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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So here is the deal:

My mini 30 is sighted in for Barnaul (Silver & Brown Bear) soft points and I am satisfied with the accuracy for hunting at ranges out to 200 yards. My intent was to practice, plink and stock the imported stuff for a rainy day then buy some decent domestic stuff for deer hunting. Then I came across some online accounts of people claiming that the Barnaul softpoints actually expand and provide decent terminal performance on deer sized game. So then I figured that if I could get away with using the same ammo for both purposes it would save me the trouble of having to juggle two different points of impact and save a few greenbacks as well.

So what does the braintrust here think? Is this a crazy thought or is it worth trying? Does anyone here have any first hand experience with the terminal performance of the Barnaul soft point projectiles? I wouldn't hunt with the vast majority of commie stuff but this might be an exception.
 

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I have yet to harvest a deer with a rifle, just bow so far, so I can't offer first hand experience. (Only allowed one deer a year and my tag got filled prior to rifle season) That being said, I have a stash of Silver Bear SP for my M77 and AR15 both in 7.62x39 in case my primary Hornady SST stash runs dry. But from what I have read online and seen on youtube, the bear SP ammo can do quite well on deer. I have seen the x39 and x54r 203gr SP vids and pics posted where folks have, or claimed to have taken deer with them. My understanding is that these SP rounds don't expand as well as specifically designed hunting ammo, like the Winchester or Federal SP ammo does, and there is jacket and core separation often as well as minimal expansion. But, it still does the job and that is okay in my book. If I can get the same result from a round costing $.25 as a round costing $1.25, then that is more than okay with me.
 

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Many hunters around here will use com bloc sp ammo for deer, hog, varmint hunting. You can ******* a bullet trap by stacking milk jugs, pop bottle filled with water. Fire into the line of jugs and catch the bullet to how well it expands. It may at 8 jugs of water, set out 10. I've done this many times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies guys. You are echoing the comments that I have seen elsewhere. I'll probably use my mini 6.8 for a primary deer hunting rig and have the mini 30 as a backup and/or loaner anyway.

I'll be hunting Sitka Blacktail deer on the islands off the coast of southcentral Alaska in Prince William Sound. Alot of deer encounters out there are short range and short lived. There are some open meadows (muskeg actually) which do provide chances for longer shots but the deer don't venture into them often during the day. The limit is 5 deer per person per year and the season runs from August until the end of the year. Only bucks can be taken from August through September but any deer can be taken from October through December.

I've never hunted big game with any semi-auto platform but I figured the mini might be perfect for the type of deer hunting that I do out in Prince William Sound. If I am successful I might come back and report here.
 

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If you're using your Mini 6.8, try some 120 SST rounds. They should work very well on the Blacktail. But honestly, the mini 30 should work just as well in the short range you are talking about as should the ammo you want to use. I don't think you have reason to worry in using your Mini 30, especially on smaller blacktail deer. In my M77 compact 7.62x39, the Silver Bear SP and Hornady SST rounds are about 1.5" difference POI at 100 yds. Not quite enough for me to worry about if I wanted to swap ammo in a pinch. If you are worried with the Mini 30 SP ammo, try some Hornady SST/Zmax rounds. They should be printing very close together in your mini 30 and should perform well on blacktail. Good luck!
 

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I think at 100 yds or less, the mini 30 would be equal to or better than the 6.8 mini. And for about .40 per rnd or so on the barnaul, you can afford to use it for all purposes and dont worry about changing POI. I can get 3 shot groups of 2.5 " or less from my bone stock 580 mini 30 with silver bear. I have found my go to ammo.

Also, Blacktails don't grow to monsturous sizes like mule deer will. A 200 lb'er is a lunker(Buck). A doe getting to 160 lb. would be a real monster. The mini 30 or 6.8 should be good enough at 150 yards or less range, if you do your part.

Good luck!
 

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Do you live in or near Alaska? Sounds very cool to hunt, I handload Barnes TTSX 110 gr that I took a whitetail buck with last year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think at 100 yds or less, the mini 30 would be equal to or better than the 6.8 mini. And for about .40 per rnd or so on the barnaul, you can afford to use it for all purposes and dont worry about changing POI. I can get 3 shot groups of 2.5 " or less from my bone stock 580 mini 30 with silver bear. I have found my go to ammo.

Also, Blacktails don't grow to monsturous sizes like mule deer will. A 200 lb'er is a lunker(Buck). A doe getting to 160 lb. would be a real monster. The mini 30 or 6.8 should be good enough at 150 yards or less range, if you do your part.
I pretty much agree with all of your statements here and my experience with the Silver Bear is similar to yours. I have shot 2.5 MOA with it all day without a failure. I was really surprised how well it functions after reading critics of the commie stuff.

My concern about shooting Barnaul soft points at game was mainly because I questioned whether the projectiles would expand and cause sufficient trauma for a clean kill. Ammo price is important to me in many ways, but when it comes to deer hunting it is a really small factor. It costs me about 400 to 600 dollars a trip to pay for boat fuel, lodging, satellite phone rental, food, heating oil, etc. and that is splitting costs with buddies. So an extra 25 bucks for hunting ammo isn't such a big deal in the whole scheme of things if it provides substantially better terminal performance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Do you live in or near Alaska? Sounds very cool to hunt, I handload Barnes TTSX 110 gr that I took a whitetail buck with last year.
I live in Anchorage which makes it about a 1 hour drive and a 2-4 hour boat ride (depending on location and weather) to go deer hunting. I hunt deer, black bear and caribou every year with success most of the time. I have also hunted moose, dall sheep and mountain goat with limited success. I'll get around to brown bear one of these days just to check it off the list. Of all of these the deer hunting trips are probably the ones that I look forward to the most. The setting of being out on a remote island with my buddies and 5 deer tags apiece for 5 days in October makes for the most enjoyable hunting that I have done. The meat quality is excellent as well.

I haven't gotten into handloading yet but I'd like to when I have more time and space to work with. Same with beer brewing, I want to do it and just need more time and space.
 

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The thing you have to take into consideration with the Russian steel case ammo is that the bullet jacket is bimetal a mild steel jacket bullet with a copper gilding coating and a lead core of some unknown hardness that isn't bonded to the jacket.

In most every case when you do get good expansion the core will separate from the jacket to some degree many time totally. In Russian the concept of 7.62 x 39 SP and HP ammo is basically marketing to sell more ammo in the US market. Although the package may say for hunting purposes the consistency of the SP or HP expanding is more of luck and chance as it can be pretty random at time. Once the external forces like velocity compounded by range on the steel jacket drop to a point where there no longer able to expand or tear the jacket your basically shooting a FMJ.

US and a few of the foreign made X 39 SP ammo's have bullets constructed of all copper jacket and lead cores and are designed to expand within a given range and velocity spread.

I would say that if your planning on using the Russian Sp or HP ammo to keep your range as close as possible so the velocity can do it work on the steel jacket bullet and give you the best opportunity for it to expand if it's going to.

Although this is a much heavier bullet this Wolf 154 gr. slug was recovered from a deer shot at around 80 yds. from a Chinese SKS the bullet struck the deer in the chest and lodged in the opposite hind quarter it did kill the deer although it traveled quite some distance.


Here is also a video from Mainejunker one some X 39 expansion test he's working on. As always make your own judgment as to the usefulness of the test as it applies to your needs.

The Ammo Channel - MJ Projects - YouTube
 

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I would ONLY use high quality hunting bullets for any big game hunting. I owe it to the animal to kill it as quick as possible. I wont use any round designed to be the cheapest made. I'll use the junk on my enemies if it should ever come to that as I don't care if they die just suffer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the thoughtful response SKS48. I knew that most of the Russian ammo performs as you described. I was questioning whether Barnaul might be an exception because I had read some comments to that effect. The video that you linked seems to answer that question. 3 of 3 shots failing to expand in calibrated ballistics gel doesn't bode well for performance on game. I would like to see the same test done with some of the domestic soft points for comparison though.

I was leaning toward giving the Silver Bear a chance for hunting. Now I'm thinking I'll just go ahead sight in with some decent stuff instead. If I used Barnaul and ended up loosing a wounded deer I'd feel like an ass. I just hope I find something else that groups as good or better.
 

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I have killed a number of deer with the Brown Bear 62gr soft point. I have shot a couple of hogs with the same load. All were great performers. I do think they are soft but for Texas deer they are great. I have shot a truck load of deer over the years with the Wolf 154 gr and all were one shot kills and I have a few hogs also with the 154 sp. I only recover one bullet in all those years and it was a hog shot end to end and the bullet looked just like the one pictured above. I have since went to Hornady and have taken one with the V Max and it was devistating on the deer I shot. I plan this year to use the Silver Bear 125gr soft points to test out. I tried last year but apparently I could not hit the broad side of a barn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have killed a number of deer with the Brown Bear 62gr soft point. I have shot a couple of hogs with the same load. All were great performers. I do think they are soft but for Texas deer they are great. I have shot a truck load of deer over the years with the Wolf 154 gr and all were one shot kills and I have a few hogs also with the 154 sp. I only recover one bullet in all those years and it was a hog shot end to end and the bullet looked just like the one pictured above. I have since went to Hornady and have taken one with the V Max and it was devistating on the deer I shot. I plan this year to use the Silver Bear 125gr soft points to test out. I tried last year but apparently I could not hit the broad side of a barn.
If you find success with the 125gr soft points please come back and report your findings.

It was common in the 70s and 80s for native Alaskans to kill everything from squirrels to whales with a .223 and FMJ rounds. Mini 14s were popular with them during that era. There are many that still hunt caribou with a .223 too so I know they will kill deer. My options and ethics are different from theirs, hence the current discussion.
 

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Well I know it will be too late for your trip to Alaska, since deer season starts here the first weekend in November, but I will report back eventually. You do have to remember these deer are 85 lbs after field dressing, so your results may very, since our deer in central Texas are so small.
The SST Hornady would be what I would grab for larger animals, but my Mini30 shoots a pattern with those, not a group. Terrible performance. I have some PPU 123 Soft Points I will try next time I go to the range. They seem to be a good close range medicine w/ copper jacket and are half the price of Rem or Federal SP's.
 

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Well I know it will be too late for your trip to Alaska, since deer season starts here the first weekend in November, but I will report back eventually. You do have to remember these deer are 85 lbs after field dressing, so your results may very, since our deer in central Texas are so small.
The SST Hornady would be what I would grab for larger animals, but my Mini30 shoots a pattern with those, not a group. Terrible performance. I have some PPU 123 Soft Points I will try next time I go to the range. They seem to be a good close range medicine w/ copper jacket and are half the price of Rem or Federal SP's.
The Blacktail in Alaska are similar to Texas sized Whitetails, so your x39 performance on them should be very helpful to the OP. If nothing else, it will help for next year. I'm curious to see how the PPU's group, since they are copper jacketed too.
 

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I will need to get to the range in a few weeks to test the PPU's and the Hogue stock. I get approx 3 MOA with 154 SP Wolf and 125 SP Silver Bear and hope the stock and new ammo I have not tried improoves groups. I only own 4 boxes so I hope things turn out with as few shots as possible.
 
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