Bullets & Ammunition

Bullet types

The oversized bullet - used in almost all classic lead bullets and in some monolith bullets. The barrel rifling has grooves, which are the spaces that are cut out and ridges, which are called lands. The lands will press into the bullet jacket or coating, resulting in a gas seal while the bullet spins through the barrel. With lead bullets, the soft lead core allows the jacket deformation, and in monolithic bullets, either relief grooves are cut into the bullet or a smoothing coating is applied, which is then cut by the barrel lands.

The undersize bullet - as produced e.g. by SAX. The chamber throat is subjected to the greatest thermomechanical stress and therefore suffers wear the fastest. Throat erosion is often the main determining factor of a gun's barrel life. The undersized design is actually too slim, in diameter, for the barrel and would normally fall into the rifling. To guarantee the gas seal, oversized ribs / bands are applied to the bullet. The advantage is that the throat is not stressed so dramatically as with a normal bullet design. The disadvantage is that the bullet react more sensitive to barrels that are shot out or not 100% accurate rifled.

Deformation bullet - NORMA Ecostrike (oversize, with release groove at the back)

You can see well the land marks in the bullet body that have rubbed off the nickel plating.

Partial fragmentation bullet - SAX KJG (undersized)

You can see well how the lands rubbed off the guide bands, but did not touch the bullet body.

Bullet construction

Two types of bullet construction are usually found in hunting bullets.

  • The deformation bullet - The bullet mushrooms within the target to twice or even more of the actual bullet diameter, but does not emit fragments. It therefore retains close to 100% of the bullet weight.
  • The partial fragmentation bullet - The bullet initially mushrooms in the target and then releases predefined bullet fragments into the game body. The fragments cause secondary wounds to the internal organs and these subsequently lead to a quicker demise of the game.

Bullet material

  • Copper - with a density of 8920 kg/m³ belongs to the heavy metals. Ammonia solvents are needed to clean the barrel.
  • Tombak - is the classic jacket material for lead bullets. Tombak is a type of brass with a copper content greater than 67%.
  • Brass - is a copper alloy with up to 40% zinc. Brass may also contain proportions of lead. The lead occurs especially in machined optimized brass, as the lead greatly improves the ability of machining. The lead, which is less noble than brass, separates quite easily from the composite material during deformation and weathering. Therefore, brass bullets emit high levels of lead, especially at the beginning.

There are numerous opinions about bullets and calibers. Therefore, I would like to describe 2 bullet designs or ammunition types with which I personally have had very good experiences:

  • The lead-free copper bullets from SAX, KJG & BCS.
  • The leaded NORMA PH bullet. (Woodleigh)

Copper bullet SAX BCS - partial fragmentation bullet.

With an increasing caliber size, the initial velocity of the bullets decreases, which makes the principle of the hollow point opening, increasingly difficult due to the reduction of the hydrodynamic dynamic pressure at the target.

After several attempts, a design consisting of a larger 2-stage hollow point bore with a groove (predetermined breaking point) and a plastic tip prevailed. In contrast to the ballistic cap of the KJG-SR bullets, the tip of the BCS bullets is designed as a plug made of solid material, which tapers downward in diameter and adapts to the two stage diameter design of the hollow point. On impact, the tip does not break off, as with the KJG-SR bullet and exposing the hollow point. Instead, it is pressed deeply into the bore of the BCS hollow point, thus acting as a mechanical wedge that opens the bullet tip.

The advantage: The response of the BCS bullets is reliably guaranteed at significantly lower impact velocities! Similar to the KJG-SR bullets, the BCS bullet undergoes a deformation phase before it partially fragmented, which causes a cross-sectional doubling of the bullet in the range of 3 - 12 cm after penetration into the target medium. This positive characteristic of the deformation bullets causes a high-energy output with an excellent shock and stopping effect.

After reaching the breaking strain limit of the special alloy, a few large effective splitters are emitted in the range 12 - 25 cm. The high mass of the splitters (approx. 20% of the bullet mass) causes a so-called splitter impact, similar to an internal shotgun shot. That is creating an enormous additional shock and stopping effect and brings the game quickly and safely down.

The final separation of the splitters, after approx. 25 cm penetration depth, creates again a caliber size bullet and forms an absolutely shoulder and directionally stable solid with enormous depth effect.

On a buffalo hunt, all four buffalo had an exit wound, whether with the Sax .450/400 N.E. 3" (182 grain), the Sax 450 N.E. 3 1/4" (353 grain) or the Sax .470 N.E. (378 grain). No buffalo covered an escape distance over 10 m. Subsequent frontal firing on the previously severed head resulted in a complete penetration of the skull area below the boss as well as an approximately 20 cm thick tree trunk behind it.

To prove the effect on plains game, an impala was shot at approx. 75 m with the Sax .450/400 N.E. 3" (182 grain),). The bullet responded very well even with weak game. The Impala was shot at a slight angle on the right side behind the shoulder, with the exit wound lying on the left side shoulder bone. The Impala showed a clearly hit and laid after about 20m, where it died immediately. The internal organs, especially the lungs, were extensively destroyed. The meat destruction of the game was very low on the left shoulder, otherwise zero!  

Source: SAX Munitions GmbH

For elephant hunting with frontal head shots through strong and very dense tissue, classic full metal jacket bullets should continue to be used, as the fragment release is not effective.  

NORMA African PH 

Deformation- & Full Metal Jacket Bullets

Norma has partnered with Woodleigh to offer the world's best ammunition for hunting dangerous game. The production of the Norma PH ammunition line begins with the renowned Norma brass cases, known for superior accuracy. These high quality cases are manufactured from the best raw materials available and to exact tolerances. The case head is annealed to soften the neck, prevent gas leakage and ensure maximum bullet durability!

An obvious feature is the nickel-plated cases. These are used to ensure the most reliable feeding and ejection from rifles whose chamberings are too hot to touch or full of the inevitable African dust. All Norma PH cases are hand tested both before and after loading to ensure accuracy shot after shot.

The next steps are to combine optimized powder charges, for maximum ballistic performance and the special Woodleigh bullets. Norma carefully select powder and primers to minimize variations in point of impact from batch to batch. The goal is that you can take a box of Norma PH anywhere in the world and have the same point of impact as the box you use at home.

All components are carefully loaded and precisely tested under the strictest standards in the industry. This ensures proper seating of the bullet and alignment of the primer. The end result? "Norma Professional Hunter Ammunition - the choice of the professionals. "

Woodleigh Full metal Jacket

are the most heavily constructed steel jacketed solids available and using a steel jacket twice as thick as any other in the industry. Made from extra deep drawing grade steel, clad with 90/10 gilding metal alloy. (90% copper: 10% zinc) The jacket is heavy at the nose (0.084") to create extra impact resistance. The base of the bullet is rolled back 90 degrees to provide a double strength heel to prevent core loss on impact.

Woodleigh Weldcore Soft Nose

are made from 90/10 gilding metal (90% copper: 10% zinc) and have up to 0,0629" thick jacket walls. All jackets are made by deep drawing through several processes and are specifically profiled internally for optimum jacket wall taper. This gives them the feature of reliable controlled expansion at various impact velocities.

Maximum retained weight is obtained by fusing the pure lead to the gilding metal jacket, hence the name 'Weldcore'. This minimizes fragmentation of the nose section as it mushrooms, so that deep penetration for rapid and humane killing.