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Posted: 8/25/2004 12:36:39 PM EDT
Most of us here don't have to use bullets approved by JAG, given that, what's the absolute best style bullet for 2 legged varmints?

I see people saying that the best combat bullets fragment very quickly, does that mean that thin-skinned varmint bullets (like a Hornady V-MAX) would do even better?

How about medium-game bullets that expand well (such as a Nosler Ballistic Tip or Barnes X bullet)?
Link Posted: 8/25/2004 12:56:09 PM EDT
Go to www.ammo-oracle.com. There is a lot of good information there and it will probably answer your question.

Link Posted: 8/25/2004 2:10:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Griz:
Most of us here don't have to use bullets approved by JAG, given that, what's the absolute best style bullet for 2 legged varmints?

What caliber?

does that mean that thin-skinned varmint bullets (like a Hornady V-MAX) would do even better?

No they actually do worse - they fragment too quickly and are too light so they lack penetration.

Link Posted: 8/25/2004 2:33:49 PM EDT

Originally Posted By sgtmike:
Go to www.ammo-oracle.com. There is a lot of good information there and it will probably answer your question.


Doesn't answer the question, and is focused on .223 They briefly mention civilian ammo, but never really compare it to military ammo that I saw. Lots of talk about yaw and fragmentation, but no side by side with expanding bullet effects (again, that I was able to find).
Link Posted: 8/25/2004 2:42:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Forest:
What caliber?

5.56 to 7.62 and all in between. The question came to mind while reading the 6.8 vs 6.5 threads where the light, fast, low-BC, varmint-type 6.8 bullets are being compared to heavy, high-BC, high penetration 6.5 bullets. It seems like comparing apples to oranges.

Why not put a heavy, long, high BC bullet in the 6.8 if long range and/or penetration is needed?

Why not put a light thin-jacket bullet in the 6.5 if that quick fragmentation is best?

It seems like both rounds could fill either role with appropriate bullet selection....
Link Posted: 8/25/2004 3:57:30 PM EDT
It is comparing apples to oranges but that's a different talk. In my opinion, and experience of my uncle and cousin (which I've stated this on many occaisions) the larger calibers with a varmint bullet are devastating. My uncle has a guy handload, and has for several years now, 125 grain ballistic tip in his .30-06 for deer. And without being graphic and all that, THAT LOAD IS A KILLER. You've got VIOLENT expansion, yet enough penetration on any quartering shot and such. He gave me one last year and after skinning it the ENTRANCE wound was at least the size of a golfball and it cut a deadly swath quatering to the other back part of the rib cage. It didnt exit but left a bruise / mark about the size of half of a piece of paper (1/2 of 8-1/2" x 11") where it looked like it wanted to come out. This was not the first time. He's been using this load for awhile. Oh and by the way, when it's a torso shot there is no fear of ruining meat. It stays in the torso. Now if you hit a front leg or something the entrance wound will be larger than a normal soft point bullet, obviously. So I strongly recommend hunting deer sized game this way. It may not work on elk (our family has never tried that) but if you're looking for hunting deer and how a varmint type bullet would do, you can't go wrong. My cousin, this uncle's son, uses the 80 remington soft point in .243 to similar effect. Obviously not quite as violent but here again, it's a killer. I don't care what all the gun gurus's say.
Link Posted: 8/25/2004 5:09:18 PM EDT
IMHO, the best performing ammunition for rifle calibers when it comes to defensive use are those that display the following characteristics:

1. Fragments reliably
2. Fragments early
3. Fragments dramatically
4. Penetrates deep enough after fragmentation has occurred to reliably reach depths of 12" minimum or slightly greater

When using those things as a guide, you can quickly eliminate varmint bullets. While they fragment explosively and early, they are designed for small varmints, not human critters. Therefore the minimum penetration requirements aren't met. In other words, they fragment a bit too much and too soon to be a good choice considering their light weight.

Softpoints (at least the heavier ones) are better in terms of penetration. But they generally lack the dramatic fragmentation and thus just expand, creating a smaller wound. But since they can at least be counted on to reach the vitals under most circumstances, I would have to place them in a higher category than the light weight varmint loads.

Then you have the M193 and M855 military 5.56mm ammunition. With both, you get adequate penetration and within the velocity threshold, good fragmentation. But the point at which the fragmentation begins is also a bit deeper than we would like. So it's still not as good as one would hope. This is especially true of M855 that may penetrate deeply before ever coming apart. This can allow the bullet to pass through much of the body with minimal damage and in some cases of very thin folks, maybe exit without reaching it's full damage potential. Add to that some inconsistencies with the SS109 bullet itself and even more is up in the air. I feel the M193 is the best of these two. If it yaws and fragments early, then I would rate it's damage potential as higher than with soft points. But the neck to fragmentation is it;s biggest problem. But when it works, it would be one step farther up my list and always ahead of the varmint bullets in my mind.

Now we get to the heavier boat-tail match hollow points, or OTM's for the more politically correct. Loads such as those utilizing the 68 gr OTM Hornady bullet and 75 gr OTM Hornady bullet, seem to have the best combination of all the desired parameters. They yaw and fragment early. They fragment dramatically. They are consistent in doing so. And they penetrate to ideal depths. Therefore out of all .223 ammo, I feel that at this point in time anyway, they are the best available option for defensive use. While there is no such thing as a magic bullet and likely never will be, this is the closest thing to it at the moment for the .223 caliber weapons. So these rounds top my list.

Now, as far as other calibers, I'll mention the .308 win. The requirements are the same, but there are some differences. For this caliber, my favorites are by far the 155 gr AMAX bullets and the 150 gr Nosler Ballistic Tips. Now I'm sure some are thinking, "isn't this similar to the varmint bullets that are so frowned upon"? Well, yes, in ways they are similar. But they are also very different. The biggest difference is bullet weight. It's not surprising once you compare a 55 gr bullet with a 150 gr bullet. The 150 gr .308 bullet, given similar fragmentation as the lighter .223 bullet, will find the fragments being larger, heavier and thus, penetrating deeper. while some of the .308 OTM's also fragment, in this caliber anyway, the polymer tipped bullets do so better. And unlike M193 and M855, standard 7.62mm M80 ball doesn't fragment. With the SP's, it works pretty much the same. Most penetrate deep enough, but still cause less damage than a bullet that fragments well.

I hope this helps some. Just keep in mind that no single bullet style is always good in every caliber. Sometimes certain designs work great in one caliber, but not another. So take it on a case by case basis and examine what works best in the caliber of your choice.

And one last thing, you may want to take into account other factors such as accuracy, muzzle flash, reliabilty, etc. Afterall, the best bullet in the world will be of little use to you if you can't accurately place it on target, it blinds you at night and effects your ability to locate and engage the threat or doesn't function well in your gun. In fact, having accurate and reliable ammo is more important than having the latest "gee whiz" bullet. Again, a non-expanding bullet that finds the heart is a better bet than a grenade for a bullet that sails past the target without striking. So I would have to say the most effective component of that weapon is the operator. In the only quote you'll ever see me using from the Rambo movies, "the mind is the greatest weapon". So choose something proven to work well, make sure it functions in your weapon, then devote the rest of your time and attention to practice. Like it or not, we humans are usually the weakest link in the system.

Link Posted: 8/26/2004 12:50:04 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/26/2004 5:47:57 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/26/2004 7:38:18 AM EDT
Now, I don't condone the illicit usage of firearms. I guess we can assume you're LEO or concerned about the practicality of using your rifle for defense. If you WERE looking for an open-ground man-stopper:

Consider that your target's weight at 150+lbs, up to 350 max. That's deer weight, if a bit on the high side. The target may not be armored, but it's possible. They may be wearing a leather over denim, so extreme-frangible projectiles are out.

I honestly feel that this kind of usage leaves out the .223 except in the hands of an expert marksman with time to make the shot (they have a word for that - murder). Something in the 70-80gr range could do it, but you'd be FAR better off with a heavier projectile, and that means more diameter.

I've always considered 7mm-08 the ultimate round for LEO purposes. Huh? Yeah - I'm strange but the bullet weights are right, over-penetration isn't an issue and 800m shots ARE POSSIBLE (heck, it has BETTER ballistics than 308 downrange). Bullet selection is also on par with 308.

Anyhow - what this all means for you? If you're going to choose a projectile to save your life or that of another human being, because a situation or your job demands it I'd really be looking hard at 308. 223 was by specification designed to do a very specific thing with a specific projectile. Take a combatant out of the fight by wounding him horribly. 100m away when they have 'time to fall' so to speak (they're not holding a gun to someone's head) and it'll take 2 of his buddies to grab him this is ideal.

It sounds to me more like you're looking for DRT (Dead, Right There). I've always been a big fan of this in hunting weapons - I do not feel my prey should suffer. 223 will not give you this reliably on deer-sized game (though it's certainly taken deer) in much of the country. You want penetration AND reliable expansion, which 223 is hard-pressed to deliver. 308's much more reliable at this.

Link Posted: 8/26/2004 8:26:53 AM EDT
Yeah, I suppose I should have arranged those 4 things better, but I really wasn't placing them in an order of importance, just listing them.

But I agree, if you have a bullet that fragments like nothing else on the planet, yet only offers 4-8" of penetration, then I would not want it. That's far too shallow to ensure your bullet/fragments reaches the vital areas from all angles. So unless whatever ammo you're talking about is capable of reaching at least 12" on a consistent basis in gel, it should be discarded in favor of something that will.
Link Posted: 8/26/2004 10:26:44 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/26/2004 12:15:18 PM EDT
How do the recent "big-bore" non-fragmenting AR calibers (.458 SOCOM and .50 Beowulf) stack up to .223, .308, etc in stopping power?

They probably look like a terrible round in ballistic gel tests according to the criteria laid out above (I'm just guessing, let me know if I'm wrong)... Are they primarily anti-equipment rounds and poor performers in anti-personnel roles?
Link Posted: 8/26/2004 12:50:23 PM EDT
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