Choosing between options for hunting

BHuij

Active Member
Hey everyone--

I will be going on my first ever hunt this year, chasing antelope in north-central Utah with a good friend who goes on the antelope hunt every year. I'm wanting to take my Mosin Nagant, and ideally I'd like to do it with cast bullets. I just installed a non-permanent receiver mounted rail and a 2-7x scout scope, and I'm rarin' to do some testing and load development.

So I'm trying to narrow down my options for ammo. I want something that is going to shoot accurately (or as accurately as my barrel will allow), and really help ensure a quick, clean, and ethical kill. Unfortunately I only have the Lee 185gr round nose mold at the moment, which isn't especially conducive to high velocity shooting, being a bore rider design. My tests so far have shown my upper limit of velocity before losing accuracy to be in the range of about 1700 FPS, using 23 grains of IMR 4227. From my reading, 1700 FPS with a 185gr bullet should be plenty enough energy for a good kill as long as I'm shooting at a reasonable range, place the shot well, and use a projectile with decent terminal ballistics. So I'm trying to weigh options here:

  1. Cast bullets using my normal HTWW alloy (BHN ~18), and file or otherwise remove the round nose so I get a nice flat point instead for better terminal ballistics.
  2. Try working up a load using some kind of 50/50 alloy that is more likely to expand upon impact, leave the round nose as is.
  3. Get a new flat point mold cut specifically for my chamber and throat, work up a HV load
  4. Cast soft points with my existing mold
  5. Just use something unoriginal like these 150gr .312" jacketed softpoints: https://redriverreloading.com/reloading/bullets-for-reloading/product/156272-hornady-303-caliber-312-150gr-interlock-sp-bullets-100.html
What would you recommend to a first-time antelope hunter? If you have ideas that aren't on my list, I'm open to hear those too.

Also, how does powder coating affect bullet expansion with softer alloys or soft noses? I PC everything; not a lube guy.
 
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CZ93X62

Redlands, Kalifornistan
Bruce B Soft Point. I don't think PC or conventional lube makes much difference. They definitely expand on coyotes and penetrate through-and-through. 30/30 WCF, Lyman #311041 @ 1800 FPS, hit at 115 yards, 1/2" entrance wound, 1-1/2" exit wound. DRT, BANG/flop.
 
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Pistolero

Well-Known Member
Soft point cast in your mold is pretty simple. You only need to make a dozen or two, they shoot the
same is regular cast, generally, so not needed for load work up.
I have not use this personally, but all the reports are that they work well, and are relatively easy to do.

Bill
 
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Spindrift

Well-Known Member
I might be comitting sacrilege here, but...
Going on your first hunt, where conditions might call for some longer shots, I would suggest using the hornady interlocks. There will probably be a lot for you to learn, and enough challenges, without the added challenge of using cast bullets. After you get a feel for the terrain and typical shooting scenarios, you can always use cast bullets another time. But the first time hunting, you will have enough on your mind, I think.
Happy hunting!
 

CZ93X62

Redlands, Kalifornistan
Spindrift brings up a good point. I would ask some questions of the guide or host concerning terrain being hunted and the usual engagement distances of animals taken historically. If most shots are taken in excess of 200 yards, then you need to look at flatter-shooting options than the Lee C312-185. I have a lot of "Time in grade" with this bullet in 30-06 at 1700-1900 FPS. As a BBSP this was a viable option because the country I deer-hunt within offers few good shots past 175-200 yards, for a variety of reasons. For speed goats at extended ranges, a 243 Winchester with Nosler Partitions has been The Ticket To Tag Fill-Out for a bunch of my friends that hunt Wyoming. FWIW.
 

Bret4207

St Lawrence river valley, NY
Agree, you need more info. If it's 200-400 yard antelope hunting then you might well look intoa different platform, unless your MN and you are capable of holding 5 shots in, say, 8" in a wind reliably. If it's shorter range the MN may be fine, but you kind of like to have your hunts be good memories, not disappointing ones.
 

Brad

Administrator
Staff member
Depends on your expectations too. Is hunting with cast important enough to you to go home empty handed?
Is your friend going to feel hampered with your choices? Will it cause him to alter his hunting routine?

I would ask your friend for some serious advice. If shots exceed 100 yards with regularity then I would use jacketed and a scope.

Only shot one pronghorn and it was with a 15” Contender in 309 JDJ. I needed every bit of the cartridge as my shot was at 235 yards.
 

Pistolero

Well-Known Member
And how accurate is your rifle? I have a number of M-Ns, none are particularly accurate,
say 2-3" at 100. That should be fine at 100 or even 200, but antelope hunting is notorious
for long range shots being needed.

So - I tend to think that if the expected shots are 100 yds or so, a cast bullet will likely do well.
If you may need to either make a 250 yd shot, never getting another chance, maybe a Hornady
Interlock would be a better choice.....assuming your rifle likes them, shoots them well at that
range. No doubt that some antelope shooting over waterholes is at 100 and less, but a lot is
long range in open country were stalking a lot closer is unlikely to be fruitful.

Good luck!

Bill
 

Rick H

Active Member
I have taken three antelope, all in central Montana. The shots were 140, 265, 240 yds. after long stalks. Cover was sparse, winds strong and ranges tended to be long. Pronghorns are not particularly hard to kill (two of mine DRT with 6mm Rem and 100 gr. Hornady SP. the other with a 7mm Rem mag.). The way we hunted was spot and stalk. I would not be comfortable with cast and the rainbow trajectory at 17-1800 fps. unless I planned on hunting from a blind near a water hole.
 

BHuij

Active Member
So I should fill in some missing information, you guys bring up some good points. My experienced friend (Bryce) is taking two people with him this year, myself, and a mutual friend of ours (Michael). I don't know what Bryce shoots, but he took Michael last year, and Michael did bag an antelope with his Mosin. He was using Prvi Partizan 150gr soft points though I believe. So he was definitely getting full velocity.

One of my first questions for Bryce when I asked him if I could tag along this year was the range at which he usually gets shots. I don't feel comfortable taking a shot past 200 yards with this rifle on my first time, even if I was using jacketed full-velocity ammo. He said where he hunts, it's fairly easy to get shots between 100 and 200 yards, which I think I can do just fine.

I think I'm going to play with soft points. Truth be told, I haven't fired the rifle since before I put the optic on it, so I don't know that I could tell you much about its accuracy. With irons, I have gotten under 3 MOA at 50 yards in a 7-shot group. So I suspect the rifle is capable of the accuracy I want; it's just a matter of getting the load to work and my technique down.

I have until the fall, so I may even work up a cast load to use under 150 yards, and a jacketed load that shoots hotter and flatter to use if ranges exceed that. I have the time.

Thanks all for the suggestions.
 

twodot

New Member
Thinking back, I have only killed one antelope with a cast bullet. It was a spot & stalk, wait in ambush kind of deal with a .490 round ball. Range was less than 100 yards.
Talk to you friend about his tactics and the type of country you will be hunting. And do some pre-season scouting if you can.
..
 

BHuij

Active Member
I started playing around with a ballistic calculator to see what I could get assuming a 1700 FPS 185gr round. The BC on this Lee bullet is just so low, the energy drops off like crazy after about 75 yards. At 200 yards I was only getting around 15" of drop. That sounds like a lot but it's easily compensated for with a 7x scope. It's the fact that I only have like 650 ft-lbs of energy at that point that has me worried.

Contrasting that to a Speer 150gr Hot-Cor running 2600+ FPS out of the muzzle... it's like a whole new rifle. Assuming I can get the bullet to shoot accurately from my rifle, I'm effective way past 200 yards.

I think the 1700 FPS load would be fine for shooting deer in a wooded area where the shots are under 100 yards, but I'm just not thinking it's a very good setup for shooting much of anything past 100. So before I try anything with antelope using cast bullets out of this rifle, I would want a mold that allowed me to shoot HV. Another year, I think. For my first time I'll go with the Hot-Cors.
 

fiver

Well-Known Member
good call,, I know that area.
your probably not gonna get super close if it's your first time.


I will say 'sixshot' hunts that same area [on private ground] and he manages to get a couple of antelope and usually a mule deer doe or two with his revolvers. [using cast bullets]
he also hunts rock chucks and mule deer here in Idaho with his revolvers so [shrug] but he does alright for an old retired guy that limps.
 

BHuij

Active Member
Already ordered the Hot Cor unfortunately. I could get them for about 22c/bullet, while the best price I can find on Interlock is 28c. What does a 150gr Interlock offer over a 150gr Hot Cor?
 

Pistolero

Well-Known Member
Nothing significant. I just am familiar with the low cost effectiveness of
the Hornady bullets. My bet is that your choice will do well, too.

Bill
 

Bret4207

St Lawrence river valley, NY
#1, we're talking hunting game here. The $6.00 difference in a box of bullets shouldn't even enter the equation if one bullet is significantly better than the other. I'm not saying one is better, just that if one is a better application for a humane kill, then $6 is not an issue except in truly tight circumstances. If things are that tight, you probably aren't going on an antelope hunting trip. #2, the "...15" of drop at 200 yards" that is "easily compensated for with a 7x scope" isn't that simple. Is it 200 yards or 175 or 235? There's a couple inches difference right there, and that's before you process in if it's uphill, down hill and how much wind in blowing from what direction and whether it's steady or not. There is a reason flatter shooting platforms are preferred for longer ranges. 200 yds isn't "waaaay out there", but you're stating your rifle so far is good for 12" at 200 yards. Sounds like some range time is going to be needed before you make any final decisions.


ETA- this came out sounding a lot more...."preachy"? than I intended. Just sayin' that things that work on the range don't always work out in the field. Hope that makes more clear.
 
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fiver

Well-Known Member
I can touch on the difference.
the interlock actually has 2 locks, both mechanical, but the lower one will not release the jacket unless you split it open or flatten the whole thing down to the base.
I know how they get the ring inside of the jacket, but I haven't quite figured out how they get the lead in there [properly] yet.


the hot core will separate the jacket from the core much easier, in fact I pretty much count on it happening in my 25-06 using their 100gr controlled expansion bullets.
doesn't stop me from using them, but I'm fully aware there is a very high possibility of that happening so I keep the shots off the part I want to eat.
[well except maybe the heart and liver, I want to eat those too but have no problem putting a bullet there]

Antelope are light boned thin skinned animals [similar to a coyote] I wouldn't worry about any cup and core bullet doing the job.
 

Pistolero

Well-Known Member
I have no idea how Hornady gets the bullet assembled, but they do not easily
disassemble when they hit game. I really like Interlocks. For factory ammo,
Rem Cor-Lokts are good, too.

Bill
 

CZ93X62

Redlands, Kalifornistan
Don't sell that Mosin-Nagant short on power or accuracy. Loaded to its full potential with a controlled-expansion soft-point bullet, it is every bit as powerful as the 30-06 M2 loading we fought WWII with in the M1 Garand--in the 2700 FPS neighborhood with that 150 grain bullet at the muzzle. It can be every bit of a 300 yard deer caliber if its user can direct it properly. Shoot the rifle enough to get it sighted in, then practice from field positions to gain confidence with shot-making. Russia has used the 7.62 x 54R for many years as a service and hunting cartridge, and their country has the same range of game sizes we have in our northern states and in Canada. This caliber is A LOT MORE than just a plinker for use with surplused FMJ steel-cased ammo.