Long-range shooting has become the new fad in hunting; I admit it is great fun to hear the strike of a bullet on a steel plate at 1400 yards. But can a bullet help you to be able to make these shots, and should we use them to hunt game animals at long distance?
Let’s just use the 7mm Remington Mag caliber with 3 different bullets with almost the same weight but different designs and different ballistic coefficients. Bullet number one is the great old flat base 160 grain Nosler Partition which has a BC of .475. Bullet number 2 is a slick boat tail 160 grain Nosler Accubond which has a BC of .551. The last bullet is the new Hornady ELDX in 162 grain with a BC of .630. Now with the right loading, you can get over 3000 feet per second of velocity with all of these bullets. Let’s use 3050 feet per second as a good velocity number to compare all of these bullets for drop, energy, and drift out to 1000 yards. The flat base bullet will not perform, as well as, the other two boat-tail bullets but there are times when I would want the Partition over the ELDX.
If we use a 200-yard sight-in for all 3 bullets, which is about 1 ½ inches high at 100 yards, the difference at 1000 yards is amazing. It even surprised me to see the drop difference. The Partition dropped 271 inches and drifts 89 inches. The Accubond drops 251 inches and drifts 59 inches. The bullet with the highest BC is the ELDX and it drops 227 inches and drifts 46 inches. The ELDX is the only bullet that holds more than 1000 foot-pounds of energy at 1000 yards. Between the best bullet and the lowest BC bullet, there is a big difference in drop, drift, and energy. The difference of 44 inches does seem like a lot to me in drop, which is almost 4 feet. If I drop an extra 4 feet on an Elk, my bullet will drop right below the body. Now the drift difference between the ELDX and the Partition is nearly the same of 45 inches that could mean the difference of a heart/lung shot or a complete miss on an Elk. Now the last question is do you have enough velocity left to make the bullet open up and drive through the chest of the game animal you are hunting?
|300 yd drop and drift
|500 yd drop and drift
|1000 yd drop and drift
|-6,3 in + 1.9 in
|-36.5 in +10.6 in
|-271 in +86.6 in
|- 6.9 in +1.7 in
|-36.5 in +8.3 in
|-241 in +58.8 in
|-5.9 in +1.4 in
|-33.5 in +7.6 in
|-227 in +45.4 in
|All data uses a 200 yard zero the only bullet to have thousand pounds of killing power at 1000 yards is the ELDX with 1145 compared to the Partition with 731 pounds.
The longer pointed bullets are harder to make open up correctly when compared to a soft point bullet. A Partition bullet was made to open up easily and at a lower velocity while still being able to drive deep into the vitals of the animal. At 1000 yards the slower Partition bullet will have a better chance of expanding and killing a deer than the other two faster more pointed bullets.
Shooting at 1000 yards is nice but how many real shots do we ever get at a range like that. For most hunters, a 300-yard shot is a long shot and something to brag about. At 300 yards there is almost no difference between any of the bullets. The Accubond drops 6.1 inches, the ELDX drops 5.9 inches and the old Partition drops 6.3 inches. That is less than a half-inch difference with all three bullets. Most shooters can’t shoot a ½ inch difference in a group at 300 yards. The same holds true at 500 yards, the difference between all three bullets is only 4 inches. Again can you hold a 4-inch group at 500 yards? The only place the ultra-high ballistic bullet will make a difference is beyond 700 yards.
Bullet performance is very important. If you are shooting Pronghorn or White-Tail having a bullet with guaranteed expansion doesn’t make a lot of difference. Now if I’m hunting big Bear, Moose, or Elk I want to know my bullet will drive through the thick hair and fat on the skin and make it inside to tear up the vitals of the animal. On big game like this, I would much rather be shooting a good load using a Partition bullet than shooting the ELDX. Also, I’m not going to shoot a Moose or Brown Bear at 700 yards. I would stalk closer and make the 200 or even better the 75-yard shot.
There is always a compromise to what we do. Do you need a flatter shooting bullet or guaranteed expansion? Is the Accubond bullet the best compromise between all three bullets? One other thing that is even more important than everything else, how accurate does your rifle shoot the bullet? If you have the wrong twist rate in your barrel for the ELDX bullet it won’t shoot accurate. You may end up having to shoot the other bullets. Nosler bullets like to have a jump before they hit the rifling’s where the Hornady doesn’t. Your chamber needs to be right for the bullet you want to shoot or perhaps your loads need to be longer or shorter to fit your chamber. Only shooting and practice will give you the correct combination for the goals you want to achieve.