@ 08:32 am (GMT)
Nathan FosterHeck, completely missed this thread till now sorry.
OK, what you need to understand is that below 2400fps, heavily core bonded bullets begin to retain energy, regardless of mushrooming. Below 2200fps, the wound channel is directly proportionate to the expanded caliber. Therefore, if you are shooting such a bullet and cannot keep your shots well forwards into the autonomic plexus (forwards shoulder also offers extra resistance to aid expansion), big deer may run a long way after the shot. Rifle accuracy (field) and wind drift error are major concerns.
The .338 Federal can at times be caught between a rock and a hard place. A tough bullet will produce excellent penetration but can be very much lacking as far as wounding goes once it falls below 2200fps. Generally speaking, it pays to let go of the idea (focus) of deep penetration when using this cartridge, even if the gun was purchased for this very reason. Look towards wide wounding and use low velocity combined with heavy bullet weight as a means to enhance penetration, especially if you intend to shoot out past 300 yards. This brings us back to the old slow moving Winchester Silvertips from days gone by. The SST is very similar in this regard. The 225gr SST has plenty of weight behind it and at 300 yards is still traveling at around 1900fps and works very well at this impact velocity on large body weights (also the Speer BTSP). As Warwick said, you would do well to read the book series as I covered this in detail with more info in the second edition.
In the very middle we have the 210gr Partition. The Hotcor is much the same and although it has core bonding, it is not nearly as tough as the Woodleigh and behaves more like the Partition. Starting in the middle, the hunter can monitor results and study wounding thoroughly. After some time in the field (terrain, ranges, angles) the hunter will know whether he needs a softer bullet or something tougher like the Woodleigh.
This is a classic case of a cartridge that needs to be treated in the same manner as long range cartridges, but in this case it applies to close ranges. This and other mild offerings are the very reason why we need to continue to have access to more traditional bullet designs rather than being forced by any do-gooders into using 100% weight retaining copper bullets. There are many cartridges like this one and hunters need a range of bullet options to ensure they can achieve clean and humane kills on a wide range of game body weights- not simply one bullet that only works when X and Y are perfectly aligned. Having said this, the 160gr Barnes bullet has some merit in this cartridge but its performance is again reliant on high velocity (the very reason why it was created in this bullet weight and a tell tale sign of the limitations of this type of bullet design). And I suppose one could also argue- why go to the trouble of obtaining a .338 just to use regular .308 weight bullets in it. Then again, there are many aspects of ballistics which take us around in circles.
Sometimes if you really want to explore and fully understand ballistics, you have to bite the bullet and go in the direction you would normally be least likely to take. The factors I have talked about in this post will appear counter intuitive to many hunters. If I had read this post many years ago, I would have scoffed at it and taken the toughest bullet I could find because I did not understand other factors, not fully taking your muzzle velocities or bullet metallurgy parameters into account.
I hope that helps a bit James.