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Hornady DGX And DGS Bullet Behaviour

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Further down below is an internet report of performance by these two bullets shot into hardwood (unfortunately not into the shoulder of a Cape buffalo). There is some important edification for the thinking reader about the penetration into wood in this report.

Before we engage in a review of the report, here is a link to my blog about the best bullets for big beasts, and here is a link to my earlier blog series about bullet penetration (fragments of which are repeated below):

"Penetration through hardwood: ... the hard monolithic structure of the oak lets the hole behind the nose of the bullet act as a sleeve which envelops the bullet shank and literally prevents the shank to wobble or tumble. The monolithic structure of [an] elephant front skull also does exactly that to the long, thin, high sectional density of a 160 gr 6.5 mm bullet [of the 6,5x54 Mannlicher Schönauer, 6,5x55 Swede, 6.5x57 Mauser, 6,5x58 Portuguese]. The walls of the calibre size hole through the monolithic skull structure keep the bullet's tail straight behind the nose so there are no side forces onto the bullet shank that will add to extra drag against penetration".

So here we have a report on 500 gr bullets from a .458 Win Mag: two Dangerous Game Solids (DGS) and two Dangerous Game Expanders (DGX) into a log of "black locust" wood - which seems to be as hard as oak:

The bullet front is not a proper flat nose, but round with a small flattened front end. It retained 100% weight, which is good. It does appear if the outer copper jacket does not envelop the nose of the bullet, an impression which is supported by the following photo:

This so-called "solid" bullet did not retain 100% weight, as a piece of the outer copper jacket was ripped off by the wood, exposing the inner jacket. Whatever glue holding the two jackets together (not solder bonding) clearly had no hold, at least in that area.

The question must be asked how the quality control is managed to ensure a consistent glue bond all around the inner lead core and the steel jackets, and then the glue of the steel jacket binding it to the copper outer jacket? It is by no means a solid bullet but consists of an inner lead core glued (not solder bonded) to a thin, so-called steel jacket, which in turn appears to be glued to an outer copper jacket.

The report said that this bullet penetrated 28" into the wood, which figure has no comparative relativity to the polylithic matter in an animal's shoulder and adjoining rib structure. The penetration force per frontal area of the 500 gr bullet from a .458 Win Mag is 91 Newton per sq/mm. That is lower than the 96 N.sq/mm of the 286 gr monolithic solid from a 9,3x62, which is the minimum cartridge allowed for Cape buffalo in South Africa.

As an example, a 300 gr monolithic solid from a .375 H&H has a penetration force of 106 N.sq/mm which is 16.5% more than the .458 Win Mag, and which many years has been evident in the field on Cape buffalo. Comparisons into hardwood have never been done here because such measurements have no field value.

A 160 gr monolithic solid from a 6,5x57 Mauser also has a penetration force of 106 N.sq/mm, also 16.5% more than the .458 Win Mag. This again represents a very good penetration ability into wood and also on frontal brain shots on elephant.

More inportant: "What about Cape buffalo?

"Will the long, thin 160 gr bullet from a 6.5mm cartridge with its impressive 106 Newton impulse per square mm also penetrate a Cape buffalo shoulder, staying nose ahead through the polylithic structure of 1" thick skin, very tough and slippery tendons, break the very hard, convex humerus bone, break through 1" thick overlapping ribs, slice open the heart top chambers, break through 1" overlapping opposite ribs, break the opposite shoulder joint of the humerus-scapula bones, slice through a thick, tough, very slippery tendon and punch through the skin and be gone like a 300 gr bullet from a .375 H&H will do which has the same impulse per square mm bullet frontal area?"

It most certainly will not. Particularly will the very hard, convex outer structure of the humerus it suddenly encounters after having entered the shoulder tendon and muscle group bend the long bullet, cause a tumble and immediate loss of penetration. A frontal brain shot will work if placed correctly depending on the buffalo's head attitude because there is mostly a monolithic mass of bone to overcome."

Many instances have proven that the impulse force of 91 Newton per square millimeter of a .458 Win Mag bullet is not sufficient to overcome the destabilising forces of the material it meets on its way to a buffalo's heart.

The DGX bullets tested by the internet poster:

A great deal of material loss, and therefore weight loss (possibly 50%) is immediately evident in this photo. There are clear indications that both bullets have tumbled, even in the monolithic structure of the hardwood. This perfomance suggests that the Hornady DGX bullets should not be used on anything but leopard and lion or bear. Whether the DGX will shed as much mass into the hard boned shoulders of a Cape buffalo remains to be seen. Until proven to not shed weight and tumble into the shoulder bones of a Cape buffalo the DGX will not be on my list of bullets advised for hunting Cape buffalo.

To restate: performance on wood can not and should not in any way be used to form an opinion of a bullet's behaviour on the shoulder of Cape buffalo. Maybe Hornady should visit me and we go on a hunt with proper shot placement and see what we see and publish the results for all to see, and hopefully have real marketing value for Hornady regarding the DGS and DGX bullets.

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