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A really different mousetrap: DRT's new fragmenting muzzleloader bullet approaches terminal performance from a completely new angle.

There are some pretty well-established performance parameters for hunting bullets, muzzleloader or otherwise. They should strike an animal, double their frontal area in short order, and retain as much weight as possible before cruising out the rib cages opposite side. Over the past few decades writers have chiseled the rules onto stone tablets, placed them into the Ark of the Hunting Bullet, and decreed them the law of the land.

But what if there were another way? For six years. Dynamic Research Technologies has worked to shatter the hunting bullet paradigm. Their bullets have a radically different killing mechanism than most traditional designs, and that mechanism is so counterintuitive for most hunters, the bullets are often dismissed before ever being sent downrange at a game animal.

The DRT TSMZ is a fragmenting bullet that dispenses with the notion that projectiles must retain their weight to kill efficiently. Dustin Worrell, the company's production manager and chief designer, said the TSMZ has a traditional copper jacket and core, but the similarities end there.

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"The core is made from powdered metal instead of lead," Worrell said. "When powdered metals are put under tremendous pressure, they will bind together. We feed up to three different metal powders into a compression machine, and two punches come together in a die to form the pill."

That core is then placed into a 95/5 copper-zinc jacket, topped with a tin cap, and formed into a finished bullet by another die. The process gives DRT some big advantages. A bullet can maintain the same overall length and shape but gain and lose weight depending on what metals are used in the core. In some cases the weight can double and only a grain scale could tell the difference. DRT bullets have used tungsten, iron, zinc, and copper in the past. Worrell can also drastically change the expansion profile-fragmentation profile would be a more accurate description--by changing the metals and how they are bonded.

When a DRT muzzleloader bullet strikes an animal, the copper jacket and tin cap tear away from the core. Hydraulic and centrifugal forces act on the core meplat and body, causing it to come apart. As haphazard as it sounds, the upset process is very predictable and, after years of research and development, programmable.

"The Jacket weighs 35 grains, the cap five grains, and the core 130 grains." Worrell said. "The particles coming off core weigh three to five grains each, and all these pieces cause their own wound channels, dispersing energy. The vast majority of our bullets are designed to totally fragment in a target, but that is not the case with our muzzleloader bullet. The bottom third of the core stays together and will probably exit."

So what are the advantages of the TSMZ? Complete energy capture is a plus. The animal absorbs every foot-pound. The biggest advantage is the multiple wound channels from all the subparticles that help to damage vital organs in a way that is beyond the reach of bullets that expand in a traditional manner. And since the fragmentation profile is programmable, Worrell was able to lower the weight to 170 grains and get the same results as a standard 250-grain bullet. With 110 grains of Blackhorn 209, bullets were generating over 2,200 feet per second. Mid range trajectories are very flat and the overall ejecta weight is less so that recoil is reduced. This manufacturing process is pretty simple, so the bullets are economically priced, even with premium Harvester sabots.

It is one thing to talk about how a bullet works, but what counts is how it works in the field. I have seen my fair share of great-in-theory bullets that were less-than-wonderful in the field. In addition to a bullet company, Worrell's family owns a high-fence hunting operation in Missouri, East Fork Ranch (eastforkwhitetails.com). We had the chance to test the TSMZ on a doe and buck cull. Our party shot a dozen or so deer at various ranges and angles, enough to provide a good picture of how the bullet performs on game.

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Inside of 100 yards the bullet is devastating. Most of the deer dropped in their tracks. Deer shot beyond 100 yards acted like deer shot with any other traditional muzzleloader bullet. Organ damage was extensive on both with some of the subparticles traveling six and seven inches away from the main wound channel. One hunter took a 200-yard shot and had his bullet strike well back of the vitals. The bullet expanded as planned and several of the core fragments sliced into the liver, allowing the buck to be recovered instead of feeding vultures. The TSMZ's unique terminal performance is not a crutch for bad marksmanship, but if things go bad, it might deliver a killing blow that traditional designs are unable to provide.

I shot one doe, quartering to at 75 yards on the shoulder. There was immediate damage to the lungs and heart, and a piece of the core exited. Oddly enough, the doe was able to travel almost 120 yards before expiring and left a sparse blood trail. My experience was unique in terms of distance to recovery.

What are the disadvantages? The TSMZ does exactly the same thing every time--nothing less, nothing more. The bullet penetrates 14 to 16 inches every time. Some other muzzleloader bullets will double that depending on the range. So raking angles are not an option, but these are shots I would be unlikely to take in the first place.

DRT has built a different mousetrap--not a better mousetrap necessarily, but one that certainly is effective on game. The TSMZ delivers tremendous energy and, more importantly, produces large wound cavities. It is accurate and inexpensive even with a premium sabot. Bullets are currently available online.

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Title Annotation:MUZZLELOADING
Author:Guthrie, J.
Publication:Petersen's Hunting
Date:Dec 1, 2011
Words:969
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