With hunting season right around the corner in Maine I’d like to start a new weekly topic about bullet construction and their uses. In regards to gun rights it’s Important to recognize that hunters represent a sizable portion of the gun owners in Maine, and with that representation comes a responsibility to have an understanding of bullets (projectiles), their types, and construction to insure the odds of a humane and ethical harvest. The downstream effects of a wounded animal that (for example) runs on posted land can leave a sour taste in a non-gun owning land owner’s mouth’s. Multiply that by several hundred/year and the potential for a negative effect on gun rights in Maine becomes obvious.
I’d like to start by saying one of my main goals by the end of this series is for our fellow gun owners to take away that there isn’t necessarily “one bullet to rule them all”, just like there isn’t one cartridge to rule them all. The answer like most things complex is “It depends”.
With that being said let’s start with the basics. It’s easier to understand projectile construction when you compare it to something you know. Think of projectiles like a set of tires you’d put on a vehicle. You wouldn’t drag race with mud tires or go off-roading with racing slicks. It’s important to remember this when choosing a properly constructed bullet for the job you aim to do. As a general rule of thumb (disregarding brand names) the “right” bullet for the job will typically perform well on your given target as long as YOU (the shooter) allow that bullet to remain within its design parameters at the distance you intent to hit the target. This will maximize the opportunity for the projectile to properly function and minimize bullet failures and other undesirable results.
Let’s take an extreme example for starters. Varmint bullets are typically designed to expand rapidly upon impact on relatively soft targets, a feature that’s desired for varmint hunters. They can however be known for inconsistent expansion results (usually velocity related) but sometimes due to variances in jacket thickness of the bullet. If that same bullet were to be used in a deer hunting application over a few seasons AND multiple animals were taken with it the hunter would find that without a perfectly placed shot the deer would likely be injured or maimed. A shot that hit bone (of any type) or even thicker sections of hide on some animals would likely result in a bullet pre-maturely and rapidly expanding just below the surface or in some cases ON the surface on the animal.
This of course is very dependent on the velocity of the bullet at the target. While you may still kill the animal there are much better bullets for the job, ones that perform more repeatedly, reliably & effectively. We’ll get into those in the weeks to come.
It’s important to recognize that we are talking about bullet types on their own, not respective to which cartridge they’re fired out of. Try to remember when purchasing ammo this season, “the right tire for the job” and you’ll be more pleased with your results on the target.