I've been thinking a lot about the deer I shot this weekend with my Savage Model 10 in .243 Winchester. The load I used featured a 100 grain bullet traveling at 3100 fps. The kill shot took the deer in the ribs, just behind the shoulder, in a classic perpendicular shot. The animal went about 60 yards from the point of impact and it was piled up dead when I found it. An unprofessional autopsy showed that the bullet blew up on a rib, but cut an artery on the top of the heart. When the bullet blew up, it ruined the shoulder on that side of the animal and didn't penetrate through-and-through.
The bullet is an unknown make. It was sold as a blemished bullet and even with the blem tag, it's shown to be very accurate. It's a cannelured, 100 grain 6mm bullet with a boat tail, of standard lead/gilding metal construction. I suspect that it might be the Hornady #2453, but I can't be certain. I drive that load with Reloder 22 powder at about 3100 fps. In my Savage, it turns in remarkable groups, on the neighborhood of 1/2 inch. At that speed, it's not surprising that the bullet came apart and if the remnants of the bullet hadn't gotten into the artery at the top of the heart, it would certainly have gotten into lungs. However, the bullet didn't pass through the deer and I didn't have a blood trail to track the deer.
I certainly can't complain about the performance of the rifle or the bullet. However, I didn't have a blood trail and without the knowledge I had of how deer travel in those particular woods, I might not have found the deer without a great deal of searching. With a better bullet, perhaps a premium bullet like the Barnes Triple Shock, or the Nosler Partition, I might have had a better blood trail. Maybe not.
The first deer I shot this season, I took with my Savage 110 in .30-06. That load uses Reloder 19 powder to throw a 150 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet at about 2900 fps. That deer was facing me and I shot her in the brisket, where the neck enters the body. The bullet traversed about two feet of the animal, shattering a lung and breaking her spine when it exited. She was pretty much anchored and didn't move off the pipeline. It's easy to track a deer when they're laying right where you shot them.
In both cases, bullet placement was right where I wanted to shoot the animal. Both bullets got into the vitals, but the larger, heavier bullet penetrated better.
This is no indictment of the .243 Winchester caliber for deer hunting. Another half an inch to the right or left and the bullet would have slipped between the ribs. I found the deer within 60 yards of where I shot it. The load performed admirably. That little bullet got me a lot of venison, and I'm thankful for the experience. However, for the rest of the season, I think I'm going to take the .30-06 to the woods. This summer I'll get a box of Partitions and work up a deer load with those bullets. I'll save those blemished bullets for general shooting, target work, training grandkids and other tasks than deer hunting.