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Sierra .30cal 168gr Tipped Match King - Terminal Performance.

ZeeZee Senior MemberPosts: 23,360 Senior Member
Ever since Sierra came out with the TMK, I've been DYING to test the terminal performance of the above bullet and compare it to the corresponding SMK and A-Max.

I wasn't willing to buy a bunch of bullets, do the load work with my guns, and shoot something with them. Fortunately.........my friend had the desire to buy a bunch of the bullets and I helped him work up a load for them in his factory Remington 700 with 5R barrel.

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Since then, I have been trying to convince him to shoot something with the bullet in order to get terminal performance data from the testing. Well, I finally succeeded. He had another acquaintance bringing his son out to shoot whitetail and Axis and I all but BEGGED him to let the young man use his rifle with the Sierra 168gr TMK. I even wheeled and dealed.

I said I would come track the deer if it ran and drag it out of the brush. Butcher it and do my autopsy. Then, load it in their truck to take to the meat market.

Well...........he bought it.

So, this afternoon, I got a call about 4:45 that they had an Axis doe down and that it had run off. I needed to come uphold my part of the deal. "On my way!!!"

I arrived on scene to a complaint that there was no blood on the ground and the doe had run into the thick brush. They hadn't gone ion the brush as I'd requested so as to not disturb the "scene".

Finding no blood on the ground, I enter the brush where they said she'd traveled. About 10 yards into the brush was one drop of blood. About 8 yards further..................

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There was no blood near or on her and the bullet didn't exit. Even with the entry wound facing the ground, there was no blood on the ground.

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From point of impact to final rest, she had traveled 38 yards.

I pulled her out of the brush and let the young man celebrate his first Axis deer. He was a happy man.

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Loaded him up and headed to the barn.

They wanted to take the deer to the meat processor whole, so I didn't get to do my typical autopsy or spend the time I'd have liked. So, this is a down and dirty abridged version.

Cartridge Used: .308 Win
Bullet Used: Sierra 168gr Tipped Match King
Muzzle Velocity: 2,615 fps
Distance of Shot: 57 yards
Angle: Broadside
Impact Velocity: 2,529 fps
Distance Traveled: 38 yards
No Exit

Entrance

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The bullet broke one rib on entry and created a large entry wound.

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Bullet struck just above and behind the heart. Causing significant permanent damage to the right lung along with bruising from the temporary cavity resulting from hydrostatic shock.

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Bullet exited low in the left lung causing minimal permanent damage with minor bruising to the lung.

Of note was the fact that, even though the diaphragm was not directly struck and compromised, the abdominal cavity ruptured and spilled into the thoracic cavity. Leaving stomach content inside the chest cavity. This results from significant hydrostatic shock disseminating through the chest cavity from high velocity impact followed by rapid expansion and a dissipation of energy. Basically, the tidal wave has to go somewhere and the force contacts and compromises the diaphragm. And subsequently the follow on organs.

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Exit

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The bullet lodged under the on the off side.

The recovered bullet weighed 70.5 of it's original 168 grains and expanded to the very base of the boat tail. Jacket and core remained in contact.

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On a side note, the doe was carrying a fawn. But, as axis breed year round, it is almost impossible to avoid such an instance unless the doe is taken with a very young fawn in tow. They are pretty much either carrying or nursing a fawn. Take your pick and the numbers need to be regulated on the ranch.

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"To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith

Replies

  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    My conclusion?

    I've waited a long time for this opportunity to assess the terminal performance of this bullet. I can honestly say I am surprised with the results. With it's predecessor........the .30cal 168gr SMK........I have experienced the exact opposite results. Minimal expansion and a "pencil-ing" effect through flesh. Deviation due to bone a common factor. So much so that.............anybody using it with terminal expectations on a regular basis has ditched the option for a more satisfactory result. Except those that can't switch. Basically.......when it comes to making things dead........the 168/175gr SMK sucks great big gopher balls.

    Enter the 168gr TMK option and a 180 degree turn.

    This bullet seems "softer" than the SMK and more prone to expansion that before. Whether this is due to a change in the jacket (doubtful) or the addition of a polymer tip (most likely) is unknown. But, the fact of the matter is that, we have gone from a bullet with FMJ characteristics in the SMK to a bullet of Heavy Varmint performance with the addition of a tip. The bullet rapidly expanded with a modest impact velocity of 2,529 fps and failed to fully penetrate the doe. Depending on your ultimate goal, this can be a good thing or bad. If you are concerned, as some folk are, with over penetration...............WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!!! This might be the bullet for you!

    If you would prefer to see full penetration on soft targets and possibly penetration through barriers (bone) as well....................THIS IS NOT THE DROID YOU'RE LOOKING FOR.

    At least, not in my opinion. We have gone from an ice pick to a mallet when I prefer a wedge. Something that will go as deep as I want and spread things out as wide as it can.

    This is a drastic improvement over the SMK. I have result after result of the SMK's dismal failure in the terminal performance arena. I can't speak for comp/match usage............I ain't a comp/match shooter anymore. But, the terminal performance has swung from one extreme to the other (baring varmint like bullet fragmentation) and still falls short of the terminal performance I'd like to see.

    It ain't a hunting bullet. I know. But, that don't mean squat to me. There are applications outside a bullet's original design that it often falls into and need to be explored. Given the choice of the SMK or the TMK............I'd take the TMK every day of the week. Judging from this one and only result..........I know. It's just 1 result. But, it's a better result than I have EVER seen with the SMK! No doubt!!!!

    TMK = Improvement in the Terminal Performance Arena

    A-Max = Still Better!!!!!
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,127 Senior Member
    Say all you want, but the bullet made a quick clean kill. Entry was dead nuts center of a rib which I am sure had something to do with opening up so fast and losing more weight than I would like to see. Would I use it in a situation where I would want to rely on it for terminal performance? Probably not, there is much better out there. As far as the groups they can do killing paper... outstanding!

    Tell that young man congratulations on his first axis and he made an excellent shot.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    Yes. He did well and I am actually pleased with the terminal performance as compared to the SMK. I guess I was mostly looking at it in consideration whether it was a better option than the 168gr A-Max I so often use.

    In that regard.........no. I will not be replacing my A-Max Bullets with this option.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    He is to shoot a Whitetail doe this morning and I've put a request in to my friend that the boy use one of my rifles with the 168gr A-Max in order to compare the two bullets with like shots and situations.

    We will see.....
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 6,563 Senior Member
    130 grain NBT , a 160 Partition, or a 150 A-Frame. All from a .270 Win.

    With just those 3, your search will be over.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 20,726 Senior Member
    Congrats to the young man :up:

    Linefinder wrote: »
    130 grain NBT , a 160 Partition, or a 150 A-Frame. All from a .270 Win.

    With just those 3, your search will be over.

    Mike
    :rotflmao:
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • earlyearly Senior Member Posts: 4,950 Senior Member
    Scientifically the results are an anomaly.

    Unscientifically the results are a dead deer.

    Old man on the mountain once say, "there are no non-lethal bullets. :tooth:
    My thoughts are generally clear. My typing, not so much.
  • USUFBUSUFB Senior Member Posts: 830 Senior Member
    Interesting results. Personally, I'd rather see the young man use the TMK again. We know what the A Max will do. More data for the new bullet would be better.
    Sometimes, I lie awake in bed at night wondering "Why the heck can't I fall asleep?"
    NRA Life Member
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,587 Senior Member
    Great info to be had there....well written too...Thanks for taking the time to do that. Congratulations to the young hunter as well...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 12,284 Senior Member
    Tell him that was a well placed shot, it would be interesting to see how it would have performed had it not centered on a rib first , but this is good to know also, obviously works, I am not sure most hunting bullets would be that different centering on a rib first.
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • BigDanSBigDanS Senior Member Posts: 6,973 Senior Member
    168 grains at 2550 fps recovered at 70 grains. All I have to say is "splat!"

    D
    "A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,075 Senior Member
    A .308 that lost almost a hundred grains of weight and couldn't make it through a deer on a broadside shot at near-handgun distances?

    I shall pass, in the farthest left lane available, at the highest possible speed. :down:

    On the upside, it DOES seem to group OK if I ever take up Highpower again.

    Good science Zedrick - it needed doin' :usa:
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    USUFB wrote: »
    Interesting results. Personally, I'd rather see the young man use the TMK again. We know what the A Max will do. More data for the new bullet would be better.

    Too late. He took a spike with me this morning using my rifle and the 168gr A-Max. Pics are downloaded and data collected. Will post results here this afternoon.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    Bigslug wrote: »
    A .308 that lost almost a hundred grains of weight and couldn't make it through a deer on a broadside shot at near-handgun distances?

    I shall pass, in the farthest left lane available, at the highest possible speed. :down:

    Kind of my thinking as well.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    BigDanS wrote: »
    168 grains at 2550 fps recovered at 70 grains. All I have to say is "splat!"

    D

    Pretty much.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    Gotta agree. It killed, but not impressively. Of course it wasn't designed for hunting, but SCIENCE!

    This too.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,127 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    I've been DYING to test the terminal performance of the above bullet and compare it to the corresponding SMK and A-Max.
    And for the record, there was an axis deer that was dying to test the terminal performance of the bullet. Fortunately, not you.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    168gr A-Max comparison!!

    Took the young man out this morning to take a whitetail. I let him use my rifle with 168gr Hornady A-Max bullets to compare with yesterday's 168gr TMK.

    Got set up in the stand after throwing out some corn and soon saw a 4 point was under the feeder. Followed by a doe and axis buck down a sendaro with two spikes showing up soon as well.

    We decided to take one of the spike bucks. So, I got him set up aiming out one of the blind windows using the shelf as a front rest and a tripod with shooting bag for a rear support.

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    You can see the buck where the arrow is pointing.

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    I coached him through the shot placement and the fundamentals. When he was ready, I started the video.

    http://vid26.photobucket.com/albums/c106/lovinmycaitlynn/Hunting/Shot_zpskllm1lml.mp4

    I apologize for the handheld wobble. He was using my tripod for that rear support.

    As you see, the buck hunched at impact and ran into the brush. But, he didn't come out the other side of the island of brush. So, we knew he was down just inside.

    It was a 134 yard shot and well made by the young man.

    We gathered our things after a short wait and made our way over to where he was standing. Finding him only 11 yards into the brush with ample blood on the ground.

    I am taking this picture from where the buck was standing at the shot. The young man is standing next to the fallen deer.

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    A good blood trail was present, but not needed.

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    The young man did well. Proud of him.

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    SCIENCE!!!

    Cartridge Used: .308 Win
    Bullet Used: Hornady 168gr A-Max
    Muzzle Velocity: 2,650 fps
    Distance of Shot: 134 yards
    Angle: Broadside
    Impact Velocity: 2,420 fps
    Distance Traveled: 11 yards

    Entrance

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    Exit

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    Again, it was a quick and abridged autopsy as they wanted a whole deer to take to the processor. So, not as thorough as I'd like. But, the data is still there.

    The bullet struck a rib on entry as seen in the pic above. Then, it traveled through the center of the lungs and struck the very top of the heart. Causing significant damage to the off side lung, the bullet then broke two ribs on exit and left a silver dollar sized exit wound through the off side shoulder. Not bad at all.

    Similar results as the TMK, but enough of a difference to continue to lean my preference to the A-Max. It seems a stronger bullet for penetration and yet soft enough to expand and cause significant damage to soft tissue. This has been my result from day one using the A-Max. Nothing but stellar performance regardless the media I put it through.. Even cinder block, expanded metal, windshields, glass doors/windows, solid/hollow core doors, etc......... It just works.

    The TMK just seems a little too soft to me for terminal use. Not a slight against the bullet. It wasn't designed for such. Then again.........neither was the stellar A-max.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • earlyearly Senior Member Posts: 4,950 Senior Member
    Not everyone is prepared to endure the scientific demands of complete analytical dissection. :popcorn:
    My thoughts are generally clear. My typing, not so much.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,387 Senior Member
    I don't know what the hoopla is here. The SMK whether tipped or not, is not a hunting bullet per se, or let me rephrase that, it probably wasn't built with hunting in mind. Like Linfefinder said, there's a bunch of good hunting bullets out there. The Amax is the exception in that it works as a hunting bullet. The Tipped Sierra did better then the regular SMK in that it expanded. But that was probably by accident having an open tip with a piece of plastic in the hole. It shedded a little more weight than is Ideal, but he wasn't shooting elepants with it. It was more than capable of penetrating in the ribs and it came open and came apart wrecking the boiler room. Hey that ain't bad for a bullet that's not even designed to kill, well it kills paper because it's a match bullet. Before I get my foot all the way in my mouth, let me ask, did Sierra claim this bullet was a hunting bullet, or that it could be used as such?
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    What are you on about, Snake? What "hoopla"?
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • Diver43Diver43 Senior Member Posts: 10,514 Senior Member
    Your young friend did very well both times. It is easy to make accurate shots for a seasoned hunter, but a live target is way different. Again well done by him and your coaching. I used to think bullets were bullets, boy was i wrong.
    Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    More SCIENCE!!!

    168gr Nosler Ballistic Tip.............downloading now..........
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,127 Senior Member
    :popcorn:
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,360 Senior Member
    Went out this evening with the young man using my friends .308 Winchester Remington 700 5R and this time...........168gr Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets!

    It was slow going at first. Nothing but the Peruvian Antlerless Deer to keep us company for awhile.

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    Then, a yearling doe came out to feed.

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    Then a doe came out in the same sendaro the young man had taken the spike in this morning. We waited and waited to see if any cull bucks would come out and finally tried to get a shot at a couple large does down another sendaro. But, they wouldn't stand still or were covered up by axis, bucks, or yearlings and he couldn't get a clear shot. Eventually, something spooked the axis and they scattered everything in that sendaro. Leaving only the first doe we had looked at and she was getting nervous. So, I had the young man aim in on her and waited for her to turn broadside.

    The rain stopped and the sun peaked through the clouds as we waited for the right moment.

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    She was standing in the exact same place as the spike this morning. When she turned broadside to the left, I told him to send the round.

    On impact, the doe reared up on her hind legs like a horse. Spun around on two legs and took off down the sendaro away from us. After a short run, she entered the brush and I saw her stumble. Being almost dark, we gathered our things and went looking for her.

    This was at the point of impact. Lung tissue.

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    She only traveled 28 yards and fell.

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    Cartridge Used: .308 Win
    Bullet Used: Nosler 168gr Ballistic Tip
    Muzzle Velocity: 2,730 fps
    Distance of Shot: 134 yards
    Angle: Broadside
    Impact Velocity: 2,683 fps
    Distance Traveled: 28 yards

    Entrance

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    Exit

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    In comparison to the TMK, the Nosler was traveling at a higher muzzle velocity and impacted the doe with a higher velocity than the TMK had at the muzzle! It broke 2 ribs on entry AND exit yet resulted in a complete pass through with large exit wound. There is no question as to the BT being a stronger bullet than the TMK. No surprise. Just an observation.

    The Nosler performed very well and the young man made another great shot. Hitting the doe at the top of the heart again, it almost separated the heart from the lungs, damaged both lungs and severed the carotid/esophagus. The whole right front lung was basically...........gone!

    As expected, the Nosler did exceptionally well for a hunting bullet.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • earlyearly Senior Member Posts: 4,950 Senior Member
    I have some 165 Partitions rat holed. The BT's look really good for deer, but Im glad I got the Partitions for elk after seeing your report.
    My thoughts are generally clear. My typing, not so much.
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 20,726 Senior Member
    So far in my Grendel, I've liked the performance of the 120 NBTs better than the 120 Barnes TTSX or the 123 Amaxes
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,075 Senior Member
    Little doubt at this point that the lad can shoot. Looks like he's replicated the same shot three times at this point. That NBT seems to be quite the wrecking ball.

    A little cast bullet alloy knowledge applied to a hypothesis on the tipped SMK:

    Pure lead is too soft to use as a bullet material at any kind of significant velocity without some kind of buffer to prevent gas blow-by and the resulting leading, stripping out in the lands etc... But the malleability of pure lead does help with filling a bore that a bullet may not be perfectly sized to, and gives some squish on the terminal end. The solutions of the black powder era were paper patching and felt or card base wads. If you get it all figured out, impressive accuracy by the standards of any decade can result.

    The solution today is of course copper jackets, but the impact velocities can be so high that pure lead is not desirable as a core for a hunting bullet. A toughening up with tin is needed, and clever engineering of the jacket doesn't hurt.

    My hypothesis on the TMK is that if you're making a precision target bullet, you'd want a core that is as close to Play Dough as possible so that you can swage it into the jacket easily with great consistency, and you want a jacket of a thickness and flexibility that can be easily squashed into your perfect aerodynamic shape. You need to make that shape strong enough to hold up under the stresses of shipping, loading, and launch. After that, design criteria have been met, and you don't care. An MR-1 target certainly doesn't.

    It might be the answer the police sniper is looking for - at least if that police sniper is administrated by nervous types with a poor grasp of the laws of physics and wound dynamics who insist that a bullet completely unwinds a felon's DNA, instantly stopping him and giving his previous six generations of ancestors significant pause, yet be able to be halted by a single sheet of wet toilet paper on the exiting side. If you WANT your centerfire rifle bullet to behave like it came from a subsonic duty pistol cartridge, it might be just the ticket. But then come the questions of how it does on auto glass and sheet metal, drywall, and plywood, etc..., which is all stuff that Sierra probably didn't have in mind...

    So we really can't call the performance "good" or "bad" without first asking what the desired outcome is. I think a bigger data pool is needed. More deer, certainly. If you can get a coyote to pose broadside for a photo op, it might be illuminating to see how that bullet does with roughly half the tissue thickness to work on. Pigs might be useful for the other extreme - just to see if it stops BEFORE you get to the opposite hide side.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • earlyearly Senior Member Posts: 4,950 Senior Member
    I think IIRC in the book I read about Carlos Hathcock they were using Sierra match bullets. LE probly uses similar, although I'm sure the military has special types for special jobs. I recently read an article by someone familiar with ballistics testing at the Presidio California facility that seemed to indicate that bullet yaw after impact was an important factor for military AP rounds. The construction of some of the different types seemed more complex that just whats needed for accuracy or terminal effectiveness.
    My thoughts are generally clear. My typing, not so much.
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