This is part two of a three part series. My order of importance is; 1) shot placement, 2) bullet construction/impact velocity, 3) caliber/bullet weight.
Bullet construction needs to match impact velocity. It is that simple. There is a large overlap of bullet performance between brands and models of bullets. The best bullet in the world for one cartridge at a certain distance could be less than desirable for another cartridge at the same distance. For those of you that have chatted with me about bullet selection, may recall one of the first things I ask is how far you plan to shoot. Inevitably, we all want the perfect bullet from 20 to 1,000 yards, but that just isn't practical. What we can do is narrow down the selection based on anticipated shot distances for certain animals and your own personal preference in bullet performance.
If you are hunting deer and never shoot past 250-300 yards, most any bullet will serve you well. If you want to kill an elk at 1,000 or more yards on a distant mountain somewhere, there are a select group of cartridges and bullets that will be markedly better choices than others. Every bullet has a minimum and maximum impact rating from the manufacturer. If you shoot hot-rod cartridges like the 28 Nosler, 300 RUM and 338 RUM the upper threshold of bullets needs to be seriously considered in a close range shot. Likewise, if you want to hit animals way out there, we need to seriously look at minimum impact velocity (MIV) ratings and BC for retaining their velocity. Anyone desiring long range shooting of animals, needs to factor in BC and MIV. Each cartridge/ bullet combination will have its own distance limit imposed by a combination of launch velocity, BC, MIV and the environment you are shooting in.
223 Rem 62 SSII, 6.5 CM 140 SSP, 7 RM 150 SSII, 300 RUM 180 TTSX, 28 Nosler 190 A-Tip
Many people consider the 223 Remington inadequate for deer hunting. My home state allows their use for deer and that cartridge got the nod for my son's first deer season. End result was 7 dead deer with 7 shots ranging from 56 yards to 180 yards. We prioritized placement and bullet construction over caliber and weight and had great results. That combo is good to about 250 yards where the velocity will drop below its MIV. All shots were clear pass through from many angles. We used a 62 grain Swift Scirocco launched at 3,000 fps. Wound channels were favorable and six deer traveled 35-75 yards after the shot, with one traveling 150 yards with a hit too far back. That same combo would fair poorly if 500 yard shots were on the menu. The bullet simply would not mushroom as intended as the MIV would be too low. Velocities can easily be calculated at distance with one of the many free ballistic calculators on the market like Hornady and Berger.
Matching the bullet to the game and distance is kind of a science. Moderate sized cartridges like the 6.5 Creedmoor do quite well with standard cup and core soft point bullets. The launch velocity is within the limits of the bullet to begin with, so only MIV needs to be considered as distance is stretched out. We have killed many deer with the premium 130 Swift Scirocco and performance is stellar. We have also killed deer with Lehigh 110 and 130 all coppers as well as the plain Speer 140 Hot-cor. At the Creedmoor's mild velocities, all these bullets have done very well. Pictured above is the 140 Speer Spire Point that is effective at normal hunting ranges for most big game animals. If you are attempting to stretch the distance on your Creedmoor, sleeker bullets with higher BC's should be considered.
Stepping up to magnum cartridges like the 6.5 PRC, 7 Rem Mag, 300 WSM, and 300 Win Mag, high end impact velocity for close in impacts needs to be considered. These rounds have enough launch velocity to at least consider it. These rounds can exceed some bullets maximum thresholds. Some people prefer the massive trauma associated with bullets coming apart. And often, on thin skinned critters, that is very very effective. If you prefer exit holes and broken shoulders, these cartridges are getting into the premium bullet range. Premium bullets are not always necessary, but are often a good, safe bet. The premium bullets from Swift, Nosler, Norma, Hammer, Lehigh and others will have a much better probability of getting through the vitals from all angles and still having enough mass and momentum to exit the animal. These cartridges also become very sought after for long distance shots. Now we are on the opposite end and need to consider MIV to set our maximum range. Berger Elite hunters and VLDs along with Nosler ABLR and Hornady ELDX, ELDM and A-tip really shine when the distances get long. These bullets have low MIV numbers and really hold their velocity well with their superior BCs. When the bullet gets to the animal, these bullets still mushroom well and destroy vital organs. Pictured above is 7mm Rem Mag 150 SSII bonded bullet. This bullet is an excellent all around choice for thin skinned and tough game alike. Charting the ballistic performance shows this bullet will run out of steam in teh 800-900 yard range. Shots beyond those distances would be better suited with softer, higher BC bullets like Hornady ELDX, ELDM, A-Tip, and Berger Elite Hunter.
The next step in cartridges are the Hot-rods like 28 Nosler, 300 RUM, 338 RUM and other rounds capable of launching big game bullets over 3200 fps or so. The need for tough bullets is just a stronger argument here until the ranges get out there a ways. Many of these rounds are used inside 500 or 600 yards where the premium, tough bullets are hard to beat. These rounds are also favored for the really long shots due to the high initial launch capability of the really high BC bullets. The biggest advantage these rounds bring to the table for long range shooting is the extra launch velocity. High speed launch coupled with today's crop of ultra high BC makes these rounds the cream of the crop for long range hunting. We have several offerings that stay supersonic beyond a mile! Pictured above is the 300 RUM with 180 Barnes TTSX-BT. This combination has an impressive launch velocity and respectable BC and is noted for impressive penetration and bone breaking capability. If shots exceed roughly 1,000 yards with the 300 RUM, the 225 ELDM, 220 SMK, 220 Scenar, 205 and 215 Berger are all superior in the BC department. Pictured far right is the 28 Nosler 190 A-Tip. The ultra high BC of the A-Tip coupled with a soft construction makes this a superior choice when shots exceed 1,000 yards and beyond. This combo stays super sonic beyond a mile when punching steel plates!
The good news is many bullets perform well for many situations. If you have a specialty in mind, North American Ammunition Company can help you find the best solution.