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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am not even sure where this should be as far as the forum. I hope I can ask my question where it makes sense. Also, Florida Boy's thread in the 1894 Marlin forum was going in this direction, but I did not want to high jack that thread. I will be interested to see where that one goes. Now let me try to ask my question. Is there a margin of safety in hunting with a low energy round vs a high energy round in an area that has houses around your hunting area? Being an eastern pine forest and overgrown old terraced cotton field terrain hunter, I am concerned about where my bullet goes when it ricochets off the ground and goes zingging out through the pine tops. I have had this happen. There have been instances where we hear about this stray bullet from a gun range or a hunter a long way away, hitting a home or God forbid a person a long way off. I will stop there for now.
 

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Chief,

Hunters have hit our house three times in 20 years. Once by a Jktd pistol bullet of .44 caliber, once but a .38 caliber lead SWC, and once by a rifle bullet through the chimney - no guess as to what it was as it is probably still going!

My biggest concerns hunting small game is as you stated - the ricochets in the field and killing domestic animals. It happens at least once a week in West Texas though there is little public discussion of it.
A friend of mine lost a $20,000.00+ bull to hunters who shot in on the point of the shoulder and it fell on a fence. My friend had to bury the bull and repair the fence. The insurance adjuster was reasonably understanding but my friend still took a significant loss.

I have found higher velocity helps to break up the bullets on our hard ground. The slower the bullet the “louder” the ricochets - not how I intended to word this but it sort of fits.
I have friends who cull pigs using suppressed firearms - low velocity, heavy bullets. Ricochets are a problem and they study the ground prior to a nights work.
 

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That's a tough question.

Living and hunting in NJ it's an even bigger problem.

Hunting from an elevated stand helps, but it's not always possible. Bullets that come apart on soft targets are fine, but they are not for deer in most cases. Even buckshot, which loses steam faster than most projectiles, can bounce or ricochet on a bad day.

My thought is that picking your shots becomes an increasing priority as housing/population density increases. No real brainer there, but you might be better off with a lighter faster bullet, and restricting your shots to minimum angles, and just letting the rest of them go.

Last fall we passed a group of guys that had bounced a slug off a house. They looked real unhappy in cuffs, and they didn't get their guns back as all had taken a shot or two, and nobody took responsibility for "the" shot acording to the paper, which also listed all of their names.
 

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The game department in Pennsylvania commissioned a study, some years back, which found 12 gauge slugs had a tendency to ricochet and travel a good deal farther than a high-power rifle bullet. This surprising result was in stark contrast to the long-held notion of using large, slow projectiles in semi-populated areas. The presumption that slugs would not carry as far in the event of a miss is based on the premise of firing at a greatly exaggerated angle of, say, 30 degrees. In the areas where these types of restrictions have been put in place, there is almost never a call for such an elevated bore.

Ironically, the high-velocity, small-bore rounds (like a 30-'06) will typically come apart or tumble wildly, in the event of a ricochet, whereas larger, slower projectiles are more likely to maintain some semblance of a flight profile. Naturally, those heavier, stabilized slugs will present a great danger than a ballistically compromised, or fragmented, bullet of lesser weight.

This particular discussion has been brought up before and what it usually comes down to is that not everyone who carries a gun into the field is careful enough about their shot angle or backdrop. However, attempting to mitigate the potential outcome from such irresponsible shooting by limiting what kinds of firearms can be used is not as simple as some game agencies would have us believe. In other words, you can't legislate "stupid", especially when the science behind the choice to require shotgun or muzzle-loader only is not sound.
 

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I believe the plastic tip bullets have helped the situation a little. I have taken a half dozen deer with the LeveRevolution bullet and it expands rapidly. While all of my bullets have exited, I do not recall a ricochet.
Years ago, we discussed the 130-grain .30 caliber bullets, I can say from experience few of these exit, and they stop deer in their tracks when the hit is 75-yards or less.
 

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I've found mushed BP balls/conicals laying on the Sporting Clays range at our gunrange which is several hundred yards removed from and parallel to the Small Bore/Muzzleloader range. To date, never found any from the high power range which is adjacent to the SB/Muzzle range. This, to me, says the slower and softer the slug, the more chance of ricochet.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks guys for the excellent ricochet data. I would not have considered that the data would prove out for the high power more frangible round to be the better choice. Wonder what the max range for a slow moving heavy round is? We know it does not pick up speed because it bounces off something. That factor has to be better for a slower moving round. Right?How far away do you think the pistol caliber guys were from your house, Slim?
 

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Hey Chief,

Great thread! I too had heard about the testing that showed shotgun slugs bouncing off things and going lots further than high speed rifle bullets. My favorite 30-06 load shoots a Hornady 165gr SST at 2800 fps so there should not be much of a ricochcet problem. My favorite 44 mag load for my 1894P shoots a 290gr LFN Beartooth bullet at a bit over 1,600 fps and probably fits the definition of a good ricochet load. It's not much of an issue in the woods though. Round nose profiles have always been known to richochet more than flat nose or wide flat nose designs. So I would guess that changing over to the 265gr WFN bullet in my 1894 and bumping the velocity up would cut back the ricochet potential. I'm guessing of course but it sounds good. :D I'll follow the thread with interest.
 
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