Are premium bullets worth it?

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by Pheroze, May 10, 2019.

  1. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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  2. meigsbucks

    meigsbucks AH Fanatic

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    Interesting article. The last sentence holds the most credence. For the most part, most of the article stated what most of us already know.
    A lot of research went into their conclusions. However, I know what I’ve experienced from bullets. I read what people on this forum experience. To say that there isn’t much difference in wound channels may or may not be true as far as diameter. For me, where premium bullets come into their own is retaining their integrity, insuring better penetration.
     

  3. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Worth every cent...especially if hunting DG in Africa....
     
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  4. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    What's the definition of premium? More cost only? If so, I would wager more game animals have been killed with non-premium bullets than the higher cost versions. Take it one step further, I'd also wager tens of thousands of game animals in Africa have been killed with steel core, copper jacket ball ammo out of the many iterations of military firearms, Enfields, Springfields, M1 Carbines and Garands, M16s, AK47s, etc. This is one of those topics that's been beat to death beyond all recognition. Shot placement, right spot, any bullet, end of story, Good Night Irene. :sleep:
     

  5. 1dirthawker

    1dirthawker AH Enthusiast

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    are premium bullets worth it? in a word....yup
     

  6. Rum Runner

    Rum Runner AH Senior Member

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    Once again, shot placement is the critical factor...
     
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  7. BeeMaa

    BeeMaa AH Fanatic

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    We spend thousands of dollars to travel to far away lands.
    Thousands of dollars more on an outfitter.
    Not to mention the firearm, optic, gear, clothing...etc.
    Are you going to trust a "non-premium" bullet on YOUR safari?

    It is the only part of ALL your equipment that comes in contact with the game.
    For me, premium ammo (along with proper shot placement) is my choice.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2019

  8. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    That is undoubtedly correct that tens of thousands of animals have been gunned down by FN's, AK's, etc - and irrelevant. How many of those animals were cleanly killed with the first shot? A goal, I assume most of us aspire to while hunting. And I have experienced perfect shot placement with a cheap bullet that blew up after minimum penetration - twice. I ended up getting both of animals (a boar and a red stag), but it wasn't pleasant for either of them or me. I am convinced the quality of modern bullets, whether factory or home-loaded are the single greatest advancement in hunting technology of the last third of the 20th century. I should note that was also the development period of illuminated reticles, laser range finders, and a host of short "magnums" - not to mention civilian fascination with the AR "platform". So yes - on dangerous game particularly - they matter - a lot.
     

  9. Opposite Pole

    Opposite Pole AH Enthusiast

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    No bullet, no matter how “premium”, placed in the wrong place is going to reliably kill an animal and nobody on this forum would dispute that. However a poor quality bullet placed in the correct place might still fail to do its job owing to well, being poor quality. Sure, in the past an uncountable number of animals was shot with all kinds of projectiles from all kinds of cartridges more or less fit to do the job. Some of them were killed quickly and efficiently and the rest were left suffering. Given the very limited number of animals each of us kills every year these days what are we talking about here? I reckon by going premium on the rounds used for hunting we spend less than $100 extra a year on ammo. Given the cost of getting it wrong I think it actually saves money not to mention undue suffering of the animals we kill. But it all begs the question, what is a premium bullet? Is Sierra Gameking a premium bullet? It’s not bonded but provided it’s used within it’s design spectrum it works reliably each and every time. Same goes for Core Lokt. So what makes the bullet premium? I mean they’re not engraved with fine scroll...
     

  10. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    The article claims bonded break up like cup and core when they hit bone. I was rather surprised by that. I think the inference is "premium" ain't so different. Again, surprised because of the number of reports we have here.

    Maybe this is the ultimate question?
     
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  11. Dewald

    Dewald AH Veteran

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    This is where biases need to be ruled out in scientific articles.

    A flaw in the above article is the lack of the definition of “breaking up”, when mentioning that conventional lead core and bonded bullets both break up.

    There is a huge difference in terminal effect, comparing an A-frame (or Scirocco, North Fork, Rhino, etc etc) shedding one or two petals, and having the bulk stay together and pass through an Eland humerus, ribs and vitals, versus a Hornady SST or V-max disintegrating into multiple fragments that fail to reach the vital organs.

    In my opinion premium bullets are worth every sent. The obvious exceptions being culling or varminting where you require rapid expansion on head shots or small predators, and perhaps in certain low velocity firearms, where a conventional bullet will open up better than a bonded one.
     

  12. Opposite Pole

    Opposite Pole AH Enthusiast

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  13. BenKK

    BenKK AH Fanatic

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    Premium bullets... Used seven 570 grain Hydros about thirty minutes ago on a bull. Would’ve got charged had I not been sensible and reading his bubble. He was keyed-up before I opened proceedings and although the first shot was fairly good and broke one front leg it was also a bad shot. He couldn’t go far, but he had plenty of charge potential. Some follow-up shots weren’t great, but some were okay. I’ve been a bit weak from a little hereditary auto-immune condition I’ve got, so today I was almost cursing my beloved .500J as it bashed me around and wishing for the gentler Mauser .458WM I’m getting made. Long ramble, but make the first shot a good one regardless of what bullet you use, or you’re in for a rodeo.
     
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  14. Opposite Pole

    Opposite Pole AH Enthusiast

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    Mate, sounds like you’ve got some butchering to do, stop procrastinating and get onto it ;-)
     
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  15. BenKK

    BenKK AH Fanatic

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    I do. Just had another coffee and breaky, now into it!
     

  16. CoElkHunter

    CoElkHunter AH Veteran

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    I can only comment on my experience and observations from other hunters using certain brand bullets and types on big game animals in Colorado and Wyoming, which kind of defeats the purpose as this is an AH website where many members have hunted African big game! However, these are my observations. My hunting buddy and his son both use Federal 165gr Sierra Gameking Boattails in their .30-06s. My son had been using the same load in his .308 Winchester. Those Sierras have a thin copper jacket. They have all killed a number of pronghorn and deer at varying distances (50-200yds, my son killed antelope at an honest 350-400yds) with that bullet. HOWEVER, my son has killed three elk (wapiti) with that load (one at 200yds), but the elk weren't immediately killed and some follow up was needed. My hunting buddy shot a small bull elk three times at 25yds with that load before it went down. He also shot a cow moose at 25yds FOUR times with the same load before she went down. ALL of these shots were KILLING shots! The animals were all dead, but they just didn't know it. When field dressing these animals, we noticed the Sierras' would "blow up" inside the animal and we never found an intact bullet, only fragments. This would kill the animals surely, but not always quickly. My son went to a .300WM using 180gr Remington Core Lokts, and has killed two bulls (one at 200 plus yds) with one shot each. I have killed several elk with my .338WM using 225 Core Lokts. All one shot kills, with two bullets recovered mushroomed on the opposite side of the animal under the hide. I have also killed several deer an antelope (and one pig) with my .270 Win using 150gr Noslers, and no problems. These are just my observations and experiences hunting animals which don't try to kill or eat you! IF, I ever am fortunate enough to hunt in Africa, I believe I would consider using a premium bonded bullet in my .338 and/or .375h&h for PG, as I would think they inhabit the same environment as the ones trying to kill or eat you? Maybe I'm wrong- never been to Africa, YET?
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
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  17. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    I suggest reading a book John Noslers, going ballistic.
    The summary of non-premium bullets performance, from this book, is in the attachment.

    John Noslers partition bullet is world wide known as first premium bullet, although very similar bullet construction was made in Germany, years earlier, known as H-mantel.

    The problem with modern cartridges and magnum velocities, in the second part of XX century, brought the problem of uncontrolled exapansion, fragmentation, loss of bullet weight, and suseqeunetly loss of penetration. It then created the need for a bullet that will hold together, on high impact speeds.

    I am not sure if there is definition of premium bullets, per se. But they may be cosnsidered as some of follwoing types:
    - Partition bullets, where the lead core is separated in two parts, with longitudinal cross section in the shape of letters "A", or "H". Thus the european /german name H-mantel, with the idea of front part expanding & fragmenting and transferring impact energy to the game on impact, and with second part coninuing penetration to vitals. Minor drawback of this type of bullet could be, smaller exit wound, wiht less of blood spoor. (nosler partitoons, rws h-mantel and similar, for example)

    Next technology, is bonding of lead core to the jacket, usually of soft point constrction. So, this soft point, bonded to the jacket. Thickness of jacket will control expansion, and bonding will keep the lead from fragmentation, thus keeping the bullet weight, and penetratration to vitals achieved. More then 90% of mass retention is expected. Norma oryx, good example,

    Third technology is monolithic bullet, designed for expansion. Usually will open in 4 parts, without fragmentation. Such as TSX bullet.

    Not to go in DG non expanding solids on this subject, for all 3 types of bullet designes, it requires special technology and manufacturing process, thus they are more expensive then others. These three can be considered as "premium" bullets.

    More economic bullets:
    The cheapeast and oldest technology is just a bullet with lead core, likely to fragment on high impact speeds, simple soft point. Good enough for medium velocities, but questionable on magnum velocity.

    So the main problem is to keep the bullet together...
    Medium priced technolgy, is so called "core locking". It is based on internal radial rings of the jacket, with lead core. Radial rings are designed to control expansion and, fragmentation at minimum, thus keeping the mass and penetratrion to vitals.
    Exmaple is hornady PTS, or various core lokt bullets.

    In bullet selection, especially in magnum calibers, you get exactly what you pay for.

    Personally (being conservative, and not inklined to magnum speeds) I found good compromise in choosing 9.3x62, with cca 700 mtrs/sec velocities, using old fashion, plain simple soft points (teil-mantels), which with so small impact velocities do not fragment, do expand, and keep penetration. So for 9.3 soft point, will do just fine!

    With impact velocities, in my view only, of over 800-850 m/sec (or more) premium bullets should be considered, and stronlgy suggested especially on bigger game.

    Below is extract from John Noslers book, "Going Ballistic".



    John Nosler Going Ballistic.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
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  18. Timbo

    Timbo AH Fanatic

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    Against all that money spent for your hunt fees and daily rate etc, the cost of a couple of boxes of premium quality bullets is nothing really. This comparatively minor expense pays off big time when everything comes down to that particular bullet effectively doing it's job.

    And it all boils down to this: either it will secure you your trophy, or, allow it to escape and become lost. The choice is yours.

    IMO you should only hunt with the best quality bullets available that you can afford. Simple.
     

  19. Michael Dean

    Michael Dean AH Enthusiast

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    When you think of all of the time, the hours of preperation spent getting ready for your trip, how can you compromise on something as critical as a bullet. Penetration and weight retention is everything. To compromise on a bullet is sacrilegious.
     
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  20. Alistair

    Alistair AH Senior Member

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    As with many things shooting, I think it's mostly a confidence thing.

    I've shot 11 deer over the past 3 years, 9 red hinds, 1 fallow and a sika stag, all with Remington Core-lokt or Federal Power shok 130gr bullets. Pretty mild .270win factory loads at around 2850-2950 chronoed. Very much 'budget' loads, with the core-lokt being the cheapest ammo available at my local shop.

    The shots have all been between 80 and 250yds. HL, shoulders, 1 quartering shot. All the bullets worked perfectly, straight through, straight channels, decent expansion, with all animals running 50yds or less, many simply falling on the spot. Based on this it is my strong opinion that any simple cup and core type bullet, in the right place will work perfectly at any range I care to pull the trigger at for any UK deer (80KG or so max.)

    That said, I'm now working up hunting loads for next year with 145gr ELD-X and some 140gr Accubonds. Does it make any difference to the deer? Doubt it. Does it actually help that much with trajectory or wind resisitance. Honestly? Doubt that as well, even with the ELD-X it's maybe 4-5" less drop and a couple inches less windage at 300 and what do people really group at that range in hunting situations? However, it's also only a 5-10 quid difference in price / 100 as well, so why not? It's a nice feeling to know that you're using 'the best', gives you confidence, and as long as that doesn't lead to you taking more marginal shots, that's a good thing imo. Plus it maybe helps my scores a bit for Sporting Rifle comps wrt windage, and that's a nice benefit as well.

    As for the GameKings, great bullets with superb accuracy. I currently use these as my 'plinking', running boar comp and short range practice rounds, primarily because one of the guys at the range very kindly gave me a couple hundred foc. I load them to book min charges of N160 and they basically replicate the factory ammo at 2850, grouping comfortably under MOA. Could I hunt with them? Absolutely, no concerns. Would I? Only if I ran out of my usual load.

    So that's it really. For most hunting, don't feel the need to use Premium. Any modern bullet of the correct weight and construction will be absolutely fine. But if Premium bullets gives confidence, then that's going to benefit your shooting way more than any 'real world' terminal advantage, and is an entirely valid reason to use them.

    Perhaps African game if different and I have no intention of shooting beyond 300, but that's my real world findings thus far and statisitically significant sample size or no, it works for me.
     
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