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12 responses to “Adjusting to Hunting with Copper Ammo”

  1. Sam Sotiropoulos

    Excellent piece! Certainly relevant in a food blog as both flora and fauna require harvesting to make it to our table. I don’t rightly recall the last time I ever heard of a deer or pheasant that walked up and knocked on someone’s door asking to be turned into steaks and roast…

    I am curious, do you make your own ammunition? Does making copper bullets require a more specialized process than lead ones?

  2. Amanda Louden

    Hey there, We cooked up your fish tonight. I posted about it:

    Super yum! Thanks again.

  3. Mike

    I’ve had good luck with the Barnes X-Bullet (that you’re using) as far as accuracy goes. See: for proof. That was 3 shots @ 100 yards from my new 6.8mm. I know its not a 5 shot (or more) group – I was working up some loads and getting an idea of what this thing wanted.

    I’ve no idea why you’re having issues with them, other than to say your rifle simply doesn’t like how federal loaded them up (OAL, powder, something).

    I’d suggest buying some reloading gear (ow $$), and spending some money to find a load that works.

    Too bad you can’t use lead there, my rem 700 .270 REALLY liked the nosler 150gr ballistic tips (sub MOA with over 20+ shots into the same hole).
    As far as hunting with the X-Bullet, I’ve not yet had a chance to shoot anything with it, but I’ve heard some very good things.

    As far as reloading copper vs lead, its the same thing. You just have to work up the loads for the bullet you’re shooting, no matter copper jacketed lead, copper jacketed steel, or all copper.

  4. Phillip

    Hank, with your ability to learn from scratch and your attention to detail, you should have no problem handloading for that .270. It’ll save you significant ducats in a very short time… especially if you spend some time to develop a good load for the rifle. It’s just putting together a recipe, and with experience there’s even room for creative inspiration if you choose to go that route.

    It’s unfortunate that the factory ammo available in non-lead is pretty much a one-size-fits-all prospect, and if your rifle doesn’t like that “size”, then the only thing to do is find a better way… Build a better cartridge.

    Technically, the Barnes TSX (as opposed to the old and properly maligned X bullet) is ballistically superior to many of the existing lead options. The ogive and extra length add stability over longer ranges, and the fact that it doesn’t fragment lends to better penetration and a more consistent wound channel (so if you have to trail something, you can).

    As far as the myth of “stopping power”, never fear. My experience confirms that a well placed shot (both from my own rifle and those of others with whom I’ve hunted)… be it lead or copper… stops anything it hits. A poorly placed shot, on the other hand, doesn’t. However, copper tends to offer a little more leeway, since it will over-penetrate, which means a poor angle through heavy bone will still reach the important stuff, where a lead bullet will often fragment or stop.

    True, there are others who’ve seen differently, but I’d be willing to bet that every animal that ran a significant distance was poorly hit to begin with, and the composition of the bullet made no real difference.

    Once you find a powder and configuration that suit your .270, you should have a phenomenal rifle that is more than adequate for those long shots (although, for the most part, I don’t like shooting over 300 yards at anything with a heartbeat… unless it’s shooting back).

    The lead ammo ban sucks. It’s a bad law, poorly implemented. But it is the law. Best to find a good way to live with it.

  5. Lead Ban Chronicles - I’d Rather Fight than Switch - The Hog Blog - The Hog Hunting Blog

    [...] than the old, lead ammunition.  This, as evidenced on the blogs of my friends Hank and Holly, the HunterAnglerGardnerCook and the NorCal [...]

  6. T. Michael Riddle

    So far Hank, My Weatherby 300 Mag. Ultra Light with Fluted Barrel seems to be performing the same with the Fed. Premium, 180 Grain Barnes Triple Shock Copper, as it did with the Trophy Bonded 180 Grain Lead Ammo.

    Although, like Phillip, I have a comfort range when out hunting and that is at the most, 200 yards.
    I have shot (even Jackrabbits) out at 300 yards but still feel a little uneasy doing so.

    Not much left of the meat when I shot at those long distances, I am not sure of the ballistic reasons why, but there seems to be more meat damage when shooting at more than 150 yards.

  7. Peter

    Just come to my house and you can kill our deer with a 9-iron. Hell, use a putter if you like a challenge.

  8. Ryan

    Hank, you’re having more and more influence on me. It looks like I might be out hunting later on this month. Deer offal, here I come!

  9. Kevin

    Copper, heh? We’ve been converted to steel shot for a few years now – maybe 3-5 years. The cost has moderated, and other than going up a shot size or two for birds, I can’t say I notice much difference. That said, I don’t shoot much either, and I don’t think those regs apply to rifle shells here.

  10. Alex

    Hi Hank,

    I’m a big fan of your blog and books. I wonder if, eating as much game meat as you do, you’ve kept up with the recent (since the writing of this article) scientific work that’s come out on lead toxicity in frequent eaters of lead-shot game meat. Do you have any thoughts on the issue? I’m trying to judge if it’s worth thinking about switching to non-toxic shot for upland game birds, but the reporting on it seems so partisan (from both sides!) that it’s hard for me to judge if it would be a prudent or paranoid move.

  11. Dave in California

    Copper bullets are just another of the latest chalenges modern hunters have to face and learn to deal with.

    In Zone D8, it is lead free for big game and non game animals, upland birds excepted. The whole state will be lead free for all species in 6 years, thanks to Gov. Brown.

    What I did, was to buy Barnes 150 grain TSX bullets in .311″ to reload for my .303 Enfield deer rifle. FYI, these “new” copper bullets run up the pressure faster than conventional cup and core lead bullets. I used the book maximum load of BLC-(2) for 150 grain bullets, and only succeeded in making 20 rounds of highly accurate(1 1/2 M.O.A.) but overpressure cartridges. Barnes has no published data in this caliber…

    Now, I’ll have to pull down the remaining cartridges and and re-charge with 10% less powder. TSX shoots straight in my rifle, but I have to slide my rear sight up to the 500 yard setting, just to hit @ 100 yards distance.

    The manufacturers, both powder and bullet, need to publish some data for these premium bullets were now forced to use.

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