Hornady SSTs


Active Member
I started shooting Hornady SST’s in my 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser last year and was pleased with their performance – accuracy is outstanding and I shot a couple of smallish does that both were “bang-flop” affairs. I shot a mature buck with that rifle/bullet combo this weekend – the shot was only 75 yards but when I went to check there was no blood. I was hunting in a fairly open creek bottom and saw him run off so I checked until I finally found a few drops of blood and lung tissue maybe 15-20 yards away from the point of impact. I didn’t find anymore blood, but did find the deer piled up maybe 150 away. Shot placement was good- just behind the shoulder but the exit hole was only about the size of a dime. When I cleaned it, the heart was just pulverized and the off-side shoulder was totally wrecked and bloodshot. If I had bothered to dig into the shoulder I assume that I would have found bullet fragments and that nothing but the base was left to make an exit wound. I know that heart-shot deer can run a long way, but I’ve never seen the lack of a blood trail like this - if I had not been in a fairly open creek bottom I never would have found this deer.

Has anyone had a similar experience with SSTs? Is this just “one of those things” that happens or a function of bullet design? I can’t say the bullet failed, but I plan to find a bullet that holds together better before I use this rifle again!
I shot those SST in my muzzleloader a few years ago. I was shooting XTP and they came out this the SST (easy to load) They shot great, repeatable, and accurate, even in a dirty MZ. Shot two deer with them and had the same experience you stated above (75 yards, right behind the shoulder no blood trail and died 100 yards away ). The first one I thought was just odd, the second one convinced me to go back to my XTP. Can't explain the reason, just had to switch back because of the non existant blood trail.
I had the same issues. 12 ga SST's. Were accurate and very flat shooting, but didnt seem to have good knock down power, or blood trails. Switched to Remington Accu Tip, and they are just as accurate, Almost as flat shooting, but extremely good blood trails/knock down power.
Dad still shoots the SST's.....and still complains when they run off and do look hit, but then finds them 75-100 yards away ;)....still shooting them though, so they must not be "that" bad !
After I posted my original message I spent the lunch hour reading up on SST's (yes, I should have done that before posting) and it looks like my experience with the three deer I've shot with these bullets is very typical. I found lots of reports of no blood trails and lost deer but also other postings just raving about the DRT results they get from these bullets. People seem to either love SSTs (and the similar Nosler Ballistic Tips) or they hate them.

The issue is with the bullet design, which emphasizes aggressive expansion over penetration. As a result, you often get an impressive "bang-flop" kill ... BUT when it doesn't work out that way you've got a tough and frequently bloodless trailing job ahead of you. Having had both results, I'm shopping for a new bullet.
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I haven't used SSTs for very long. We've shot 3 big deer with them in 06 and 308. All were boiler room shots and had big exit holes. All deer went down pretty fast. I've shot countless deer with ballistic tips in a variety of calibers. In a 7 mag, it wasn't uncommon for the 120s to not exit. However, 150s in 30 caliber always exit.

It's hard to design a bullet that is perfect at short range as well as long range. If the bullet is too hard it may not expand properly at longer ranges. Get it too soft and it may blow up at close range. Some of the premium bullets are designed to be better for that job, but when you read lots of forum reports, you will find negative reports on a lot of those bullets as well.

Hornady makes another bullet called the Interbond. It costs more than the SST but is supposed to be superior to it. I have a box of them and have never tried them. I guess we will just keep using SSTs until I see something we don't like.
SSTs on varmints, yes. On deer, no. That's my opinion and YMMV. I load Sierra Game Kings for my .280 and no complaints.
Similar experience on a big doe two nights ago. Son was using .243 Hornady Custom Lite 87 gr sst.
Made perfect broadside double lung shot. There was zero blood, not a single drop for 100 yards. No blood where she died, not even any blood in truck bed after she went for a ride.
The bullet did not exit and the entry hole looked like a nail puncture.
Next season he will be shooting the reduced loads for practice but a full load in chamber when hunting.
Personally I like them, but they are not perfect. I've been using the SST's in 25'06 for about 15 years and my wife has been using them in .243 for about 6 years. High shoulder shots have never passed through but were always DRT. I've purposely shot deer lower, just under the heart and got a pass through with lots of blood and watched the deer fall every time. The biggest problem with using SST's that I've found has been quartering shots, no pass through and no blood, deer has always died 75 yards or less. I've never had a deer take a step after getting shot with SST's in the head, neck or high shoulder.
IMO and experience SST's are way too soft and explode inside the rib cage. At velocities under 1800 fps they may be OK, but there are better choices.
We shoot Remington Accu-Tip in our .270. I'm told these are SST bullets with a different color tip. They were the most accurate factory load we tried so we stuck with them. Of about 10 deer shot with them, we've never seen much of a blood trail. We normally wait for a broadside shot and they are about 150 yards away. All the deer died, and all were promptly found about 30 yard from where they were shot.

Their lungs are mostly soup. I can't complain about the outcome. But, I too would like to see some blood. Even though they drop dead pretty close, sometimes they can be hard to find in the thick stuff.

I've used 150gr Partitions in the .270 for Elk and might try the 130s for deer.

Edit - My Son shot a doe this season with the Hornady reduced recoil load in his .30-06. The bullet is a 125gr SST I think. The shot was 130 yards. Same result as our .270.
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Same experience as the OP on my 2018 buck. I used 165 grain SST from an 06. I will probably switch to one of the all copper designs. Or a may just go back to the core loks that I have shot truck loads of deer with. I also used Hornady's basic interlok bullets on a couple of deer with no complaints.
I don’t shoot them...I shoot Remington Core-lokt and they seem to work perfectly with good blood trails. Of course I am just shooting an old 30-30 but it still kills them just like it did when I started hunting in the 1970’s...
I don’t shoot them...I shoot Remington Core-lokt and they seem to work perfectly with good blood trails. Of course I am just shooting an old 30-30 but it still kills them just like it did when I started hunting in the 1970’s...
I shoot the Core-lokt in my .30-30 too. Perfectly happy, no reason to change that!
Thank God! Dude I use to love these bullets, I killed a bunch of deer with them, then something CHANGED. Exactly the same scenario . I was shooting deer knowing I hit them but no blood,hair ,bone fragments ..nothing. I had the same problem as Possum always or several times.
270wsm and I was running them at 3200fps. Up to 250 yards I would have no expansion the deer wouldn't even know they were hit sometimes. 250-600 yards the bullets would expand...some. I called Hornady and asked why/what changed and they said nothing. I slowed my bullet down, re-zero the scope, changed weights even changed powder, same thing. I gave up on the SST. I went to Speer grand slams 150 gr. But changed land, so now I'm shooting a 35 rem and 45-70 hunting up in trees with no powerline in sight.
I already have a set of dies for 6.5x55 but never bothered to reload for this round because I was so impressed with the accuracy of the SSTs. I'm switching to an old-school cup and core bullet and rolling my own for this rifle - now that I'm sworn off SSTs I just don't know if the ballistics of a 6.5x55 benefit from a "premium" bullet. I have almost 2 boxes of the factory ammo left and it was not cheap; at least I can still use them to establish an accuracy baseline for this rifle.
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Core-lokt is a well balanced expansion/penetration bullet. You can't go wrong. Some areas are forcing non lead. That's are different argument.
I'm no ballistic or bullet expert but I've tried some different bullets in my .270 and always go back to Core-Lokts. They just seem to work. I go for the double lung just behind the shoulder and they usually pile-up 50 yards from the shot. 3 deer this year...2 ran 50 yards....one was quartering away and I hit the opposite shoulder on the exit so she was DRT. Entry and exit were jelly for a 6 inch diameter from the shock. Distance was 80-90 yards for all 3 deer this year. All exited and all left a decent blood trail.

.243 is notorious for no blood trail. That's why mine never comes out of the safe.