If you’ve gone to a hunting camp more than once, you’ve probably heard a few disagreements about what rifle caliber or shotgun gauge is best for hunting. The truth is, there is a bit of truth to all of those debates. This article should help you pick the right hunting ammo for your shotgun or rifle for your next hunting trip.
It’s Not Just About Bore Diameter
The main argument around the campfire is whether or not higher caliber bullets and bigger gauges have better “killing power”. The fact is, a 20 gauge is smaller than a 12 gauge, and that a .277 caliber is smaller than .308, which is smaller than .338 caliber, but is bigger really always better? Technically, no. The chamber length and bore diameter is not as important as the ammo you choose in relation to the environment you are in (i.e., terrain, topography, density of brush, etc), the size of the animal you’re hunting, and the distance you’re shooting your target from. Those are the variables you need to consider when choosing ammo for your hunting trip.
Having the right bullet is extremely important. What may work for shooting down an antelope at 300 yards may not work as well for shooting a wild hog in dense brush at 25 yards. The best option for shooting thin-skinned animals are lighter caliber bullets that travel at a higher velocity. Grain polymer tipped bullets are a great option because they can be shot at a velocity of more than 2,900 ft. per second and open rapidly on impact. A hunter would have no problem hitting a blacktail, pronghorn, or mule deer from 300 yards away. When shooting elk a hunter may be better off with higher caliber bullets, which may be slower, but will take the elk down quickly. When it comes to hunting African plains game many hunters advise heavy, slow, long bullets to shoot past the thick brush. However, other hunters prefer faster bullets to shoot in the open terrain and make a longer shot. Some parts of California require hunters to use lead-free ammo, which have a reputation for excellent performance and accuracy.
When it comes to choosing ammo for bird hunting, there can be just as many options. There’s truly no one bullet type that works best for every bird. In order to select ammo at a size that will be effective a hunter needs to pack bullets that have enough power for the smallest and biggest bird they are hunting, as well as determine how he or she will be hunting (ie. hunting with decoys or shooting long-range). Shooting at a quail, for example, requires a bullet that has suitable pattern densities and can retain energy better. Turkeys, on the other hand, need small ammo in order to shoot their heads, but dense enough and with enough energy to kill it from 40 yards away.
The best way to determine the right hunting ammo is to consider where you are hunting, what game you are targeting, and your range. This will ensure that you take the right ammo to take down your targets effectively.