What’s wrong with this picture? Famed outdoor and gun writer, Ron Spomer, tackled this very topic when looking at various myths sportsmen tend to buy into.
Ask any merchant who works behind the counter of a gun shop and they will be full of stories of sportsmen who come in their store and spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a top shelf rifle, hundreds (if not thousands) on a technologically advanced sighting system and then select the cheapest box of ammunition on the shelf in order to save a few dollars.
In examining the myth, “You Don’t Need High-End Rifle Ammo Unless You’re Hunting Dangerous Game,” Spomer had this to say:
“Not if your non-dangerous game is walking away from you in the woods and you have three seconds to put a bullet through its heart. In that case, top-shelf ammo with a high-end, deep-penetrating bullet like the Winchester Power Core or Ballistic Silvertip bullets can make or break your hunt. We all know the ideal shot is broadside just behind the shoulder when the leg is held forward or through both shoulders if you want to break an animal down. But we aren’t always presented with this perfect shot. Given the time and money we spend for hunts—not to mention how rarely we get a crack at a really big deer—it makes sense to lay out a few extra dollars for ammunition that can save the day in a pinch.
“An ethical hunter will and should pass up shots that he knows exceed the capability of his ammo or his own abilities. For that reason, ethical hunters should strive to shoot the most capable ammo they can beg, build, buy or steal. Well, maybe not steal. When you need to shoot lengthwise through major muscle and bone to reach vitals, a high-end bullet works where lesser bullets might fail. But how do you define “high-end” bullet?
“I define it as the one that is perfect for the job. For varmints in .223 and .243 calibers,
I want Varmint X ammunition with their superior accuracy, ballistic coefficient and destructive impact. For whitetails and mule deer with standard cartridges, the Ballistic Silver Tip, Power Point or Power Max Bonded bullets are perfect. My new favorite is Deer Season XP. Where nontoxic bullets are mandated, E-Tip and Power Core 95/5 are tops, but those are also effective on big, tough critters like bears, elk and moose. When shooting big stuff with high velocity cartridges, I might step up to XP3 or Accubond CT. And the Razorboar XT is ideal for hogs.”