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
He can be reached at: [email protected]
January 12th, 2015
What Style of Bullet Design is the “Best” for Predator Hunting? (Part 3: Hollow Point Bullets)
In the first article of this three part series, we discussed varmint style bullets for predator hunting. The second article discussed soft point bullets. In the last article in this series, we will conclude with a discussion of hollow point bullets for predator hunting.
It is important to begin our discussion by classifying hollow point rifle bullets into two categories. Each category reacts differently when impacting a predator. The first category includes the common traditional hollow point bullets. These projectiles have a fairly wide diameter opening in the nose of the bullet. Common examples include: Hornady Hollow Point, Remington Power-Lokt Hollow Point, Winchester Hollow Point, Sierra Varminter HP, etc.
Hollow point bullets are designed such that the cavity in the nose of the bullet shifts the center of gravity rearward in the projectile. In terms of performance on predators, traditional hollow point bullets often perform somewhere between varmint bullets and soft point bullets. The greater the diameter of the opening, the greater the expansion of the bullet.
Many traditional hollow point bullets are designed to incorporate a boat tail design in the rear of the bullet. This feature reduces the drag of the bullet in flight which is beneficial in long range long range shooting. The boat tail increases the ballistic coefficient (streamlined profile) of the bullet, which makes it less affected by cross winds. The boat tail also contributes positively to maintaining the velocity of the bullet while in flight.
The second category of hollow point bullets differ in diameter of the opening in the cone of the bullet. The diameter is much smaller and these bullets are typically classified as “match” or “target” bullets. In some cases they are also referred to as OTM (Open Tip Match). This configuration is designed solely for precise accuracy. Bullet manufacturers explicitly state that these bullets are not for recommended for hunting purposes. Common bullets in this category include: Hornady HP/BTHP Match, Sierra MatchKing, Nosler Custom Competition, Lapua Scenar, Berger Match Target, etc.
Although not recommended for hunting, the OTM style of hollow point is currently my preferred bullet for hunting fox and other small predators when using smaller calibers. Data I have collected from the range and the field on pelt damage have revealed the OTM bullet to be the most accurate projectile, fairly pelt friendly, and very lethal.
Several years ago, I purchased a Remington 700 chambered in .17 Remington Fireball as a combination rifle for fox and coyote hunting. Unfortunately, being a very specialized caliber, ammunition was only manufactured by Remington. However, to their credit, they offered both a 20 grain varmint style bullet (Remington Premier Accutip) and a 25 grain hollow point bullet, giving hunters a choice of two styles.
Unlike deer hunters with an ample supply of many styles and weights of bullets in commercial ammunition, predator hunters are less fortunate. Next time you are in a gun store, check out the available bullet styles available in small caliber ammunition. In many cases, the only offerings are varmint style bullets. There are some exceptions, such as Hornady running the occasional batch of soft point bullets in the .204 Ruger. There is also a great selection of many types of .223 ammunition.
If you want to use different bullets than those available in commercial ammunition, you need to reload your own. Personally, I love to load my own ammunition and started out with loading Berger Match Varmint bullets for my rifle. This bullet fits in the first category in this article of having a larger opening in the cone of the bullet. After gathering some data with this bullet, I felt it was not pelt friendly. Next,
I loaded Berger Match TARGET bullets which fell into the second category. The bullet was identical to the Varmint bullet except for having a narrower hollow point. I hit the jackpot with this projectile and it is what I continue to use today. My data has revealed this projectile is very accurate, fairly pelt friendly, and consistently deadly.
In my experience, although not recommended for hunting, I have achieved good results loading OTM bullets in larger calibers which can be difficult to find something fur friendly on small fox sized predators.
Last year, I embarked on a mission to find a commercial fur friendly fox round for the .223 Rem. caliber. After harvesting many fox with an assortment of commercially manufactured ammunition, I concluded there was nothing I could consider fairly consistently fur friendly. My only option left was to try to find a “magic bullet” by experimenting with loading my own ammunition.
I began by selecting an OTM bullet for the .223, the 75 grain Hornady BTHP Bullet (OTM). Next, I consulted my Hornady Reloading Handbook to find powders that would enable me to slow down the speed of the bullet. Using several powders, I loaded just a tad bit above the minimum suggested loads in the manual. The data I had collected from the field indicated that I had found a fur friendly loading.
This same process of using OTM bullets can work in other calibers. Using the same process, I found a safe load that is actually fur friendly on fox in a .243 Win. With just a tad over a minimum recommended powder charge, combined with Sierra 70 grain Sierra MatchKing bullets, I have accurate and pelt friendly ammunition when needed.
I started this series of articles by mentioning that I could not tell you which bullet is best for your predator hunting. I am skeptical of universal statements when it comes to bullets and ballistics. At the end of the day, we have our own experience, that of others, and our intelligence to make our decision. We may hunt different animals, use different calibers, and differ in our average shot distances as well as our shooting ability and experience. However, I hope these articles have provided you with some information you found helpful in selecting the best bullet for you own predator hunting!