Sierra Ballistic Program

Paper Ballistics

Q:  Do  you  think that killing power can be measured by  reading  ballistic tables and comparing velocity and energy figures?  And is kinetic energy a true indicator of cartridge performance?
Or does it leave something to be desired?
Dave Hurley
A:  Velocity,  beyond all doubt is an important factor in killing  power and so, I believe, is the high rotational speed imparted by  initial velocity and barrel twist which does not decrease during  flight to the target. The two combined – high retained velocity  and high  rotational speed of the bullet – can  result in greater  downrange killing power – if it is combined with bullets of good  ballistic shape and the proper construction. The pure energy of  the projectile must be complemented by other factors in order to  be effective, for energy alone does not kill. It must be  effectively transmitted to the game at, and immediately following  impact.  Construction of high velocity bullets is extremely  critical, for if the speed is too high at impact, they may not  penetrate deeply enough. If the velocity is too low, they may  pass through without expanding. Only when combined with properly  constructed controlled-expansion bullets of high ballistic  coefficient is high velocity the factor that many believe it to  be. The fact remains, however, that bullet placement is always  the most important single factor in true killing power, and that  bullet construction commensurate with impact velocity and tissue  destruction runs a close second.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.