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
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.
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
Savage 116FHSS .300 Winchester Magnum
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
||0.725" (3 shot)
||0.678" (3 shot)
||0.663" (5 shot)
|150gr GS HV
||0.798" (3 shot)
|165gr G/K HPBT
||0.228" (5 shot)
|165gr G/K SBT
||0.234" (5 shot)
||0.198" (5 shot)
||0.738" (5 shot)
||0.698" (5 shot)
||0.588" (5 shot)
||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
|200gr Remington Spitzer
||0.745" (3 shot)
|225gr G?K SBT
||0.165" (3 shot)
||0.455" (3 shot)
||Rem 9 1/2M
||0.825" (3 shot)
||Rem 9 1/2M
||0.634" (3 shot)
||Rem 9 1/2M
||0.678" (5 shot)
||Rem 9 1/2M
||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