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What makes a bullet a good bullet?

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Unread 02-19-2011, 03:18 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 5
What makes a bullet a good bullet?

please excuse me , i am new to all this awesome long range hunting stuff. im really trying to learn what makes some bullets better than others. Their are so many choices it can be an overwelming decision of what ammo to use. I have a new accurized sendero 7mm rem mag with a trigger job and a vortex viper 6.5x20 scope. I will be using this gun for hunting mule deer , and elk .I have been told about the amax 162 grain , Berger 168 grain , Barnes 150 tsx. what makes each bullet different and or better . its really confusing i see berger bullets doing awesome things on the best of the west show. but then i also hear that barnes is the way to go because of copper bullet retains all of its weight. i am looking at hunting 500 yards at the most. what makes a bullet more accurate than other bullets in the hunting bracket. also what makes one bullet a better kill choice than others. please help a new comer to understand . all advise will be well appreciated
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Unread 02-19-2011, 03:32 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Thunder Basin, WY
Posts: 1,788
Re: What makes a bullet a good bullet?

The Berger and the Barnes are totally different bullets really. IMO, one is designed for high weight retention, the other for terminal shock and better flight/accuracy. Personally, I wouldn't want to try a Berger on a close range point of shoulder shot (hitting heavy bone before the vitals). In contrast, I would be skeptical of a Barnes performance at extended or long ranges and hitting only the lungs/maybe a rib.

They both serve their purpose, I've used them both. Have no complaints of either.

Perhaps one of the Berger or Barnes guys could give you a better, more detailed discription of their product.

I've not yet used the A-Max on game, but will soon be trying it.
Aim small = Miss small

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Unread 02-19-2011, 03:42 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The rifle range, or archery range or behind the computer in Alaska
Posts: 3,830
Re: What makes a bullet a good bullet?


1st, any given bullet will not perform perfectly in all shot senarios. A berger will be good for some senarios, an Amax will be better for others and a barnes will be better for another.

IMHO, the ACCUBONDS and Interbonds are about the best 'overall' 'hunting' bullets. They have decent BC's (good BC's are needed for energy retention and forgivness in the wind), are very accurate and peform well on game over a wide variety of circumstances. They are a good balance between all things.

There are other bullets that have much higher BC's but typically come unglued when shots are take up close and other may not expand below 1800FPS. You need to find a balance.

That said, alot depends on your caliber choice. I have two main calibers. One is a 308 and the other a 338 Edge. Each will require a totally different bullet type to perform best. For example, my 308 has a starting velocity that is lower than many other calibers. I need two things. A high BC for energy retention and windage. The other thing I need is a bullet that will expand at lower velcoities. Compared against a 300RUM, a bullet with sufficient expansion properties for my 308 at 800 yards will come completely apart when fired out of a 300RUM at 300-400 yards. A 300 RUM will need a much stouter constructed bullet than my 308 will to perform the best. That is, in average circumstances. There are always exceptions. The 338 Edge is designed for one thing. Raw energy past 1/2 mile. Part of what makes this doable is the availability of VERY high BC bullets. With all of the weight, size and material of a 300 grain bullet, I can afford to shed some weight inside the animal regardless of shot angle or placement. What I really am looking for here is very high retained energy and very low wind drift. I sacrifice some bullet construction for a very high BC. That said, when I know shots will be close I load some 225 or 250 ACCUBONDS to hold up on the closer shots. This is a different approach than with my 308.

I hope that helps you get started.

Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (how bad your last shot was, how big the group is going to be, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.
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Unread 02-20-2011, 09:09 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,494
Re: What makes a bullet a good bullet?

If it were me, to fill your requirements I would get me some 160 Nosler Accubond bullets and never look back. It has been my experience that they hold together well at high velocity for close shots and they still open up fine at longer ranges and the BC is not bad.
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Unread 02-20-2011, 10:54 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 899
Re: What makes a bullet a good bullet?

Close range performance of the 160 accubond is great.
I shot two deer at 30 yds with my 7mm , both shoulder shots. DRT
Nice entrance hole and a mess inside. No exit.
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Unread 02-20-2011, 09:49 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: South of Canada and North of Wyoming
Posts: 6,068
Re: What makes a bullet a good bullet?

You'll get a lot of different opinions on this on this and if you want to get a good overview do a search on the subject using the various bullet names and "terminal ballistics"

This being a Long Range Hunting site, a "good bullet" will have a "good" BC to extend bullet range and buck wind as well as have "good" terminal characterstics and the latter requirement is the most subjective. Some like highly frangible, "explosive" bullets to create a lot of damage and others like controlled, reliable expansion for deep penetration and exit wound. I prefer the latter.

I have read hundreds of posts on pretty much all the offerings in all the various cartridges and one thing you will notice is some inconsistancies in experiences.

I have used a lot of different types of bullets (most before my LR days) and all but one game animal went down immediately or very quickly. The one (whitetail deer) that didn't was poorly hit the first time, gut shot a second time by another hunter with a 218 B, and I shot it a third time at point blank broadside through the lungs. It ran off into a nearby subdivion (in PA) and the chase was over, deer lost. I was using 243 core-lokts... Point being, most any modern "hunting" bullet will usually get the job done... some maybe more consistantly than others.

As you read the various reports, there is not a bullet that will have both glowing and some negative reports.

Most LRH members would consider 500 yds as medium or even short range shooting. At 500 yds, with a 7mmRM, you can be a lot less picky. MY choice (and I have hunted many years with the 7mmRM) would be a 150 E-Tip. They are monometals and have essentially the same BC and they are tough bone crushing bullets. I like them better than the Barnes bullets because they have a little better BC, are made of guilded metal vs copper and their tips are not as prone to damage as the Barnes bullets.

MY favorite bullets at this point are the GS HV's. They are a high BC monometal with very good terminal performance and very spendy.

Hope that helps and do some researching to form you're own opinion.
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Unread 02-22-2011, 02:31 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Inland Empire, CA
Posts: 44
Re: What makes a bullet a good bullet?

A-MAX bullets are designed for target shooting accuracy with high ballistic coefficients (BC), they are not designed as hunting bullets. Yes, you could very easily hunt with an A-MAX, and even drop your deer or elk, however, you will get less expansion than hunting bullets; thereby more penetration. If you're one who uses the 'right tool for the right job', A-MAX is not what you're looking for.

When it comes to the 'better' bullet, you have two factors to consider. As stated earlier, a high BC helps the bullet resist wind drift and is typically more aerodynamic than its lower bc counterparts. But, this high bc (represented by a # like 0.475) often has a price of lowering the bullet's expansion power upon striking the target. Hunting bullets, on the other hand, are designed for expansion upon hitting your target and that price is usually a lower BC. So, essentially, as Michael indicated, you're looking for a balance between the two factors. Check out the sites regarding Barnes, Berger, Hornady, etc and find the bullets that have the higher BC and execute the type of terminal ballistic (damage upon target) you like the best. That will give you your balance, and 'best' bullet.

Also, as stated before, you're talking a maximum of 500 yards. That range is not excessive. At that range you really need not worry about choosing the right bullet. A standard hunting load should do just fine. What you could do, if so inclined, would be to choose a lighter load for mule deer and a heavier hitter for your elk, to avoid excessive meat damage.

Good luck.
Run as fast and as long as you can... my little friend will catch up and set you free.
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