When have you ever been let down by the performance of your rifle on game?

Technologist

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We often discuss cartridge selection talking about "sensible minimums" and various thresholds. A lot of us, however, don't really have any concrete and comprehensive data on performance on game that could support all these rock-hard claims that I and others make when we're discussing calibres.

In fact, I don't even have any anecdotes on my rifle ever failing me. I've missed exactly one wild boar, and I've wounded exactly one moose. We never found the moose, so I can't give you a report on that. Except for those two animals, every single animal that I've ever shot at has died. Usually they die within five meters of where they were when hit. My only experience of shot animals not dying immediately is when the shot has been kinda off, like a shot near the spine, but only damaging one lung and so. I had a tendency to shoot too high in low light conditions.

Granted, I haven't shot all that many animals (definitely less than 100 all in all), but still. I also have passed on a lot of opportunities, because I haven't had a good angle. I'm still gaining confidence as a hunter.

Anyways, this wasn't the point of my thread. What I wanted to ask you guys for is this: when have you been failed by the performance of your rifle+caliber+bullet+velocity combination?
 

Mr. 16 gauge

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Interesting question.......the only time I can think of when a bullet/caliber let me down was back in the late 80's/early 90s when Ruger introduced it's mini-30 and was promoting it as a "deer rifle" and comparing the 7.62x39 round to the .30/30 round and declaring it "equal". There were a LOT of surplus SKS rifles on the market back then, and they were pretty inexpensive back then......I lot of guys were buying them and using them as "deer rifles". I had an AKS, and bought a 5 round magazine for it so I could legally use it in my home state.....I figured that the terrain that I hunted deer (creek bottoms that were choked with brush and cat tails would be a good place to use such a rifle: short barrel, semi auto, medium range cartridge. Long story short: Shot a decent sized doe with the round and it continued to go on; it did eventually die....after running up hill and expiring at the top of the creek bottom, at which point if flopped over and tumbled back into the creek bottom, landing in a pile of thorns and briars!:rolleyes: I wasn't impressed with this "short" .30/30, and think that I would have been better armed if I just took my Winchester 94 with me instead. We did recover the deer, but only because I saw it fall....there was little in the way of a blood trail (I was using 125 grain SP factory ammo), and I never shot another animal, big or small, with that round. While it was a fun gun to shoot, it shot patterns, not groups, and I finally sold it off and put the money towards an M1A1 clone instead......and I've never regretted the move.
 

Red Leg

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Once in Germany in about 1977. Was hunting a much coveted red stag permit and on the last evening was presented a broadside shot at about 180 yards through open timber. Stag dropped dead at the shot. Was using 150 gr Norma from a .270. When we gutted and skinned it, we found the copper jacket had penetrated maybe two inches and that the bullet had fragmented. Miraculously, enough bits had penetrated both lungs to bring him down almost instantly. Could have been a very different ending.
 

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I have a couple that I can think of. First one that comes to mind was elk hunting in far western Wy in the late 1980's. Opening day I got the chance to shoot a 5X5 bull elk. About 100 yds away. Behind the shoulder put him down. Was using a .270 with Speer bullets that I had reloaded. Just like Red Legs tale above my bullets penetration was shallow. Felt lucky to have him die.
5-6 yrs ago just after the Nosler AB's came out I reloaded some for my 25-06. Most accurate bullet I ever shot out of that rifle. Well under 1/2 inch groups at 100 yds. Shot a little spike whitetail on the last day of the season. Bullet was slightly further back than what I wanted. He showed no signs of being hit. Luckily I had a little snow. Couldn't believe I hadn't hit him. 400 yds away he was down and dead. The bullet passed through without any apparent expansion. Without the snow it would of been unlikely to find that deer.
Those are the 2 that stand out in my mind. Bruce
 

Upton O. Good

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I've taken a couple of moose, a lot of deer, a few antelope, a bunch of plains game, some primates and one Cape buffalo. I lost one animal, a blue wildebeest that I shot with a .30/06. Knowing what I know now, I would have used a .300 win mag or, better yet, a .375 for the wildebeest. My experience has been the shooter (me) is far less skilled than the rifles I've been shooting. I do love the .375, though, a lot.
 

Mr. 16 gauge

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Hey 16 Ga,

Did you make some kind of autopsy on that doe? The way you're describing it, it kinda sounds like shot placement. :cool:
Short answer: no. I shot her in the evening just before dark, so by the time we got her out of the damn thorn patch and started field dressing, my buddy and I were doing it by flashlight, and I we were hurrying as we also had a steep embankment we had to some how get her up before we could drag her another 500 yards back to the house. Hit was in the chest, and I as I said, the gun shot patterns, not groups.....but it was a close shot (I'm estimating 30-35 yards). Lungs were clearly hit, but I couldn't tell you exactly where.....might have been hit farther back. Could have very well been the gun/cartridge combo, but I just wasn't impressed.

I understand what you mean re: shot placement. On that same farm a few years later I kicked out a doe while walking the top of the creek bottom to one of my stands. She came up out of a gully that drained into the creek bottom, off of a corn field. She came out and I started shooting.....I saw her stumble after the second shot, and I figured I hit her, but she ran out into an open, plowed cornfield with about 6" of snow on it, and didn't give any indication of being hit. I continued to shoot at her until I figured she was out of range, and when she was about 250 yards away, she stopped at the edge of the field, did a quarter turn, and fell over......dead!! I started to follow her tracks and found no blood or any indication of a hit. It wasn't until I got within about 50 or so yards of her that I started to find small flecks of blood in the snow.
I figured (when she kept on running), that what I thought was a "hit" was actually her tripping over a partially downed barbed wire fence that was in the hedgerow on the edge of the corn field. When I got to her and went to field dress her, I found a bullet hole right next to the anus. When I field dressed her, I found that one of my last bullets that I fired at her went in next to the anus and went in up along the back and destroyed one of the kidneys (which bullet, I don't know)......got lucky, as I was trying for the back of her head/neck and I didn't get much in the way of guts, but that kidney was toast!
When I skinned her out to process her, I got a bit of a surprise.....I found two other bullet wounds: one in the neck that apparently didn't hit anything vital and just did a through and through, and a bullet hole that appears to have passed just undernieth the sternum and into the chest, but again, didn't hit anything vital. Neither wound proved fatal....I'm guessing that those rounds were in the first few I fired, and the "stumble" on the barbed wire fence was actually a hit from one of these wounds.
Rifle/cartridge was my .30/30 Winchester 94 with a 170 grain handload (don't remember bullet make at this point....it was either Hornady or Speer). If I hadn't seen that deer fall, I would have assumed that I missed, and it taught me an important lesson that has payed off since: ALWAYS follow up your shots on game, even if you don't find blood/hair and think that you've missed.....press on a little bit farther and continue looking!
 

Divernhunter

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7mm Rem Mag and 160gr bullets. Plain soft point and Partition. Shot a good hits on several small and larger deer. Some lost and 2 recovered.
1st deer shot thru the ribs and went thru the lungs. Exit whole a pinhole. Animal died an hour(or so) later with a 30-06 shot in the neck.
2nd deer was shot 3 times as it walked over a small hill. A friend killed it with a 30-06 shot to the shoulder. He did not know it had been hit before. Results were 3 pinhole thru the animal and one busted up shoulder with the bullet exiting the far side killing the large deer.
A friend of my dads had the same trouble and stopped using his 7mag.
Two friends of mine had hit or miss results with the 160gr bullets loosing deer and often blaming themselves.

So before all the 7mag fans start flaming me: When I switched to 140gr Nosler PAR bullets we have not lost another animal. My friends also switched and have had no problems even with less than perfect shots.
I have since found out that two friends in other states use the 140gr Partition bullet for everything including elk with great results.

Not the shooter, not the rifle, was the bullet selection.
 

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I felt the performance of the Hornady 225 Interbond bullets in my .338 Win mag failed to meet expectations in RSA in '09. Retained weight on the ones I recovered was around 50 percent. I did lose one animal with that load, a waterbuck but in fairness it was one of those just plain unlucky shots I am well known for. Just below the spine with nothing vital hit. Knocked him for a loop, fell down, got up and ran like hell, never to be found after the blood petered out.
 

ack

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Ten years ago wife and I each had Leupold 2x7 Vari x 2 scopes went totally haywire on us while in Africa..Fortunately I had a backup ,Vari x 3,that cured my problem...One time they were on and next time off the charts...Got rid of 'em of course and got a couple Conquests..Had a Ruger that broke ejector but Ruger's service was great and fixed it immediately...Warrantys are great as long as you're not 10,000 miles from home..
 

gizmo

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I can say the vast majority of mistakes have been made by me not the equipment. That being said I've had crap luck with Remington core-lokt ammo. On heavier framed animals it's been my experience they will fragment and get poor penetration. That's just me though.
 

TokkieM

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CZ 550 458 Lott: Failure to feed
Sako TRG 22: Failure to eject and wondering accuracy.
Brno ZKK 601: Failure to feed.
AyA S/S shotgun: Broken firing pin.
Winchester Pump action: Failure to feed and eject.
Zastava 300 Win: Faulty safety.
Sauer 202: Safety failure.
Tikka T3: Mag failure.
Steyr Mannlicher: Stock warped= cracked mag and mag housing.

Krieghoff 470NE: Marraige counseling:A Naughty:
 

Patrick R

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CZ 550 458 Lott: Failure to feed
Sako TRG 22: Failure to eject and wondering accuracy.
Brno ZKK 601: Failure to feed.
AyA S/S shotgun: Broken firing pin.
Winchester Pump action: Failure to feed and eject.
Zastava 300 Win: Faulty safety.
Sauer 202: Safety failure.
Tikka T3: Mag failure.
Steyr Mannlicher: Stock warped= cracked mag and mag housing.

Krieghoff 470NE: Marraige counseling:A Naughty:
eishh...
 

Patrick R

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I must convest, nothing like stated above ever happened to me...but i must state that all my rifles get dismantled to be cleaned and inspected after each hunt, just to make 100% sure it works - especially the big bores!!
 

Mr. 16 gauge

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I did see a core -lokt bullet from a .30/30 Winchester fragment on the gristle plate of a wild boar once. A friend and I were boar hunting on a preserve. As we were walking out, I heard him exclaim "Oh, shit!"; turned to see he had a box of .30-06 in his one hand and a Winchester M94 in the other! Dummy grabbed the wrong box of ammo!!:rolleyes::confused: So rather than drive forever into town and waste half a day, we scrounged around the lodge and managed to come up with 3 rounds of Remington 170 grain core-lokt ammo that was left by someone after their hunt. We found a large boar slurping up some guts from a whitetail kill, and my friend snuck up on the critter and let him have it at approx. 30-40 yards. The hog went down and let out a squeal that would shatter glass, and my friend put a second round in him to stop the noise. When we skinned the hog out, we found tiny bits of lead and copper fragments from the first shot that had hit the gristle plate and essentially shattered the bullet. Wouldn't really call it a "failure", though, as enough of the bullet got through to the lungs and put the critter down......actually, I'm kind surprised, with as much as we found in the plate, that that old boar didn't get really P.O.ed and turn the tables on us!
 

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I must have been lucky...no rifle failure during hunting. My buddys Zeiss scope broke down last year though...he had one spare and was soon back in action..
 

lcq

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I can say the vast majority of mistakes have been made by me not the equipment. That being said I've had crap luck with Remington core-lokt ammo. On heavier framed animals it's been my experience they will fragment and get poor penetration. That's just me though.
I used cor-lokts in Africa for baboons out of my 7mm mag. Four of the five animals I took were with 160 a-frames which performed beautifully. I took the bushbuck with a 150gr cor-lokt feeling no need for premium on a small animal and there was no blood and no exit. It died quickly but I went back to the a-frames after that. My experience is that cor-lokts work well at lower velocity but at 243, 270, 7mm and 300 velocities they come apart fast. Would I use them for deer in my short barrel 308, absolutely, my 7mm not a chance. My new deer round is the 7mm with a 110 ttsx at 3300
 

gizmo

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I have seen bullets(30-30) skip off the plate of an old boar. They can be really tuff
Yes sir, bullets can skip off their head too if they are facing you and it's a big enough pig.
 
 

 

 

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