SEVERAL YEARS AGO, down in Colorado, I was prone behind one of my long-range competition guns, the scope’s crosshairs steady on the ribcage of an antelope feeding on a sage-covered hill nearly 500 yards away. This better work, I thought.
Before that moment, I’d had a pretty fixed notion of what made a proper big-game bullet. Whether I was chasing Coues deer in Mexico, bears in Alaska, plains game in Africa, or whitetails in the Midwest, I wanted my bullets to more or less behave the same. That is, to punch through hide and bone, mushroom on contact, and retain the majority of their weight as they penetrated.
If I were to rattle off all the bullets designed to meet these parameters, I’d run out of room in this column before completing the list. The point being, this view of what a hunting bullet is supposed to accomplish has been nearly universally shared by sportsmen and bullet-makers no matter whether the projectile in question had a lead core chemically bonded to the jacket, was extruded from a solid piece of copper or copper alloy, was topped with a polymer tip, or was formed using a basic cup-and-draw method that was common during your great-grandfather’s time.
However, in the last 12 years or so, a growing number of hunters began to challenge this orthodoxy. These long-range shooters were taking practical rifle accuracy to new extremes. They reasoned that if they could go 10 for 10 at 1,000 yards on steel targets the size of a deer’s vitals in shifting winds, wouldn’t a 500-yard poke on a mule deer amount to a chip shot?
For them, accuracy is paramount. And the only way to guarantee accuracy at long range is with match bullets.
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October - November 2019