Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by stokesrj » Thu Oct 29, 2015 12:36 pm

I just finished load development, finding a load that would provide an impact velocity slightly above the minimum threshold listed by the manufacturers. I did this at an indoor range close to my home.. It takes me 2 hours going and 2 hours back for each test I complete with the ballistic gel, so I would like to minimize the number of trips.

I have not yet tested the 142 grain, 6.5 mm Nosler Accubond Long Range bullet, this will be my priority this weekend. To see how it performs at max velocity.

Then depending upon the condition of my gel blocks I'll gather as much data as I can on the minimum impact velocities. So far I have tested the 140 grain Berger VLD twice at velocities below their stated minimum impact velocities and the performance is dismal, pencil diameter wound tracks that are anything but straight. They veer off course wildly. One even damaged my new aluminum support platform when it took a nose dive out the bottom of the second block and put a big dent in my support.

Regardless, I now want to test the three bullets at their manufacturer claimed min threshold. Those are;

140 grain Berger Hunting VLD 1,800 FPS
127 grain Barnes LRX 1,600 FPS
142 grain Nosler Accubond LR 1,300 FPS

The loads I have developed are slightly ~ 50FPS above these stated minimums. They are all going through paper very straight, so there doesn't seem to be any stability issues, no detectable yaw. So, it should prove interesting to see how they perform in the gel at minimum velocities.

So far my observations are that the Berger provides a shallow ~16-17 inch deep wound cavity that is very wide, approaching 12". The Barnes produces a narrower but deeper cavity ~32" deep by 6-7 inches wide. These are high velocity results, low velocity results will trend toward deeper, yet narrower wound channels. I am eager to learn how straight these channels are, and answer the question would the intended vital organs be struck or missed.

Bob


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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by stokesrj » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:38 am

I've completed maximum velocity testing on the tree bullets and found that there is a remarkable difference in performance between the three in terms of penetration.
The low velocity testing hasn't gone well so far it will be a while before I have those conclusions.
I've also had a chance to look into the 143 grain Hornady ELD-X bullet being introduced. Hornady took it very seriously and tested their competitor bullets much the way that I have and found some of the same results as me but some different than my findings. They took the time to document results thoroughly and it looks like a very good bullet. They might be tempted to selectively show it in the best light though :)
I haven't been able to acquire any as of yet, it doesn't seem they have shipped any to the jobbers or distributors but I'll add those to my tests as soon as they are available. In the mean time I'll provide a link to their test reports.
http://www.hornady.com/assets/files/res ... etails.pdf
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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by stokesrj » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:18 am

stokesrj wrote:I've completed maximum velocity testing on the tree bullets and found that there is a remarkable difference in performance between the three in terms of penetration.
The low velocity testing hasn't gone well so far it will be a while before I have those conclusions.
I've also had a chance to look into the 143 grain Hornady ELD-X bullet being introduced. Hornady took it very seriously and tested their competitor bullets much the way that I have and found some of the same results as me but some different than my findings. They took the time to document results thoroughly and it looks like a very good bullet. They might be tempted to selectively show it in the best light though :)
I haven't been able to acquire any as of yet, it doesn't seem they have shipped any to the jobbers or distributors but I'll add those to my tests as soon as they are available. In the mean time I'll provide a link to their test reports.
http://www.hornady.com/assets/files/res ... etails.pdf
And here are some pics of the three bullets groups at 100 yards just to keep things interesting.

All pictures are rotated, the top of the pic is to the left.

Two five shot groups, top group Nosler 142 ABLR 75 grains Retumbo, 86 grains US869 bottom group. The first shot was from a cold clean barrel and is the flyer off to the side. The point of aim was center X for the top group and 6:00 bottom of black for the bottom group. Pretty lousy in both cases.
Image
Three shot group Berger 140 HVLD 75 grains Retumbo
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Three shot group Barnes 127 ABLR 75 grains Retumbo
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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by stokesrj » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:37 pm

I've completed the comparison of the three bullets under test at high speed impact 3200-3300 FPS. Here are the pics to help visualize how the energy is released. The 140 Berger Hunting VLD had the least penetration. The red circle shows where the bullet penetrated to a depth of 16 3/4". It began to curve the last 4" of penetration but was mostly straight line.
Image

The Nosler 142 Accubond LR penetrated to 24" as indicated by the red circle on the second photo. It was mostly a straight line penetration with some curving the last 3" or so as the bullet turned sideways.
Image

The Barnes 123 grain LRX penetrated in a laser straight line for 32". It dented the water jug but was held in the gell block by a very thin film of gell.
Image

The recovered bullets told pretty much the same tale as the penetration and diameter of the temporary wound cavities.

The 140 Berger Hunting VLD weighed 56.1 grains retaining 40.07%
The 142 Nosler Accubond LR weighed 66.1 grains retaining 46.55%
The 127 Barnes LRX weighed 126.8 grains retaining 99.84% seemingly only loosing the polymer tip.

Up close, no doubt the Barnes is the bullet that will allow straight line penetration to the vitals and with proper shot selection will result in a dead on the spot animal. The real question remains how will they perform at simulated long rang impact velocities.
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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by Corjack » Thu Nov 12, 2015 5:34 am

Not a lot f weight retention with the Nosler, but then again they are going pretty fast out of your rifle. A 6.5x55 or 6.5 Creedmoor, might not shed so much weight.
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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by Corjack » Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:14 am

I was reading on another forum, that guys are having issues with, smashing a ring on the nosler lrab if they have new brass with a lot of neck tension. Evidently they are making them soft, so the expand at low velocities.

I have a half box of the Barnx lrx, I think I will revisit them as a hunting bullet.
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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by stokesrj » Thu Nov 12, 2015 11:04 am

That smashing a ring thing is just inexperience in reloading. It often happens with VLD bullets because the seating plug doesn't match up with the bullet profile. Redding makes seating stems that better match the nose profile and distributes the pressure more effectively. That is what I used and it didn't make a mark on the bullets. Alternatively, you can bed the seating stem to the bullet profile to solve this issue.
I agree that the 142 Accubond LR bullet fired from a 6.5X55, 6.5X47, 6.5 Creedmoor or 260 would not shed nearly as much weight at close range as it does from my 6.5 STW and it will penetrate deeper. At low velocity, 1,400 FPS I have not been able to capture one yet, they do not track straight though and exit the sides of the gel blocks.

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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by Corjack » Thu Nov 12, 2015 7:32 pm

I am not entirely sure about that. Some of these guys seemed to be pretty much on the ball, and they were not having issues with Bergers, and other VLDs. From the amounts of reports I noticed, It seemed to indicate they were a bit touchy to work with.
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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by stokesrj » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:42 pm

I haven't seen any damage in seating the Nosler Acubond LR's, they seat fine using my dies which are retrofitted with a VLD seating stem. The reason they have a VLD seating stem is because I have seen the damage your are describing many times, and seen it corrected many times.

There are two other factors, one is neck tension, which is the main reason to use bushing dies, which allow the neck tension to be adjusted properly. This is not very critical for normal hunting ranges, but consistent and low neck tension, .001-.002" is needed to keep a level water line at 1,000 yards and will reduce any seating stem marks.

The third factor is the angle of the case mouth chamfer, using a standard chamfer will lead to seating stem imprints on VLD bullets. That is why they make a 30 degree VLD chamfer tool. The standard chamfer tool angle allows the case mouth to cut into the boat tail and increases seating pressure, even if the case mouth diameter is correct. The VLD chamfer tool reduces seating pressure by more than 50% in many cases.

It the loaders you are referring to are seeing seating stem marks, these marks can be eliminated by one of these three changes or perhaps a combination of them in some extreme cases.

Bob
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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by Corjack » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:44 am

Yea, I agree, looks like they may be bit touchy to work with.
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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by Saugmann » Sun Nov 15, 2015 3:57 pm

Thanks for a great post Bob and for taking your time to carry out these practical demonstrations.

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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by stokesrj » Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:38 am

I thought it might be interesting to begin posting some pics of the recovered bullets. First the Berger 140 grain Hunting VLD.
This is after impacting at 3,250 FPS and penetrating 16.75" of 10% ballistic gel. It weighs just 56.1 grains or 40.7% of the original 140 grains. It created a very wide but shallow temporary wound channel approximately 12" in diameter and 14" long. On a medium deer this would have been devastating and would result in a DRT kill with any rib cage shot, it would also exit with about 80% certainty.
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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by stokesrj » Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:25 pm

Here is how the same bullet looks after impacting the 10% ballistics gel at 1875 FPS. Berger publishes a minimum impact velocity of 1,800 FPS so this is 75 FPS faster than minimum, yet, as you can see, it failed to expand. It made a very narrow wound tract for about 12" then yawed and tumbled stopping at about 28" of penetration. It took me four tries to capture one. The other three exited the gel at a tangental angle. This is a problem that will result in an unpredictable wound path in an animal that may miss the intended vital organs.

Image

I half way expected to see this happen based off of real world performance on game I've witnessed when the range is very long. It produces a slow death and is not what you want to see at all.

Using my 6.5 STW I would limit my range to 650 yards using this bullet to keep it at a velocity that will produce a ruptured jacket and therefore expansion on game.

If using a 6.5X55 or similar the range would have to be reduced to no more than 400 yards to insure proper performance. That is the value of this kind of testing. It helps define the envelope of performance, and reduce unnecessary suffering of the game animals. We owe them this consideration.
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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by turner.jc1 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:56 am

Thanks again Rob for sharing these informative experiments with us. Very interesting.

Which bullet do you hunt with out of interest?

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Re: Terminal Ballistics of Long Range Bullets

Post by chalky » Thu Dec 10, 2015 3:37 pm

Excellent bit of information Bob thanks for posting

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