November 19, 2018
As a teenager, I used a Lee Loader Hand Tool to load shells for an old Bay State single-shot 12-gauge shotgun. I can still recall seating the wads to the right pressure on my mother’s bathroom scale. A 13-ounce can of Alcan AL-8, 25-pound bag of Lawrence #7½ shot, and ample CCI 209 primers made up all the shells needed to hunt squirrels, rabbits, and quail for several seasons.
Then I received a Winchester Model 70 in .270 Winchester when I graduated high school, but it wasn’t until after I completed college, got married, and had a job that I purchased a Ruger Blackhawk single-action revolver and began to handload for it and the Model 70. According to my early records, I loaded IMR 4350 and Hodgdon 4831 powders and Sierra and Speer bullets for the .270 Win. Unique and 2400 were the staples for reloading the .357 Magnum Blackhawk. I loaded mostly jacketed softpoints for both guns and, occasionally, cast bullets for the revolver.
Things have changed a lot since those meager beginnings. Today, I handload well over 100 rifle and pistol cartridges and, according to my notes, average going to the range 60+ times each year to fire several thousand rounds of test ammo. I’ve experimented with 120+ propellants and so many different brands and styles of bullets I couldn’t begin to count them.
Last month I obtained new component bullets from two companies. The first shipment included samples of nearly every Inceptor copper/polymer bullet available. The second was full of Aussie Copper Projectiles, which are similar to Barnes X-Bullets. I’ve been loading and shooting these new components for several weeks.
In 2015 I visited the facility in Savannah, Georgia, where the Inceptor-branded pistol ammunition is made. The unique, injection-molded, copper/polymer bullets are significantly lighter than conventional jacketed/lead-core projectiles. Therefore, they can be safely loaded to substantially greater muzzle velocities yet retain comparable muzzle energies. And as a bonus, the faster, lightweight-bullet ammo generates much less recoil.
The Inceptor brand includes three types of bullets. Advanced Rotation eXtreme (ARX) non-expanding bullets have a precisely shaped fluted nose that hydrostatically does what a conventional hollowpoint does—creates a huge cavity on impact. After I’d observed the results in ballistic gelatin, the two pistols in my nightstand are now loaded with this personal-defense ammo.
Round Nose Precision (RNP) bullets are intended primarily for practice or training purposes. Their performance approximates the recoil and point of impact of corresponding ARX bullets. They are frangible and readily spatter on impact with steel targets.
Short-Range Rifle (SRR) bullets are a recent limited addition to the product line. Ammo topped with Inceptor RNP and SRR bullets are labeled “Sport Utility” and not optimized for self-defense.
Because the copper/polymer bullets are so different from conventional bullets, they must be loaded using specific data from Inceptor, and two special steps are required. First, carefully flare the case mouths just enough to ensure the bullet will align and seat without shaving the base. Then, after the bullet is seated to the specified overall length, slightly taper crimp the case mouth to remove any residual flaring.
As you can see from the accompanying chart, the .38 Special +P, 9mm +P, and .45 ACP ARX handloads were quite accurate. The other caliber results would have been better if I could have kept the occasional stray round centered on the target.
Aussie Copper Projectiles
Aussie Copper Projectile (ACP) bullets are made, as the name suggests, Down Under in Australia and are imported by Carl Graf & Sons. They are machined from copper rod and come in four imaginatively named configurations: Sidewinder, Cyclone, Typhoon, and Thunder. There are more than 60 different ACP bullet options available in calibers ranging from .22 to .50. I used Sidewinders in .24, .30, and .416 calibers to handload in .243 Winchester, .30-30 Winchester, .308 Winchester, and .416 Rigby.
An ACP representative said I could safely use comparable Barnes load data to assemble my test loads, so I did, with caution, and achieved good results with all calibers and some extraordinary results with the .416 Rigby.
My .416 Rigby Ruger Model 77 Magnum rifle is topped with a Trijicon 1-4X scope, and the simple vertical post reticle is topped with a tiny, illuminated triangle that readily aligns on target, but it’s not exactly what one might choose for a precision-shooting optic. However, the handload, which consisted of the 365-grain ACP Sidewinder on top of 95 grains of Reloder 19 powder, averaged 0.95 inch for three, five-shot groups at 100 yards. Keep in mind that I shot each five-shot group from the bench—on three different days.