Federal Fusion Safari Ammunition
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
"Fusion technology is unleashed on the African continent. And your safari will never be the same. It's more than just a new bullet--it's a whole new way to experience your African adventure. Drop game in their tracks. Turn trackers into spotters. Become an African legend. Turn loose the energy of Fusion Safari."
That is the legend printed on the back of the Fusion Safari ammunition box. Bold words, indeed.
The Federal Cartridge Division of ATK introduced Fusion Safari ammunition in 2011, promising superb performance for African game at reasonable prices. This caught our attention, as premium safari ammunition retails for at least $2.50/cartridge where we live and increases from there, depending on brand, caliber and load. The initial Fusion Safari caliber offerings include .375 H&H Mag. (300 grain bullet), .416 Remington and .416 Rigby (400 grain bullet), .458 Win. Mag. and .458 Lott (500 grain bullet). We immediately requested ammunition in .458 Win. Mag. for testing (load #F458FS1), our safari caliber of choice, which was promptly supplied.
Federal advertises these features of the new Fusion Safari bullet:
Translated, the last point means that the thick copper jacket is electro-chemically plated to the core, rather than the core being pressed or injected into a pre-formed gilding metal jacket. A very high degree of jacket to core bonding results.
The Fusion Safari .458 Winchester Magnum load launches a Fusion bonded core, jacketed soft point, semi-round nose bullet with a flat meplat (flat point) at an advertised muzzle velocity (MV) of 2090 fps and muzzle energy of 4850 ft. lbs. The sectional density of a .458/500 bullet is .341, which should insure extremely deep penetration.
The stated downrange velocity/energy figures are: 1820 fps/3675 ft. lbs. at 100 yards; 1580 fps/2760 ft. lbs. at 200 yards; 1370 fps/2065 ft. lbs. at 300 yards; 1190 fps/1585 ft. lbs. at 400 yards. I can't imagine anyone shooting a .458 at 400 yards for any reason, but note that the .458 Fusion Safari bullet hits approximately as hard at 200 yards as a .30-06/220 grain bullet does at the muzzle and as hard at 300 yards as a .45-70/400 does at the muzzle. This is serious stopping power!
Zero this load to hit dead on at 100 yards, typical for a .458 Magnum with a scope mounted 1.5" over bore, and the bullet will be about 0.4" high at 50 yards and 3.5" low at 150 yards. That is perfect for shooting dangerous game, which is ordinarily engaged between 50 and 150 yards. Zero for 200 yards, long range for a .458, and the bullet will arc 4.6" high at 100 yards.
Using our Chrony chronograph and Chuck Hawks' Browning FN/Mauser safari rifle with a 24" barrel, our series of test shots averaged 2115 fps, measured 15 feet from the muzzle. The extreme spread was only 39 fps. Note that the measured velocity averaged 25 fps faster than claimed and no individual shot measured less than 2100 fps. Our altitude was about 500 feet above sea level and the ambient temperature was 70-degrees F at the Izaak Walton outdoor rifle range south of Eugene, Oregon, where we did our testing. This is excellent performance for hunting ammunition by any standard.
We only fired two three-shot groups for accuracy at 100 yards from the bench rest, since Chuck, who did all the shooting chores, was quickly reaching his recoil tolerance limit after shooting the string for the chronograph. Target practice with a .458 Magnum is best done in small doses. (The other staff members in attendance, including Rocky Hays, Jim Fleck and Bob Fleck operated the Chrony and set the targets, but declined to shoot the .458 from the bench, so it was left to Owner/Managing Editor Chuck Hawks to lead from the front and sacrifice his shoulder.) This particular Browning Safari Grade rifle from the 1960's has always been spectacularly accurate and remained so with Fusion Safari loads. Each of our 100 yard groups measured only one inch from center to center of the bullet holes.
One MOA groups is a tribute to the uniformity of the Fusion Safari ammunition, as well as the vintage Browning bolt action rifle. Consider that African dangerous game double rifles usually deliver "minute of pie plate" accuracy at 100 yards, which is actually sufficient for the purpose. Buffalo, hippo, rhino and elephant are very large targets!
Western Oregon, where we live, has been denuded of pachyderms since the end of the last ice age, so we were unable to "field test" the new Fusion Safari ammo. However, we are confident that it will fill the bill whenever a controlled expansion bullet is appropriate, which is most of the time. Anyone contemplating taking their .375, 416 or .458 to Alaska to mow down giant moose and brown bear, or to Australia for water buffalo, should also be well served by Fusion Safari ammo.
Affordable, reliable and accurate ammunition for heavy game is here at last. We wonder if a bonded core, plated FMJ Fusion bullet might be in the works for those rare occasions when an African "solid" load is recommended.
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