Deer Hunter: Low Tech, High Success
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- Last updated: 31/07/2017
I’m not that interested in rifles per se, the hardware is just one of a range of tools enabling me to cull deer on the estates I control. Range work is not my thing either, although I do go perhaps every six weeks to check zero, prove a new batch of ammo and just do a little practice; especially over the summer, when I’m not culling every week.
One of my rifles is a Mauser M03 in .308. I was drawn to the de-cocker, which, surprisingly to me, is the Marmite part of the rifle; it seems you either love it or hate it. I find it simple and silent in use, while it offers enhanced safety; de-cocked, the firing pin has no tension on its spring, so cannot fire, as opposed to systems whose safety just blocks the tensioned pin.
Liking the rifle as I do, I’ve found it to be fussy with bullets however. It does not like boat tailed designs at all. My favourite Swift Siroccos do not group well, despite using three different powders and working through a range of charges and seating depths.
Same goes for Hornady’s SSTs, Barnes TTSXs and I could have explored further with those products but I was beginning to think that life is too short to try every combination for a decent hunting load. I just needed something that worked, so turned to an older design.
Luckily it was suggested that a flat based bullet may be the answer, so I bought some 180-grain Nosler Partitions, the only flat based bullets the shop had at the time. I worked up a load with Quickload’s help, and bingo, all were accurate, so plumped for one that gave 2700 fps and ¾” groups at 100m, just over an inch at 200 m. I stopped right there. I was after a good deer load, and don’t need to have three bullet holes touching on a target. Yes, perhaps with a little more tweaking I could improve on that. Or maybe not; ¾” could well be the limit of my shooting ability off a bipod, unsupported at the rear! Instead, I can be out looking for fallow, rather than faffing around at the range.
So, big deal you say! You’ve worked up a useable load for your rifle. There are two things of note here. Firstly, you may already know that the Partition was designed in the late 1940s, so it’s definitely not a cuttingedge product, without a plastic tip or computer designed ogive, it’s not bonded or made of a ‘special’ metal alloy. If you don’t know, the build essentially copies the German H-Mantel concept. Here, the core is divided by a copper divider (partition) that separates the tip from the main body that in section gives the bullet an H-shaped jacket. The idea is that the tip section expands as it should and the rear section, protected by the partition divider, retains the majority of bullet weight, and it works.
Secondly, and more importantly to me, it works very well indeed on UK deer. It is in the ‘Goldilocks’ range, in that it expands just enough, but not too much! Of the 187 deer I’ve shot with the Partitions, 29 were roe, 31 were muntjac. No, the smaller carcasses were not mangled by the heavy bullet. Just a small hole on the way in, and a larger one on the way out. Not one failure to expand. I’ve taken some quartering fallow between 150 and 180m, a good test for any bullet, having to enter the ribs at an angle. The relatively heavy bullet wasn’t deflected to any discernible amount and gave 100% reliable kills also.
You could argue that a 180-grain bullet for muntjac is a huge overkill, as you can take these smaller deer with a centrefire .22. But on my permissions, I never know what I am going to come across. If I took a light .223 rifle with me, for example, Murphy’s law would ensure I immediately came across some fallow - what then?
My point, is that despite not having the latest technology incorporated in the design, or is perhaps seen as heavy for some species, the old timer has proved to be very effective. This bullet may not suit your rifle, but it certainly does mine and I have every confidence in it. It amuses me to think I have a very modern rifle design, topped with an equally modern Swarovski Z6 ’scope and a carbon fibre bipod as a platform for launching a bullet designed 70 years ago, arguably the most important part of the outfit, as it is only the bullet that will actually touch the deer!