December 05, 2019
Some time back, while writing about Speer’s Gold Dot component rifle bullets, I mentioned that Federal Premium would soon be announcing a new series of component bullets. Those new bullets are part of the company’s Fusion hunting line, and I’ve been working with them in nine different cartridges. The smaller-caliber bullets (6.5mm, .277, and 7mm) are packaged 100 to the box, while the larger ones (.308 and .338) contain 50. The good news is that each box has a card inside with specific load data for two to four different cartridges using Alliant propellants and Federal primers.
Fusion bullets are manufactured in exactly the same way as Gold Dot rifle bullets—with one significant difference. Lead/antimony alloy cores are swaged to a prescribed shape and then electroplated with a precisely controlled thickness of pure copper. Then they are swaged to the desired final profile/diameter after the bullet noses are formed and skived to ensure reliable expansion. The Fusion bullets have a small boattail, again just like Gold Dot rifle bullets.
Because Gold Dot bullets are primarily intended for MSR cartridges—anticipating shooters will be firing many more rounds than hunters typically do—they are coated with a film of boron nitride (BN). The BN coating ensures Gold Dot bullets are “slippery” in the bore and effectively “smooth out” shot-to-shot pressure variations. The BN coating also provides for reduced jacket fouling so that cleanup is less rigorous.
For the new Fusion component bullets, I decided to follow the same scheme I’d used when testing Speer’s Gold Dot rifle bullets. I selected a propellant and charge weight that promised excellent ballistic performance for each cartridge. Then I prepped a box of brass and assembled 20 rounds. As you can see in the accompanying chart, I chose mostly popular cartridges but also included two or three that are not appreciated as much as their exemplary performances suggest they should be.
Reloading your favorite hunting cartridge with the Fusion component bullet is no different than when using any other hunting bullet. The abbreviated boattail base makes bulletseating much easier to perform properly. I found that although the Fusion bullet has a pure copper electroplated “jacket” instead of the gilding metal alloy jacket of conventional cup-and-core bullets, the load data for both designs is often comparable. Just start by reducing the recommended maximum propellant charge 5 to 10 percent and work up as velocity and accuracy results indicate.
Concerning the propellants used in this project, one would expect that spherical powders like Alliant Power Pro 2000-MR should—and did—meter easily and accurately in the Redding Match-grade 3BR powder measure I used. However, when I was charging the 6.5 Creedmoor handloads with Reloder 26 (a typical, larger-grain stick powder), I decided to see just how precisely the Redding measure would dispense the desired amount. After adjusting the measure to 44.0 grains, I threw a few more charges to settle the powder in the reservoir. I weighed the next 20 charges and was pleasantly rewarded with dispersion of only +/- 0.1 grain.
I fired nearly 250 rounds during four sessions at the range. Overall accuracy averaged 1.5 MOA compared to the near 1 MOA results I got with the Gold Dot rifle bullets. Velocity standard deviations did not exceed the low two digits.
I don’t usually do load development when reviewing a host of new bullets, but my initial results shooting the T/C Compass .308 Winchester were so abysmal I decided to try again without trying to wring out near max velocity. I reloaded the same batch of brass, using the same lot of primers and the same propellant. I dropped the charge of Power Pro 2000-MR 1.5 grains and lost about 100 fps in velocity, but I halved the standard deviation and achieved almost an inch better average accuracy. Faster doesn’t necessarily mean more accurate.
My recorded velocities for all loads closely mirrored Federal’s load data predictions, so I’m quite confident that my handloads topped with Fusion bullets will perform on par with factory ammo.