Hunting Ammunition (Tech Tips)

  Used Hunting Ammunition  

      Here are some tech tips that will help you get the most from your hunting ammunition.   I've hunted in climates from -10 to over 100 degrees, and I've seen many disappointing hunting trips caused by ammunition problems.   Most of those situations could have easily been avoided.   Believe me . . . . these tips are often overlooked (even scoffed at) by some shooters - until they experience a big surprise.


            Would you trust these rounds?

      Whenever I hunt in cold weather, I Never carry the same ammunition on more than one trip to the field if it can possibly be avoided.   The main reason is that hunting ammunition is often ruined by prolonged heat, condensation, and excessive vibration.   Moisture caused by condensation is the worst, and it can destroy your ammo very quickly.   Most of us have been on hunting trips where we never take a shot.   When this ammo is stored, it gets carried on hunts again and again.   Hunting ammunition is quite different from target ammunition, and it's often used in bad weather.   When it goes bad, there's rarely any visible sign of deterioration.   Most hunting trips today are quite expensive, and it's a shame to risk hearing a "click" when you finally get the chance to pull the trigger.   When hunting dangerous game, unreliable ammunition can lead to even worse situations.

      Hunting ammunition has different requirements from benchrest ammunition.   High velocity, flat trajectory, and bullets with controlled expansion are much more important considerations for hunting rifles.   Many hunters see benchrest shooters shooting spectacular groups, and they try to use the same handloading (and gunsmithing) techniques that benchrest shooters use.   This isn't always a good idea.   In fact sometimes it's a very bad idea.   For example: I've seen hunters seat their bullets long enough to contact the rifling to get a bit more accuracy.   In most cases, this small accuracy advantage requires a set of calipers to measure the slightest improvement.   The downside to this practice becomes obvious when you open the bolt and find a mess of powder in your action, because your bullet just got stuck in the barrel.

      I don't believe in neck sizing, not even for benchrest shooting.   If Tony Boyer doesn't neck size, there's no accuracy advantage to it.   There are a lot of shooters out there that will do anything to get that last little bit of accuracy (including trying things that rarely work).   If your hunting handloads are "properly" full sized, you're good to go.   One exception to this is resizing belted magnum calibers.   Obviously, hunting ammunition must always chamber and that could save the day for you on a hunting trip.

      There's no need to "turn" the case necks (not to be confused with trimming cases to length) with hunting handloads.   The accuracy gain (if any) would require measuring your targets with calipers to notice, and the downside could be weak bullet tension or bent case necks when feeding from a magazine.   Turning case necks is done by benchrest shooters, because their chambers are machined to extremely tight dimensions that require neck turning.   If you're determined to turn your case necks (and I don't recommend it for hunting ammunition), just turn off the absolute minimum.   Don't worry about getting 100% uniformity if it makes your case neck paper thin.

      I've seen shooters get depressed when they discover the long "bullet jump" to the rifling in their production rifles.   Hunting rifles are made that way for a good reason.   They're not chambered this way because of sloppy manufacturing or some engineering oversight.   The extra jump to the rifling allows maximum velocity without extreme chamber pressure, and it allows you to use a wider range of different bullets.   Shooters often try to compensate for a long throated chamber by seating their rounds longer to gain a bit more accuracy, and they get discouraged again when their handloads don't fit in the magazine.   Keep in mind that firearms manufacturers have no idea what bullet weight each customer intends to use.   This is also done for good reasons, and it's common with all production rifles (especially Weatherby's).   I prefer to improve the accuracy of my hunting ammunition by experimenting with a variety of different bullets and load combinations.   Don't expect to get benchrest accuracy from a production rifle by laborious handloading alone, because it just doesn't work.

      If you want the ultimate hunting accuracy, it's best to use a 100% custom built rifle that is chambered for one specifc type of bullet.   Don't worry about letting your local buddy have a crack at this project.   Find a gunsmith with a reputation for building accurate rifles.   Choose someone that always works on the exact model of rifle that you want, and you won't be disappointed.   You can tweak your hunting ammo until you're blue in the face, and you'll never shoot as well as you will with a good custom rifle.

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