Popular Muzzleloading Bullets, Ballistic Coefficients and What They Mean
It should surprise no one that there is very little difference in the flight characteristics of most .45 caliber projectiles of the same shape and weight, because there isn't much and never has been. Without exception, 300 grain class bullets are better terminal performers than their 250 grain counterparts. Doc White has gone as far as suggesting that under 300 grain bullets should be voluntarily banned in privately owned hunting areas.
In general, 250 grain jacketed hollow point bullets are best avoided, although at relatively low velocities the 250 grain Hornady XTP is a proven performer, if you don't hit heavy bones. Barnes all-copper bullets have essentially no velocity limitation when it comes to muzzleloaders, so if you can't break the 250 grain malady for some reason, the Barnes T-EZ 250 is a good choice.
Assuming a 2000 fps launch velocity, the 300 grain #4500 Hornady Hollow Point has a +/- 3 inch Maximum Point Blank Range (MPBR) of 184 yards. At 2100 fps MV, the MPBR is 193 yards. At the same 2000 fps MV, a Barnes Original 300 grain Semi-Spitzer Soft Point has a MPBR of 194 yards and at 2100 fps, 202 yards. You thus gain about 10 yards of maximum range by using the ballistically more efficient and heavier semi-spitzer (pointed) bullet, at the price of increased recoil.
Debates about ballistic coefficients, as you can see, are largely pointless, as all the noise is about a lousy 10 yards of MPBR with a 2000 fps load. Either load is a more than sufficient 200 yard load, if you know your trajectory and windage.
The only bullet that qualifies as a significantly longer range projectile is the Parker Match Hunter. At 2000 fps, its MPBR is 198 yards; at 2100 fps, 208 yards.
The primary benefit isn't less drop, it is less wind drift. Our 2000 fps, 300 grain Hornady #4500 HP bullet has 11.74 inches of drift at 200 yards in a 10 MPH cross-wind. Under the same conditions, the Parker 300 grain Match Hunter has only 5.94 inches of wind deflection at 200 yards.
Fail to compensate for a 10 mph crosswind at 200 yards with the Hornady 4500 and it is highly probable you will have a bad hit, despite a perfect vertical hold. With a Parker Match Hunter, it is likely you can just go pick-up your deer.
Obviously, we can improve those figures a bit with even higher launch velocities, contingent on how much additional hearing damage and recoil abuse you want to inflict upon yourself. There is a reason no one in their right mind hunts whitetail with a .458 Win. Mag. rifle and it isn't because a .458 won't kill a deer.
Muzzleloading Bullet Ballistic Coefficients
Notes on Bullet Wounding Performance
Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.