Hunting Bullet Guide
By Chuck Hawks
Introduction to Part Two
Hunting bullets are the focus of the Hunting Bullet Guide articles. This article is Part Two of the series, and addresses big game hunting bullets by manufacturer and bullet design or type. Part One addresses the subject by caliber, bullet weight, and application.
The purpose of this series is to assist the reader in choosing an appropriate jacketed, expanding bullet for hunting medium and large game animals. For our purposes, "big game" starts at animals weighing perhaps 80 pounds and goes up from there to animals as large as pachyderms.
I use Winchester's "CXP" (Controlled eXPansion) scale to describe the various classes of game animals, so if you are not familiar with it, please read the article "The CXP Rating System for Hunting Cartridges." I have written fairly extensively about the subject of hunting bullets, and most of those articles can be found in the same place, the Ammunition, Bullets and Ballistics index page of the Rifle Information Page here on Guns and Shooting Online. Links to all of the bullet makers mentioned in this series are provided on the Guns and Shooting Online Links Page.
Unfortunately, there are so many hunting bullets from so many manufacturers, in so many calibers and weights, that is it is simply impossible to deal with every bullet individually. Due to limitations of space and time, only bullet designs from widely known and distributed manufacturers can be included. These are A-Square, Barnes, Federal, Hornady, Nosler/Combined Technology, Remington, Sierra, Speer, Swift, Winchester and Woodleigh. Among reloaders, Sierra, Speer, Hornady, and Nosler are generally considered to be the "big boys" among the bullet makers.
All hunting bullets are designed for limited purposes and to perform properly over a finite range of velocities. Some factory load ballistics tables indicate the class of animal for which each load is intended (principally Winchester) and most do not. At least one bullet manufacturer (Hornady) provide specific velocity range and application (intended game size) information in their reloading manual, but most do not. However, most of the bullet makers' reloading manuals at least indicate the general purpose of each of their basic bullet designs. The ammunition manufacturers' catalogs and the bullet makers' reloading manuals are usually the best sources of information about their various bullets.
Hunting Bullets by Manufacturer and Type
A-Square offers three bullet lines of unique construction. A-Square calls this their "Triad" of bullets and offers all three types in diameters from .338" to .620".
These three types of bullets are the Monolithic Solid, Dead Tough, and Lion Load. All A-Square bullets are of round nose design with parallel sides. They may be interchanged (as long as the caliber and bullet weight remains the same) without changing the point of impact. Thus the same rifle could be used with three different types of bullets for large predators, heavy hoofed game, and pachyderms on the same safari.
The MONOLITHIC SOLID is just that. It is a leaded bronze alloy bullet that does not expand even when fired into the largest and toughest animals. Its purpose is extreme, straight-line penetration on dangerous CXP4 animals.
The LION LOAD soft point is the opposite approach, a specialized bullet designed to debride (fragment) on impact, thus creating maximum stopping power when used in frontal or broadside shots on big cats. Its effect has been likened by A-Square to pressing the muzzle of a 20 gauge shotgun against the animal and pulling the trigger. A special brittle jacket and core are responsible for this bullet's performance.
The DEAD TOUGH is the A-Square bullet of interest to most hunters. It uses a tapered, inner belted, jacket and a bonded core to insure controlled expansion and deep, straight line penetration over a 1400 fps range of impact velocities. The impact velocity range is approximately 1500-2900 fps. A-Square claims that the Dead Tough is suitable for taking animals ranging is size from small deer and impala to Cape buffalo.
In addition to the calibers served by the full Triad of bullets, A-Square offers monolithic solids in .284", .308", and .323" diameters as well as a 180 grain Dead Tough .308" bullet. A-Square bullets are available to reloaders, in A-Square factory loads and in selected Stars & Stripes factory loads.
Barnes is primarily known today as the manufacturer of the all copper X-BULLET projectiles. The basic Barnes X-Bullet, originally a spitzer/flat base design with a small hollow point to initiate expansion, has expanded into different lines. The basic version today is the Triple Shock X-Bullet (TSX).
The TRIPLE SHOCK is basically an X-Bullet with three driving bands around its circumference. This also reduces friction on the bullet's trip down the bore and gives the copper displaced by the rifling lands somewhere to go. The TSX line has basically replaced the original X-Bullet and XLC lines. Barnes Triple Shock X-Bullets are offered in Federal, Weatherby and Cor-Bon factory loaded ammunition as well as to reloaders.
One of the friendly tech reps at Barnes Bullets once informed me that all X-Type big game hunting bullets, regardless of caliber or weight, are designed to initiate expansion at impact velocities of 1600 fps. Effective expansion will occur at impact velocities in excess of about 1800 fps.
Here is a quotation from the FAQ on the Barnes web site regarding the terminal performance of X-type bullets:
"When the Triple-Shock X-Bullet was developed, the X-bullet cavity was redesigned to create triple-shock terminal performance. The X-shaped tip begins opening immediately on contact with game, delivering an initial transfer of energy to the animal's nervous system. As the bullet penetrates another inch or two, the four copper petals continue opening. The expanding bullet explosively compresses trapped air and body fluids, transferring a second shock to the nervous system. After penetrating another three to six inches, the bullet fully expands to more than twice its original diameter--further compressing trapped air and body fluids to deliver a third massive shock to the animal's system. The improved cavity design has proven so successful it has since been adapted to other Barnes X-Bullets."
Barnes still produces a line of SOLID (non-expanding) and ORIGINAL (lead core, copper jacketed expanding) bullets. These tend to be in relatively heavy weights for their caliber. All Barnes Originals, except for a pair of unusual .45/70 spire points, are round nose or flat point bullets. They have a good reputation where deep penetration is required, due to their thick jackets and high sectional density. Like the X-Bullets, Barnes Original bullets are designed to begin expansion at impact velocities in excess of 1600 fps and are at their best at impact velocities in excess of 1800 fps.
Federal Cartridge, like Speer a subsidiary of ATK, manufacturers some of their own bullets. Others they purchase from various specialty bullet makers. Federal's principal proprietary bullet is the Jack Carter designed "Trophy Bonded Bear Claw," to which Federal purchased the rights years ago.
This design is the exact opposite of the later Winchester Fail Safe bullet. The Trophy Bonded looks like the rear of a Barnes X-Bullet grafted to the front portion of a Swift A-Frame bullet. The front core is protected by a tapered jacket, to which it is fusion bonded. There is no rear core, just a solid copper alloy bullet shank. The front part of the bullet expands, the rear cannot.
This design is reputed to retain about 95% of its original weight and is noted for deep penetration. It is recommended for CXP2 and CXP3 game, including the largest dangerous predators in suitable calibers. Trophy Bonded bullets are available to reloaders under the Speer brand name.
Federal's newest bullet, at this writing, is the "Fusion." This bullet is a lower cost alternative to the premium bonded core bullets. Its lead core is electro-chemically fused to a jacket of uniform thickness (not internally tapered) by a proprietary process said to give results mimicking those of bonded core bullets. The jacket extends all the way to the tip of the bullet, reminiscent of the Speer Mag-Tip.
The specific application of Fusion bullets is CXP2 game. This bullet was designed primarily for deer hunting, although I have heard of good results on elk from Fusion bullets of adequate caliber and weight. The Fusion bullet is available in its own, separate, line of ammunition.
Hornady is a major supplier of bullets to reloaders and offers several lines of bullets. The hunting bullets that concern us here are the InterLock, SST, InterBond and Flex-Tip. Hornady also offers these bullet in their various lines of factory loaded ammunition and Hornady bullets are also used in other brands of ammunition, including Stars & Stripes, Remington and Weatherby.
The Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading specifies the application (medium game, large game, and dangerous game), as well as the appropriate muzzle velocity range for every Hornady hunting bullet. Rather than duplicate pages of copyrighted material, I refer you directly to the source. The Hornady Handbook is available in most gun shops, sporting good stores, and book stores as well as online from various sources including the Hornady web site.
The INTERLOCK is their basic soft point type bullet. It incorporates a tapered gilding metal jacket, cannelure and Hornady's InterLock ring that attempts to mechanically lock the jacket and lead alloy core to prevent core slippage during expansion.
Most InterLock bullets come with a Spire Point and a flat base, but there are round nose, flat point and boat-tail versions available where applicable. This has been a very successful and versatile hunting bullet design suitable for CXP2 and CXP3 game in appropriate calibers and weights. It is basically the bullet that made Hornady's reputation. InterLock bullets have been offered in Weatherby factory loads for many years, as well as in Hornady Custom and Light Magnum factory loaded ammunition and, of course, to reloaders.
The SST is an InterLock type bullet with a plastic tip and a boat-tail base. It is a quick-expanding bullet with a very high ballistic coefficient (BC) for long range shooting, yet it incorporates a cannelure and the internal InterLock ring. It is offered in Hornady factory loads as well as to reloaders. Remington uses a similar Hornady produced bullet that they call "Accu-Tip" in selected Remington factory loads.
Hornady's premium bonded bullet is the INTERBOND. The InterBond is similar to the SST and A-MAX in form and there is no cannelure. The core is chemically bonded to the jacket to positively prevent core/jacket separation. This bullet is intended to combine rapid initial expansion with high weight retention for deeper than normal penetration. InterBond bullets are available in selected Hornady factory loads and to reloaders.
The latest Hornady bullet as of this writing is the Flex-Tip. This is a boat-tail spitzer bullet reminiscent of the SST with a softer plastic tip that can safely be used in the tubular magazines of traditional lever action rifles. This dramatically expands the MPBR of the affected calibers compared to the flat point bullets traditionally loaded in these cartridges. At present, Flex-Tip bullets are offered exclusively in Hornady factory loaded "LEVERevolution" ammunition in .30-30 Winchester, .308 Marlin Express, .35 Remington, .444 Marlin, .45-70 and .450 Marlin calibers.
Nosler manufacturers bullets in Bend, Oregon and has grown to be one of the largest premium bullet makers in the industry. Most famous for their Partition bullets, Nosler also offers their very successful line of Ballistic Tip bullets and a new line of bonded core, plastic tipped bullets called AccuBond. Their popular priced bullet is the Solid Base, a soft point spitzer bullet with a boat-tail.
Nosler also manufacturers bullets for Winchester Ammunition under the Combined Technology (CT) name. These include the Partition Gold, Ballistic Silvertip and recently discontinued Fail Safe. (The Fail Safe is being replaced in the Winchester line by their proprietary XP3 bullet.) Nosler bullets are available to reloaders and are featured in many brands of factory loaded ammunition including Nosler, Black Hills, Federal, Norma, Stars & Stripes, Weatherby and, of course, Winchester.
Nosler bullet jackets are manufactured by a more expensive impact extrusion manufacturing process, creating bullet jackets from copper alloy (gilding metal) slugs, rather than the cup and draw method used for most bullets. This is required to manufacture the jackets for the dual core Partition bullet, but is also applied to the Ballistic Tip and other Nosler bullets to create their internally tapered jackets.
BALLISTIC TIP bullets took the market by storm. These popular spitzer projectiles use colored plastic tips to initiate the rapid expansion of their lead alloy cores. Impact extruded, tapered gilding metal jackets and a solid boat-tail base control expansion and support the resulting mushroom. Ballistic Tip hunting bullets from .30 caliber down are designed for CXP2 game (maximum weight 400 pounds). Ballistic tip bullets in calibers over .30 are designed with a heavier jacket intended for reliably harvesting CXP3 class game.
In all calibers Ballistic Tips boast high BCs and are considered long range bullets. They are also usually very accurate bullets. The CT Ballistic Silvertip is essentially a Ballistic Tip bullet with a black Lubalox exterior coating. Layne Simpson, writing the section of the Nosler Reloading Guide, fifth edition, entitled "Hunting With Nosler Bullets" states that Ballistic Tip bullets will expand satisfactorily at impact velocities as low as 1700 fps. No other specific velocity/expansion data is provided.
SOLID BASE bullets are essentially Ballistic Tip bullets with an ordinary lead tip instead of a plastic tip. Actually, it is the other way around, as Solid Base bullets preceded the introduction of the Ballistic Tip by several years. When a plastic tip was added to the old Solid Base, boat-tail spitzer bullet the Ballistic Tip was born and marketing history made. The popularity of the Ballistic Tip resulted in the disappearance of the Solid Base from the Nosler line for many years, but now it is back as a lower cost alternative to the Ballistic Tip. Solid Base bullets are recommended for the same range of game as the Ballistic Tips.
ACCUBOND bullets combine the high BC, accuracy and rapid expansion of the Ballistic Tip with a bonded core to retain 60-70% of their initial weight. These white tipped bullets are suitable for a wide variety of CXP2 and CXP3 game in appropriate calibers and bullet weights, including the largest and most dangerous predators.
PARTITION bullets are really two bullets in one. There are two lead alloy cores separated by a solid partition of gilding metal jacket material. The front core is encased in a relatively thin tapered jacket to insure that adequate expansion is initiated when the bullet strikes even the smaller species of CXP2 game. The internal partition positively prevents the bullet from opening beyond that point, retaining the rear core for deep penetration even in heavy CXP3 game. Recovered Partition bullets retain about 60% of their initial weight regardless of how violently the front part of the bullet expands. The Partition bullet has earned an outstanding reputation in the field as a killing bullet.
CT PARTITION GOLD bullets have heavier partitions set a little farther forward (about midway in the bullet, rather than 2/3 of the way back) to contain a larger base core for greater retained weight and somewhat deeper penetration than the standard Partition bullet. There is also a steel cup below the partition to further protect the lead alloy core of this extremely complicated bullet. Available with or without a black Molybdenum Disulfide external coating.
The CT FAIL SAFE is a flat base, moly-coated bullet design that resembles a Barnes X-Bullet drilled out to accept the rear core of a Partition Gold. Like the X-Bullet, the penetration and expansion characteristics are determined by the hollow point in the solid copper alloy front half of the bullet. However, the Fail Safe includes a rear lead alloy core, protected by a steel cup, similar to that in a Partition Gold Bullet. Unlike the Partition Gold, there is a heel closure disc to protect the base of the bullet from hot powder gasses. The Fail Safe has garnered a reputation as a very deep penetrating bullet with limited expansion. It is best reserved for CXP3 and CXP4 game and is in the process of being discontinued as I write these words in the Fall of 2007.
Remington has long been one of the most creative of the big ammo companies in terms of its bullet designs. In addition to offering a number of specialty bullets procured from other manufacturers (Swift and Hornady in particular), Remington produces their own original bullet designs. Some of these have been extremely successful.
The CORE-LOKT is probably the most famous Remington bullet. It is factory loaded in a great many calibers for the Remington Express ammo line. Core-Lokt bullets are also available to reloaders in consumer bulk packs in calibers from .243 to 8mm.
It is an outstanding flat base, soft point design that features a tapered gilding metal jacket that is thin at the tip and thickest around the middle of the bullet. This "inner belted" design controls expansion and retains a good portion of the bullet shank for deeper than normal penetration, yet allows nearly 2x diameter expansion of the front part of the bullet for maximum tissue destruction. Core-Lokt bullets also have a cannelure to allow crimping and help retain the core.
Core-Lokt bullets come in Pointed, round nose, flat point, and hollow point styles, depending on caliber and intended application. They are suitable for CXP2 and CXP3 game in appropriate calibers and weights.
The CORE-LOKT ULTRA is a newer variation on the Core-Lokt theme. It is a bonded core bullet with a heavy Core-Lokt type jacket. The nose is of the Mag-Tip type with no lead exposed. The bonded lead alloy core and heavy, inner belted jacket retains most of the bullets original weight for deep penetration. Remington claims that this bullet expands reliably at all ranges from 50 yards to 500 yards (impact velocities unspecified). Core-Lokt Ultra bullets are available in Remington Premier factory loads in calibers from .243 to .338. They are suitable for CXP2 and CXP3 game, including dangerous game, in appropriate calibers and bullet weights. Core-Lokt Ultra bullets are also available to reloaders.
The BRONZE POINT was the first tipped bullet, predating the CIL Sabre Tip and the later Nosler Ballistic Tip by decades. It uses a flat base and a bronze alloy tip to initiate expansion of the lead alloy core. The gilding metal jacket has a cannelure to mechanically help retain the core during expansion. This bullet is designed for CXP2 game and is available in only two calibers, .270/130 grain and .30-06/150 and 180 grain, in Remington Express factory loads.
ACCUTIP is the latest Remington tipped bullet. This is a plastic tipped spitzer bullet with a secant ogive profile made for Remington, I believe, by Hornady. The 140 grain .284" AccuTip is a flat base design; all of the other big game AccuTips are boat tail bullets. (There are also AccuTip varmint bullets, which are similar to Hornady's V-Max bullet.)
AccuTip bullets are designed for fast expansion. They use a tapered jacket and a cannelure to help retain the core. Remington specifically recommends AccuTip big game bullets for deer size animals.
The last I heard, Sierra was the best selling brand of bullets for reloading in the U.S. They are famous for their match bullets and also make a wide variety of varmint and big game hunting bullets, some of which are offered in Federal and Sellier & Bellot factory loaded ammunition.
Sierra hunting bullets generally have a reputation for excellent accuracy, rapid expansion and quick kills. They are particularly popular with experienced hunters. Sierra Bullets are constructed with tapered gilding metal jackets and lead alloy cores. Sierra varies the jacket thickness, jacket taper and core hardness to control bullet expansion and penetration.
Of principle interest here are the Pro Hunter and GameKing lines of hunting bullets. These are medium to heavy weight (for caliber) bullets designed for harvesting CXP2 and CXP3 game.
Most Sierra PRO HUNTER bullets have pointed soft point (spitzer) noses, but where appropriate Sierra offers semi-pointed, flat point, round nose and hollow point styles. These are reasonably priced, flat base bullets with gilding metal jackets that are suitable for a wide range of applications in calibers from .243 to .45-70.
The somewhat more expensive GAMEKING bullets all have spitzer points and boat-tail bases for a high BC. GameKing bullets are probalby the closest thing to a Sierra MatchKing bullet that is appropriate for use in a big game hunting rifle. Sierra regards the GameKing as a long range bullet and it is so described on their web site. Available calibers range from .22 to .375.
The Sierra reloading manual includes detailed descriptions of all of their bullets and conveniently recommends specific hunting loads for their Pro Hunter and GameKing bullets in every available caliber. Sierra has so far eschewed adding plastic tips or bonded cores to their bullets, maintaining that their bullets perform superbly in their present form.
Speer is owned by the same company (ATK) that owns Federal Cartridge and CCI. Speer bullets are used in many Federal factory loads and Speer is also one of the major bullet makers supplying reloaders. Reloaders can buy Federal produced Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullets in Speer packaging. In addition to big game hunting bullets, Speer produces varmint, match and special application bullets.
Aside from the premium Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, which is addressed in the Federal section, Speer markets several lines of big game hunting bullets, all of which use gilding metal jackets. These include (in order of construction from lighter to heavier) the Boat Tail, Hot-Cor, Mag-Tip, Grand Slam and African Grand Slam. Point styles include spitzer, semi-spitzer, flat point, hollow point and round nose, depending on application. Most Speer big game hunting bullets are flat base designs, the exception being those in the Boat Tail line. Unfortunately, Speer does not provide specific velocity/expansion information about their bullets.
The Speer BOAT TAIL bullet is a conventionally constructed soft point spitzer with a 13 degree tapered heel. It is designed primarily for long range shooting, where velocities have usually fallen off. This bullet uses a tapered gilding metal jacket to control expansion and is the fastest expanding design in the Speer line. It is recommended for the smaller species of CXP2 game in the small bore calibers and non-dangerous game in medium bore calibers.
HOT-COR bullets are the heart of the Speer line. This bullet is manufactured by pouring the lead alloy core into the gilding metal bullet jacket in liquid form at 900 F degrees. Speer claims that this reduces the possibility of core slippage during expansion. A tapered profile jacket and the specific lead alloy of the core control expansion. Speer recommends their Hot-Cor bullets for animals at the upper end of a given rifle cartridge's capability, which includes all CXP2 and CXP3 game in appropriate bullet weights and calibers.
MAG-TIP's are semi-spitzer bullets manufactured using the Hot-Cor process, but with jacket profiles about 45% heavier in the shank. The inside of the jacket near the tip is serrated to promote reliable expansion at lower velocities and there is a cannelure to help retain the core after impact at high velocity. The jacket protects the bullet's point all the way to the tip to prevent battering in the magazine. The result is basically a spitzer bullet, but with a small, flat point. Mag-Tip bullets hold together well and yet expand reliably at a wide range of velocities. Most of the Mag-Tip design features were incorporated into the later, premium priced, Grand Slam bullets. Mag-Tip bullets are available in 7mm, .30 and .416 calibers.
The GRAND SLAM has been Speer's premium bullet since 1975, although the Federal Trophy Bonded bullet is now Speer's top of the line offering. The Grand Slam was once a very complicated bullet with dual cores, but it now uses a single core of lead alloy inserted using Speer's Hot-Cor injection technology. These are spitzer and semi-spitzer style flat base bullets. The shank of the Grand Slam's tapered gilding metal jacket is up to 45% thicker than standard game bullets and a cannelure is used to help lock the core in the jacket. To help initiate expansion there are internal flutes in the nose of the jacket. The jacket extends to the tip of the bullet to eliminate battering in the magazines of hard kicking rifles. Grand Slam bullets are appropriate for the larger species of CXP2 and all CXP3 game and have a good reputation as all-around bullets for mixed bag hunts.
AFRICAN GRAND SLAM soft point bullets are the toughest expanding bullets in the Speer line and are intended for use on CXP4 game. They use a jacket cup machined from a solid bar of gilding metal. This jacket is claimed to comprise almost half the total weight of the bullet and has a very thick shank. Internal serrations help bind the jacket to the lead alloy Hot-Cor when it is injected into the partially drawn cup, which is then formed into its final shape. African Grand Slam soft point bullets are available in .416 and .458 calibers. Speer also offers non-expanding African Grand Slam Tungsten Solid core bullets in .375, .416, and .458 calibers.
Swift Bullet Company
Swift makes the premium A-Frame partitioned, bonded core bullet and the Scirocco plastic tipped, bonded core bullet. The former is available in calibers from .22 to .470 in many bullet weights, while the selection of the latter is more limited, ranging in caliber from .22 to .338. All Swift bullets are made with pure lead cores and tapered pure copper jackets. Swift bullets are available to reloaders and are also used in Remington Premier factory loaded ammunition.
Most A-Frame bullets are semi-spitzers, with point profiles along the lines of the Speer Mag-Tip, although the line also includes at least one round nose and a couple of flat point bullets. The A-FRAME is a tough bullet that features a heavy copper mid-section wall to positively limit expansion. The front core is bonded to the tapered copper jacket for controlled expansion up to 2x diameter and the rear end of the jacket is folded over the back of the bullet to retain the rear core for deep penetration. In ballistic gelatin testing, A-Frame bullets retained up to 95% of their original weight. Swift claims that the A-Frame is, "the bullet that hunters shoot with confidence, at any game, of any size, close up or far off."
The SCIROCCO was the first bonded core, plastic tipped bullet and all Scirocco bullets feature a 15 degree boat-tail base and a secant ogive nose to maximize ballistic coefficient. Swift reports that in their testing Scirocco bullets mushroomed effectively at impact velocities from 1440 fps to 3000 fps, retaining an average 70% of their original weight.
In addition the Combined Technology bullets produced for Winchester by Nosler, Winchester continues to offer the traditional Power Point and Silvertip bullets in their Super-X line of ammunition, as well as a moly-coated version of the Power Point called the "Power Point Plus" in their premium Supreme ammo line.
The POWER POINT is a flat base, soft point bullet with a tapered gilding metal jacket and a cannelure to help control expansion. There is an exposed lead tip and notches in the tip of the jacket to help initiate expansion.
It is available in spitzer, round nose, and flat point styles in Winchester factory loads for a wide variety of cartridges. Power Point bullets are also available in 100 count bags to reloaders in a limited number of calibers and bullet weights, including .224", .277", .284", .308", .308" (.30-30), and .310" (7.62x39).
The Power Point is primarily designed for CXP2 game, where it has a solid reputation for quick kills. The heaviest bullet weights in suitable calibers are also recommended for CXP3 game. It has proved a reliable game-getter for decades and is the most popular bullet ever made by Winchester.
The SILVERTIP is the long running companion to the Power Point. This is basically a flat base, soft point style bullet with considerable lead exposed at the tip. Except that the lead at the tip isn't actually exposed. It is enclosed in a thin aluminum alloy nose cap to protect it in the magazine and slightly delay expansion. The Silvertip has a tapered gilding metal jacket and cannelure, much like the Power Point, but lacks the notches in the nose of the jacket.
Winchester has always promoted the Silvertip as a deeper penetrating bullet than the Power Point. It is mostly loaded for CXP2 game, but in 180 grain .308 Win. and .30-06, 200 grain .348 Win., and 200 grain .358 Win. factory loads it is rated for CXP3 game. The traditional Silvertip bullet has been replaced by the CT Ballistic Silvertip (with which it should not be confused) in many calibers and loads.
The XP3 is Winchester's latest bullet design, intended to replace the CT Fail Safe. The front half of this Lubalox coated bullet is solid gilding metal with a plastic tip, while the rear half contains a lead core. Imagine the front half of a Banes-X with a plastic tip grafted to the rear half of a Nosler Partition. The plastic tip is intended to initiate expansion earlier than the hollow point of the Fail Safe, creating a larger wound channel. The tail of the bullet ends in a short boat-tail. In addition, the rear core is bonded to the gilding metal jacket to prevent core loss even if the bullet turns a complete 180 degrees after impact. This very complicated bullet is available in a new line of Winchester ammunition called "Supreme Elite."
These Australian made bullets use heavy, gilding metal tapered jackets and lead cores bonded to the jacket to insure deep penetration and retention of the core. Hence the name Weldcore.
Woodleigh offers soft point and protected point WELDCORE bullets, and also solid (FMJ) bullets. They are available to reloaders and also loaded in Kynoch (British) factory ammunition, Federal ammunition (USA), and Romey ammunition (Germany). Following is a quote from Briel Jackson, editor of Guns & Game magazine, Australia Published October- December, 1997 Issue No. 16, as reproduced on the Woodleigh web site:
"I have never used a Weldcore on game or in test medium and not have it expand, nor have I ever used one in either case and had it fail to penetrate adequately. It is recommended that they should not be used when an impact velocity greater than 2900 fps is likely, this would be akin to shooting an animal at 50 yards with a 300 Magnum. I haven't tried it, but at this velocity I imagine they would expand back to nothing. It is recommended that impact velocity be kept above 1900 fps, though as stated, in my experience, Woodleighs will open up nicely at impact velocities less than this, especially if they hit something solid."
I wish that all bullet makers would provide at least the minimum and maximum acceptable impact velocities for their bullets, but very few do. Hornady, alone among the major bullet makers, specifies minimum and maximum muzzle velocity limits as well as recommended usage for all of their bullets.
Winchester and Federal indicate the recommended usage for their factory loads. Winchester uses the CXP (controlled expansion) system while Federal simply uses the numbers 1 through 4 without the CXP prefix: In either case, CXP1 represents varmints and small game; CXP2 equals medium size big game such as deer, sheep, goats and antelope; CXP3 means large game such as elk and moose; CXP4 is heavy, dangerous game such as buffalo, rhino, and elephant. Practically everyone else comes up short, providing little or no velocity/expansion information about their bullets.
Click to go to the Hunting Bullet Guide, Part One: Caliber and Weight
Copyright 2005, 2009 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.