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Ancient Gaseous Emanation
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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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I am a great fan of Berger varmint and VLD hunting bullets.
 

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Yes Popeye, thanks again for a very informative article. I have used Winchester Power Points and Federal Soft Points for years while deer hunting and I believe they are some of the most humane and effective bullets out there for that type of game.
 
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As always an excellent and informative post thanks Popeye ! .
 

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Thanks Popeye. It is true, a lot of hunters do not really research what they are sending out the muzzle of their guns. I have seen countless hunters shooting ballistic tips for deer over the years. I am also not a huge fan of this practice. The funny thing is. Remington core-lokt bullets are very good at what they do and traditionally are reasonably priced.
 

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Been killing Whitetails for years with the NBT...from 223 to 300wm they are deadly and they work period.I'm guessing alot on here think Berger VLDs suck as well since it's considered a "target bullet".

At the end of the day it doesnt matter what bulllet you use short of a fmj it's all about shot placement men.
 

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Ancient Gaseous Emanation
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Discussion Starter #9
From the OP.

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.
 
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I've been hunting for over 50 years and reloading for over 40. I've tried them all and for my money the Barnes line of solid copper controlled expanding bullets are all I'll use anymore!!! They are an expensive bullet but in the total cost of a hunt the cheapest item you need to buy. They will go lengthwise thru an elk with massive damage all the way!! Deer shot broadside sustain massive damage right from the entry point till the bullet exits out the other side. This is out of a 30/06 with 180gr bullets traveling at 2700 fps. FRJ
 

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Good write-up Popeye!

I used Rem CLs, Hornady ILs and Sierra GKs in my 270 to 30 cal deer and hog rifles. I prefer heavy for caliber SGKs.

At 8mm I switch to Nosler PTs and Speer HCs - They both work.

Over 8mm, I prefer Nosler PTs and Swift As (and Barnes Solids) although, I did work-up reloads with the less expensive cup/core bullets for both my 9.3 and 458 then switched to the premiums afterwards for hunting to save $$$.$$.
 

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Thank you for that informative article. I never realized that the rapid expansion were not intended for big game. I am glad to have learned this before I started hunting on my own.
 

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The Pickup Man
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Thanks fpr the info popeye! I havent been in the woods in almost 20yrs. Im going out with a buddy this year fpr 3rd rifle (elk) to see what ive forgotten over the years. Next year i hope to be on my own expedition with my 7.62

Sent from my SM-G900P using Tapatalk
 

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Genius in Training
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Those are two of my favorite rounds too.
 

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Genius in Training
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For hog hunting, head shots are best and you dont need much penetration so I was going to use some rapid expansion bullets but I grapped the wrong ones and used controlled expansion on accident. Of the three hogs I shot that day, none of them took a single step after being hit but there was an exit hole in all three that was about nickel sized. Controlled expansion do have very good penetration but I would think they would want to expand a little faster.
 

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Wyoming
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Very fine definition regarding bullet selection. M1895g, also attracted my interest. I have hunted and used many arms and ammo over the years.About 10 years ago I started hunting with cast bullets and the Sharps rifles. The Big slow moving 550 grs. .458 caliber bullets work as well today as they did over a century ago. :wink:
 

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Very good thread. Takes information that is very important and breaks it down to easy to understand language.

Thanks!!!
 
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