Plethora of Hunting Bullets on the Market


March 27, 2013, 04:43 PM
So I have Model 70 FW in .30-06 on which Iím going to mount a high power scope for elk hunting, but I will also use it for Whitetail hunting in TX to get used to the rifle. I currently use my Model 70 FW in .270 for whitetail and have been shooting the Federal Fusion 130 grain for the past three or four years, but I want to try something different in the .30-06. After researching the different bullet types, it seems to me the performance bullets are really not necessary for basic whitetail hunting at ranges less than 200 yards; or maybe even 100 yards depending on the caliber. In other words, the Winchester Super X, Remington Core Lockt and Federal PowerShok which are generally considered basic bullets will do the job in most cases. Your premium bullets really donít come into play until you are shooting long range or larger and thicker skinned game than your average whitetail or mule deer.

These are considered to be premium bullets based on my research:

TTSX: Tipped Triple Shock X
BTSP: Boat Tail Soft Point
NBT: Nosler Ballistic Tip
NP: Nosler Partition
TSX: Triple Shock X
NAB: Nosler AccuBond


Powermax Bonded
Ballistic SilverTip

Iím sure there are more, but you get the idea. These rounds run $30-55/box for the .30-06; whereas, the ďbasicĒ hunting rounds run $20-30/box.

Generally speaking is this a good rule of thumb to follow, or do most people buy the best bullet they can afford no matter the distance or size of game?

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March 27, 2013, 06:33 PM
Some high quality bullets can be a little better. However many rifles are already well overpowered for the game they are taking. So any expanding bullet placed decent within the range the bullet still retains a lot of its energy will put the target down.

However the higher end bullets exist because a market exists that is willing to pay a premium for something that works a little better. This means they can use less potent lighter weight less recoiling rifles at longer ranges and still have good outcomes. The quality control can also be higher meaning they are more consistent, which is more important when the activity revolves around the success of a shot or two.
Considering the low quantity of rounds fired in hunting, paying twice as much per round for greater effectiveness and quality control is really not that big of a difference.
Compared to the cost of the tag, hunting license, fuel driving there and transporting the carcass, butchering, etc A few dollars is nothing.

A full power .30-06 will put a deer down easily with a cheap expanding bullet though.

March 27, 2013, 09:05 PM
No need for fancy premium bonded bullets on deer when you have a 30-06, my 06 knocks them stone cold dead with old cup and core bullets, in fact I have found it to be too much for the deer around here and the ranges we normally hunt so I leave it at home or let my brother use it. The key advantage of fancy mono metal and bonded bullets is their improved weight retention hence penetration, but my ol 165gr Game Kings have always shot through and through so all they would do for me is expend more energy out the far side and less on target. Word to the wise if your rifle likes Core-Lokts or Ballistic Silver Tips there is little reason to use anything else on deer.
Note: you can use bonded or mono metal bullets to try and reduce meat damage if that is an issue for you, the reduction/lack of fragmentation makes for a cleaner wound tract. and less remote damage, but some would argue that the remote damage caused by partial fragmentation is a very good think for quick kills on thin skinned game, I am one of those people.

Art Eatman
March 27, 2013, 09:44 PM
I've used Sierra bullets for forty forevers in my '06 (and other chamberings, as well).

Sub-MOA groups, regularly.

The 150-grain flat-base soft point works just fine on white tails and mulies, from up close and personal on out into Ma Bell country.

Based on what I found for comparative depth of the "ding" in a steel plate on my 500-yard range, I'd happily use the 180-grain SPBT for elk.

March 27, 2013, 11:55 PM
I have used Ballistic Tips, Sierra Pro Hunter, Remington Core-Lokt, and Hornady Interlock, in everything from .243 Winchester to 30-06, and results were strikingly similar on deer. They go in, come out, and leave the animal dead. Some run, some don't. The runners don't live long or go very far. I handload now, but if I didn't, I wouldn't spend any more than a box of Remington Core-Lokt costs. But keep in mind, these observations have been completely based on whitetail deer, and two wild hogs, no elk.

March 28, 2013, 03:15 AM
If you look closely you can see small differences between the performance of bullets, nothing huge but noticeable, for example Ballistic Tips tend to expand withing the first 2" of their wound tract where as most soft point bullets don't really start peaking until 3-5" in, Corelokts make a nice consistant wound tract while SGKs have a more explosive expansion with a wide crater at their peak. The Ballistic Tips also fragment into larger pieces then others (the front portion anyway) leaving easily visible chunks of the bullet imbedded in the far side rib cage in a shotgun like pattern, there are a zillion ways you can alloy lead or taper jackets, or bond them together and those small differences are visible if you look close enough, but the end result is pretty much the same, the vast majority of CXP2 bullets on the market perform very well on deer but some are tougher built for high shoulder shots while others are more violent expanding for hear/lung/neck shots, watch what your bullet does and you will know it's strong suit.

March 28, 2013, 09:02 AM
Thanks for the information! I've never had to study bullet ballistics much as all my shots have been between 50 and 110 yards with most around the 50 yard mark. I would love to take longer shots but our 200 acres is heavily wooded and the only shooting lanes are roads, fence lines or places we have cleared for stands/feeders.

March 28, 2013, 09:22 AM
For deer the cup and core bullets such as Core Lokt, Federal Blue Box, Winchester will do as well or better than the premium kind at a much better price.

March 28, 2013, 09:32 AM
I will bet a Shiner Bock that Remington Core-Lokts have killed more Elk than any other jacketed projectile.

A buddy of mine who hunts Elk every year uses a .30-06 with 180 Grain Core-Lokts. Straight through penetration, including one at 300 yards.

Just my .02,

March 28, 2013, 09:32 AM
I don't know where your hunting but in my 06 I reload the 165 gr core-loc's and have never had to take a second shot. Works great.

March 28, 2013, 03:30 PM
If you handload, the cost of the bullet is negligible compared to all the other costs involved.
I have been a fan of Nosler partition bullets for over 40 years because they don't fail. I used a 7mm Mauser (7x57) 140 gr. Nosler partition to shoot 13 animals when I went to Africa. I have killed deer, pronghorn, moose, elk, bears, and bighorns with them.
They cost about $0.40/ each .. a regular Core-Lokt type costs about $0.23/each. I'll pay an extra $0.17/ each for a bullet I can always depend on.

March 28, 2013, 10:08 PM
For handloading my favorite bullets are the Sierras, it is simply remarkable how well they shoot even in the most picky of rifles, I have no idea what voodoo they use on their bullets but they work like magic when nothing else will. Sure the Partition is a great bullet, I love their remarkably consistent performance, but at the end of the day you don't need partitioned or bonded bullet on deer and they cost two to three times as much. Went to the range today and my super finicky Browning shot two sub 1/2 MOA groups and another one hole group with different charges of powder and 120gr Pro Hunters I took me a while to pick my jaw up off the floor. My brother who has always hated my normally sloppy shooting A-Bolt asked if he could shoot some of those :D

March 29, 2013, 11:51 PM
Was at Cabela's today looking at the .30-06 ammo and could not find any of the "basic" loads I wanted such as Winchester Super X or Remington Corelockt. They had some Federal PowerShok, but it was only in 180 and 220 grains and even then it was 32.99/box. I'm going to use 150 grain for whitetails and save the 165 or 180 for larger game.

Cabela's did not have anything in Federal 150 grain so, I almost bought some Federal Premium Nosler Partition for $39.99 in 165 and 180 grains and some some Federal Premium Nosler Ballistic Tip in 165 grain for $31.99/box. Some guys came up and grabbed some Hornady SuperPerformance SST in .308 and I overheard them talking about the ammo. All the Hornady ammo is less expensive than all the other brands of performance ammo. Their SST, GMX and Interbond loads were all priced at $31.99/box compared to $39.99 and up for Winchester, Federal, Barnes etc. These guys said they had been using only Hornady for 25 years and they said for the QC is much tighter on Hornady vs other brands because Hornady is a family and the others are corporations. Another guy came up later and was also a Hornady only guy. Their praise of Hornady performance convinced me enough to at least give it a shot. I bought two boxes of the 150 grain SST. As it was explained to me, the SST is good if you want faster expansion and is a great round for whitetail and hogs; whereas, the GMX gives deeper penetration before expansion begins and is good for elk and other large game. They said the Interbond is good for bear or other dangerous/thick hided game due to the extreme penetration. The SST 150 grain ballistics are certainly impressive:

Muzzle Velocity: 3080 fps
Muzzle Energy: 3159 ft. lbs.
bullet drop at 300 yards is only 6.4" and at 400 only 18.9"
Velocity and muzzle energy at 400 yards are impressive too:

The 180 grain ballistics are pretty impressive as well.

If my rifle likes this stuff and performs well, this will be my new hunting round. The price point is excellent compared to other brands of premium bullets.

Anyone have experience with the Hornady SST, GMX or InterBond lines?

March 30, 2013, 12:02 AM
I have not used my 150gr SSTs (handloads) on deer yet but they shoot really well in my 30-06 and 308. In my 6.5x55 they hammer deer so I imagine their 30 cals will hit even more so.

March 30, 2013, 12:57 AM
If you handload, the cost of the bullet is negligible compared to all the other costs involved.
I have been a fan of Nosler partition bullets for over 40 years because they don't fail. I used a 7mm Mauser (7x57) 140 gr. Nosler partition to shoot 13 animals when I went to Africa. I have killed deer, pronghorn, moose, elk, bears, and bighorns with them.
They cost about $0.40/ each .. a regular Core-Lokt type costs about $0.23/each. I'll pay an extra $0.17/ each for a bullet I can always depend on.

THAT is a pretty impressive testimonial, Patocazador. I was going to get some Federal Premium Nosler Partitions, but they only come in 165 and 180 grains, and I was trying to stay with the same grain while I test my new Model 70 to compare apples to apples. I may get the 165s anyway to see how that grain groups. A lot of people swear by the tried and true nothin' fancy Nosler Partiton even after 60 plus years.

Andrew Leigh
March 30, 2013, 01:53 AM
There are definitely premium bullets but one can't help thinking about old fishing saying.

"The variety of fishing lures are there mostly to catch fishermen"

March 30, 2013, 03:02 AM
The basic remington core lokt seem to work great. The only thing I could see is if the bullets were a little more consistent you might get tighter groups. I've wanted to try a metal pencil sharpener to see if it would make them more consistent in shape. Otherwise can't complain about them.

March 30, 2013, 05:49 AM
My elk hunting partner, a non-gun guy, kills elk every time we hunt together with his old Browning FN Mauser with an old non-reticle adjustable B&L scope throwing factory 180 gr Rem CoreLokt's. I show up with a new load every time and do the same.

March 30, 2013, 11:21 AM
Having used both the Nosler Ballistic Tip and Hornady SST (165 grain) on whitetails I can say their performance is near identical....properly hit the deer will drop within seconds. The construction and intended use of these two bullets appears to be the same or near so. Myself I don't think it's a bullet I would want to use on Elk however. In that case I would lean more towards the Partition or a bullet of similar construction.

March 30, 2013, 01:04 PM
That's what I am reading too. People say the SSTs and Nosler BTs do not penetrate bone well as they begin expanding almost immediately, which is what they are designed to do from the literature. They are great for whitetails if you do heart/lung and neck shots, but even shoulder shots on whitetails have had mixed results. Either they fail to penetrate the shoulder or they waste a lot of meat. I like shoulder meat for grind, so that is a consideration with me. There have been times when I'm shooting a nice buck that I will do a shoulder shot as stopping him in his tracks is more important than the shoulder meat, but for a doe I want as much meat as possible.

Also, no one is recommending them for Elk or larger game. They recommend the Nosler Partition, Nosler Accubond, Hornady InterBond or Barnes TTSX or TSX.

March 30, 2013, 02:56 PM
With factroy loads, in a 30-06 at normal ranges, any should probably work fine. I'd start with Remington Core lokt, but use whatever worked better in my rifle. For deer the 150's should be fine, 180's would probably be a better choice for elk and you could even compromise on 165's for both. For that matter if the 180's shoot much better, there is nothing wrong with using them for everything. The differnce in bullet drop at long range is far less of a factor than most understand.

To my mind the premium bullets are better, but are best used in handloads where you can taylor the loads to your rifle. You can increase the useable range and improve the performance of marginal chamberings enough to make them work on larger game than one would normally expect.

If trying to elk hunt with a 243, or shoot them at extreme range, I'd be using handloads with premium bullets. For what you've described, they aren't necessary.

March 30, 2013, 03:01 PM
Not all ballistic tips are the same. When they first hit the market, all NBT's were highly frangible and thus earned a bad reputation as a hunting bullet secondary to poor penetration when hitting shoulders and such. However, over the years, Nosler has tweaked the jacket thickness of the NBT in certain calibers. A prime example is the 7mm 120gr NBT which is a fairly tough bullet. Nosler thickened the jacket of this bullet to appease the silhouette shooters who complained about the frangibility of this highly accurate 7mm bullet when shooting steel targets at distance. As a side benefit, it's become a dang good hunting bullet, my go to for deer and hogs in my 7mm-08. The 6.5mm 120gr NBT is similar. Other "tougher than normal NBT's" are the .277 150g NBT and 30cal 165 and 180gr NBT's. I'm sure there are others.

March 30, 2013, 03:20 PM
I will vouch for the 120gr BTs in the 6.5x55 :D kills quick and despite what some say they penetrate very well on deer, I would give you weight retention data but I have never recovered one and I am fine with that. 1.5" exits on average tell me that they are not just going through but shooting out the other side with some energy to spare.

March 30, 2013, 05:51 PM
My experience as well Kachock :).....good little bullet for the Swede

March 30, 2013, 06:04 PM
Load 120gr BTs with a healthy dose of RL19 make the 6.5x55 into what I call the 270 Lite, the 120gr has near identical trajectory as the 130gr BT in the 270, and considerably less recoil given it's 10gr less bullet and about 10gr less powder.

March 31, 2013, 06:37 PM
I have a buddy that swears by handloaded 130 grain TSX in his 30-06. Somewhere around 3100 fps he said. I have never had a problem putting down hogs with a 165 grain Core-Lokt, and the damage has been minimal when put through the ribs. He shot a buck with his 130 gr TSX this fall and it dropped on the spot with a shoulder shot, only to find it hit high on the shoulder, but didn't break it and the bullet deflected into the spine, DRT. I much prefer a bullet that will penetrate deeply and expand reliably. Plus I save a bunch of money and my 06 shoots 180 grain Power points sub-MOA...

April 3, 2013, 07:53 AM
The 130 TTSX is a good choice in a .30 caliber for most North American game at moderate ranges. I shoot them at 3050 fps from my 308. I'm loading 150's to the same speed in my 30-06. You get penetration and damage comparable to a 165 or 180 gr conventional jackted bullet, but with laser flat trajectory out to about 300 yards.

They are not a good choice for longer ranges though. The light bullets lose speed fast and need to impact at around 2000 fps to expand. If you're shooting much past 300 yards I'd not use them.

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