Almost everyone wins when you kill a hog. You get the satisfaction of pitting yourself against a deceptively cunning creature, and a delicious one at that. Environmentalists will appreciate your aid in ridding our country of an invasive species. Farmers will high five you for combatting the cause of $1.5 billion in property damage every year. Ammo manufacturers, and by extension the very website that you are reading this article on, benefit for obvious reasons. The hog, of course, does not win when you kill it, but the heck with him. The best way to make sure the hog loses is to pick a reliable caliber for your hunt. So, what’s the best caliber for hog hunting to ensure a quick takedown?
Let’s go over what you should look for in your hog hunting ammo. Soon, you’ll become Porker Enemy Number One.
Best Hog Hunting Ammo Calibers
A wild hog is a far cry from the cuddly, baby’s bottom pink cutie depicted on children’s television. The beast is equipped with extremely tough skin that’s often coated by a plate of dried mud. Beneath that, hogs present a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, sturdy bones and dense muscles. After a lifetime of tussling with rival pigs and eking out an existence in inhospitable country, the wild hog sports the added protection of resilient scar tissue. Even the high shoulder shot that you could bank on for deer hunting might not anchor a hog for good. Hit such an animal with too weak a cartridge, or even at the wrong angle, and he’s going to run – and hopefully not in your direction.
Don’t worry about packing “too much gun” when you’re hunting an animal that can react to an injury by charging at its source with sharp tusks flailing. You don’t have to pick a round that’ll send you into low orbit with its recoil, though. Find one that you could comfortably fire repeatedly while deer hunting. That’s a good start.
Depending on the size of the hog you’re gunning for and the range you’re gunning it over, the best hog hunting calibers break down like this:
|Average Size Hog|
Short to Medium Range
|Average Size Hog|
Medium to Long Range
|243 Win||240 Weatherby||338 Federal|
|30-30 Win||257 Weatherby||338 Marlin|
|300 Blackout||264 Win Mag||35 Whelen|
|35 Rem||270 Win||356 Win|
|375 Win||30-06||405 Win|
|44 Magnum||303 British||45-70 Govt. +P|
|444 Marlin||308 Win|
|45-70 Govt||6.5 Creedmoor|
|7.62x39||8x57 JS Mauser|
That’s not an exhaustive list of every cartridge you could use to put a hog nose-first into the dirt. We should also note how crucial shot placement is when you’re hog hunting. A neck shot is awesome. That placement will probably sever the circuitry that the hog’s brain needs to send fight or flight responses to the rest of its meaty body. The brain is also a safe bet, as is the heart, the lungs, and both shoulder blades. Just remember that the good Lord didn’t copy and paste his design for deer over to his hog schematic. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the hog-specific kill shot zones before you go out into the woods.
Best Hog Hunting Bullets
Now that you’ve picked the right caliber for your hog hunt, you’ll want to make certain you’ve got the right bullet for the job.
In addition to accuracy, you want a hunting hog bullet that delivers two key things: the toughness and resultant weight retention requisite for deep penetration, and the ability to expand wide during penetration. A bonded or monolithic copper bullet checks the first box; A bullet with a soft point or polymer tip designed to initiate expansion checks the latter.
Here are a few of the hog hunter’s best options for bullets, along with a little explanation as to why they can topple a swine so well.
One of our personal favorites for putting down hogs, the TTSX delivers an impressive combination of accuracy, weight retention, and terminal expansion.
The long, sleek bullet is made entirely out of copper. It boasts highly uniform weight distribution. Its great rotational stability is complemented by its low drag boat tail and sharp polymer tip, granting it a high ballistic coefficient. Copper is exceedingly tough, and without a core and jacket that are capable of separating from one another the TTSX ammo consistently punches through a hog’s tough hide and sinuous flesh without fragmenting in the process.
The TTSX’s polymer tip rams inward during penetration to ensure the protrusion of four razor sharp cutting petals. These excavate a disastrous wound channel even when confronted by thick bone, making this bullet an absolute monster during a hog hunt. (Remington’s Hog Hammer line of ammunition features Barnes’ TSX bullet, which is basically a TTSX without the polymer tip.)
Most bullets have a simple one-piece lead core. However, Nosler’s Partition is somewhat unique for having two that are separated by an extension of its jacket. The rear core remains intact during penetration, ensuring the Partition retains the momentum it needs to penetrate deeply. The front core is revealed at the tip by the Partition’s jacket, enabling it to create a gaping wound cavity as it mushrooms rapidly outward.
The Partition’s jacket itself is very thin at the mouth to promote reliable expansion even at lower velocities, and it forms a thick barrier between the rear and front cores to ensure optimal functioning. The base of the Partition’s jacket is also slightly tapered. This reduces drag in flight and prevents deformation under the heavy chamber pressure of a magnum load. A common load with these bullets is the Federal Vital-Shok line of ammo.
Federal’s Fusion is a true bonded bullet. Its jacket is electrochemically applied to its core. This makes it not only extremely concentric to promote rotational stability in flight, but also virtually inseparable from the core as the bullet pierces a hog’s sturdy hide and fat. As the Fusion tunnels through its target, the skives built into its soft point control intensely uniform expansion. The bullet creates a devastating wound channel in the process.
Another monolithic copper bullet, the GMX is nontoxic, clean shooting, and most importantly incapable of core/jacket separation. The GMX consistently retains 95 percent of its weight as it blasts through a target as tough as a hog. So, it’s able to reliably shore up in well-protected vital areas. The GMX’s boat tail base and polymer tip create relatively little drag in flight for great accuracy. When the GMX connects with its target, its tip rams down into a deep nose cavity. This unleashes the kind of expansion that no pig would want to oink home about.
Nosler AccuBond is extremely accurate with its low drag polymer tip, boat tail, voidless lead core, and streamlined copper alloy jacket. That jacket is furthermore bonded to its core. You may have gathered by this point bonded ammo promotes the awesome weight retention that a target so tough as a hog demands. The AccuBond’s tip smashes down into its core during penetration to unleash massive expansion. This bullet also features Nosler’s Solid Base, essentially a thick section of jacket at the tail end of the bullet which creates a platform upon which even wider expansion can take place.
Bring a powerful firearm on your hog hunt. Even a lightweight wild hog is a heck of a lot tougher than it looks. You don’t want to give one the chance to book it or fight back. Select a cartridge with an accurate bullet, as you should for any hunt, but also one that emphasizes superior weight retention and wide, reliable expansion.