Thinking of using 5.56 ballistic tip ammo for deer hunting purposes? Here we look at whether that’s a good idea with this particular type of ammunition. Within the deer hunting community, there’s an increasing tendency for people to use 5.56 ballistic tip ammo.
The general consensus seems to be that they offer greater accuracy and allow you to enjoy tighter grouping. There’s also a school of thought that claims that polymer-tipped rounds don’t become malformed as often when being transferred into the chamber from the mag.
Whether this is mere hearsay or based on truth is unclear, but what is evident is that these specially designed-cartridges offer something different. However, rather than going on a long diatribe about what I think about them – I’m simply going to lay the facts out in terms of pros and cons.
5.56 Ballistic Tip Pros
As any decent deer hunter will tell you, the last thing you ever want is for the animal you’re tracking to suffer. As such, you need a round that offers a clean kill and ballistic tips ensure that this happens more often than not.
It can be quite gruesome when hitting the head or neck, but the key here is that the shot is typically fatal – meaning near-instant death. However, strike the deer further down on the body or in the shoulder area, and all bets are off.
This is much less like to give you the clean kill you’re looking for – but is the case for all rounds if we’re being honest about it.
The Cons of Ballistic Tip Rounds
5.56 ballistic tip ammo is also referred to as fragmenting rounds, which means they pretty much explode when they hit the deer you’re shooting at. This means that from a penetration point of view, you’re not getting much.
This is fine for hunting deer, as they typically don’t fight back, but not so if you happen to wander into bear country and end up having to protect yourself.
Should you get rushed by a bear and fire a ballistic tip round or two at the beast, there’s a very good chance they’ll simply keep charging at you until you’re a goner!
You could get a lucky shot in, but most often, if you haven’t got the stopping power – that’s it. Game over!
It’s About Striking the Right Balance
So if you’re trying to decide between 5.56 ballistic tip ammo and something with a little more punch, you have to sit back and consider what you’re hunting and where.
Go to states like Illinois, and you’re very unlikely to come across a bear, meaning that the lack of penetration isn’t going to be an issue.
On the other hand, go hunting in Alaska, Montana or Idaho and the picture changes. Fragmenting rounds here are not going to protect you like hope they will, so we’d recommend giving the ballistic tip a miss in favour of a round that will save your life. It is also important to have the right gun mags for deer hunting.
Also think about what your standard of accuracy is like, as a fragmenting round hitting below the shoulders is likely to be messy and traumatic for the deer.
Ultimately, it’s a decision you need to make and it’ll be you relying on it when out in the wild.
So, choose well!
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