What does ‘ballistic tip’ mean?


Ballistic is a much over-used word. You may associate it with nuclear weapons. The word is pointlessly used to describe long-range missiles with nuclear warheads. It has nothing to do with the power of the payload. When you use it with the word ‘missile’, ‘ballistic’ means there is a guidance system on board. Otherwise they would just be rockets.

In rifle shooting terms, ‘ballistic tips’ help bullets stay in the air longer by reducing the effects of wind and gravity. ‘Plastic tip’ is a better way of putting it. For shooting long distances, Sako’s Aki Suvilahti touts the company’s plastic-tipped ammo: “Ballistics can be exterior [or] internal, but before going too much in details and specifics, the benefit of polymer tip it’s probably more on the long range hunting,” he says.

For deer manager Paul Childerley, it’s all about “trajectory and stability”. Those are his two main needs.

“Exactly,” confirms Aki, “so, if you think of removing the ballistic tip, the bullet itself is a pretty aggressive hollow-point bullet, so expansion for such a bullet is very good, aggressive and it is expanding at very low velocities, so in long range…”

“…it’s slowing down,” Paul finishes Aki’s sentence.

Typical plastic tipped bullet: the Sako Gamehead Pro



“Yeah… but at the same time this ballistic tip is improving the ballistic coefficient of the bullet right here so you get flatter trajectory and at the same time good expansion capabilities.”

“So, out of the two then, use the soft point for short to medium distance?” asks Paul.

Softpoint: the Sako Hammerhead


Aki agrees the ballistic tip doesn’t give any advantage for shooting short distances because the hollow point is more-easily fragmented. Maximising weight retention relies on a “more simplified structure”, he adds.

If the bullets are bonded, they can easily achieve 90% weight retention, says Aki.


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