Reloading; premium game bullets Essay

* Serious hunter/handloaders are in pretty good shape for premium
game bullets in calibers up through .338, with the Nosler Partitions,
Speer Grand Slams, and others. In the larger calibers in which such
bullets are even more important, the picture is not as bright. Nosler
dropped the wonderful .375 partitioned slugs (hopefully, only
temporarily), and Speer makes only one Grand Slam in this category, the
285-grain .375. Only Hornady of the major manufacturers gives us a good
range of weights and styles in .458, and they’re fine (the solids
are unsurpassed in the world), but they are not strictly
“premium”, nor are they priced that way.

That leaves such specialty makes as Barnes and Bitterroot. The
former are excellent but of more or less conventional construction, and
the latter certainly give premium impact performance, at least, but
availability is uncertain and prices are very, very high.

All of which leads me to mention a new premium-bullet manufacturer
doing business as Trophy Bonded Bullets, Inc. (P.O. Box 262348,
Houston, TX 77207). As the name suggests, these are soldered-core
bullets, but they have some other unique features. Jackets are pure
copper tubing, not tapered but of dual thickness, the nose portion being
thinned by a special reamer so that there is an abrupt internal
shoulder, the location of which tends to control the remaining length of
unexpanded shank after impact. For example, a jacket of
.023/.035-inches is recommended for most thin-skinned game, of
.032/.049-inches for heavy thin-skinned animals, and of .045/.065-inches
for use on the heaviest thick-skinned and/or dangerous animals for which
soft-points are suitable.

The new firm is also researching some other innovative ideas in
bullet construction, such as true inner-belted softnoses with a soldered
belt cut from thick-walled copper tubing inside the jacket, and
full-metal-cased bullets jacketed in annealed cartridge brass (in
contrast to the steel, gilding metal, or copper casings of conventional
“solids”). Most of these ideas have been tested on heavy game
by hunters whose experience is beyond question, and I have seen the
results. I believe the words “Trophy Bonded” will someday be
as familiar to serious big-game hunter/handloaders as “Nosler”
is today, and that these bullets will come to be recognized for their
dependability against the toughest game in the world. I’m assured
that prices (which must necessarily be high in comparison to
conventional construction) will be reasonable, that accuracy is
comparable with current major manufacturers’ production, and that
the firm will emphasize dependable delivery schedules. These will
commence after the production facilities are relocated and expanded,
which process is now in progress.

First offerings will be in .458, .505, and .510 diameters, and the
weight range is wide in each caliber, from 350 to 600 grains in .458
Magnum bullets, 500 to 700 grains in the big Fifties (soft point and
solid, all with heavy jackets) and .458s from 350 to 405 grains in
various soft point styles, jacketed for heavy .45-70 loads. The next
calibers offered will be .375 (perhaps a 240-grain spitzer, in addition
to the usual weights) and .30, both scheduled for 1984, and, next year,
several of the .40s-.411, 416, and .423. Being considered for the
future are .318, .323, .333, .338, .358, and others. A quick look at
this list obviously will because for celebration among owners of rifles
chambered for many foreign, obsolete, wildcat, and “classic”
cartridges for which no true premium big-game bullets have ever been
offered for handloading.

The president of Trophy Bonded Bullets, Inc. is Jack Carter, in
whose company I made my first African safari to Mozambique in 1972, a
veteran reloader and a very experienced hunter of heavy game.
Coincidentally, another old friend of mine, with whom I went to college
and shared my first set of reloading tools about 30 years ago, has also
entered the custom-bullet business. Having retired from the Marine
Corps and located at 6309 Wurzbach Road, San Antonio, TX 78240, Frank
Washam has founded the Acme Custom Bullets company, and sells both cast
and jacketed bullets in several popular calibers and an amazing variety
of styles.

All Acme jacketed bullets are handswaged in the same fashion as
precision benchrest bullets, but prices are competitive with
conventional, off-the-shelf reloaders’ slugs. I’ve shot some
of these in 7mm and their accuracy has been superior in my testing, at
least equal to the best I can get in the same rifle from the big-name
makers’ products. Washam also produces some unusual and useful
styles not readily available elsewhere–such as FMJs in 7mm, .357, and
.38 calibers and in-between weights. He currently offers an assortment
of .224, .284, .357, and .358 slugs, with .308 and .375 coming soon.

Acme cast bullets are custom-cast in Lyman, Saeco, or NEI moulds in
alloys appropriate to the purposes of each bullet style, and are
available in a great variety of styles, weights, and calibers. The
current list includes .25, 7mm, .30, .35, and .45 rifle, and 9mm, .357,
.44, and .45 pistol, with new designs being added to the list regularly.
In many calibers, the buyer may specify sizing diameter. The only
shooting tests of these I’ve conducted have been with some .45-70
slugs sized .459, and they shot as well as any of my own casting. They
sould; after all, Frank Washam and I went halvers on our first bullet
mould three decades ago and learned the cast-bullet game together.

I don’t know for certain, but I suspect he’d at least
listen to a customer’s own proposals for special or unusual bullet
designs. I do know he will soon be making his own copper-tubing jackets
in caliber .358 and .375.

Neither Trophy Bonded Bullets nor Acme has produced any fancy
literature–just good, accurate, reliable bullets–but you can write
them for a listing of current availabilities and prices.


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