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The bottom line -- Bullets (A primer)

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The bottom line -- Bullets (A primer)

#1 Post by Popeye » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:42 pm

As important as bullets (projectiles) are it shocks me how many hunters don't know what they are shooting. What shocks me more are hunters who purposely purchase the cheapest projectile they can find without giving any thought to the size of their quarry. I understand that not everyone can afford to use premium projectiles, but realize, the bullet is the least expensive part of any hunt.. The correct one can help a small rifle do a big job, while a projectile that expands too quickly can leave nothings but a hideous surface wound and a lost and suffering animal. You must match the your bullet to your quarry because, after all, its the bullet that does the killing.

Hunters often choose the wrong bullet simply because its cheaper, but ignorance of bullet design and construction is the main culprit. Although the constant stream of new and improved projectile introductions means more options and better performance, that overload of options makes it tough to know which bullet to choose. I'll try to make sense of what's out there for our consumption.

Rapid-Expansion Bullets

Rapid-expansion bullets do exactly what their name implies -- they open up quickly to deliver lots of shock fast. Exit wounds are rare and instantaneous kills are often the result when they're used appropriately, but their accuracy and lightning quick killing power make many hunters use these varmint bullets on big game. The results are rarely pretty.

The two most popular rapid-expansion bullets are Nosler's Ballistic Tip and the Hornady V-MAX. Sierra's Blitz-King, Speer's TNT and Barne's Varmint Grenade are also popular choices in this category. Varmint bullets are deadly on prairie dogs and coyotes but far too many people use them on deer and big game simply they are so accurate. Consequently,.30 caliber, and larger, Ballistic Tips received slightly thicker jackets several years ago to ensure they'd do the job against deer and elk.

I do not use rapid-expansion bullets for big game because they damage too much meat and I don't trust them to deliver proper penetration.

Traditional Soft points

Classic soft point bullets have a lead core with a copper jacket, and usually, an exposed lead tip. Sierra's GameKing and Pro Hunter, Speer's Hot-Cor, Federal's Soft Point and Winchester's Power-Point are classic examples of the cup-and-core Soft Point design. Others, like Remington's Core-Lokt and Hornady's Spire Point, use a mechanical aid like a lip (Remington) or a locking ring (Hornady) to help the bullet retain more weight for deeper penetration, while Hornady's SST adds a plastic tip for better accuracy and long range performance. They all look a little different, but they perform in very much the same way on game. Count on good to excellent accuracy, quick double-diameter expansion, reasonable penetration and 40% - 60% weight retention with traditional Soft Points. They're also relatively inexpensive.

I'm a fan of traditional Soft Points for whitetail, and similar sized game animals because they offer the perfect blend of accuracy, expansion, penetration and cost. I can trust them on quartering shots on big bodied bucks but they open up quickly enough to drop game hard, often without the animal taking a single step.

Controlled Expansion

Controlled-expansion bullets are more solidly constructed designed intended to retain a high percentage of their weight so they can drive deeply to guarantee the kind of penetration necessary for larger game like Grizzly bear. Nosler's Partition was the first commercially viable controlled-expansion projectile. As the name implies, the bullet employs a partition that helps hold together the back section of the copper-jacketed so it drives deep, while the front portion expands rapidly to deliver maximum shock. Its an effective design that is still popular but more modern offerings will easily best its 50% - 70% weight retention.

Bonded bullets upped the premium bullet ante significantly over the Partition. Bullets like the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw (and the new Tipped Trophy Bonded Bear Claw) have thicker jackets that are chemically bonded or soldered to their lead core to ensure weight retention well over 90% without sacrificing reliable expansion. These two may be the best of the bunch.

Other bonded offerings include the Fusion, Hornaday's InterBond, Nosler's AccuBond, Swift's A-Frame and Scirocco II, Winchester's Power Max Bonded and XP3 and the Woodleigh. The Fusion and the Power Max Bonded don't retain quite as much weight as some other bonded bullets but they are very reasonably priced, about the same as traditional cup-and-core designs.

The AccuBond, InterBond and Scirocco II differ from other bonded designs in that they are designed to expand more violently and shed more weight. They feature tapered jackets, polymer tips and a boattail design to ensure long range performance and a rapid upset of the front portion of the bullet, while a bonded core guarantees high weight retention and deep penetration, They are deadly for long shots on elk and deer.

Swift's A-Frame combines a partition and a bonded core to ensure its extreme weight retention. They consistently exhibit double diameter expansion, deep penetration and weight retention over 95% on average.
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Re: The bottom line -- Bullets (A primer)

#2 Post by Burner » Sat Jun 03, 2017 10:56 pm

Outstanding information.
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Re: The bottom line -- Bullets (A primer)

#3 Post by Hippycrowe » Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:06 am

When I sold Rifles at Duhnams I told guys you have to shoot every brand of ammo to see how the hit Federal in my 22-250 hit dead on but Remington with the same weight bullet hit hight and to the right. I have heard of guys hunting deer out west with FMJ

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Re: The bottom line -- Bullets (A primer)

#4 Post by Zeliard » Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:03 am

Good info, thanks!
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