Of course this “too fast” bullet theory is not true. I was going to say it’s “hogwash,” but I don’t want to insult well meaning but misinformed folks. Most of us have swallowed “conventional wisdom” passed along in families and hunting camps for generations without reading the fine print. Bullets rise after leaving the muzzle. Certain magnums shoot dead-flat to 500 yards. The 308 Winchester is the most inherently accurate cartridge in the world. The 45-70 hits so hard it flips elk end-for-end and blows whitetails 10 feet backward. And, my favorite, the 30-30 has killed more deer than every other cartridge in the world combined. Yeah, we’ve all taken some bait, hook, line, and sinker at one time or another, so let’s take the high road on this one. Instead of insulting our fellow hunters, let’s simply examine why this old “hunter’s tale” about too-fast bullets is wrong.
First, we need to understand why bullets expand. It’s because they contact a substance that offers enough resistance to exceed the structural integrity of the bullet. I mean “structural integrity” as a general term to describe any combination of bending, flattening, cracking, fragmenting and other forms of physical rearrangement.
But here’s the rub. Such physical reshaping of our bullets only happens with velocity. That’s pretty obvious. I mean, you could slowly lower a four ton block of iron onto the point of bullet standing on end and squash it via shear mass, but we don’t lower on bullets onto game. We throw them. Fast.
Gently place a typical cup-and-core, 150-grain soft-point 7mm bullet on a deer and it will just roll off. Toss it lightly upon that deer and it will bounce off. The deer might be startled, same as it might if an acorn fell on it. Throw that bullet as fast as you can and it might cause a bruise under the deer’s hide, but the bullet would remain intact. Finally, throw the bullet with enough rapidly expanding gas pressure (burning gun powder) so that it moves 3,000 feet per second and it will not only seriously damage the deer, but severely stress, crack, flatten, break or mangle itself. Essentially the deer presses the bullet as much as the bullet presses the deer. The major difference is that the structural integrity of the animal’s tissues are rendered non-functional. It dies. The bullet just comes to rest in a different shape, often in more than one piece.