By: Mike Price
As I was working on a long-range hunting load for my 300 WM, I
had an existential experience, you might say, a catharsis. You know, a bringing to
the surface of some deep repressed emotion in an effort to identify a nagging
truth that keeps popping up and antagonizing me. I had tried Amax, Berger
and Sierra Game Kings, and guess what? The Sierra Game King won the
day on accuracy. I really tried to get the same consistency out
of the Amax and the Berger, but my rifle would not cooperate with me.
I asked myself, why was I working on another load when I
already have 10 loads for my Savage 116FHSS 300WM, all of which provide 100
yards accuracy under an inch? Why another one? They do
allow me the versatility of being game and condition specific when in the field,
but why another load? I just wanted a 600yd load, to use on
long shots down gas lines and for shooting across big open fields.
|"...I have found Sierra bullets to be heads and shoulders above the many choices
out there, especially when it comes to being consistently accurate over the range of
different cartridges and rifles I have owned..."|
I will admit that I am at a point in my life, where I
am tired of trying to always tweak the next load, the next miracle bullet,
and then labor in the field hoping that it delivers and meets my expectations
or at least in some way comes close to the published hype.
I have through the years taken a lot of game and enjoyed my hunting
very much, but find myself always haunted by the green boxes sitting on my
shelves. It seems like they have eyes and are gazing at me in
disbelief, for not using them as much as I have in the past.
For 30 years there has been this green thread laced throughout all of my
experience of shooting, reloading, hunting and taking game. Yes, the foundation for my
experience with hand loads and using them on game - was first laid years
ago with Sierra bullets. From time to time I would continue that green
thread, weaving it through my experiences in the field. Funny thing though, I
don't kill anymore game nor do I kill game any better with the new
whiz bang, super-duper bullets of today in all those years with Sierra bullets.
In fact, when I culled game over a two-year period, it was the
Sierra Game King bullets that did the majority of that work. And when
I switched to a bonded bullet like the Speer Hot Core, the Swift Scirocco
or a monolithic bullet like the Barnes X during that time - I found
myself quickly going back to the Sierras, especially the 165gr HPBT. For
more than 30 years now, I have taken coyote, deer, hogs, black bear, bobcat,
beaver, coon, and wild dogs with conventional cup core bullets. I have close
personal friends that have taken more than one bull elk with 165gr Sierra Game
King SBT out of a 300 WM and 300 WSM.
Through the years I have taken game with Sierra, Nosler, Remington, Swift, Hornady, Barnes,
Speer, Hawk, Woodliegh, and Winchester bullets. I have experienced these different makes of
bullets in the field, and they have given me an empirical understanding of bullet
performance. In looking back through all my diary notes, Sierra bullets have dispatched
75% of all the game I have taken in the field.
With that said, it brings home the following point. I find myself gravitating
back to those green boxes. Even though there are many options out
there for me to use, when it comes to different types of bullets -
and I have certainly tried many of them on game. I think I
know why I keep coming back to Sierra. The reason is simple! They
are consistently accurate, predictable in the field, and most of all, they dispatch game
efficiently and with remarkable quickness. When a hunter puts a premium cup core
bullet where it is supposed to go, and uses the appropriate weight and design
for the game hunted - they will have outstanding success.
I have found Sierra bullets to be heads and shoulders above the many choices
out there, especially when it comes to being consistently accurate over the range of
different cartridges and rifles I have owned. I am talking about hunting loads
and bullets, not match loads, because I don't compete in matches. I
am not saying that other bullets that I have used in developing hunting loads
are not as accurate. Some specific loads using other bullets have been more
accurate at times, but in the overall use of bullets for my different rifles
and cartridges when loading for accuracy Sierra has been the most consistent. My
main hobby through the years has been developing loads, then taking them to the
field and testing them on game. After all these years, I still
tend to reach for that familiar green box. This is especially true,
when I am having trouble getting accuracy with a certain cartridge and rifle combination,
while using different makes of bullets.
It is easy to be caught up in the popular notion - that only
bonded or solid copper bullets are the best choice for use in the
field. I have not experienced problems with cup core bullets in taking game
through the years, before the advent of all the new specialized bullets of today.
So, what has changed? The cup core bullets have not changed!
Therefore, an obvious prejudice and bias for bonded or monolithic type bullets developed in
my thinking. Why not? They were touted as the next best thing
since sliced bread and everybody who was anybody was using them. Why would I
want to be different and resist the obvious? Frankly, through the years I
have had to track more game farther when using bonded or solid copper bullets
than when using cup core bullets. I consider Sierra and Berger to be
premium bullets. Premium bullets are not limited to just bonded or monolithic designs,
by any stretch of the imagination.
Years before using the bonded bullets and later the all copper bullets, I dispatched
hogs, whitetail, mule deer and black bear with cup core bullets. Success was
the order of the day when using these conventionally designed bullets. We have been
bombarded over the last 20 years with the notion that conventional cup core bullets
are not worth the effort and much less dependable when taking game. It
is almost as if the marketing of bullets today has been successful in creating
the notion - that the only real premium bullets are either bonded or solid
copper. I have been at times just as guilty as many who have
bought into the notion that Sierra bullets and other cup core bullets are not
dependable - when taking game from coyotes to bear - and that is simply
not true. I used them and have not experienced any lose of game,
and we are talking about a lot of game taken with cup core bullets.
Amazing how we will adopt an idea or belief, because someone wrote an article
in a national publication. Yet, the new concept (without a bonded or all copper
bullet we can't have real performance) that we have been encouraged to accept is
undermining what we have actually experienced in the field - telling us that our
experiences are inferior. Yep, let's throw out all the empirical evidence of a
lifetime spent in the field, because something comes along that seems to have more
bells and whistles. We are told it is better and who are we
to question things? We are just the average hunter, who goes out year
after year with bullets that have worked for years, and got the job done.
Now we are told there is a new and better bullet in
town and our old bullets just won't cut the mustard. I
agree that the newer bullets are better for some applications, as the older cup
core bullets are better for other applications - but the idea being pushed in
some quarters today, is that we need to drop what we have been using
and only use the new design exclusively. Yes!! The do it all
better bullet for true performance in the field - while we are left with
that nagging question that looms in our mind, "how did we get it done
in the field for all these years, without this new wonder bullet?"
When one considers the devastating performance on game, the accuracy that is consistently achieved
with Sierra and Berger type bullets - plus the bang for the buck spent
- they are still a viable option for the hunter today. I for
one could in all honesty use bullets that come out of those green boxes
sitting on my shelves, for the rest of my hunting life - and not
be disappointed. I am looking to simplify my game specific loads, by following
my own empirical experiences of proven success through the years in the field -
I'm popping the top on those green boxes more often.
Wait, what about those big animals like elk, moose and brown bear? There
is an impressive list of hunters who have used conventional cup core bullets to
dispatch the big ones here in North America. Isn't it great that
we can use the bullets we have come to like and that gets the
job done for us - whether it is one of the old bullets or
one of the newer designs. That is what is so great about hunting
in America - we have so many good options. But to say that
only the newer designs will give you consistent performance in the field on game
is simply not true.
This last season, like those earlier seasons in my hunting life, I decided to
switch from my use of bonded or homogenous copper bullets and used only Sierra
bullets. That familiar satisfying experience took place again - game on the
ground in short order. Those Green Boxes - they still have the same good
stuff inside of them.