Everything You Need To Know About Ammunition For Hunting
1. Types of ammunition used in hunting.
Guns for hunting can be air guns, muzzle loaders, shotguns, handguns or rifles. Modern firearm (rifle, handgun, shotgun) nowadays mostly uses the cartridge, which is a package of a bullet, propellant, primer in a case.
The bullet (or the projectile) is on top of the cylinder case which forms a chamber contains a propellant. The case is narrower at the neck that wraps the bullet tightly and wider at the propellant chamber. At the end of the case is the rim, which includes a groove for gripping the case when the bullet projecting out of the muzzle. The primer is on the bottom of the case.
When the primer is ignited by a mechanical or electrical force, it will fire the propellant in the chamber so as to create a great pressure to thrust the bullet ahead. The burning gas pressure is so powerful that the bullet can be propelled with the supersonic velocity (that’s why we only hear the “bang” when the bullet has reached the target).
The cartridges are different in their type of priming (centerfire, rimfire), propellant (black powder or smokeless powder), neck, bottom, rim diameter and type of bullet.
Another type of ammunition that used in air gun, muzzle loader is pellet or shot, which doesn’t include a propellant. The air gun uses a compressed spring or air to propel the pellet, and the muzzle loader loads the pellet with the propellant manually.The shot (in the shotgun round, or muzzle loader) is a lead or iron sphere that can be cast or made by pouring the molten metal into water. And the pellet in air gun is made of soft lead with a tip and a hollow bottom that can be stretched out when the air expanding to seal the muzzle.
Unlike the cartridge which has a case that fits and seals the chamber so as the smaller bullet can freely move in the muzzle while receiving most of the expansive power; the muzzleloader, shotgun and air gun can only operate under low pressure and can deflect the shot trajectory by air leakage.
Of cause, the pellet can be used on other types of firearms, but within firearms using cartridges, there will be little chance to interchangeably use the cartridges of different firearms. Using wrong cartridge can lead to jamming, losing accuracy, breaking the firearm and lethal accidents.
2. What does its name mean?
The shot is named by the size and type of game. For example “#000” size, which has a weight of 82 grains, 9.7mm, used to kill big game, is called “triple-ought buck”. The shot caliber includes 0000, 000½, 000, 00½, 00, 0, 1½, 1, 2 ½, 2, 3, 4 (for bucks), FF, F, TT, T (for waterfowls), BBB, BB, B, 1, 2, 3, 4 (for birds).
The cartridge caliber is the diameter of the projectile (or the internal diameter of the muzzle). It measures in hundredth of an inch, for example a .22 or 22 caliber firearm uses the bullet of 0.22 inches in diameter. Cartridge caliber is often between the range of 17 to 50. 10, 12, 14 calibers can be found in wildcat cartridge and larger calibers such as .577, .600, .700 are only rarely used for dangerous game hunting.
The cartridge was named based on chamber size, not the bullet size. For example the “No. 56 cartridge” has a chamber diameter of 0.56 inches, but the bullet can be .52 or .54 inches. The .56-52 is of 0.56-inch chamber diameter and 0.52 inches in bullet size.
Another convention for naming the cartridge is by its propellant weight. For example, the .30-30 Winchester has the cartridge diameter of .30 inches and propellant weight of 30 grains. Similarly, the .40-70-405 Government stands for the rifle cartridge that has diameter of .40 inches, 70 grains of black powder and 405 grains of bullet.
3. Design factors determine bullet’s efficacy on hunting.
The ideal bullet will have a light weight to increase velocity, streamlined shape to decrease drag, high density to be stable and retains high energy, the cover is hard and friction endurance while the core is soft enough to expand when collide with the target.
The hard spherical pellet will lose it velocity quickly due to its weight and unstreamlined shape, while a uniform, light, long cylindrical bullet will have the greatest range and accuracy.Also, a bullet should be heavy forward and light rearward.
All types of these ammunitions destroy targets not by the explosion, but by penetration and shock. The bullet needs to create a small hole on the entrance and stop within the body of the animal to impart its complete kinetic energy.If it is too powerful and pierce through the body, the destroy energy will be partly lost. And if the bullet breaks up into fragments, the energy will also be dissipated. So the material has to be soft and malleable so that it can be expanded (or mushroomed) when contact with the animal tissues and a little bit drag so that it won’t pass through the body. You should choose a hollow point bullet or at least soft point bullet for this purpose.
4. Choose the right ammunition for your hunt.
You will choose the ammunition base on the type of game, the type of firearm and the range.
As discussed above, air guns, shotguns, rifles.. use different round and cannot be interchanged. The longer chamber can use cartridge of shorter chamber with the same diameter, but the opposite is impossible. Hollow point bullets can be used to the rifle of the same diameter using a pointed bullet, but a soft point one can.
A most air gun and shotgun pellet will use to hunt small games, especially birds an waterfowls. The .22 and .22-250 are for long range and small game, like foxes, rabbits, coyotes. The .300, .30-06, .303, .308, 357 are for big game hunting. There are many other popular cartridges for medium to big games, like 40 S&W, 44 Magnum,45 ACP, 45 Colt, 45-70, 50 BMG, 5.45x39mm.