Ballistic Tips…

Ballistic Tip : in danger of becoming ‘Hoover-ized’tips 007

Apologies for starting with a pun, but nowadays there are loads of bullets out there with synthetic tips. They come from a variety of manufacturers, in many eye-catching colours, along with plenty of claims as to their aerodynamic efficiency, accuracy and knock-down energy.

To a large number of shooters any one of these plastic-headed projectiles is referred to as a ‘ballistic tip’. True, it is a ‘tip’, and the ‘ballistic’ efficiency is usually pretty good, but…..

When you do the housework(!), no doubt you do the ‘hoovering’. Of course, there is a chance that you might be using a Hoover to do it; but these days it’s just as likely to be a Dyson, a Samsung, Miele, Bosch, or any one from a number of other manufacturers. But you will still be doing the hoovering, rather than the vacuuming.

Going back to the bullets – so when is a ballistic tip not a Ballistic Tip?

Ballistic Tip is a registered trade mark of Nosler, the world-renowned bullet manufacturers based in Bend, Oregon, USA.. Nosler first introduced their polymer-tipped projectile in 1984. From the outset Ballistic Tips attained massive popularity amongst home-loaders, and it wasn’t too long before ammunition manufacturers, such as Federal and Norma, recognised the fact and started adding the bullets to their factory lines. And then everyone else seemed to jump on the bandwagon.

So, whilst every Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet has a coloured polymer tip, with different colours denoting the various calibres, none of the other brands of similarly tipped bullet is a Ballistic Tip. Amongst many others, Swift call theirs the Scirocco, Hornady has V-Max, A-Max, SST and Interbond, Barnes the TTSX and LRX, Sierra with BlitzKing, and so on.

Not even all polymer tipped Nosler bullets are Ballistic Tip. The company also produces Accubond, Ballistic Silvertip, E-Tip, and the not-so-subtly named ‘Varmageddon’!

But let’s return to the real Ballistic Tip. There are two distinct styles: Hunting and Varmint. Outwardly they look pretty similar, but it is what’s inside that makes the difference. Take these two 6mm bullets: as usual Varmint is lighter weight of the two, this one being 70 grains, as opposed to the 95 grain Hunting example.

Nosler _BT_6mm_70gr_SP section


Nosler _BT_6mm_95gr_SP section


You will immediately observe the difference in design of the copper jacket. With the Varmint the polymer tip sits on top of an ultra-thin jacket mouth, allowing impact with the target to drive the tip back into the lead core, resulting in instantaneous violent expansion. Meanwhile there is slight thickening of the jacket towards the base, ensuring that the bullet holds together at extremely high velocities. Look at the Hunting, and see the difference in internal shape: the jacket steadily tapering back to a thicker, heavier base giving a much more controlled expansion and weight retention, resulting in reliable stopping power without undue meat damage.

As with any bullet, aside from the legions of shooters that love the Ballistic Tip there are detractors. However, in my experience this is largely down to using a bullet inappropriate to the quarry that you are stalking/hunting. Utilise the optimum bullet in a suitable calibre, and you are on to a sure-fire winner.

Varmint Bullets