Now that deer season is in full swing and AB 711 has put the kibosh on hunting with traditional ammo in California many of us are looking to alternatives. The whole lead scare was debunked here, but even still. While we can debate whether lead ammo is dangerous to you as a hunter, I think the whole ‘lead ammo kills wildlife’ argument has been looked upon as junk science. The only area where I might agree is in bird hunting, specifically in the wetlands here around San Francisco. We haven’t used lead shot in the San Francisco bay for decades, and the birds are doing just fine, I am happy to report . . .
So now that we are all happily freezing our backsides off in our tree stands, keeping an eye out for that ever elusive hogzilla or buck that would put bambi’s father to shame, what’s the best tool for the job? I’m sure many of you have taken your rifles to be blueprinted and spent more on a scope than you make in a month. You have more camo, funky smelling sprays and camping gear than you can shake a stick at. But why are you going after that big prize catch with bulk ammo? Are you using the stuff in the big box you snatched up at Wally World because the price was right? Sure it goes bang and it’s probably pretty accurate, but why not invest in the right tool for the job?
I got a chance to sit with my friend Scott Sterling recently who runs Monolithic Munitions. Monolithic hand builds hunting grade ammo. You could call it match grade, but shooting paper – beyond sighting in your rifle – would be a waste and honestly I couldn’t afford it. Scott and his team custom build their own, using non-lead-based bullets from GS Custom bullets out of South Africa.
Scott loves non-lead bullets for hunting. While the possibility of lead ammo causing health issues is probably quite small, it’s always better safe than sorry. More important is performance. We all want to take our catch with as few shots as possible, and have it remain humane. Having to go off and chase an animal through the woods to get a follow-up shot is a major pain. That’s why we want a bullet that works the best to it’s abilities. Accuracy, penetration and wound cavity are all important for hunters.
Scott is the Mr. Wizard of ballistics and I mean that in the most endearing sense of the word. He knows more about internal, external and terminal ballistics than anyone I know. He loves bullets, eats, sleeps and breaths potassium nitrate. He can educate you on why a bullet does what it does, like Stephen Hawking’s can teach you physics. Because of his love of all things ballistic, he is a tinkerer. What does that mean? Well if you are looking for a 14.9 SOP, or the worlds fastest .223 Remington, Scott is your man.
The 14.9 SOP 1690g bullet 3000 fps.
Scott blows up fruit better than FPS Russia!
All kidding aside, the range time and testing have produced some really great loads. If you are a long-range hunter and want to give yourself the best chance at a clean kill, look no further.
The penetration of these bullets can’t be beat. Below is a shot of a ballistics gel test with the numbers.
“Testing 22-250 Remington loads 40g GS HV compared to a 40g Polymer tip varmint bullet from a major manufacturer. The HV impacted at about 4400 fps the 40g Poly tip at about 4200 fps. Notice the permanent damage of both bullets is similar. The large damage track for the HV goes 8.5” in, and what you can’t see is the HV went 26.5 “total penetration. The Poly tip only makes a good wound 2.5” in and total penetration is only 6.5” The Poly tip is a varmint bullet so it is expected to be fragile, but what really sets the HV apart is the damage in the first few inches is as good as a super fragile varmint bullet, without the lead fragments, and the penetration is equivalent to a big game bullet.”
Below is a picture of a grouping with 416 Barrett ammunition at 700 yards.
His friend Chris was nice enough to stop by and show us a hog he took with a .223 round. The shot went from stern to stem and logged in the breast plate. The bullet never fragmented and did the job it was designed to do.
Here’s the bullet itself. Notice how it remained intact.
The bottom line is that Monolithic is the Holland & Holland of ammunition. It isn’t cheep and certainly isn’t something you will buy in bulk. But I can say that each of the hand-inspected loads will serve you well. If you are looking to step up your game in getting game, they’re worth your consideration.