HORNADY 147 ELD-M BULLET BREAKDOWN
As a prelude to the following information, I am referencing data from bullets used in 2018. I am not saying anything is or is not different now than it was then. However, I feel it is important to inform the reader that these bullets used were from some of the first lots of 147s. For these tests, the 147 was loaded at muzzle velocities of 3040 fps from an 8 twist, and 3240 fps from a 7.5 twist.
Hornady advertises this bullet as having a G7 of .351, and Applied Ballistics lists it as having a .316 G7. Applied Ballistics’ custom profile of the bullet is slightly different yet, showing slightly better performance than a .316 G7 would suggest, and matches pretty closely to about a .323 G7, out to 1000 yards. The practical differences of these varying BCs are somewhat minor, and assuming 3000 fps equates to roughly 1 MOA difference in drop at 1000 yards. I would start out using AB’s custom profile or maybe Hornady’s 4DOF. However, if you want to use a G7, I would start out splitting the difference at about a .333 G7, and that will get you close enough to adjust bc to your rifle. I personally began using this bullet in 2018 with the .351 G7 when it first came out, and it worked fine for me, though I only used the bullet for one season.
Loading the 147 ELD-M is pretty straight forward. At this point, there is a lot of data out there. In two rifles I loaded this bullet in, it seemed to shoot well at most seating depths. However, generally, the best performance was at .025” or closer to the lands. Among lots, I saw good consistency, though, in different lots, there were minor variances in ogive, so if you’re running really close to or at the lands, or your gun is picky about seating depth, check new lots of bullets. Hornady recommends at least an 8 twist for these, so unless you’re running an older 6.5 of some sort, such as a 6.5×55, .264 win mag, .260 rem, or similar, you should be good to go. Ultimately, I had a consistent half MOA load with these in two different rifles without too much fuss.
TERMINAL PERFORMANCE DESIGN INTENTION
Obviously, these bullets are not designed for hunting. However, looking at bullet construction, they have a thinner (vs. a standard “hunting” designated projectile) non-tapered jacket, are not bonded, and do not have an interlock ring as the ELD-X or some other Hornady bullets do—simply a lead core, a copper jacket, and a polymer tip.
TERMINAL PERFORMANCE OBSERVATIONS
In total, I have documented 16 big game harvests with this bullet, including ten pronghorn, four mule deer, and two elk. These have ranged from under 200 yards to 980 for the farthest, with an impact velocity range of about 2,870 fps down to around 1,920 fps. The following has been my observation of them all.
Pronghorn can create their own challenge terminally for bullets. Pronghorn, even the larger bucks, are built light, with very low fat content and very thin skin. Trauma needs to start rapidly on these critters, as doe pronghorn can be as little as 4” wide in the lower brisket area where the heart lays. Conversely, meat yield is not great on these small animals, with doe pronghorn being as little as 25-30 lbs and bucks rarely rising outside of the 50 lb range, so too much meat loss is a concern.
On pronghorn, the 147 has, for the most part, performed decently. Every bullet sent at a pronghorn exited, most with about a 1-2” exit, and generally did exceptional damage to internal organs without destroying too much meat. When a heavy bone, such as the spine, was hit, obviously more damage was observed. One specific pronghorn, impacted at about 2870 fps, had significant damage, and about a 4” exit, and more meat loss than I like to see. However, this was only due to the spine being hit, causing many secondary projectiles, so I do not attribute this to the bullet, as I have seen the same thing happen even with monolithic designs. Low hits in the lower 1/3rd of the body resulted in death runs, while hits high shoulder generally resulted in drops.
Typical Meat Loss Observations
Video of typical reaction after lower 3rd impact – this doe was taken at approximately 125 yards.
Video of typical high shoulder impact.
My only concern with this bullet on pronghorn, was a buck taken by my 12-year-old niece at 980 yards. The impact velocity was around 1900-1940 fps. This was documented with photos and video. The buck was hit twice. The first shot was a double lung hit at the rear half of the lungs. The entrance was center body, at the second rib forward from the rear, and exited center ribs, or right at the back of the shoulder. The buck ran a short distance and stood there long enough for my niece to get another shot at him. This shot he was heavily quartered, and the shot went a little further back, impacting the rear of the ribs and liver and exiting in the flank. The buck layed down after this hit where we couldn’t see him well enough for another shot, and took a while to expire. Upon examination, entrance and exit holes were nearly the same size, and internal damage was minimal compared to what I had been seeing previously. Of the ten pronghorn taken, this was the only one that I had significant concerns with. What it boiled down to for me, was pronghorn are light animals, the impact velocity was pretty low, and it is possible that both shots just didn’t hit enough material to initiate good expansion, showing me the lower velocity limit (in my opinion) of that bullet for light game such as pronghorn. I personally would try to keep it above 2000 fps on pronghorn, in the case that a minimal resistance impact is made, such as between ribs, behind the shoulder, through only lungs.
Video of buck pronghorn.
Mule deer are a middle ground animal, and many different bullet styles can be suitable for them. They offer a light enough build that light, small, fragile built bullets can still do sufficient damage to be effective, but at the same time, offer enough resistance that even heavily constructed bullets still stand a good chance at functioning properly. Mule deer can be very tough though, and can often times soak up heavy impacts, and still cover significant ground if they aren’t broken down structurally or have significant internal trauma.
We harvested four mule deer with this bullet, ranging from 565 yards to 680 yards. All four of these mulies were no drama, and resulted in quick kills, even with one having a less than optimal impact, taking a step as I broke the shot, making a liver/paunch shot. All exited but my mulie at 565, the liver/paunch shot was still inside the body cavity, against the far side ribs. I have found that if you have a bullet go through the stomach, mainly if it is full of grazed matter, it significantly hinders bullet penetration compared to muscle or other organ tissue, as wet grass is much denser than other organs. Internal damage was good on all, showing significant hemorrhaging, and about 1-2” exits.
While elk are not the armored tanks they are sometimes made out to be, they are very tough animals with thick heavy muscle tissue, very thick hair, and tough hide. They are often in or around very thick, dark timber, limiting visibility if they cover much ground after the shot. They can also put themselves into some very hard to retrieve areas if they are not put down fast. A combination of enough penetration to consistently reach the vitals and enough bullet-induced trauma to the organs to cause fast hemorrhaging are desirable attributes for a quality elk bullet.
Two well-documented and videoed elk were harvested by us with the 147 eld-m, one at 816 yards and another at 703 yards. The first elk was a smaller 6×6 bull at 816. The first impact was a double lung and liver hit towards the back of the lungs, center body, and was found under the hide on the exit side. The second impact was a center body, square behind the shoulder, entrance, and exit, which was about 1-2” diameter. After the first impact, the bull ran a short distance and stopped, and was hit the second time about 20 seconds later. The bull began to stumble about 15 seconds after the second impact, and was down after a total of 40 seconds from the first impact. Internal organ damage was good, and impact velocity was around 2,175 fps. The one bullet recovered was nicely mushroomed, and had 84.7 grains of retained weight.
Video of 816-yard bull.
My wife harvested the second elk at 703 yards. This shot was also videoed. The elk was forward quartering, and steeply uphill. Upon recovery, the impact was right against the rear of the entrance side humorous bone, at about the top of the lower third of the large cow’s body. With the angle the cow was at, the bullet should have traveled through the center of the entrance side lung, the rear half of the exit side lung, and exited a couple ribs forward of the diaphragm. During recovery, we tracked her through the snow, about a half a miles distance, before we found her. During tracking, there was absolutely no blood to follow, only tracks. Once we recovered her and began processing, we discovered not only had the 147 not exited, and the impact hole only had a small amount of foam dribbling out of it, but it had also diverted its path significantly after impact. Instead of exiting forward of the diaphragm, as a strait penetration path would have indicated from review of the video and photo of impact location, the bullet was found under the hide, at the rearmost section of the flank, having gone through a portion of the off side rear leg muscle. The diverted path happened shortly after impact, as the bullet only impacted a couple inches into the rear of the entrance side lung, just missed the liver, and passed through the paunch, significantly limiting damage potential of the bullet. The recovered bullet looked very similar to the one recovered from my bull elk, indicating good expansion, however due to diverting its path, did not impact anything that would cause a quick kill.
Video of the 703-yard cow. She was the first one taken.
The information in the terminal performance section of the Bullet Break Down is not endorsing nor detouring the use of any given bullet for any given game at any given range. It is simply meant to inform our viewers of our observation and our experiences on game. We do not hold any liability for your choices. Every hunter should strive to be informed and make appropriate choices to be the most effective hunter they can be. We only hope to give you a database and an additional resource to help you with your choice.