Cor-Bon Hunter Handgun Ammunition

By Chuck Hawks

Cor-Bon Hunter box
Cor-Bon Hunter Handgun ammo box. Illustration courtesy of Cor-Bon.

Cor-Bon now offers several lines of premium handgun and rifle ammunition. Among these are DPX (reviewed on the Handgun Information Page) and Cor-Bon Hunter. The latter is the subject of this piece.

Like all Cor-Bon handgun ammunition, the Hunter line is loaded to maximum pressure and velocity to deliver maximum energy to the target. Unlike the DPX line, which favors relatively light bullets for caliber and the original High Velocity line that offers light and medium weight bullets for a wide range of calibers, the Hunter line offers heavy for caliber bullets to maximize penetration in big game animals. The Hunter calibers start with the .357 Mag. and 10mm Auto and go up from there in power and bore diameter. No standard calibers need apply.

The 2006 Cor-Bon Hunter handgun load list looks like this (caliber/bullet weight):

10mm Auto/180 grain BCSP, 10mm Auto/200 grain RNPN, .357 Mag/180 grain BCSP, .357 Mag/200 grain HC, .300 Whisper/150 grain JSP, .400 Cor-Bon/170 grain BCSP, .41 Rem. Mag/210 grain JHP, .41 Rem. Mag/250 grain HC, .44 Auto Mag/240 grain JHP, .440 Cor-Bon/240 grain JHP, .440 Cor-Bon/305 grain RNPN, .44 Rem. Mag/180 grain JHP, .44 Rem. Mag/240 grain JHP, .44 Rem. Mag/260 grain BCHP, .44 Rem. Mag/280 grain BCSP, .44 Rem Mag/300 grain JSP, .44 Rem. Mag/305 grain FPPN, .44 Rem. Mag/320 grain HC, .444 Marlin/280 grain BCSP, .444 Marlin/305 grain FPPN, .45 Colt +P/265 grain BCHP*, .45 Colt +P/300 grain JSP*, .45 Colt +P/335 grain HC, .45 Win. Mag/320 grain RNPN, .454 Casull/240 JHP, .454 Casull/265 grain BCHP, 454 Casull/285 grain BC, .454 Casull/300 grain JSP, .454 Casull/320 grain FPPN, .454 Casull/335 grain HC, .454 Casull/360 grain FPPN, .45-70/350 grain BC, .45-70/405 grain FPPN, .45-70/460 grain HC, .460 S&W Mag/300 grain JHP, .460 S&W Mag/325 BC, .460 S&W Mag/395 HC, .500 S&W Spl/350 grain JHP, .500 S&W Spl/350 grain FMJ, .500 S&W Mag/350 JHP, .500 S&W Mag/385 BC, .500 S&W Mag/400 grain SP, .500 S&W Mag/440grain HC, .500 S&W Mag/500 grain HC.

Cor-Bon uses some unusual abbreviations to describe their bullets. Here is what they mean: BC = Bonded core, BCSP = Bonded core soft point, BCHP = Bonded core hollow point, HC = Hard cast, FPPN = Flat-point penetrator, RNPN = Round nose penetrator.

Cor-Bon's Pete Pi, Jr. volunteered to send us the ammo for this article as well as for the coming review of the Henry Golden Boy rifle in .357 Mag. (See the Product Review Page.) Naturally, we took him up on that offer.

For this article I shot the Hunter .357 Magnunm 180 grain BCSP load in my 4" Colt Ultimate Python revolver. This is a full power load driving 180 grain bullet (SD .202) at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 1200 fps and muzzle energy of 576 ft. lbs. from a 4" barrel, and it hits hard at both ends of the gun. The recoil is sharp and substantial, subjectively greater than the old Remington load that advertised a 158 grain bullet at a MV of 1550 fps, which until now was the stiffest .357 Magnum load I had encountered.

On the other hand, the recoil of the Cor-Bon .357 Hunter load is manageable even from a bench rest, and considerably less than that of a full power .41 or .44 Mag. revolver load or some of the over pressure .45 Long Colt +P loads designed for Ruger Blackhawk revolvers to which I have been exposed.

A 180 grain .357" bullet has a sectional density (SD) of .202 (about equal to that of a 300 grain .44 Mag. bullet), which is very good for a pistol bullet. This specific bullet is a Cor-Bon designed bonded core soft point, which is perfect if you need to stretch the capability of the .357 Magnum cartridge to the maximum.

This is a load that I would recommend to someone who carries a .357 revolver in the field as protection against dangerous predators. The bonded core bullet will retain most of its weight to maximize penetration and yet allow some expansion. Penetration plus expansion is the key to maximizing killing power. Since I often carry the Colt Python that appears in this article for protection in the field (when I am not carrying a high power rifle), I am a perfect customer for this Cor-Bon Hunter load.

I did the bench rest shooting for this article at the Isaac Walton gun range south of Eugene, Oregon. This facility offers covered firing positions, solid bench rests, and target stands at 25, 50, 100, and 200 yards. I confined my shooting of the iron sighted Colt Python revolver to 25 yards. For record I fired 5-shot groups at Hoppe's Competition 25 yard Pistol Target centers.

As usual here in Western Oregon, the weather was overcast with intermittent rain showers. The temperature was in the mid-50s (F), and wind was not a factor.

Groups ran from 1 1/2" to 2 3/8", averaging 1 7/8". That is not very good shooting, for which I apologize. The Python can (and has) done much better, and so has the Cor-Bon Hunter ammunition. I am confident that on a better day a better man could average 1.5" groups with this combination. What can I say? I had a cup of coffee that morning, which I usually avoid on range days, and some days I just plain shoot better than others. (I know, most gun writers can always shoot the head off a gnat at 100 yards with any pistol an advertiser produces--at least in their articles. I guess that is why I don't belong to the union.) And this ammo does kick.

On the other hand, those results are adequate for my purpose of protection in the field, and they are also entirely adequate for deer hunting with a .357 Magnum revolver, which is necessarily a close range proposition. A 1 7/8" (1.875") group at 25 yards expands to a 3.75" group at 50 yards or a 5.625" group at 75 yards, well within the approximate 10" heart/lung kill zone of North American deer.

I found the Cor-Bon ammo impressive, despite my lackluster performance behind the trigger. While at the range I took the opportunity to re-zero the Ultimate Python for this Cor-Bon Hunter .357 Magnum load. It is now the official field/protection load for the big snake.

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Copyright 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.