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Reloading For Versatility
by Mike Price, AmmoGuide subscriber 'mhsp68'
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Reloading For Versatility
By: Mike Price

It was 45 degrees, and ground fog blanketed the hardwood bottom that ran along the edge of a thicket. Sunrise was about to take place and I could not wait for the sun to burn the fog away and warm up the damp morning. For two weeks I had been hunting a big boar that thought he owned the bottom and the Boley Creek that ran long it's edge. He was an early morning fellow, who would only make his run along that span of woods in the early hours just at day light or shortly there after.

Boley Creek

He put me in a tree one morning a month earlier when I was walking to my deer stand in the dark. I heard branches breaking and like some one beating on a drum as he pounded the ground coming out of a thicket toward me. Fortunately I was standing right by a fallen tree that leaned against two other trees at about a 15% angle. I ran up that tree trunk for all I was worth and in the process lost control of my rifle, and it fell to the ground. For 10 minutes he stomped and rutted the ground as he ran around in circles, before he finally decided to leave as fast as he had arrived. I told myself right then that he was mine and I was not going to be run out of the woods by some boar that thought he owned the place. Well, come to think of it, he did own the hard wood bottom that morning - and proof of that was the fact I was in the tree and my rifle was on the ground.

Hardwood Bottom

As I sat there, perched on that limb and taking note of how powerful and big that hog really was - I decided not to use my deer load on that big boar, which was a 165gr Sierra Game King SBT. I told myself, "You need to bring your 180gr Partition load," and that is exactly what I used when I came back into those woods,hunting that big boar that had a bad attitude. Even though it was 20 years ago, good judgment demanded that I have the right bullet for a margin of safety and a quick kill. The 165gr SBT would probably have put that boar down, but I wanted to remove any doubt.

Hog Play Ground

That is where reloading for a specific rifle and cartridge can give any hunter a tremendous advantage, plus versatility. Hand loading is cheaper than factory premium ammunition, and provides a level of accuracy, confidence and most of all versatility that factory ammunition generally can't offer. The main issue is that factory ammo with any given load is a generic powder charge for that cartridge (the same one for everybody who buys it), and that also includes COAL, which works pretty good in some rifles, but certainly not in all.

During the two weeks of hunting that large boar, I put out corn, doctored the ground with stuff a friend gave me. He assured me it would bring him out into the open during the day. Well, I found myself hunting that spot and working it for quite sometime and then - one day it happened. On my way out that evening I noticed that his tracks were right in my tracks for about 200 yards. It was so hard to believe that this boar was actually tracking me and I hastily made note of that for me to use during the following day.

Ruger Mark II 300 Winchester Magnum

After seeing this big boar's lack of fear, I was glad I switched to a 180gr Partition in my Ruger Mk II 300 Winchester Magnum, instead of my 165gr deer load. Well the fog was beginning to lift and I could see a good 40 yards or so without any trouble. I knew from the size of this boar, that it might take a good strong bullet with a good powder charge behind it. I chose the 180gr Partition for this hunt because I needed something that would shock the animal when up close, and at the same time continue on through the big bodied boar with good penetration. I knew the Partition would shed most of it's front, sending little missiles throughout the initial impact area - creating a good impact effect, while tearing a ragged wound that would bleed free and not close on itself, inhibiting blood lose. If I was lucky enough for and exit with the back half of the Partition, I would succeed in a quick kill by letting air in and blood out, and also, there would be the added benefit of blood on the ground if I needed to track him.

I will admit that I was concerned about being on the ground in close quarters with this boar, because he had such an attitude. I filled the magazine and put one in the chamber. You would have thought I was in Africa with lion in the bush. An hour or so had gone by and I decided to backtrack my own steps. I hadn't gone 75 yards and there he stood, facing me, just 25 yards from me in the very trail I used earlier that day! I threw up my 300 Winchester Magnum and hit him on the right side of his neck and the bullet went down the neck muscle and through the bottom part of the ridge on his back, breaking the right shoulder, going just under the spine and exiting in front of the left ham. He collapsed in his tracks as I bolted for a follow up that I didn't need. What and exciting moment it was as I just stood there, trying to realize all that had happened in that brief split second.

I was so glad that I had an option in bullet weight, due to reloading and developing different loads for my rifle. I also knew it was extremely accurate and tough enough for the job that day. That big old 468 pound boar hit the ground because a man by the name of John Nosler in 1947 designed the Partition and put it on the market in 1948, making it available to hand loaders.

Some hunters will have the tendency to use only one bullet to do all their work while in the field. The idea sounds great, saves money and time, and would be neat if it worked every time, but that is not the case. A hunter might get away with it for a while, but if he hunts a lot of game it will eventually catch up with him sooner or later, and it could cost him a real nice trophy. From the size of game - the conditions under which we will be hunting - in some places rules for copper only bullets - where shots might have to be longer than usual because of terrain - or up close where bullets have to deal with a lot of energy on impact - and many other considerations - one bullet will not do it all - not even one of the all copper bullets.

There is no rule against simplifying things by having one load. If that is your desire to use only one load for all your work with a given cartridge, but expect the day to come when your bullet was note enough, or to much. If enough time is spent in the field it will eventually catch up with you. I remember hunting a deer with a heavy for caliber premium bonded bullet and had a complete pass through without sufficient expansion and it took two and a half hours to find the deer, and that was due to luck, not a blood trail. Re-loaders are without excuse in our day and time - with all the different bullet designs and weights for most calibers, especially the 30 caliber rifles.

Savage 116FHSS .300 Winchester Magnum

208gr Amax

I spent two years helping Game Wardens in Mississippi thin out deer, hogs and coyotes. I killed, not counting what I shot during hunting season those two years, 52 coyotes, 41 deer and 16 hogs. Now that is just in two years of my 30 plus years of hunting and killing game. I have seen what all kinds of bullets can do on game. I am here to tell you the bullets that tore flesh, disrupted bone and skeletal structure, ruptured blood vessels, making big wound channels, letting air in and lots of blood out quick, causing massive internal hemorrhaging - these were the devastating killers and game expired very fast if not immediately. There is no substitute for personal experience. In my experiences of hunting, which pales in comparison to many - I have learned to choose the right bullet for the job, to dispatch game consistently.

Ruger Hawkeye .358 Winchester

.358Win, 225gr Accubond, 2556fps

This is where the advantage of reloading comes in and allows for one to be able to have game and condition specific loads. One can, through reloading, actually end up using one or two rifles for all of their work. My .300 Winchester Magnum and .358 Winchester now do the majority of my work and in some years they have done all my work. The reason being, they are so versatile because of the many loads I have developed for each rifle. With the accuracy and diversity I have with my loads for these two rifles, I have supreme confidence in the field to make a good shot - knowing I have picked the appropriate bullet for the task at hand.

That day in those damp cold bottoms, when I pulled the trigger on my 300 Winchester Magnum and dropped that big boar - I was reminded of how important it is to choose the right bullet for the game hunted, assuming you also are using a sufficient enough cartridge and rifle. I have come a long ways through the years, seen a lot, and it has taught me the importance of using my load development to give me accuracy, confidence and versatility in the field - with no doubt about getting the job done.

Reloading For Versatility

The below table gives an idea of just how versatile my two main rifles for hunting actually are - developing different loads for different uses. In fact, no matter where I hunt in this world (where legal to use), my 300 Winchester Magnum with the multiple loads I have developed - could be used effectively and with confidence, because "Reloading for Versatility" gives me that advantage.
Savage 116FHSS .300 Winchester Magnum - 24" barrel - 4200 Bushell 3-9x40mm
Bullet Powder Case Primer Velocity COAL Group
130gr TTSX Norma MRP Winchester CCI250 3512 fps 3.319" 0.725" (3 shot)
150gr TTSX IMR4350 Winchester CCI250 3334 fps 3.325" 0.678" (3 shot)
150gr E-Tip IMR4350 Winchester CCI250 3255 fps 3.318" 0.663" (5 shot)
150gr GS HV RL-22 Winchester CCI250 3412 fps 3.440" 0.798" (3 shot)
165gr G/K HPBT IMR4350 Winchester CCI250 3236 fps 3.340" 0.228" (5 shot)
165gr G/K SBT IMR4350 Winchester CCI250 3220 fps 3.340" 0.234" (5 shot)
180gr TTSX Norma MRP Winchester CCI250 3074 fps 3.325" 0.198" (5 shot)
200gr Accubond Norma MRP Winchester CCI250 2934 fps 3.340" 0.738" (5 shot)
208gr Amax RL-22 Winchester CCI250 2848 fps 3.382" 0.698" (5 shot)
220gr Partition RL-22 Winchester CCI250 2768 fps 3.340" 0.588" (5 shot)
220gr Hawk RL-22 Winchester CCI250 2741 fps 3.329" 0.488" (3 shot)
Powders used: IMR4350, IMR7828, H4350, H4831, H1000, RL-19, RL-22, Norma MRP
Primers used: CCI250, Fed 215, Rem 9 1/2M
Ruger Hawkeye .358Winchester - 22" barrel - 1.5-5x20mm Leupold VX-III
Bullet Powder Case Primer Velocity COAL Group
200gr Remington Spitzer BL-C2 Winchester Fed 210 2566 fps 2.660" 0.745" (3 shot)
225gr G?K SBT AA2495BR Winchester Fed 210 2478 fps 2.769" 0.165" (3 shot)
225gr Hawk TAC Winchester Fed 210 2468 fps 2.760" 0.455" (3 shot)
225gr Partition TAC Winchester Rem 9 1/2M 2534 fps 2.770" 0.825" (3 shot)
225gr Accubond TAC Winchester Rem 9 1/2M 2556 fps 2.770" 0.634" (3 shot)
250gr Partition TAC Winchester Rem 9 1/2M 2412 fps 2.770" 0.678" (5 shot)
250gr Hawk TAC Winchester Rem 9 1/2M 2336 fps 2.770" 0.628" (5 shot)
Powders used: W748, H380, Varget, H4895, IMR4895, IMR4320, AA2495BR, A2495BR, BL-C2, Ramshot TAC
Primers used: Fed 210, Fed 210 Gold, Fed 210 Match, Rem 9 1/2, Rem 9 1/2M

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