Hornady ELD-X Bullets: box record from a Namibian Safari

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

Mike Arnold for TTAG

As I’ve outlined in previous articles, I believe myself extra a hunter than a competitive shooter. As such, I believe that I actually have a important accountability to get video game animals down as right now as viable. In other phrases, they deserve to be killed as successfully as is humanly (and humanely) feasible. here is a touchy discipline for a few of my pals – even those that love weapons, however who don’t hunt.

On assorted activities, I have been chided by way of chums for “killing wild animals.” The ironic nature of this chiding is that it frequently comes as they sit down at my table ingesting my rib-eye steaks, sausage pizzas, hamburgers and so forth. however, their concerns and criticisms are a pretty good reminder that I even have an obligation as an moral hunter to use the applicable gadget and add-ons to kill my quarry as almost about instantly as viable.

i am also a analysis scientist/professor and so I do analyses for a dwelling. i would like information gathered earlier than I consider comfy forming an opinion a couple of product used for shooting or searching. On a fresh Namibian trip, with Jamy Traut hunting Safaris, I used a bullet with which I had not in the past hunted – Hornady’s extraordinarily Low Drag – expanding, or ELD-X.

This specific Safari established round searching a mature, tom leopard. Having no journey with leopard hunting, I reached out to my friend Mark Haldane of Zambeze Delta Safaris to ask his guidance on whether this bullet was appropriate for these unhealthy cats.

over the past 35 years, Mark has guided purchasers to 79 leopards. He is aware of his stuff and what works on these predators. Our interplay become comical, yet reassuring, about the appropriateness of my caliber and using ELD-Xs.

Me: “i’m using a 162-grain ELD-X in the MG palms Ultralight in 7mm Remington Magnum.”

Mark: “Niiiiiice – 300 or 7mm best with first-class softs!”

Me: “I don’t desire large exit holes!”

Mark: “large holes are not ever an issue…wounded cats are…”

ok. So, I now knew two issues about the rifle and bullet combination. First, it became very correct (see bar graph and TTAG evaluation).

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

second, one of the crucial experienced leopard guides affirmed that, if I put the ELD-X where it mandatory to be, the bullet become gentle sufficient to do harm to a skinny-skinned animal and get it down right now.

but this ultimate point brought up another subject. i would also be taking pictures heavy, huge-boned and muscular animals on my Safari; zebra and wildebeest would be taken for leopard bait and camp meat. Would this so-referred to as ‘gentle’ bullet be in a position to sufficient penetration to anchor these tough animals, or wouldn’t it fall apart on impact and just wound?

Hornady’s claim on their web site is that the 162-grain 7mm ELD-X turned into adequate for whitetail and elk. I have top notch recognize for the folks at Hornady and their items, however I reached out to an additional authority to check out this claim, Craig Boddington. His answer as to the appropriateness of the ELD-X for difficult African game changed into: “I even have taken a huge elk, and two eland bulls, no issues! each [Swift] A-Frames and Scirocco will hold more weight, but ELD-X will be high-quality for anything else you are looking!”

adequate then. Two experts (plus, of course, the americans at Hornady), two confirmations of the utility of the ELD-X for the online game i would be hunting. I still wondered concerning the engineering required to make a bullet ‘gentle’ ample for leopard and ‘challenging’ satisfactory for zebra, but direct testing of that attribute would have to come on my Safari.

A Springbok, a Zebra, a Hartebeest and a Wildebeest: First tender, Then tough

the first animal eager about the ELD-X bullet turned into a Damara Springbok. The shot became made because the ram quartered away from me via a window between Mopane timber at a distance of about 80 yards. The bullet-sized entry wound will also be viewed just behind his rib cage. The ram went most effective 25 yards after the shot.

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

Mike Arnold for TTAG

In right here picture, my PH, Kabous Grünschloss is ready to chill the ram down the use of water. there have been a number of exit wounds from fragmentation of the ELD-X. Yet, as can also be seen during this photo, harm to the exit-side dermis became minimal.

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

Mike Arnold for TTAG

notwithstanding the dermis wasn’t damaged, the action of the bullet internally became why the ram died inside just a few seconds of being hit. This sample of restrained exterior, however extensive interior damage was considered in each animal taken.

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

Mike Arnold for TTAG

The effect on this tender-skinned, mild-boned Springbok gave me hope about the effectiveness of the ELD-X if I obtained an opportunity at a leopard. although, the fragmentation of the bullet on the Springbok had me worried about heavier animals.

I realize that I shouldn’t doubt Craig Boddington, however I simply couldn’t see how a bullet that came aside like that would have the penetration imperative to convey down whatever like a 750 pound zebra. What I didn’t take into account became the engineering that went into producing a bullet that’s front-half fragmented, whereas keeping a core and base that didn’t come apart.

I ‘verified’ this feat of engineering via taking a collection of animals that served for each leopard bait and camp meat. the primary was a Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra taken to feed the massive male leopard that become chewing his manner through an immense amount of meat at one in all our bait trees. We stalked the herd of zebra for 30 minutes except they finally hesitated inside a Mopane woodland.

Kabous recognized a stallion that become quartering a bit of away. I asked for the gap and he seemed during the rangefinder and referred to as out “342 yards”. I adjusted my hold for the ~15 inches of bullet drop I anticipated and held simply at the back of his on-shoulder. at the shot, Kabous yelled “You hit him!” The stallion ran about 50 yards and Kabous yelled once again “He’s down! I see his hooves within the air!”

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

Mike Arnold for TTAG

As anticipated, the entrance wound was bullet-sized in diameter. in contrast to the Springbok, there become no exit wound. after we reached camp, I requested the skinners if they would intellect making an attempt to locate any bullet fragments within the huge stallion.

once they begun skinning, we found two ribs broken at the entry web site. there were small bullet fragments discovered alongside the route from the entry wound; the bottom and core had been found intact resting against the off-shoulder. In reply to those that might ask yourself about monitoring animals with only an entry wound from this bullet, there was a clear blood trail main from close the place the stallion changed into standing when shot to where he went down.

Hornady’s web page describes their ELD-X bullets this manner:

“Devastating ordinary latitude efficiency: With high pace 0-400 yard have an impact on, the bullet always expands all through its penetration direction. The thick shank of the jacket and high InterLock® ring preserve the core and jacket together offering 50-60% weight retention.”

The element of the ELD-X retrieved from the zebra weighed 88 grains, or 54% of the customary 162 grains.

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

correct-to-Left: The writer’s 7mm Remington Magnum reloads topped with the 162 grain ELD-X bullet; unfired 162 grain ELD-X bullet; ELD-X bullet retrieved from the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra taken for leopard bait (Mike Arnold for TTAG)

along the bullet’s direction, there become extensive hurt to both lungs and the heart. before turning to the bullet’s performance on a leopard, I are looking to mention two other ‘complicated’ animals fascinated by the ELD-X.

the first became a pink Hartebeest shot simply behind the shoulder at 280 yards. There became a small entry wound and, just like the Springbok, several small exit wounds. With extensive hurt to lungs and heart, the Hartebeest traveled round 50 yards after the shot.

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

Mike Arnold for TTAG

Likewise, a Blue Wildebeest changed into fascinated by an almost similar aspect-on shot at 300 yards. It too had a couple of small exit wounds, with the fragments and base/core closely damaging heart and lungs alongside the bullet’s route. This animal expired after simplest 30 yards.

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

Mike Arnold for TTAG

Pièce de Résistance: Leopard

The dream part of my Safari was the pursuit of an African leopard. notwithstanding here is an ‘evaluation’ article, I should state that successfully matching wits with such an awesome animal introduced emotions of both top notch sadness and unbridled joy. in case you hunt, you are going to be mindful what i’m trying to categorical.

As for the ELD-X bullet, it again performed extraordinarily neatly. The bullet entered on the point of the on-aspect shoulder. The massive tom turned into quartering strongly in opposition t me at sixty four yards once I fired. The small entry wound is conveniently seen in here graphic.

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

Mike Arnold for TTAG

The on-facet shoulder become shattered on have an effect on. again, the bullet fragmented, causing a number of exit wounds. but, in contrast to what I had feared before using this ‘tender’ bullet, none of the exit wounds had been giant. each of the multiple exit wounds are located just beneath my left arm in the following picture.

Hornady ELD-X Bullets

Mike Arnold for TTAG

most importantly, after he fell from the branch on which he became standing, he become capable of correct himself, however then handiest ran for 15 yards earlier than expiring. Upon skinning out the large cat, it was discovered that the lungs had been fragmented, the aorta perforated.

Conclusions

I feel the results are clear. The ELD-X carried out precisely as Mark Haldane, Craig Boddington and Hornady claimed it could. The engineering that went into this product has curiously resulted in a ‘each-and’ category of projectile.

The ahead component fragments upon growth as a consequence offering significant shock power within the animal. Yet no primary skin harm is led to when the fragments exit. the bottom and core hang together presenting deep, straight-line penetration on animals considered to be some of the toughest in the world – i.e. Zebra and Blue Wildebeest.

I intend to retain trying ELD-X bullets in my quite a few calibers with the hope that they should be one of the crucial accurate for every of my rifles. so that you can supply me yet another bullet in my reloading toolbox.