Slower-Striking Bullets Penetrate Better Than Bullets Hitting Game Faster

One of the most knowledgeable shooters I know said, and I quote, “The faster a bullet hits, the faster it slows down.” And there is something to this for several reasons, not the least of which is “tipping” or yawing in the wound channel. But we have to be careful. An afternoon of shooting into ballistic media found a 550 grain hardcast lead bullet starting at only 1,550 feet per second out-penetrating a 500 grain soft-nose bullet from a .458 Winchester leaving the muzzle at 2,150 feet per second — every time.

I will fudge-factor my way out with a fact. We lined up solid oak pieces over a foot in diameter one behind the other and from 20 feet fired a variety of 400 grain solids from my .416 into the wood. All bullets penetrated four feet and arrival velocity had to be about 2,300 feet per second. Also, the above-mentioned elephant was dropped with an arrival velocity of around 2,300 feet per second.