Ep 89: How Bullets Kill

This show is the first in a new series about choosing the right bullet for hunting various species of big game. I have interviews lined up in the future with some of the big ammo manufacturers and we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of their really popular bullets used for big game hunting. However, before we get into that, I wanted to talk to you about the actual mechanics of how bullets kill big game animals. Basically, I’m going to provide a good base of understanding of how bullets perform under different conditions and an overview of the two most prominent schools of thought regarding optimum terminal bullet performance.

Giveaway: I’m giving away 3 copies of Ryan Cleckner’s book The Long Range Shooting Handbook to listeners of the show. To enter, subscribe to the Big Game Hunting Podcast, leave a rating and review on whatever podcast service you use, and share the show on social media. Email screenshots showing you completed those steps to [email protected].

Show Sponsor: GoHunt. Use promo code BIGGAMEHUNTER when you sign up to get $50 in store credit at their gear shop.

Feel free to email me at the address above with any feedback you have on the show as well as topic requests for future episodes.


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What We Covered

1) Ways rifle bullets kill big game animals.

2) The vital factors necessary for a bullet to kill an animal: accuracy, penetration, and expansion.

3) Detailed discussion on the interplay between those factors and what things affect penetration and expansion like bullet construction, mass, momentum, sectional density, and impact velocity.

4) Discussion on the pros and cons of the “energy dump” theory of bullet performance vs the controlled expansion, deep penetration school of thought.


The Perfect Shot II– Kevin “Doctari” Robertson is a veterinarian and a long-time professional hunter from Zimbabwe. He puts his knowledge of animal anatomy and experiences hunting game in Africa to good use in his “Perfect Shot” series of books.

Additionally, this book contains some extremely useful information on practical field ballistics for hunters, bullet killing criteria, and terminal bullet performance and important characteristics. This book is a GREAT resource for learning more about how bullets perform afield and how to pick the right bullet for hunting different animals under various conditions.