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This hunting season has been pretty exciting at the Kee Ranch. Nick took his first silenced kill. Dan got his first buck ever. And most recently, my cubemate also got his first buck (more to come on that). Adding to the excitement is the plethora of different calibers used during the 2012 season. Nick used his .300 BLK with a 125 gr. Nosler bullet, Dan used my .243 WIN with a 95 gr. Winchester Ballistic SilverTip. My cubemate used his 6.8 SPC equipped AR 15 shooting Sellier & Bellot 110 gr. Polymer Spitzers. And that’s where we ran into some issues . . .

Simply put, that bullet out of that gun sucked. As an animal lover who hates to see suffering, I’m pissed about it. I don’t enjoy the actual act of killing. I enjoy all the other aspects of hunting, but killing is my least favorite part. And not to go all Motor City Madman, but I believe deeply in the spiritual aspect of taking game from nature. My family has always prayed over the animal before beginning the field dressing process and given thanks when we eat or share the meat we have.

So when I walk over to an animal and it isn’t stone cold dead, that upsets me greatly. And in this case I put the blame squarely on bullet selection. My coworker made an excellent high neck shot about 3 inches below the Foramen Magnum which should have taken out the arteries and veins leading to and from the brain, as well as destroying the central nervous pathways. This is why I’ve advocated for the neck shot in the past. The high neck is a dense area for nervous system and blood pathways. And with a properly expanding bullet, that deer should have gone down and been dead by the time I got there.

So here’s your PSA: in a one-shot study, 6.8 SPC out of an 18″ barrel using a Sellier & Bellot 110 gr. Polymer Spitzer failed to expand adequately and subsequently caused the undue suffering of a whitetail buck. Consider yourself warned.

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  1. That sucks. Beautiful animal, lame that it suffered. Any reason he didn’t use a “proper” (by which I mean big name) hunting bullet?

    • I may be missing the contextual clues to your sarcasm. Sellier & Belliot bullets have taken animals on every continent. It may not be as readily recognized at this moment as Hornady, but it is a well established hunting line.

      Without more data, it is impossible to know what went right or wrong on this shot. Wrong entry angle, bad point of impact, abnormality in the animal, wrong bullet selection, etc…. The deer died. The bullet did it. That is about all we can say for certain.

  2. Last week I was hunting mule deer in the Davis mountains in west texas and had a similar incident. I was using a .300 Win Mag with Hornady 180 grain SST ammo. The rifle had previously dropped 2 hogs and 1 whitetail buck with no hitch, bothe were stone dead before they hit the ground.
    This time though, I was forced to take an uncomfortably close shot, right at 50 yards.
    He was facing me so I shot him just under the chin, in the throat patch. He dropped, and was bleeding profusely, but still had to be coaxed into expiration.

    My point is; the neck CAN sometimes be a hit-or-miss target even with a big .300 Win Mag, since the spinal column is a pretty small target. I’ve seen a few deer shot in the neck run 300 yards before blood loss took it’s toll, and one even recovered and walked around for another year with 2 .270 caliber scars in his neck.

    • It is also very likely that at 50 yards, your .300 Win Mag bullet is outside of the velocity range it was designed for to expand properly. I have had some shots at 50 yards with a .243 WIN that zipped right through without expanding at all.

      Always a shame when that happens.

    • I agree that the neck is a dicey proposition at best, my beloved Winchester 94′ 30-30 usually doesn’t fail to make nice clean kills but, I have taken a couple of neck shots and one head shot that weren’t enough to take the target to the ground. That is the nature of hunting, the kill is just as unpredictable as the game itself. Bow hunting can be just unpredictable and the miss/hit margin is wider.

      • Being in the mountains and plains of West Texas, most hunters kill deer at long distances, usually around 400 yards. I had my rifle zeroed at 300, so I had to aim a few inches low at 50 yards.

  3. So the deer was down but just not stone dead when you walked up on it? Did you recover the round? Sounds to me like the round did it’s job and that perhaps it’s just that you have unrealistic expectations. After all it’s a rifle not a dead ray.

  4. Wow, bashing the bullet/cartridge on a public web site with a million viewers based on one guy’s shot. Too much 300BLK kool-aid? The 6.8SPC has been shown to be a highly effective on deer and hogs — trumping some of the other exotic calibers — and it’s irresponsible of you to put this up as if it actually means anything.

    Maybe we should trot out people who’ve had bullet failures with the 30-06, 30-30, 308, 270, 300BLK, 6.5G as counterpoint, just to make it fair.

    • Josh, I get what you’re saying, but at the same time, you expect it to work. If the bullet manufacturers can advertise their product as (cue dramatic music and deep-voiced announcer) “Perfect, controlled expansion. First time. Every time.” then I see nothing wrong with turning that around. This one did not work “First time. Every time.”

      (I don’t have an example of the ad I’m referring to right now, and it probably wasn’t S&B. But you know exactly the kind of ad I’m talking about.)

      • It did work. The shooter placed the round in the neck, and the deer fell. Sometimes the deer may not die as quickly as you would like, but that is why I have always brought a skinning knife with me or a handgun to end the animal’s suffering quickly. The round felled the animal, and preformed reasonably to expectations. I have yet to meet a hunter who has had all of their kills die before they can walk out to pick up the kill.

    • He’s not trashing the round itself. Did you actually read the article?
      “Simply put, that bullet out of that gun sucked”
      He’s talking about a specific combination.

  5. Tyler, is that photo, photoshopped? I mean everything I have seen from the media, the anti-gun groups and legislators is no one hunts with an AR platform! What gives!

  6. Try some of the Sierra prohunter loads from SSA next time, great expansion out of my 18″ upper. I suspect that the S&B bullets, like most Eastern European ammo, have very tough jackets that don’t expand well.

  7. Never understood the neck shot. My dad always takes the neck shots and it’s a never ending discussion on bullet fragments etc. Ask yourself this… Center mass in a DGU and a neck shot for an animal? I hunt with a Remington 700 30-06 and my dad with a Winchester 100 in 308 and I’ve had to track more of his deer is all I’m saying.

  8. First of all, I find the neck shot to be dubious. I’ve taken about 25 white tail, and I’ve always used the heart / lung shot.

    Secondly, I examined the bullet of the Sellier & Bellot that you mentioned with the green tip. I was not impressed with the bullet concentricity and overall construction. I know that’s only a visual inspection, but that was my impression. I visually inspect all of my hunting and SD ammo. Perhaps S&B ammo performs well, but I have seen gel shots of the Hornady VMAX and Barnes TSX rounds, and they are impressive.

    For putting meat on the table, I don’t know why any experienced hunter would not have chosen Silver State Armory, Wilson Combat, or Hornady 6.8 ammo. Those rounds are proven performers.

    • I’ll leave the selection of the pill to those who use the 6.8 – while the same diameter as a .270 Win, the 6.8 is down at least 1000 ftlbs of energy to the .270 Win. Or .303 Brit. 6.8 is even down a few hundred ftlbs to the .30-30 Win. And a thutty-thutty is a 100, maybe 200 yard gun.

      Neck shorts are another thing – a small target especially if one is concerned about reliable dispatch, especially with a lightweight round. If one is taking risky shots like neck/head, it’s one’s responsibility to carry a pistol to deliver the coup de grace. Or do it with the rifle point blank.

      I was always taught to pass on any deer I couldn’t take with iron sights and a heart/lung/shoulder shot. No shortage of deer for the last 35 years, there will be another along shortly. I have no desire to have to track a suffering animal for hours because I wounded it with a non-fatal neck shot.

      • The 6.8 Spec II is not down on the .30-30 in energy. The Wilson Combat 110 grain TSX load and Silver State Armory 140 grain VLD can nearly 1800 FPE and more from a 16″ barrel. The .30-30 can’t do that with a factory load.

  9. I have shot a buck with a 54 cal saboted hollow point slug going about 1200 fps and blew off half of his heart. It still ran 40 yds. As many a deer hunter will tell you. “Sometimes the animal doesn’t know its dead.” Don’t sweat the death throws either.

    Animals only know food, predators, breeding, and death. People are the only beings that ponder their existance and plan for the future.

      • Because they’ve been programmed by God to do so. They don’t “think.” Ants and Bees and other animals do the same. They don’t “know” why they do it. They just do it.

    • People definitely don’t give animals enough credit.

      That or we give ourselves too much. Oh, wow, where ever did these worms come from? A random tin can, too. How strange.

  10. My experience with helping people track down wounded deer is that neck shots are much more likely to result in an unrecovered animal. I do not take neck shots.

  11. When I go deer hunting I always place the bullet into the deer’s eyeball. It always brings down the deer immediately.

  12. So when I walk over to an animal and it isn’t stone cold dead, that upsets me greatly.

    Believe me, Tyler, I can relate. When we drop a deer at 100 yards and it’s dead before we get to it, we don’t see it die. All we see is a deer laying on the ground where it once stood. We don’t have to watch the transition. But when we are forced to see the animal’s death throes, we know, in a very visceral way, that we caused it. Not the bullets. Not the rifle. Us. And if we’re decent people, it bothers us.

    So don’t blame the bullets. What happened to you has been played out across the world’s hunting fields for generation after generation. A percentage of shots will fail to immediately put the animal down, no matter how much we want it so, and that’s just the way it is. Hunters who can’t accept that reality will eventually give up hunting.

  13. Never been a fan of neck or head shots. Not after I heard about a guy who found a starved deer with its jaw shot off. Knew a guy who sold his 7mm mag and bought a .338 Winchester because an elk got away after he shot it in the neck. Lots more margin for error with a heart/lung shot.

  14. The neck is a poor choice for bullet placement. I saw a cape buffalo hit with a .375 H&H with a 300 grain Swift A Frame not flinch which led to an exciting tracking situation and a .458 500 grain Barnes solid to end it.

    By the same token I have seen bear and caribou drop as if struck by a bolt of lightening with a neck shot. They were hit in the spinal column which is a difficult to find and small target. I do not take those shots.

    As far as bullet failure goes, all bullets fail at times. I have has the so called foolproof Nosler Partition fail. That is why you use a suitable cartridge for what you are hunting. I have a 6.8 SPC and would never dream of hunting deer with it. It wasn’t designed for deer hunting and isn’t a deer cartridge. If you really care about the animals you hunt you use a cartridge with some margin of error built in.

    There seems to be a need to prove that an AR-15 is a hunting rifle, at least on this forum and we have first time hunters using it as such. It is the animals that pay. Just like the guys that claim to kill elk at 800 yards we won’t hear of all the wounded and lost animals either.

    If you care about the animals you hunt use a proper cartridge to hunt them and leave the propaganda at home. If you insist on using an AR platform for whatever reasons, try an AR-10. Better, if you are hunting use a hunting rifle in a hunting caliber.

    • Yep, with the host of hunting rifles and calibers available why would anyone use an AR-15 except for political reasons? It is too bad the animals pay the price.

      Of course this was Texas where a large portion of the hunting is behind high fences and from blinds over feeders. Id est, canned hunts. Let’s see, first time hunter gets a nice buck with an AR-15. Yep, canned hunt.

      I remember a few months back someone posted a photo of an elk shot in Texas. Getting nice wild bull elk in Texas is as likely as getting a wild lion in South Africa. Canned hunt.

      Shooting animals behind high fences doesn’t reflect well on hunters or gun owners.

    • I’m with you guys. 5.57 and 6.8 are pipsqueek rounds and I really don’t understand how anybody rationalizes going after anything bigger than varmints with either. Especially beyond 50 yards.

      Sure they “can” take a deer, so can a .22LR with proper placement. In a pickle, use whatcha got. Going hunting? Take a gun with a cartridge more than adequate to kill your target. Plastic popguns ain’t for deer.

      Don’t even get me started on neckshots.

      • These are marginal comments. The 6.8 is a pipsqueak round?Check Silver State Armory’s Success stories page for roughly 100 successful stories of deer, bear, and pig taken with 6.8 SPC. Maybe fire some rounds before making a verdict.

        The 6.8 Spec II has the same or more energy than the .30-30 when both are using a 16″ barrel. The .357 magnum from a handgun is marginal for deer, but I’ve seen it work. The .308 or .30-06 loads have more energy than necessary for whitetails inside of 200 yards. Not ridiculous, but more energy than necessary.

        You can hate on the 6.8 if you want to, or the AR platform for deer hunting, but it would be much more intelligent to base that opinion on real data versus a single story. This failure was likely due to questionable shot placement, questionable ammo, or perhaps it was just a deer that didn’t immediately die.

        • What these guys are failing to recognized is that its not the caliber or are cartridge or the gun, but the bullet. Poly tipped bullets just suck for hunting. They don’t expand well and sometimes zip straight through. That said,.. not all poly tipped bullets are the same. Some work well. It’s hard to beat a good softpoint or hollowpoint bullet for hunting. I hunt deer adn hogs with .22 cal rilfes. 22-250 and 223. I usually use a softpoint bullet and only had one runner recently. 25 yards….

    • So I guess 7mm mag, .54 cal muzzleloader and .308 win aren’t suitable rounds either, since we’ve seen examples posted in this line of conversation of each of those rounds failing to suitably drop an animal?

      • I have no idea what you’re talking about. You can wound an animal with caliber, is that your point? I agree. So what?

  15. I witnessed three neck shots that went bad this season, one of them mine. Admittedly, I shoot an extremely light cartridge for whitetail (22-250 Federal Premium VitalShok, 60 gr). Both of the other hunters were using equally good expanding loads, and all three deer were taken at 125-200 yards. It required a follow up heart-lung shot on all three to stop the kicking. I am rethinking both the 22-250 Rem (never failed me before), and the high neck shot. Both the other hunters were loaded with 25-06 Hornady accupoints.

  16. If I were to buy an AR it would be in 6.5 grendel or 6.8SPC, both interesting rounds both ideal for woodland hunting the smaller species of deer or smaller animals.

    What this story sounds like is a mixture of inexperience, and possibly failure of the pill to behave as advertised. If we really do have the animal’s best interests at heart, perhaps it would be better to stick to engine room shots?

    I recently butchered a deer taken by an experienced hunter who told me it had fallen to a neck shot. Butchery revealed that it had fallen to a shattered shoulder with some spinal damage. Not quite the same thing.


  17. i’ve either personally shot, or seen deer shot with a huge range of calibers… 12 Ga. 3″ 00 Buckshot… .22-250, .243, 6.5X55, 270 win.. all the way up to an unlucky forked horn blacktail shot at about 25 yards with a .338-378… some times they drop… sometimes they don’t, i would personally advocate for a good premium bullet and good shot placement… i’ve seen 95lb does run 50 yards after taking a load of 18 00 buckshot pellets through both shoulders

  18. I, personally own a 6.8 SPCII AR15 and have taken deer with it. Is it a political statement? No, it is easy to carry, quick to point, reliable, and accurate. It is a CMMG gas piston upper, 16″ barrel, 1/11″ twist, pushing a 110gr Hornady Boat Tail Hollow Point. The glass I put on it is not going to allow me to see the galaxy, it is just a simple 1x-4x Millet DMS. I wanted something with alittle umph to take down deer and hogs. What anyone who is going to start hunting, or is interested in hunting should do is become, not just familiar with your equipment, but be able to use it as an extention of your body. Practice, Practice, and Practice. Know your point of impact when you zero. Shot placement, don’t show boat, leave the Hollywood crap on tv. Know the distance to your target. And lastly If someone is enjoying Hunting no matter what their choice of equipment, or pursuit, don’t knock it till you try it.

  19. If all all fails try the .458 SOCOM, if you can’t make a clean kill with that it’s time to stop hunting. Let’s see. I dropped two deer in Texas with the 6.5x55mm Swede using 129 grain Hornaday SST pills. No problem, both immediate terminations, one at 200 yds the other at about 25 yds. Another deer fell victim to my .280 launchinga 154 grain Hornaday Interlock and a hand full of deer in NY all dropped withing three feet after being tagged with a 139 grain Hornday from my 7mm Mauser.Three antelope with my 25-06 loaded with 117 grain Hornaday SST bullets, at ranges from one hundred up to 250 yards, no problems. A couple of mule deer with the 225 grain Sierra BTSP out of my .35 Whelen, same results. A few hogs with a 7.62×54 Russian using 200 grain wolf, dead on arrival. Dropped a nice hog with a 220 grain Sierra boat soft point in 8mm Mauser, DOA. While in South West Africa my 300 Weatherby dropped an Kudu, Gemsbuk, Southern Cape Hartabest, Zebra and wart hog using 180 grain Hornaday Interlock projectiles, no problems. I cant recall the number of deer taken with 180 Sierra BTSP from my 30-06. People, if you put the bullet in the right place it will get the job done. Me, I prefer the shoulder shot. I’ll leave the shoot em between the eyes crowd to write stories of their failures blaming the bullet. Wait I almost forgot, dropped an elk at about 200 yds using a .338 Win Mag propelling a 200 gr Herter’s Swedish Banana Peal Bullet. Elk dropped in it’s tracks. Sorry guys BATF and the asinine gun control act of 68 ruined Herters so you won’t be able to find any of those Swedish bullets. If you do, let me know! Stop trying to be fancy, hit them in the boiler room!

  20. There was more wine and soapboxes in the above thread than you’d find in the a local Sam’s club. We had appearances from various social issue groups like the “Animals are better than people” PETA crowd, the anti-gun “Your only hunting with AR’s to disprove the propaganda” crowd, “Hunters protesting their choice shot placement is better” crowd, the “I’ve killed everything everywhere and you suck” crowd, and the gun community armchair quarterback crowd.

    Any gun and any bullet can be effective with the right harmony of shot angle, range, placement, projectile selection, and an understanding of the intended game and the games physical density.

    I place any failure to cleanly take the animal not on the caliber and/or projectile but rather the hunter (in this case the Authors cubemate) and the shooters lack of research and due diligence. Any smuck that reads a marketing slick, makes a purchase, and goes into the field with it, before doing any additional research, is a clown. (And you hunt with him and gauged his competence which calls you judgement into question). The story screams under informed novice hunter who is still a novices on his chosen caliber (in this case 6.8 SPC II on the AR platform). It doesn’t sound the the shooter knew enough and nor did enough research (about how their chosen gun, projectile, and prey) to properly assess their hunts expectations. And for the author to blame his mates less that flawless hunt on a projectile (+ out of this gun) is a weak cop out. (Sun in your eye; hole in your glove?) Guess what, I just bought some Air Jordan’s and being a 5’10” white guy I still can’t dunk. It must be the shoes. They must be junk as they failed to deliver the dunk from the free throw line experience I saw in the marketing material (queue your dramatic music with the game show sound effect wa-wa-waaaaaah)

    “My cubemate used his 6.8 SPC equipped AR 15 shooting Sellier & Bellot 110 gr. Polymer Spitzers….{AND} Simply put, that bullet out of that gun sucked. As an animal lover who hates to see suffering…”

    Really? Align your expectation. Your killing a living thing, death is painful, OH! and PETA wants their card back. I am not advocating suffering however animals hurt when you kill them. As such, we try and do it as humanely as possible. A big part of that process is doing the research and leg work ahead of time so we have a pretty solid understanding of the expected outcome of our hunt and more specifically how our shot will play out.

    Think how will
    a chosen projectile (caliber, design, grain weight, and physical make-up)
    out of our chosen gun (barrel length, optics, gas system)
    effect our chosen game (deer, elk, hog, bear)
    given the games physical make-up (soft and squishy, dense lean muscle, thick tough hide, bone density)
    given a chosen shot placement (head, heart and lung, neck, spine)
    and how the harmony of the shot’s variable all come together (shot angle, range, placement, projectile selection, in conjunction with the physical density of the intended game).

    I have not researched the Sellier & Bellot 110 gr. Polymer Spitzer round out of a 6.8 SPC II AR-15 with an 18″ barrel and it unfortunately doesn’t sound like the shooter did either. I have however research my main hunting caliber (a 7mm Remington Magnum out of a Remington 700 – versatile and amazing combination) in regard to the above variable. I too could have crap results even with a round from one of the best munitions makers on the market out of one of the best guns on the market if my knowledge went as far as the marketing poster I saw on the guns hop door on my way in. For example, the Barnes TSX projectiles are considered amazing hunting rounds and they are FOR THE RIGHT HUNT. However Barnes TSX is a horrible deer round out of a 7mm Rem Mag as the projectile is too hard and they are moving too fast to expand when they hit too soft a target (like a white tail buck). The Barnes TSX projectile in a 7mm Rem Mag will fail to expand every time against a white tale buck but they are a great bullet for hunting Elk, Moose, Caribou, Bear (140gr-160gr).

    In a 7mm Rem Mag the best Rounds I have found for hunting white tale deer between 100-350 yards are:
    Swift Sirocco 150GR
    154 Gr Hornady Interbond / Hornady 154gr Interbonds
    Remington CoreLoct PSP in 150gr
    Win power points 150gr

    If I were hunting different game animal I would have a completely different list of projectiles. The failure in the original article was that of the hunting party to determine what projectiles they should have been using to take deer with a 6.8 SPC II. The responsibility falls completely on the shoulders of the shooter and is not representative of a failure of the AR-15 rifle platform, caliber, or the projectile. I personally have AR-15’s in .22LR, 223/556, 300BLK, .458 SOCOM. I would expect to have the best luck hunting deer with the 300BLK. However if I took my .458 SOCOM in the field loaded up with rounds topped with 600 grain projections; whatever mess I made out a whitetail deer would be indicative of my failure and not that of the SOCOM round. Likewise is I tried to use a 223/556 and failed to adequately down the deer do to insufficient power that was would be indicative of a failure on my part to not select the an appropriate round for the task.

  21. In a world of hunting and gun noobs people don’t have enough experience with either. I live by the code of the neck shot 30-30 (1st deer 24 years ago) 308 300 ultra magnum and 300blk. 99% of my deer have fallen with shots to the neck. When you play golf you have a golf bag full of clubs to get the job done. You don’t use a putter to t off or a 9 iron to chip a shot in on the putting green. There’s no 1 do it all gun or ammo, before a hunting season weapons and ammo should be tested. However, with the best gun best ammo and precise shot to the neck perfect spot doesn’t mean the deer will die immediately. They have an excellent spirit of survival and when they should be dead you get to them and their still kicking. That’s hunting and shit suffers sometimes. Man up!

  22. He could have shot him in the head instead of the neck its about the same size target and most deer don’t survive the head shot too long, I usually shoot for the heat and lungs especially from longer range.

  23. Pretty baD post/article. I have, in 15 years of hunting, never heard anyone advocate “Neck shots.” They just aren’t reliable for killing fast for most shooters. This one-shot “Study” is no valid representation of anything. The closest it gets to being anything worthy of even the Internet is that your buddy may or may not be a lousy shot. I’m done with this site

  24. I have read a bunch wasted oxygen on this matter. The 6.8 was designed for one purpose to kill the enemy. If this round is more than sufficient enough to take one of the hardest animals to kill i.e. A human. It will get the job done on a 200lb deer,all this crap about taking a plastic gun to hunt is ridiculous and why do it. First reason weight of weapon second it is a durable platform i.e scratching,water Etc. I have a Benellie in 30-06 with beautiful furniture on it and I totally stress out taking it into the field worrying about scratching a $1400 rifle. Lastly some of us who have spent our adult lives depending on one of those junky black plastic guns that feel like one of our limbs, do you get the point yet. I’m sure I will get some smart guy that will make some snide remark but I carried this weapon in different calipers for 21 years and four tours of combat. I read one of the above references about a charging dangerous animal,try another human being hunting you as you are hunting him. I can tell you my little plastic gun at the end of the day prevailed over 762 X 39 and 54.

  25. I almost never take neck shots, unless it a certain angle. I normally shoot a few inches behind the shoulder in the spine. In most cases it’s an instant kill. One time, relatively close, it took app one minute for the deer to die. It was app 40 yards and it’s possible my Hornady light mag did not expand ( 165 gr .308). That was one time out of 10,12 shots I made in the same area.

  26. The author dosnt give any information about the range the 6.8 was used to shoot a whitetail deer. Was he shooting the older 6.8 SPC or the new 6.8 SPC II?
    Given the proper range and the projectile and muzzle velocity the 6.8 SPC II is suitable for ELk, and smaller game.


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