2600 fps "cut off point" for DRT behaviour?

Madis

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I've been a long time hunter and long time reader of Nathan Foster's opinions at Terminal Ballistics Research (by the by, he penned an article for Norma recently). Needless to say, I have the utmost respect for his experience and his writing. If one were to sum up the theme of his writing, he swears by 2600 fps being the cut off point to initiate hydrostatic shock or DRT in game when shooting small bores and even some light medium bores (8mm to .338). However, I've never been able to reconcile this in practice.

His logic quite frankly flies in the face of my personal experience, the experience of my hunting buddies, the experience of many of the sentiments on this board and elsewhere, the experience of professional hunters going all the way back to Taylor, and to studies conducted by governments (South Carolina study). That collective experience being that well shot game animals will run approx 50% of the time, regardless of calibre or velocity and; that medium bores starting at or around .338 punch above their weight with high SD bullets, even at sub-2600 fps velocities.

I'm not going to bore you with many of my personal hunting anecdotes, but two come to mind and are relevant. Four years ago I shot a whitetail doe at 90 long paces with a .25-06 Ballistic Tip just forward of the foreleg. She splayed out when hit, popped up, and took off like a rocket. It took 3 of us and a dog to eventually find her, several hours later. The single shot had turned her boiler room into chunky salsa. By all accounts, and according to Foster, that doe should have been DRT. Conversely, 2 years ago my buddy shot a moose at a laser-verified 245 yards with a loaner .270 with a rear lung shot. It was a big one, and it dropped on the spot, again hit with a small-bore frangible bullet at below 2600 fps, with a less than perfect shot, contrary to Foster's writings.

As an another example, Taylor wrote very highly of the .318 Westley Richards and .333 Jeffery (both roughly equivalent to a .338-06): with 250 grain bullets at 2400-2500 fps and 300 grain bullets at 2200 fps, respectively. And if you read that South Carolina study, whitetails will run 50% of the time when well shot with ANY smallbore calibre from .243 to .30.

The purpose of the this post was not to bash Foster, as I have great respect for his experience but as a discussion to help me decide what to build or purchase as I upgrade my battery. Do I build a Foster-style large big-game rifle, like a .338 to .375 magnum Sendero to hedge my bets at my expected shooting distances from 30-300 metres or go old-school with a .338-06 or a 9.3x62 shooting high SD bullets at medium velocities (and have lighter and handier rifle)? I like the extra insurance I get when adopting the Foster-style approach, but the older approach still makes a lot of sense because seldom have I seen, let alone shot, a large big-game animal past 175 metres.
 

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So far, from my personal point of view, there is no scientific proof of what causes hydordinamic (or hydrostatic) shock. There are indications.

However, I remeber well, a lesson from my hunting education courses, were the literature was quoting 800 m/sec (cca 2600 fps) velocity as starting point to cause this effect.
But, in the field, such effects are not consistent.

However, my point that I wnated to highligh is:
the bigger the animal it is, chances for hydostatic shock drop quickly. We can discuss this phenomenon for common north hemisphere game (white tail, elk, roe deer, red deer, boar etc), but in all reality the largest animals, dont drop on hydrostatic shock - like elephant, rhino, buffalo. There is something in body mass of animal.

I am also under impression that next lower weight level of animals (up to 600 kg), are not dropping to hydrodinamic shock as fequently as smaller ones. (up to 250 kg)

All, in all, yours is tricky question, I hope you will find appropriate and satisfactory solution!
 

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I just tagged a small to medium whitetail doe this morning with my .375 Ruger - 270 grain softpoint at 100 yards. Muzzle velocity is supposed to be 2611 according to Quickload. I was worried that I had flubbed the shot - I got only the slightest jump/hesitation from her - as if she was startled by the sound of the shot vs. getting hit by the bullet. She ran 40 yards before succumbing to exsanguination. I took out the bottom of her lungs, so no major shock as would happen when striking the shoulder. She was dead though, when I found her, shock or not.

I have also heard Nathan speak of keeping higher impact velocities in order to get the Barnes TSX (for example) to fully open up. Perhaps a 2nd consideration?
 

Madis

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I just tagged a small to medium whitetail doe this morning with my .375 Ruger - 270 grain softpoint at 100 yards. Muzzle velocity is supposed to be 2611 according to Quickload. I was worried that I had flubbed the shot - I got only the slightest jump/hesitation from her - as if she was startled by the sound of the shot vs. getting hit by the bullet. She ran 40 yards before succumbing to exsanguination. I took out the bottom of her lungs, so no major shock as would happen when striking the shoulder. She was dead though, when I found her, shock or not.

I have also heard Nathan speak of keeping higher impact velocities in order to get the Barnes TSX (for example) to fully open up. Perhaps a 2nd consideration?
Good shooting! So roughly, your bullet's impact velocity should have been in the 2383-ish range. Too low, according to Foster, to set up hydrostatic shock with a small bore on a small frame target yet he also writes that medium bores can do this as low as 2200 on a light target (with the right bullet). So what gives here? Is it simply the 50-50 statistical probability at play here, as detailed in the SC study (i.e. dead animals running because they don't know they're dead)?

I'm starting to wonder if we're all spending too many hours researching this stuff and we should just buy or build what we want within our usage parameters, match bullet weights and design to game weights (like most of us have been doing anyway!) and spend more time hunting. And no matter what we do, 50% of well hit animals will run in either case.
 

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Good shooting! So roughly, your bullet's impact velocity should have been in the 2383-ish range. Too low, according to Foster, to set up hydrostatic shock with a small bore on a small frame target yet he also writes that medium bores can do this as low as 2200 on a light target (with the right bullet). So what gives here? Is it simply the 50-50 statistical probability at play here, as detailed in the SC study (i.e. dead animals running because they don't know they're dead)?

I'm starting to wonder if we're all spending too many hours researching this stuff and we should just buy or build what we want within our usage parameters, match bullet weights and design to game weights (like most of us have been doing anyway!) and spend more time hunting. And no matter what we do, 50% of well hit animals will run in either case.

I think you answered your own question there.....
 

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Very few hard and fast rules in terminal ballistics imo. Lots of general guidelines. Anyone that gives a hard rule violates the prime directive to rarely use always or never. That said bullet placement with a high shoulder shot could give a flag about 2,600 FPS. Done properly it’s a lights out shot, but it does take very good placement.
 

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I believe speed and bullet construction/performance are factors.
But, without a spinal cord or pertinent part of the brain being destroyed, I am not making any bets on consistent DRT shots, nor staying right there after the drop. Too many variables. The seemingly identical shot on the same type of animal, same distance, same perceived angle can have different results.
They all work when they work, and none work when they don’t.
 

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While it seems like it would be easy to scientifically say what happens, it just isn't so in the field. I have been culling for ranches in West Texas for years. I developed a 30/06 load with a 110 grain TTSX at 3500 fps. Killed like a lightning bolt. Shot white tail deer in every direction and out to 300 yards. Instant DRT every time. I developed this load so I would not have to track anything. So, high speed is the answer? Not necessarily.

This year the rancher wanted something quieter. I started out with suppressed .308 subsonic loads and the number of wounded deer and wind compensation was less than ideal. Thinking about it, I loaded up .223 rounds with 75 grain Hornady Interlocks at 2400 fps out of my rifle. Not very loud, sounds like a .22 magnum to my unprotected ears. This round is a killer. Shooting whitetails at 80 to 150 yards, they have all dropped or fell over within 10 yards. Most shots behind the shoulder and have been pass thrus. So not very fast but just as effective.
 

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Out Of my experience it looks like weather the animal was breathing in or breathing out at the time of impact. Breathing out is logical for DRT.
 

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I believe speed and bullet construction/performance are factors.
But, without a spinal cord or pertinent part of the brain being destroyed, I am not making any bets on consistent DRT shots, nor staying right there after the drop. Too many variables. The seemingly identical shot on the same type of animal, same distance, same perceived angle can have different results.
They all work when they work, and none work when they don’t.
Agreed,

I used to read Nathan Foster site, I rarely visit it since joining this forum.
We can never duplicate the same shot repeatedly in the field. Yes you can do necropsy and assess the damage but how many of us have enough medical knowledge to make Make an informed detailed diagnosis.
These animals and kills observed in the field are not fitted with probes or sensors.
Hydrostatic shock, a quick google shows it might have been evident from handgun wounds leaving a measurable amount of brain damage. What speeds are the handguns doing?


If you want DRT headshot, well hit they do not run.
Many roo shooters use a .223 , some now use a .204 and .222 was once the most common cartridge used for shooting Roos. Using a tougher projectile from the .222 velocities sometimes does not get the best result . They drop they don the run but the kills are not as clean as the same projectile runing a bit faster from a .223 or a hot load in the .222, then they opt for a different projectile for quicker kills and more damage to the brain on impact. This may well equate to hydrostatic shock creating shock waves through the nervous system causing the Roos to drop without any obvious signs of life for the observer position.
I’ve seen this in the field.but use a hard soft point or a FMJ and the effect is not the same no matter what the velocity. A suitable projectile does the damage even at lower velocity. Some use ballistics tips others a. Faster round. Whenever hit right with suitable projectile they are DRT ro as some professional Roo shooters say “They do not kick” those blokes are harvesting they do not want to deal with an animal they is still twitching on the ground .
My Blue Wildebeeste took a short run in South Africa but expired quickly and was in the open when we followed up. I do not consider that a well placed shot. A better placed shot would have been DRT. A better placed shot or headshot could have achieved that. But I don’t have scientific evidence to prove this or recreate the shot. I won’t say it did not know it was dead, it took a hard hit and made a brief run before expiring. It was not running dead. It was not nerves kicking on the ground it was hit in the vitals , the shot was fatal but it was not enough to drop it where it stood.

In a First Aid course they asked what happens when you die?
Their answer , the heart stops. (stays stopped ) They is what ultimately when something can no longer survive. Something can be brain dead , bleeding out, have busted lungs and one of those may I need turn cause the heart to stop. If we stop the heart with a heart shot the heart stops pumping the brain dies as a result the effects of shutting down and the time may vary but the heart is stopped or suffered severe damage that will cause it to stop the brain and muscles may react, run, twitch or fail quickly. When the heart ceases every other function must follow.

Does a hard enough hit causing hydrostatic shock through a hydraulic effect through the nervous system creating a spectacular kill, probability if it is well hit. Would it take 2600fps to cause some hydraulics effect to cause some brain damage, probably not but we cannot measure this in the field. A good lung shot will cause it to expire when it can no longer provide air to oxygenate the blood the brain dies and the heart stops. End of life.

Choose quality components and shoot well. You are the observer you learn every day so learn from your observations and definitely learn from your mistakes if you identify them.

I don’t think we need to always pursue hydrostatic shock for best results but it does make for spectacular kills

In this video the Donkey raises it s head, A good headshot would destroy the brain stopping the heart but I expect thee was enough energy On impact to cause hydrostatic shock.

I have observed Roos headshot with rifles of various calibres. Well hit they seem to stiffen on impact and drop particuarly when well Hit with larger bullets.
 

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On a recent outing, my son commented, "Dad, you did it again- shot your buck in the shoulder".

YES, A "BAD " HABIT ! One I developed to avoid wounded game escaping or crossing a fence onto property not part of my hunting lease. In this case DRT = down right there.
The shoulder joint shot can also wreck vital organs while disabling the animal. Most such animals are dead by the time that I can reach them. This is regardless of the cartridge used.

Another fun shot is the "pot the pelvis" shot. In my experience, few, if any animals can run away with a shattered pelvis- even a Cape Buff. The few times that I thought this shot to be appropriate always dropped the game. DRT there! Walk up and rake further action as needed.
 

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The article the OP @Madis was referring too.


It seems I am still on an email list from Terminal Ballistics. There is a lot of good reference material there, I have read a lot previously and might home to the knowledge base occasionally to reference a cartridge.
 

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Shootist43

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I too am a devotee of Nathan Foster. However I don't remember anything about 2600 FPS and DRT. I do recall something about brain shots and shots into a animals Thoracic Plexus (located between the heart and the lungs which is part of the Central Nervous System) and shots to the forward section of the spine resulting in instant kills.
 

One Day...

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The .257 Wby made me a believer...

This is an interesting thread to me because it aligns with an experiment I purposefully conducted during a 2019 PG hunt. While this was not a controlled experiment in the scientific sense of the term, the abstract is that I experienced 100% one-shot-kill, pole-axed, dead-right-there, reliability for 17 shots on 17 animals, from 50 lbs. Vaal Rhebok to 500 lbs. Roan, with the .257 Wby 100 gr TTSX, between ~150 and ~300 yards if memory serves. Most animals collapsed on the spot as if struck by lightning, and a few stumbled a few feet.

I remember observing then that the .257 Wby 100 gr was apparently more deadly than the .340 Wby 250 gr that I used in 2018 with 16 animals in the salt for 16 animals shot at, but most of them running 100 yards or more, even with complete obliteration of heart and/or lungs.

Admittedly, I shot the .257 Wby better than the .340 Wby because the .340 is inherently difficult to shoot owing to significant recoil, while the .257 is virtually recoil-less; and also because I trained shooting off the sticks for the 2019 safari while I did not for the 2018 safari. Nonetheless, double lungs .340 Wby 250 gr explosive expansion Nosler Partition shots would be expected to be devastating, right? Well, they are, but not necessarily instantaneous...

The .257 Wby 100 gr TTSX factory load clocks 3570 fps at the muzzle, 3269 fps at 100 yards, 2989 fps at 200 yards and 2726 fps at 300 yards. Uncharacteristically for Weatherby factory loads, these numbers are real. My 26" barrel Mark V .257 Wby typically clocks a few fps faster than factory specs (3583 fps), and my R8 24.75" .257 Wby barrel clocks 3510 fps... The 60 fps loss is in line with the 1.25" shorter barrel.

I do not know if 2600 fps is the cutout for hydrodynamic shock, but my own experience, corroborated by a large number of .257 Wby owners / testers, is that the .257 Wby kills way out of proportion to its diameter and bullet weight. I observe that it still flies over 2700 fps at 300 yards. This may have something to do with it. If bullet diameter and weight are not the cause of the .257 Wby lethality, then speed is certainly very high on the very short list of likely reasons..................

Systolic pressure, or lack thereof, is the likely explanation for inconsistent hydrodynamic shock at lower speeds...

Regarding the unreliable DRT effect of slower calibers, which I too have experienced on and off very inconclusively, I understand that it likely has a lot to do with the systolic pressure of the animal at the moment the bullet strikes.
  • Apparently when heart valves are opened in a favorable way during contraction of the left ventricle of the heart, at peak systolic pressure, when blood is shot out of the heart to the brain, even much slower calibers can produce hydrodynamic shock to the brain, through the aorta and carotid artery.
  • Conversely, at low diastolic pressure it takes a lot faster bullet (emphasis: faster; not: bigger or heavier) to produce the hydrodynamic shock to the brain.

PS1: it is "hydrodynamic shock", not hydrostatic. By definition hydrostatic refers to static fluids, which is definitely not the case when the bullet strikes.

PS2: hydrodynamic shock is totally independent from mechanical damages to muscle or bones. Only the incapacitation of the central nervous system can produce true Dead-Right-There (DRT) effect. A bullet through the brain clearly works, but so does apparently a fast enough hydrodynamic wave propagated through the blood system.
 
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bruce moulds

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a shot in the pelvis that only drops game is not drt, unless d stands for down rather than dead.
what kills is destruction of the central nervous system.
a shot to the brain and often the upper spine will do this instantly.
a shot to the lungs will do the same but take longer due to the time it takes to reduce blood pressure.
heart similar.
sometimes it is hard to differentiate between a high chest shot and a spine shot, making it look like a high chest shot alone was sudden death, when in fact the spine shot did in the central nervous system quicker.
bruce.
 

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I am not a reloader and don’t care a dang about ballistics numbers. I take anything that a gun writer with a huge grain of salt. Usually stop reading before the end of the article. What I do have is 40 hunting seasons hunting in Canada, two trips to Africa and one to Texas shooting animals from the size of Steenbok to very large moose. I’ve used several calibers, but no big bores. I’ve found them all to have the same effect on game. Some drop on the spot and most do the death dash for a short distance. That’s how the .308 has remained my caliber of choice after all these years.
 

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I too am a devotee of Nathan Foster. However I don't remember anything about 2600 FPS and DRT. I do recall something about brain shots and shots into a animals Thoracic Plexus (located between the heart and the lungs which is part of the Central Nervous System) and shots to the forward section of the spine resulting in instant kills.
Ditto, although "devotee" may a bit strong.
I also don't recall 2600 impact velocity as being critical, but I do recall 2200 impact velocity as being a crossover point for some projectiles.
I have certainly noticed that one Ballistic Tip load of mine which was very emphatic at impact velocities somewhat above 2200, became noticeably less emphatic at impact speeds below 2200fps. Still lethal, but definitely not as much "smack down".
 

One Day...

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We should have started by welcoming you to AH.com Madis :)

This, I do with great pleasure :giggle:

There are a lot of interesting things in your post.

Beside the above discussion of whether hydrodynamic shock exists (in my experience, yes, but only under the proper circumstances) and what is the threshold speed for it to happen consistently (in my experience, 2600 fps is not an unreasonable number, although I would think faster does not hurt), please note that none of this is inconsistent with your statement:
...my personal experience, the experience of my hunting buddies, the experience of many of the sentiments on this board and elsewhere, the experience of professional hunters going all the way back to Taylor, and to studies conducted by governments (South Carolina study). That collective experience being that well shot game animals will run approx 50% of the time, regardless of calibre or velocity and; that medium bores starting at or around .338 punch above their weight with high SD bullets, even at sub-2600 fps velocities.
In my 40+ years experience, well-shot game animals indeed ran approximately half of the time, regardless of caliber or velocity, and medium bores starting at or around .33 indeed punched above their weight class with high SD bullets, even at sub-2600 fps velocities, through mechanical damage to the circulatory and/or musculoskeletal systems. This was why I selected the .340 Wby 250 gr for Moose, Caribou, Bear, etc. in Newfoundland and British Columbia for example.

But it was not until I recently experienced .257 Wby velocity, that I experienced reliable DRT effect out to 200 - 300 yards, and, truth be told, not too many cartridges achieve enough velocity to do this. In my own experience, even notoriously flat shooting "classic" calibers fail to do this: the 130 gr .270 Win is already down below 2600 fps at 175 yards; the 140 gr 7 Rem Mag at 200 yards, etc. It would be interesting to know how many of these "regardless of caliber or velocity" shots met the 2600 fps impact (emphasis: impact, not: muzzle) velocity threshold in the South Carolina study...

...Do I build a Foster-style large big-game rifle, like a .338 to .375 magnum Sendero to hedge my bets at my expected shooting distances from 30-300 metres or go old-school with a .338-06 or a 9.3x62 shooting high SD bullets at medium velocities (and have lighter and handier rifle)? I like the extra insurance I get when adopting the Foster-style approach, but the older approach still makes a lot of sense...
Ah! but the delicious angst of the eternal question most of us have been through many, many times...

Certainly, some of us do not bother researching this stuff for endless hours, but many of us do, and to many of us, it is a bridge that keeps us connected to the long anticipated next trip to Africa... Actually, many say that preparing your next safari is half of its fun...

I do not think that there is a perfect answer to a choice of rifle for Africa - although there are many wrong answers ;) - and I have personally been back and forth on this question many times, before coming to my (current) personal conclusion:
  • I choose fast / light / low recoiling calibers for up to 300 lbs. animals (I reckon the .257 Wby 100 gr TTSX to be close to ideal for small and medium plains game as well as mountain game, and it can easily reach to 600+ lbs. in a pinch);
  • I choose proportionally slower / heavier / larger recoil calibers for proportionally larger animals (my picks nowadays are .300 Wby 165 gr TTSX for large PG, .375 H&H for carnivorous DG and .470 NE for herbivorous DG).
I still love the big .340 Wby, but I reckon that a .300 Wby shooting a 165 gr TTSX that retains 95% of its weight (i.e. 155 gr) during expansion is every bit as destructive as a .340 Wby was when I adopted it 30 years ago, shooting a 250 gr NP that retained 60% of its weight (i.e. 150 gr) during expansion...

...seldom have I seen, let alone shot, a large big-game animal past 175 metres.
This likely will be one of your biggest and happiest shock when you hunt open savanna, grass plains, and/or mountains or hillsides in Africa: the number of animals and the range at which you see them when nothing stands between you and them.

Admittedly, this is not the case in dense bush or Jesse where 100 yards/meters visibility is rare, but many places in Africa (Namibia, Eastern and Northern Cape, Kalahari, as well as many places in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania, etc.) offer wide open spaces and I would encourage you to practice out to 300 yards.

Please do not interpret this as me encouraging game snipping at 600 yards, which I do not support because darn few people have the technique for it, and snipping cheats you out of hunting, but there is a big difference between 175 and 600 yards, and many, many shots are taken responsibly in the 200 to 300 yards/meters range :)
 
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