Over the past few years, gun and ammunition manufacturers have attempted to capitalize on the growing hog problem in the United States by selling products designed and marketed specifically for hunting hogs.

Now, there's nothing wrong with that. After all, that's how capitalism works. However, the question remains: Is it necessary to use special hog hunting ammunition when you're afield after feral swine? Or are these types of ammo just a marketing gimmick?

First, a little discussion on the various types of hog hunting ammunition out there like Hornady's Full Boar, Remington's Hog Hammer, and Freedom Munitions' Boar Buster brands.

For the most part, ammunition marketed for hog hunting consists of a good, quality bonded or monolithic bullet (like the Nosler Bonded Performance or Barnes TSX) loaded in a popular hog hunting cartridge (like .223 Remington or .308 Winchester) and sold in a box with a picture of a hog on it. Some of this ammunition is specifically designed for reliable feeding in modern sporting rifles, and some brands contain a flash suppressant in the powder for hunting at night.

Yes, there is certain amount of advertising at play here. Fortunately, these various brands of hog-hunting ammo are usually good, quality products. For the most part, they use premium bullets that are proven performers on tough species of game and are optimized for common hog-hunting scenarios.

Generally speaking, dedicated hog-hunting ammo is designed for controlled expansion, high weight retention and deep penetration. This is important because hogs are pretty robust animals. Their hides are thicker than the hide on a deer, really big hogs can weigh several hundred pounds, and mature boars have a thick cartridge shield on their shoulders. They aren't bulletproof by any stretch of the imagination, but they can still be pretty darn tough to kill sometimes.

All that being said, hunters have been killing hogs for decades using run-of-the-mill ammunition in common deer-hunting cartridges. Place your shot correctly with your chosen deer load, and it will likely quickly and ethically kill just about any hog. So, no, it's not essential to use dedicated hog ammunition to kill feral swine.

On the other hand, 300-plus-pound hogs are rare, but they do exist. It's important to use ammunition that will penetrate deep enough to reach the vitals if you happen to encounter such a big hog.

This is even more important when hunting with a small-caliber cartridge like the .223 Remington, or if you'll be in a situation (such as doing hog control at night) where you may need to take an extreme quartering shot that must penetrate a long distance to reach the vitals.

So, under certain conditions, ammo marketed for hog hunting can provide a small advantage. True, there are many other good, quality loads out there that can do the job just as well, even if they aren’t specifically promoted as such.

If it makes you feel more confident, by all means use ammunition with a picture of a hog on the box. But don’t stress about it or feel like you have to pay a premium to use ammunition marketed for hog hunting though. The vast majority of hunting ammo out there will work just fine on feral hogs.