Deer Ammo That Packs a Punch
June 11, 2008
Whether you're shooting a new deer gun this fall or simply want to boost the performance of one you've hunted with for years, there are some great loads available.
Regardless of which firearm you use for whitetails, some company somewhere has the exact load you are looking for.
Here are some exciting items now at your local dealer:
A lead core bonded to a thick jacket makes the InterBond bullet from Hornady an excellent choice for shooting deer at close range in wooded terrain or at long range in more open country. Many rifles shoot it quite accurately as well.
Handloaders have six options: .270 in 130-grain; 7mm in 139-grain; .338 in 225-grain; and .30 caliber in 150-, 165- and 180-grain. But you don't have to reload in order to enjoy Inter-Bond performance. It is available in Hornady Custom amm in 7mm Rem. Mag.; .30-06; .300 Win. Mag.; and .300 Weatherby Mag.
Light Magnum and Heavy Magnum ammo from Hornady make small cartridges perform like big ones. The .308 Win. 150-grain Light Magnum load, for example, is rated at a velocity of 3000 feet per second (fps), which is faster than standard-velocity loadings of the .30-06 with the same bullet weight. The 150-grain Light Magnum loading of the .30-06 moves out at 3100 fps.
Light/Heavy Magnum loadings are available in those cartridges, as well as in the following: 6mm Rem.; .243 Win.; .257 Roberts; .25-06 Rem.; .270 Win.; 7x57mm Mauser, 7mm-08 Rem.; .280 Rem.; .444 Marlin; and several others.
Last season, I took an Iowa buck with Hornady's 250-grain SST saboted muzzleloader bullet. The polymer-tipped SST's streamlined shape gives it a very high ballistic coefficient for flatter trajectory and higher on-target energy, and the sabot can handle very high velocities. The SST is available in .50 caliber (250 and 300 grains) and in .45 caliber (200 grains).
Hornady also has plenty of options for handgun hunters or those using rifles chambered for handgun cartridges. On the menu are .44 Mag.; .454 Casull; .475 Linebaugh; .480 Ruger; and the new .400 Smith & Wesson in various loadings.
"A deer's worst nightmare" is the slogan used by Brenneke USA. And that nightmare has been recurring every year since 1898, when Wilhelm Brenneke invented what would become his world-famous slug.
Whereas there once was just one Brenneke slug load, there are now nearly a dozen. One is the 12-gauge Low Recoil load, featuring a 1-ounce slug at 1250 fps. Meant for deer-sized game inside 50 yards, it is recommended for youngsters or adults sensitive to recoil. (The 20-gauge Magnum 20 load, with its 1200 ft-lbs at 100 yards, is even better for that.)
The blunt nose of the original Brenneke slug causes it to shed velocity rapidly, and for this reason it is best suited for shots inside 100 yards. A totally different design, the relatively new SuperSabot 12-gauge slug, with its more streamlined shape, is for hunters who need to extend their range a bit farther.
It is an impressive performer, too. Upon impact, the soft outer jacket of the 1 1/8-ounce slug expands to a frontal diameter about as large as that of the Brenneke all-lead slug. Recommended only for rifled barrels, it is available in the 2 3/4-inch shell at 1400 fps and in the 3-inch shell at 1525 fps. Either delivers over 1000 ft-lbs of energy at 100 yards. In accuracy tests at the factory, the SuperSabot load averaged groups of around 1 1/2 inches for five shots at 50 yards.
This company's name has become synonymous with high-quality ammunition capable of delivering excellent accuracy and downrange performance. This is due to a quality-control program that ranks second to none in the industry, along with the use of some of the best big-game bullets available today.
Centerfire cartridges in the .22-caliber family are growing in popularity where legal for use on deer, and there is no better medicine for that than the Black Hills Gold .22-250 load with the Nosler 60-grain Partition at 3550 fps. I have bagged several whitetails with the .22-caliber Nosler bullet loaded in the .22-250 and the .220 Swift, and on shots to the lungs it does a great job out to 200 yards.
Black Hills loads the .243 Win. with a Nosler 55-grain Ballistic Tip bullet at 3800 fps for varmints, and the 95-grain Ballistic Tip at 2950 fps for deer. Quite soft, the 95-grain Ballistic Tip is an excellent choice for smallish deer out beyond 200 yards, but a tougher bullet such as the Nosler 100-grain Partition is a better choice for closer shots and all-around use.
A .25-06 Rem. load offered by Black Hills makes that cartridge a better choice for deer than the .243 Win. It features a Barnes 100-grain X-Bullet at 3200 fps. Meanwhile, in .270 Win. -- one of the most popular whitetail cartridges -- the company offers a Barnes 130-grain X-Bullet for all-around use and a 130-grain Ballistic Tip for deer at very long range.
Other Black Hills deer loads include: .308 Win. with 165-grain X-Bullet and 165- and 150-grain Ballistic Tips; .30-06 with 180-grain X-Bullet and 150- and 165-grain Ballistic Tips; 7mm Rem. Mag. with 140-grain Partition and X-Bullet; and .300 Win. Mag. with 180-grain Ballistic Tip and X-Bullet.
Black Hills offers two excellent close-range deer loads in .44 Mag.: 240-grain jacketed hollow-point at 1260 fps and 300-grain JHP at 1150 fps. I've used both in a Smith & Wesson Model 629 revolver and a Marlin Model 94 carbine, and their performance left nothing to be desired.