Federal Trophy Copper MZ Muzzleloading Bullet

By Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

Federal Trophy Copper MZ Muzzleloading Bullet
Federal Trophy Copper MZ Muzzleloading Bullet. Illustration courtesy of Federal Premium Ammunition.

When this Federal bullet was introduced, it was touted by many writers as being the "end all - be all" of muzzleloader bullets. According to the sages (some well-known writers), it was going to make all saboted and powerbelt bullets obsolete. Federal's advertising makes this bullet sound like the answer for all muzzleloaders:

"Federal Premium is redefining modern in-line performance with the all-new Trophy Copper Muzzleloading Bullet. Its exclusive B.O.R. Lock MZ System provides outstanding accuracy in a non-sabot design that is easy to load, scrubs fouling from the breech and ensures consistent bullet seating. The system's foundation is a polymer cup that is permanently attached to the bullet base. The force of ignition pushes the cup forward onto raised bands along the bullet shank, expanding its diameter. This engages the rifling and seals the bore, optimizing velocity and accuracy. The rear of the B.O.R. Lock MZ cup features a hard, fiber-reinforced polymer ring that scours fouling from the breech as the bullet is pushed into place. This decreases the need to clean between shots and makes it easy to seat the bullet at the exact same depth for every shot. Because there is no bulky sabot, required loading force averages about half that of most sabot bullets. Like other projectiles in the proven Trophy Copper line, the copper-alloy bullet features a polymer tip, with a deep, hollow cavity and skiving that allows for consistent, devastating expansion."

Not so fast. We may be just plain old country folks, but we are skeptical when salesmen come around promising to solve all of our problems. "Trust me" is their favorite line, "we are the experts."

Granted, Federal Premium ammunition is some of the best on the market. No argument there, but how about their new muzzleloading bullet? Does it live up to the Federal reputation, or is it just another bullet? There is only one way to find out: take it to the range and test it.

Before going to the range, we visually compared the Federal Trophy Copper MZ (270 gr.) bullet with the CVA Aerolite (250 gr.), Harvester Scorpion PT Gold (260 gr.) and Hornady Shockwave SST (250 gr.). We are not ballistic experts, but it seems logical that the smooth surfaces of the latter three bullets will be more aerodynamically stable than the Federal with its "on-board" accessories (polymer sleeve and fixed fiberglass-reinforced base). However, only range tests will tell.

Per Federal's recommendation, we used rifles with 1:28 inch twist barrels for the tests. With the recommended two-pellet load (100 grains) of Triple7, the Federal Trophy Copper MZ was fired into ballistic gel at 80 yards.

The results were rather startling, to say the least. Not only did the bullet not expand, it had apparently tumbled prior to impacting the gel and went in backwards. From the picture below, one can see the path of the bullet entering the gel on the left and the polymer sleeve after it detached from the bullet. This picture also confirms that the integral polymer sleeve and fiberglass disc base remain with the bullet in flight.

Federal Trophy Copper MZ bullet and sleeve in ballistic gel.
Federal Trophy Copper MZ bullet and sleeve in ballistic gel.

We took two unfired Federal bullets and removed the polymer sleeve with its fixed base and the ballistic tip. We weighed them, as well as two of the fired bullets and they all weighed exactly the same, 251.1 grains. Federal is correct, the bullet retains 100% of its weight.

Since our tests with the ballistic gel indicated that the bullet can tumble in flight, we did not have much hope that it would be accurate, but we tried. We fired three rounds at 100 yards, using a Caldwell Lead Sled for stability and obtained a four inch group.

In the hope that we could get a more satisfactory group, we set up a new target and fired seven more rounds, allowing the barrel to cool between rounds. The result was a 5-3/4 inch group.

We were simply unable to get satisfactory groups with the Federal bullets. I suppose it is possible that we got a bad batch of bullets and that someone else might obtain better results with a different batch. However, we strongly suggest that, before hunting with the Federal Trophy Copper MZ bullet, test it throughly in your rifle.

Looking at our final target, the shooter on the range next to Jim remarked, "Well, it is not minute-of-angle, but it might be minute-of-deer, if you were lucky." That pretty well sums up our conclusion. The Federal Trophy Copper MZ is not a bullet we would want to go hunting with.

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