In the world of hunting rifles, not much has changed in the last 70 years. There have been small advancements in materials and design tweaks, but the bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles we use for hunting are same as our grandfather’s. But one area that has seen exponential advancement is ammunition, specifically bullets. Despite the fact that it is the most inexpensive part of the whole, the bullet is one of the most important components of your hunting rifle—it’s the only thing that touches the game animal.
Bullets are better than ever, especially the latest crop of hunting bullets. But with all the new choices available, it’s overwhelming when you are standing at the counter trying to pick up a couple of boxes of ammunition. Reading through new bullet design features can read like the list of specs for a space ship.
If you were ammo shopping before the early 1880s, you have one choice of bullet material, lead. It could be round, conical or even hollow-based, but it was lead. Higher-velocity cartridges forced designer to coat their lead projectiles with a gilding metal, copper, and the modern bullet was born. Copper and lead are still key components to some exceptional bullets, but in the last decade inventors have added polycarbonates, exotic metals, Molybdemum disulfide coatings and most importantly ingenious design. The catch was you had to pick a bullet for one key quality—rapid expansion, deep penetration or extreme accuracy. Designs like the Speer Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, Nosler Ballistic Tip, Winchester Fail Safe were some of the best of the bunch.
Those bullets were and are great, but the new kids on the block push performance to the next level. Barnes Bullets, which made waves with its all-copper X-Bullet in 1989, introduced what, I see, as the highest expression of bullet design—the Maximum Range X-Bullet (MRX).
The bullet is topped off with a Delrin tip that aids in expansion, increases the ballistic coefficient and makes it shoot flatter and deliver more energy at long ranges. Its copper body surrounds a heavier-than-lead tungsten core that drives penetration. The boattail, rear-weighted design and precision manufacturing processes offer match-like accuracy. The copper jacket has three relieving grooves that reduce friction and fouling and produce higher velocities. The tip is scored during manufacture so that when it hits, four petals open to twice the bullet’s original diameter in a controlled manner through a wide range of velocities. Even through feet of muscle and bone, the bullet will retain close to 100 percent of its original weight. Just think of all the technology and design work rolled into one 165-grain package.
Close shots or long shots, medium or big game, raking angles or broadside, the MRX is a bullet that can do it all. And it’s just one of a crop of exceptional bullets like the Swift Scirocco, Winchester XP3, Nosler CT Partition Gold, just to name a few. Yes, these premium bullets are often twice as much the cheapest box on the shelf, but the price is worth it when the shot of a lifetime is on the line. So do the research and spend the time testing these great new bullets. It will pay off in October.