Author: Michael T. Huff, CoyoteLight Pro Staff, is a professional outdoor writer, speaker, and licensed predator hunting guide. He owns and operates Master Predator Hunting – Limited Liability Company, a retail supplier of premium predator hunting products. masterpredatorhunting.com
His first book is scheduled for publication in 2015. He can be reached at: [email protected]
December 22th, 2014
What Style of Bullet Design is the “Best” for Predator Hunting? (Part 2: Soft Point Bullets)
In the first article of this three part series on bullets for predator hunting, I shared my thoughts and experience with varmint style bullets for hunting predators. In this second article, we will consider the soft point bullet design. In the last article, we will conclude with consideration of the hollow point bullet for predator hunting.
It was a conscious decision to leave out full metal jacket and copper bullet designs. Many states outlaw full metal jacket bullets for hunting. These bullets are not designed to expand, as such, many feel that makes use of this style of bullet unethical for hunting. Outside of a brain shot on a dangerous animal such as an African elephant, I also feel this bullet is not an ethical choice for predator hunting. Disclaimer: my thoughts are only based on intuition and conjecture. I have never used a full metal jacket bullet on a live animal so I have no personal experience or data from which to comment with any objective analysis.
When it comes to copper bullets, I am very interested in collecting data and personal experience. Unfortunately, I have shot commercial ammunition from several manufacturers but none have been accurate enough in my guns for predator hunting. (Please note: I am not including varmint style hollow point bullets in this discussion). I will continue to try new copper bullets in commercially loaded ammunition when they become available on the market. While I can reload to achieve increased accuracy, I prefer to use commercially available ammunition which is available to all predator hunters.
As we discussed in the first article; there are two primary potential problems in selecting a bullet for predator hunting. Many of us want a bullet that will minimize pelt damage. All of us want a bullet that will consistently result in instant death. In some cases, there can be somewhat of a trade off between these two desires. When it comes to minimizing pelt damage, a perfectly placed varmint style bullet may be the best option. However, in my “experience,” the absolute most reliable bullet design to results in quickly and consistently dispatching an animal is the soft point bullet design.
On a recent Christmas shopping trip, I picked up a couple boxes of Remington Core-Lokt bullets for my terrific brother-in-law. I noticed a graphic on the side of the box indicating the 75th Anniversary. The box read, “US Made Since 1939.” There is a very good reason why the soft point Remington Core-Lokt bullet is older than you and I. Quite simply, the Core-Lokt and similar soft point bullet designs work very well!
Now let’s consider what can sometimes be a drawback of using soft point bullets for predator hunting. Depending on the rifle caliber and size of the predator, soft point bullets have the potential to be unfriendly on pelts. Consider my real life “experience” from last year. During the 2013/2014 predator hunting season, I was working on some research related to the merits of the .223 Rem. caliber as an all-purpose predator rifle. Seeking to find the most accurate ammunition, I shot eight different boxes of commercial ammunition from the bench. Hornady and Black Hills 55 grain soft points rose to the top in terms of outstanding accuracy in my particular gun.
The first night I headed out to collect performance data, a fox volunteered to help out! The animal offered me a 150 yard off hand shot. My bullet placement was a bit farther back than usual, and the pelt damage was extensive with the fox nearly split in two. This real life example demonstrates the potential paradox of the soft point. It is a very ethical choice to humanely kill a predator. However, it is not the most fur friendly. Had the predator been a coyote instead of a fox, the 55 grain soft point in .223 Rem. probably would have been a very good choice.
What is the bottom line of using soft point bullets for hunting predators? If you are looking for the best bullet design to consistently terminate a predator, my current thinking leads me to believe the soft point is king! Personally, it provides me with the most confidence when I pull a trigger that the animal will expire on the spot. The soft point does not have the amazing ballistic profile of a long range bullet like a Hornady Amax. Nor does it have the explosiveness of a varmint bullet like a Hornady Amax.
However, what the soft point lacks in these categories it makes up for in consistent terminal performance on predators and other animals.