Contemporary Loads For Cutting Edge Bullets

Contemporary Loads For Cutting Edge Bullets

Despite ongoing ammunition and component shortages, the bullet manufacturers are still vigorously developing new and/or improved products.

Bullet makers have been busy designing new projectiles, and the author has developed handloads for the new Barnes 30-grain .22 Hornet Varmint Grenade and 140-grain 7mm Tipped Triple-Shock, Remington 140-grain .277-caliber Core-Lokt Ultra Bonded, Hornady 165-grain .30-caliber GMX, and Swift 100-grain .25-caliber Scirocco II.

Barnes continues to add new calibers to its Tipped Triple-Shock (TTSX) bullet series, and there's a new 30-grain bullet specifically for .22 Hornet in the Varmint Grenade line. Hornady has just introduced a new monolithic copper-alloy, polymer-tipped bullet designated the GMX. Swift has a new 100-grain, .25-caliber Scirocco II bullet. Remington is now packaging several different premium Core-Lokt Ultra Bonded bullets in 50-round boxes for handloaders. Previously, they were available in 100-round or larger bulk packs.

I've been busy for several weeks now conjuring up suitable recipes, assembling and shooting batches of test loads, recording and assessing the data, and, of course, cleaning rifles. All told, I've fired nearly 400 rounds of assorted handloads with some excellent, satisfactory, and just so-so results. Read on.

The new Hornet bullet comes in a 250-count box compared to the usual 50 or 100 bullets per box. My first thought when I looked at the label was, "I can't shoot all these for just one column!" As you can see from the chart's myriad data (page 2), I was wrong. They're all gone. Typically, this little case does well to launch 45-grain bullets in the mid-2,000 fps range, but these lightweight, high-velocity Hornet Varmint Grenades can be safely pushed up to 20 to 25 percent faster. I hadn't fired my Ruger Model 77/22H for nearly 10 years, but that deficiency has surely been remedied.

Varmint Grenade bullets are made with the usual cup-and-core design but with a unique twist. The copper jacket surrounds not a conventional lead core but one formed by fusing together a proprietary mixture of copper and tin powdered metal. This ensures the bullet will literally explode at impact.

I safely achieved 3,100+ fps, and since the new 30-grain bullet is marketed for the .22 Hornet, I asked Barnes if there's a muzzle velocity limit. The company rep's response was, "No. Fire them as fast as you safely can in a .22-250 or .220 Swift."

I'll have to try that someday.

My Ruger Hornet has never been a tackdriver, but I managed to shoot several groups in the MOA or less category. I was especially pleased with the performance achieved with an H110 handload and have stashed a box of these handloads for a future ground hog shoot.

I also tested two very different cartridges with the latest Barnes .28-caliber TTSXs.

The 7mm Mauser is nearly 120 years old. Even so, handloads topped with today's high-tech projectiles fired in strong, modern rifles perform quite well. A few years ago, I traded for a blued Ruger Model 77 Mark II with the early composite stock. To date, my limited experience had indicated it would shoot well enough. I also picked up a 7mm WSM Stainless Model 77 Mark II a year or so ago. As you can see from the chart, while the vintage Mauser velocities trail the hot short magnum by about 300 fps, it clearly excelled in the accuracy department

Hornady's Steve Johnson explained the design details of the new GMX bullet as follows: "GMX stands for Gilding Metal eXpanding. Gilding metal is the same alloy as the jacket used in conventional cup-and-core bullets, but there's just no lead core. The nose features a narrow, elongated cavity topped with a polymer tip; however, the monolithic material is not skived like other designs. The tip provides for improved external and terminal ballistics performance. The material properties and physical characteristics ensure that GMX bullets can be loaded using existing data for comparable-weight Hornady SST bullets."

The author used these rifles for testing the handloads for the new bullets detailed in this report: (left to right) Ruger M77/22H, Win. M70, Weatherby Sub-MOA, Nosler M48, Ruger M77, Ruger M77, Sako A7. The .300 Win. Mag. Ruger M77 is not pictured.

He was absolutely correct. I tested 165-grain GMX handloads in both a Sako A7 (.30-06) and a vintage Ruger Model 77 (.300 Winchester Magnum), and a couple of recipes look promising, but more load development is required for both rifles.

Remington, like all of the major munitions companies, typically procured premium bullets for factory loadings from private-label bullet makers. Not too long ago, the company cranked up internal R&D efforts to design its own premium products. The new bonded Core-Lokts appeared when Remington first introduced the Ultra Mag cartridges.

Last year, Remington decided to market these bullets in several calibers to handloaders. I received some .277-caliber samples and chose to try them in a .270 WSM Nosler Model 48 bolt action. As the chart suggests, the Ultra Bonded bullets aren't just pretty--they shoot great, too.

The Swift Scirocco is one of the several bonded-core bullets introduced by various bullet makers in recent years, and the Scirocco II is a recent design upgrade that actually delivers improved ballistic performance. With two boxes of the new 100-grain, .25-caliber bullets on hand, I tested loads in three different cartridges.

Although it's an excellent round, the .257 Roberts has languished on the shooting scene for nearly 80 years. The .257 Weatherby Magnum also has limited popularity. And the .25 WSSM is probably going to become a flash-in-the-pan cartridge even though this lightweight, compact rifle/cartridge format is very well suited to the recoil-sensitive shooter.

As the chart suggests, I still have work to do to develop a really good handload for the .257 Roberts and .25 WSSM, but my Weatherby Sub-MOA Vanguard rifle delivered its best performance yet. I relearned an important lesson during this range session: The most accurate load is often one that's running a bit slower than max-load velocities.

I realize that as ST's reloading editor I have better access to new products in this currently frantic market than most, but don't despair. Check with your dealer or the online mega-distributors to

order these new, innovative bullets. You will be pleasantly surprised. Of course, they're more expensive, but practically speaking, your ammo is probably the least expensive cost you'll incur for your next hunt. So don't scrimp.

WARNING: The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor InterMedia Outdoors Inc. assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data.

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Handloads For 5 New Bullets

BulletPowder (Type/Grs.)CasePrimerVelocity (fps)Extreme Spread (fps) Standard Deviation (fps) 100-yard Accuracy (in.)
.22 Hornet Ruger Model 77/22H, 22-in. Barrel
Barnes 30-gr. Varmint Grenade2400 / 11.5C Rem.CCI 400305252 25 1.20
Barnes 30-gr. Varmint GrenadeAA No. 9 / 11.0 Rem.Rem. 6 1/2316045 18 1.20
Barnes 30-gr. Varmint GrenadeAA 1680 / 14.0C Rem.Rem. 6 1/2 274776 27 1.00
Barnes 30-gr. Varmint GrenadeEnforcer / 10.5Rem.Rwm. 6 1/2 2947 13 6 0.90
Barnes 30-gr. Varmint GrenadeH110 / 12.5 Win. Fed. 2003143 42 14 0.50
Barnes 30-gr. Varmint GrenadeLil'Gun / 14.0C Rem.Rem. 6 1/2314879 29 1.20
Barnes 30-gr. Varmint GrenadeNorma R-123/ 11.0C Rem.CCI 400296487 24 1.00
Barnes 30-gr. Varmint GrenadeVectan Sp3/ 11.5C Rem. Rem. 6 1/2 27928033 1.00
Barnes 30-gr. Varmint GrenadeW296 / 12.5 Win.Fed. 200304147 15 1.70
Barnes 30-gr. Varmint Grenade W680 / 13.0C Win.Fed. 200304147 15 1.90
.25 WSSM Winchester Model 70, 22-in. Barrel
Swift 100-gr. Scirocco II Hunter / 47.5Win.Fed. 210M3038 38 14 1.30
Swift 100-gr. Scirocco II Reloder 17 / 46.5Win.CCI BR23247 25 9 1.90
.257 Roberts Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye, 22-in. Barrel
Swift 100-gr. Scirocco II Reloder 17 / 45.0Win.Fed. 210M3027 34 14 1.50
Swift 100-gr. Scirocco II W760 / 44.5Win.CCI BR23044 62 26 1.30
.257 Weatherby Magnum Vanguard Sub-MOA, 24-in. Barrel
Swift 100-gr. Scirocco II H1000 / 73.5Wby.CCI 2503474 61 19 1.50
Swift 100-gr. Scirocco II H4350/ 62.5Wby.CCI 2503315 17 5 0.70
.257 WSM Nosler Model 48, 24-in. Barrel
Remington 140-gr C-L Ultra Bonded IMR-4350/ 60.0Win.WLRM3177 13 5 1.30
Remington 140-gr C-L Ultra Bonded Reloder 25/ 67.5Win.CCI 2503213 39 17 0.80
7x57 Mauser Ruger Model 77, 22-in. Barrel
Barnes 140-gr. TTSX Big Game/ 46.0Fed.WLR2767 41 13 1.50
Barnes 140-gr. TTSX W760/ 46.0Fed.WLR2721 49 14 1.20
7mm WSM Ruger Model 77, 22-in. Barrel
Barnes 140-gr. TTSX Magnum/ 75.0Win. Rem 9 1/2M2946 38 15 1.60
Barnes 140-gr. TTSX MagPro/ 72.5 Win. Rem. 9 1/23115 38 10 1.90
.30-06 Sako A7, 23-in. Barrel
Hornady 165-gr. GMX Big Game / 54.5 Fed. WLR2816 62 19 2.00
Hornady 165-gr. GMX< W760/ 54.5 Norma WLR 2808 36 11 1.30
.300 Winchester Magnum Ruger Model 77, 24-in. Barrel
Hornady 165-gr. GMX Reloder 17 / 71.0 Fed. Fed. 215 3164 18 8 1.20
Notes:Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest. Velocity is the average of 15 rounds measured 6 feet from the guns' muzzles using an Oehler M35P chronograph.

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