Most of us shoot no further than 150 yards, but some pest controllers have to take longer shots. George Wallace looks at the bullets that work best at long-range
Our modern hi-tech bullet has come a very long way since it first saw the light of day as a mere round lead ball. Then, it trundled along a none-too-straight smooth-bored barrel at less than the speed of sound and there was only one choice of bullet. Nowadays we have a huge choice of different types of bullets.
We receive many questions about bullet choice for different purposes and although it gets frequent mention in our columns it obviously remains on the minds of our readers.
We have discussed large calibre, low velocity missiles on several occasions and seen that although they kill perfectly well at normal hunting distances and do very little meat damage, the trajectory makes shooting beyond about 150 yards difficult. And therefore, probably, irresponsible.
Relatively few of us shoot much further than 150 yards, but there are still many stalkers and pest controllers who do need to shoot at extended range because it is not possible, in the countryside concerned, to get any closer. For that, we need high velocity to flatten the trajectory curve and may also need to be careful in our choice of bullet if we want to kill humanely and avoid damaging meat.
Out at, say, 350 yards, we want the long-range bullet from our 7mm Magnum to perform exactly the same as the lower-velocity ones used for woodland stalking. In other words, proper expansion without spoiling good meat. In fact, since the bullet from our Magnum has slowed to about 2,400 feet per second (fps) at that range, we could use the same bullet as we use for woodland stalking.
But what if – as can happen – a shot presents itself at 50 yards, where the bullet is doing over 3,000 fps? A bog-standard bullet at high velocity may disintegrate with all sorts of unpleasant consequences, so if that is likely to happen and if we want to eat our quarry, we need some premium missiles. Bullets which will expand correctly at almost any striking velocity.
There are lots of them available and they are all excellent, so it is a matter of trying them to see which suits your own rifle and your own circumstances. Sorry, but there’s really no other way.