SHOT Show 2015: Best Deer Bullets for Penetration, Expansion

Dave Emory of Hornady discusses new bullets and technical aspects about them with interested hunters.

Dave Emory of Hornady discusses new bullets and technical aspects about them with interested hunters.

The 300-pound-plus 10-pointer was the king of the Canadian hill it stood upon, and it was about to take all that my 165-grain electrochemically bonded lead core bullet could deliver. My shoulder shot dropped the buck in its tracks, and finding the mushroom-shaped lead underneath its skin was a thing of beauty.

By Darren Warner

The annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show provided me with the perfect opportunity to talk deer hunting bullets with ammunition manufacturers’ ballistics experts. Today there are literally dozens of bullet options and configurations that’ll do the job, but which ones should deer hunters be using in the field?

It used to be that we focused on deep-penetrating bullets that resulted in pass-through shots and ample blood trails. Today we know that bullet expansion is just as important, as it creates large wound channels and destroys vital organs, resulting in clean, ethical kills. The right deer bullet balances deep penetration with organ-crushing expansion in a variety of hunting conditions.

For deer hunters, cup-and-core, spiral point bullets with lead tips are hard to beat. They shoot straight, expand well and will knock the stuffing out of deer. Hornady Interlock and American Whitetail bullets fit into this category, delivering utmost accuracy and ballistic efficiency (

“The American Whitetail bullets give you 75 percent weight retention, and the lead tip provides quick expansion, explained Hornady ammo technician Dustin Tonniges. “Hunters who shoot regularly shoot long distances should use a bullet with a little more expansion, like our SST series.”

Finally, solid copper bullets have caught on with a lot of deer hunters. They may only have 55 grains of powder, but they provide 97 percent or more weight retention, dropping even the stoutest buck.

Hornady 6.8mm/.270 Cal. GMX copper alloy 100 gr. bullet