Choosing The Right Big Game Bullet

By Jace Bauserman

Brown Bear

Bullet choice is important. After all, once a round is triggered, it’s the placement of that bullet and its ability to perform that will lead to a grip-and-grin photo or a sob story. You’ve spent piles of time and money preparing and everything rides on a single projectile. So, make sure that bullet is suited for the animal you’re chasing and meets the requirements of the hunt. Let’s dive in.


When it comes to do-all big game performance, it’s hard not to raise an eyebrow at the Barnes Triple-Shock X. This all-copper hollow point round will hold tight groups on distant targets, and it hits like a ton of bricks. Promising nearly 100 percent weight retention, the bullet delivers deep penetration and large, consistent expansion that will put big game animals down quickly.

If your plan is a sit-and-wait venture over bait or a well-used water source, options are endless. But go-to is the legendary Federal Premium 170-grain Nosler Partition 30-30 Win. With a muzzle velocity of 2,200 fps and 1,354 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards, the load’s partitioned lead-core bullet allows the front half to mushroom on impact, but keeps the back half intact to boost penetration.

The Trophy Copper is another versatile choice. It also features accurate, lethal copper-alloy construction that ensures up to 99 percent weight retention and aggressive expansion. A polymer tip married with a boat-tail boosts the ballistic coefficient, and the tipped bullet cavity means proper expansion across a broad velocity range.

Close To Mid-Range

A staple for any serious big game hunter is the Nosler Partition. This was the first round Federal loaded in the Premium line, and due to its consistency and reliability, it’s still offered across a broad range of your favorite calibers. With the Partition, you get a bullet that creates front-half mushrooming, producing rapid expansion and energy release, and a back half that remains intact to provide penetration and weight retention. This is a great round for the sit-and-wait Midwest whitetailer to those pursuing the toughest animals in North America.

Power-Shok will serve your close- to mid-range needs well on the cheap. A traditional lead-core bullet that provides accuracy and knock-down power, Power-Shok loads have led to the demise of countless big game animals.

Long-Range Game

If the landscape on your hunt calls for distant shots, you want a bullet that provides flat-shooting accuracy and still penetrates deep. Offered in various calibers designed for both deer-sized game as well as larger critters like elk, moose and the like, Terminal Ascent provides match-grade long-range precision in a bonded design that expands both short range and long distance. Sporting a high ballistic coefficient, this bullet features a long, sleek profile and AccuChannel grooving to further boost accuracy across an array of calibers. Designed to reduce wind drift as well as drop, Terminal Ascent showcases a patented hollow-core design that initiates expansion at velocities 200 fps lower than other polymer-tipped bullets on the market. This round is ideal for western hunters chasing game in open landscapes.

Another long-range go-to is the Berger Hybrid Hunter. Engineered for lethal performance on both medium-sized as well as larger game, the bullet, due to its hybrid nose design, blends a low-drag match bullet with a traditional hunting projectile. This bullet ensures superior accuracy across a wider range of popular calibers.

Go Big

It’s a beast of bullet, and Federal designed it specifically for use on big, heavy-boned game. Featuring a bonded jacket and core, the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw was engineered to retain more than 95 percent of the bullet’s weight for ultra-deep penetration. Improving accuracy across all calibers is the grooved shank.

Of course, there are countless other rounds that will serve your bear hunting needs. These are but a few of Federal’s engineered-to-perfection offerings sure to be nightmares for big bruins.

Close To Mid-Range

An ideal choice for medium-sized game at ranges from close-to-far, the Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet features a polymer tip and boat-tail design that provides you both downrange velocity and energy.

Federal built it for deer hunting, and if most of your fall is spent in the whitetail woods, Fusion is right for you. The skived, pre-programmed nose provides consistent expansion and the copper jacket is electro-chemically applied to the core, resulting in a perfectly uniformed jacket.