Bullet Selection 101

Written by Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd

When selecting a bullet for a particular use there are several things to consider.


If the selection is for a hunting situation the size and reputation of toughness of the game, cartridge velocity, average distance of the shots taken and expected bullet performance are all averaged to select the best bullet weight and construction. For instance a prairie dog hunt scenario dictates a much different bullet selection than the same gun and a whitetail deer hunt would if optimum bullet performance is considered using a 243 Winchester. Sierra makes bullets which can do both. The 55 and 70 grain BlitzKings® (#1502 and #1507) are definitely prairie dog bullet offerings and excel at this type of game shooting, but would be very poor selections for deer-sized game. GameKing® bullets such as the 100 grain Spitzer boat tail bullets (#1560) would be an excellent choice for deer and while they would kill the small prairie dogs, ricochets may become an issue. Again, balancing the bullets construction to the application ensures success.


When it comes to shooting for accuracy, especially at distance, one must balance the bullet weight with the case capacity of the cartridge in order to achieve accuracy coupled with sufficient velocity for the distance being shot. When shooting extended distance (read beyond 200 yards) the ballistic coefficient of the bullet must also be factored into the equation.  Sheer accuracy of a bullet with low ballistic coefficient characteristics can be outperformed by a slightly less accurate bullet in your gun system.  If the bullet has a higher ballistic coefficient design and the wind conditions cause the less efficient bullet to drift enough more to overcome the accuracy differentiation you will experience better groups or higher scores with the slightly less accurate yet more efficient bullet.


Another factor that needs consideration is the rate of twist your gun system has or needs if you are building a gun for a specific bullet need. The rate of twist if set can limit the bullet selection as longer/heavier bullets require more twist rate than shorter/lighter bullets of a given caliber. If you are going to build a gun twist rate and barrel length should be factored into the bullet selection process for the shooting requirements.

When choosing a bullet for your cartridge/hunting/match put some thought into the intended performance needed with the above suggestions and if you still have questions feel free to contact Sierra at 1-800-223-8799 or by email at sierra@sierrabullets.com.

This entry was posted in Competitive Shooting, Hunting Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Bullet Selection 101

  1. David Ruppel says:

    What I have trouble with is which bullet to use in my specialty pistol barrels. The same bullet you might use in a rifle of the same twist and caliber doesn’t work in the shorter pistol barrels even though twist is the same the velocity is slower. A formula of some kind would sure help.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s