Hornady’s low drag, expanding bullet ‘delivers accuracy both at the bench and in the hunting fields.’
Story by Phil Massaro Photos by Massaro Media Group
The rain had just subsided, though the streams were too swollen to cross. In spite of the fact that temperatures had risen significantly – the previous morning was in the low single digits – the runoff created a natural barrier between us and the mule deer buck we had just glassed on the hillside at over 1,000 yards.
So, with Plan A foiled, we regrouped and planted the seeds of what would become Plan B: glass the innumerable
coulees, gullies and canyons in a frantic manner until we found a buck. Well-armed with both superior firepower and a positive mental attitude, we sallied forth, in spite of wet feet and rumbling bellies indicating the proximity to lunchtime.
My hunting partner Mike Mattly and I were discussing the finer points of magnum cartridges and domestic beer as we approached the first canyon we were to glass, when a pair of mule deer bucks – who obviously disagreed with my take on Coors Light – jumped out of their beds to find better conversation.
“On the left, he’s the one you want,” Mattly curtly stated. The rifle came quickly to shoulder, but a running mule deer will bounce more than run, so the shot wasn’t exactly a slam-dunk. Even through the recoil I could hear the bullet strike flesh, and Mattly’s congratulations assured the buck had gone down.
Mule deer bucks can be tough, but the 143-grain Hornady ELD-X bullet was tougher and, in spite of having almost 200 yards to slow down, worked perfectly. It was my first mule deer, and my first time in the field with the
ELD-X, though it wouldn’t be the last for either one.
ELD-X IS AN acronym for the “Extremely Low Drag – eXpanding” bullet. The ELD-X is, to the eye, just another polymer-tipped boattail bullet. But once you pop the hood, there is a bit more going on, including some points that make it a great choice for the hunter. The 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition – from Black Hills Ammunition – we had on that mule deer hunt shot very well, and on the South Dakota prairie it made a great choice to deal with the definite possibility of a longer shot or a shot in a very windy condition, or worse: both.
While we have the choice of a good many bullets, the ELD-X is among the finest for these situations. Let’s take a look at the design concepts, and at the eye-opening discoveries that led to its existence.
Hornady, which is one of America’s most cherished bullet companies and has its roots in the post-World War II component bullet industry, is no stranger to bullet development. With founder Joyce Hornady pairing with Vernon Speer to use spent .22 Long Rifle cases to make bullet jackets – commodities, you see, were a rarity and handloaders didn’t have a lot to choose from – the company has a long history of interesting, effective and innovative designs. Their InterLock jacketed softpoint, which has long been a favorite of mine, remains a sound choice for any of the cervids, providing there is a sensible sectional density figure. The copper jacket is set into the lead core via a cannelure, and certainly moderates expansion, but even the spitzer boattail designs are limited in the ballistic coefficient department, based primarily on the shape of the exposed lead nose.
Now Hornady isn’t the first company to put a pointed polymer tip on a bullet – that distinction belongs to Nosler, with their Ballistic Tip bullet – but they did follow suit, including their signature red tip on such bullets as the SST (Super Shock Tip), GMX (Gilding Metal eXpanding) and the InterBond bullet, with its copper jacket bonded to the lead core. It was during long-range bullet testing, using Doppler radar technology, that the ballisticians at Hornady made a startling discovery.
It became evidentthat something was happening to the polymer tip in flight, as the ballistic coefficient was dropping off rapidly as the bullet began to show the effects of atmospheric drag. The tips were melting due to friction, and that was causing the BC values to drop off significantly. So, Hornady’s engineers set to work to develop a tip that would hold up during flight, maintaining its conformation in order to help preserve the ballistic coefficient figures.
The result of their efforts was the proprietary Heat Shield Tip, which would resist the effects of atmospheric drag throughout the bullet’s trajectory, and it was a game-changer. The ELD-X bullet uses the Hornady AMP bullet jacket – prized for its concentricity – and a secant ogive and boattail for match-grade accuracy, in addition to an internal InterLock ring on the interior of the jacket, which will help keep the jacket and core together during the violent terminal phase of expansion. It is the companion bullet to Hornady’s ELD Match – a wonderful target bullet – and is almost, if not equally, as accurate.
IN SPITE OF Hornady offering a wide selection of hunting bullets of all sorts of designs, from the toughest to the most frangible, they chose the traditional cup-and-core design for the ELD-X bullet, presumably to mirror the construction of the ELD Match. But where the ELD Match has only to reach the target in a consistent manner, with no care as to what happens once the steel is rung or the paper is punched, the ELD-X has the responsibility of destroying enough vital tissue to result in a clean, ethical kill. Quite possibly as much a result of the desire to attain the most advantageous BC values as it was a result of the need for a higher sectional density for reliable penetration, the ELD-X bullets are all on the heavy-for-caliber side of things.
There are two 6mm choices at 90 and 103 grains, a 110-grain .257-inch-diameter, that 143-grain 6.5mm that worked so well for me in South Dakota, a 145-grain .277-inch-diameter, three 7mm choices at 150, 162 and 175 grains, a quartet of .30s – 178, 200, 212 and 220 grains – and a pair of .338s at 230 and 270 grains. There are some stellar ballistic coefficients among this lineup, including the 175-grain 7mm, with a G1 BC of .689, and the 270-grain .338, with a G1 BC of .757; both of these will perform wonderfully at longer ranges. The 212-grain .308 – with a G1 BC of .673 – couples well with the larger magnum cases like the .300 RUM, .300 PRC, .300 Norma and .30-378 Weatherby Magnum. If you recover an ELD-X from your game animal, you will find a high level of weight retention, often in the high 80-percent range, which is typical of a heavy-for-caliber cup-and-core bullet with a decent jacket.
While all these bullets are available in component form to the reloader, Hornady also offers a wide selection of loaded cartridges in their Precision Hunter line of ammunition. Loaded in their proprietary brass cases, the Precision Hunter ammo is wonderfully accurate and is utterly reliable. The ELD-X is also loaded by some of the smaller ammo companies, like the Black Hills Gold line that I hunted with, and it is also offered by Choice Ammunition.
I like the ELD-X as a general hunting bullet for the common species such as hogs, black bears, whitetail and mule deer, caribou, elk and even moose, if the caliber is large enough for the larger cervids. For the dangerous species like grizzly bears, I’d prefer a bonded-core or monometal design, but for the majority of species, the ELD-X will work just fine. I’m not able to testify whether the Heat Shield Tip holds together during flight or not, as every fired bullet I’ve been able to recover has been so badly deformed that it was impossible to ascertain what happened in flight. Nor am I able to determine what happens to other polymer tips. But I do know the Hornady ELD-X does what I need it to do: it delivers accuracy both at the bench and in the hunting fields, and delivers the terminal performance needed to ensure a quick, humane kill.
Imagine being able to see your bullet hitting the target as it hits its target or maybe go off by a minute.
Vortex and Hornady released a video of a new “bullet-cam” and it had many talking, whether they believed it or not. Some new technology that would hypothetically change the hunting and filming game forever from Vortex and Hornady took the outdoor world by storm recently. News like this would change the industry…if only it were true, lol. Yes! April Fool!
An epic April Fool’s prank cooked up an incredibly cool product, outstanding visuals and dialogue, and some cool acting from employees. Vortex and Hornady released the video that would seem to be a legit product launch with the production quality and subsequent buzz.
But, putting a camera on a bullet is virtually impossible, and some people on social media knew exactly what was going on. But some didn’t, and it was very funny.
If you saw it on the internet, its gotta be true. Right?
Watch how awesome this prank video turned out. Conversation on FB
Video Transcription Ian: Here at Vortex Optics, we strive to push the boundaries of the Sport Optics community. From high-powered binoculars to precision optic scopes, so that our customers can see clearly from all vantage points. When it comes to bullet impact, though, shooters have had to rely on traditional optics to determine accuracy from long distances. We were determined to provide an additional point of view, to improve precision and overall performance. With our expertise in research and development of optics, we reached out to Hornady to collaborate on a new product encompassing action-camera technology that before now was impossible to achieve. We are proud to anounce the revolutionary Vortex Hornady Bullet Cam.
When the guys at Vortex came to us with this idea, honestly, we thought they were crazy. But we decided to take a look at their data, and they were definitely onto something, so we immediately started on a prototype. When it comes to optical system design, accuracy and precision are absolutely essential. One of our initial concerns was flight path, and that the mass of our optical system had to be absolutely centered. After considerable testing and re-testing, we developed the brand-new G10-Drag model, which streamlines the trajectory for this new profile. In addition, we redesigned the propellant burn characteristics, as well as its densities. We’re confident, with or without the camera, this bullet technology is going to start a trend throughout the shooting community.
Operating a bullet-cam is incredibly intuitive. And it’s fun to use. After sinking a bullet with the VTXM, hit record, load the round as you usually would, and shoot. The live feed streams right to your device for instant viewing. Once the bullet cam hits a target, recording stops, and your clip is uploaded to the VTX cloud.
You can review your trajectory, even slowing it down frame by frame, so that you can see the impact, make a correction if necessary, or confirm your kill. With access to the VTX cloud from anywhere, you can share all your shots directly on your social media profiles. At only $99.99 for a box of ten, bullet-cam is completely affordable, and will make you a true pro.
Our goal at Vortex Optics is for shooters to have the most advanced tools in the industry to achieve the most accurate shots. And with this bullet, you’ll always know if you were way off, or dead-on. With the Vortex-Hornady bullet-cam, the force of Optics just got more forceful.
I’ve never classified a gun as a fun gun to shoot, but that’s how I would describe the double-barreled Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV derringer. Bond makes a variety of calibers and styles, but I decided to go with the IV due to the longer 4¼-inch barrel, which I had hoped would be a bit more accurate, have less recoil and tighter groups.
The Snake Slayer IV can handle .45 Long Colts and 2¾- and 3-inch .410s. I guess it was really designed as a concealed-carry gun, but I wanted to use it against snakes while fishing. It would also be good for shooting big halibut before you boat them. A .410 will do the job nicely and not ricochet.
Every time my daughter Kolby and I go fishing in Oregon, we see rattlesnakes. One year I heard her scream – a snake had jumped in the boat with us. On another trip on a river in Idaho, I saw six rattlesnakes and one of those floated right by me. That would have caused panic if it had tried to crawl up on the driest thing around, which was my head!
While in town, I originally thought to carry my Slayer with .45 Long Colts, but then I tested the new Winchester PDX-1 shells. Wow, they’re bad – in a good way! They have four discs and 16 BBs. They would stop a bad guy in his tracks. I shot various loads through the gun, and the first time I used the PDX-1 it made my jaw drop. It was noticeably devastating.
The first rattle out of the box with a .45 Long Colt, I managed a 2½-inch group at 10 and 15 feet using Hornady’s 185-grain Critical Defense ammo. That would be more than enough to stop a bad guy – that’s a big bullet! But, like I said before, my main use for this gun would be to shoot snakes, and after shooting a .410 with No. 6 shot, I found that it had a wicked pattern, so I’m pretty confident it would work as a self-protection load as well.
When I took my Slayer out for some extensive shooting, I managed a 4-inch group at 15 feet, but I’m not renowned for being a great pistol shot. I then shot groups of two out of the same barrel and managed 2-inch groups, so there is a little variation between barrels, as you would imagine. Not a big factor, though, because it’s a short-range weapon.
I need to point out that the gun is diverse because you can interchange 20 different barrels, or 25 different calibers with one base unit. That has to make these one of the most versatile guns on the market.
It is a heavy, nice-looking and well-made duty pistol designed to last for generations. I also love that it has an equally nice and heavy-duty leather holster that is form-fitted with a latch to hold the gun securely.
Bond Arms has transformed the lowly derringer into a linebacker. AmSJ
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
In one of the many survey conducted online this one is by Brad Smith an outdoorsman and writer.
The question was asked on Social Media of what is the best rifle caliber for hunting deer.
Supposed you were a newbie and was in the market, the following information may be helpful to you. You can obviously ask the folks running the gun stores and ranges.
The following answers comprises from many different levels of hunters/gun enthusiasts, take it with a grain of salt, this is from the internet poll.
Here are those popular calibers for deer hunting that was mentioned:
There were other type of calibers but the above calibers repeatedly came up in the conversation.
Reasons varied among hunters and gun enthusiasts, but heres a more thorough explanation of each calibers strengths.
–the .243 shines when you want to take a deer from any range up to 300 yards while doing minimal damage to the meat.
–The .270 takes the lead when it comes to shooting longer range with more knockdown power.
–The .30-30 is a great all around deer round, but lacks when it comes to longer-range, open-field settings.
–the .308 does the most damage to the meat (pending shot placement), but you also get the most bang for your buck.
The One to Get
If there was a round for you to choose, look into the .270.
Many gun enthusiasts talk about this as an all-time favorite.
The affordability is a good price point and the availability for a high-quality bullets are great.
The .270 can be used on a variety of games in North America.
The ammo is effective from 500 yards out and some consider as the best rifle caliber out there for deer.
You’ve probably heard that the US military isreplacing the M16/M4 and looking into new rifles and ammo. (US Army and Marine Corp) Wondering why they’re looking into 6.5 Creedmoor in particular? No, its not because the Russians are out gunning us. Here’s the scoop.
There are a couple things you should know about 6.5 Creedmoor and today, we’ll put this round into sharper focus for you. So let’s look at it in more detail so that you’ll see why it works for the military and why it could work for you.
Creedmoor Kicks Ass at Long Range
Right off the bat, the US Special Operations Command understood all the good things about this cartridge as an alternative to its existing ammo.
The cartridge was introduced in 2008 as one of the first and best cartridges for precision long range shooting.
At the time, there weren’t a lot of civilians shooting long range, but in recent years, the company has seen demand grow in the hunting industry, and grow as manufacturers continue to put out more affordable long range rifles.
Today, it is the go-to cartridge for many hunters and competitive shooters.
Precision long range shooting skill a learned trait which is an advantage to have in combat and the military seems to be catching onto Creedmoor’s awesome reputation and populatiry for shooting close and tight precision groups at 500 yards or more.
Having a bigger bullet means you’ll do bigger damage to your target, whether your target is a tango or a blood thirsty wild hog.
Our brothers in arms go through enough shit. The last thing they need is hellish recoil.
If there’s one thing you won’t get with 6.5 Creedmoor, is its crazy blowback.
6.5 Creedmoor is specially designed for low recoil rounds without compromising pinpoint accuracy.
Did you also know that it can go subsonic after 1,300 yards?
When it comes to tactical applications, this cartridge packs a serious wallop
There are some long range groups think that there aren’t any real differences between 6.5 Creedmoor and the long-established .308 Win.
But those people would be ill-informed.
The truth is, they are very similar, however there are some things in which they differ.
First there is the huge gap between the two when it comes to ballistics. 6.5 Creedmoor loads can reach a thousand yards with less than three hundred inches of drop with proper windage.
This is true of just about any ammo, particularly Hornady 178 grain HPBT, that is used with a 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge.
The .308 Win doesn’t compare to that kind of numbers.
Another area in which 6.5 Creedmoor often bests .308 Win is in its accessibility.
A lot of .308 ammo is out of stock when you visit the major online ammo dealers.
But if you run a search for Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 140 gr AMAX, they’re everywhere.
And thats the other thing that is very good news for the military and all of us: there are plenty of dealers – large and small – from which they could order 6.5 ammo in bulk.
Another argument that comes up is about barrel longevity, claiming that the 6.5 Creedmoor only last for 2-3,000 rounds whereas the .308 Win will be good for as many as 10,000 rounds.
This is simply bogus since it all depends on whether you’re shooting 1 MOA.
Theres just no way that the .308 could be reaching that mark at 10,000.
If you’re using it with a precision rifle or for seasonal deer shooting, you’re going to go long ways with your 6.5 Creedmoor, no if, and, or buts..about it, except the butt you put a bullet in.
And thats another thing. Combat isn’t always what it looks like in movies and on TV. For those that have served can tell you that there are many days where you don’t see much action and, even when you do, its not necessarily a rapid fire situation.
But Murphy’s law does exist when the shit hits the fan.
If you’re an active duty sniper (Marksman Observer), you’re gonna get a whole lot more life outta your 6.5 Creedmoor than you would with the .308.
Solving the Problem
What’s really crazy about the 6.5 versus .308 argument is the simple fact that 6.5 Creedmoor was specifically conceived to be a cartridge that would be superior to the wildcat cartridges of the day.
As the story goes at the Civilian Marksmanship Program 2007 National Matches at Camp Perry, Hornady engineer Dave Emary decided to remedy what he saw as a problem among competitive shooters.
As Emary saw it, people were trying to push their cartridges to the limit, attempting to defy the laws of physics by brainstorming methods by which to get their cartridges to perform at levels that weren’t made to. Problems would then crop up as a result of these jeri-rigging formulas.
In Emary’s own words, “People were having a lot of problems with functioning the 6mms. They were running these things at very high pressures to try to get the performance they need to compete.”
“Our solution was to go to a 6.5, firing a lot higher BC bullet, and not have to push it as hard to get what they wanted.”
Emary and his team solved this problem by taking existing .264 cartridges and altering the specs, giving the cartridge the capacity for long-ogive, high-ballistic rounds.
Lo and behold the 6.5 was born, a short-action rifle cartridge capable of insane performance.
Make Your Hunting Experience a Good One
Like I said earlier, this cartridge isn’t just a slam dunk for the military should they end up choosing it over the others they’ve been testing.
Its also a damn good option for almost any civilian hunter or gun enthusiast.
If you didn’t hear the news: USSOCOM has adopted the 6.5 CM as their new Precision Rifle cartridge. It was a close call between the 260 Remington and the 6.5 Creedmoor, but the 6.5 CM won the day due to the military’s belief that the 6.5 CM has more room for innovation for the future.
Many target shooters have taken to the Ruger Precision Rifleand my targets gets shredded to pieces. The results are always incredible. At long range, many are saying the the CM leave 2.8 inches at five hundred yards.
But the advantages for game hunters is where this one really shines. Its got a sick muzzle velocity due to its extra powder space and its able to accommodate a wealth of different medium-burning rifle powders.
If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t automatically think of long-range shooting when it comes to big game. After all, ethical hunting requires limiting your range to as short as possible to ensure a clean kill.
That being said, it should also stand to reason that if 6.5 Creedmoor can take out a target at 500 yards, its going to take care of business at 100 yards with no problem.
From personal experience, I’ve seen how this can perform in a close quarters situations and I was every bit as impressed as I was when I hunted with the .308.
The round went right where I wanted it to and I bagged a deer without a rechamber. Like I said: clean humane kill.
Why 6.5 Creedmoor is Awesome for Target Shooting
Better grouping and more affordable ammo makes the 6.5 Creedmoor a no-brainer for those who camp out a lot at the firing range.
When we take into account the rising cost of ammo in the last few years and the scrutiny that many firearm and ammo companies have faced, 6.5 ammo maintains a reasonable price point and remains readily available.
And when it comes to high-end ballistics, you can’t beat these suckers. The BC numbers on these bad boys are awe-inspiring (approximately .610 G1 at 140 grain). If you’re looking to impress, you really can’t go wrong with the 6.5’s remarkable 1,400 fps at 1,000 yards(!).
Best 6.5 CM Ammo
If you want the very best from this cartridge, you’ll have to get into reloading. You can start with our Beginner’s Guide To Reloading. But if you’re not into that, then you’ll need something you can pick up at the store.
If you’re on the range to have fun, you don’t want to spend a fortune. But this also isn’t the kind of caliber that you buy cheap, crappy ammo for – you’ll want something that shoots consistent and for a fair price.
Sellier & Bellot is what you’re looking for, from 9mm to 6.5CM they make a good product for a good price.
Of course, once you’re ready to really stretch your legs and see what this bad boy can do – it’s time to get out the good stuff!
Match grade ammo isn’t cheap, but it is amazing. Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor Extremely Low Drag match bullet is outstanding for factory ammo. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve been getting half-MOA with this ammo.
Hornady Match 6.5 Creedmoor 147gn ELD Match – 20 Rounds
A cool cartridge is only as good as the weapon that throws it, just like a weapon that throws it is only as good as what it throws.
For a budget hunting rifle, it’s hard to beat the Savage Arms 12 FV – not only is this a solid rifle out of the box, but it is at a price that is hard to beat. I commonly see this is the $370-$410 range.
I already said it, but when it comes to long-range target shooting the Ruger Precision Rifle is just too good to beat. For the price, the options, the aftermarket, and the out-of-the-box quality – you want this rifle.
A dedicated rifle for every role is the dream for many of us, but if you don’t have the room in your safe (or your budget) for that then you might want to consider a middle of the road do-it-all rifle.
The Tikka T3x is that rifle. Rugged, lightweight, smooth as butter action and outstanding trigger – a Tikka T3x is my go-to hunting rifle.
On the precision side, Tikka offers a 1 MOA from the factory guarantee and lives up to it!
Another important thing to keep in mind when purchasing any cartridge is maintenance. If you’re going to be participating in extended shooting sessions, you should always bring along the proper gear for cleaning your rifle and cartridge. Maintenance will help you to sustain that pinpoint precision you’re hoping for.
Some might argue that there are better guns on the market, but the G17 is built for durability and usability.
And in a survival scenario where you might not have the time to pamper your gun like you normally would, you want a dependable gun that will still shoot accurately and cycle through ammo even with some wear-and-tear.
Another good choice is the .45 ACP, as it’s an even more powerful cartridge that’s also commonly used. You can see our list of recommendations for good .45 ACP pistols and 9mm pistols.
What about Rifles?
If you’re like most modern firearms enthusiasts, you’ve probably already got an AR-15 on hand.
If not, it’s a great home-defense weapon that you should consider adding to your arsenal. You can learn more about buying your first AR-15 by checking out our AR-15 Beginner’s Guide.
Depending on what kind of shit hits the fan, you might want to have something a little more versatile (or at least harder hitting) on hand than an AR-15 – especially if you live outside of a major metropolitan area.
Some would say that a Scout Rifle fits that role, and it did…70 years ago. While a scout rifle isn’t a bad idea, there are better options.
The AR-10 is a perfect example, get one chambered in .308 Win with a variable scope and you’ve got a great rifle for taking down game, protecting yourself from two-legged threats, and keeping the whole thing light enough to hike with and giving yourself 20 rounds on tap in case things go really sideways.
The Henry Survival Rifleis a 3.5-pound .22LR rifle that’s portable, accurate, and perfect for hunting squirrels, rabbits, and other small game.
Get a Compact Backup Handgun
As the saying goes, “a .380 in your hand is better than a .45 in the glovebox.”
While I recommend keeping your .45 ACP a little closer than the glovebox (or .357 Mag, 9mm, 10mm, .44 Mag, or whatever handgun you prefer), having a backup pocket pistol on hand can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.
The idea is to have a compact gun available that you can easily grab in a pinch. I like the .380 ACP because it’s small and lightweight, but still powerful enough to neutralize a threat at close range.
If the .380 ACP isn’t your style and you’re looking for something a bit more tried and tested in the field, you can’t go wrong with an old-fashioned .38 Special.
The Bodyguard 38 is a modern take on a law enforcement classic – the .38 snub nose.
While the Bodyguard 38 (and other .38 specials) may not be popular services pistols in today’s generation, they’ve more than proven themselves to be powerful, dependable, and more than capable of acting as a backup pistol.
Overall, the pocket pistol makes a great addition to your SHTF Kit because it’s small enough to carry on your person at all times. I recommend a .380 APC or a .38 Spl because both of them are small and lightweight, yet powerful enough to take down a threat at close range.
Ideally, the pocket pistol is something you’d only want to use as a last resort – like if your primary gun jammed or it ran out of ammo.
Storing Your Ammo Safely
The last thing you want to do is stockpile ammo for an end-of-the-world scenario, only to discover that it’s corroded and functionally obsolete when it comes time to use it.
A lot of people tend to forget that ammunition has a shelf life. However, that shelf life is completely up to you. Store it right and it will last long enough for your grandchildren to use, store it wrong and you’ll kill your stock before the next deer season.
One of the easiest ways to extend the shelf life of your ammo is by storing it in safe, secure containers where it’s protected from dirt and moisture.
Honestly, every SHTF prepper should have at least one Ammo Can lying around. They’re cheap, easy to come across, and are worth their weight in gold if you ever are in a situation where you actually needto use your ammo stockpile.
Keeping a Silica gel packet in your ammo can will help ensure that your ammo lasts almost forever, they are cheap and easy to get – keeping one in every can is SOP for me.
What’s your take on having a good ammo can and moisture stopper?
Get a Good First Aid Kit
Ideally, every home and automobile should have a first-aid kit – especially people who’re outdoor enthusiasts. For most situations, the standard first-aid kit found in most workplaces will get the job done.
But if you’re in a situation where you really did have to use your SHTF kit, there’s a greater likelihood that you won’t have easy access to paramedics and hospitals in the event of the emergency. For this type of scenario, you’re really going to want to have a little more than a burn kit, some gauze, and antiseptic ointment.
The Grizzly Series First Aid Kitby Adventure Medical Kits is a heavy-duty kit designed specifically for the survivalist and apocalypse prepper.
Designed to meet the needs of law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day, the Echo-Sigma kit comes with all of the tools necessary to treat sprains, fractures, and cuts, as well as stabilize people who’ve experienced serious trauma from knife and gunshot wounds.
And as a bonus, it comes in a pouch that’s easy to carry around if you have to walk for extended periods of time.
We cover how to build the ultimate Range Med Kit too if you like customizing.
Heavy Metal Equipment
You’ll be surprised how much use you can get out of a good quality knife.
Not only does your survival knife act as your last line of defense, it can also be used as an important tool – especially if you’re stuck outdoors for an extended period of times.
Food prep, shelter building, making tools, and even first aid (cauterizing wounds and cutting bandages) can all be done with the help of your survival knife.
Functionally, it’s similar to the KA-BAR except that it comes with a gut hook for cleaning game, as well as a sawback – the serration on the top of the blade just past the hook. It’s made out of 1095 steel and has a 5” blade length, with an overall length of 9.26”.
And don’t forget a Whetstone for keeping your blades sharp without damaging them, like some of the other knife sharpening devices on the market.
Some other tools you might want to consider for your survivalist kit include:
If you ever find yourself away from your toolbox, each of these compact tools makes it significantly easier to set up shelter, make fires, and work on anything that needs tinkering.
Gun Equipment for Your SHTF Cache
As you already know, good gun maintenance is essential to ensuring that your gun is accurate and dependable. If you happen to find yourself in a shit-hits-the-fan moment, you want to make sure that you have all the supplies you need on hand.
After all, it’s not guaranteed that you will be able to trek to the nearest outdoors store and buy more equipment.
For this reason, I recommend keeping a few extra cleaning kits around. Preferably one for your SHTF Bag and another for the trunk of your car.
Our favorite M-Pro 7 kit from Best Gun Cleaning Kitsis perfect for handling most of you gun maintenance needs on the go, and it’s compact enough to be stowed away without taking up significant space.
I also recommend picking up a few packs of Break Free Weapon Wipes. They will go a long way in keeping your guns, knives, and tools clean, lubricated, and protected against corrosion – especially if you’re ever in a situation where you have to use your weapons and tools daily.
For a survival scenario, I recommend something lightweight and effective, without any of the frills. Concealment Express has a number of lightweight holsters for $35 that are durable and comfortable to carry around.
Food, Water, and Air
This really should be self-explanatory. You need food and water. You also need a way to get food and water after your stores have run out.
Getting food is where your firearms will come in handy, but water is a little more complex since you can’t just drink any water you find laying around – that is a quick way to get all kinds of nasty sicknesses.
For water purification, you need two options at least, one for you to get drinking water right now and one method for you to purify a lot of water.
Don’t forget – water isn’t just for drinking. You’ll also need it for cooking, cleaning, and treating injuries.
To get drinking water right away, I love my LifeStraw.
But when it comes to purifying larger amounts of drinking water you’ll need something like the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System.
Each of these pails is a 30-day food supply for one person. That is a lot of food! Throw in the fact that each of these only weighs 23 pounds and what you have is a fairly lightweight option for long-term food supply.
Long-term water storage is a little more complex than food, you’ll need water – obviously, but you’ll also need a water preserver.
Aside from looking cool, the Tactical Backpack has a number of extra compartments for maximizing your storage capabilities. You can load it up with survival material and store it in your trunk, garage, or closet and grab it at a moment’s notice.
Here are a few things that you want to keep in your backpack to keep you prepared for the unexpected:
When you’re building an SHTF bag, your goal should be to anticipate and prepare for any situation – not just the apocalyptical, but also the more common such as an earthquake, tornado, fire, and whatever else is possible to your local area.
Choosing good survival gear isn’t always about maximizing your firepower.
It’s also about making sure that you’ve got clean water, shelter, and enough supplies in the event that you have to gather your things and leave at a moment’s notice.
Are you a prepper? Do you have a store of SHTF gear? Let us know all about it in the comments!
Deer seasons in most of the USA doesn’t start until September – but if you’re looking to harvest some whitetail this year you’re probably already planning your hunt now.
Hopefully, you’re planning on shooting and developing your loads for upcoming hunts and maybe spending some time hiking, working out and getting ready for long days in the field and packing that hard-earned venison back to the trailhead. If you haven’t started yet, get going.
This fall some 10 million hunters will go afield in search of the whitetail buck of their dreams. On average, about 6 million deer will be harvested.
Though the numbers seem astronomical, consider this. In 1900 it is estimated that less than 500,000 whitetail deer remained in the US. As of 2013, there were an estimated 32,000,000 whitetails.
A true conservation success story and one that points to the hunter as the true conservationist.
The whitetail deer is the most popular big-game species to hunt. Partly because of the sheer numbers, but also because the whitetail can be found from as far north as the Arctic Circle in Canada to Brazil and Peru in South America.
From the east coast to the west coast whitetails can be found in every state in the Lower 48.
Whitetails live in vastly different habitats. You may find them in the edges around agricultural operations such as beans, corn, and alfalfa. Some you find at high elevation in the aspens in Colorado and Wyoming. Others prefer the tight, close confines of the river bottoms.
Because of the adaptability of whitetails, where you hunt will largely determine the rifle and ammo combination needed to be successful.
The whitetail is the smallest of the deer species in North America. On average a mature buck will weigh about 150 pounds, and a doe about 100 pounds. They are thin-skinned and have a relatively dainty bone structure.
So cleanly killing a whitetail does not take a specialized or heavy rifle and cartridge. A well-placed bullet from nearly any centerfire rifle will allow you to ethically take whitetail deer.
What About The Guns?
There are a lot of options when it comes to rifle and cartridges, let’s take a look at some good choices for whitetail hunting to get you started down the path to a whitetail hunting career.
You’re kidding, right? With all the fast new and sexy cartridges out there, why do I list the .30-30 first?
In all likelihood, the .30-30 Winchester Centerfire has taken more whitetail than any other cartridge. Often packaged in a compact, light and easy to carry lever-action rifle, the .30-30 makes a lot of sense.
There are a lot of whitetail in the river bottoms and thick forest and swamps. Shots will be short. You’ll likely be on a stand or stalk hunting and catch a glimpse of a whitetail sneaking through the woods.
Traditional open sights or a peep sight are quick to acquire and quite accurate for 50-100 yard shots.
Any good bullet designed for tubular magazines will be fine. My Winchester Model 94’s prefer 150-grain flat-points.
Normally you need to use round nose or flat nose bullets in a tube magazine for safety reasons, however, Hornady now offers a tube magazine safe spitzer cartridge using their FTX bullets. Although these cost a bit more than standard .30-30 rounds, they offer better penetration, better accuracy, longer range, and more reliable feeding.
The .308 was originally designed as a military cartridge. Sportsmen quickly realized that the .308 cartridge design was very accurate and could be housed in short action rifles, making them quite handy in the field.
The .308 gives up very little performance as far as velocity and energy compared to the 30-06. What it doesn’t do is recoil very much. A .308 with good 165 – 180-grain bullets will easily handle all your whitetail hunting from very close cover to 300+ yards with good optics.
I know, ‘who hunts deer with an AR?’. Truth be told, lots of folks do.
The AR is one of, if not the fastest selling rifle platform available today. The simple fact is the AR is today’s modern sporting rifle.
Light, handy, ammo is stocked in every gun store in the nation and in all different loads, and priced so an AR-15 is within reach of nearly anyone.
However, several states require deer hunting to be done with a cartridge larger than .23cal and/or have magazine restrictions for what can be used in a hunting rifle – check your regulations before deciding on your rifle!
If it is legal and you do choose standard .223/5.56mm as your cartridge you should be aware that although possible, these cartridges limit you greatly. Choose heavy grain, soft tip ammo and keep your range within 150 yards and a standard AR-15 will serve you well.
While the above cartridges will likely serve the vast majority of whitetails hunters just fine, there are those who may wish to stretch the yardage a bit or pursue bigger game. If you want to stay in the AR platform look closely at the AR-10 platform and move into the .308 Winchester with 150 or 165-grain bullets.
Now you have a powerful cartridge in a semi-auto package capable of taking game cleanly at extended ranges. You will pay a penalty in weight and cost, but it is a viable option if you plan to hunt in areas where shots may be long.
These are the only 2 bullets I’ve recovered from game shot with a Nosler Partition.
While not at all an exhaustive list, I believe anyone looking to start big game hunting with whitetails will be well served with the above choices.
As for what rifle to buy, you have to decide. My personal experience has been mostly with bolt actions; Remington Model 700, Tikka T3 Lite, Ruger Mod 77, Ruger American Predator and semi-custom Mauser 98’s. All work well. All are accurate. All kill whitetail deer just fine if you place your shots correctly.
Now that you have a rifle in hand, what else do you need to have to be able to spend the entire day in the field hunting?
I’m a little over-the-top in what I carry. I grew in the Scouting program and I am a firm believer in Being Prepared.
Also, being from the Northwest I carry more gear than the average hunter because we have wide temperature swings, it will most likely be raining and/or snowing and I want to be sure I am 100% able to function on my own and not be a burden on my partners.
Let’s take a quick look at the very minimum I would have in my pack for a day of whitetail hunting in northeast Washington. I will not go too much into clothing since that is a regional and seasonal variable that everyone needs to deal with on hunt-by-hunt basis.
In the photo below is my gear:
Here’s a quick run-down of what you see and why. Starting in the upper left of the photo:
Space Blanket: Use it as a tarp, a ground cover or a sleeping bag.
Rangefinder and binoculars. I like the compact models. The ones shown are both Leupold brand products. You need to be able to glass at distance and in thick cover. The rangefinder is handy if you are in a more open area or are shooting cartridges or a muzzleloader with less range.
A headlamp and a flashlight. Ever boned out a deer trying to hold a flashlight with one hand? I like the Zebra Light for my headlamp. A single AA battery gives me 200 lumens at the top end and multiple lower settings. A great tool for traveling early morning and at night. I like Surefire flashlights because they always work. I use the G2 series. Relatively inexpensive and very bright and durable.
50 feet of paracord. Get real, made in the USA cord. It has a multitude of uses and always comes in handy.
The little bottle is a Nalgene with a flip-top filled with cornstarch. I use it as my wind-puffer. An easy way to keep track of the breeze and thermals as you move during the day.
Stoney Point shooting sticks. This size is perfect for sitting or kneeling shots. Any rest in the field will help make your shots more accurate.
Map and compass. Yep, I have a GPS. I never use it for navigation. The GPS will crap out at the most inopportune time. Heavy snow and thick timber will not allow a signal. Carry a topographic map of the area you are in. Get a good quality compass. LEARN HOW TO USE THEM TOGETHER! A compass does not tell you where you are. It only points North.
Meat care: the long white bag like the Kifaru Meat Baggie. These 1 ozs. bags will hold 75 pounds of boned meat. You can usually get an average whitetail in one bag. The bag holds the meat in a vertical tube to make it easier to pack out in your backpack. I use two bags for my deer hunting. All the meat that will be ground goes in one. The big cuts go in the other.
Meat Knife – Havalon Piranta: A changeable blade knife. You should be able to easily skin, bone, and process a deer with two blades. I also carry a couple pairs of nitrile gloves to keep my hands dry and a bit warmer. The nitrile also provides a better grip.
Again, this is what I have found works for me. Every area and every hunt is different, so adjust your gear accordingly. But you will find after a few trips there are some things that always get used and will go in your pack every time you go hunting.
A note on meat care: I mentioned boning your deer. I am a big proponent of quick and quality field care. I will go out on a limb here and say that most ‘gamey’ meat results from poor care of the animal in the field.
With any animal the number one enemy is heat. Get the animal broken down and cooling immediately. That means skin off, and meat off the bones. There is a tremendous amount of internal heat and the quicker the meat is separated from the bones, better.
Because nearly all of our hunting is done in the backcountry we bone our animals on spot using the ‘gutless method’. Check the link and do some research on your own. I think you will find it’s a quick, clean and easy way to care for deer.
They even have videos taking you step by step as they clean a Bull Elk!
Tips and Tactics
Because whitetails live in such vastly different habitats, tactics must be adjusted depending on the location. However, there are a few things that remain constant that will help you tag a whitetail this year.
Whitetails are creatures of habit. They stay pretty close to one area and tend to use the same trails and routes. My preferred method of hunting is to find an intersection of two or more trails in the timber or edges of food crops. I’ll then find a good place to sit, usually on the ground with a tree or log to my back.
Then I get comfortable and wait. Be sure to situate yourself so you are downwind of the prevailing winds in the area. If you have too much scent blowing across or down the trail you may alert the deer.
Stay out all day
Take another look at my pack list. Once I leave camp I intend to stay out until dark. I have my lunch, a closed-cell foam pad to sit on and appropriate clothing. Yes, I get cold. Yes, I get bored. Yes, I have sat in the pouring rain and wet snow all day.
But here’s the deal. Most hunters go back to camp in early or mid-morning. Most go back when the weather sucks. I have found that whitetails, especially in cold weather tend to get up and mosey around about 11 in the morning. They get stiff and cold too.
They will get up, eat a little, take a leak and maybe look for an area in the open if the sun is out. I have killed the majority of my whitetails mid-morning.
Use your binoculars
Whitetails like thick stuff. Human eyes are good, but not great. For the most part, we detect motion.
So if a whitetail is moving through heavy timber or brush you may notice the movement, not necessarily the deer. With binoculars, you can pick apart the timber. You see more color. You see shapes.
One of my PH’s in South Africa taught me a lot about thick cover hunting. He always said, “look through the bush.” Meaning, look beyond the stuff on the edges.
Look through the screen. Change the focus on your binoculars so you see through different layers of the cover. You will be surprised how much more is out there than if you just sit and watch.
Whitetail bucks are solitary creatures. However, if you can hunt a late season, your odds go up.
In general terms, the rut begins to crank up in mid to late-November and will run through December and January in many parts of the country. As the rut approaches, the bucks begin to wander more in search of ladies.
As such, they spend more time on the move and are a lot less wary. They are intent on breeding. Not necessarily paying attention. That said, if you are hunting a late season and you have some does or youngsters walk past your stand, get ready.
Often a buck will be following behind to determine if a suitable mate is ahead of him. Be sure you are dressed for the weather this time of year. It will be cold and often wet.
While in your sitting spot keep your rifle across your lap and at the ready.
You will often only have a couple of shooting lanes and even if the deer are just walking you only have a few seconds to make your shot.
If you have to reach for your gun and make noise or sudden movements, you will very likely not get a shot. You must be ready to quickly identify if your buck or deer is legal and then make a very quick decision to either shoot or not shoot the deer.
I shot this buck on cold November day after I had built a fire to warm up and have some coffee. It was 11 am.
How can you not? You are hunting. You are in the woods, with a rifle in your hands, a tag in your pocket and a whitetail somewhere in the neighborhood.
Yeah, you may walk miles. You may freeze on stand. You may get wet.
So what? You’ll likely be in camp or home sometime tonight. You can get dry, warm and fed when you get back.
Take a camera and shoot photos of your gear, your stand, your rifle. Shoot a pic of that pesky squirrel telling the whole basin you are under his tree.
Hunting is about making memories and enjoying your outdoor heritage. Tying your tag on a whitetail and enjoying the pure organic protein the venison provides is a bonus.
What deer have you harvested? Planning your first trip? Let us know in the comments!