Why a Hunting Bullet is a Compromise

by
posted on September 18, 2018
hunting-bullets-lede.jpg
As the physical link between hunter and game, the bullet plays a vital role in any hunt. For this reason, a heavy reliance and high expectations ride on a hunting bullet's performance. While a hunting bullet may appear to be a simple assembly of two or more unsophisticated parts, every bullet combines a complex series of engineering compromises and tradeoffs. Because a well-designed bullet requires a unique combination of engineering and experience, the design process comprises equal parts art and science.

From the standpoint of interior ballistics, the ideal hunting rifle bullet would be a bore-diameter, homogenous cylinder. Such a bullet would be cheap, easy to manufacture and have maximum bearing surface for superior accuracy. From the standpoint of exterior ballistics, on the other hand, an efficient hunting rifle bullet would have a high length-to-diameter ratio, a sharp, drag-reducing point and a tapered base (boattail). Such a bullet would offer high retained velocity and energy, flat trajectory and minimum wind drift. From the standpoint of terminal ballistics, the ideal hunting rifle bullet would combine sub-m.o.a. accuracy with reliable penetration, consistent double-diameter expansion and 100 percent weight retention. 

The problem is that all of the above requirements pull rifle bullet designers in different and often mutually exclusive directions. As a result, all rifle bullets are a compromise; none is perfect. All bullet designers begin with a set of performance criteria that determines the engineering compromises they will use in designing a specific bullet. Their criteria may meet your requirements—or prove totally unsatisfactory. For this reason, manufacturers offer hunting rifle bullets in a bewildering array of calibers, weights, profiles and constructions. 

In the end, the shooter must first determine the performance parameters they need from their rifle bullets, and then select the bullet profile, weight and construction that will provide the performance they seek. Begin this process by reviewing all the bullets offered in your particular caliber in manufacturers' literature. The select an appropriate ogive and tail profile based on the ranges expected to be encountered. Next, select a bullet weight appropriate for the intended game. Lastly, select a bullet construction appropriate to the hunting conditions and size of the game.

If you're curious about what we mean by "ogive," "tail profile" and "bullet construction," we're going to be covering just that in this space next week.

Latest

Courtesy Winchester Repeating Arms Facebook
Courtesy Winchester Repeating Arms Facebook

What's the Difference Between Gas-Operated & Inertia-Driven Shotguns?

A semi-auto is a semi-auto, right? Not exactly. Each shotgun type has its pros and cons; here's what newbies need to know.

What is FITASC?

Well, for starters, one of the toughest clay target sports in the world...

Exzellent! American Junior Shotgunners Triumph in Germany

USA Shooting’s junior shotgun athletes earned six medals at the ISSF Junior World Cup.

7 Pistol-Shooting Tips For People With Arthritis

Don't let "Uncle Arthur" get between you and the sport you love.

NRA Family Favorites: May 21, 2022

We love our readers ... and we also love to read! Here are some of our favorite stories from around the whole family of NRA publications this past week.

Video Review: Colt King Cobra Target Revolver

This precision wheelgun was designed for sharpshooters, but it's versatile enough for so much more.

Interests



Get the best of NRA Family delivered to your inbox.