I have long used Hornady projectiles, mainly because they are well priced, the easiest to reliable source and they shoot well in all the rifles I have used them.
Late 2016 I purchased a Tikka .300wsm super lite to be our main client rifle, we have 3 other Tikkas and they are reliable workhorse rifles and I chose .300wsm as an good step up from any other caliber we had, and .30 cal offers a huge range of projectile options for if and when I travel for other species abroad.
This rifles was set up running the .200gn ELD X and we ran this bullet throughout 2017 and most of 2018. Late in 2018 I switched up to the 178gn ELD X mainly because I could not get the 200gn to group well at higher speeds and for the ranges we use this rifle the 178gn is flatter shooting than the 200gns.
Tim has also been running the 145gn ELD X ‘Precision Hunter’ factory load in his .270win with great success, they shoot around 1/4 MOA in his rifle which is hard to beat for any factory load.
The ELD-X® (Extremely Low Drag – eXpanding) bullet is designed to be an ‘all range’ bullet, one that has a high BC for good ballistics, and controlled expansion and deep penetration at all ranges. This is a tough niche to fill for a bullet, and its very difficult to make something that will work reliably at both high and low impact velocities.
I am not a ‘long range’ guy as such, and tend to get close when I can, and most of our shooting is under 400 yards.
The biggest issue I see with typical ‘long range’ projectiles is their poor performance at ‘close range’, mainly over expansion and poor penetration.
We could use a fairly ‘typical’ hunting bullet for our needs without too much drama, but we do take the odd longer shot(400-600 yards) and having a higher BC projectiles means any errors with wind and range estimation are less likely to make difference.
We have had the 200 grainers doing around 2750 FPS from our 21″ 300wsm, and I am now running the 178gns at 3000 FPS. Neither of these loads are super hot, but they shoot around 1/2 MOA(100 and 200 yards groups) which is plenty good enough for our use and what can be expected from a light weight factory rifle.
This is our main client gun so is used generally for ‘trophy’ animals, mature Red Stag,Tahr and Chamois. A Stag is half way between a Mule deer and an Elk I would say, and a mature stag is a fairly tough animal. Tahr are built like Mt Goats and very thick skinned and heavily muscled on the front end, Chamois are small and thin skinned and probably the easiest of our game animals to kill. Tahr have a reputation for being extremely hardy and the ELD X has had no issues shooting through them and killing them well.
We have shot around 50 ‘big game’ animals and a few smaller critters (wallabies and goats) with the 200 grain bullet and about 20 animals with the 178s and the terminal performance seems very reliable and consistent. Generally, if we find the projectile it will be on the far side in a nice solid mushroom, some do have core separation after the projectile is removed, they are not bonded but merely have a small ‘interlock’ ring to help hold them together. Alot of these projectiles are not found as they are clean pass throughs with good expansion.
We have had impact velocities from 3000FPS (muzzle) out to around 2100 FPS for the longest shot I have taken at 585 yards. Every bullet I have seen has performed the same. Very good deep penetration with a reliable mushroom.
I think the ELD X is a very good option for a more all round bullet, alot of the ‘long range’ bullets people have been using(Bergers,A-Max, even Sierra MK) have a reputation of ‘explosive’ performance at closer ranges, that I personally dont like, and much prefer a deep penetration for quartering shots, and if your given a shot at 20 yards you better take it regardless of the rifle/bullet your using.
I think the ELD X gives alot more security to longer range set ups, I know some guys here that run 2 loads in long range guns to avoid the blow up effect(generally a Barnes for under 300 yards and a Berger for past 300 yards). I think the ELD X does a pretty job of splitting the difference.
Some people with big magnums might still have these bullets shedding their jackets with impact velocities above 3000 fps I think, but I feel they are better option for normal shooting ranges than most other ‘long range’ hunting bullets.
For me Penetration is key, and you should be able hit the vitals on an animal from any angle, with this bullet I am pretty confident to take any shot presented and know I will reach the vitals.
I think for the modern mountain hunter the ELD X is a good option, it offers reliable performance at normal impact velocities and a high BC can make a big difference for those odd long shots out to 500-600 yards.
If you are a dedicated long range shooter there maybe better options, and if you plan on only shooting out to around 300 yards a traditional style controlled expansion projectile will work just aswell.
But if you are like alot of us who try and get as close as you can, but do take the odd longer shot out to 500 or 600 yards the ELD X is a great option.
I think Hornady has done well here to hit the sweet spot and create a great all rounder.
The Nosler ABLR and Seirras new Game Changer I think are comparable options and hopefully will get to see some more of them in real world situations in the future.
As always I am not paid or ‘sponsored’ by anyone and my reviews and views are my own and no one elses.
About the Author
Owner/Operator of Hard Yards Hunting. Mountain hunting, especially for Tahr is my true passion and I spend as much time as I can in the hills. When I'm not guiding I am usually hunting for my self or testing gear.