January 04, 2011
This is not Remington's first foray into homogenous bullets, they were just never built for rifles.
I greet no new product with more skepticism than a bullet. After all, projectiles are accelerated to several times the speed of sound in milliseconds, slammed into tough targets while rotating at 100,000 rpm and expected to expand, penetrate and not shed any weight. It is a tough bill to fill, but innovative manufacturers have spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars to develop bullets that get the job done.
Marketing departments are quick to tout a new bullet's awesome abilities and show off slugs pulled from ballistic gelatin. Writers, like myself, go on a hunt, make a 100-yard broadside shot on an animal and declare the new bullet an unqualified success. It chaps my hide more than just a little, having been the victim of marketing bull in the field. Shooting Jello blocks and taking one animal is not the whole story.
The Copper Solid is an addition to the Remington ammo line and performs similarly to the Ultra Bonded Core-Lokt, Scirocco. Only the A-Frame (right) is tougher than the Copper Solid (second from right).
In early 2009 when Remington announced its new Premier Copper Solid hunting bullet, I gleefully accepted the assignment to wring out the new bullet. Instead of one or two boxes, I requested a full case of 150-grain .30-06 ammo and headed to a big South Texas ranch. My biologist friend Marc Bartoskewitz had some whitetail does to cull and feral hogs were eating up high-protein feed intended for expectant bovines faster than the ranch hands could put it in feed bins. It was a situation that allowed a lot of shots at game under fairly controlled circumstances. I was able to shoot a dozen or so deer and several dozen hogs and record the distance to shot, angle, reaction, distance to recovery and would profile on most. While not a trained pathologist, I was also able to draw some real-world conclusion from my in-the-field necropsies.
Cutting to the chase, the 150-grain Copper Solid proved an exceptional hunting bullet in terms of expansion, weight retention and penetration. It expands readily, penetrates deeply and though I was not able to recover a single, solitary bullet, appears to maintain most of its mass after upset. I was able to shoot everything from a coyote up to 200- to 225-pound hogs with no obvious failures. This .30-caliber weight should easily handle everything from little deer to black bears to caribou with aplomb. Based on this bullet's performance, I would not hesitate to shoot an elk or most of the larger African Plains game with the soon-to-be available 165-grain version.
Tim Tanker, Remington's centerfire and rimfire brand manager, said the Copper Solid is in no way intended to replace lead core hunting bullets presently in the Big Green's ammo line. The Copper Solid was designed to provide hunters with a state of the art hunting bullet that also complies with current lead-free regulations. Remington's Copper Solid is approved for use in California, which requires the use of lead-free bullets in hunt areas inhabited by the California condor.
Tanker says, "The use of solid copper for hunting bullets is not a new idea. Over the past 15 years, copper bullet designs have been refined with the addition of polymer tips which improve ballistic coefficients and grooves in the bullet shank that reduce operating pressures and barrel fouling. Solid copper bullets are recognized as the state of the art choice by many of today's serious big game hunters. Our new Premier Copper Solid line provides hunters a product that combines all of these high performance features in a Remington branded product."
This is not Remington's first foray into homogenous bullets, they were just never built for rifles. The Copper Solid shotgun slug appeared in lineup over a decade ago and is still available today. The rifle projectile's gilding-metal base material is a copper (95 percent) and zinc (five percent) matrix. Turning this raw material into a finished product is much more difficult than standard cup-and-core bullets.
The new Copper Solid bullet is made from a copper and zinc matrix and offers immediate expansion, deep penetration and great weight retention.
"The raw materials are more expensive and the manufacturing is more difficult," Tanker said. "The equipment and tooling are much beefier than what we use for a lead core-copper jacket bullet."
Held in the hand, the Copper Solid looks unremarkable. A gold polymer tip helps improve ballistic coefficients and initiates expansion. Once started, the expansion cavity, pressed and cut into place with dies during manufacturing, is where the magic happens, controlling the expansion profile. Tanker says, "The cavity behind the polymer tip is a key design feature and really controls how the bullet mushrooms and how the petals peel back to provide the expansion we need."
A closer look at a sectioned bullet's cavity reveals a complex set of angled steps. The goal was 1.8 to 2X expansion and my field results say the Copper Solid delivers. Exit holes, measured on the inside of the ribcage, were nearly always twice the diameter of the ribcage's entry hole. The bullet was designed to start expansion within the first few inches of penetration. I witnessed significant organ damage within the first two to four inches on most animals. The expansion profile was remarkably consistent at most any range. Shots were taken as close as 35 yards and out to 275 with similar results.
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The bullet's ability to penetrate and keep penetrating was perplexing — I was unable to recover a single bullet though I purposely shot hogs straight on at range. The vast majority exited the critter or disappeared into paunchy oblivion. This demonstrates significant weight retention. Carefully tracing bullet paths only turned up occasional flakes, all less than a grain, even after striking significant bone.
"In our testing, it expands over a wide variety of impact velocities," Tanker said. "We were shooting for 90 percent or better weight retention and the mid 90s were pretty average in ballistic gelatin and water tests, which is a little tougher test medium. It is a very versatile bullet that reacts very similarly to bonded lead-core products."
Engineers got the mix just right, the bullet is malleable enough to expand but holds together even after bouncing off bone. Two annular grooves around the bullet shank reduce surface area and in turn reduce friction and pressures. The tip and boattail heel combine to give the 150-grain bullet a slippery .420 BC. Accuracy was pretty good in the Remington Model 700 XHR — 3-shot groups averaged around an inch.
The line currently includes loadings in .243 Win (80 grains), .270 Win (130 grains), 7 mm Rem Mag (140 grains), .308 Win, .30-06 and .300 Win Mag (all 150 grains). Due to the differences in lead and copper, homogeneous bullets are usually on the light end of bullet weights since they require more material to make weight, though Tanker did say a heavier, 165-grain .30-caliber bullet would be available in 2010.
The Copper Solid will be a must for those stuck in lead-free zones but represents a high-performance hunting bullet for those looking for something new.