When it comes to terminal ballistics there are certain important things that affect the outcome more than others. All copper (monolithic) bullets seek to improve upon those important factors. The benefit of copper bullets is that they actually deliver on all performance metrics they were put in place to improve.

Big game hunting with copper

What do copper bullets seek to improve, and how do they accomplish the improvements?

They seek to retain their grain weight better – they retain weight better by having no jacket that can separate from the core of the bullet. In a traditional bullet, there is generally a lead part and a copper part, when/if they separate, the weight AND the momentum of the bullet is lessened significantly. Copper bullets don’t lose their mass hardly at all. Some retain nearly 100% of total grain weight.

They are looking for better penetration – They achieve better penetration through a couple of means. They are a harder material and therefore retain better momentum at impact; they also retain more weight because of their monolithic (single piece) design as mentioned directly above.

They are looking for more reliable expansion and wound channel – They achieve better wound channel and more reliable expansion in a number of ways. They are lighter bullets because the same size bullet in lead is denser and heavier, so the enhanced velocity can have hydrostatic effects on targets (depending on the speed). Additionally, the copper being harder and more able to peel reliably instead of simply deforming like the more malleable lead, can retain a more specific profile through engineered deformation.

They are trying for more devastating energy delivery – the harder material and the faster speed translates to a bone crushing, flesh devastating combination. Game hides/skin can be very elastic, which causes a major impact on softer projectiles, slowing down the momentum and making the planned deformation less likely to occur which consistent results. Similarly, bone can be very hard and tough, which is normally not a combination found together. Large bones like the shoulder or backbone can cause bullet deflection and cause a bullet not to exit the body, causing less blood loss as a negative result.

Copper monolithic projectiles also have other benefits:

  • ·         They meet regulations that seek to remove copper from the hunting experience. California so far, is the only state that is ready to go live with such a regulation.

  • ·         They are faster projectiles.

  • ·         They reduce bore fouling.

  • ·         Their tolerances are tighter, and the grain weight variances can be more accurate across a production run

  • ·         They tend to be very accurate compared to other options.

Out of all the makers of Copper Monolithic projectiles, Hornady has been the most prevalent. It is the Hornady research and development and marketing that has done the most to further the spread of all-copper projectiles throughout the North American shooting market. Their offerings are the most complete and they have some of the best performance. One of the biggest benefits of Hornady’s commitment to copper bullet technology is that the overall pricing and breadth of their offerings is significantly better than competitors.

The Hornady line of copper projectiles varies. You can find them loaded into specific cartridges already; you can find them as component parts for handloading and reloads. Hornady is on the leading edge of cartridge manufacturing. The offerings for hunting or competition are among the upper echelon of all offerings. For reloaders and hand loaders, the component parts are also top tier offerings. Whatever way you are accessing the extensive R&D and innovation that Hornady offers, you are getting into a level or performance that few other manufacturers can match.


Using an all-copper monolithic bullet, especially in hunting scenarios where the products have matured to the point of legitimate repeatable, consistent performance, has distinct advantages. From better penetration to better weight retention to enhanced wound channels to the close tolerances and improvements in accuracy, for hunters who need the premium in performance, 100% copper projectiles represent the future of hunting technology, available as a very refined product in the present.

- Benjamin Worthen