The Wasted Energy Myth


Is it better for a hunting bullet to completely penetrate an animal or expend all of its energy on the inside? The former provides entry and exit wounds, which usually create a much greater blood trail, yet the latter sees the bullet expending all of its energy inside the body cavity and creating a quicker demise. This second philosophy suggests that a bullet completely passing through the body cavity results in “wasted energy,” and Ron Spomer addresses this controversy directly and provides a persuasive argument:

sbst270_frontview-updated[1]This misconception seems reasonable on the surface: Bullets that pass through game waste energy that is merely spent in the dirt or some tree where they finally come to rest. The best game-stopping performance comes from bullets that pass through vital organs and nudge the far side skin with their last gasp.

Sorry, troops, but bullets don’t kill like Mack trucks. Those grand kinetic energy figures you see (like 3,600 foot-pounds [ft.-lbs.] from a 180-grain bullet thrown by a .300 Win. Mag.) don’t hold up in the real world. That 3,600 ft.-lbs. figure means there is enough energy in that fast-moving bullet to lift 3,600 pounds a foot off the ground.

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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.