A reader wonder’s if Norma Kalahari bullets are effective for hunting deer and pronghorn.
Q: Hello and good day to you, Mr. Spomer. You may be too busy to answer such a minor question but if you could I would surely appreciate your time – Would you recommend the Norma – USA Kalahari .270 Winchester bullet for use out here in Utah for mule deer and pronghorn antelope hunting? I currently have my rifle set up to use the standard 130 grain offerings from different manufacturers but that lighter and faster Kalahari looks to be an incredible cartridge and didn’t know if you have more knowledge on this subject.
Thank you for your time and help today, sir.
A: Jesse, as luck would have it, my wife and I have done some hunting with Norma Kalahari bullets in Africa at Immenhof Safaris. I think you’ll agree that if a bullet works on African game, it should suffice for N.A. game. Betsy used a 308 Win. with 150-grain Norma Kalahari bullets to take a black wildebeest bull and a blue wildebeest bull, both from about 240 yards out; both chest hits; both one-shot kills. The blue bull dashed about 30 yards before expiring. The black cavorted and ran a small circle before falling. Typical behavior for lung/heart-shot animals. When blood pressure drops from hemorrhaging, the animal gets dizzy and faints. Oxygen-starved brain cells die. This is typical for most controlled expansion bullets and many cup-and-core (traditional) lead-core bullets if they don’t break up. Another hunter in camp borrowed Betsy’s rifle to take a red hartebeest cow with one shot through the lungs. It stumbled a few yards and died. A red hartebeest cow is about the size of a big mule deer buck.
I used a 7mm Remington Magnum with the 125-grain Kalahari to take an oryx and jackal. As you might imagine, the jackal never knew it had been hit. The Oryx was quartering away, but even at a rather light 125-grains, that Norma Kalahari reached the lungs and put it down fairly quickly. Nevertheless, as it lay there I administered a heart shot to the front of its shoulder as insurance. Oryx are one of those extra tough, extra hardy African antelopes you read about. You don’t want to take any chances.
The Kalahari is an all copper, boat tail bullet with relief grooves and what appears to be a nickel surface plating to minimize copper fouling. It seems to do that. It’s hollow nose is engineered to break off petals so they radiate out from the main wound channel. The .308 bullet we recovered showed two petals had sheared off, but two remained attached to the shank, folded back in a classic mushroom fashion ala the Barnes TSX.
Both bullets shot sub-MOA through our Blaser R8 rifles. That doesn’t mean they’ll be that accurate in all rifles, of course. Because all copper bullets like the Kalahari are light for their length, they do not have high Ballistic Coefficients. This means they will not retain as much energy far downrange as heavier bullets. Neither will they resist wind deflection as well as higher B.C. bullets. But they leave muzzles at higher than usual velocities, making up for some of this and flying quite flat. My assessment is that Kalahari’s should give excellent 300-, possibly 400-yard performance on mule deer and pronghorn.
Jesse, keep your eyes open for a similar and newer offering from Norma. They’ve just started shipping loaded ammo with their new Eco-Strike bullet. This appears to be the Kalahari with a green, high temperature resistant, polymer tip on its nose. B.C. should increase just slightly. I’d anticipate identical terminal performance.
One last word: with Norma Kalahari and all controlled expansion bullets, expect broadside, lung/heart shot animals to run for at least several seconds before dropping blood pressure brings them to ground. Wound channels (tissue destruction and accompanying hemorrhaging) are generally narrower than you get with a bullet that breaks up more violently or mushrooms more widely. Also expect complete penetration and pass through with a good to great blood trail. If you want to minimize movement after the shot, aim for major shoulder muscle and bone. These bullets can handle it.
If you’d like more information on hunting in Namibia, check out this old post on RonSpomerOutdoors.com.