and he shot it again to finish it when we spotted it. I don't know how it made it that far honestly, but it did. There was no blood to follow for the majority of that distance, but there was soft ground and we followed the footprints in the dirt. Only at the end when the chest cavity was filling up did I find any blood. There was a tiny entrance wound and no exit. My buck was shot with the 185gr Berger facing me at 216 yards and only made it 40 yards. On another deer in 2017 I had a 143gr ELD-X fragment completely on a buck's shoulder, but the fragments reached vitals and killed him instantly. It was moving fast when it hit. I shot that buck with a 264 win mag started at 3240fps. I had excellent performance on a doe at 321 yards with the same set-up and a broadside shot.

I think these bullets are best when started at lower velocity. That can be accomplished with smaller cases, ligher loads, or heavier bullets. I've seen very good results on several deer with the 140gr Berger VLD started at 2900fps from another 264 win mag. I can't say I've shot anything with that set-up inside 150 yards though. They do the job, but rely a lot on the fragmentation killing the animal fast enough no blood trail is needed.

Moral of this story is that I like the Accubond's terminal performance better than either other bullet. The Accubond's I've used have usually exited and left a decent size exit wound. They open very fast on impact also to create a good wound channel. I've shot everything from coyotes to elk with Accubonds and seen similar results on all. The one thing I'll say on them is that they form and hold a large mushroom. This big frontal area can limit penetration compared to an E tip or similar bullet. I've found some perfectly mushroomed ones under the hide on quartering shots.

I do notice that I can make hits easier practicing past 450 yards in various conditions with the Berger or ELD-X bullets. I don't know if it's just the effect of wind or if the bullets are just more consistent at longer distances. Accubonds or E tips do well, but not quite as well. I've used both in my 264 win mags and my 300 win mag at different times. I'm leaning toward going back to the Accubond in my 300 win mag. I seldom shoot game past 400 yards, and the Accubond does great out past that. That 300 seems to be the "all around" rifle that goes on a lot of my western hunts when terrain and hunting strategy will vary throughout the day.

I'm getting a 6.5 Creedmoor and will likely try the ELD-X in it. I think at Creedmoor speeds it will act similar to the Accubond. My 264 I'm still not sure. The 140gr Accubond never failed me, but neither has the 140gr Berger. I think I'll likely stick with my mild load at 2914 to save my barrel and run the Berger unless I see it fail someday. That's not the rifle I'm packing in brush country, I use it in open or mixed terrain where it's windy and shots can be long. In those conditions I can often wait for ideal shot angles and the Berger does great.

Long answer but I hope it helps. Put any of them in the right place from the right angle and they work well.
 
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Wmmichael20

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I've used both ends of the spectrum myself,used regular Remington core-locks for many years then switched to Winchester ballistic silvertips and more recently barnes tsx the only ones I personally wouldn't use again is the ballistic silvertips they just seem to blow through the deer like a pencil. Always had good luck with standard soft points like the core-locks and the tsx seems to expand reliably but for the cost just to shoot a average size whitetail I don't think their needed. For deer size game I think soft point bullets work great.
 

Spiral Horn

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I’ve used both ELD-X and Accubonds in my 6.5 Creedmoor and liked the results from both. Agree with Most of what Mcseal said in general and had similar results. The ELD-X gave me more consistent accuracy over varied distances than the Accubonds (but they weren’t bad either). The ELD-X is basically a Hornady Interlock with an aerodynamic tip - I’ve Sheep hunted with it and the ram was impressed. The Accubond has simply never failed me on a game shot and probably have more consistent expansion over varied distances. If I was worried about a blood trail that’s what I’d used to hunt game at deer hunting distances.
 

Mashthegas

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An EMT once told me that it's a hell of a lot harder to save someone with 2 holes in them than 1. Makes sense, so I prefer bullets that pass through.
 
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Shane071489

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Jul 8, 2019
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Good information guys. My ELDX passed through but ricocheted out like 14" farther back then it went in. This was surprising. I am going to attempt to kill some does and see how it performs, I will likely start working up an accubond load. I really wanted to do the gamekings but the two deer I have shot, neither had a pass through, but both lay dead where they were standing.
 

psu927

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Something to consider is damage too. With a bullet that fragments youll have a lot more meat loss
 

CBECK61

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I much prefer an exit hole myself and have shot and watched a lot of animals die to an ELDx. I feel like you have a better margin of error as well with this type of bullet because if you hit bone or shoulder is much more like to break the bone rather than the bullet on big think game like an elk. I also like that with good shot placement you waste less meat. If you hit a critter high with a rapidly expanding bullet you will typically damage the back strap even if you don't hit the back strap.
 

TREE ‘EM

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It all comes down to shot angle, shot placement and personal preference.
There are no absolutes in deer hunting.
Over the years I’ve used everything from solids to highly frangible with success.

My takeaway is that you can’t beat a old fashioned cup and core bullet for Whitetail under any conditions. Typical CC predictable performance. Good expansion, significant tissue damage and exits more often than not.
 

Watrdawg

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I've used both a 165gr Accubond and 178gr ELDX's out of my .308 and I am leaning to sticking with the Accubonds. Two weekends ago I shot 2 doe with the 178gr ELDX's. One at 165 yards and the other at 45 yards. I shot them about 20 mins apart from each other. The 45 yard doe went down in her tracks. When I went to look for the 165 yard doe I couldn't find any sign of blood at all. I walked up and down the trail she was on and went in on a trail I though she took after being hit. About 20 yards in I found a small speck of blood. I marked that spot and then kept on following the trail. Another 20 yards and I found her. She had only gone about 40 yards after being hit. I got lucky finding that small speck of blood. This area was really thick and I would have been looking for a long time trying to find her. Last year in the same area I shot two doe in almost the same scenario and I was using the Accubonds. Both rounds went through both deer and there was a huge blood trail for both Doe. Thankfully for one of them I had the blood trail to track her by. She had gone into the woods and when she crashed down she slid under a leaf covered brush pile. I followed the blood trail to her and the only reason I found her was a rear hoof happened to be sticking out of the leaves. Without a blood trail I would have never found her. This week I'm going up to Indiana deer hunting and I'm going to be shooting a 6.5 PRC with 140gr Berger Elite Hunter's. I'm hoping I get a pass through. If I get the chance to shoot a buck and don't get a pass through and no blood trail I may switch to the 140gr Accubonds.
 

Mashthegas

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For a 6.5 creedmore, try a 130 gr. ELDM. I've used them in my 6.5x47 and had pass throughs on deer and antelope and found one against the hide after passing through both shoulders of a cow elk at 470 yds.
 

psu927

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I've used both a 165gr Accubond and 178gr ELDX's out of my .308 and I am leaning to sticking with the Accubonds. Two weekends ago I shot 2 doe with the 178gr ELDX's. One at 165 yards and the other at 45 yards. I shot them about 20 mins apart from each other. The 45 yard doe went down in her tracks. When I went to look for the 165 yard doe I couldn't find any sign of blood at all. I walked up and down the trail she was on and went in on a trail I though she took after being hit. About 20 yards in I found a small speck of blood. I marked that spot and then kept on following the trail. Another 20 yards and I found her. She had only gone about 40 yards after being hit. I got lucky finding that small speck of blood. This area was really thick and I would have been looking for a long time trying to find her. Last year in the same area I shot two doe in almost the same scenario and I was using the Accubonds. Both rounds went through both deer and there was a huge blood trail for both Doe. Thankfully for one of them I had the blood trail to track her by. She had gone into the woods and when she crashed down she slid under a leaf covered brush pile. I followed the blood trail to her and the only reason I found her was a rear hoof happened to be sticking out of the leaves. Without a blood trail I would have never found her. This week I'm going up to Indiana deer hunting and I'm going to be shooting a 6.5 PRC with 140gr Berger Elite Hunter's. I'm hoping I get a pass through. If I get the chance to shoot a buck and don't get a pass through and no blood trail I may switch to the 140gr Accubonds.

accubonds are awesome
 

KoolBreeze

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I hunt around some really thick stuff. So thick you'd have to belly crawl to trail a deer through it. Obviously, I want to anchor the deer where they stand, if at all posible. I've had good luck shoulder shooting them with Nosler Partitions out of my 280 REM. It usually breaks them down in their tracks, if I do my part.
 
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Shane071489

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Yeah I do believe I’m going to work up a load with the 140 gr accubonds and see how they perform for me. I’m going to load the game kings up for my 7mm-08 that way I can still use one of my favorite bullets. I’m hoping even though the accubond is bonded for controlled expansion it still unloads most of its energy in the deer and not what’s behind the deer.
 

JR Lewis

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I think it boils down to where you are hunting - in VA on public lands my answer is pass-through for blood trailing. Hence I use the venerable 45-70. I've also just purchased the 6.5CM, so I'm paying close attention to the comments and knowledge above... Cheers
 
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