The difference between a hunting bullet and a target bullet, in the strictest sense, is that a target bullet is required only to place a hole in paper with exacting micrometer like accuracy.
On the other hand a hunting bullet needs to strike the vital zone of your game animal such as a deer, elk or bear within the vital heart lung area usually 6 to 8 inches in diameter, then expand as it travels though vital tissue to create a wound channel through the animal and preferably exit to leave a blood trail. Is there a middle ground where both target and hunting bullets meet? The answer is a resounding YES!
I believe what has changed is the use of ballistic science coupled with new manufacturing and test equipment with tolerances that are so much better than that of the 1960’s and 1970’s and its impact on bullet manufacture cost and overall quality.
In many cases today hunting bullets have the same exacting quality as some of today’s target bullets and the cost associated with each are not orders of magnitude different. So you can use hunting bullets, in many cases, for target competition because the bullet ballistic’s on the outside are the same, such as Nosler with their “Ballistic tip” and Nosler AccuBond and e-Tip and the new Hornady ELD-X (Extremely Low Drag eXpanding) Hunting bullet and their line of other hunting bullets that equally can be used for Match grade target Competition. Of course there are other companies doing great things but these are good examples.
It was Hornady just recently that used science to validate long range ballistics using Doppler Radar (Yes the same technology used by police to detect your car speed) and determined that the bullet meplat (tip) of polycarbonate was melting and needed to be reformulated to be heat resistant.
In general American bullet manufacturing is moving in that direction as a science. And it is we the shooters and hunters that benefit. The movement of today’s manufacturing also reduces cost for total cartridge manufacture making shooting less expensive and more attractive to shooting and hunting enthusiasts. And they are made in America!!!