I've used Federal Premium Vital Shock 165 Sierra Gameking BTSP for several years on many succesful Whitetail hunts but decided on switching to the Hornady loads for a number of reasons. I knew that the possibility of needing to make longer than usual shots was a real concern so I researched a little about each load.
The Federal load was rated as "medium penetration/high expansion/65% bullet weight retention". The Hornady load was rated as " deep penatration/high expansion/100% bullet weight rention".
(This was the listing posted at my local Gander Mountain store ammo shelf labels)
The ballistic chart on each box had these specs. (both had same muzzle velocity of 2800fps)
Federal premium bullet drop when sighted in 1.5" high @ 100yds is:
-3.6" @ 200yds, -13.2 @ 300, no listing for 400yds
Hornady Interlock when sighted in 1.8" high @ 100yds is:
0"@200yds, -7.9@300yds, -23"@400, 46"@500yds
Knowing that my main focus would be for Elk with Antelope as an extra bonus I opted for the Hornady load ....liking the downrange specs listed. In all fairness I will conceed that the Hornady loads were extremely accurate but it was bullet proformance that bothered me in both harvests.
Our WY antelope hunt was in extremely windy conditions(45 mph steady throughout the day). I spotted a small group of Antelope feeding in an open area 1/2 mile away and was able to use the terrain to stalk within 400 yds before running out of cover. The route had placed me slightly above the speedgoats with the shot being directly into the headwind with very little crosswind concern. One buck was offerring a perfect quartering away shot so I took it. I flipped down the bi-pods and settled the crosshairs at the top of the buck's back. Sand & dust blew back over me from the muzzle blast so I lost sight of the shot reaction from the animal. 6 lopes left dust trails leaving the area but one was lagging behind and stopped broadside after only 30 yards. I could see it was swaying but decided to try another shot to make sure. At the 2nd shot the buck staggered downslope and came 20 yards closer. A 3rd shot dropped the Antelope in its tracks. After examining the buck I found that the 1st shot was a lungshot that had entered low on the rightside and exited through the leftside near the front ribs. 2nd shot was broadside through the ribcage with the exit being about 2" from the 1st shot. 3rd shot was through the base of the neck. What bothered me the most was the exit holes were very small and my finger would barely push into the openings created by the exiting bullets. I knew these loads were designed for larger game animals so felt that the load was still the right choice for the elk hunt.
The first morning of the CO 2nd rifle season found me watching a huge open sage medow below a large rock out cropping. I had asked the evening before about the type of shot distances to expect and Will had calmed my concerns with a casual 200-250 yd reply. (One of the LA boys leaned over and whispered..."yeah, out to 800yds")
The opening morning Huck & Bill were coming up over the backside on the ridge and busted a 5x6 bull with 2 cows out of thick cover and the elk hit the far side of the sage in high gear. I missed the bull with my 1st shot but heard the bullet "whump" on the next shot. The bull immediately humped up and staggered into the treeline about 30 yds before laying down. I tried a neck shot but missed twice so I decided to wait for Will as the bull wasn't moving. Knowing that alot of other hunters were closeby and at the urging of others in our group I went against my better judgement by making a rookie mistake and started across the sage. The bull spotted me and regained his feet to enter into some new growth pines 40 yds into the woods. While waiting for help to arrive I pulled my rangefinder out and determined that the shot had been about 325 yds. (87yds from my seat to a scrubpine, 254yds from the scrubpine to the treeline where the bull had humped up. Only through Huck's & Bill's woodsmanship were we able to track the bull at all...not a drop of blood anywhere but the animal would only travel a short distance before laying down(3 times). We
lost the trail in some aspen patches and searched extensively to no avail. At dusk I finally found 1 small drop of blood on a rock so I marked a waypoint on my gps with plans to start the search again on the following morning. The next day Will/ Chris/Mark spotted a hunter carrying a 5x6 rack into his tent @5am....just up the mountain from our hunting area. Will had gotten a cow at dark the evening before and Chris & Mark scored on a bull & cow at 13,500ft level so we had an entire day of packing out meat before we could try and find anymore signs of my bull. Bill had been within 30yds of the bull and seemed positive that the rack (now on display in front of the tent) was the same bull so at his urging ,Woodhick & I stopped at the camp that evening where the others had seen the rack being carried into the tent and asked a few questions. I only wanted to know if it was the bull I'd wounded so I could gain some peace of mind that the bull had been found and wasn't laying dead somehere...or worse, wounded. The hunter shared that it was his son's first elk and they'd gotten the bull on the backside of the mountain that very day....hmmm? I was surprized that the son never said a word or showed much excitement when we congratulated him but I chose to drop the matter.( Believe me I really had a struggle with the little man inside me). The hunter did allow us to take a picture of the rack before leaving. Spent some serious time praying for Grace that night....and God is GOOD !
On the last day of the hunt we had snow so I set out early to search for fresh elk sign. I hit paydirt about 9am and by 10:30am was able to trail a small elk group long enough to spot a 5x5 bull bedded down in a stand of lodgepole pines facing his back trail. The 100yd uphill shot would be a quartering towards me oppurtunity. I knew I'd break the opposite shoulder and aimed at the base of the neck. At the shot the bull lunged out of his bed and gained his feet. My immediate follow up shot broke both shoulders and the bull was down for good. I placed a 3rd shot through the neck as an insurance shot. Upon skinning out the elk I examined the exit wounds and was amazed at the results. The 1st shot had entered the rightside of the throat but missed the spine and exited through the left shoulderblade, breaking the bone but once again exit was again very small. The 2nd shot had broken both shoulders but again exit was barley large enough to wiggle my index finger into. the neckshot had passed through the thick neck muscles at spine but the exit wound was no larger than the the others. Yes, it was a very successful hunt and a lifetime of memories with cherished friends are mine but I now feel that I made a poor choice in choosing the Hornady Interlock over the Federal Premium load. I believe that the bullets are extremely accurate but are to "hard" as a game stopper. I honestly believe the Antelope would have dropped in its tracks with the 1st shot and the opening day bull would have never left the sage or at least have left a heavy bloodtrail if I had stuck with Federal Premiums. I certainly don't claim to be any type of a ballistic expert but I'm fairly compentent as a marksman with numerous big game harvested over a couple decades.
* these are only my personal expericences that you think about or choose to "round file"
Edited by Phil, 08 November 2008 - 04:27 AM.