Hollow point bullets

Why no hollow-point bullets for big game?

Q: There are plenty of hollow-point bullets available for varmints, but very few are available in calibres and weights for use on big game. What is the reason for this?

– Ron Perkins

A: Jacketed hollow-point bullets designed for varmint hunting perform very well for their intended purpose, which is explosive expansion when little resistance is encountered.

Most of the ones I have used, however, were more inclined to ricochet when striking the ground at long range where impact velocity had dropped off. Soft-point bullets with lead core exposed at the nose are less likely to do this.

Bullets intended for big game must have a thicker jacket in order to control expansion. Bullet makers have found it difficult to design a hollow-point that will expand to a larger frontal area at reduced impact velocities. 

If the jacket is too thick, the hollow nose will collapse inward and prevent the bullet from expanding.

If the jacket is too thin, the bullet will expand too readily and lack penetration on game.

This is why controlled-expansion bullets with part of the lead core exposed at the nose, and bullets which have tapered jackets and plastic tips to initiate expansion have proved so successful. 

All-copper monolithic bullets like the Barnes X-Bullet, Hornady GMX and Nosler E-Tip are exceptions because the walls of their nose cavities can be made quite thin for low-velocity expansion without seriously affecting weight retention.




Like it? Share with your friends!

What's Your Reaction?

super super
fail fail
fun fun
bad bad
hate hate
lol lol
love love
omg omg
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.