In the fall of 1946, John Nosler shot a Canadian moose with a .300 H&H Magnum, and despite a well-placed bullet the bull simply wouldn’t go down. The issue was the bullet had failed to function properly on the moose, and that hunt prompted John Nosler to develop a bullet that was capable of dispatching game efficiently.
That bullet became the Partition, and it has been a best-seller since Nosler opened his bullet manufacturing business in Ashland, Oregon in 1948. But the Partition was also the first premium hunting bullet. The design was superior to the traditional cup and core bullets because the Partition’s design insured deep straight-line penetration; so there was no risk of the core and jacket separating and failing to penetrate.
John Nosler practically invented the premium bullet market, and in doing so he improved the performance of hunting rifles dramatically. Today Nosler remains at the forefront of advanced bullet design, but the Partition is no longer the company’s only bullet offering. No matter what you’re hunting, there’s a Nosler bullet that is perfect for the task — the only challenge is determining which of their bullets will work best for your big-game hunting needs.
Why Better Bullets Matter
Generations of hunters have argued about which rifle cartridge is best for game, and despite the volumes of literature written about cartridge selection, I contest that choosing the proper bullet is more important than choosing the right cartridge. The 6.5 Creedmoor, 28 Nosler, and a .300 Win Mag cartridges are all capable of killing elk-sized game, but none of them will kill a big animal efficiently unless you choose a bullet that performs correctly and place that bullet in the vitals.
I’ve never seen an animal that didn’t die because someone chose the wrong cartridge, but I have seen animals lost from poor shot placement and improper bullet performance. To be clear, you do need to choose a cartridge that is suitable for the game that you are hunting, but the lengthy list of modern hunting cartridges makes choosing a suitable round relatively easy. Choosing the right bullet and learning to shoot it well are more challenging.
I’ve relied on Nosler bullets for years for a variety of game, and I’ve never been disappointed by their performance. While all the company’s big game bullets are well-suited for their intended application, there are circumstances where one Nosler bullet makes more sense than another. We’ll look at three Nosler big game bullets to determine which of them is best suited for your hunting needs.
Partition: Hitting the Brakes on the Biggest Game
It’s no coincidence that the release of the Partition coincided with the beginning of the Magnum Craze of the mid-20th century. As belted magnums became more popular hunters needed a bullet that would stand up to higher impact velocities and still perform well, and they found that with the Partition.
As mentioned, the Partition’s dual core design makes it superior to traditional thin-jacketed cup and core bullets. John Nosler wanted a bullet that would drive through heavy bone, hide and muscle, and that’s exactly what he achieved with this bullet. That’s also why it’s a popular choice for those who hunt big, tough game like brown bears, moose, elk and cape buffalo. I harvested my first elk with a .308 Win. rifle firing 165-grain Partition loads, and the elk I killed last year in New Mexico was harvested with a 180-grain Partition from a .300 Win. mag. Neither animal took more than 10 steps after the shot before piling up. I’ve never shot an elk with a Partition bullet that disappeared from view before expiring, and that’s why this is still one of my favorite elk bullets.
Partition bullets are available in Nosler’s Trophy Grade line of factory ammunition and are available in cartridges from .243 Winchester to .416 Remington Magnum. When you need a tough, hard-hitting factory load the Partition Trophy Grade ammo is a superb choice for big game.
Accubond: One Bullet for All Game
I love my Partitions, but some animals don’t require the bone-crushing power those bullets offer. If I had to recommend a single bullet for a full range of big game animals the answer would be simple: Nosler’s Accubond.
Using a proprietary bonding process that eliminates voids in the core, Nosler locks the Accubond’s copper alloy jacket to the alloy lead core. The copper jacket thickens toward the base to guarantee deep penetration even when using high-velocity bullets. The tapered bullet profile, signature polymer tip, and boattail design give Accubond bullets a higher ballistic coefficient than the Partition, helping Accubonds retain more velocity and buck wind better. I’ve been impressed with the accuracy of Accubond factory loads in a variety of calibers, and they’ve never failed me in the field.
Accubond bullets expand reliably down to 1,800 feet per second, and they will expand in light game like antelope and deer even at extended ranges. The bonding process also makes these bullets tough enough for large, heavy game. On a spot-and-stalk black bear hunt in Idaho a few years ago I chose to carry a .270 Weatherby Magnum rifle firing 130-grain Accubond loads and that rifle/load combination proved very effective, and I had planned on carrying that same rifle/load combination on an elk hunt later that year that unfortunately never happened. 300 grain Accubonds have also proven to be quite accurate in various .375 H&H Magnum rifles I’ve tested, and while I still prefer Partitions on buffalo the 300-grain Accubond would make a phenomenal choice for elk, moose, and large African plains game. There are very few big game hunting situations for which the Accubond is not well-suited.
Accubond bullets are loaded in Nosler’s Trophy Grade factory ammunition, which has been trusted by hunters for decades. Trophy Grade ammo is available in most popular cartridges and 22 to 33 Nosler cartridges.
Modern rifles, optics, and cartridges have made it possible to shoot accurately out to extended distances, and that has allowed hunters to increase their maximum effective range. But harvesting game at ranges beyond 400 yards requires not only a good rifle and a skilled shooter but also a bullet that is up to the task. The Nosler Accubond Long Range is just such a bullet. The ABLR’s streamlined profile and heavy-for-caliber mass make it an ideal long-range round. These bullets feature signature grey polymer tips and are optimized for maximum accuracy and minimal drag.
Unlike most target bullets, though, the ABLR is a bonded bullet, so the core and jacket won’t separate even at close ranges and high velocities. It is also designed to perform reliably down to 1,300 fps (compared to a minimum 1,800 fps for most hunting bullets), which means you can expect the ABLR to expand consistently at extended ranges.
Accubond Long Range bullets are available in Nosler’s Trophy Grade Long Range ammunition from 6.5 Grendel up to 33 Nosler. If you’re looking for premium off-the-shelf long-range hunting ammunition it’s a superb option.
Which Bullet is for You?
Choosing the right hunting bullet can be challenging, but Nosler’s line of premium projectiles simplifies the process. For the largest, toughest game at close to moderate ranges I’ll always rely on the original Partition bullet, and for hunts where I may be required to reach out near my maximum effective range, I choose Accubond Long Range. For general use on deer, antelope, pigs, black bear and elk, I turn back to the versatile Accubond loads that have proven effective on a wide range of game. By selecting the right Nosler bullet and practicing with your rifle you’ll be ready when that moment of opportunity presents itself this fall.
For more information visit: nosler.com