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Suggested Bullet Weight by Animal Weight

The “Ideal Bullet Weight” is usually the lightest bullet that will reliably cut a large enough wound channel to quickly bring down the quarry when struck in the vital zone. The vital zone is about ten inches in diameter for deer-sized game and is centered at about the top of the heart. A larger wound channel increases the chances of severing arteries feeding the brain causing fainting due to rapid loss of cranial blood pressure.

Using a lighter bullet increases the chances that the animal will run too far for reliable recovery even with a shot inside the vital zone. The permanent wound channel from these lighter bullets is too small to regularly disrupt enough arteries to immediately drop the brain’s blood pressure. Conversely, the probability of rapid fainting does not appreciatively increase with even significantly heavier bullets than ideal. These heavier bullets, however, do exhibit more intense recoil, making good shot placement a greater challenge.

The “Ideal Bullet Weight” balance gives minimum recoil for a high probability of getting a large enough wound channel for high likelihood of rapid fainting. Milder recoil makes precise and accurate aiming easier than with heavier bullets. This combination generally maximizes the odds of a successful shot.

Larger bullets, however, are sometimes called for. One reason is that the recommended weight is not available in the caliber one intends to use. The hunter may also desire to use a single bullet for all hunting to develop better confidence in where the bullet will impact in a variety of ranges and weather conditions. Last, a significantly larger bullet may be called for when one’s hunting circumstances might require shots from angles that would normally be inappropriate.

Enter heaviest animal weight (lb) expected in your hunting area:
(Animal weight must be between 33 lb and 3300 lb)
Calculate recommended weight –
This calculator is a companion to the bullet weight charts in the “Ideal Bullet Weight” discussions. Use the navigation buttons below to see the charts and “Defining Ideal Bullet Weight” button to read how the definitions were developed and how long humans have understood how big a cutting tool needs to be to quickly bring game down.

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