River Valley Outdoors
In the past, I reloaded ammunition to save money and fine tune my big game loads. Tolerances, in those days, must have been less and my hand-loaded ammunition always outperformed the regular brand-named ammo companies.
Today’s ammunition manufacturers produce quality ammo that easily surpasses any reloading effort on my part. The only reason for me to reload ammo anymore would be to save a few dollars. Putting the components together does save money, and it doesn’t take very long to put a box or two of your favorite cartridges together.
My first attempt at hand loading happened during my late-teens when a close friend introduced me to the basic Lee Loader Hand Press. The simple outfit fit into a shoe box and produced ammo for any thing that fired a straight-wall cartridge.
With the Lee hand press my friend and I enjoyed plenty of inexpensive trips to the range, and also learned how to load exceptionally-accurate ammunition.
I don’t reload as much as I used to, but have noticed a trend that should excite any shooter, especially hunters. Ammunition manufacturers today offer cartridges loaded with the most premium bullets available, and the latest technology produces bullets that far exceed what hunters have been used to in the past.
Two bullet manufacturers that I have used extensively, Barnes (barnes.com) and Nosler (nosler.com), produce modern projectiles that outperform any bullet from the past. The new designs make it possible for hunters to use lighter bullets in any caliber that perform as good, if not better, than heavier bullet of a different design.
A lighter bullet can be driven faster with the same amount of powder, increases the speed of the bullet, and shoots with less trajectory – a flatter-shooting round with just as much terminal shock and penetration of a heavier bullet.
Rifles with calibers that used to be considered marginal can now be used to take large-bodied whitetails if hunters go with a premium bullet. Calibers like the .223, .243, or 22/250 would be just fine to use on even the largest whitetails in Maine.
Another great plus for these modern bullets is that they penetrate further, usually going completely through the animal. Bullets that provide more penetration with lots of energy tend to produce a more humane kill. Whitetails that I’ve use the Barnes or Nosler bullets on don’t go very far.
A 700-pound bull moose I shot at 200 yards, with a 150-grain Nosler bullet in .308 Winchester, took one leap and expired immediately. Several big deer dropped instantly, and a few others ran less than fifty yards. The new, high-tech bullets really do their job.
Federal Premium Ammunition (federalpremium.com) uses both Noslers and Barnes bullets in their premium loads. The premium bullets do cost a little more, but I like their “premium” performance.
Hunters that do their own reloading can save money, as pointed out above, so I save a little by using the high-tech bullets in my hand loads. For target shooting at the range, I buy less expensive ammo in a matching bullet weight. That way, I can shoot more for less – an inexpensive way to increase my shooting ability. Then when its time to go hunting, I break out the high-tech ammo, sight it in using a minimal amount of “more costly” ammo, and I’m ready for the field.