Part Two: Match v. Hunting Bullets

Now that we understand the basics of how we got here and how the features of a bullet can affect the performance, we can dig right into the basic categories of pills on the market. As far as high-powered rifles are concerned for us, there's only two categories we need concern ourselves with, Match / Target and Hunting...

  • Match Bullets - Of course any bullet can be a target bullet (left), but to be included in this category the primary concern must be match performance. Literally nothing else matters. Because the types of matches vary there are a huge variety of pills in the appropriate caliber, weight and shape for your intended use - but they all have one thing in common: The manufacturer doesn't care about terminal performance. They are, after all, designed to punch a hole in a piece of paper and bury themselves in the dirt, in that order. The only thing engineers are concerned with is the consistency of what happens before that.Their core and jacket designers need pay no heed to any master but one - winning a match. The meplat of the match bullet is typically tiny and cores often sit well to the rear of the bullet for balance (#1). If a concentric jacket is easier to draw on their machine when it is of a certain, uniform thickness or alloy (#2), they can use it. If they feel a pure lead or high-antimony core gives them an advantage somehow, they can use it (#3). If an extended boattail design achieves the desired aerodynamics, he can use it because he doesn't care that it makes it harder to retain the core for penetration. Internal and external ballistics right up to the point-of-impact, is all that matters to the match bullet scientist. That's why they are so darn good. Cores are never bonded as the bonding process itself is just another variable to screw things up. There's nothing about a match bullet that lends itself to hunting save for two little things - accuracy and ballistic coefficient - precisely the same two reasons so many hunters are tempted to use them. Don't be fooled, it is a siren-song.


  • Hunting Bullets - The important difference between target and hunting bullets is the controlled terminal performance required of a hunting bullet (right). Today's hunters are a tough crowd to play. We not only expect match-grade ballistics and accuracy these days, but these pills must perform in an infinitely repeatable, controlled-expansion manner when they strike flesh and bone. In order to accomplish that the entire design of the bullet, literally every feature, is designed to the goal of holding that little package together long enough at a specific range of impact velocities to do what it needs to do. Sometimes, as is the case with varmint hunting bullets, that's about a nanosecond. In others like deer, its maybe a foot or so, for larger game the goal is a full three-feet of penetration.


In Part Three we'll continue with a discussion of the various methods currently in use to achieve the outstanding controlled expanding bullets in use today.