December 08, 2014
Hog hunting has become so popular that specially designed firearms and ammunition tailored for it are popping up like weeds in an unkempt garden. The latest line of hog-specific ammunition to germinate is from Hornady, and it has a catchy name: "Full Boar." The engineers at Hornady did a fair bit of serious thinking to come up with their version of the ultimate porker-perforating load. Shooting Times was fortunate to get an advance look at the new ammunition, and we even got to give it a field trial on Texas hogs.
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The Heart of Full Boar
The heart of any ammunition is the bullet, and Hornady chose specialized versions of its GMX bullet for the new Full Boar line. The game-getting prowess of the GMX bullet is well known, and it has earned a solid reputation for deep penetration, reliable expansion, and structural integrity. The GMX is made of a special homogeneous copper alloy. Since it has no "core," there can be no separation of bullet parts as it chops through bone and plows through soft tissue.
The GMX has a hollow cavity up front with a hard plastic tip inserted into it. Upon impact, the plastic tip is pushed into the nose cavity, which initiates expansion into the classic mushroom shape.
Monolithic bullets like the GMX are a little longer than regular cup-and-core bullets, but that gives them a sleek profile that enhances their ballistic coefficient substantially. Their long shanks have grooves that Hornady calls "cannelures" that give the metal displaced by the rifling a place to go. Because of that, the pressure curve of a GMX is very uniform, and that contributes to better accuracy. These grooves are also a handy place to put a healthy crimp in hard-kicking calibers. The sleek GMX bullets produce relatively high ballistic coefficients for their weight and have wide velocity windows for optimal performance.
Because of this happy combination of attributes, the hunter can drop down about one bullet weight in a given cartridge, grab a little extra velocity, and still have reliable expansion and serious penetration.
Full Boar ammo will be available in most popular hog-hunting calibers, and Shooting Times obtained test samples in .308 Winchester and 6.8 SPC.
The .308 ammo is loaded with a 165-grain GMX and is specially designed to run through ARs. Its cartridge overall length (COL) is 2.735 inches. I gave the new ammo a workout at my home range through a new Ruger semiautomatic SR-762 rifle with a 16.12-inch barrel and my 1982-vintage Ruger bolt-action Model 77 with a 22-inch barrel. I later used another SR-762 when hunting hogs in South Texas. More on that later.
Velocity of the .308 Full Boar ammo is rated at 2,610 fps. From the SR-762's short barrel, the velocity was 2,529 fps for 2,344 ft-lbs of muzzle energy, and groups averaged 1.02 inches. Out of my Ruger Model 77, the velocity of the Full Boar ammo was considerably higher, measuring 2,720 fps, which produced 2,711 ft-lbs of energy, and accuracy averaged 0.88 inch. Both of these rifles have 1:10-inch twist barrels.
The 6.8 SPC Full Boar loading I test-fired had a 100-grain GMX and is factory rated at 2,550 fps. I call the 6.8 the ".270 Short," and it is one of my two favorite hunting rounds for ARs. (The other is the 6.5 Grendel.) Out of my Olympic Arms K16 AR, which has a match-grade, stainless-steel, 16-inch bull barrel with a 1:10-inch twist, the 6.8mm Full Boar load registered 2,465 fps, and groups averaged 1.10 inches. With a muzzle energy of 1,350 ft-lbs, this load is a natural for whitetails, too.
Rangetime is just dandy, but ventilating critters is more fun, so in early March I joined several hunters on the Mellon Creek Ranch in South Texas and checked out the new Full Boar .308 Winchester ammo on feral hogs. In that part of the world, hogs are hunted mostly in the evening after fanning out in 4-wheel-drive pickups and checking for hog activity on the vast, 100,000+ acre ranch.
My guide was Dustin Mueller, the head of hunting operations at the ranch, and he provided a colorful and informative running commentary on Texas game management. Hogs are almost entirely nocturnal, so ambushing them is about the only practical way to hunt them. Mueller's plan was well synchronized, and we struck pay dirt the first evening.
After the first pig was shot with the new ammo, we did a quick postmortem to try to recover the bullet and assess the damage. Penetration was through-and-through, so no expanded bullet was found, but tissue damage can only be described as massive. The wound channel was very large and very deep. Especially impressive was the penetration through both of the heavy gristle plates over the shoulders.
The next day, I connected on a small pig during a morning hunt, and over the course of the next two and a half days, the other hunters and I shot several hogs at various ranges. The results were excellent. No critters were lost. I don't think a single pig even ran off from where it was shot. That's somewhat to be expected with the .308, but the performance of the GMX bullet was obviously a big factor. While we may sniff at being required to use a "no lead" bullet in some locales, there is no denying that these monolithic bullets are first-rate game-getters.
I'm anxious to try the other loadings in the Full Boar line as they become available, and as we accumulate data on them, we'll keep you posted. In the meantime, if a hog hunt is on the menu, give the new Full Boar ammo a try. I think you'll be impressed.
The GMX bullet is constructed of copper alloy and features crimping/pressure-relieving cannelures. All calibers except .223 have hard plastic tips.
The hard-hitting GMX bullet is great for thick-skinned animals such as hogs. The bullet creates large and deep wound channels, which results in massive tissue damage.
Hornady Full Boar cartridges. From left to right: .223 Rem., .243 Win., 6.8 Rem. SPC, .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag., .308 Win., 30-'06, .300 Win. Mag.
The author test-fired .308 Win. and 6.8 SPC Full Boar loads.
At 100 yards, five-shot groups averaged between 0.88 inch and 1.10 inches.
The 165-grain .308 Full Boar loading proved to be an excellent game-getter on South Texas hogs.