Green Boxes – By: Mike Price

| 21 August 2011 | 2 Comments

As I was working on a long-range hunting load for my 300 WM, I had an existential experience, you might say, a catharsis. You know, a bringing to the surface of some deep repressed emotion in an effort to identify a nagging truth that keeps popping up and antagonizing me. I had tried Amax, Berger and Sierra Game Kings, and guess what? The Sierra Game King won the day on accuracy. I really tried to get the same consistency out of the Amax and the Berger, but my rifle would not cooperate with me. I asked myself, why was I working on another load when I already have 10 loads for my Savage 116FHSS 300WM, all of which provide 100 yards accuracy under an inch? Why another one? They do allow me the versatility of being game and condition specific when in the field, but why another load? I just wanted a 600yd load, to use on long shots down gas lines and for shooting across big open fields.

I will admit that I am at a point in my life, where I am tired of trying to always tweak the next load, the next miracle bullet, and then labor in the field hoping that it delivers and meets my expectations or at least in some way comes close to the published hype. I have through the years taken a lot of game and enjoyed my hunting very much, but find myself always haunted by the green boxes sitting on my shelves. It seems like they have eyes and are gazing at me in disbelief, for not using them as much as I have in the past.

For 30 years there has been this green thread laced throughout all of my experience of shooting, reloading, hunting and taking game. Yes, the foundation for my experience with hand loads and using them on game – was first laid years ago with Sierra bullets. From time to time I would continue that green thread, weaving it through my experiences in the field. Funny thing though, I don’t kill anymore game nor do I kill game any better with the new whiz bang, super-duper bullets of today in all those years with Sierra bullets. In fact, when I culled game over a two-year period, it was the Sierra Game King bullets that did the majority of that work. And when I switched to a bonded bullet like the Speer Hot Core, the Swift Scirocco or a monolithic bullet like the Barnes X during that time – I found myself quickly going back to the Sierras, especially the 165gr HPBT. For more than 30 years now, I have taken coyote, deer, hogs, black bear, bobcat, beaver, coon, and wild dogs with conventional cup core bullets. I have close personal friends that have taken more than one bull elk with 165gr Sierra Game King SBT out of a 300 WM and 300 WSM.

Through the years I have taken game with Sierra, Nosler, Remington, Swift, Hornady, Barnes, Speer, Hawk, Woodliegh, and Winchester bullets. I have experienced these different makes of bullets in the field, and they have given me an empirical understanding of bullet performance. In looking back through all my diary notes, Sierra bullets have dispatched 75% of all the game I have taken in the field.

With that said, it brings home the following point. I find myself gravitating back to those green boxes. Even though there are many options out there for me to use, when it comes to different types of bullets – and I have certainly tried many of them on game. I think I know why I keep coming back to Sierra. The reason is simple! They are consistently accurate, predictable in the field, and most of all, they dispatch game efficiently and with remarkable quickness. When a hunter puts a premium cup core bullet where it is supposed to go, and uses the appropriate weight and design for the game hunted – they will have outstanding success.

I have found Sierra bullets to be heads and shoulders above the many choices out there, especially when it comes to being consistently accurate over the range of different cartridges and rifles I have owned. I am talking about hunting loads and bullets, not match loads, because I don’t compete in matches. I am not saying that other bullets that I have used in developing hunting loads are not as accurate. Some specific loads using other bullets have been more accurate at times, but in the overall use of bullets for my different rifles and cartridges when loading for accuracy Sierra has been the most consistent. My main hobby through the years has been developing loads, then taking them to the field and testing them on game. After all these years, I still tend to reach for that familiar green box. This is especially true, when I am having trouble getting accuracy with a certain cartridge and rifle combination, while using different makes of bullets.

It is easy to be caught up in the popular notion – that only bonded or solid copper bullets are the best choice for use in the field. I have not experienced problems with cup core bullets in taking game through the years, before the advent of all the new specialized bullets of today. So, what has changed? The cup core bullets have not changed! Therefore, an obvious prejudice and bias for bonded or monolithic type bullets developed in my thinking. Why not? They were touted as the next best thing since sliced bread and everybody who was anybody was using them. Why would I want to be different and resist the obvious? Frankly, through the years I have had to track more game farther when using bonded or solid copper bullets than when using cup core bullets. I consider Sierra and Berger to be premium bullets. Premium bullets are not limited to just bonded or monolithic designs, by any stretch of the imagination.

Years before using the bonded bullets and later the all copper bullets, I dispatched hogs, whitetail, mule deer and black bear with cup core bullets. Success was the order of the day when using these conventionally designed bullets. We have been bombarded over the last 20 years with the notion that conventional cup core bullets are not worth the effort and much less dependable when taking game. It is almost as if the marketing of bullets today has been successful in creating the notion – that the only real premium bullets are either bonded or solid copper. I have been at times just as guilty as many who have bought into the notion that Sierra bullets and other cup core bullets are not dependable – when taking game from coyotes to bear – and that is simply not true. I used them and have not experienced any lose of game, and we are talking about a lot of game taken with cup core bullets.

Amazing how we will adopt an idea or belief, because someone wrote an article in a national publication. Yet, the new concept (without a bonded or all copper bullet we can’t have real performance) that we have been encouraged to accept is undermining what we have actually experienced in the field – telling us that our experiences are inferior. Yep, let’s throw out all the empirical evidence of a lifetime spent in the field, because something comes along that seems to have more bells and whistles. We are told it is better and who are we to question things? We are just the average hunter, who goes out year after year with bullets that have worked for years, and got the job done. Now we are told there is a new and better bullet in town and our old bullets just won’t cut the mustard. I agree that the newer bullets are better for some applications, as the older cup core bullets are better for other applications – but the idea being pushed in some quarters today, is that we need to drop what we have been using and only use the new design exclusively. Yes!! The do it all better bullet for true performance in the field – while we are left with that nagging question that looms in our mind, “how did we get it done in the field for all these years, without this new wonder bullet?”

When one considers the devastating performance on game, the accuracy that is consistently achieved with Sierra and Berger type bullets – plus the bang for the buck spent – they are still a viable option for the hunter today. I for one could in all honesty use bullets that come out of those green boxes sitting on my shelves, for the rest of my hunting life – and not be disappointed. I am looking to simplify my game specific loads, by following my own empirical experiences of proven success through the years in the field – I’m popping the top on those green boxes more often.

Wait, what about those big animals like elk, moose and brown bear? There is an impressive list of hunters who have used conventional cup core bullets to dispatch the big ones here in North America. Isn’t it great that we can use the bullets we have come to like and that gets the job done for us – whether it is one of the old bullets or one of the newer designs. That is what is so great about hunting in America – we have so many good options. But to say that only the newer designs will give you consistent performance in the field on game is simply not true.

This last season, like those earlier seasons in my hunting life, I decided to switch from my use of bonded or homogenous copper bullets and used only Sierra bullets. That familiar satisfying experience took place again – game on the ground in short order. Those Green Boxes – they still have the same good stuff inside of them.




Category: Guns & Gear

Comments (2)

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  1. Barry Hattingh says:

    I am switching from Nosler and Norma 180gr to Sierra 165gr Gamekings in 30-06 after 30 years on kudu, gemsbuck, hartebeest, warthogs and springbok. Will be interesting to see how they perform.

  2. Daniel says:

    Having had had great success out of a 308 with PMP pro-amms, i decided to try the Prohunters in both the 308 and 243. The 180g Prohunters have taken 2 blue wildebeest, 6 blesbuck, 2 waterbuck, 5 warthog and 2 impala so far. All bullets bar 1 exited and showed good expansion. Cup and core bullets are generally better priced and i practise and hunt using the same load. Biggest myth is that to hunt you MUST use Barnes, Nosler etc. Shot placement trumps everytime.

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