This is a portion of Tom Taber’s story “10 Hunting Rifle Myths,” which appeared in the October 2014 Trapper & Predator Caller issue.
By Tom Taber
I’ve often heard hunters attempt to justify a missed shot because the bullet clipped a small limb or twig on its way to the target. Even the legendary Jack O’Connor occasionally used this as an excuse for a failed shot. It’s certainly logical that a bullet encountering an obstacle could be disrupted, but I was at a loss to as to how serious a problem this could be.
In an effort to find out, I constructed a type of wooden manifold, wherein I inserted a series of hardwood dowels to simulate limbs. The dowels were positioned close enough to ensure that a bullet traveling to a paper target on the other side would be sure to contact at least one.
Three calibers were selected for testing: the .300 Win. Mag., .30-30 Winchester, and .22-250 Remington. Because of the current variety of .308 bullets, three different bullet weights and styles were shot in the .300, with one style for each of the .30-30 and .22-250.
I began with doweling measuring 3⁄16 of an inch and placed the obstruction 10 feet in front of the target. In my first rounds of testing, and in all calibers, the amount of deflection was nearly indistinguishable. So, next, I increased the dowels to ¼ inch and moved the obstruction 30 feet from the target. This increased group sizes but still not substantially.
Of course, as the size of the object being struck increases or the distance between the obstruction and the target is increased, you should expect a greater degree of deviation. The important thing is that shooting through grasses and fairly light vegetation should not be problematic for a hunter, as long as the game is a reasonable distance behind the interfering obstacle.
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