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August 15, 2006

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Packing a Wallop: More on the Myth of Knockdown Power

This week I had an interesting and reasonably testy exchange with a reader who claimed that his .300 Winchester Magnum, loaded with bullets that I’d recommended, didn’t “wallop” African game the way he liked. He had to shoot them multiple times, and nothing dropped in its tracks. But on the other hand every critter expired, and he didn’t lose a one.

I told him that you don’t wallop anything in Africa or here for that matter; that animals go down from lack of oxygen to the brain or damage to the spine, and not from bullet impact. Here are a couple of cases in point:

The first day of a safari, your PH will say something like: “Let’s go collect an animal for dinner, bwana.” But what he’s really saying is, Let’s see how well you can shoot.  This is your debut, and how the safari is conducted will depend largely on how competent or otherwise you prove yourself to be.
So in 1987, in Zambia, I had a PH named Abie DuPloy, and we went through this drill, and presently came on a herd of puku, which is a stocky, tough antelope of about 400 pounds. I was shooting a .338, which has plenty of wallop, whatever that is, and put the crosshairs on an attractive bull and pulled the trigger.

We heard the bullet hit, but the bull showed no interest in the proceedings at all, and the herd closed in around him, so I couldn’t shoot again. Abie and the trackers gave me the hairy eyeball, and I sat there sweating wondering how the hell I had missed when I was sure it was a good shot.

Five minutes went by—I timed it on my watch—and then the bull shivered and collapsed, deader than truth in government. He was shot right through the shoulders, dead on his feet, and no sign of it. Was he walloped? Probably not.
On that same trip I shot a zebra at 75 yards with a .458, shooting the old Bear Claw 510-grain bullets. I hit her right in the lungs with 2 1/2 tons of bullet energy, and she did a mad dash for 100 yards before piling up. Was she walloped? Probably not.

Maybe if I used a .50 BMG….

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Comments

JA Demko

This issue comes up among shooters frequently. You are, of course, right about there being no such thing as "wallop." Basic physics tells us that. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Any gun that was capable of "walloping" the target would also "wallop" the shooter.
Animals sometimes do things when shot that shooters misinterpret as the animal having been walloped, though. I once shot a running deer through the spine at the base of his neck. It was at very close range or I wouldn't have attempted the shot. His forward momentum made him "pile up" in a pretty spectacular way. If I didn't know better, I'd have said that he got walloped damn hard by that .300 Savage. The animals I've killed with spine shots more typically behave like a puppet when you cut its strings. They just collapse. Heart/lung shots resulted in the animal travelling a short distance, then expiring.

Matt in MN

I've wondered about this "wallop" factor. I've shot nine whiteails with my .30-30; some dropped like they had been struck by lighning, others have run anywhere from 5 - 100 yards. All were decent bullet placement. Other guys in my party have similar results although all outgun me, mostly with .30-06's. I've decided my .30-30 must "wallop" them fairly well.

Brian

DP is correct: whallop = complete expenditure of bullet energy in targets which don't have much more density than do watermelons. Foot-pounds is meaningless if most of it goes into a tree behind the target, so shot placement and choice of bullet construction are very important, too.
Couldn't believe that a 165gr /.30-'06 didn't knock the deer over (miss?) so second shot. Soon found 2 side-by-side, 6" diameter holes drilled right through the engine room.

Ralph the Rifleman

Yes, Dave, the 50 BMG would have been a better choice! Ok,ok-I am just kidding...but the concept of wallop, or knock down power, has got to be the most argued point of interest among hunters.Poor shot placement probably causes more lost/wounded game then lack of wallop--maybe wallop sounds more technical?

Mike

LMAO @ Wallop being technical term.....too funny. What i find even funnier is the misconception brought on by hollyweird and its idiodic movies...where a man hit by a bullet flips over..too funny.....yet, there are folk out there that actually BELIEVE that excrement. Shot placment, shot placement, shot placment. Like I teach the kids, it matters NOT what weapon it is, be it a .177 pellet gun or a .50 bfg (Big Friggin Gun)ALL have the capacity to kill...PERIOD...not that I would teach said prepubescent heathens to attempt to take deer with a .177...but, the fact is the .22 LR has argueably taken more whitetails than the 30-06 or dirty/turdy in history. How/Why......shot placement!!

Matt in MN

Mike,

I agree with your shot placement thoughts...but the .22 LR has taken more deer than the .30-06 or .30-30? How so? Being a fairly young suburban raised Minnesotan, maybe I'm missing something going on in the hinterlands?!?! Are there more poacher-shiners then I realize or what?

I've always heard the .30-30 was king of the deer gettin calibers.

Richard

I once shot a mule deer buck that was making his way up the opposite side of a canyon. The rifle was resting on a boulder, very steady, so I took the shot when the buck stopped to look at a doe he was following. The 180gr. bullet struck right where the spine met the skull. All four legs flew out from under him and he slid down the hill, hardly twitched. Was he a victim of "wallop"?
No. Because he was shot from above and behind, technically he was poleaxed.

Eagle I

Each critter and every shot is different. My party hunts in a shotgun only state and has had great success; during one four season span filling 19 of 20 tags with 21 shots. No shots were greater than 70 yards, some were as close as five yards. Often, the biggest deer were the ones who dropped in their tracks and the smaller ones ran no more than 50 yards. A slug through the lungs means the deer will not travel any further than it could run while holding its breath. Shot placement, preperation and patience are the keys to success

Mark

Yeah. I know I’ve blogged this prior, but I’ll declare again I’ve yet to have any big game animal “drop in its tracks” even when hit well with an accepted big game cartridge [no 22-rimfires in this deer camp]. The animals I’ve hit have always traveled somewhere between five 40-yards from point of impact.

I hold the opinion a larger, heavier animal is tougher to put down than a small animal, but I’ve seen exceptions to this opinion. I wonder what herd instinct has on an animal?

e.g. I recall hunting caribou in Alaska a solidly hit animal from a 270, 30-06, 300 Mag often was off and running with the herd for some distance. My 35 Whelen and a cohort’s 338 Mag broke the animals down faster, but not one animal was dropped in its tracks regardless of caliber on an animal that’s not suppose to be tenacious of life.

Mike

Matt in MN; was a time in this nation (before the game laws we have today) that deer were hunted for table fodder and little more(unlike today where it is more for recreation than survival) and the .22 LR was used quite often...as i have stated before...its NOT my choice...nor would i teach my youngsters to use that cal.for whitetails. It seems to me (please correct me if i err here....and i am SURE someone will) that the .22 cal. was legal to use for whitetails up into the mid 70's in my home state of MI.

Yes, the argument is, in modern times, between to 06 and the 30/30 as to which has taken more deer.....my vote is the 06

KJ

I've shot a boat load of deer, and have had exactly 3 drop in their tracks. One was shot with at .30-30 at 10 yards, one was shot with a .30-06 at 80 yards, and one was shot with a 12-gauge slug at 15 yards. In each situation the heart and lungs were destroyed, but there was also obvious shock/damage to the spinal nerve wrought by fragmented bone. The deer that ran the farthest? A big doe shot at 92 yards with a 12-gauge Remington Copper Solid slug. She ran nearly 200 yards across a bean field. The slug had entered about an inch behind the shoulder and left a huge exit wound. It took out the top of the left lung, but there was no spinal damage and obviously no spinal shock. Still, she was very dead and very delicious. I think the lesson here is shoot the biggest caliber you can shoot well and practice frequently. Placement is everything, but in the real world where the wind blows and animals often move as you squeeze the trigger the biggest projectile you can put in the air will help cover the margin of error. (If the .22 LR is the biggest caliber you can shoot well, stick to squirrels. You have no business hunting deer.)

Dave Petzal

To KJ: Interesting point about wind and animals moving. In the mid-90s I hunted elk with a friend who is a deadly shot and was using a .35 Shooting Times Alaskan, which is a cannon. He shot at an elk at 250 yards, and as the rifle went off, the elk stepped forward, and the bullet hit him back of the proverbial boiler room. But it did so much damage that he found the bull dead, fairly quickly, and I believe that if he'd been shot with a lesser cartridge, this would not have been the outcome.

AJG

Seems today that a ridiculous trend has plagued the hunting community - that being a focus on overgunning for whitetail and black bear - especially in the mid-Atlantic and NE.

To maximize the enjoyment of your hunting/shooting sportsmen need to match the right tool for the right job. You don't need a sledgehammer to pound in finishing nails....

I typically use a 30/30, 270 or 30/06 for whitetail, and a 300 Win Mag for Elk and larger game.

There are a lot of folks out there who try to compensate for poor shooting skills with more firepower. Shot placement and proficiency with your firearm is what counts.

Charles  Benoit

Wallop is a gun term used by old-time gun writers of the past, particularly the late Elmer Keith. I don't know the origin of the descriptive word, but it adds color to book writing and to conversation. Keith used wallop a lot in his classic book "Sixguns" to describe the ability to incapacitate an opponent or an animal quickly. Animals will often drop quite quickly with the proper shot placement regardless of caliber. Even a bad rifle shot like myself has done it numerous times on whitetail deer using a 270 by proper placement (or luck in my case).

Mike

>>SIGH<< Seems too much emphasis is being placed on my comment about the .22 lr......I made the comment ONLY to emphasize that SHOT PLACEMENT is the key here...for the record and the point of this discussion (wallop) I use a 30-06 loaded with 180 grain Rem. Core-loct round nose typically in the U.P. of MI.....or a .35 Remington model 141 loaded with 200 grain Remington core-loct round nose down in the swamp of said region.......or a .50 cal repro smoke pole with a 250 grain sabbot sitting on 100 grains of pyrodex. All 3 of the above loads provide PLENTY of "wallop" and have had 1 buck drop in his tracks from the 30-06 @ 25 yards. Yes, spine shot! The rest I have dumped didn't make it over 100 yards. Again....I do NOT nor do I advise the using of a .22 lr on big game! PERIOD

JA Demko

I know some people who, shall we say, consider following the PA Game Commission's regulations to be optional. The routinely take deer with .22lr and .22 magnum. Doing it out of season, over bait, or at night helps, of course. I couldn't tell you the last time those hoopies ate beef or pork. They do get caught from time to time. They pay the fine, the gun they used is seized, and they lose hunting privileges for x number of years. This bothers them not at all. Part of the game, as it were. be all that as it may, they've dropped many, many deer with rimfires.

BILL COFFEY

I VERY WELL REMEMBER REAADING AS A YOUNG BOY, AN ARTICLE IN A HUNTING MAGAZINE, WHICH SAID THAT THERE WAS NO GUN MADE THAT WOULD "KNOCK A WHITETAIL DEER OFF IT'S FEET." PERHAPS THAT MEANT LACK OF "WALLOP," WHO KNOWS ? PERSONALLY, HAVING TAKEN A NUMBER OF WHITETAIL OVER THE YEARS, THE VAST MAJORITY OF WHICH WERE TAKEN WITH A SAKO 25-06, NOT A "BIG OL' GUN" BY ANYONE'S STANDARDS, AND HAVE SEEN THE VAST MAJORITY OF THEM "DROP IN THEIR TRACKS"...STONE DEAD. SADLY, I ALSO SAW TE BIGGEST BUCK I HAVE EVER SEEN, "DROP IN HIS TRACKS" AS WELL, ONLY TO SEE HIM GET UP ON HIS HIND LEGS AND BULLDOZE HIS WAY UNDER A TREE LAP AND THEN VANISH IN THIN AIR. MY BULLET PLACEMENT WAS RIGHT BEHIND THE SHOULDER, PERHAPS A LITTLE HIGH, AND DOWN HE WENT WALLOWING AROUND LIKE A HOG IN MUD. SECONDS LATER HE WAS GONE, LEAVING VERY LITTLE BLOOD TRAIL WHATSOEVER...NEVER TO BE FOUND AGAIN. I BELIEVE THE 25-06 DOES A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF MEAT DAMAGE AND THEREFOR KILLS QUICKLY AND HUMANELY, ALBEIT NOT PRETTY. IF SOMEONE KNOWS OF A WAY TO GET MORE "WALLOP" WITH THE SAME LIGHT RECOIL...LET ME KNOW. AGAIN I VOTE FOR BULLET PLACEMENT ANYTIME OVER SHOULDER BREAKING KICK !

BILL COFFEY

ADDITIONALLY, WHILE SQUIRREL HUNTING A FEW YEARS AGO, I CAME UPON A BUCK DEER THAT HAD BEEN SHOT THROUGH THE BRISKET BY SOME SELF ASSURED ARCHER'S ARROW. ONE COULD NOT HELP BUT NOTICE A VERY LARGE INFECTION POCKET BULGING OUT OF THE VERY FRONT OF HIS CHEST, AS HE OBVIOUSLY LABORED IN MISERY TRYING TO MANUEVER AND EVEN TO BREATHE, THOUGH VERY MUCH STILL ALIVE. I IMMEDIATELY TURNED MY .22LR ON HIM AND AS HE LOOKED AT ME I PUT A BULLET RIGHT IN HIS WHITE THROAT PATCH IN UNDER HIS LOWER JAW, AND WATCHED HIM DROP LIKE A ROCK IN HIS TRACKS. " IT AIN'T WHAT YOU SHOOT 'EM WITH...IT'S WHERE YOU SHOOT 'EM AT !"

KJ

To Bill Coffey: Try a 7mm-08 or even a .308. They shoot a bigger, heavier bullet and don't kick bad at all. Heck, if your shots are under 200 yards get a .30-30. Even with 170 grain loads it won't kick as hard as your .25-06. In my opinion nothing comes to the shoulder and settles down on target as quickly as a lever action rifle (I'm very fond of my Marlin 336).

Mike

I've dropped 9 deer in their tracks in 4 years. All single shot kills. Call it whallop or luck or whatever... I call it good shot placement with an adequate bullet. I shoot a 30-06 with 165 grain Hornady bullets. These shots ranged from 75 yards to about 175. In case you're curious... my current favorite aiming point is a little over half way up the chest with the vertical hairs centered between the front legs, regardless of where the deer is facing. This shot usually breaks both shoulders and the spine with a lot of bone and shock hitting the lungs. Happy hunting...

mike shickele

Hello you silly bloggers!

I don't think that anyone one this blog was condoning the use of the 22LR on deer; though I acknowledge the fact that it has probably been used for that purpose more than once.
The original intent of this blog was to convey the fact that no cartridge will in fact, drop an animal in it's tracks unless it damages the central nervous system in some way.
All animals will run a short distance even with terminal loss of blood due to adrenaline and continued nerve impulses.
weatherby first attempted to popularize the idea that hydrostatic shock would kill animals in their tracks. Even he had to re-think his position on that argument.
A well known writer has consistently attempted to state in print that a 154gr 7mm bullet has the same knockdown power as a 30 cal 180gr bullet at the same speed; all other things equal. This is foolish. Without expansion the 30cal bullet creates a bigger hole with more surface area to release energy. The bigger the bore diameter, the more energy distributed period.
In saying this, I believe that the 30-06 is enough gun for any animal that walks in North America; heavier, tougher bullets for bigger animals. That's why it's my favorite cartridge.

But who am I to judge if you like the 375 shouldercrusher mag?

Jim

My preferred target is the heart lung area of a deer with the 12 gauge shotguns we use. After about 25 deer, if one drops in his tracks, I say it was a poor shot, as it most always means spinal damage. A clean through the rib cage hit deer has always ran off, but less than 100 yards for me.

craig curtis

mike with those people you know shall we say^%#$ WORTHLESS POACHERS your just as guilty as they are for not reporting the frakin lowest form of life .whats the matter with you ,and what are you doing here bone head and mark michigan has never had a legal hunting season with 22 caliber , ive been in the woods now for 50 some odd years and you must be on drugs to believe that the dnr ever said 22s were a legal caliber to pursue big game !!! im always looking for nit wits hat hunt illegally dont let me catch you freaks kapisch!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike

Firstly, Mr. Curtis the name at the bottom of a post here is the person that posted it.

The State of MI didn't make it ILLEGAL to use .22's until the mid 70's.(or so my memory is telling me) Meaning it wasnt in the manual as being an "Illegal caliber" until that time.

As far as reporting poachers, let me tell you a little tale about what that got me.

When on my annual trout fishing/camping trip. I met a guy on the river and we kinda fished along the entire day together...well i noticed that he took and put his 6th and 7th trout on his stringer. (5 limit here) When i said something to him about it (as i only kept trout that swallowed the hook and wouldnt live if released anyway) he said "Well, to me this is like a great big grocery store". As if THAT pathetic excuse would pacify me. Well i, after a time, packed up in my canoe and headed back for camp (even tho i had many hours daylight with which to fish left)and went directly to the rangers station to report said poacher. Later that evening the C.O. shows up and "questions" this guy. Would seem the 2 were old friends as they laughed it up and nothing was done.

Well, 2 days later as i am loading my canoe onto my FULLY loaded truck (Quite alot of gear in a truck for spending 2 comfortable weeks in camp) after a short morning float, kinda my last hoorah. Up pulls the SAME C.O. and says in a beligerant tone of voice "I need to check your coolers"....Well, my coolers having been packed the night before were in the center of the bed of my truck buried under a ton of gear. So i commence to totally unload my truck after telling this twit that all that was in my coolers was 1/2 a block of cheese and 1/2 lb. of sausage.( as i had eaten any trout i had caught cooked over a smokey hard wood fire....the ONLY way to eat trout in my opinion) As i am throwing my gear boxes out, he is tearing off the lids and going thru each and every box throwing my gear pell mell on the ground(at this point i will NOT go into the blatant disregard for the 4th ammendment not to mention common courtesy).........FINALLY i get to my coolers that he DEMANDED to see and he looks into them and says "HUH only a half block of cheese and some sausage.......have a nice day" said with a nasty smirk. He hops into his explorer and takes off. Leaving my gear scattered all over the ground and me to totally repack.

Basically, what i learned from this experience, i interfered into the "good old boys club" and was punished for my impudence. Needless to say after 30 years of being on the side of conservation and the officers tasked with enforcing the law of the wilds, i got bitch slapped for my firm belief in said laws....and you can BET its the LAST time i attempt to do whats right as far as the R.A.P. program goes.

JA Demko

"those people you know shall we say^%#$ WORTHLESS POACHERS your just as guilty as they are for not reporting the frakin lowest form of life"

I'm the guy that knows "those people." Firstly, you and I may have different standards, but I believe I'd put rapists, child molesters, and murderers ahead of deer poachers on "the frakin lowest form of life" list. But if your conscience tells you that jacklighting a deer is the greatest moral transgression then I guess you'll have to go with that.
As for not reporting them, I had various reasons for not doing so which I won't go into here since they aren't any of your business. It wouldn't matter if I did tell you because, if there is one thing that is true about the errornet, it is that opinons here are clung to like a new lover...and I just don't feel like going around in circles with you.




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