Zero in on Ammo

Hunters are scoring with faster, more effective loads

Ammunition should always be the first thing the hunter chooses, determined by the load he needs for the game he's after at the distances he will shoot. The gun and the sight come second and third. For 2008, the ammunition world continues to center on new high-performance bullet designs that offer improved target impact characteristics over a wider range of velocities and distances, and cartridges that use new fast-burning/ low-pressure propellants to put ever more power into smaller and shorter cases. We are also seeing an increased number of high-performance nontoxic "lead-free" rifle cartridges on the market, to allow hunters to comply with growing state regulations without sacrificing effectiveness. In addition, improvements in slug ammunition technology continue to move forward to meet the needs of the ever-growing use of highly accurate rifled barrels for slug-gun deer hunting. Here are a few of this year's more interesting ammunition products.

The 20 gauge is grabbing an increasing chunk of the deer-slug hunting world, because today's high-performance 20-gauge slugs offer power, trajectory and accuracy that transcend the performance of traditional 12-gauge lead slugs, with notably less recoil. Now, the performance and attractive pricing that have made Brenneke's K.O. slugs so popular come in 20 gauge, too.

The same exceptional knockdown power that distinguishes every Brenneke slug is built into the K.O., making it an ideal deer load at medium ranges. The K.O. 2 3/4-inch slug has a flat trajectory, dropping only 1.6 inches between 25 and 100 yards. Five-shot groups of fewer than 2 inches at 50 yards are common. It handles both smoothbore and rifled barrels with ease, making it truly a universal hunting slug. At the same time, its full-bore frontal area generates 1,476 fps velocity and 1,605 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy, overcoming the lack of power that limits many other sub-bore sabot designs. (

Federal Premium new Trophy Bonded Tip rifle ammo is built on the heralded Trophy Bonded Bear Claw platform and adds numerous features for a substantial increase in performance. The most noticeable addition is a neon, translucent polymer tip, coupled with a boattail design for flat trajectory and improved accuracy. Because it's built on the Bear Claw's proven platform, the new Trophy Tip has the jacket bonded to the core for high weight retention and a solid copper shank to crush bone.

The Trophy Tip is unique in that it combines several different bullet technologies in one projectile. Another improvement to this bullet is exterior skiving on the nickel-plated bullet that provides optimum expansion at a variety of ranges. The load also features a nickel-plated case and bullet for easy extraction and corrosion protection. Available in a full line of offerings from .270 Winchester to .300 H&H. (

The new Fiocchi Extrema .308 Win. 150-grain load offers the renowned SST bullet, which combines deadly terminal performance with a high ballistic coefficient. The SST bullet's premium polymer tip has a sharp point to help increase its speed and create a flatter projectile. On impact, the tip initiates controlled expansion at all velocities.

The secant ogive, boattail spire point profile of this bullet provides the downrange velocity and energy hunters need for successful kills. Finally, the SST's interlock ring near its base ensures the core and jacket remain locked solid during expansion, so the SST retains mass for dramatic wound-channels. It leaves the muzzle at 2,860 fps while generating 2,723 ft./lbs. energy, and even as far out as 300 yards, is still delivering performance with 2,227 fps velocity and 1,651 ft./lbs. of crushing energy. (

The new Hornady Ruger Compact Magnum (RCM) cartridges achieve true magnum levels of velocity, accuracy and terminal performance in an easy-to-carry, short-action gun. Based on the beltless 375 Ruger case, the 300 and 338 RCMs feature industry-leading cartridge geometry that provides for an efficient cartridge case and enables high levels of performance. Coupled with Hornady's superior bullet offerings, the RCM cartridges outperform the 300 and 338 WinMag cartridges but in a rifle with a compact 20-inch barrel.

The RCMs deliver what other "short fat" cartridges don't -- superior ballistic performance in a compact firearm platform that exceeds 300 and 338 WinMag performance, offering optimized case geometry for more velocity with 10 to 15 percent less powder, longer barrel life, less recoil and less muzzle blast, plus superior temperature stability from minus 15 degrees F to 140 degrees F (which reduces point of impact change due to climate variation). (

It doesn't just look intimidating -- it's flattening whitetails and competitors in the tipped-slug market with devastating ferocity. Guided by the new Power Port Tip, the AccuTip Bonded Sabot Slug delivers unmatched accuracy and terminal performance. This slug consistently prints tiny 100-yard groups and transfers tremendous knockdown force out to the farthest reaches of shotgun range.

It's the largest tipped slug you'll find anywhere. In field-testing, this huge .58-caliber slug produced gaping wound channels and crumpled every deer it touched with a single shot. From 5 to 200 yards, it yields perfect mushrooms and over 95 percent weight retention, thanks to its spiral nose cuts, bonded construction and high-strength cartridge brass jacket. Available in 2 3/4-inch or 3-inch 12-gauge. (

The E-Tip lead-free bullet from Winchester Ammunition is developed for big-game hunters and comp

lies with current state nontoxic regulations. Co-developed with Nosler, the E-Tip provides a high-performance sporting bullet that is lead-free. The polycarbonate tip, like that featured on XP3, AccuBond CT and Ballistic Silvertip bullets, prevents deformation in the magazine, boosts aerodynamic efficiency, improves down-range ballistics and initiates expansion.

The "E2 Cavity" promotes expansion at long and short ranges and improves accuracy. Gilding metal lead-free design provides near 100 percent weight retention and helps prevent barrel fouling compared with pure copper bullets. The boattail design reduces drag and provides a more efficient flight profile for higher retained energy at long range. Lubalox Coating helps prevent barrel fouling. E-Tip is loaded exclusively by Winchester and will be initially available in .30/06 Springfield, .300 WSM, .300 WinMag and .308 Winchester. (

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