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American Handgunner Sept/Oct 2012 Digital Edition - Page 42
HANDGUNHUNTING tIPs, tecHNIQUes AND PoLItIcAL INcorrectNess J.D. JoNes What’s A “Best Bullet ” : M y phone rings, and I hear this all the time, “What’s the best bullet for my (fill in the blank here).” And it’s an easy answer: There’s no such thing as a best bullet. Yep, that’s the way I see it. Of course the eternal argument of cast vs. jacketed rages on, at least for the revolver guys — although the Black Powder and Cowboy competition shooters seem to have settled their part of it. “Best” usually turns out of be for some specific purpose, and I can usually answer that with several examples of something capable of doing the intended job. But “best” still escapes me, as usually a few bullets in any caliber will fill the bill, and in some calibers and use — dozens will. Plinking with revolvers or auto pistols is something we And Is There Such A Thing? recovered .45 acp all-copper bullets started out with a wide hollowpoint. in the real world, the all-copper bullets often perform like they were shot into gel blocks, exhibiting near perfect performance. all do. Cast or swaged lead is the cheapest and can usually be found in factory or reloaded ammo. Swaged is usually the cleanest of the two, as the “smoke cloud” produced by cast slugs is unpleasant and somewhat unhealthy to breathe. Frankly, inhaling the fumes produced by firing any shot is not a healthy practice. Nor is casting bullets without more than adequate ventilation, just to remind you. ACCURACY F or what purpose? Close action shooting for practice? Lead bullets are fine, but I seldom see top shooters using anything but jacketed in meaningful competition. Both accuracy, and a clean gun that runs flawlessly, is important for them. Jacketed ammo is cleaner and usually more accurate, so there you go. Hunting accuracy? Hunting what and what distance? Hogs at 15 feet? Heavy cast bullets have excellent penetration, doing minimal tissue damage, and in a heavy load usually exit. That’s mostly a good thing. But if you really want “exit” there are several jacketed bullets, and the Barnes “buster” is perhaps one of the best. But if you are tangling with that hog with a bunch of dogs and people involved, maybe a fast expanding, low penetration bullet is a safer yet effective projectile. I’m reminded of an incident of holding leashed dogs wanting back in the fight and I felt something odd on my ankle. Looking down I saw a little 10-pound piglet gnawing on my ankle. All he had was milk teeth, but he did a good job on my boot. Moving on to the single shots, I have no doubt jacketed bullets are superior hunting bullets. The varieties are literally endless, with each manufacturer touting recovered bullets exhibit varying expansion characteristics due to different designs. Velocity is the most important factor in bullet performance. selecting the right bullet for the right velocity is often difficult. his wares in such a manner to either piss you off or make you feel stupid for not using it, regardless of caliber/animal size or likely distance involved. Quick conclusions f irst, define the job. Hogs with no dogs? Use a magnum revolver over .357 caliber, with heavy jacketed hollowpoints if the likely distance is under 50 yards. Getting into 100-yard territory, a single shot should be considered, in a cartridge capable of at least 2,000 fps with a relatively heavy (for the caliber) or “premium”-type bullet with known impact characteristics. Deer at the same distance? Lighter weight, softer bullets may do the job a bit better, but the expanding hog bullet will also work. Long-range deer or antelope? High velocity, flat trajectory, decent accuracy with a hunting bullet (not match bullet) is desired. Yeah, I know, match bullets are usually more accurate than hunting bullets, but they are designed for one thing at impact, punching a hole in paper. base portion recovered from a controlled fracturing bullet after exiting from a deer. Learn to shoot well and practice a lot, and not just off sandbags. Learn to control excitement and concentration. Learn animal anatomy so you can shoot them where they live. Brain/spine/ shoulder shots are the most likely to instantly down an animal. With other hits, expect them to run — and be happy if they don’t. Head and neck shots suck. They’re wonderful if they work, but the target is small and usually going to move. If they’re not placed exactly they can be a real disaster. Shoulder-chest shots are lethal and offer a bigger target. A good idea is to look at the Sierra website for examples of different types of bullets. Pick a few and call their help line to determine the useful velocity of a particular bullet. There’s no need to over-think it all, but at least think about it. For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/ product-index and click on the company name. * 42 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER2012