OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

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OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

Post by timmy » Sun Aug 21, 2022 5:58 am

The following is from a chapter in a book written by John Barsness, a prominent gun and hunting writer in the USA. Barsness's work is noteworthy because of his readable style, combined with his use of facts and data, not assumptions and speculations, in his work. For this reason, he's pretty widely respected.
OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

by John Barsness

Humans have been hunting a long time, so have argued over “killing power” for a long time, whether their hunting tools were rocks, spears or rifles. It would seem obvious that a larger rock/spear/bullet would render big game into what’s legally called “possession” more effectively than a smaller rock/spear/bullet, but the limits of human physics also limit projectile size. Evidence indicates Neanderthals may have been the strongest early humans, but also indicates they didn’t use 100-pound spears.

People use various techniques when arguing about killing power. Sometimes we provide real-life examples, and sometimes we develop formulas supposedly reflecting such empirical evidence. Both techniques have been part of the scientific method for several centuries, but very few hunters are trained scientists. Consequently most evidence reflects personal biases rather than rigorous testing.

One of the best-known formulas reflecting long-term empirical evidence is John “Pondoro” Taylor’s Knock-out (KO) Formula, an example of the “heavier spear” theory. I’ve been part of gatherings of hunters, both around campfires and at international conventions, where cartridge effectiveness has been argued by citing Taylor’s figures.

Taylor’s books are well-written and based on vast experience, acquired when African wildlife was very abundant and African humans far less abundant, including game department officials. But Taylor’s formula was far less universal than many hunters believe. It originally appeared in his book BIG GAME AND BIG GAME RIFLES, not his more popular AFRICAN RIFLES AND CARTRIDGES. Both were published in 1948, but Taylor had been working on BIG GAME AND BIG GAME RIFLES since before World War Two, and a British firm finally agreed to publish it in 1946, taking two years to bring it out.

The much larger AFRICAN RIFLES AND CARTRIDGES was written in 1946-47 and published by an American company. There were far more hunters in the U.S. than Great Britain, and after World War II Americans were more affluent. Consequently AFRICAN RIFLES AND CARTRIDGES became popular, but many of today’s hunters don’t even know BIG GAME AND BIG GAME RIFLES exists.

In BIG GAME Taylor says what he calls “theoretical energy” (kinetic foot-pounds) doesn’t truly indicate the relative power of different cartridges, so included bullet diameter in the K.O. formula. He also plainly states K.O. numbers only apply to “bluff-nosed, solid bullets used against heavy, massive-boned animals,” and admits, “Theoretical energy probably gives a surer indication when expanding bullets on soft-skinned game are concerned.”

In AFRICAN RIFLES AND CARTRIDGES he repeats a few of the same statements, in particular a comparison of the .416 Rigby as opposed to a .465 (in Big Game) or a .470 (African Rifles). He claims an elephant head-shot with a .416 solid that misses the brain will quickly recover, but a .465 or .470 will knock the elephant out “for anything up to about five minutes. “ But he never mentions that his formula only applies to solids on really big game, or admits “theoretical energy” might be more applicable to expanding bullets on smaller animals. As a result many hunters think the Taylor formula applies to all cartridges and bullets.

Another difference in AFRICAN RIFLES is a long rant about high velocity, probably because it was becoming a hot topic, thanks in part to Roy Weatherby, whose rifles and theories of killing power were getting a lot of attention. Unlike Taylor, however, Weatherby didn’t have much big game experience. He’d grown up in Kansas in the 1920s and 30s, when almost no deer lived in the state.

Weatherby eventually migrated to California, becoming an insurance salesman in the Los Angeles area, and in 1942 took his first big game animal, a mule deer in Utah. He also bought a lathe and started gunsmithing in his garage, developing the first Weatherby magnums and his theory of high-velocity killing power.

This wasn’t all that long after the first factory big game cartridges reached 3000 fps, and most hunters used far slower cartridges. The much higher velocities of Weatherby’s wildcats became possible due to the appearance of IMR4350 in 1940, by far the slowest-burning powder then available to handloaders.

Some hunters, including Weatherby, theorized that ultra-velocity killed “like lightning” when bullets landed almost anywhere on a big game animal by compressing the blood in the circulatory system like fluid in a car’s brake lines, sending a “shock wave” to the animal’s heart and brain. Weatherby embellished this theory in several magazine articles, and his hot cartridges and “California style” rifles started getting national attention. By the end of the war he’d quit his insurance job and opened a sporting goods/gunsmithing shop.

Many hunters bought the ultra-velocity theory in part because, like Roy Weatherby, their hunting only involved a few deer. Weatherby was certain ultra-velocity would work on any kind of game, and after a successful 1947 hunt in British Columbia booked an African safari with some friends, to prove Weatherby cartridges worked on larger game as well. He kept a journal of the safari, reprinted in the book WEATHERBY, THE MAN, THE GUN, THE LEGEND by Grits and Tom Gresham. It’s very interesting reading, in part because of how it modified Weatherby’s theories.

Early on a hyena fell to Roy’s .257 Magnum, and he crowed that “nothing can withstand the shock of high velocity bullets.” But as more and larger animals were taken this universal enthusiasm started changing: “I have used all my rifles now and so have the other men, but not under identical enough conditions for comparison. One thing is sure and that is—the bullet must be traveling at a certain velocity when it hits an animal in order to kill it. I must find out at what distance…the bullet must hit the animal so the shock kills instantly…. You must hit them right unless the bullet has sufficient velocity to disintegrate.” (Emphasis mine.) Eventually he discovered high velocity had definite limits, but didn’t admit it very often in public.

Today big game hunters tend to prefer bullets that don’t disintegrate, in part because of another book, Bob Hagel’s 1977 GAME LOADS AND PRACTICAL BALLISTIC FOR THE AMERICAN HUNTER. Hagel was a life-long hunter and Idaho guide who emphasized the use of “premium” bullets. The bullets both Taylor and Weatherby used were all so-called “cup and cores,” with a lead core inside a harder jacket of copper alloy. Expanding bullets had the core exposed at the front end, in a soft- or hollow-point, while “solid” bullets had the jacket wrapped over the front end, leaving the core exposed at the rear.

Cup-and-core expanding bullets (or “softs,” as the British called them) often separated or even disintegrated, the reason most hunters after really big game used solids. But in 1948—the same year Taylor’s books were published and Roy Weatherby went to Africa—a hunter in Oregon started selling what many consider the first premium expanding bullet, the Nosler Partition.

John Nosler had experienced cup-and-cores failing to penetrate British Columbia moose, so he developed a bullet essentially combining the solid and soft cup-and-cores, separated by a wall of jacket material. The soft front core was designed to disintegrate, as Roy Weatherby believed was necessary for quick kills on thin-skinned game, while the rear “solid” portion continued to penetrate, as John Taylor and many other well-known African hunters believed necessary on heavier animals.

Hagel was an admirer of the Nosler Partition, but also a newer bullet called the Bitterroot Bonded Core, made by another Idaho hunter named Bill Steigers, with a heavy jacket firmly connected to the lead core. Hagel’s book became very popular, and more hunters started using Nosler Partitions and Bitterroot Bonded Cores—though far more used Partitions because they were far more widely available.

Bitterroots typically retained a higher percentage of their original weight than Partitions, and eventually many hunters came to believe higher weight retention resulted in greater killing power. Over the next 40 years many more premium bullets appeared, including some “monometal” expanding bullets designed to retain all their weight.

As a result, today many killing-power arguments are over bullets rather than cartridges, though evidently some hunters will always argue over whether a .30-06 Springfield or .300 magnum kills deader, or the .416 Rigby or .470 Nitro-Express thumps pachyderms harder.

The argument for 100% weight-retention makes sense, as they definitely penetrate deeper. But retaining more weight and penetrating deeper do not mean they kill quicker. If it did, solids would still be the solution for heavier game—and they’re not, mostly because they don’t kill quickly unless precisely placed in some part of the central nervous system. In fact, some modern African hunters are convinced Cape buffalo acquired such a reputation for being incredibly hard to kill because of the wide-spread use of solids back when “softs” didn’t penetrate consistently.

The reason solids don’t kill quickly is pretty simple: The wound channel’s very small. Shoot a big animal through the lungs with a solid and it takes a long time for the circulatory system to lose pressure, and the animal to lose consciousness. African hunting literature contains dozens of examples of buffalo shot with numerous solids living an hour or more, yet still being dangerously lively when found.

The theory that the permanent wound-channel’s size makes the most difference in killing power is held by many “forensic ballisticians,” scientists who study the effects of wound channels—though mostly on humans, for law enforcement and military purposes. However, forensic ballisticians don’t always agree, any more than all elk hunters or African PHs.

The owner of the first safari company I hunted with was John van der Meulen, who’d grown up in what was then Rhodesia. Before the country’s safari industry took off, van der Meulen (like many Rhodesian hunters) culled a bunch of wild animals to make room for domestic cattle, because in those days beef paid better. This was long before reliable “softs” were available, and van der Meulen’s choice for his .458 Winchester Magnum was a “solid” bullet Winchester used to manufacture, with a relatively thin gilding-metal jacket. Many other hunters disliked these bullets, including Jack O’Connor, because they often expanded--“riveted”--upon hitting bone. Van der Meulen, however, loved them because they expanded, creating a larger wound channel and killing buffalo quicker than stouter solids.

A somewhat similar conversation took place years later with now-retired PH Kevin Thomas, also a former culler born in Rhodesia. Kevin often used a .375 H&H when backing up buffalo hunters which, as he noted, meant he was often “seriously outgunned” by his clients. Yet Kevin still had to finish plenty of bulls, and favored expanding bullets. I asked what bullet he favored, and he said, “Whatever left-over ammo clients leave in camp. These days they’re all good!”

I’ve been keeping notes on all the big game my hunting companions and I have taken since the late 1970s. One of the details added while going on a lot of cull hunts myself, starting in 2002, was how far animals traveled after accurate chest shots with various expanding bullets. The quickest-killing bullets, it turned out, were Berger Hunting VLDs.

Most expanding bullets fully open by the time they penetrate their length, the reason most meat damage occurs around the entrance hole. Bergers, and some other “target” hollow-points, tend to penetrate a couple of inches before expanding, then lose considerable weight or even disintegrate (to use Roy Weatherby’s word), resulting in a massive wound channel. Consequently most meat damage is around the exit hole—if one exists—rather than the entrance. Animals shot with Bergers averaged slightly less than 20 yards before falling.

At the other extreme are expanding bullets that normally retain all their weight, where animals traveled an average of over 50 yards. But on a recent antelope hunt I used one of these “100%” bullets, because they tend to ruin less delicious pronghorn meat—and there’s only about 40 pounds on a mature buck. Plus, it doesn’t matter if an antelope travels a ways across the open plains before falling. But I’ve also used “disintegrating” bullets on animals weighing 500 pounds, because they drop big game quickly, before they can go far in thick cover or fall off a mountain.

Like John Taylor, many hunters believe larger diameter bullets kill big game quicker, often citing “physics” as the reason, because obviously a larger-caliber bullet puts a bigger hole in animals. In North America, the poster-child for this belief is usually the .338 Winchester Magnum, because it’s the most popular step up from the cartridges most of us use, both in powder room and bullet diameter.

That was certainly what I anticipated back in 1987, when I put together a custom .338. Before then, most of my big game had been taken with a pair of Remington 700s in .243 and .270 Winchester, plus a couple of .30-06s. There had also been a .30-30, .308 Winchester and, briefly, a .338-06, sold after a few months to make ends meet, thanks in part to what a friend calls a “practice wife,” whose spending habits not only made it hard for ends to meet, but to come within sight of each other through 10x binoculars.

The divorce resulted in the liquidation of the rest of my small collection of big game rifles, but the collection started again a few months later with a Ruger 77 .30-06. For several years the ‘06 worked fine on the standard array of Montana big game—antelope, deer, black bear and elk—but like all rifle loonies I remained convinced something better existed.

After thinking a while, the “logical” candidate was the .338 Winchester. Any .300 magnum would use the same .30 caliber bullets as the .30-06, and the editor of the magazine providing most of my income was convinced the .338 was magic.

I used the FN .338 a lot over the next dozen years, which coincided with a rapid rise in my fortunes, including a number of hunts across northern North America from Alaska to Quebec, plus a couple of African safaris. Of course, “everybody” knew the .338 was enough gun to handle big, tough animals like moose, musk ox, wildebeest and eland. It was, but eventually I had to admit to myself that the .338 wasn’t consistently more magic than the .30-06, or a couple of .300 magnums also used during that period.

The .338 did result in some spectacular kills, including a Quebec caribou taken with the brand-new 200-grain Ballistic Tip, the first of the heavy-jacket models. The bull stood quartering away slightly at just about 200 yards, and the bullet landed behind the near shoulder, breaking the far shoulder on the way out. All four legs instantly folded up, the bull dropping on his belly and staying there, ready for the hero photo. He was the biggest-bodied of the dozen caribou I’ve taken, as large as an average 5-point elk.

The .338’s second caribou, however, was taken three years later in Alaska at 300 yards with a 210-grain Nosler Partition, and ran over 50 yards before falling, despite being shot right behind the shoulders. That could be blamed on the “tougher” bullet, but the interior damage from the 210 matched the 200-grain Ballistic Tip.

A couple days earlier I’d taken my first moose, a mature bull with antlers spreading 58 inches, using the then-new 230-grain Winchester Fail Safe. The bullet landed in the center of the chest as the bull stood almost directly facing me at 100 yards. I’d heard from several people that the .338 was an excellent choice because moose often head for water when shot, yet the bull made it into a nearby salmon river, dying with only one antler tine above the surface.

Luckily it was a relatively small river, and with a rope tied to the guide’s jetboat, we pulled the moose downstream to shallower water, then spent five hours butchering from the top down, while being punctured by abundant mosquitoes. The bullet had performed very well, tearing a big hole through the bull’s chest before stopping against the pelvis, retaining 96% of its weight.

In Namibia the rifle killed an eland pretty well, despite the first bullet hitting a tiny thorn-branch and entering sideways just behind the bull’s shoulder, cutting a perfect silhouette of a 250-grain Nosler Partition. The bullet still did enough damage to make the eland stop within 100 yards, where it stood, head lowered. I put another Partition point-on through the lungs, whereupon the bull dropped.

But a few days later another 250 Partition landed too high on a blue wildebeest, thanks to my professional hunter. He was one of those PHs who believe their shoulder’s as steady as a pair of shooting sticks. This worked on the eland but not the wildebeest, because the PH took a breath just as I squeezed the trigger.

The wildebeest dropped, but immediately jumped up and started running directly away, whereupon I put another Partition between its hams. This did not slow the wildebeest down until half a mile later, when some interesting tracking in the fading light found it standing in a small patch of thornbush. The bull dropped to my third shot, but again jumped right back up. Luckily it stayed down after yet another shot.

Since then I’ve seen plenty of other wildebeest taken, including several by me. Most fell with one well-placed shot from cartridges ranging from the 7x57 and 7mm-08 to the 9.3x62 Mauser and .375 Ruger. None of those required tracking, but I’ve also seen wildebeest shot around the edges, all requiring considerable tracking, occasionally without results, sometimes with cartridges more powerful than the .338 Winchester Magnum. From this I’ve concluded that moderate “deer” cartridges work on wildebeest, but even pretty powerful medium-bores won’t drop them with incorrectly placed shots, even if the bullet lands close to where it should have.

Eventually it occurred to me the diameter of .338 bullets is only 3/100th of an inch larger than .308 bullets, which ain’t much. After experimenting a little with a Starrett digital micrometer, I found that wrapping a .30 caliber bullet in a single layer of stiff business card resulted in a diameter of just about .338 inch.

It also occurred to me that an expanding bullet’s initial diameter isn’t what kills big game. Instead it’s the “mushroomed” diameter, which punches a much larger hole. So I opened the over-sized tackle box containing my collection of recovered bullets from half a century of big game hunting, and took out all the .30s and .33s.

The bullets included a pretty comprehensive list: Barnes TSX; Hornady Interlock and Interbond; Norma Oryx; Federal Deep Shok; Nosler AccuBond, Ballistic Tip, E-Tip and Partition; Speer Hot-Cor; Swift A-Frame, and Winchester Fail Safe. I measured the width of each bullet’s mushroom at its widest point, then measured the next-greatest width, averaging the two measurements.

Since there’s only .03 inch difference in unexpanded .30 and .33 bullets, I didn’t expect the average difference in expanded bullets to be much larger, and it wasn’t, turning out to be just about exactly .05 inch. But the .30s averaged larger, not the .33s!

This seemed odd, so I looked closer at the results and discovered the reason: Two kinds of .30 caliber bullets expanded very widely, Hornady Interbonds and Norma Oryxes, all averaging over .7 inch across their mushrooms, while none of the others measured over .668.

None of the .33s were Interbonds or Oryxes, so I eliminated those two bullets from the .30 caliber results, then re-averaged the rest. However, this still came out slightly in favor of the .30s, .631 to .620. Obviously, results might be slightly different for other batches of recovered .30 and .33 caliber bullets, but my results indicate there’s no major difference in their expanded mushrooms.

Now, I’ve sometimes observed a difference in how larger-caliber bullets work on big game compared to .30s and .33s. In 2011 I went to Tanzania on an 18-day safari with several companions, as a “light” rifle using my CZ 9.3x62 with 286-grain Nosler Partitions, while my primary hunting companion used a .300 Winchester Magnum with 180-grain AccuBonds. We both shot the same variety of plains game, from impala and hartebeest to zebra and wildebeest. My companion was so impressed with how the 9.3x62 put game down that upon our return to the U.S. he bought a 9.3x62.

But was the difference due to bullet diameter, or bullet weight? Or even shot placement? I had plenty of confidence in the 286-grain Partition’s ability to penetrate bone, and the bullet broke at least one shoulder on the larger animals. My companion’s larger animals were shot through the lungs, without a shoulder being involved.

What I will say is that bullets wider and heavier than used in most .300 and .338 magnums do seem to hit harder and kill quicker—but only sometimes. I’ve witnessed plenty of occasions when they didn’t, the cartridges ranging from the 9.3x62 (and the 9.3 Barsness-Sisk wildcat, with similar ballistics) to various .375s including the Holland & Holland, Ruger and .378 Weatherby.

So I got out the recovered 9.3mm and .375 bullets. These weren’t as abundant as recovered .33 caliber bullets, though I’ve shot more big game with the 9.3x62 Mauser and .375 H&H combined than the .338. The lack of recovered bullets is probably due to the 9.3s and .375s weighing considerably more. The heaviest .338 bullets used have been 250s, with most weighing 200-230 grains. The lightest 9.3mm bullets weighed 250 grains, with many weighing 286 and one 300. The .375 bullets weighed 260, 270 and 300 grains.

The mushrooms of expanded 9.3mm bullets averaged just about exactly the same as expanded .338 bullets, .621 inch compared to .620 for the .338s. However, the sample of 9.3s was less than half the number of .338 bullets.

The mushrooms of .375 bullets did measure considerably larger than those of .338 and 9.3 bullets, averaging .669 inch. Still, that’s not a vast difference, and not much larger than the average of ALL .30 caliber bullets, .659 inch.

At this point I became curious about .270 and 7mm bullets. Did their expanded mushrooms also measure close to .33 caliber bullets? It turned out that 7mm mushrooms averaged .597 inch in diameter, not much smaller than the .620 of the .338s!

However, the .270s averaged .555 inch, considerably smaller. This seemed odd, since there’s only .007 inch difference in diameter between unexpanded .270 and 7mm bullets. But eliminating one extreme “outlier” from each caliber resulted in averages of .565 for the .270s and .585 for the 7mms. That’s pretty close, as we’d expect from such similar bullets, but apparently .270 and 7mm bullets do expand to less frontal area than .30s or .33s.

Bullets of at least .40 caliber also seem to hit harder than “medium bores” up to .375. I only have three recovered +.40 bullets in my collection, all .416s, a 300-grain Barnes X and a pair of 400-grain Partitions. Their mushrooms averaged .773 inch, so the unexpanded diameter did result in greater expansion, at least in this small sample.

After all this measuring, my educated guess is that with cartridges up to .375 caliber that most of us shoot at big game, bullet weight may have more to do with how “hard” a bullet impacts a big game animal than its diameter, either initial or expanded. Whether that extra weight kills them quicker is another question, though it should help them plow deeper on angling shots, resulting in a longer wound channel of slightly larger diameter.

Among the animals taken the first year with my .338 was an eating-size mule deer buck, shot with a 250-grain Nosler Partition at 50 yards as it walked angling away, about to disappear behind a small stand of quaking aspens. The bullet entered the rear of the ribs on the left side, exiting just inside the right shoulder, and from the state of the innards expanded nicely. Yet the buck never reacted to the shot, continuing to walk behind the aspens before emerging on the other side. I was about to shoot again when the buck stopped, gently laid down, and died. Which is just one of several examples of why I know—not guess—there isn’t any magic in .338 bullets.

Or indeed in bullets of most common calibers, whether “deer” cartridges or those usually used on 400-800 pound game. Instead the magic lies in where we place them, a sometimes neglected part of hunting physics. In fact placement is the primary reason big game animals fall quickly, especially when hit through bone, whether shoulders, spine or both.

Breaking heavy bone is a far more concrete example of physics than several hundredths of an inch in bullet diameter, whether expanded or unexpanded. Yet true believers in caliber often don’t differentiate between bone shots and bullets that only hit ribs, preferring to believe caliber made the difference when an animal flinches, or falls quickly. Since this is America, everybody’s entitled to an opinion (and even entitled to tell the rest of the world on Facebook), but that still doesn’t turn selective examples of one into real evidence.
I have a xerox copy of Barsness's article on the development of his 338-06, 'way back in the 80s. It has been interesting and instructive to note his continuing education and increasingly valuable observations over these years.

If one recognizes and judiciously applies what Barsness says here, the basic principles of hunting bullets and self defense issues are similar, and one can reasonably come to some conclusions on this matter, even though there may not be much one can do about it.

It may be observed that hunting is illegal in India and that it is unlikely that one will ever take a trip to Africa, or the USA, or wherever to go hunting for various reasons, probably related to finances. My response is that I will never go to Africa for any reason (again, because of finances). Nor am I likely to hunt in the USA anymore, although on this point, I'm not ready to say "never."

To the objection of "What's the point?" due to hunting being illegal in India, then, I reply that there are people who will never hunt in Africa, or wherever, but are still interested in reading about others doing so. I'll never be a WW2 aircraft pilot, nor will I ever command a battleship in combat, but I like reading about those subjects, too.

Perhaps someone else here is interested in the subject of this article, and I post it here for you.
"One constant about the elements of 1914 - as of any era - was the disposition of everyone on all sides not to prepare for the harder alternative, not to act upon what they suspected to be true"

Barbara Tuchman, "The Guns of August"

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Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

Post by Mayurdhwajsinh » Sun Aug 21, 2022 9:30 am

Thanks, very informative

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Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

Post by eljefe » Sun Aug 21, 2022 3:05 pm

Thanks, Timmy

Amongst cup and core, i would rate Nosler No1 for all game. They have found the fine balance between velocity, expansion and ‘Hydrostatic force’.

If people can live without non weatherby velocities, go Cast. A 10-12 BHN lubed cast projectile at 1800 fps can cause enough wound channel damage and expansion for pretty near instant bleed out. The 145gr RCBS ‘sillywet’ and the 135gr Lee in both the 7x57 and 7mm-08 are prime examples for me.
Our Woodleigh’s hydrostatic solids have demonstrated enough killing the world over to be in a Niche position.
I am a big fan of the 286 gr in the 9.3x62 and did choose the 9.3 over the .375 HH

The monometals do indeed tick all the boxes, pack a major wallop, give the classic Berger 5 petal performance etc- provided all manufacturers advice is met. They need a longer ‘jump’ to the leade. Berger recommends 50 thou, and perform they will!
I had first hand experience of watching a mate put a 162 gr C&C out of a 7mm RM at a fallow at 90m or so and the bullet must have screamed through it, deer kept walking, and collapsed about 20-30m away.
A few min later i put a 400 gr solid out of a .404 into another at 50 or so metres and instead of the Thor’s hammer response, a placid walk and collapse.

Lots of conjencture at what laws of physics were involved…

In direct contrast, a 135 gr Lee cast,at about 1700 fps from a 7mm-08 blew out about a 4” channel on a broadside heart shot and a DRT.
You guessed it. I pulled the 139gr Hornady’s and reloaded with the Lee 135 gr cast :)
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Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

Post by shooter50 » Sun Aug 21, 2022 9:47 pm

Well hunting Dangerous Game is a different cup of tea altogether. Taylor was undoubtedly one of the greatest Dangerous Game hunters and his book on African Rifles and Cartridges is a Bible of sorts. KO value is definitely a good indicator. Most African countries have a bare minimum of 375 H and H as legal for dangerous game.
There are two other equally important factors for stopping dangerous game.
    The first is bullet performance. A solid should penetrate and retain its shape and mass. A soft should mushroom but not disintegrate. Most modern bullets meet the above criteria but there was a time, when, soft nose bullets when driven to high velocity used to disintegrate on impact causing only a surface wound. Many hunters paid the ultimate price with the failure of such bullets. The most famous being the brother of Lord Grey the British Foreign Secretary. The brothers emptied two magazines from a 280 Ross firing a 150 grain bullet at 3000 fps on a charging lion in Kenya. The lion didn't stop. Lord Grey survived but his brother did not. Later it was found that the 280 soft nose bullets were simply disintegrating upon impact causing only a superficial wound. I observed a similar performance with 300 grain pointed RWS bullets (Very popular in India) for the 375 H and H while hunting in Africa.The bullets were too soft for the Nile Crocodile and did not penetrate enough, blowing up on impact.The original 300 grain soft nose loading at 2600 fps for the 404 J also had this problem giving the caliber a bad reputation initially. Even some FMJ s (Full Metal Jacket) have performed poorly when used on thick skin dangerous game like Elephant and Rhino. A classic example being the poor penetration of the old 347 grain FMJ for the 423 Mauser. The reason why the caliber did not find favour for thick skin Dangerous Game in Africa. Experience shows that the optimal velocity for proper penetration and expansion with modern bullets of caliber greater than 400 is around 2400 fps.
      Second important factor is bullet placement. An elephant or a lion will not stop in its charge if hit in a non vital area with even a 700 Nitro or a 50BMG. However the margin for error does reduce for a powerful caliber as compared to a light one.
      While hunting in Africa I got the soundest advice from my PH. Use the biggest caliber that you are comfortable with and can shoot accurately. For me it was a 375 H and H, my hunting partner carried a 450/400 NE double. The PH (Professional Hunter) has a different requirement. He has to cover up for bad shooting by his clients and needs more margin of error. My PH carried a 577NE, but he was comfortable with the recoil of this big caliber. Many PH carry less powerful guns because recoil bothers them. A 416 or a 500 is also a very popular caliber among the professional hunters. So there are different choices. It all boils down to personal preferences within the above minimum band.

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      Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

      Post by Jr. » Mon Aug 22, 2022 2:46 pm

      Very interesting findings and observations direct from practical life experience.
      I am fortunate to have some senior family friends who have each individually put down at least 10-15 Rogue Elephants.
      Most are now in their late 70's and mid 80's.
      Their is another family friend who has shot a 5-7 Rouge Elephants and a large number of Leopards.
      I have the fortune of having several family members who have hunted Wild Boars and different species of Deers in the hundreds.
      One even hunted Gharials (Crocodile/Alligator type of reptile).
      Those were the days, when their was abundance.
      Kindly note, I do not support poaching or any illegal activities, everyone must follow the law.
      Wildlife conservation is of vital importance.
      I will reserve the rights of not naming anybody, everyone has his/her right to privacy.
      However all what I narrate is from the 'Horses Mouth', as told to me.
      Everything is from their 1st had encounters and vast experience, these people were Masters of their Game,
      But chose to remain unknown as they never hunted Wild Game for money or fame.
      It was a very strong passion and respect for the sport.
      Animals were always killed with respect and not for fun or boasting rights.
      I am very privileged to have shared many a evenings with them over drinks.
      All of them have a great love for meat, fine whisky and most love their smoke (Cigarette/Cigar/Pipe).
      None of them have ever hunted under the influence of alcohol, in fact most refuse to even touch a Firearm after a drink.
      A hunter will know-smoking or carrying any sort of scent on you, other than the normal is a strict 'No'.
      It will alert the animal.
      In-fact once on a 'Machan', one does not even go for a piss and eating or unnecessary movement is completely restricted.
      Back to these Gentlemen -
      The look in their eyes and just their company is something else.
      They will almost immediately command your respect and appreciation.
      Sir, it is like being in a company of a Rock Star (I wont know as I have never met one, just a figure of speech).
      While some may take them as the reason for todays decline in wild-life but this is not true.
      When hunting was banned in India,
      These Gentlemen who were all from respected families and in good terms with the administration completely stopped venturing into the forests.
      They used high grade rifles all with heavy Calibers.
      Some had the means of owning custom made Rifles (Mostly Doubles).
      Once these hunters stopped hunting owing to the ban, they were replaced by poachers.
      The poachers replaced ethical hunters in a ratio which is unbelievable.
      They used crude and cruel methods to kill wild animals for purely money.
      The Guns were mostly home made and always underpowered for a kill.
      The hunters in the old days were like keepers of the forest.
      Their presence was a complete deterrent for any sort of poaching.
      Though the forest land belonged to the Government but each hunter was like a guardian for his area of the forest.
      Generally they never trespassed into another hunters area/territory, this was controlled by the Government Officials.
      If one would want to hunt in another state, he would liaison with the local officials.
      It was not that one could just pick up his gun and go hunting. Things were pretty organized.
      Territories were demarcated.
      I am discussing about people who hunted regularly for sport or meat.
      Their was no restriction on individuals who occasionally wanted to hunt, but were not really hunters in the broader sense.
      I know of individuals who never purchased meat from the market but only ate what they hunted.
      They would stock meat and if for some reason their was no wild meat available, they never ate domesticated animals/birds.
      They only ate what they personally shot and some never shot what they did not eat.
      A shot was taken only when the hunter was sure that the animal could be recovered.
      A shot was never taken, when in doubt, injury leading to later death or crippling the animal was never the intent.
      However a hunt is very unpredictable as even though one may be sitting on a bait,
      It is difficult to assume from where the animal will enter and what type of a shot would present itself.
      Over hunting was never done. A hunter along with the officials always made sure their was plenty of Game available.
      Exceptions will always be their. I am addressing in general.
      I am told Deers were like Rabbits, if you ventured into the forest (areas known by hunters),
      The Spot-Light (Powerful lights plugged into the car battery for hunting) would catch them unaware in the hundreds.
      They overflowed the forest, as was the case with Wild Boars.
      Each Game has a very different thrill to it.
      Hunting Deer (each different specie) Wild Boar, Duck, Rooster, Greener (sort of wild pigeon), Rabbit, Gaur, Leopard etc.
      Each is a very-very different experience.
      Every hunter has his preference.
      The forests in India ran very thick and deep so it was not like hunting in a plain and telescopes were almost never used.
      Mostly everything was shot inside of 50 Yards. This obviously does not apply to Birds.
      Again a Wild Boar in MP would be very different from one in WB or HP etc.
      Their is a difference in the meat (flavor and texture) and they are even different in toughness.
      A wild animal will always be peculiar to an area, reason being the local weather conditions and type of food available.
      Some are tougher than others, an experienced hunter could always differentiate.
      The difference are subtle, but it is their.
      It is not as if a Leopard of a particular area will behave like a Tiger in a different geographical area.
      But a particular specie from two different areas shot at the same spot on the body (head and maybe the heart is an exception),
      May react differently. The difference will be marginal, but it will be there.

      Now coming back to the topic.
      timmy, eljefe and shooter50 have covered the topic with great detail and accuracy.
      Hunting Big Game (Elepephant,Gaur etc.) is very different.
      These don't go down easy.
      Hunters who would use a Double in .416 Rigby for Tigers would use a Double in .600 Nitro for Gaur.
      A head shot in an Elephant would never guarantee that the pachyderm would go down instantly.
      The angle at which the Cartridge enters is very important.
      It would be completely unfair to compare an Elephant hunt with a Rabbit hunt.
      But let me go down, to taking two extremes.
      If one doesn't hit a Rabbit (with a .22LR) on the upper half of the body (chest and up),
      The Rabbit will not stop. A gut shot in all probability will lead to loss in retrieval.
      Off course a 30.06 will stop him irrespective, but then how can you call that hunting.
      Depends on what one is hunting also keeping distance in mind a solid or soft nose can be selected.
      All the ex-hunters in India, I know of, who have hunted Big Game have always hunted with a back-up.
      The back-up was always a close friend.
      They had spent a lot of time together and completely understood each-other.
      It is something like an understanding between a mid-fielder/feeder and a striker, in Football.
      I will narrate in short of two such individuals A & B who hunted Rouge Elephants.
      A carried a Double in 450/400 3" Joseph Lang. B (the back-up) carried a BSA Bolt Action .458 Winchester Magnum.
      B had never had to use his Gun to down the Elephant.
      If he did use it, it would be to end the Elephant with a follow up to the head, all inside of 15-25 Yards.
      During those days technology was not so advanced and options were limited, for hunters in India.
      Ballistic knowledge as compared to today was poor and only source of information was personal interaction.
      Knowledge was limited, sometimes this was a boon, this is how they interpreted it.
      They trusted themselves first and then the Gun.
      If one spoke to them in their hunting days they probably would not know much about Energy and Velocity in a Cartridge.
      May seem very odd today but this is what it was in reality.
      They understood Caliber and the Rifle brand. They had complete knowledge on the Gun which was required for the job.
      Another Gentleman very effectively used a Bolt Action .375 H&H Magnum against Rouge Elephants.
      Guns to them was like an extension of their limb. The moment they held their personal Gun it became a living part of them.
      Another one occasionally used his 12 Bore to hunt Leopards.
      Imagine using a Gun with an effective killing range of 30 Yards, for a Leopard.
      Kindly do not take 30 Yards in a very strict sense but I assume you understand what I am trying to covey.
      He hunted them only in the night, though not always with his 12 Bore.
      On One occasion he came back late at night to his bungalow and was informed by the servants that a Leopard is roaming in the vicinity.
      He took out his 12 Bore & Torch Light and came back with the dead Leopard, all within an hour or so.
      These people are Legends in my book.
      The stories are endless but all cannot be penned down.
      The Gun is important but it is the Man behind the Gun which is most important.
      This is most true when it comes to close encounters with Big and Dangerous Game.
      Off course one cannot hunt with Cartridges which cause superficial wounds and disintegrate within a few inches of entering the intended animal.
      For Big Animals their is nothing called 'Enough Gun',
      But recoil, convenience/habit of use, are of prime importance.
      This again does not mean that one takes a 30.06 to shoot an Elephant
      (though maybe practically possible, but one would have to be lucky and a fool).
      Their is a minimum Caliber required to put down an animal ethically,
      One can go over that, to a limit which is practical and comfortable.

      Regards,
      Jr.

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      Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

      Post by eljefe » Mon Aug 22, 2022 5:41 pm

      Shooter 50
      Very astute observations.
      The 235 gr out of the .375 has been the most effective killer in my limited experience. Long before monometals became popular or available.

      Someone I know here routinely puts down 100 -200 pigs a day. Because they are crop raiders and can destroy a whole seasons Moong or corn worth millions.
      Same bloke shot a NT buffalo (some experienced hunters who have hunted the Cape and these buffalo, rate them equal) in the chest and recovered the woodleigh’s hydrostatic solid at the tail. Out of a 9.3x62.
      This man owns dozens of guns and with his kind of field experience, i have no reason to disbelieve him.
      He used to have a youtube channel - fatboy404. Look him up.

      I used a hired Brno .458 with 510 gr solids on a cape buff. 30m, shoulder shot. The factory load broke both shoulders as planned. He was down with a thump and only needed a finisher behind the ear. Very anticlimactic.
      Cant ask more from a $30-40 / day hired gun.
      ''It dont mean a thing, if it aint got that zing!''

      "...Oh but if I went 'round sayin' I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away..."

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      Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

      Post by shooter50 » Tue Aug 23, 2022 12:21 pm

      Thank you El. Recoil bothers me and anything above a 375 HandH is not my cup of tea though I can go a step up and manage the 404J, 416 Rigby and the 425WR (which I also possess😊). Jr made an interesting and true observation. Hunting dangerous game alone is a very difficult and dangerous proposition. Even the best of hunters prefer a hunting partner for a backup shot. You never know when you may need one. A successful dangerous game hunt may appear on Youtube like a video game in the sense you aim, squeeze the trigger and the animal falls. But in many cases the animal does not fall and charges at you. Then it is a game of life and death. Whose death depends on your rifle and shooting. In Africa now you have a PH to back you up always, but when dangerous game is wounded and has to be followed up and finished even the professional hunters take a backup.
      The 458 Win is a great caliber. I think it was bad propellent powder in the initial years which gave it a poor reputation in Africa(Initially)
      All this is soon going to be history in Africa as well. Another 25 years at best. It is already history in India.
      😊🙏

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      Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

      Post by Jr. » Tue Aug 23, 2022 6:14 pm

      Would like to discuss recoil a bit in detail, without intending any offence.
      Each individual is different and has his own point of view.
      If his view was not right for him, he would not have it.
      Hence difficult to argue.
      I have spoken to a number of Hunters on the subject of Recoil.
      Do keep in mind my discussion is on Heavy Calibers only.
      In my last post on this topic, I had mentioned 'A' & 'B'.
      'A' was (he passed away 6-7 years a-go) 5'7" tall and was an average Indian built.
      Nothing about his physical appearance could tell you that he was an Licensed Rogue Elephant Hunter.
      Only maybe his eyes would talk.
      For those who may not know- Rogue Elephant are generally loners, who have been expelled from the Herd.
      They are mostly Males and grow on to become extremely destructive and dangerous to humans.
      They regularly trespass into areas with human settlement/population.
      They cause damage to property and are responsible for taking human lives.
      These Elephants are much-much more aggressive towards humans as compared to normal wild Elephants.
      Rogues do not hesitate to take a human life and are dangerously cunning.
      They understand human behavior much more than the normal wild Elephants.
      I have 1st hand experience with Rogues.
      Back to 'B' he is barely 5'4" and was also Licensed to shoot Rogue Elephants.
      Again an average Indian built.
      Their physical description will give you an clear picture,
      That none had any physical advantage for shooting High Caliber Rifles.
      In-fact, I would say they had an handicap (not literary but you understand what I am trying to convey).
      Both these Gentleman could shoot their Rifles with the greatest of ease.
      Their are several other real life examples, narrating which would make this post unnecessarily long.
      All these Gentlemen never complained of Recoil.
      When questioned on the subject they were indifferent.
      I guarantee you, they have all fired at-least a couple of 1000 Rounds through their Rifles.
      In-fact they use to regularly send their Guns to England for maintenance and repairs.
      Such was the extent of use.
      I know of a Gentleman who hunted Wild Boar with a Double in .470 Nitro Express.
      An huge Overkill, if you ask me, but he loved that Gun.
      I personally cannot justify being insensitive to recoil.
      I can clearly feel the difference between two different loads both in High Caliber and 12 Bores.
      My interaction with these Hunters and personal experience has come to the under-noted conclusion.
      I may be wrong.
      These Gentlemen did not practice shooting much at the range or at paper targets.
      Maybe in the initial years they did a little, but with time target practice was almost nill.
      Their is a vast difference in shooting targets and hunting Game.
      The thrill and intensity of the hunt was so much that they never recollect the Recoil, especially after a long successful hunt.
      Some of them complained of a severe headache immediately after the kill.
      This again, I think was the result of the long (5-7 hours, sometimes days) hunt and had little to do with Recoil or the Loud Bang.
      The thundering Bang (of a discharge) was always preceded with dead silence.
      Dead Silence -The period when the hunter and prey came into contact, not necessarily visual contact, sound would be enough.
      Sometimes even sound was not necessary the Hunter and Hunted sensed each other hours before the kill.
      A prey which is being hunted at close range is aware of the hunters presence.
      This is common in both Dangerous and Big Game.
      An animal as large as an Elephant or Gaur is capable of perfect camouflage.
      Only a movement from the animal, would give them up in the thicket.
      Tigers and Leopards are masters at stealth.
      Both can climb trees but only a Leopard attacks from a tree,
      Tigers can attack on a tree but not from a tree (again an extreme exception may be their).
      In the old days Beaters were commonly used for hunting could be another reason for insensitivity to Recoil.
      Their presence, the sound etc. may be a factor, difficult to say.
      To sum-up
      Recoil was definitely present as was Ballistics,
      But maybe the Hunters of the past were a little less sensitive or ignorant to it.
      We do not have 'Tuskers' as were present in the past, probably the Hunter has also evolved with time and technology.

      Regards,
      Jr.

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      Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

      Post by eljefe » Tue Aug 23, 2022 7:45 pm

      Talking of recoil, the Pom doubles ‘push’ rather than the thump of a bolt.
      Die the lack of a better term, i was, in my wild and woolly days, a ‘recoil b**ch’ loved the thump of a hammer BPE .577 BPE.
      470 doubles were a bonus.
      But the evilest caliber i used,and refused to shoot anymore was the .378 weatherby.

      The president of my local club owned a CZ .416 which he used to hot load. Most weeks he got it - to share 15-20 rounds with me. Each.
      3 months later, i had a cataract and a frozen R shoulder which took 3 years to recover.
      Thats why the step down to 9.3x62 and then moved upto the .404

      If i cant get it with the .404 -400 gr woodleighs and 84 gr of 2209(4350) , I am not gunna hunt it.
      ''It dont mean a thing, if it aint got that zing!''

      "...Oh but if I went 'round sayin' I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away..."

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      Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

      Post by Jr. » Wed Aug 24, 2022 12:09 pm

      eljefe wrote:
      Tue Aug 23, 2022 7:45 pm
      Talking of recoil, the Pom doubles ‘push’ rather than the thump of a bolt.
      Hi eljefe,
      A very valid observation, something I overlooked in my post, if you hadn't brought it to my attention.
      This is absolutely true,
      A Double and a Bolt Action in the same Caliber, lets take a .416 Rigby as an example,
      Will definitely have two different types of Recoil.
      It is in the way the two Guns are constructed, very different from each other.
      The Double will 'Push' and the Bolt will 'Bite'.
      The up-ward movement of the Barrel after having Fired a Shot will be smoother and balanced, in a Double.
      This is due to the weight of the Doubles.
      Doubles obviously have very heavy Barrels as compared to a Bolt Action.
      Whereas in a Bolt Action it will be more like a jerk.
      The broader Forend in a Double as compared to a Bolt Action, is also a contributing factor.
      Smoother and easier grip.
      Today many Hand-Gun manufacturers are adding weight to the Barrel, for better balance,
      This definitely smoothens the Recoil.


      Regards,
      Jr.

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      Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

      Post by shooter50 » Thu Sep 15, 2022 10:18 pm

      "Anybody who says recoil does not bother him is either a Liar or a Rhinoceros" so said a famous African hunter and I totally agree. A couple of drinks and most men become Rhinos😂.
      While it is true that, when firing at dangerous game, the adrenaline pump prevents you from feeling the recoil at that moment, your ability to handle recoil determines how well you shoot.
      Recoil is a function of the velocity of the bullet, the bullet weight, and the weight of the rifle. That is simple physics. However felt recoil is different. Felt recoil depends on your shooting technique, the type of powder burn (The pressure peak) fit of the rifle and the rifle weight assuming it to be a variable for a given cartridge.
      Interesting points (Mostly anecdotal) about recoil in a double rifle have been mentioned. The "thump" of a Bolt Action vs the "push "of the Double. Based purely on my own limited experience of shooting big bores and gun physics here are some observations.

      * It is difficult to compare the felt recoil between same cartridges in a double and a bolt action as the cartridges are not interchangeable except in some bespoke or custom made rifles. The bolt action is a stronger action and hence able to take much higher cartridge pressure. Double Rifle cartridges operate on a much lower chamber pressure.Hence the difference in felt recoil in cartridges of comparable ENERGY. The thump vs the push. I doubt if there would be any difference in felt recoil if the same cartridge is fired in rifles of perfect fit and EQUAL WEIGHT for either a double or a bolt action.

      * For a cartridge of comparable energy (Say around 5000 ft-lbs) the double is usually heavier than the bolt action. Has more weight in the front because of the two barrels therefore easier to get on target for the second shot and fires a low pressure cartridge so the FELT recoil is lower. From my own experience a 458 Lott ,500 grains at 2150 fps kicks harder than a 470 Nitro firing the same bullet at the same velocity. This because of lighter weight of the bolt action and the higher pressure of the Lott cartridge.

      * The fit of the gun is very important. I shoot left handed, shooting a 470 Nitro belonging to a friend in Africa almost dislocated my nose because the stock had a cast off for the right handed shooter while i needed a negative cast off being left handed!

      *Something which is always overlooked is the weight of the gun. The lighter the rifle more the recoil. I had a colleague with one of those featherlight 3006 weighing about 6 pounds. That rifle was horrendous to shoot, i felt that it kicked more than my 375 H and H. The recoil eventually gave the owner a horrible flinch.

      * Good shooting with big bore rifles requires technique and practice. The bigger the recoil less the practice. For all big bore shooters there is a recoil threshold beyond which the shooter does not feel comfortable. Many shooters claiming immunity from recoil usually reveal a bad flinch :D . For me the threshold is a 375 H and H. Many professional Hunters use a 577 NE, or even 600 NE while some others use 505 Gibbs or a 500 NE. There are many other options possible. My rifle (375 H and H) with the scope tops at a little over 10 lbs and is very pleasant to shoot. If I cannot followthrough the shot then the recoil is too much for me. The 404 Jeff is much like the 375 with a little more recoil, the 425 and 416 kick appreciably more. Among the doubles(That I have used) the 450 NE is more pleasant to shoot than the 465 or the 470 though they all produce around the same Energy. The 458 Lott with full loads is positively unpleasant (for me at least) to shoot.
      Here is a good article on managing recoil of big bores.
      https://www.americanrifleman.org/conten ... -big-guns/
      Last edited by shooter50 on Fri Sep 16, 2022 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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      Re: OPINIONS OF KILLING POWER

      Post by timmy » Fri Sep 16, 2022 12:11 am

      shooter50 wrote:
      Thu Sep 15, 2022 10:18 pm
      Based purely on my own limited experience of shooting big bores and gun physics here are some observations.
      Excellent observations -- thanks for sharing them!

      Also, thanks for the American Rifleman link. The statement
      One of the most important things to keep in mind right up front is to forget all that silly machismo stuff.
      is so true, as well.

      I once read about Dan Gurney, the famous auto racer, driving a Ferrari at over 170 MPH across Death Valley in the Cannonball Baker cross country race. I have never driven that fast, and frankly, I don't think that my slow reaction times would permit it safely. Some people can do things that I can't -- there's no shame in that, it's just the way it is with all of us.

      I use the PAST shooting pad for 7.62 x 54r. Why not? I'm often shooting from the bench, and as the article points out, the bench is almost as bad as shooting prone.

      My big bore shooting is limited. I used to have a Marlin 1895 in 45-70. It was a pleasure to carry, but a bear to shoot with my reloads. A 6 - 6.5 pound gun shooting a 400 gr bullet at 1700 f/s was something that got my attention!

      As you say, stock ergonomics plays a big role. I understand that, when I start shooting my Martini Henry, it will also get my attention!

      Experimenting with and knowing what one's limits are is pretty important here, as well as judging guns and cartridges. For example, shooting little 38 Special snubbies, especially with +P loads, is something that I find "snappy" like most do -- but a 1911 is pretty comfortable. But that's just for me -- others may have different impressions.

      Thanks for sharing your great observations -- I'll never get to shoot those famous guns and cartridges you mention.
      "One constant about the elements of 1914 - as of any era - was the disposition of everyone on all sides not to prepare for the harder alternative, not to act upon what they suspected to be true"

      Barbara Tuchman, "The Guns of August"

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