Certain people in any hunting circle
will argue that it's not size of the gun, but rather, the bullet that
should be the major focus. When considering a bullet for hunting a person
needs to look at both exterior ballistics and terminal ballistics. Exterior
ballistics refers to how the bullet performs while in the air between
the muzzle and the target. Exterior ballistics are velocity, bullet
drop, point of impact, and accuracy.
While the accuracy of a bullet should definitely be considered, it is
not necessary for a gun to shoot a sub-1 inch group at 100 yards in
order to hit an elk in the vitals at even 300 yards. This is not to
say that a 9-inch group at 100 yards is acceptable. In general, if the
bullet and rifle can print a 2-inch group at 100 yds. it will likely
be good enough to bring hunting.
Terminal ballistics, on the other hand, takes a look at what the bullet
does while inside or passing through the animal. If the exterior ballistics
of a bullet are within reason, a look at what that bullet is capable
of doing inside the animal is more important. Bullets with too light
of a jacket, especially if fired from too high powered of a rifle at
close range can explode on impact and provide little to no penetration.
On the other hand, a bullet with a heavy jacket in the same situation
can pass through even a bull elk and not expand at all, leaving only
a small exit wound and hence making the animal hard to track. Many would
argue that heavier bullets are better; this is not always the case.
Although a heavier bullet holds its velocity better downrange and has
more hitting power, it also could expand less due to a heavier jacket.
Heavier bullets also drop and kick more, possibly affecting accuracy.
Going with a mid- weight bullet would be a preferable route to take
providing the bullet structure is adequate for hunting.
Any bullet with a structure that provides controlled expansion as well
as good weight retention is adequate. Most bullet manufactures have
these offerings; the Nosler Parition being the most popular. A controlled
expansion jacket, especially when coupled with a partition that aids
in greater weight retention is a good combination. Always remember,
even though your gun may not print as tight of a group with a premium
hunting bullet, the most important thing is making a clean kill.