Pistol ammo in a rifle

A little confused. I know hollow points in a rifle isn’t always good, because the extra speed can make the bullet explode or fragment way to fast resulting in little penetration.
So I am thinking of a jacketed soft point, but some experts say SPs will give good penetration, but don’t always expand enough to cause damage to take an animal down.
But at the same time, experts will say a hardcast bullet is excellent for deer, hogs bear etc.as they penetrate deep because they do not expand, and they destroy tissue as they go.
So I am confused on why a SP is considered bad by some, and at the same time a hardcast is good?
A 230 gr hardcast at 1600 fps probably wouldn’t even notice a deer as it passed through.
Can someone explain all this…?

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First, what type of PCC are you looking at and, second, what would be your philosophy of use? It sounds like, from you question, that you’re looking at a POU of hunting. If that is so, I would never recommend that. If it’s for self or home defense, a sub gun is great because of the short engagement ranges and low penetration compared with a rifle round. Personally, I wouldn’t worry about HPs out of a PCC, as long as they function reliably. If you’re that worried about premature expansion, look at Hornady or Cor-Bon plastic filled HPs. Those are great for REC of home defense, and they may give you some peace of mind about premature expansion. However, with standard HPs I don’t think that will be a problem.

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I am looking at a lever action for hunting in either 41 or 44 mag. Granted, people may be referring to a pistol, and not a rifle, but I don’t understand why some will say a soft point is bad because it may not expand and do any internal damage, then praise a hardcast for most animals, when it does not expand at all.
I know about having the right ammo for the right hunt, I just don’t understand the thinking on the SP and HC debate.

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A .41 or .44 Mag lever gun is great for hunting. I would not refer to either cartridge as a “pistol cartridge”, and either is very capable of taking game under 75yrds. With jacketed HPs, or try Hornady LeveRevolution ammo, there is no doubt in my mind that eithet will work fine and without flaw, as long as you’re not trying to take elk or anything.

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It has to do with bullet construction and the way a given design is supposed to work.
Before I continue I’m going to tell you to check with the bullet manufacturer to get the velocity envelope at which the bullet in question is designed to work within. You may need to contact their technical dept’.

OK, now on to your SP vs hardcast. A HP/SP is designed to expand within a velocity window, and the hardcast is designed to never expand. Instead it has sharp shoulder (Keith type bullet) and is designed to break bone and punch a hole like a cookie cutter with plenty of wound cavity thrown in due to the large meplat, and while doing that keep it’s shape as it travels through the animal. They give lots of penetration. Which works best? That’s for you to decide. The Keith type bullet has been proven to work and doesn’t need to expand to work at pretty much any velocity. SPs and HPs also work just not as good unless they expand. Jacketed bullets can work to one degree or another in pretty much any gun, but with hardcast you might need to make decisions and know how things work for best results. There’s a reason copper jacketed took over from hardcast in many applications but if possible I’ll choose hardcast. Really high velocity requires a bullet jacket.

If using a semi-auto I’d stick with copper jacketed, but if using a lever action or revolver I think I’d prefer a hardcast Keith type. But that’s just me.

Blunt projectiles are dead simple. Even today a deadly bullet for 2 legged vermin is a full wadcutter because it works like that cookie cutter I mentioned above. No matter which bullet is used shot placement is still critical since there is no magic bullet for a poorly placed shot.

Edit: Here are some resources for users of hardcast bullets. Beartooth makes pretty good bullets too. If you play with their wound cavity calculator you’ll see what effect velocity has, but if it only makes a hole it’s doing it’s job.

I’d like others to add to this because I know I didn’t get it all.


Generally speaking, typical pistol caliber hollow points do penetrate less flesh out of carbines due to higher velocities creating faster expansion. When you get into magnum class rounds however, things change a bit. You want to look for rounds purpose designed for hunting rather than carry/defense. They are usually a bit ‘tougher’ and pose less of an issue. Most will work well in a carbine for thicker skinned game(serious overkill for 2 legged vermin). A friend of mine has used Buffalo Bore 240gr ‘Deer Grenade’ .44 Mag +P out of his Ruger 96/44 to great effect on both deer and hogs.

This ranges from a gross misgeneralization to patently false. Common pistol rounds(9mm/.40/.45) from a handgun will easily overpenetrate many layers of typical home construction material(drywall/studs) while retaining plenty of lethal energy regardless of being FMJ orJHP. Upping the velocity through a longer PCC barrel, unlike when striking flesh, exacerbates the issue. Proper DEFENSIVE intermediate rifle rounds such as 64gr Winchester Ranger Power-point in .223 will break up into small low energy pieces after striking a single interior wall. While still capable of causing harm, those pieces are less likely to be lethal due to their limited energy.

Those same DEFENSIVE type rifle rounds also consistently fall within the standards developed by the IWBA/FBI after the ‘86 Miami shootout when striking flesh and no barrier is present. Deep enough to reliably induce a stop, not enough to over penetrate the bad guy. These factors are what drove LE en mass away from subguns, which were all the rage in the 80’-early90’s, to the current selection of AR pattern or similar rifles.


You did a pretty good job.
Thanks for the explanation.