New Uses for Match Ammo

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This buck fell to the 175 gr. .308 MatchKing bullet. It was one of the fastest and most dramatic kills the author has ever seen.
This buck fell to the 175 gr. .308 MatchKing bullet. It was one of the fastest and most dramatic kills the author has ever seen.

Some continue to question the effectiveness of match-grade ammunition for big game hunting. But are these concerns unwarranted?

by Corey Graff, online editor

Designed to print small groups in paper at long range, match-grade ammo is generally not recommended for use in hunting applications by manufacturers. But I can’t figure out why, since the stuff kills deer so fast and so humanely it could be marketed as some kind of super hunting bullet.

Yet the debate rages on. Some have reported that match ammo has exhibited extremely effective terminal ballistics on game.

Others say it yields unpredictable results and question whether it’s ethical to use for hunting — whether it can produce quick kills.

The late Ian McMurchy, a long-time Gun Digest contributor and noted authority on long-range hunting, defended its use.

“I use match bullets for some of my hunts because I believe they do a better job than most hunting bullets,” McMurchy wrote. “Could I use a hunting bullet successfully? Absolutely, but I want the accuracy edge and long-range ballistic performance I get with match bullets.” (source: North American Hunting Club)

While there is some match ammo out there that is widely accepted for use in hunting (Hornady’s TAP ammo with A-MAX bullet comes to mind), I was primarily concerned with the Sierra MatchKing (SMK) bullet.

The most defining feature of this is the boattail hollow-point (BTHP) bullet itself, which is an “open tip match” or OTM design. Federal’s Gold Medal Match is essentially the same as the military’s M118LR (Long Range), although considered to be of better quality; that is, it exhibits less standard deviation shot to shot.

Unlike a traditional “hunting bullet,” open tips aren’t designed to retain weight and stay together. When they encounter resistance they can come apart (due to a thin jacket) in a dramatic fashion. That puts game down unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Next Page