Best of the Big Game Bullets, Part 3 of 4: Hornady ELD-X


Long-range hunting has become the thing, even though once you start shooting at distances beyond 300 yards, getting good hits takes an inordinate amount of skill. It’s not that pulling the trigger is harder, it’s because estimating range and judging the wind become critical. Rangefinders help, but the only way to get good at judging the wind is to do it, and I mean do it a lot. Hornady created the ELD-X bullet just for those hunters who have a special skill set. The bullet will expand just as well at distance as it does up close.

Here you can see how well the ELD-X bullet expands up close and at distance. With a 300 Winchester Magnum, you can expect expansion like this at 100 yards (left) and 800 yards (right.)

The ELD-X is also incredibly accurate and flies very flat because of its high ballistic coefficient and its unique tip that will not deform during flight. All of this makes it a great bullet if you’re going to stretch the range. However, the ELD-X is not just a long-range bullet. I like to hunt with Scout Rifles and because of their short barrels, bullets start out with a velocity disadvantage. Because the ELD-X will expand at velocities as low as 1,600 fps, it is a great bullet for short-barrel rifles.

A 178-grain Hornady ELD-X put this bull elk down at more than 300 yards. The rifle was a Scout Rifle with an 18-inch barrel.

I’ve taken four animals with the ELD-X. First were a mule deer and whitetail buck at about 200 and 300 yards. The rifle was a 300 Winchester Magnum, and both deer dropped at the shot. The next big game animal to fall to an ELD-X for me was an Idaho black bear taken at just a hair beyond 400 yards with a Steyr Scout Rifle. And the last and maybe best test of the ELD-X was a New Mexico bull elk. I used a custom Scout Rifle with an 18-inch barrel in 308 Winchester, and the single shot I took was at 327 yards. It was all that was needed.

A hunter with a belt full of ELD-X Hornady Precision Hunter ammo is ready for just about anything at any distance.

However, a true long-range capable shooter made the most impressive shot I’ve seen in the hunting fields using the ELD-X. I watched Hornady’s Neal Emery put a 10-point whitetail buck down at 701 yards. He confirmed the range multiple times with a laser rangefinder. He studied the wind for several minutes and then worked out the shooting solution on his ballistic calculator. Then and only then did he get behind the gun. The buck cooperated by standing still and feeding, and Neal shot him through the heart. Like I said, shooting like that takes a special skill set, and few have it.

For hunters who want to stretch their range, the ELD-X bullet from Hornady might be the best thing going.

Editor’s note: Click these links to read part 1 and part 2 of Richard Mann’s four-part series on best of the big game bullets.

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