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Shooting Bullets Backwards in the Right Direction

Which way do these go again?

A while back, I shot some bullets that had been loaded backwards in the case. I had read about this trick in a book by old Elmer Keith.

He had found it difficult to find good soft nosed hunting bullets in the late 1930s, and had decided to try pulling some military ball bullets and turning them around so that the open end of the Full Metal Jacketed bullet was towards the front. He hoped that they might open up and work like a soft nosed bullet.

Long story short, he said that they worked out fairly well, until he could find some JSP bullets to load with.

I tried the bullets, and sure enough, they either broke apart or expanded fairly well.

Here are a couple of pictures from that test.

First, the loaded rounds with the bullets backwards.  Then the recovered bullets after hitting several gallons of water.

Another look at the recovered bullet. 

But the question remained:  How accurate would these bullets shoot at normal hunting distances? Could you even hit a deer with such a load? Well, only one way to find out.

I loaded up some .308 rounds with some military 147 grain Ball bullets. Same cases, same primer, same powder and load. Only some with the bullet forward, and some with the bullet backwards.

I shot them through my Accuracy International AE, to get the best groups that I can.

It is a very accurate rifle, but any rifle is only as good as the bullets you send down the bore.

Before we start, a word about these bullets…

I was shooting some military Ball 147 grain bullets. These are not tack drivers, but they are what Elmer was shooting and I will use them. They are not going to go into the same hole, either forward or backwards, but we will see what happens.

First 5 shots at 50 yards, forward, and then 5 shots backwards at 50 yards.

Here’s the target. 

The forwards group was about 2 inches, and the backwards group was about 1 ½ inches.

Who would have thought? Let’s move the target back to 100 yards.

Five shots at 100 yards, bullets forward.  The group is about 2 ½ inches.

Five shots at 100 Yards, bullets backwards.  The group is about 2 5/8 inch.

Hardly any difference at all.

Then, just to set a standard, we shot 5 rounds of Sierra 165 grain Matchkings at 100 yards. The barrel was getting hot by this time but they still went into it less than an inch.

Lessons Learned:

  • Medium quality military ball bullets seem to shoot just about as well backwards as they do forwards, at least within 100 yards.. No deer would ever notice the difference.
  • Of course, nowadays, we can easily find good quality soft nosed bullets, and there is no reason to shoot bullets backwards. But if we had too, they would work pretty well.
  • It’s fun to shoot stuff

This article was originally posted on the Box o’ Truth.

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • wayneuber

    I believe I saw somewhere that bullets were used “backwards” during WWI in trench warfare. The idea was that soldiers holed up and were shot at from behind armor plated positions and that by shooting a bullet that would strike the steel plates with a flat surface would create more spalling related injuries to an enemy/target. Penetrating the steel wasn’t the objective.