Did Your Bullet Fail or Do You Not Know Your Bullet?

Throughout my travels and conversations with other hunters, it has become inevitable that the topic of conversation always turns to bullet performance and failures. Honestly, many hunters do not completely understand bullet design and their intended performance.


Several years ago I shared a hunting camp with a hunter who was very vocal about how his bullet had failed. Even though he had collected his animal with one shot and it never even took a step, the bullet had still failed in his opinion.

As I’m self admittedly obsessive-compulsive in regards to bullet performance and ballistics, I engaged him in a conversation about the kill. When I asked how a one-shot kill was a failure, he mentioned that because the bullet had not exited, it had failed. I next questioned what bullet was he using and he quickly reached to his belt and pulled out a factory .300 Win Mag round and said “a Nosler Partition”.  Seeing the green poly tip, I promptly replied, “No, it is not a Partition, it’s a Ballistic Tip”. He looked at me and calmly implied that I had no idea what I was talking about and retrieved the factory box, which was boldly embossed with the words Nosler Ballistic Tip.


“See, they’re Noslers,” he gloated.  To him, every bullet Nosler made was the “Partition”.

“Yes they are, but they are not Partitions”.  We spent the next part of the evening discussing the difference between the two bullets and their design and the difference between rapid expansion versus a projectile design for deeper penetration.  The bullet he had purchased for his hunt had done exactly what it was intended to do; there was no failure whatsoever. I would even go further to say most of what are considered “failures” would fall into the same category in one way or another. I am not saying at all that bullet failure is a thing of the past, I’m just saying that occurrence is just greatly reduced.


We are in currently the era of the super magnums which will drive bullets far beyond the velocities that they may have been designed to perform at. This  is stressing them beyond their capabilities. Who is at fault? A 150-grain bullet designed for .308 velocities will perform radically different at .30-378 velocities.

A lot of bullet companies today have bullet offerings that cover all aspects of expansion, from the hyper expanding varmint bullet to the tough non-expanding selection for dangerous game and most applications in between. If you have any questions or concerns over what you are shooting, call the manufacturer and discuss your application with one of their techs. Companies have invested a lot of time and money in their products and they want to make sure you are satisfied with them.

If you have an experience with a product either positive or negative, call the manufacturer and express your thoughts, questions and potential concerns to them, give them a chance to correct any issue that you may have had. Be open-minded and allow yourself to hear that you just may not know what you thought you did and take the opportunity to learn. You would be surprised what a wealth of knowledge may be on the other end of the line!