Matchkings vs. Gamekings


Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2003
New York
Matchkings and Hunting
by Rich Macholz

Every year we are reminded of the accuracy advantage MatchKings provide by hunters wishing to use them in the field. We don't suggest this application due to thin jackets, hard cores, and small meplat openings.

These design characteristics can cause premature expansion at close range, lack of expansion at extreme range, and a very narrow corridor of terminal performance. It is very difficult to take advantage of the MatchKings accuracy edge in the field under normal hunting conditions. Usually things are not just exactly perfect when that trophy presents itself. That means that odds are good that shot placement, while good, may not be perfect.

To compensate for this very slight error, a reliable expanding type hunting bullet that transfers all the energy available is a necessity. Therefore, if your .300 Win Mag Ruremchester shoots .4" with 168 grain MatchKings and .8" with 165 grain GameKings, you still have better than minute of a whitetail accuracy with a bullet that was designed for maximum terminal performance.

I've never seen a game animal with a bullseye on it, so X count or score isn't so important as the result of one good shot that gives maximum terminal results.
With all due respect Rick, how many big game animals have you killed with a SMK yet?

My brother just took his Mountain Goat today with his 338/378 Weatherby and the 300gr SMK, and I guarantee you, it didn't matter what angle it was hit at either, that bullet was going on through.

I'll let ya know the details when I hear them. I do know it took only one bullet.
To the Original Poster.

I can assure you that after many years of hunting big game animals and using Match King bullets in different large calibers and at differnt ranges, THEY WORK.

If a person has NEVER tried them at various ranges, they would never know just how well they do work now would they?

Sierra's Rich Marholtz is a friend of mine and knows what we do with the MK line of bullets. We are Long and extreme longrange hunters and for the "average" short range hunter he will always state what he did to you and what you posted.

If he had been talking to an experianced Longrange hunter, I'm sure the answer would have been different because I report to him every year as to what we do with the MK bullets.

I can tell you, the MK will do anything a so called hunting bullet will do and do it more accurately at the ranges we shoot. This is why we use them. His explanation of a .4" using a MK or .8" using the GK makes a HUGE difference in excess of 1000 yards.
Even at short range the MKs are devistating on game.

Use what you want but don't try to cloud the issue that Match Kings don't work as a hunting bullet.
We have used them for to many years and know better regardless of what Sierra says.

It's Match Kings for me everytime. That includes hunting Deer, elk, Caribou or Moose.

As an add on here---I just got off the phone with the President of the PA 1000 yard club.

He just returned from an African hunt yesterday in which one of the fellows shot a Hippo and a Water Bullalo and he used a 220 Swift with a 80 gr JLK bullet.
He placed the shots into the brain of each species. The "Match" bullets performed well from the report I was just given. The Presidents son is a guide there.
Match bullets do work and shot placement is very important for "ANY" bullet.

[ 10-12-2003: Message edited by: Darryl Cassel ]
Shot placement! The animal doesn't know what you are shooting. If you hit where you want almost any bullet will do the job. The accuracy edge is first on my list. If you get that not so perfect shot and your kill area shrinks that extra MOA from the "non hunting bullet" will come in handy.
by Kevin Thomas

Q. I've used your superb match bullets for many years in long-range rifle competition with excellent results. I'm planning an antelope hunt later this year, where the ranges are likely to be long. Can I use these same MatchKing bullets for my hunt?

A. We don't recommend it. MatchKing bullets are designed with only one consideration; to produce the most consistently accurate bullet possible. This is done without regard to how the bullet will behave after impact, as the bullet has accomplished its mission at that point. Bullets intended for hunting use must be designed with terminal performance in mind, since their job begins on impact. Featuring heavier jackets, different nose profiles, Power Jacket skiving, double taper jacket designs, etc., SierraÕs hunting bullets are designed to give deep, controlled expansion. Use match bullets for matches, and hunting bullets for hunting.

Do they make a hunting bullet that gives match performance? If so, don't it make more sense to use them on game?

Just a thought!
by David King

Q. I've heard many folks complain about other folks using matchking bullets for hunting. Is there any valid reason for these worry-warts to fret?

A. Yes, but they'd worry even if other folks use premium controlled expansion sure-killing latest and greatest bullets too, it's in they're nature to worry and fret. Back on topic... I've used match bullets for many years in long-range rifle competition with excellent results. I've killed hundreds of whitetail deer, three (3) moose, and one (1) black bear with matchkings. There are several cautions, I don't recommend them for a novice, I don't recommend using the the 6.5mm 142 matchking on game based on personal results, I don't recommend them to folks of the type that need an excuse/scape-goat for not bagging the animal after a poorly placed shot.

From a few posts I see on different boards it won't be long and we'll catch more flak by switching to the gameking "an inferior and marginal at best hunting bullet", I'll stick with matchkings and other "poor choice" bullets.

[ 10-12-2003: Message edited by: Dave King ]
Just another testimony,

I have taken 5 big game animals in 1 year with SMK's. 2 sheep, 1 bear and 2 caribou. I have seen 1 other sheep and 1 other bear taken in that same year. All were taken with a 308 win with 168 and 190 grain bullets. Game was taken as close as 25 yards and as far as just over 760 yards. No animals were lost. Most were incapacitated with one shot. Including the longest shot.

Nobody will ever convince me that SMK do not work for hunting. Accuracy first
This question comes in the sincerest form of ignorance, on my part.
I neither advocate, nor refuse someone the right to use any bullet that they feel good about using on any game animal. Go for it!!

For SMK users: Why not use a Barnes "X" bullet, instead of a SMK??
I personally get the same accuracy from the "X", as I do the Match Kings.
When it gets there, I "hope" (not used it on game yet) to get controlled expansion everytime. Maybe this is not possible in any bullet. We shall see.

Again...Iam asking the SMK people that have shot game their reasoning. NOT trying to rile up anybody, nor advocate throwing away your SMK's LOL..sakofan..
It would seem to me, that you could get the best of both worlds, in a hunting bullet, using the Barnes...Thanks in advance!!
He just returned from an African hunt yesterday in which one of the fellows shot a Hippo and a Water Bullalo and he used a 220 Swift with a 80 gr JLK bullet.
He placed the shots into the brain of each species. The "Match" bullets performed well from the report I was just given. The Presidents son is a guide there.
Match bullets do work and shot placement is very important for "ANY" bullet.

Was this by choice or was this to prove that match bullets can kill? When fired at high velocities into the head of an animal, a rock would kill them. A match bullet will kill with good shot placement. That is for sure! I know that alot of people here has killed large game with SMK's. The last two of my postings have come from the Sierra web site and it is the opinion of Sierra not to use match bullets for hunting. My question remains, is there a hunting bullet that gives match performance and would it make sense to use them?

Hunting, any type of hunting will always be under a watchful eye. We as hunters need to be very careful what we say and do in the field. We need to be responsible for how we hunt. Use the right tool for the job. There are alot of people that read this site! Let's not fuel the anti-hunters just to prove a point.

I have tested the X bullet and the BC does not compare to the SMK at the ranges we shoot.

This is a longrange forum and many of us shoot extreme longrange here.
The X bullet drops like a rock in excess of 1000 yards compared to a MK.
The accuracy is terrable in any longrange rifle I have tried them in.

Deer grunt
As far as the 220 Swift is concerned, this was a guided African hunt in which the guy who uses the 220 Swift has killed many head of dangerous game with it in previous years.

The point here is, even a small caliber with a "Match" bullet will kill the most dangerous game if the bullet is placed corrctly.
It doesn't matter what bullet you use, if you hit it in the knee it will get a way.
Bullet placement is first no matter what bullet you intend to use.

Another point I was making is, the Match king has done well for myself and many others here. It will out perform the Game king at further distance because;
1. The MK has a higher BC then the GK
2. It (MK) is a much more accurate bullet. It is made to be accurate and is a deadly bullet for thin skinned game that I have killed. I never killed an African head of game.

For the longrange hunter in America, the MK is hard to beat.


How many of those people that read what Sierra says about match bullets actually go out and test the claim? Most probably accept it as fact and never even contemplate it. After all it sounds logical that a thinner jacketed match bullet wouldn't handle the impact at high MV on hard bones and such. The point is, theory is great, but actual testing has proven the bullets to be most effective, and much better retention and penitration than most would ever even believe or admit. Don't knock it till it's tried basically.

If they didn't work and they just blew up like you might think they would, I think 99% of people here would be telling you just that, definitely not the opposite just because they like accurate bullets.

The soft point on the Sierra GameKing probably initiates expansion faster then the SMK even does, and at LR it might be another good choice. Barnes X bullets, in my opinion, are a poor choice for very long range because they lack the ability to expand at lower velocities and still drive deep and almost never open up as rapidly up close either. Both kill just as well though, isn't that the proof that matters. Most guys bitchin about the SMK being used on big game never have used them to begin with, so why even argue with them over it...

I would be more leary of using a Berger VLD, A-Max, or a Ballistic Tip inside of 600-700 yards than anything else I can think of if you want to know the truth.

You define "hunting bullet" based on your desired result at the expected terminal velocity.

To me, a Barnes X bullet for example, at anything more than 500-800 yards and maybe less is probably nothing more than a bullet diameter hole puncher, but I've not tested it to say for sure. I have found X bullets of various calibers, and multitudes of them too, on the 300yd backstop at our range, most all of them failed to even open up, some were just bent, most just had rifling grooves in them. I have yet to find a single one that looks anything like the ones I've shot at 100 yards or there abouts...
I have taken 3 feral hogs with the 190gr SMK started at av 2981 fps. 2 broadside at 675 yds yds with complete bullet passthrough and 1 at less than 75 yds facing directly toward me with the bullet ending somewhere in the gastric cavity. All were instant kills. Regrettably I could not recover the bullet cavity as the stench was overwhelming.

I tested 190 gr Sierra Match Kings alongside 180gr Sierra Game Kings and 180 gr Nosler Ballistic Tips at 50ft, 300yds, and 600yds in wet newspaper. The Ballistic Tips are a tougher bullet than the Game Kings, especially at close range. My best estimate is that the Match Kings did not expand at all till after a couple of inches of penetration at the 50ft range but seemed to open almost instantly at 300 and 600 yds.

In a few weeks I will be post my results with the SMK190 on Alabama whitetail, unless I get better accuracy with NBT180s in my new barrel, in which I am currently working up loads.

Editted to add:
The jacket thickness is the same on the .30 cal 180 gr Game King and 190 gr Match King.

[ 10-13-2003: Message edited by: RuffHewn ]
Just a post to advocate Barnes bullets (out of high velocity cartridges). I bought some 175gr MKs to shoot out of my .308 Warbird, in case my 168gr XLC's did not shoot. Well, turns out that my XLC's shoot very well, AND EXPAND VERY RELIABLY. So far, I have shot 2 head of game with them, and witnessed 2 more taken, and while 4 animals does not a concrete conclusion make, the XLC definitely was very destructive.

1st case: Mule deer buck, 250yds exit wound twice the diameter of entrance wound.

2nd case: Mule deer doe, 900yds smaller entrance and exit wounds, however half of lung is lying outside of body cavity.

3rd and 4th cases: Antelope bucks, 150 and 200yds away, bullet sized entrance wounds, and 50 Cent sized exit wounds.

These results were on thin skinned game, the type of game that the Barnes' are rumored to not open up on. At high velocities, these bullets rule!

However, I do concede that MK's are a better choice for long range hunting due to higher BC's, SD's, and more uniform deformation and concentricity while travelling down the barrel. But before people start naysaying the X bullets, use them and find out...I bet you'd be amazed. (now I know how you guys feel, defending the MK
Just so you know, I've used many, many more X bullets than I ever have MK's. The X bullet has always worked on Moose I've killed without fail too.

At LR, higher velocities just aren't happening out there, I'd be a little judicious about their use out too far, but maybe that's just me.
Whatever works...

Thanks for your review on the X!!

[ 10-17-2003: Message edited by: Brent ]
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