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Forum Index > Rifles general discussion > Time for a dumb question

Time for a dumb question

13 Mar 2023
@ 06:23 pm (GMT)


Hi All

I have been reading Aarons last 2 posts with interest and it sparked a question but I didn't want to hijack them so here it is.

If we take Hornady as an example since I'm guessing quite a few of us here use AMAX or ELDM for hunting what is the big issue with promoting them as a hunting bullet with limitations?

Every projectile they do market for hunting also has limitations, many if not most have more issues than the so called match bullets.

My best guess is that they market to the uninformed and assume they will be shooting close range high velocity more often than not and don't want bullet blow-up giving them bad reviews, maybe assuming that hunters shooting longer range are more likely to be educated and ignore what is on the box?

If this is correct, the growth in long range hunting with minimal practice and or effort and the increase in lower powered cartridges / charge weights is likely to cause them some problems in the next few years.

Anyone have some insight as to why they do this?




14 Mar 2023
@ 04:03 am (GMT)

Howard Audsley

Re: Time for a dumb question
I've had the same questions. Tough bullets "pencil" a deer at long range and low velocity and soft bullets blowing up and failing to penetrate at close range and high velocity.

Hornady publishes a range of optimum muzzle velocities, but how does that help? What is needed is a range of optimum impact velocity. That is where the rubber meets the road so to speak.
14 Mar 2023
@ 07:35 am (GMT)

Aaron Peterson

Re: Time for a dumb question
That’s a hard question to answer outright and easily.

A lot of the big bullet manufacturers have defense contracts, as well as commercial sales to many different countries. These defense contracts require the bullets to meet the military specs, and within those specs are the ability to appease the treaties that stipulate bullets used in combat cannot be designed to expand. So with that said, they have to be very careful how they advertise their bullets used for those contracts, even on the commercial side. They’d lose their high dollar contacts if they breached those requirements.

Some countries also have certain regulations where they need to be careful how they market the bullets.

And then you have other reasons such as they’ve simply made different bullets for different specific applications. That doesn’t mean they can’t be used for a different application, it just means that’s not what they where purposely and specifically made for us all. This is usually based on the current demand. The current demand isn’t always what is best. Big companies after profits only want to make what will sell. They’re not really interested in investing a lot of time, money, and other resources on making what’s truly the best bullet for the job, and then educating their customers on why that is, especially if it goes against the grain. They don’t want to risk the backlash.

So you end up with target bullets that are cheaper and easier to make, with no bonding, with thin jackets, lead cores, etc and then the “premium hunting bullets” that go with the demand, which feature things like thick jackets, interlock rings, bonding, no lead at all, etc.

They simply try to give the consumer what the consumer thinks they want, because that’s what will sell. They market it accordingly.

Also, I can tell you that sometimes it also comes down to what they’ve actually tested in house for proper expansion and terminal performance. I spoke with Tommy Todd, the Chief Ballistician at Sierra, and he told me one of the main reasons they haven’t advertised the TMKs for hunting is because they only advertise bullets for hunting that they’ve specifically tested for that purpose, and that have passed their requirements. He told me at the time that they have yet to do that with the TMKs, but it was planned for down the road. That was several years ago now…

Then you have the smaller companies that start out and simply try to duplicate what’s already out there selling well so that they can start out profitable as well. Many have no clue about terminal ballistics themselves and don’t really take the time to learn either, like Nathan had stated numerous times. A lot of these companies come and go, because they’ve never managed to make anything truly better than anyone else and at a competitive price, or if they have they failed to market it well enough.

So then you have guys like Nathan that have shown us droves of evidence from an immense amount of actual experience of what truly works and works well, and how and why, and the companies start to take note. I truly believe companies like Hornady have taken his information and they agree with it, but they continue to do what is working for them and let guys like Nathan take the liability of telling their customers they can use their “non-hunting” bullets for hunting and have great success. They’re still selling bullets, and now lots of them even for applications they don’t specifically market them for, so they’re happy. And when someone inevitably uses one outside its limitations, they can’t blame Hornady.

You can go looking around online right now and find countless examples of guys talking about less than ideal results, or even excellent results, using match/target bullets for hunting and there will be several guys telling them they’re an idiot and to never use those type of bullets for hunting. These are completely ignorant people that are blinded by marketing.

The fact is, even the marketed “hunting” bullets have well over their fair share of poor results too. All bullets have limits, and some are very unforgiving to shot placement errors or being used outside of their particular limits.

Long story short, I agree it’s very frustrating that these manufacturers don’t help out the hunting community as much as they could or should. I’m afraid they never will either.
17 Mar 2023
@ 10:07 am (GMT)

Paul Townlian

Re: Time for a dumb question
I think you're spot on Aaron. Military contracts are the ammo manufacturing cash cow. Not the average hunter buying one or two boxes of ammo a year. For the military, and the ammo manufacturers filling contracts, its been well understood and documented back into the 50s and 60s during the development of the AR15 and later the AK74 that fragmentation and bullet instability/yaw could be utilized for terminal effect and was a valid means to circumvent the "rules" of warfare. The catch being, you could never actually say these bullets were intended to shed mass and cause terminal ballistics hell on the target.

This is just my opinion, but regardless of what ammo manufacturers say publicly, Im positive they're aware of the potential application on game. There are a few reasons I believe this, but the main point is due to what is loaded in ammunition intended for killing that is not related to hunting. One of the varieties of box ammo I buy if available are law enforcement or tactical in nature. Hornady Black (308 - 168g amax), and one that I have had particular great results with has been Federal Premium Law Enforcement (308 - 168g TMK; allegedly with powders optimized for shorter barrels typical in the AR platforms). These are the very bullets in the exact weights Nathan has discussed in his research to be great all range bullets when pushed at mild velocities -- like those seen in shorter barreled rifles common amongst police and "tactical" users... That is no coincidence, nor do I believe Nathans the first to identify these bullets' virtues. I think they are well aware of their capabilities. Albeit reduced over penetration in a heavily urbanized area must be a contributing factor, but so too must be terminal effect in stopping a violent assailant quickly. Law enforcement do not have the same restriction on expandable projectiles like the military, yet ammo manufactures typically still utilize match bullets as their defacto "defensive" projectiles of choice for rifles when something needs to be put down fast before it can inflict harm on others (not that this has always been the case, or with all departments, but that's a different topic...)

There is a serious lack of critical thinking by consumers who believe that a box of ammo with a deer on the front is somehow more ethical and effective than ammo intended for an aggressive Homo sapien of roughly equal weight and tissue depth.

However, without military reasons, I am also skeptical if they would ever truly push them as hunting bullets. From a corporate standpoint, they know the vast majority of hunters will use 22-24in rack grade rifles shooting from 0-200yds. To capture and appease the largest market share of low information users, it would be best to market bullets that fit those impact velocities, and accept the fact that 90% of hunters don't give a damn about ballistics. If a bullet doesn't perform as expected, most people don't delve deep into the "why". We were all there at some point. For whatever reason, some of us decided to pursue this question, and others decided to turn their attention and money elsewhere and just chalk it up to a bad bullet and a bad manufacturer. For example, I've heard and read many accounts of people using tough bonded bullets at sub par impact velocities, leading to penciling wound tracks and no expansion. The consensus by many users have been, "the bullet was going too fast to open up"... For these people there's a lack of interest to really understand the problem because they may only care about said problem one week of the entire year and its easier to just spend their money elsewhere.

To these people, the only thing that matters are the result. If the bullet fails, that person will take to the internet/community telling all that such and such brand is garbage. The proof is in how many people say match bullets will just blow up on game animals. But then there's the question the original post poses: what happens to that marketing scheme of appeasing the most common terminal use case when the trends are shifting in favor of lower power cartridges in shorter barrels?

As far as match bullets ever getting the nod for use in the hunting space, one point I do remember was when the 6.5cm was getting its big push into the hunting space. I remember the bullet of choice for Elk hunting in every article and forum you would see was the Amax. Now this was before my time as a rifle hunter, so the info was found in hindsight. Does anyone know if that was intentionally marketed by Hornady? In addition I wonder why the trend was halted and not applied to other calibers?
17 Mar 2023
@ 03:59 pm (GMT)

Louis Gallo

Re: Time for a dumb question
I have posted this before in other forums, but the simple answer is that match bullets have no features that are there to promote or control expansion so makers do not market them as hunting bullets. A match bullet has a jacket as thin as maker can get away with as concentric as possible to achieve maximum accuracy and in some cases as high of a BC as possible. A hunting bullet will have some feature to promote expansion and if big game centric, will have features to control expansion and retain weight for penetration. A certain match bullet may have a polymer or other tip which means the bullet will expand but it is not there for expansion. It is there for BC or minimal BC variation, etc….

There is not some conspiracy or hidden agenda as to why makers do not advertise their match bullets for hunting. They do not design nor test them for such and could care less about terminal performance of their match bullets. So, they do not advertise nor recommend them for such. They have bullets designed and tested for hunting. Hornady in particular has covered this on several blogs. The features added for hunting bullets - tapered or thicker jackets, partitions, bonding, etc.. all make a bullet more complex and possible more variation - which is the opposite of what is desired for maximum accuracy

Now, can you use them for hunting? Sure, so long as they expand/deform and get to vitals. Thin jacketed bullets have been used for hunting since the beginning of bullets and work well at low impact velocity (ie long range) and in particular if you match bullet weight to game. in the beginning people used heavy soft bullets for big game. Then we started using lighter faster bullets and found killed just as well and often easier to hit with than heavier calibers/bullets, but bullets needed to be constructed tougher penetrate. You can get in trouble (or at least not learn from history) if trying to have best of both worlds - ie using lighter, lightly constructed bullets for game you are hunting, just because they are highest BC or most accurate


18 Mar 2023
@ 07:44 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Time for a dumb question
Hi Vince, generally speaking, I generally avoid (or limit) discussing the ins and outs of match bullets on these forums. There are two reasons for this. The first is that we already give away a lot of info for free so I reserve the right to retain at least some info for the books / income. I bit of a pain because I know that we all want to discuss this subject.

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, forum posts tend to be lacking in information / qualifications. I have in the past been misquoted by folk after they have 'browsed' the forums or website, not fully understanding the subject or my intent. There is for example, a book currently published in Europe which states that Mr Foster prefers to use match bullets on all game due to his belief that this reduces any need for accuracy and that a match bullet allows the user to just aim anywhere on the body. The author having come to this conclusion is obviously most disdainful of my work. I would be too, if that were indeed the case.

Within the books, I have of course been able to cover the various aspects of this subject from all angles, taking various limitations into consideration and so forth. So that's where I tend to leave it for the most part.

Quoting Paul: "The consensus by many users have been - the bullet was going too fast to open up". Yes I have heard that one too. Goes to show how far we have yet to go with our understanding. As to your question Paul, no I don't believe Hornady pushed that (Elk hunting) at the beginning but yes, they do of course employ these projectiles in LE loads just as you mentioned.

In any case, you pretty much answered your own question Vince via your best guess comment. Other comments above may also help to provide answers to your question.
18 Mar 2023
@ 07:45 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Time for a dumb question
And no, that was not in any way a dumb question.
18 Mar 2023
@ 05:54 pm (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Time for a dumb question
Louis is right. Hornady released a podcast in the last couple days confirming what he said. They said that the bulk of their rifle bullet sales is match bullets. Two press operators who have worked there for 40 years described how they make cup and core bullets. As Louis said, the jacket is made as thin as possible. This reduces the number of press strokes required to form the jacket. It also reduces wear on the press machines and the tooling used to form the jackets. Further, it reduces the amount of waste material from length trimming the jackets, and out-of-spec jackets resulting from tool wear, etc. The waste material is sent back to the supplier to be recycled, but that costs money. Their quality control on their match bullet jacket thickness (and thus concentricity) is the press operators’ source of pride. A sampling of every lot of 50K bullets is tested at their range, at either 100 yards, or 200 yards, depending on the competition shooter they’re targeting. As Louis said, they couldn’t care less about the terminal performance of their match bullets on game.
22 Mar 2023
@ 05:39 pm (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Time for a dumb question
I can hear this conversation echoing down from the mists of time....
this bamboo spear sure is easy to throw accurately,I can hit a jack rabbit at 10 paces...hmmm wonder how it will go on the cave bear???
you numbskull,you need a heavy club not a twitchy twig

thousands of animals were killed with fmj projectiles fired from not very accurate rifles not so many years ago....

its all a balancing act, hit animal in right place and its dead. its when hit ISNT quite right that the difference between something designed to do a certain job/behave a certain way...and one thats not comes into play... if its designed to do such n such..well there is good chance it will do it..... we test to make sure it does it to our satisfaction....if however you chose to use something designed for another purpose,all bets are off untill you work out how its going to work and within what limits....we could all shoot game happily with powder coated cast projectiles...BUT would have to limit range and change HOW we targeted animals....a bit like..well actually a LOT like the whole mono projectile or steel bird shot thing..... you HAVE TO ADAPT to what you have got in hand to use.
folks use the likes of VMAX projectiles to very good effect on fallow deer,head neck shots..classic EG of adapting to suit what your using and targeting.
the fellas who made mayor limo never intended it to tow concrete mixer..but Tim said that it worked well......we dont all need limos to do same job,but if that all youve got to work with..well just work within self imposed limits.
hope that makes sence.
24 Mar 2023
@ 02:14 pm (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Time for a dumb question
Hornady posted a podcast on terminal ballistics today. They specifically stated they do not recommend the ELD-M for hunting, due to its paper thin jacket. To their credit, they didn’t tout the CX bullet at all. They pushed the ELD-X as the best bullet for normal range and long range (using a gel block shot at 800 yards to prove it). One guy said the heart shot is the best. The other guy said the high shoulder shot is best. Neither knew about the chest shot. They both claimed to be schooled in martial arts.
24 Mar 2023
@ 03:33 pm (GMT)

Aaron Peterson

Re: Time for a dumb question
Hornady posted a podcast on terminal ballistics today. They specifically stated they do not recommend the ELD-M for hunting, due to its paper thin jacket. To their credit, they didn’t tout the CX bullet at all. They pushed the ELD-X as the best bullet for normal range and long range (using a gel block shot at 800 yards to prove it). One guy said the heart shot is the best. The other guy said the high shoulder shot is best. Neither knew about the chest shot. They both claimed to be schooled in martial arts.

That podcast is so full of contradictory information I just avoid it altogether. You already gave us great examples of this. I’m honestly not really sure where these guys have developed their “expertise”.

I’ve seen and experienced plenty of poor results with the ELDX, both close range and far- more specifically higher impact velocities and lower impact velocities. The reason is the front half of the bullet features a tapered out jacket that is as thin as the ELDM. Then you have a really thick lower half with an interlock ring.

So, the high impact velocity shots, especially into areas where it experiences a high amount of resistance like a shoulder, that front half expands very rapidly and all the material pretty much sheds away almost immediately. Even the back half sometimes can’t hold up either and the end result is shallow penetration and over expansion.

On the other end, at the lower impact velocities, the tapering, thicker back half, and interlock ring really resists full expansion and then you end up with over penetration and insufficient expansion. Wounding is overall minimal.

So what this all boils down to is still company “experts” that don’t fully understand these things. They have a basic understanding and stick with the same old mindsets that have been passed down. That’s why you hear heart shots mentioned as the best and blanket statements like “target bullets are no good for hunting”.

When you ask these guys to explain a great result you had with such a bullet, and how that happened, they can’t. Their explanation basically boils down to “it was luck”. Sometimes it is for some hunters. Sometimes it’s putting together the knowledge and wisdom you have and putting your critical thinking skills to work and knowing how to use a particular bullet within its limits to give you the results you’re after.

It’s frustrating because these podcasts and video series companies are doing now are becoming really popular and the ignorant eat it all up and trust it all to be fact. So then we get a new army of morons telling us that we’re the morons and they stroke the egos of these “company experts” and the demand for the other bullets continues to rise.

The ELDX is not a terrible bullet. It’s just not as magical as they want you to think. It’s really just an improved SST. It has its own set of limits like every other bullet.

It just seems like the manufacturers are never going to truly help the hunting community learn to think for themselves and learn the things that really matter and how things really work. So until that ever happens, I’d suggest avoiding all those podcasts and really anything that isn’t coming from a non-biased and non bought and paid for source. Do your own research, your own testing, don’t let marketing cloud your judgement, and make your own educated decisions. If you’re here in this website, you’ve already taken big steps in that direction.

This isn’t aimed at anyone here, but just my thoughts shared.
25 Mar 2023
@ 10:35 am (GMT)

William Badgley

Re: Time for a dumb question
This has all been very interesting and educational. My summary of the matter is for us to simply listen to what Nathan is telling us and skip the BS. No matter who is spewing it. And maybe push every hunter you know to seek Nathan's wise council. They might start by buying every book he has written. No decent hunter should be without them. I can tell you his teachings have raised my game beyond what I ever dreamed. For all of you on this forum...count your blessings !


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