Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Rich Machholz
Now that it is August it is time to give some thought to where you are going to hunt this fall and what ranges you will encounter not to mention tree stand location, ground blind feasibility, new trails verses old trails, bedding areas and feeding areas and safe havens. Most of those considerations apply to deer but they can influence other game movements as well. Sometimes you know the acreage you’re going to hunt but maybe not specifically where in those acres you would like to be. Obviously the area will change as fall arrives and corn fields which were once great cover areas are reduced to rubble. Those same fields are now high quality food sources for both deer and turkeys and in some cases bedding areas for big bucks.
Areas that have that close feel this time of year have a tendency to open up visually as the leaves fall and the crops disappear which creates some concerns other than the obvious sight lines. What looks like close quarters and even closer shots now can get more open and shots longer. So an area that looks perfect for your Grandpa’s open sighted M94 30-30 Winchester today has morphed into scope sighted longer range territory later in the year.
Now the real dilemma presents itself. Which bullet do I use? Here at Sierra we have two styles of big game hunting bullets GameKings and Pro-Hunters. The question of “how do I choose which bullet I need?” is a big topic at this time of year.
Well …. Okay, so I’m a little early for some of you. After all it hasn’t even frosted yet! I don’t know what I was thinkin’. Let’s see if we can get a jump on this deer season and have a bullet and a load already chosen for this season.
While both designs have tapered jackets and usually share the same lead alloy the performance in the field varies.
Here at Sierra we don’t offer gimmicks so the hollow point boat tail GameKings are big game bullets. They are slightly “tougher” than the Spitzer versions offering more initial penetration before showing maximum upset and the ensuing energy release. The hollow point also protects the point or meplat of the bullet from deformation in the magazine caused by the recoil of big kicking magnum cartridges. That makes it an ideal choice for the short magazines of the WSMs, RSAUMs and 300 Winchester Magnums in 3.340″ length magazines just to name a few.
Another excellent reason to choose the hollow point GameKing over the Spitzer is if you need a bullet that will function through the magazine but need get close to the lands for accuracy or feeding issues. The lack of a point allows the hollow point GameKings to be seated farther out than a pointed bullet and still function through the magazine.
Most of the Sierra hollow point GameKings have skived noses which result in a very distinct + appearance when viewed from the point on view. This configuration reduces the frontal area of the bullet for increased in-flight efficiency and it also reduces the initial expansion of the bullet by effectively reducing the jacket opening allowing for greater penetration upon impact. The final form of the hollow point GameKing offers excellent terminal performance while enhancing the ballistic coefficient. And if all that wasn’t enough the sleek Sierra boat tail offers reloaders precise bullet seating especially when matched with the low angle inside neck chamfer tools from K&M, Lyman and RCBS.
The Spitzer boat tail GameKings excel in down range efficiency. Their streamlined boat tail shape gives them a major ballistic advantage over other hunting bullet designs for unsurpassed long range efficiency. The lead tip not only offers aerodynamic streamlining but acts as a wedge, which upon impact will help the bullet expand at the lower impact speeds of longer range. So, if that soon to be picked corn field offers ranges exceeding 300 to 400 yards a Spitzer boat tail Sierra GameKing bullet might be just what you were looking for.
That brings us to the work horse of the Sierra bullet line, the Pro-Hunter. This bullet has endured the test of time and is suitable for all practical hunting ranges. The Sierra Pro-Hunter is a flat based design featuring a tapered jacket and a “jump friendly” ogive so you can seat it where it performs best in your firearm. Pro-Hunters come in Spitzer and round nose shapes both of which offer uniform expansion and deep penetration by virtue of their abundance of bearing surface, precisely tapered jacket and carefully engineered exposed lead tip. The graceful shape is pleasing to look at and efficient in use. Depending upon caliber and weight it is appropriate for ranges at the muzzle to the far side of the 500 yard cornfield for the Spitzer version.
Close-up and personal is where the round nose bullets excel. Whether you are carrying your favorite 35 Remington or packing your favorite 30 caliber, thick cover or heavy game need not cause consternation. The Sierra Pro-Hunter round nose is the proper choice.
The long straight bearing surface does little to betray the heavily tapered interior of the jacket which assures deep penetration. While the generous opening in the jacket exposes enough lead to guarantee the uniform classic mushroom expansion with deep penetration so necessary for up close and personal encounters.Generally regarded as short range bullets the classic Sierra Pro-Hunter round nose bullet is just short of brilliant in the field. If started at 2700 feet per second at the muzzle and zeroed at 200 yards the 30 caliber 180 RN Pro-Hunter #2170 will be about 2 inches high at 100 yards and about 10 inches low at 300 yards. Not bad for a “short range” bullet. By the same token the 30 caliber 180 Spitzer Pro-Hunter #2150 will be 1.9 inches high at 100 and 8.5 inches low at 300 and the long range 30 caliber 180 grain SBT GameKing #2160 will be 1.8 high at 100 and just 8 inches low at 300. Realistically, under normal hunting conditions only the very best of riflemen will be able to hold the difference in these widely varying shaped 180 grain 30 caliber bullets.
So what, exactly is the bottom line to all this? If your shots are 300 yards or less pick the bullet you like that fits the type of shot you like. That means that if you need penetration through dense tissue and or bone at short to medium range the Sierra Pro-Hunter bullet is the bullet for you. But if you like to stretch it a little or need a bullet that reacts a little faster for less dense tissue or smaller game the Sierra GameKing is your bullet.
There now, wasn’t that easy?