It was the last day of the New York firearm deer season, and I had been having a rough go of it. To be honest, it was one of the worst seasons I’d ever had; I began to believe that all the antlered deer had been rounded up and shipped to a different part of the world.
The morning had been spent watching the gray squirrels doing squirrelly things, and I sat rather melancholy after lunch, wondering if one more hunt was even a bearable proposition. In the name of perseverance, I laced up my Schnee’s, grabbed my familiar old Ruger .308 Winchester, and headed to that little gully behind my father’s house that the deer love to use as a funnel to head out to the orchards just before dark.
The afternoon whiled away, with that last hour of light arriving like a beacon of failure for the season.
Now, around my house, venison is considered a delicacy, with the kids often arguing over who gets the last piece, so to bring home the news that the freezer would contain only chicken this winter wasn’t going to go over well.
But then, with 20 minutes left on the clock, a corpulent old doe, all by her lonesome, wound down the gully and finally offered a shot at just over 60 yards. The Ruger 77 came to shoulder quickly, as it had done so many times before, and a single 150-grain Speer Grand Slam bullet changed the outcome of my season.
VERNON SPEER STARTED THE bullet company that would bear his name 75 years ago, filling the demand for component projectiles during World War II, using spent .22 Long Rifle cases as the jacket material for his bullets. The company would go on to become a household name in the reloading world, with Vernon’s bullets being used by a good number of the top outdoor writers of the day, including his friend Jack O’Connor. Today, Speer is owned by Vista Outdoor and remains an important part of their group of highly successful brands.
The Speer Grand Slam is designed to be a strong bullet, fully capable of withstanding the high impact velocities of magnum cartridges, yet still giving the necessary expansion for a quick, humane kill. Speer’s patented Hot-Cor technology, which pours molten lead alloy into a drawn, copper alloy jacket of proper dimensions, is employed for the Grand Slam bullet. This avoids the issue of a layer of lubricant between the core and jacket – necessary for a swaged bullet – as well as prevents any voids or air pockets in the core, which can have a detrimental effect on a bullet’s accuracy.
The jacket is thin at the nose to allow for proper expansion, thickening toward the base to keep the core and jacket together during the violent terminal phase of the bullet’s flight. The package is held together with a cannelure, or crimping groove, helping to prevent the jacket and core from separating upon impact.
This bullet is a hunting bullet, make no mistake, as its flat base and blunted meplat certainly do not offer the ballistic coefficient of recent boat tail designs, but within the greater majority of hunting situations – inside of 300 yards – the Grand Slam poses no issue whatsoever. The Grand Slam does have an elongated ogive, to make the best of trajectories with a flat-base bullet.
I LIKE GRAND SLAMS for bears, and have loaded many of them for clients in pursuit of bears over bait or with hounds. The tougher construction engenders confidence when strong shoulder bones must be broken and penetration is a necessity; following a wounded bear into thick willows is not anyone’s idea of a good time.
I also like the Speer Grand Slam for those situations when you’re taking a traditionally marginal cartridge, and pitting against larger game. For example, many people hunt elk with a .270 Winchester and 130-grain bullets, but were I to do so I would feel much more confident with a stronger bullet design like the Speer Grand Slam.
I’ve also loaded the Grand Slam for a number of clients wishing to use the .375 H&H for plains game in Africa; the 285-grainer will handle any antelope, including the biggest eland.
THE GRAND SLAM IS currently available in calibers from 6mm/.243 inch up to .375 inch, which covers the majority of our popular North American hunting cartridges. Speer’s original design for the Grand Slam featured a dual core of differing hardness, but that is no longer the case. I find the modern design of the bullet to be a bit more consistent and accurate, and that’s certainly a good thing.
While many of our premium bullets can be very expensive – approaching or even exceeding $1.00 per projectile – the Speer Grand Slam is very affordable. If you’re looking to give your deer rifle a boost in performance without breaking the bank, give the Speer Grand Slam an audition. I’d bet you’ll be a happy hunter.
Story and Photos by Phil Massaro