The high weight retention of homogeneous bullets means that a lot of calibers that were once marginal for big game hunting can now hold their own—almost as well as gun company ads always claimed they did. High weight retention means that the bullet weight you start with is the bullet weight you end with. A bullet that expands and holds its weight makes a cartridge like the 250 Savage an undebated deer cartridge. With a 150 grain homogeneous bullet, the 270 Winchester is a now more than enough to work as an elk round. Granted, the cartridge has to have enough oomph to drive a perfectly expanded bullet through meat and bone, but homogeneous bullets really can turn marginal guns into big-boy equipment. Nowadays, if I have any suspicions that a cartridge might not have the bore diameter to do a job, I hedge my bets with a homogeneous bullet.
The next bonus you get for free using lead-free bullets is improved ballistic coefficients (BC). Homogeneous bullets are usually amalgams of stuff like copper, tungsten, bismuth and anything else the EPA doesn’t consider toxic. These substances make for a good bullet, but an affordable mix of them can’t compete with lead in terms of weight. This means that homogeneous bullets of any given weight will be longer than lead bullets of the same weight. Longer bullets make for better BC, and less drag makes for better long-range accuracy. The X-Bullet presaged the current crop of Very-Low-Drag (VLD) bullets by years and has now been reworked specifically to play long range roles alongside a host of other lead-free bullets. If properly designed, a homogeneous bullet can stretch your rifle’s effective range out farther than ever before.
While homogeneous bullets can improve exterior and terminal ballistics, they also make a big difference when it comes to what I refer to as post-terminal performance, which is the term I use to describe the level of annoyance experienced while butchering game. Since homogeneous bullets don’t break up in game, they don’t leave little chunks of jacket and lead inside the critter. Picking these little bits of bullet out of animal quarters is definitely something I can live without. I don’t like digging them out myself and I’ve never trusted commercial butchers to do a thorough job. I’ve never worried about getting lead poisoning from these bitty chunks, but they are darn rough on a guy’s dental work. If you miss one, a whole lot of time that could otherwise be spent hunting is instead spent at the dentist.
The final benefit of using homogeneous lead-free bullets is that you can claim to be doing it just for the environment. Sure, it’s a load of bull fertilizer, but it is kind of amusing to act like you’re helping out Al Gore while getting improved performance in all stages of your hunting. Don’t worry, it’ll be our little secret.