05.02.2023 | By Remington Contributor
Hunting with copper ammunition and projectiles is on the rise in the world of big game. There are plenty of performance benefits that come from shooting copper – not to mention the fact certain hunting clubs, wildlife management areas, and even states (Thanks, California) now only allow harvesting deer, elk, hogs, and other critters with copper. When you’ve got a buck in your sights and a full freezer on the line, can copper compete with traditional lead bullet performance when it matters the most?
Factors to consider when using copper hunting ammo:
Less dense and lighter-for-caliber than traditional lead projectiles, copper bullets are made from one solid piece of metal. When picking a copper bullet, look for long projectiles that stabilize well in flight and like the twist rate of your given rifle…meaning it’s important to choose the right caliber/cartridge when hunting plus test your ammunition at the distances you’re planning on shooting before you hunt. Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, and don’t bring your 243 Win. to shoot a massive black bear at 500 yards, even if you are shooting tough copper bullets.
Copper bullets do not fragment, and penetrate deeply. Constructed from a solid, there can be no separation of the bullet’s jacket and core. These bullets retain their weight to penetrate through thick muscle tissue, or even bone, to reach vital zones. Lacking a soft lead core, copper bullets, without design features enabling expansion on target, (hollow points, exterior nose skiving, polymer tips) may “pencil through” game, creating a small wound channel and failing to transfer enough force inside your buck, bull, or bruin.
Twice as hard as lead, copper ammo really packs a punch. Breaking through shoulders on big game at appropriate velocities is usually not a problem for monolithic copper bullets, making them ideal for hunting larger animals like elk, mule deer, and moose or tougher animals like hogs and buffalo. At closer ranges, copper bullets are less velocity-sensitive than traditional lead cup and core bullets.
Early copper bullets gained something of a less-than-stellar reputation for accuracy with hunters also complaining about dirty copper fouled barrels. Modern copper bullets use driving bands to both increase accuracy by reducing pressure spikes when bullet enters the barrel’s rifling, plus reduce fouling.
Elk, Bear, Moose, Bison, Caribou: With copper ammo, the bigger the game, the better. Shot placement is always key. A well-placed shot with a copper bullet on muscle bound and hormone infused animals like a bull elk in rut, you’ll penetrate to optimal depths and bring a trophy home. Beware! Extremely long-range shots with copper bullets may lack enough retained velocity to expand like a lead core bullet would. Using a ballistic calculator, like Ballistic App, will tell you your copper bullet’s effective range.
Dangerous Game, Tough Exotics: Thinking about testing your hunting skills overseas in Africa or New Zealand? Maybe you’re going to go down to Texas to harvest some exotics. The weight retention of a copper bullet is going to bring the hard-hitting power you need. While copper bullets perform admirably on all big game, they shine on large, tough animals with thick hide, muscle, and bone.
Hogs: Like the tough animals discussed above, copper ammo is a great choice for thick-skinned feral hogs that need deep penetration through thick hide and bone to reach vitals.
Varmint, Coyote: Copper ammo isn’t the best choice for smaller game when you want explosive, rapid energy transfer without over-penetration. Consider bullets like Remington AccuTip-V.
Deer: Whitetail, Mule Deer, Antelope, Blacktail, Coues, etc.: Whitetails, mulies, or any other cervid won’t stand a chance against a piercing copper bullet. While lead bullets work equally well, copper bullets are a great choice at close to far ranges on big bucks of any subspecies.
Goats, Sheep, and related: Thin-skinned animals at far flung ranges like goats or sheep also present a good opportunity for a copper bullet. Like any hunt, ensure your bullet has optimal energy left at the range with which you’ll most likely be taking your shot.