TTAG commentator jlp uploaded this underneath our post Carry Gun: A Bear Necessity?
In 1945 the U.S. Military tested the .45 acp with military 225 grain bullets V/S the 9×19 with the 125 grain bullet. The anemic .45 acp bounced off a helmet at a scant 35 yards while the 9mm penetrated the helmet at an astonishing 125 yards and may have been able to do it even farther but the accuracy of the gun and the skill of the shooter was beyond its capability to make any hits at any farther ranges . . .
P.O. Ackley when shooting into a U.S. Army Half Track with 1/2 inch hardened armor plate blasted right through it with nothing more than a .220 Swift using 48 grain soft point bullets while the 30-06 with armor piercing rounds with a steel penetrator core bounced off the half track. Ackley when shooting feral mules found the .220 Swift was the ultimate killer caliber fare surpassing the military calibers he also used.
The Old .228 Savage rifle with an 70 grain bullet was used to kill Grizzly Barrels early in the 1900’s. Now in modern times people use the .223 with the 80 grain bullets to shoot 1,000 yard matches. What looks to be “the latest and greatest” is often nothing more than a rehash of what was discovered long ago.
Many Old Time Elephant hunters got themselves killed precisely because they were using slow moving big bore bullets that because of their very large diameter did not penetrate as deeply as small 6.5mm bullets used by W.D.M. Bell. Bill Judd and his Son were using .577 Nitro Express double rifles and shot an enraged bull elephant 6 times and the Bull Elephant still managed to kill Bill Judd. Bill died while W.D.M. Bell shot over 1,000 elephants using the 6.5mm and 7×57 and lived to tell about it. All this proves that the “big bore myth” is just that, a myth, because without adequate penetration and bullet placement caliber is meaningless.
Agnes Herbert in 1900 who used both the .450 double barrel and the 6.5mm preferred the 6.5mm and she hunted with both guns on three continents and shot more big game than anyone today could do in 100 lifetimes. Again more proof that her little 6.5 mm at 2,300 fps was more deadly than her .450 elephant gun whose bullets were much heavier and were traveling at about the same speed (2,100 fps) were inferior in killing power.
Big bore guns whether they be pistol or rifle kick more, have more muzzle blast, many times less penetration and people in general shoot them less accurately. Jack O’Connor, the Dean of American Gun Writers wrote of this a century ago. Its nothing new. But the big bore myth lives on. People today still believe the .45acp will knock a man down or spin him around like a top or make him disappear in a red puff of mist. Nothing like that ever happened in America’s war of rape, pillage and Conquest of the Philippian islands.
Jan Libourel the famous gun writer found not one documented U.S. Military statement that was written during the conflict that told of any superiority of the .45acp over the .38 caliber revolvers then being used in the conflict. It was a myth Colt used to sell pistols after the war and was one of the most successful advertisement bullshitting that they ever pulled off as people still believe such nonsense even to this very day. It might be noted the Military even complained of their .30 caliber rifles not stopping people all of the time. The only statement that Jan found was that the shotgun at close range was a very deadly weapon.
I might add I have seen no difference at all between shooting a deer with a .357 Mag and a .44 mag. None whatsoever. And it is known that two projectiles having the same sectional density and ballistic coefficient, the smaller caliber will penetrate more deeply.
Pistolero Magazine in the 1980’s went to Mexico and shot pigs which are anatomically similar to humans except for the fact they are better behaved and they found no difference in killing power between the .38 special, .357 Mag, .9×19 and .45acp. If anything the .45 seemed to work the worst.
In short if you want the ultimate big game caliber the .260 Nosler would kill anything on the planet with ease even if all you had were fmj bullets and then again W.D.M. Bell said he would never pollute his barrel with an expanding bullet. Perhaps his advice even today is not so outdated as one might think.