Offering suggestions to shooters about projectiles for pig hunting is fraught with danger, but what follows is based on 40 years of hunting the animals. I’ve learned a few things about projectiles, even if I did not want to!
Let’s start with a comment about your flat-based or round-nosed soft point, available in all calibres and with a proven track record.
Probably more pork has fallen to flat-based soft points than any other. There’s a place for the round-nose projectile, particularly over water at dusk. It hits hard and within 200m or so is very effective.
In my group of hunting friends, we have tried most calibres from .223 upwards.
The original idea with the .223 was that projectile numbers out of a Ruger Mini-14 (legal at the time) would make up for the lack of projectile mass.
It didn’t work. The owners of the rifles traded them in after one trip and purchased something heavier.
So, what is the minimum? I suggest it’s a .243 Winchester with good-quality projectiles like a Ballistic Tip or a Nosler Partition, both a cut above the basic soft point.
Yes, I know there are others of equal quality, but I haven’t been able to use them all.
The use of Nosler Partitions or the original RWS H-Mantel raises the effectiveness of the cartridge to the next level, in my opinion.
You have to balance out the extra cost against the numbers you expect to fire.
Another consideration is the use of such projectiles at longer ranges more or less in a sniping situation.
A different situation applies to the man walking the swamps where ranges are short and firepower is everything.
You’re on safe ground here when both the .45-70 and .30-30 Winchester more or less rule the roost!
Both are effective, especially combined with a lever action rifle, though the .45/70 has an advantage with its greater projectile weight.
There is also a place for a short-barrelled rifle with a hard-hitting cartridge. I used a 7mm-08 for some time with success, mainly with 175gn projectiles. It was not fast but at short ranges this was not a concern. I sold it to a mate who is still using it.
Out on the plains the rules change. You need an accurate cartridge with longer legs, such as the .308 Winchester, .30-06, .270 and 6.5x55mm, which are ideal for the task.
You can buy an argument on which projectile to use. I’ve used a wide variety from many makers. All have done the job and I do not recall any of our group eliminating a projectile because of a lack of performance.
Looking at my reloading notes, in the .270 Winchester I have used Nosler, Woodleigh and protector points from Brisbane bullet maker Gary Little, all in 130gn weights.
The 6.5x55mm predominately uses the Little protector points in both 140 and 160gn versions. They are deadly at quite conservative velocities.
For the .30/06, I have used a combination of Hornady and Sierra projectiles in the 180-220gn range but the rifle seems to prefer 165gn Hornady soft points.
The two heavier projectiles work okay but the 165 seems to work better. Perhaps it’s a little softer?