As a child, I learn far an excessive amount of writing about weapons and took far an excessive amount of of it critically. One of many staples of all this verbiage was “killing energy,” having to do with assigning mystical numeric values to cartridges’ alleged potential to place recreation on the bottom rapidly. These numbers had been concocted by calculations involving bullet weight, velocity, muzzle power, whether or not Jupiter aligned with Mars, and when low tide occurred within the Bay of Fundy. The one sillier factor I’ve seen is the PSR (Private Survival Ranking) quantity assigned to contestants on Bare and Afraid. (If the present assigned a PBNADW quantity—Psychological Issues Not Adequately Dealt With—I’d purchase that.)

There are a few key parts disregarded of each killing-power method I’ve ever seen. An important of those is shooter potential. Individuals who can actually shoot can take nearly any cartridge and make it produce. Individuals who don’t work at capturing, who’re liable to flinching or panic, can’t make something work for them. Thus, you may take a .338, which is the best cartridge I’ve ever used, and provides it to somebody who’s afraid of it as a result of it kicks, and the cartridge has hardly any killing energy. A miss is a miss, and a bullet within the guts is a bullet within the guts.

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The second lacking aspect in killing energy calculations is bullet efficiency, which I’ve by no means seen factored in wherever. I started searching critically in 1968, which gave me about 30 years of The Period of Rotten Bullets, and so I noticed loads of bullet failures—all calibers, all weights, every kind. In case your bullet doesn’t carry out, you’re left with hardly any killing energy in any respect.

Failure to hold collectively is worse than failure to develop, and this fault reached its nadir in 1987 when Winchester got here out with a model of the Silvertip that may disintegrate if it encountered a closely constructed puff of thistledown. That Silvertip was so terrible that it despatched a chill by way of bullet makers in all places. The corporate went by way of an agonizing reappraisal, and never solely began making a lot better bullets, but in addition started sensible testing.

I’d wish to say our bullet troubles are over, however I worry that the present long-range craze goes to ship lots of people searching with excessive B.C. bullets which might be streamlined to a fault and due to this fact structurally weak. Proper now, streamlining and structural energy are incompatible. Someplace, there could also be a bullet with a BC of .600 that’s nice on huge, robust recreation, however I don’t learn about it.

Too Many Variables

One factor a hippo can educate you about cartridges is that killing energy will depend on the critter. LEEROY Company from Pixabay

The rule in searching is that something can occur, and can, it doesn’t matter what form of killing energy you’re packing, and it’s best to settle for that and be prepared for it. This explains how, in 1987, I drowned a bull hippo within the Luangua River in Zambia. We had gotten a request over the shortwave radio {that a} earlier shopper’s hippo cranium had been misplaced or stolen en path to the taxidermist and would I please shoot a substitute? And so PH Abie Du Plooy and I walked the banks of the Luangua, which is Hippo Central, till we discovered a pretty bull drowsing along with his muzzle proper at water’s edge, dreaming of biting crocs in half, or woman hippos, or no matter bull hippos dream about.

The rifle I had with me was a .458, loaded with 510-grain Trophy Bonded comfortable noses, which expanded to a very immense diameter in the event that they hit one thing comfortable. Nonetheless, I shot the place I used to be purported to, proper under the ear, the place the cranium is extra like a protected than anything, and the bullet penetrated maybe ½-inch, so little that I used to be in a position to pluck the slug free with my fingers. The blunt power trauma will need to have been unbelievable, and the hippo was out for the depend. His head slid ahead till his nostrils went underwater, and he drowned. (The bullet, by the way in which, expanded to its normal colossal diameter.) How do you issue drowning into killing energy? I don’t know.

Or, take my odd expertise with the .300 Weatherby Magnum, which has been round since 1944, has been used everywhere in the world, on every part, and whose so-called killing energy is rarely questioned. In my case, it has both killed like lightning, or the critters that had been struck by it ignored the proceedings and ultimately keeled over solely after a number of deadly hits. What do you make of that? I’ve no clue.

The Details About So-Referred to as Killing Energy

Having seen a great many animals meet their maker, and having despatched an important many on that journey myself, right here’s are some things I can inform you on the topic:

1. Bullet placement is every part.

A .223 by way of the guts has much more killing energy than a .375 H&H by way of the ear. If you happen to can’t shoot, it doesn’t matter what you employ. If you happen to can shoot, it doesn’t matter what you employ.

2. Powerful bullets are greatest.

If it’s a must to select between a tricky bullet that’s sure to carry collectively and a mushy one which expands rapidly and will offer you a quick kill, at all times go together with the robust slug. It is going to penetrate and do its job, and you’ll have to trace, however so what? That’s a part of searching. The squishy slug might offer you—to not point out the poor animal—a horror present.

photo of Swift A-Frame bulets
For African recreation, the creator trusts Swift A-Body bullets. Swift

If you need to see a PH smile, when he asks you what sort of bullets you’re capturing, inform him Swift A-Frames. They’re, as far as I’ve seen, infallible. In Africa the common coverage on safari is, for those who hit it, you pay for it, regardless of for those who recuperate it or not, and a seek for a wounded trophy can take days, which makes for a lower than great hunt. I used to be alongside on a seek for a wounded eland that was unsuccessful and lasted a day and a half, and I as soon as noticed a helicopter introduced in to seek for a wounded roan, which is a uncommon and very costly animal. Hiring the chopper (which discovered it) was much less painful than paying 1000’s of {dollars} for a misplaced animal.

3. Some species are harder than others.

That is the one method I can clarify issues I’ve witnessed again and again. Elk can take in extra punishment than something I’ve seen in North America and hold going. In Africa, three of the 4 huge antelope—eland, roan, and sable—are robust, however the fourth, kudu, usually are not. The legendary toughness of Cape buffalo is truth.

 4. Neglect the nonsense about one-shot kills.

If you happen to’ve hit it, and it’s weaving on its ft, shoot once more. If it begins to run off and falters and offers you an opportunity to shoot, shoot once more. If it’s harmful and seems to be useless, shoot once more. I’ve recognized individuals who refused to shoot a second time so they might declare a one-shot kill, and extended the animal’s struggling thereby. They belong in hell with their backs damaged.

5. If Expertise Leads You to Belief a Cartridge, Stick With It

Belief bings confidence, and confidence improves shooter efficiency. The one cartridge I’ve come to belief greater than some other is the .338 (and, by extension, the .340 Weatherby and the .338 Remington Extremely Magazine). I’ve by no means seen something that would stand as much as it, both right here or in Africa. It’s not a countermeasure in opposition to poor capturing, however when used with the correct bullets (250-grain, Nosler Partitions or Swift A-Frames), I’ve by no means seen something go greater than 100 yards with a great hit. In New Zealand, I met a hunter who used a .340 Weatherby in Africa, and because the safari progressed the trackers known as his gun Boomplop, increase for the sound of the rifle going off, and plop for the sound of the animal hitting the bottom violently. That mentioned, it doesn’t matter what you might be packing (.338 included), you can be a lot better served for those who take the time you spend studying about killing energy and use it on the vary, working in your marksmanship.

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