Let’s say you’re going deer hunting. You carefully load your rifle and close the bolt. Let’s say hypothetically that the rifle you just loaded is chambered with a .308 Winchester round. Do you know what kind of power that particular cartridge actually has?

Some hunters know what they have in their hands, but surprisingly enough, many don’t, they just know that the rifle goes boom when they squeeze the trigger.

For those of you that don’t know the ballistics of the cartridge that you hunt with, I suggest the next time you purchase ammunition, ask for Remington’s or Winchester’s latest gun brochure.

In the back of every brochure is a ballistics chart. It shows all the cartridges that the companies manufacture, lists the bullet weight, the speed of that bullet (in feet per second) and its striking energy or (called foot-pounds of energy).

Another chart in these brochures is a trajectory chart. This will tell you how much your bullet will drop at certain ranges, usually in 100-yard increments. This is a great thing to know for that occasional shot across a big long field.

I mentioned the .308 Winchester cartridges. The particulars of this round are that at the muzzle, when the bullet first comes out of the barrel, a 150-grain bullet is traveling at 2,820 feet per second. The muzzle energy or foot-pounds is 2,610. After that bullet has traveled 100 yards down range, it’s traveling 2,540 feet per second and the striking energy is 2,149 foot pounds.

At 200 yards the chart shows you that you’re losing the velocity of the bullet, which means the farther you try to shoot, the slower you’re projectile will be. Then you go to the trajectory chart, on a 100-yard zero, the charts show at 200 yards your bullet has dropped 3.9 inches and at 300 yards, that 150-grain .308 projectile is a whopping 14.7 inches low. Get my drift?

Some cartridges have very similar ballistics and others are very different, it all depends on caliber, powder charges sectional density of the projectile, plus many other factors. That explains why they make so many different cartridges; they all have their purpose by their own particular power.

So does your rifle cartridge have adequate knock down power at longer ranges to cleanly harvest a deer? Go ahead, get a ballistics chart, study it, then experiment with your deer rifle, you’ll find it interesting and a whole lot of fun.

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