Dr. John J. Woods, PhD.
6/7/2012 7:54 AM
Let’s face the facts. American factory manufactured ammunition is the best it has ever been. It’s better than any factory boxed ammo available from anywhere in the world. I can appreciate you guys that want to custom reload you own stuff, but it's not for me. Factory stuff is as good as it gets and way better than I can produce off my workbench.
The Really Good Stuff
Be honest, have you ever had a reputable American ammo makers product fail? I’ve only been shooting guns and ammo for about 56 years, give or take a couple. I’ve shot a lot - rifles, shotguns, and handguns. In all that time I can say I’ve only had new factory ammo fail one time. Well, or so I thought anyway.
That was on an antelope hunt in Wyoming on October 10, 1989. Why do I remember that date so well? My first daughter came into this world three weeks early that day, while I was on this hunt. That’s another really long story.
I sighted the antelope and pulled the trigger. Nothing! I tried it again, nothing. On the third try, I took my antelope. When I got home believe it or not, there was a postcard from the rifle manufacture notifying me of a factory recall of the model of rifle I used on the hunt for a weak firing pin bolt spring. Hmmmm. Not the ammo after all. The spring was replaced and the rifle never failed again.
Either I have been exceedingly lucky all these years shooting factory ammo, or the stuff really is that good. I think the ammo was great back then, but even better now.
Quality Control at its Peak
I was on tour once in an ammunition factory to see firsthand how really good ammo is made. One of the engineers took me over to a 55-gallon drum full of loaded ammunition that the inspectors had rejected. I picked up probably 20-30 individual rounds in an attempt to discover the flaws. All I spotted were a few scratches on the brass cases. There were no canted bullets, no unseated primers, nothing I could determine what the inspectors might have turned down.
The technician asked what I thought they did with the rejects. I assumed they pulled the bullets, and recycled the brass. “Nope, the factory lets those of us who hunt use the ammo. What we do with it is kill deer, elk, and moose.” I mean, what else do you really need to know? Would an ammunition engineer take bad ammo to use on his own hunts? I don’t think so.
With today’s manufacturing technology using modern computer controlled equipment the emphasis is on ISO type quality compliance. The product rejection rate is virtually nil. When everything on these machines is dialed in, it pops out one perfect round after the other, in some cases tens of thousands a day. Sample inspections and firing tests proves the reliability, function, and accuracy to be at an incredible level. They just don’t make bad stuff when everything is working right. Then final inspection tries to catch any potential problems that might crop up. Few do.
Top American Brands
If you buy factory ammunition that is American made, I am betting it is one or more of four primary brands. Those would be alphabetically Federal, Hornady, Remington, and Winchester. I use ammunition of different types in different calibers from all of these companies. It is all very good ammunition.
I doubt if I pulled 30-06 rounds from all four brands and ran them through a test course, one couldn’t hardly tell the results of one from the other. The differences in the brands might be another powder used, paper ballistics might differ, bullet types and weights might not be exactly the same across like rounds, some might offer customized bullets for specialized hunting, etc. After all, “variety is the spice of life.”
For my main hunting rounds on deer up through elk, I have traditionally used Federal Premium loads with the fine Nosler Partition bullet or Winchester Ballistic Silvertip ammo. Both have performed flawlessly and brought home a significant amount of game over the years.
The 150 grain Winchester Silvertip load I use in my Browning A-Bolt in 300 Winchester Short Magnum has now collected 14 white-tailed bucks in fifteen shots and six does in six shots. Yep, I missed one buck. This rifle set up with a Leupold VX-III scope has that unique chemistry some hunters only see once in a lifetime. I guess I have mine. Now, I think I shall turn its performance to hog hunting.
Accurate, Deadly, Dependable Gets the Nod
However, for the time being I have fallen in love with the AR-15 platform in .223/5.56mm and its larger brethren in .308. These are my primary tactical hog hunting rifles. I love the AR format and the ability to customize so many things to the Picatinny rails systems. Talk about the cat’s meow….whatever that means…. Let’s just say these are SHWAT™ perfect.
I recently added a Smith and Wesson upper unit in .300 Whisper which we tried out on the Oklahoma deer and hog hunt last year. It’s the boss. I will swap it out for the .223 upper on the Smith MP-15 I already have. Now I just have to ponder over the optics to add. It took me 6 months to pick out a color for a new truck, so I’m concerned about getting this upper optics ready.
But, what ammo shall I use to maximize my performance success on hogs and deer? Here is where I have to make a true confession. I have chosen Hornady for this round. If the tan, black and red packaging or the Zombie green boxes weren’t enough to catch the eye, then peruse their web site offerings. It is customer oriented and loaded with helpful information including an easy to use ballistics calculator.
Joyce Hornady had it right with his idea about accurate, deadly, and dependable. Steve Hornady carries on the tradition. This company was founded in 1949 a year before I was born. They currently manufacture more bullets than any independent manufacturer in the world. Their assembled ammo is certainly top notch, too.
Out of the box Hornady ammo is dead on at the range and deadly accurate on game, with emphasis on deadly. I have yet to find a fault with any Hornady ammunition I have used for either punching paper or taking down game. It is superbly accurate and highly effective on the terminal end. If you have not yet used Hornady ammo for your hunting, especially tactical hog hunting, then I highly recommend it.
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