The Texas sun had come up a quarter hour earlier, the shadows still lingering, when we spotted the boar many hundred yards away through our binoculars. He was rooting around in the swath of knee-high brush between a tan ranch road and a dark line of mesquite trees.
My guide and I slid out of the truck as quietly as possible and hiked over the soft sand of the ranch road, bent nearly double and using tall grasses for cover. When we got to within 100 yards, the hog raised his head — a 110-pound or so black boar — and glanced around. No wind, so he hadn't smelled us, I was sure, but the hog was still uneasy. He began trotting for the safety of the mesquite.
My guide quickly set up the shooting sticks. I laid my Ruger SR-762 rifle over the top of the sticks and lined up the Steiner Night Hunter scope on the black shadow moving through the brush. The shadow got to the tree line okay, but made a mistake — it stopped and looked back. I fired.
I was using Hornady Full Boar rounds, and the .308 bullet took the hog below the right shoulder, did a through-and-through, and dropped him where he stood. The exit hole was the size of a half-dollar, fairly impressive for a tough-skinned and hard-boned animal like the feral hog.
That was just one of 10 hogs a group of us shot on a three-day Texas pig hunt, all of us using Hornady Full Boar in .308. All but two of the hogs were one-shot kills, including several pigs over 150 pounds. Based on this, and my experience with the Hornady Full Boar at the range, it looks like the ammunition manufacturer has a winner — a new entry into the growing hog hunting market that gets the job done.
The Hornady Full Boar line — available in .223 Rem., .243 Win., 6.8 SPC, .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag., .308 Win., 30-06 and .300 Win. Mag. — is loaded with Hornady's GMX bullet, in weights ranging from 50 grains in .223 to 165 grain for all .30 caliber offerings. Suggested retails will run $30 to $57 per box.
Introduced several years ago, the GMX is Hornady's one-piece copper-alloy bullet. With its deep hollowpoint and double crimping cannelure, Hornady rates the boattailed GMX bullet as retaining up to 95 percent of its weight while delivering deep penetration and expanding nicely. That cannelure serves two purposes: lessening bearing surface and thereby reducing copper fouling and giving handloaders more crimping options.
"Hornady Full Boar ammunition provides a great solution for hunters dealing with the ever-growing wild hog population and other game that requires a tough, high-weight-retention bullet," says Neal Emery, Hornady's communications manager. "These cartridges are designed to feed and function well in semiautos as well as standard action types and can be used in areas that require non-traditional [non-lead] bullets.
"The Hornady Full Boar line was designed from the ground up with hog hunting in mind," Emery continues. "With the popularity of ARs and other semiautos for hog hunting, and the limitations that come from the wide variety of gas systems, we chose to load Full Boar at conventional, standard velocities.
"While many of the cartridges use the same weight GMX bullet found in the Superformance line, there are a couple of exceptions. The 6.8 SPC 100-grain load was purpose-built for the Hornady Full Boar line, and the .223 Rem. Full Boar load features a 50-grain. GMX bullet, as opposed to the 55-grain GMX in the Superformance line. Another reason for the conventional powder and velocities is the common utilization of suppressors."
Back home from Texas, I took a few boxes of Hornady Full Boar to a local range and ran them through my chronograph: a box of Full Boar in .308 Win. with the 165-grain GMX bullet and a box of Full Boar 6.8 SPC with the 100-grain GMX. I used a PACT Professional Chronograph XP that I picked up from Brownells.
I had a new Mossberg MMR AR-15 rifle with a 20-inch barrel and topped with a Swarovski Z6 riflescope model for the Full Boar in .308. I tested the Full Boar 6.8SPC with a new SIX8 AR rifle from LWRC International that sports a 16-inch barrel.
I shot five-shot strings of each caliber and let the rifles cool for several minutes between strings. The .308 Full Boar strings averaged right around 2,480 fps, with a standard deviation of 19.3.
Hornady rates the .308 Full Boar as having a muzzle velocity of 2,610 fps — with a 24-inch barrel. So my readings on the PACT XP were pretty much spot on (figuring a loss of approximately 30 fps per inch of barrel on my 20-inch test barrel versus the 24-incher Hornady used for its data).
The 6.8 SPC rounds averaged 2,386 fps, with a standard deviation of right about 19.0. Hornady puts this round at 2,550 fps at the muzzle of a 24-inch barrel. If you add back in the 30 fps per barrel inch lost, you actually come up with 2,626 fps for these rounds, though of course velocity loss per inch barrel length is not an exact science.
As far as the accuracy of the ammo, I must admit that my rifle rest malfunctioned on me, and my attempt at a fix made the situation worse. Though I wasn't as steady as I would have liked, I still managed 1.5-inch groups at 100 yards with the .308 Full Boar and right about 1.3 inches at the same yardage for the 6.8SPC Full Boar. I suspect with a more stable shooting setup, those groups would tighten up by several tenths of an inch for each load.
Much has been made of how tough and dangerous wild hogs are as a species. The danger part has certainly been overhyped, in my opinion. Yet I have field dressed and butchered a good number of hogs, and they are very solidly built animals.
Stout and compact, a 200-pound boar is a lot harder to kill, in my experience, than a deer of the same weight, given a boar's tougher hide, heavy bones and shield, that one-inch-plus of impact-absorbing scar tissue covering the shoulder and ribs.
For hogs, especially those of any size, a solid bullet that will not come apart really is needed to make one-shot, quick kills. You can certainly make those kills with Hornady Full Boar ammunition.