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Reloading; premium game bullets.

* 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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Author:Wootters, John
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Oct 1, 1984
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