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WHAT ABOUT MEAT DAMAGE?

This is probably the most difficult new rule for the old guard to accept. Up till now, everyone has become ingrained with the idea that, the more speed you have, the more meat damage you get. The rule is still good for bullets that are made of lead with copper jackets. The faster you drive them, the more they break up, and the more they break up, the more damage you have. That is true. The key, however, is: The faster you drive them, the more they break up. It is bullet fragmentation that causes the damage not speed. Meat damage also occurs where a bullet is used that is too long for a given twist and is borderline stable. As soon as it hits, it tumbles, and causes massive damage, often breaking up in the process.

Simply increasing the velocity with a bullet that does not fragment, will result in so little extra meat damage, that it can be ignored. We have done extensive hunting with a pair of 220 Swift rifles with our 40 grain HV bullet and have observed the following on blesbuck and springbuck. Shots taken behind the shoulder at ranges from 80 metres (impact velocity of 4,300 fps) and shots taken at 450 metres (impact velocity 3,000 fps) show roughly double the bruising at the close range. That bruising is confined to an area about 8 to 10 cm at close range and 3 to 4 cm at the extended range. See the photos below and on the next page. With the close range shots, the bullets lose the petals entirely, but even so, would still retain more than 80% weight. In many years of shooting the Swifts, we have only recovered two bullets.

The range of photos below illustrate clearly the difference between the effect of bullets that fragment, compared to mono metal bullets that have maximum weight retention. The springbuck in the first couple of photos was shot centre through the spine, in line with the chest cavity. The rifle was a 220 Swift with our 40 grain HV at a muzzle velocity of 4400 fps. Note the two photos that show meat damage with jacketed lead bullets that fragmented at speeds that were more than 1,500 fps less than that of the 220 Swift.

The springbuck pictured below was shot centre through the spine fragmenting the bones over a 6 cm area completely. The muzzle velocity of 4,400 fps resulted in an impact velocity of about 3,900 fps. The photo is of the entrance side that showed more bruising than the exit. The exit contained bone fragments and measured 6 x 3 cm.

This photo of the inside of the chest cavity shows the fragmentation of the spine as well as the lack of bruising on the rib cage.

Removal of the right shoulder and leg shows the total absence of meat damage. It is clear that the neck is free of meat damage as well.

Removal of the left leg and shoulder is similarly free of damage. The exit hole can be seen just above the shoulder.

Removal of the right backstrap was the real test of lack of damage. The front quarter of this section was badly bruised and we removed 300g of unusable meat.

The left backstrap showed even less damage and even the front section was not wasted. The bullet hole can be seen with bone fragment damage around it. We discarded 150g of this section.

This buck was shot with a 40 grain jacketed lead bullet that fragmented completely and did not exit. Impact velocity was less than 2,000 fps. The cost of the bullet was only 48 cents. The cost of the wasted meat at R10.00 per kg was R40.00.

This kudu was shot three times with a 30-06 and once with a 243 with cheap bullets that fragmented and could not penetrate to the vital areas. Total meat loss on the carcass came to 35 kg. At R10.00 per kg for the meat, these "economically priced" bullets cost R87.50 each!


Mountain Reedbuck and Blesbuck

When we took our 120 gr 7mm HV bullet hunting for the first time, we shot one mountain reedbuck and six springbuck. Muzzle velocity from an eighteen inch barreled 7x57 (don't ask) was 3150 fps. All were shot behind the shoulder and meat damage was very similar in all the animals. None required follow-up shots and none went more than 50m after being shot. This is the entrance shot on the mountain reedbuck taken at about 150m across a ravine.

This is the exit side of the mountain reedbuck. Although we had wind gusting up to 40 kph during the day, the only difficulty was in coping with the vibration caused by the wind on the shooter and the extreme cold on the day in the karoo. Meat damage on the seven animals shot amounted to less than five Kg.


The blesbuck below was shot at 420 to 430 metres with the 40 grain HV from a 220 Swift. Impact velocity was 3,000 fps. This is the entrance side. Meat loss on this carcass was nil. The lungs were completely destroyed and the animal dropped where it stood.

This is the exit side of the blesbuck with the hole at about double calibre size. The buck dressed out at 45kg. Thanks to Anton van der Spek for these two photographs.


Jani (Gina's twin sister) took her first blesbuck with dad's (Gerard) 7X57. It was an awkward steep downhill shot at about 80 metres and she pulled it plumb centre through the shoulders. The bullet was a GS Custom HV 130 grain at 3000 fps. The bullet entered so high on the shoulder that it clipped the bottom of the spine.

The bullet exited low on the right shoulder. The total meat loss on the animal was 1.6 kg and was confined to the areas directly around the entrance and exit holes. Considering the shot placement and the close range, we think this is very acceptable.

Gina (Owner of GS Custom Bullets) took this springbuck at approximately 100 metres with the 220 Swift. Muzzle velocity was 4400 fps with our 40 grain HV bullet. The shot passed behind the lungs and the buck jumped and ran about 10 metres before going down. This is the entrance side.

The exit side of Gina's springbuck. We took the photo after the shoulders were removed to show the lack of meat damage even in the soft tissue between the shoulder and rib cage. Meat damage was confined to the circled areas.

Gina took her first blesbuck with the Swift at 250 meters off a bipod. The blesbuck was standing facing her. The 40 grain HV bullet entered centre on the chest, went the full length and exited on the first vertebra of the tail with no meat damage.This raking shot from behind on this blesbuck with a 7x57 and a 130 grain GS Custom HV bullet, cut three ribs going in, passed just inside the left front leg, and exited through the front of the chest. We trimmed away some of the membranes to expose the rib cage to illustrate the lack of actual meat damage. Taking a raking shot like this is highly predictable with GS Custom bullets. Due to the high weight retention and subsequent high momentum levels as well as the excellent deformed frontal shape, deflection is minimal.

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GS Custom Bullets, situated in Port Elizabeth on the East Coast of South Africa, manufactures solid copper, turned, monolithic bullets for hunting and sport shooting. These bullets are used by hunters on several continents, hunting from the smallest of antelope to the largest of dangerous game, using the smooth HP bullet, as well as the more popular HV, FN and SP bullets with the patented drive band concept. GSC bullets are configured for the highest possible ballistic coefficients. SP bullets are mainly used for sport shooting. All GS Custom Bullets are moly coated.