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Big Bore Upgrade: Should You Hunt Dangerous Game with an AR-15?

by Dick Metcalf   |  August 26th, 2013 38

It’s no longer news to anybody that during the past decade the AR-15 platform has become a mainstream American hunting rifle. But while deer hunters, predator hunters and varmint shooters have taken to the AR platform by the tens of thousands, you’ll still get raised eyebrows if you start talking about an AR-15 as a dangerous-game rifle. After all, it was designed for the puny .223/5.56mm, right? And while it may be just fine if adapted to more effective deer cartridges such as the 6.8mm SPC or .30 Remington AR, it’s certainly not suited for the type of heavy-hitting cartridge you’d take into the thickets after a wounded bear or sharp-tusked boar, right?

Think again. When chambered for bigbore thumpers such as the .450 Bushmaster, .458 SOCOM or .50 Beowulf, the AR-15 is as effective a dangerous game-stalking tool as any other rifle ever devised. In such situations, there’s a lot to be said for having a full magazine of instant-follow-up semi-auto heavy-bullet shots at your disposal. Been there, done that. Let’s take a quick look at what these big-boy AR cartridges have to offer.

.450 BUSHMASTER
The straight-taper .450 Bushmaster cartridge was originally developed as the .45 Professional by Tim LeGendre of LeMag Firearms and is now licensed to Bushmaster Firearms under the .450 Bushmaster name. LeGendre designed the load to be used in the standard AR-15 platform, using modified standard AR-15 magazine dimensions with modified single-stack followers and slightly altered upper receiver/bolt assemblies. The overall cartridge matches the .223 Remington at 2.250-inch length. The .450 Bushmaster upper receivers readily interchange with standard AR-15 lower receivers, so with a simple receiver swap a shooter can handle a prairie dog filed in Wyoming or the bear thickets of Alaska. And thanks to the AR-15’s gas system, recoil is much more of a push than the shoulder slap the same cartridge delivers in a bolt-action rifle.

LeGendre came to the basic idea from the “Thumper” concept first espoused by the legendary Col. Jeff Cooper, who had envisioned a .44- or .45-caliber cartridge in a semiautomatic rifle that could provide one-shot kills on big-game animals out to 250 yards. At the time he was writing, Col. Cooper was not an AR-15 fan, as it was then limited to .223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO cartridges. I’d imagine he’d feel differently if he’d lived to see this one in action.

Original .450 Bushmaster commercial ammo development was done by Hornady at Bushmaster’s solicitation, and in the process the length of the .450 Bushmaster case was standardized at 1.700 inches instead of the 1.771-inch length of the .45 Professional in order to accommodate Hornady’s 250-grain pointed SST-ML Flex-Tip bullet. The resultant Hornady load develops 2,200 fps velocity and 2,686 ft-lbs muzzle energy from a 20-inch barrel. Commercial .450 Bushmaster ammo is now also available from Remington. Ballistically, the cartridge’s trajectory is remarkably flat out to 200 yards. When zeroed at 150 yards, trajectory rise is approximately 1.75 inches at 100 yards, with only a 21/2-inch drop at 200 yards. It is also remarkably accurate, thanks to the free-float barrel/handguard system used on production-grade .450 Bushmaster rifles.

I’ve hunted European boar in the thickets of South Carolina with the Hornady .450 Bushmaster load and dropped a massive 375-pounder at 25 yards with a single full-penetrating chest shot. The bullet crashed through the heavy cartilage shield of both shoulders, and he collapsed in his tracks. Thumper, indeed.

.458 SOCOM
Although not yet widely known outside the community of AR enthusiasts, the .458 SOCOM has actually been around for about a dozen years. It was originally developed by Maarten ter Weeme of Teppo Jutsu as a response to the same desire for more power that gave rise to Col. Cooper’s Thumper notion. And like Tim LeGendre, Ter Weeme created a bigbore AR-15 cartridge that functions in existing unaltered AR-15 .223 magazine bodies, requires zero modification to standard-production AR-15 lower receivers and needs only minimal modification to the uppers.

Based on an uncut preproduction form of the rebated .50 Action Express parent case, the .458 SOCOM is bottlenecked to .458 caliber, unlike the straight-taper .450 Bushmaster. This because of ter Weeme’s view that bottleneck cases generally feed more reliably in self-loading firearms than do straight-wall cases. The .458 SOCOM is standardized at 40mm (1.575 inch) length and allows a Barnes 300-grain X-Bullet spitzer to be seated to function in a standard .223 magazine. The case diameter fills the magazine completely, so it works as a single stack with a standard .223 follower—three rounds in a 10-round .223 magazine, seven in a 20-round magazine and 10 in a 30-rounder.

The case has a rebated-rim diameter at standard .308 Winchester dimensions to allow more strength in the AR bolt face, making it more adaptable to existing .308-caliber AR bolt designs and to make the cartridge applicable to custom bolt-action manufacture. Depending on load, the resulting round can launch a 300-grain bullet at about 2,000 fps from a 16-inch carbine barrel at relatively low (35,000 psi) pressure. In terminal performance, the .458 SOCOM is roughly the same as the higher-pressure straightwall .45-caliber .460 S&W Magnum with similar bullet weights.

Commercial .458 SOCOM ammunition is currently available at a variety of specialty ammo makers in bullet weights ranging from 300-grain JHP to 500-grain hardcast loads.

I’ve used Rock River Arms LAR-458 on Texas boar and have been very impressed with it. My 300-grain JHP handload averaged 11/2 inches at 100 yards for five-shot groups (at 1,989 fps), and I was surprised how comfortable and controllable it was, even when practicing rapid fire. Set up in cover 88 ranged yards from a feeder placed to bait feral hogs that were overwhelming a frustrated rancher, the shoulder shot that took my 250-pound boar slammed him to the ground so quickly that I actually thought I’d missed when I blinked from the shot and saw the big sow that had been standing directly behind him running away. I can’t imagine a much better full-magazine load to have in an AR-15 if I were in a thicket face-to-face with an angry, wounded animal.

.50 BEOWULF
At the biggest end of the bigbore AR-15 scale, the .50 Beowulf was likewise developed by Alexander Arms for use in a slightly modified upper receiver and standard-dimension magazine well. Like the .458 SOCOM, the .50 Beowulf was developed from the .50 Action Express parent case and employs a rebated rim, sized to match the 7.62x39mm and 6.5mm Grendel rounds (another Alexander Arms invention). The case body is similar in dimensions to the .500 S&W Magnum revolver cartridge, but is slightly longer. Unlike the .458 SOCOM, it is not bottlenecked but is tapered for smooth feeding.

Typical commercial-load bullet weights (with Alexander Arms ammunition) are between 300 and 400 grains. Load pressures are within the 33,000 psi limits of the AR-15 bolt system. Its ballistics are essentially the same as a standard .45-70 Government (itself no slouch as a bear or boar load), generating 2,010 fps and 2,916 ft-lbs with a Speer 325-grain HP. That’s notably more than a 440-grain .500 Magnum load. And with hard, nondeforming bullets, its penetration is impressive. The heavy .50-caliber bullets are not easily deflected, and monolithic solids will penetrate quarter-inch standard steel plate at 25 yards. And it still doesn’t kick much more than a carbine-weight .308 bolt gun.

Anyone who still thinks the AR-15 is merely a “poodle-shooter” owes it to himself to take the the time to try one of these thumpers.

Power plus precision: The author's pet handload for this LAR-458 punched this very impressive 100-yard cluster.

 

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  • JiminGA

    What about Dynamic Research Technology’s (DRT) .223 round that creates a wound cavity the size of a softball after penetration. Sure, it won’t stop a bear but it will take down a deer or a hog.

  • d s

    You say I should try one of these thumpers. Where in the world would I find one of these thumpers to try. You must think these things are growing on trees. No one on this planet is going to give me one to try for crying out loud. Get real.

  • Fitch

    It takes more than a cartridge to make a dangerous game rifle. It takes reliability. The AR15 has more parts and complexity than required to stop a charging cape buffalo. It’s a fact that Parts and complexity are the enemy of reliability. The double rifle is still the dangerous game rifle of choice when you have a few seconds to make the shots count.

    • lou

      I agree Fitch. I call them BTN’s “better than nothing” Rule #1 “hit what you are aiming at”

  • petru sova

    I think this article shows how little if anything gun writers know about hunting and if this is not true then its just a plan sell new cartridges.
    Since 1900 Agnes Herbert proved equivocally that it was not bullet diameter that killed but penetration and bullet placement. She had no trouble killing the most ferocious beasts on 3 continents with nothing more than the 6.5 Mannlicher cartridge.
    If anything these new bigger bore cartridges are largely an anemic joke as their low velocity means very low penetration due to the large diameter of the projectile. The .223 with long heavy bullets such as the 60 grain, 75 grain and 80 grain has superior penetration to all of them. A stoutly constructed hunting bullet in .223 will easily kill big game. Even the original 55 grain slugs in soft point have enabled more than one of my colleagues to kill white tail deer weighing as much as 180 pounds at ranges up to 300 yards with ease. This is real hunting results from real people who have used the .223 for years on game.
    The .228 Savage cartridge was used in the early 1900′s with an 80 grain bullet and it was used to kill Grizzly bears with no problem, something the people that have been beating the big bore drums for years have done everything to cover up.
    So if you want to limit your shots to 50 yards or so then get the “Latest and Greatest” AR big bore cartridge or you could take 300 yard shots with the standard .223 and have no problems at all.

    • HankBiner

      Alright, I got my 55 grain Nosler BT’s ready for a brown bear hunt; 50 grain BTs for grizzly, and I’ll save the 60 grain partitions for cape buffalo. Thanks for the tip, lol.

      Agnes Herbert? BTW, any relation to Elmer Keith?

      • petru sova

        By the way your reference to Agnes Herbert being related to Keith is like comparing Shakespeare (Herbert) to Jethro Bodine (Keith). Keith’s articles had to be completely rewritten by his editor before they became anywhere near intelligible (LOL). I think you would need a dictionary in your right hand to even attempt to understand what Herbert wrote about. If you think I am joking read “Casuals in the Caucasus”. She had something Keith lacked, a superior education and complete mastery of the English language

        • HankBiner

          I’m a fan of Jethro Bodine. He and Milburn Drysale made the Beverly Hillbillies what it was, and probably would have failed without them.

      • petru sova

        You read but do no comprehend, LOL. The Savage .228 and the 6.5MS used long heavy bullets for maximum penetration. Stone dead grizzly bears and elephants proved that bullet placement and penetration killed and bullet diameter was irrelevant. As a matter of fact many old time African hunters were killed because they used big bore rifles that did not have sufficient penetration. The German calibers were notorious for this, but it was the English calibers that eventually got it right but not before there were a lot of dead African elephant hunters. The books written about them at that time have many examples of this.

        Poor African white farmers used surplus military rifles in .303, 8mm, 7mm and 6.5mm. These are the calibers that wiped out most of the dangerous game in Africa.

        Several years ago there appeared on cable TV a documentary on African elephant culling. The caliber used was the .308 with military 150 grain fmj bullets. Every one of the many elephants shot dropped stone dead without taking a step. So much for the need for gigantic big bore calibers. The big bore boys that have been beating the big bore drums for years ran and hid under their beds when they saw that TV program, as they were to red faced to face the music of real truth.

        • HankBiner

          It seems just about every book on the planet on early African hunting relates the countless deaths that non-expanding bullets in calibers like the 280 Ross caused. You need both penetration and expansion, and of course, sufficient power. Why do you think most African countries outlaw calibers under .40 for the BIG Five – or at least require a .375? They don’t want the wounded animals escaping and causing deaths later.

          I’m afraid you’re not going to get a whole lot of takers. Elmer Keith was the father of the 44 magnum (not his editor) and a cowboy by trade, not an English teacher. If you don’t like him, there is no shortage of other competent gun writers, though the new cohort seems more bent on telemarketing than gun writing due to the necessity of new business models.The days of Ross Seyfried, Layne Simpson and Terry Wieland are passing.

          • petru sova

            Once again you have it all wrong. The notorious case of a .280 caliber being used that resulted in death by a charging lion was due to a poorly placed shot and some conjecture that the bullet was an expanding bullet that blew up. Something that still happens to this very day. The small calibers that were actually used by most hunters of the era were actually small calibers with full metal jacketed bullets, usually military surplus ammo. W.D.M. Bell stated when using his 6.5mm and 7x57mm that he never polluted the barrels of his rifles with expanding bullets as they could never be relied on to work all of the time, something that is still true to this very day despite all the technological advancements of this era.

            Elmer Keith did not invent the .44 magnum he only suggested to Smith & Wesson he wanted a caliber with more velocity than the .44 special. Smith & Wesson then contacted the Remington Arms Co. who’s engineers at their ammunition facility did the research and development that resulted in the .44 magnum cartridge being brought to market. He was also a front man for two gunsmiths that gave him free guns and ammunition so he would promote their custom guns and wildcat calibers that were no more effective than what was currently available. Of course Keith was quick to try and take credit for all of their creations. If Keith had shot even 1/10 of the wild game with all these wild cat calibers he would have had to have hunted 365 days a year for 100 years to accomplish such feats of Nimrodship.

            As far as your mentioning contemporary gun writers they do not hold a candle to the really great gun writers of the 1930′s and 40′s, 50′s like Jack O’Connor, Nash Buckingham, Ted Trueblood, Warren Page, Charles Askins, Robert Ruark, just to name a few. You seem to be part of the younger generation who has never had the pleasure of reading the works of “real” gun writers that actually lived the life they wrote about.

            As far as your reference to laws in Africa, government bureaucrats make laws, not experienced hunters. One case closer to home was when the great gunsmith P.O. Ackley proved the most deadliest caliber ever invented on deer was the .220 Swift, which he graphically documented with live shooting of 650lb feral mules raised for work in the Mines, in front of a dozen witness when compared to larger slower moving calibers. He also shot through 1/2 inch armored plate with the .220 Swifts.48 grain soft point bullet when the 30-06 armor piercing round with a steel penetrator core failed the same test. Of course this is all old news but news that has been forgotten by the younger generation.

          • HankBiner

            I can’t go into all this stuff, but O’Connor was one of my favorite writers too. You might want to read his chapter on the 375 H&H. Still, my favorites are Ross Seyfried and Bob Hagel. And of course, Elmer Keith. Not too sure about the 600 yard shot he made on the mule deer with his Model 29 though. But if Elmer says he did it, that’s good enough for me.

            I have PO Ackley’s original 2 volume manual and read that chapter on the killing power of the 220 Swift and the various 17 hyper-velocity calibers several times. I’ve had two, 220 Swifts, and though I love them, most of what’s in Ackley’s chapter is sheer rubbish. Particularly, the picture of the dead bear sprawled out after being hit by the 17 Ackley. I’m sure it happened, but then an elephant was killed by a .22 rimfire too. P.O. theorizes the extraordinary killing power of these 25 grain pills must be due to their very high rotational velocities.

            I calculated the moments of inertia for various bullets, twists and velocities, and the rotational kinetic energy amounted to no more than about 1% of linear kinetic energy. It was years ago and I don’t remember the exact numbers but it was somewhere around there. Thus there was no additional killing power attributable to the high rotational velocity of the mini-calibers.,

            When you’re doing penetration tests, there are a couple of key things to keep in mind. The first is that the penetration of targets that are very much harder then the bullet itself will be dependent primarily on the impinging kinetic energy per unit area . As long as the bullet is significantly softer than it’s target there really is little difference between any 2 bullets such as a solid and a soft point. Since both are made of copper, zinc and/or lead, they are significantly softer than their target, Therefore a sold intended for an elephant wouldn’t have much different penetration than a varmint bullet if the target were any type of steel plate.

            For example, a 458 Winchester Magnum solid will have similar penetration to a 222 Remington 50 grain varmint bullet because both will strike the target with about 30,500 ft.lbs. of kinetic energy per square inch.

            But if the target was an elephant, the penetration of the 500 grain solid from the 458 Win Mag would be far greater than the 222 Remington. I have performed this experiment with many calibers, not on elephants of course, but on various types of steel, wood and wet phone books.

            Now the 30 06 has 1.89 times the frontal area of the Swift’s .224 bullet. At typical muzzle velocities, the the Swift will impact a hit a target up close with 47,600 ft.lbs of energy per sq. in. while the 30-06 will only have about 40,300 ft. lbs. per sq. in. Hence the reason for the higher penetration of the Swift on steel plates. But if you try to extend that to game with heavy bones or even wet phone books, the 30-06 will win out every time.

            Ackley’s claim the Swift penetrated 1/2 inch armour plate is most doubtful. I was never able to get a Swift to penetrate more than about 4/10 of an inch using relatively soft construction grade steel. Ditto for steel-penetrator core 30-06 bullets. We tried the same US Ordnance bullet, only in an 7.62 M1, but didn’t get significantly greater results than by using 308 hunting ammo.

            To get more penetration you need something much harder than steel. I purchased some of the BATF approved, tungsten core, 375 Speer African Grand Slam solids when they were commercially available at about $12 a bullet!!
            I loaded them up into my 378 Weatherby behind 118 grains of IMR 7828 making them chronograph at almost 3100 feet per second or 6400 ft. lbs of energy. That’s 61,000 ft. lbs/sq.in For comparison, the .50 cal BMG only has about 64.000 ft.lbs/sq. in. The bullets were like regular .375 solids except for a .200 inch cylindrical super hard tungsten core. When fired against very hard (not sure of the Rockwell no.) 1.1″ thick machine shop steel plate, the outside gilding metal jacket portion made only a 3/4″ crater in the plate. However, the the center tungsten cylinder made a super smooth hole in the plate each time while easily sailing easily on through. Maybe, they’re still going. Consequently, penetration is mostly a function of the hardness of the bullet compared to the target material.

          • petru sova

            Hardness of the bullet? if that was true the .220 soft point would have been easily beaten the steel penetrator core of the 30-06 armor piercing ammo that failed in the Ackley test. W.D.M. BELL STATED THAT THE 6.5 MANNLICHER CARTRIDGE WAS THE ONLY CARTRIDGE HE EVER USED THAT WOULD GO CLEAR THROUGH AN ELEPHANTS SKULL WITHOUT FAIL. The bigger bore cartridges he used were complete failures. These real life tests by real hunters who were not gun writers prove beyond any doubt that small caliber long heavy bullets out penetrate the bigger diameter bullets every time.
            I am afraid that you have been brainwashed by the “Keith propaganda” from years ago.
            BULLET DIAMETER IS IRRELEVANT TO KILLING POWER. PENETRATION AND BULLET PLACEMENT ARE THE REAL FACTORS THAT RESULT IN INCAPACITATION.
            FN’s NEW PISTOL IS A .22 AND IS THE ONLY KNOWN PISTOL CARTRIDGE THAT PENETRATES SOME OF TODAYS WONDER BODY ARMOR. IF BIGGER WAS BETTER FOR PENETRATION DO YOU THINK FN WOULD NOT HAVE MADE THE NEW GUN IN 50 CALIBER TO ACHIEVE THIS PURPOSE? ONCE AGAIN REALITY CANCELES OUT YOUR KEITH BIG BORE MYTHS.

          • HankBiner

            “Hardness of the bullet? if that was true, the .220 soft point would have been easily beaten the steel penetrator core of the 30-06 armor piercing ammo that failed in the Ackley test.”

            You got it entirely backwards. The 220 Swift did out penetrate the 30-06, but only on steel plates. Rather than rely on the hearsay statements in books and firing off quotes, why don’t you go out and try some similar experiments, yourself? There’s a lot of nonsense in some of these noted African hunting authors. Stuff like Peter Hathaway Capstick’s claim that a cape buffalo could up end a locomotive; or that a charging lion could cover 100 yards from a standing start in 3 seconds. Retarded! Only if the lion could run over 100 mph, lol.

            Or why not contact the author of the article, Dick Metcalf, and see what he thinks? But then you’ll say he is an idiot too, I suppose.

          • petru sova

            As a side bar, in a book that Stewart Anderson wrote about his African hunting adventures in the early 1900′s he speaks of a widow that was plagued by cattle killing Lions. Stewart was aghast when she told him she was using nothing more than an old surplus German Mauser rifle in 8mm. When he admonished her for not using a larger caliber for such dangerous wild beasts like Lions, she seemed astonished. Her reply was, “Why would I need a larger caliber, because when you hit them right they simply fall down dead”.

          • petru sova

            I might note that Agnes Herbert and her cousin also used .450 double barrel rifles and they found and stated that they saw absolutely no difference in killing power between the 6.5 and the .450, none whatsoever. Agnes did state that the blood trail was bigger with the .450 but it killed no better or quicker than her 6.5. It must be remembered that in 1900 bag limits were generous and she and her cousin shot more big game than most men today could ever dream of shooting in a life time. Agnes taught people to shoot with both eyes open at a time when the gun writers were teaching the opposite. Agnes came to the conclusion very quickly through her own experience that the gun writers of the day often did not know what the heck they were talking about except of course to pander weapons. Not much as changed in over 100 years has it.

          • HankBiner

            Well, bullets sure have changed in 100 years. Why do you think guys like John Nosler, Jack Carter and Frank Barnes/Randy Brookes started their own companies? Read the introduction to any Nosler manual. Anyhow, if want to listen to some lady 100 years ago, who almost no one has ever heard of, and ignore the results of millions of other hunters out there, that’s up to you.

            However, I might add that if you’re hunting dangerous game and there’s a blood trail, you’ve already got a problem on your hands, especially if the animal is headed your way. Hitting them in a non-lethal way always seems to put them in a foul mood for some reason.

            Another experienced hunter a while ago told me he swears by the .22 rimfire for deer. What do you say to someone like that? Nothing! Maybe someone should say something to the game warden though

      • petru sova

        Perhaps you have never heard of Roy Weatherby, he was a great believer in high velocity and especially small caliber high velocity. To prove a point he went to Africa with nothing more than a .243 Weatherby, and shot all manner of big game including stopping the charge of a cape buffalo with said .243.
        And of course there was Jack O’Connor who wrote the book “Confessions of a Gun Writer. Here he detailed and proved lie after lie that big bore fanatics made including his arch nemesis Elmer Keith. O’Conner once shot a grizzly with nothing more than the 130 grain bullet from his .270. As expected the bear simply rolled over stone dead. Also one of the greatest kill rates of grizzlies was made by a retired army officer in Alaska with nothing more than the 30-06 in a model 70 Winchester. Surely if smaller calibers were anemic he would have been immediately devoured.
        And how about the legend of the .45acp. After WWII the U.S. Military actually got around to testing this dud round, 34 years after they adopted it. Much to their horror they found the .45 acp actually bounced off of a WWII helmet at a scant 35 yards and recently Mike Venturo bounced one of a helmet at only 25 yards. The 9×19 penetrated the helmet at an astonishing 125 yards. Now you know why Europeans roundly rejected the .45acp as a military cartridge. Once again a big bore round proved to be a complete flop. My own experience and some of my colleagues when deer hunting proved what a poor cartridge the .45acp is as compared to the 9×19.

        • HankBiner

          I’ve not only heard of Roy Weatherby, but owned several Mark V rifles, plus several Model 700′s with custom barrels chambered for Weatherby cartridges. Though I’ve had a number of 416′s, my favorite remains the 378 Weatherby.
          I also love the 340 and the 375 Weatherby which is rightly making a resurgence. I’ve had several 300′s, a 7mm and the 270. But what the hell, I love them all. As I never use factory ammo, I’ve spent countless hours on load testing, velocity and penetration testing.

          Nonetheless, realism must take hold. Roy Weatherby was known as as a salesman “par excellence”; he sold hydrostatic pressure and glossy rifles to movie stars and other high profile clients anticipating those on the lower rungs would follow – and they did.

          Unfortunately, a lot of what Roy Weatherby and his son Ed stated was marketing hype. Facts like his 9 lug Mark V actions were able to withstand 200,000 psi. If you’ve ever seen a blown-up Mark V action, you’ll know they’re not really any much, or any, stronger than Win Model 70, Rem Model 700 or Ruger M77 actions. They don’t have to be as brass is only good to about 70K psi, and you’ll never get enough slow burning MRP, IMR 4350, IMR 7828, RL 22, RL25 powder etc, in the case to get much above 70K psi. Another thing I didn’t like was the fancy wooden stocks frequently cracked in the pistol grip or recoil lug areas. I’m sure they still do but synthetic ones were not in in vogue like now. That used to really, really upset me.

          In any event, hyping the 300 Weatherby as a dangerous game rifle when they used 180 grain Hornady softpoints showed how unreliable or downright dangerous they were when used on Alaskan bear and African game. There may be some, but no guide that I know of, who will let their clients use such a caliber/bullet on dangerous game. However, if they want to move up to the .340 or larger, that’s fine. I’ve had 4, 340 Weatherby’s and their performance with 250 grain X-bullets and Nosler partitions was unbelievable. Just about North American any guide would approve of that choice.

          The 45 ACP a dud round? I don’t think so. It did pretty darn good in WW II This is off topic as a 45 ACP has no practical hunting application. It was never intended to be anything other than for close personal protection. Although all the calibers mentioned have energies in the 400 ft.lb. range, the reason for the smaller caliber choice was increased magazine capacity. Also, body armour is increasingly being worn by the bad guys, and the 9mm will give better penetration but less stopping power than if the person was not wearing armour. Probably why the 40 S&W has been widely chosen as the best compromise.

          I’m writing from Canada and hand guns are NOT legal for hunting in any Canadian province. I’m not familiar with US game laws, but in no instance should 9mm’s and 45′s be used for deer hunting.

  • Gloves

    I enjoyed this article.
    I have a .458 SOCOM upper from
    Rock River. It had problems with seating
    the Cor-bon 405 gr soft tips a while back.
    The 300 gr solid copper DXPs feed like champs! My findings: http://glovesandclover.com/ar15/458socom/

    I would trust the .458 for home defense over the 5.56 every
    day of the week, especially if the intruders had weapons. 2,200 ft-lbs vs. 1,300 ft-lbs.

  • mommasworry

    petru sova you do realize a .223 is a hopped up .22.

    • HankBiner

      This guy thinks a 45 ACP or a 9mm is a deer gun, 20 million hunters and the firearms industry have it all backwards while some ancient lady, Agnes Herbert, from the 1800′s, really had the goods on what it takes to stop a charging cape buffalo. But then I had a choir lady the other day telling me Whitney Houston couldn’t sing a note……………… What can I say? What can anyone say?

      • petru sova

        Once again you fail to comprehend the analogy. Which was that slow moving big bore cartridges often fail to penetrate and when they do they fail to incapacitate. Higher velocity smaller bore cartridges have tremendous penetration that enable them to reach the vitals. Real life deer hunting proved this when using the anemic .45acp as compared to the deadly 9×19. Your ballistic mumbo-jumbo is nothing more than paper theory not real life hunting.

        • HankBiner

          I give up!

        • DeltaZulu

          “Anemic .45″. “Deadly 9×19″. You. sir, are a funny little man! The FBI stats prove that the .45 ACP has a bit more one-shot stops than the 9mm in shootouts. Neither of these are “100% deadly” or “manstoppers” (as the .45 crowd like to call their beloved .45), but the .45 is a little bit better than the 9mm in real life. Anyways, I’ve met many KIAs like you, you read an article and are then a know it all (paper warrior as we call them in the Corps). Some of the people on here have actual REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE in these things. If you were man enough to listen, you could probably learn a thing or two from them.

          • petru sova

            Real life deer hunting with both calibers which I participated in and which you failed to read about or if you did you did not comprehend proves otherwise.

          • Ned Weatherby

            Good thoughts, petra. Regarding the 220 swift as the “best” deer cartridge, I will share some thoughts. I knew a guy who dispatched big northern New Mexico Mulies with ease with his 22-250.

            The problem occurred when he shot one at close range.

            The bullet didn’t penetrate, but left a terrible wound on the shoulder. Finally recovered it after hours of tracking and another shot.

            Bullet construction failed him. What he was using worked great after the projectile slowed down to a speed where it wouldn’t disintegrate

            Steel core, pencil founds in even a 6.5 Carcano will fully penetrate almost any critter. And one can hit the up close with no worries.

            I’ve had great luck with a 45-70. I’ve also shot elk with a 540 grain .54 cal muzzle-loader, and discovered that I had better luck with a faster 350 gr .50 Barnes sabot in a .54.

            Bullet construction, bore size, impact velocity are what makes the world go ’round in hunting camps.

            I’d opine that if people would hit the proper place, with the proper bullet, at a range where they can actually hit, we’d have a hell of a lot fewer severely wounded bulls running ’round after the late rifle elk season here in AZ.

            On thing I COMPLETELY agree with you on, is – don’t shoot the animal unless you’re SURE of bullet placement.

            I’ve seen people who shoot their new WizBang Magnum at Hail Mary ranges, and won’t bother to walk 800 yards to see if they struck the target. After all, they just KNOW how hard their bullet hits at X range.

            I also abhor the idiots who sell gear that supposedly guarantees a hit on game at 600+ yards. IMO, Those assholes are responsible for the maiming and horrible deaths of umpteen animals. If you’re not willing to go to the trouble to stalk closer, (especially if you’re never fired rounds at 600 + yards) you’re certainly not going to bother to walk all the way down there and see if you actually hit the target.

            If these “hunters” chose a 6.5 X 55, for example – and learned how to shoot it – and actually limited their shots to a range where they could hit the kill zone, there would be a lot less maimed animals running around in elk territory. But they think their WizBang Mag will “knock one off its feet” due to the “tremendous” energy. So if it walks or limps away, no point in checking, eh? These people are the anti-hunters dream hunter. T

            I have shot elk with whizbang magnums. BTW there are actually people who can actually pull off those shots. More people watch these experts on TV, buy the rifle, try to sight it in (I know – I used to work as an RSO at a local range) then head to the field and shoot at anything in sight.

            I’ve killed 4 elk with a muzzleloader, and more with rifle. The longest shot I’ve ever taken on a bull was right at 100 yards with a muzzleloader.

            Bullet placement – heck yes!

            I bet no actual hunter will ever disagree with you on that little matter. Whatever happened to actual hunting – instead of just shooting at a living animal that deserves respect – at any range?

          • lou

            yes Love my 45, heavy slow lead, hollow point nicer, 9mm=thru and thru. get stabbed by a pick or get hit with 20oz hammer. The first just pisses you off, second just stone cold knocks you down. I SHOOT FOR LEGS, HAVE TO BRING YOU TO COURT

        • Army127

          How about this bonehead boy! I have real combat experience and 15 years in the US Army, with 2 tours in Iraq. Your ridiculous notion that the .45 acp is somehow not a good killing round is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard in my life. The .45 acp will drop a man with one shot and put him out of the fight where the 9mm will do no such thing unless you get the perfect shot and as for the .223 its not a .22 its a .223 duh! I am pretty sure the Marines know a thing or two about bullets and caliber and stopping power, and they have just decided to go ack to the .45 as it is a much better bullet than a .9mm for their purposes. Also the US Army is now going with the .300 Win Mag instead of the .308 for general snipers and SOCOM is using the .300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua, and both still use the .50 BMG. So yor 100 year old logic is ridiculous since everything has improved a thousand times since then, and its a proven fact that most if not all of the early 1900′s winters and hunters embellished just about everything they did. Ballistics is the science of the bullet and its work is proven so your bs about hunters saying smaller bullets are better is ridiculous. Just do the math the drop and there inability to resist wind force make them terrible for long range shots and up cloe they do not ave the stopping power. So enough with your crap and stop talking and actually do some research from this century!

          • Wolfsbane

            Army127 wrote:
            “…..they have just decided to go ack to the .45 as it is a much better bullet than a .9mm for their purposes.”
            A .9mm? A POINT nine mm?
            Mall Ninja alert!

  • petru sova

    You read but do no comprehend, LOL. The Savage .228 and the 6.5MS used long heavy bullets for maximum penetration. Stone dead grizzly bears and elephants proved that bullet placement and penetration killed and bullet diameter was irrelevant. As a matter of fact many old time African hunters were killed because they used big bore rifles that did not have sufficient penetration. The German calibers were notorious for this, but it was the English calibers that eventually got it right but not before there were a lot of dead African elephant hunters. The books written about them at that time have many examples of this.

    Poor African white farmers used surplus military rifles in .303, 8mm, 7mm and 6.5mm. These are the calibers that wiped out most of the dangerous game in Africa.

    Several years ago there appeared on cable TV a documentary on African elephant culling. The caliber used was the .308 with military 150 grain fmj bullets. Every one of the many elephants shot dropped stone dead without taking a step. So much for the need for gigantic big bore calibers. The big bore boys that have been beating the big bore drums for years ran and hid under their beds when they saw that TV program, as they were to red faced to face the music of real truth.

    By the way your reference to Agnes Herbert being related to Keith is like comparing Shakespeare (Herbert) to Jethro Bodine (Keith). Keith’s articles had to be completely rewritten by his editor before they became anywhere near intelligible (LOL). I think you would need a dictionary in your right hand to even attempt to understand what Herbert wrote about. If you think I am joking read “Casuals in the Caucasus”. She had something Keith lacked, a superior education and complete mastery of the English language.

    • Army127

      Just shut up and do actual research before you ever speak again! As for the 6.8 SPC. I really love that cartridge as well. The same kick as the 5.56 and much better bullet for some applications. Seriously Petru do real research and stop quoting 100 year BS! It gets annoying after reading you re-writing the same crap over and over! Just go do some actual research and shooting a deer with a 9mm and a .45 acp doesn’t count. It doesn’t even make sense!

  • Spartacus

    JESUS!! Petru Sova and HankBiner; neither of you know the first friggin’ thing about firearms! You’re arguing, on and on, using quotes from writers, rather than any actual first-hand knowledge or data. Everyone else is jumping into the argument as well.
    This is exactly why you never discuss religion, politics, nor firearms with other people…..because nobody knows shit, about any of them.

    You’re all morons.

    • HankBiner

      Excuse me, if you could point out anything I said that was incorrect, I’d appreciate knowing about it. Anything. Actually, I was using a lot of first hand knowledge and penetration data that I personally developed. Surely, a lot more than you ever have. The reason I quoted the famous writers and bullet manufacturers was that I figured their statements would carry unarguable authority because Sova clearly didn’t accept anything I said. Almost as thick headed as you but, at least, not ignorant.

  • Hawkeye924

    I don’t believe it. Has everyone forgotten the 6.8 SPC caliber? It was a caliber originally requested by the United States Military. It is also a great caliber for White Tail Deer. Very little recoil so recovery is great to get back on target. I can’t believe how tough it is to find a cleaning kit specifically made for the 6.8 SPC AR15. Is there anyone else that feels the way that I do?

    • Chris

      Try OTIS. They specialize in caliber and weapon specific cleaning kits. I guarantee they’ll hook you up if you contact them. Good company. Good luck. The 6.8 SPC is on my list as soon as I move from Kalifornia next year. Good hunting to you !

  • Chris

    So….. If I could choose. I’d much rather be hit by a baseball at 100 miles per hour than a bowling ball at 50. Neither one would be much fun. Which would cause the most damage ? What would you choose Petra Sova ?

  • Chad Nunnally

    I shoot hogs on my lad with an AR 10 308 works great

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