People who enjoy eating venison need to bone up on bullets, if they haven’t already done so. The bullet makes the connection. The projectile launched from a rifle or handgun is the critical element, the one thing that separates wild-meat eaters from people who buy it at the market.
And there are five things one should understand about bullets.
- Boattails are best. With but a few exceptions that apply to taking large, dangerous game primarily on the African continent, the spire-pointed boattail bullet is the best choice for Western hunters, especially those hunting open country. This projectile is superbly
aerodynamic; that is, the bullet shape with the tapered base has the highest ballistic coefficient – the ability to cut through the air and hit the target – and is favored especially by long-range shooters who,
like myself, reload their own ammunition.
I’ve shot some nice bucks at long range, all with boattail bullets. Before those shots were fired, I spent time at the range making sure they went where they were supposed to.
According to my Speer loading manual, the boattail design was originally intended for the .30-caliber machine gun bullet to give it a longer
effective range. Hunters were quick to pick up on that a century ago, and they’ve made the most of it.
- Check your factory loads online. Nonreloaders can find out plenty about factory ammunition on the internet. Every manufacturer has a website. Look up the cartridge, check the ballistics and match them up with your anticipated needs.
- Always zero your rifle using the same ammunition with which you plan to hunt. Doing target work with 165-grain bullets and then hunting with 200-grainers wouldn’t be my first choice.
The trajectory will change – and with it, the point of impact. At longer ranges, this could become critical. Know your bullet’s ballistics. Most
people are amazed at how much a bullet will drop at long range. For example, a 180-grain .30-caliber boattail bullet fired from a .30-06 rifle that leaves the muzzle at 2,750 feet per second if sighted in at
100 yards will drop just over 30 inches at 400 yards. If you’re shooting at a buck at that range with a rifle zeroed at 100 yards, you’ll be shooting at the ground around his feet.
The best place to find out about ballistics is in the rear of a reloading manual. Even if you don’t load your own ammunition, a manual is a good investment for the serious hunter. One shot may be all you get. Make the most of it.
- Polymer or lead? I’ve taken nice bucks with Speer boattails that have an exposed lead tip, and nice ones using Nosler Ballistic Tip and AccuBond bullets with polymer tips. My brother head-shot a buck on the Snake River last fall (hell of a shot, IMHO!) using a Hornady 165-grain bullet in his Ruger bolt-action chambered for .308 Winchester. That round came from my loading bench and we zeroed his rifle at 200 yards.
Both bullet types are terrific, but when one uses lead-point projectiles, look them over closely before leaving camp to see whether the lead may be deformed from previous insertion into the chamber.
As for polymer tips, I’ve seen them come out, though rarely. On the plus
side, that tip doesn’t get dinged from being rechambered.
- Go with blunts in the brush. There’s an exception to every rule, and brush country hunting where shots might be 150 yards or less is the environment for blunt-nose bullets, especially if one is using a lever-action rifle with a tubular magazine.
The only pointed pill I’d use in a levergun is Hornady’s LEVERevolution
with its FTX or MonoFlex bullets For close-in timber hunting, a .30-
30 Winchester or .308 Marlin Express loaded with the Hornady ammunition
is formidable for coastal blacktails or Northeast Washington whitetails.
I’ve taken blacktails with roundnose jacketed bullets from a .32 Special or a .300 Savage at 150 yards or less. Both guns were zeroed to put a bullet 2 inches high at 100 yards. A bullet that lands an inch or so from where it is aimed is still going to deliver the goods, even if you hit a bone.
Zero your rifle with the same ammo you’ll be heading afield with, as trajectories are different between loads, and which at longer ranges can be quite marked. (DAVE WORKMAN)
SPEAKING OF BULLETS, Federal Premium Ammunition this summer announced its Gold Medal Berger, featuring a boattail bullet for flat trajectories and long-range accuracy. Four loads are available initially, a .223 Remington with a 73-grain Berger boattail target bullet, a 6.5 Grendel and a 6.5 Creedmoor, both with 130-grain Berger
Hybrid bullets and a .308 Winchester with a 185-grain Berger Juggernaut projectile.
And since we’re on the topic, just in time for fall hunting, Federal has
introduced the new Hi-Bird shotshell designed to put birds in the bag.
Hi-Bird shells feature lead shot. They’ll bring down doves, pigeons, pheasants, grouse and other upland game birds. There are five 12-gauge loads, all 2¾-inchers, featuring either 11⁄8-ounce loads of No. 6, 7 ½ or 8 shot, or a 1¼-ounce payload of No. 6 or 7½ shot.
The shell features a specialized two piece SoftCell wad that helps reduce perceived recoil and delivers better long range patterns.
Article by Dave Workman