Whitetail Ammo Recipe for Success — 13 Picks for Accuracy, Consistency and Terminal Performance

A rifle is only as good as the ammunition you feed it. The good news is there’s a wide selection of whitetail-centric offerings tailor-made for anchoring North America’s most popular big game animal.

Whitetail Ammo Recipe for Success — 13 Picks for Accuracy, Consistency and Terminal Performance

Whether you’re a fan of traditional jacketed/lead-core, bonded-core, copper or polymer-tipped bullets, there are ammunition offerings available that cover a wide range of personal preferences and price points. And while premium ammo can mean better consistency and performance for the discriminating shootist, in most cases even today’s “budget” ammo will get the job done if the shooter does his or her homework — spending equal amounts of time in the selection process and at the range to ensure accuracy, consistency and terminal performance.

It’s also imperative that hunting retailers have the knowledge needed to help their customers with that process — and have a wide range of ammunition choices on hand to accommodate even the most finicky rifles and their owners.

Every deer hunter wants the assurance of an ethical, lethal result each time he or she tugs the trigger. The first requirement in successfully accomplishing this is accuracy, which means some degree of shooting skill is requisite, along with a rifle/optics/ammunition combination that guarantees consistent bullet placement. For ammunition this often means matching the cartridge/bullet to the environment where the hunt will take place and often to a specific rifle.

First off, it makes sense that ammunition choice matches the hunting situation. Simply put, if open-country long-range shots are the norm, a high-velocity cartridge pushing an aerodynamic, flat-shooting bullet would be the logical choice. Contrast that to a deep-woods hunt, where shots are rarely more than 75 yards and heavy brush is a factor and muscle-bound cartridges loaded with heavy-for-caliber bullets will likely get the nod. Second, every rifle’s appetite for ammo differs slightly — or sometimes a lot. While one particular brand might consistently shoot MOA in one rifle, it might perform poorly in another. And that means testing various options till you find one your rifle prefers.

The author experienced success in Oklahoma by first finding a bullet that matched well with his rifle.
The author experienced success in Oklahoma by first finding a bullet that matched well with his rifle.

Consistency relies on the implementation of high-quality components — and often comes with a higher price tag. Ammunition with a “premium” moniker will likely produce more consistent accuracy and improved terminal performance. And if you’re willing to pay a premium price, you will typically get what you paid for. However, it often goes back to what your rifle likes. I’ve had some rifles that shun premium ammunition — preferring instead run-of-the-mill factory offerings.

But when the bullet hits the bone — or preferably soft-tissue vitals — it’s terminal performance that really counts. Accuracy and consistency mean very little if the bullet doesn’t perform well once it finds its mark. Deep penetration and massive controlled expansion are typically the flavor of the day and most ammunition tailored to whitetail hunting meets this criteria.

It’s up to you, the retailer, to help your customers understand the ammo selection process and to make sound choices based on the mentioned principles. If you have the knowledge and the selection of ammunition to help them choose a cartridge/bullet combo that makes the most sense for the type of hunting they do and then convince them to run several options through their rifles to find the one that performs best, only then will they realize their rifle’s full potential.

Check out these 13 selections for starters — the key is providing a wide assortment of ammo for a wide variety of rifles and whitetail hunting situations.

Barnes VOR-TX 6.5 Grendel

Barnes’ all-copper VOR-TX ammunition in 6.5 Grendel produces great expansion, maximum weight retention and excellent accuracy — handload precision in a factory-loaded round. Loaded with the newly developed 115-grain TAC-TX bullet, optimized for the 6.5 Grendel cartridge, it provides excellent pass-through penetration and devastating energy transfer, effective for stout predators such as coyotes at long range and wild hogs. All-copper TAC-TX rifle bullets have a proven reputation for accuracy, are designed for controlled, double-diameter expansion and are effective at close or long range. These bullets also track straighter through barriers and have better weight retention than lead-core bullets, according to Barnes. MSRP: $35/box of 20. Contact: www.barnesbullets.com


Browning BXC Controlled Expansion Terminal Tip

The Browning BXC Big Game Controlled Expansion Terminal Tip bullet was designed specifically for large, tough animals such as elk, moose and large, northern whitetails. An anodized aluminum tip increases accuracy in flight and then drives back into the bonded bullet upon impact, creating consistent, controlled expansion. This expansion is controlled further through the use of a gradually thickening jacket profile and bullet skiving. The result is consistent penetration through tough hide and bone with maximum trauma to the vital areas where it counts. In addition to other big game calibers, BXC is now available in .28 Nosler, its 155-grain bullet producing a muzzle velocity of 3,250 fps and exiting the barrel with 3,635 foot-pounds of energy. MSRP: $55-$65/box of 20. Contact: www.browningammo.com


Federal Premium HammerDown Ammo

Federal Premium HammerDown ammunition is designed for optimal cycling and overall performance in lever-action rifles, with load velocities customized to produce superior ballistics and terminal performance in this short-barrel rifle platform. The construction of the molecularly bonded soft-point or hollow-point bullets have also been adjusted for the best accuracy and expansion at those velocities. The geometry of each round’s case and bullet ensures flawless cycling through tubular magazine and typical lever-action feeding systems. For the initial launch of the HammerDown product line, Federal selected the most popular lever-action rifle calibers: .327 Fed. Mag., .357 Mag., .44 Rem. Mag., .45 Colt, .30-30 Win. and .45-70 Govt. MSRP: $19.99-$43.99/box of 20. Contact: www.federalpremium.com


Fiocchi Extrema 6.5 Creedmoor

Fiocchi Extrema 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition is loaded with a 130-grain Swift Scirocco bonded bullet that leaves the barrel at 2,820 fps — specifically designed for today’s fast, flat-shooting long-range rifles. Its secant ogive, 15-degree boat-tail base and polymer tip create a sleek, aerodynamic profile that helps maintain downrange velocities and flat trajectories. An extra heavy tapering jacket wall with an internally bonded lead core provides structural integrity, reliable expansion and penetration with over 70 perfect weight retention. Produced with precision cases and reliable Fiocchi primers, this ammunition uses new production, non-corrosive, in boxer-primed reloadable brass cases. Retail: $40.99/box of 20. Contact: www.fiocchiusa.com


Hornady Precision Hunter .300 Win. Mag.

New for 2020, Hornady has added a 178-grain ELD-X .300 Win. Mag. offering to its Precision Hunter ammunition lineup. The ELD-­X bullet is a great load for any hunting situation because of its effective terminal performance at all practical ranges. A streamlined secant ogive with optimum boattail design, highly concentric AMP bullet jackets and Heat Shield tip combine for aerodynamic efficiency. With high velocity — 0 to ­400 yards — impacts, the bullet continually expands throughout its penetration path and retains 50­ to 60 percent of its weight. With long-range low-velocity impacts, the Heat Shield tip drives backward into the bullet for controlled expansion and deep penetration while retaining 85­ to 90 percent of its weight. Retail: $36.52/box of 20. Contact: www.hornady.com


HSM Ammunition Tipping Point

HSM’s new Tipping Point ammunition combines match grade accuracy with extreme terminal results — sure to be a winner with whitetail hunters. Using only the very best cases, primers and powder and the new GameChanger hunting bullet from Sierra Bullets, HSM painstakingly formulated the correct powder charge to assure all four components achieve maximum accuracy and performance for each caliber. Tipping Point is available in nine whitetail-centric calibers: .243 Win., 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5mm Creedmoor, .270 Win., 7mm-08 Rem., 7mm Rem. Mag., .308 Win., .30-06 Springfield and .300 Win. Mag. MSRP: $29.99-$45.99/box of 20. Contact: www.hsmammunition.com


Liberty Ammunition Animal Instinct .30-06

Liberty Ammunition took its Civil Defense projectile design and toughened it up a bit — thickening up the base to increase penetration — to create the Animal Instinct line of hunting ammunition. Its newest offering in the line — the Instinct .30-06 — uses a light-for-caliber 100-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 3,500 fps and 2,700 foot-pounds of kinetic energy with devastating effect, designed to drop animals on the spot. And thanks to its lighter bullet there is also less felt recoil. Each Animal Instinct .30-06 round is spun on a lathe to keep them consistently accurate out to 500 yards. MSRP: $64.95/box of 20. Contact: www.libertyammo.com


Nosler Trophy Grade Long Range

Loaded with the new AccuBond Long Range bullet, Nosler’s Trophy Grade Long Range ammo is designed for hunters and shooters looking for high-performance ammunition loaded with an ultra-high B.C. bonded-core bullet. Developed using a combination of bullet manufacturing techniques unique to Nosler, the design of the AccuBond-LR allows for the highest B.C. possible. Its high-performance boat tail, long ogive and polymer tip combine to make it a sleek, flat-shooting bonded hunting bullet — loaded in Nosler brass for quality, consistency and accuracy that rivals custom handloads. It’s available in a variety of big game loads. MSRP: $54.40-$109.45/box of 20. Contact: www.nosler.com


Remington HTP Copper

Remington HTP Copper ammunition features the venerable Barnes TSX bullet, which has a time-proven reputation for delivering massive knockdown power. This all-purpose hunting line of ammo is available in most popular big game hunting cartridges and is specifically designed for optimum weight retention and terminal performance. The Barnes TSX bullet is precision engineered with four cutting petals that deploy upon impact to inflict enormous wound channels, along with deep penetration and the kind of integrity only a one-piece bullet can deliver — nearly 100 percent weight retention every time. HTP Copper is loaded with top-quality components to provide hunters the fullest measure of confidence in pursuit of large game. MSRP: $42.98/box of 20/.270 Win. Contact: www.remington.com


Sierra .300 AAC Blackout and .223 Rem. GameChanger

The GameChanger hunting bullet is a combination of Sierra’s legendary match accuracy coupled with deadly penetration and quick, controlled expansion. Sierra re-engineered its MatchKing bullet into a hollow-point design for dynamic expansion and fitted it with a transparent green polymer tip for ballistic uniformity. Inside, the GameChanger features a unique construction that utilizes a special lead alloy surrounded by a tough copper jacket that delivers excellent penetration and expansion at a variety of ranges. The GameChanger employs a boattail design for stable flight and increased accuracy and an optimal jacket wall thickness to control expansion and maintain weight retention. Sierra recently added .300 AAC Blackout and .223 Rem. to the GameChanger lineup. MSRP/box of 20: $26.99/.223 Rem; $19.99/.300 AAC Blackout. Contact: www.sierrabullets.com


Sig Sauer Elite Performance Copper

Sig Sauer’s Elite Performance Copper Hunting line of ammunition delivers deep penetration and consistent 1.8X diameter expansion for maximum terminal ballistic performance in a highly accurate big game hunting load. Premium primers are matched to proprietary powder blends to ensure dependable ignition and consistency while a lead free monolithic copper bullet with optimized nose geometry and nickel-plated shell casing delivers reliable accuracy and easy feeding. The Sig Sauer Elite Copper Hunting bullet is California Fish and Game compliant and available in a variety of big game calibers. MSRP: $27.95-$56.95/box of 20. Contact: www.sigsauer.com


Weatherby 6.5 WBY RPM

Weatherby’s 6.5 WBY RPM cartridge is based on a lengthened version of the .284 Winchester. It has a rebated rim, making it compatible with standard .30-06 bolt faces and reloading equipment. However, the large body diameter, low body taper and 35-degree shoulder mean that case capacity is greatly increased, leading to higher velocities. In addition, bullet innovation in the 6.5mm category is highly efficient with less drop and wind deflection than many heavier calibers. All these details culminate into an accurate cartridge that delivers 1,500 foot-pounds of energy at 500 yards. The Weatherby 6.5 WBY RPM comes in three bullet choices —127-grain Barnes LRX, 140-grain Nosler Accubond and 140-grain Hornady Interloc. MSRP: $50-$65/box of 20. Contact: www.weatherby.com


Winchester .350 Legend Power Max Bonded

Winchester has added the .350 Legend to its Power Max Bonded ammunition line for 2020, which uses a proprietary bonding process to fuse its lead core to the copper jacket for maximum retained weight and deep penetration through dense hide and bone. Ideal for hunting big northern whitetail bucks and heavily armored wild hogs, its 160-grain JHP bullet delivers excellent terminal performance on the toughest big game animals. The Winchester .350 Legend perfectly fills several important growth segments in the hunting and recreational shooting market — compliant in states that allow straight-walled cartridges for deer hunting. Extremely low recoil makes it ideal for recoil-sensitive shooters. MSRP: $24/box of 20. Contact: www.winchester.com


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