21 August 2008, 03:29boom stick
Posted by 35 reminton on that forum...
.35 Remington Bullet Performance Using Commonly Available Reloading Components.
Guys, this is part II of the Factory/Handload review that I promised. Reviewed are the Hornady, Sierra, and Remington 200 grain roundnose softpoints, the 180 and 220 grain Speer softpoints, the RCBS 200 FN, cast of wheelweights in both as cast and hardened conditions, the 180 Hornady Single Shot Pistol bullet, the 225 Nosler Ballistic Tip (for the handgun shooters out there) and the Hornady 125 grain XTP pistol bullet as a varmint blasting load.
All shooting was done into saturated phone books at the ranges mentioned. I did not load down to simulate long range impact; I actually tested it at long range. Phone directories were Lincoln, NE white and yellow pages, thoroughly saturated with excess water squeezed out and stacked in a row on a 1Ã¢â‚¬ÂX 6Ã¢â‚¬Â board. Shooting was through one of three .35 Remington 336Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, all with 20 inch Microgroove barrels. Velocities were chronographed at 15 feet. I also would like to thank my friend Dave (7-30 on the Marlin forum; also visits BeartoothÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s frequently) with helping me shoot, record data and haul hundreds of pounds of phone books around.
It still needs to be mentioned that these are phone books, not game animals; however, this sort of testing is useful in evaluating relative performance between the various brands and bullet types. I will still take the liberty of making comparisons between what I see here and the results myself and others have experienced on game animals using the bullets mentioned. It was an interesting project, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m still evaluating performance periodically to make sure nothing has changed. This information is current and applicable to bullets available as of this date. If anything changes, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll try to let you know as soon as I discover it. In many cases I have data on results that dates back 18 years or so. I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t noticed any difference in performance even during that time. All of the information in this post was reshot during the summer of 2003 and 2004, and repeated for verification if any doubtful data showed up.
The Hornady 200 grain roundnose softpoint
I have information on both new production and Ã¢â‚¬Å“rejectÃ¢â‚¬Â bullets that are 18 years old I used to get for about $5.75/100 straight from the Hornady plant in Grand Island Nebraska. Reject bullets were seconds for very minor visual defects. I cannot tell the difference in expansion between these older bullets and new production. I also had a box of storebought 18 year old bullets that I used to verify that the rejects were not giving atypical results.
The Hornady bullet has a reputation for being a Ã¢â‚¬Å“toughÃ¢â‚¬Â bullet in the .35 Remington, and I can state that this is both a very true and untrue statement, as odd as that sounds. The Hornady bullet is a curious blend of rapid close range expansion combined with construction that makes it stop expanding sooner than any other bullet type tried in the .35 Remington. I used 33 grains of Reloder 7 to obtain 2140 fps for the testing of the Hornady bullet, about 140 fps faster than the typical .35 Remington factory load, but still mild as to pressures developed. I decided on this velocity as it is close to the speed of many published handloads. At close ranges, the Interlock ring in the Hornady bullet positively kept jacket and core together with no separation. The Hornady bullet had the smallest frontal diameter of the 200Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s on close range impacts, and lost the most weight. The small diameter was a function of the weight lost in the nose of the bullet from higher velocity impacts. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WoundÃ¢â‚¬Â channels were quite large in the phone books, with penetration averaging around 9 inches at 25 and 50 yards. At 100 yards the bullets retained more weight with a wide mushroom that sheared off less material. Penetration at this distance was around 11 inches, or slightly less than the typical 200 RN factory load, which does around 12-13 inches at 100 yards. At 200 yards there was no expansion whatsoever, but I did recover a few bullets that had sheared off jacket material without increasing the diameter of the bullet. Most were found unexpanded and had penetrated around 19-20 inches, often coming to rest slightly sideways.
The Hornady does have skiving cuts in the jacket, but they are not on the bullet tip nor are they complete perforations of the jacket like the Remington and Winchester 200 RN factory loads. These weakening cuts, really scoring of the jacket faintly visible behind the tip of the bullet along the sides ahead of the cannelure, are much less useful than if they were on the front of the bullet. What appears to inhibit expansion of the bullet once velocities get lower is the rollover of the jacket on the front of the bullet, effectively making the Ã¢â‚¬Å“holeÃ¢â‚¬Â for the softpoint smaller and serving as a reinforcement that makes expansion more difficult to achieve at lower speeds. This rollover of the jacket, combined with skiving in the wrong places makes the Hornady almost backwards in terms of construction to, say, the Remington Core-Lokt. There is really no mechanism to open the bullet at low speeds like the slit jacket and scallops of the Remington. The skiving present in the sides of the Hornady bullet actually weaken the jacket, so when the minimum velocity threshold is exceeded, it does not expand the bullet a little, it expands it a lot. Said another way, the performance of the Hornady bullet is abrupt. When velocity drops below about 1650 fps, the bullet ceases to expand at all. When the Hornady does expand, it is to wide diameter or higher weight loss with somewhat less penetration than the other 200 RNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. At longer ranges it ceases to expand while other bullets still open. In comparing my results to some of the fellowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s results at Beartooth Bullets, I note that they did not obtain expansion of the Hornady bullet at 100 yards, while my results were quite good at that range. I attribute this to the fact that their starting velocities were around 140-170 fps slower than mine. Comparing results, I would expect expansion to stop occurring in phone books at 2140 fps velocity at around 140-150 yards. I plan to retest at that range to verify that. If I were to use the Hornady bullet on deer as I have in the past, I would run it at 2200 fps or more to obtain expansion to the farthest possible range, but I would not attempt very long shots. I have had good results on a couple of deer, but these were not that far away, the furthest being around 50 yards. One unfortunate coyote also got smacked by the Hornady, launched at 2130 fps using H335 at about 60 feet. The bullet creased the side of the nose, removing the jaw, entering the chest and exiting between the front legs, leaving a ten inch diameter hole. I can state thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the biggest hole IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever shot in a coyote, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve used some pretty powerful rifles to shoot them with. That helped to confirm the close range, almost frangible expansion of the Hornady bullet in the phone books.
Again, I must say that if you will use the Hornady, shoot it at higher velocities to obtain best results. If you want to run it around 2000 fps I might suggest one of the other component bullets as being more suitable. I am not saying that a nonexpanding 200 grain bullet would be ineffective, but I would prefer a bullet that expanded to one that did not. Bluntly put, the design doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play to the 35 RemingtonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s velocities and strengths, which is adequate penetration and mushrooming at all realistic ranges from powder burn to 200 yards. I doubt most game would run off to a well placed shot, and I have had good results using it, but better can be had. To end this review on a positive note, I can state that the bullet held together well at the higher speeds even thought it lost a good amount of weight. A close range lung shot does quite a lot of damage to a deer, as I can attest from personal experience.
The 200 grain Sierra Roundnose
This bullet appears to be reasonably well suited to 35 Remington speeds, but I must note that I did my testing at all ranges at a chronographed velocity of 2200 fps. My intent was to stress the bullet on close range impacts, and this I did, but that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem the best policy for the 200 yard shooting. I should have done some of the 200 yard tests at 2000 fps muzzle velocity to see if expansion occurred at that velocity at long distance. That will be this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s project to tie up the loose ends.
At 2200 fps, expansion at 200 yards was quite reasonable, about like the Remington factory load at 1985 fps. The difference is that the Sierra bullet jacket, while appearing to be drawn rather thin at the nose to promote expansion, lacks the skiving cuts of the Remington and Winchester 200Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s and tends toward lopsided expansion as the peelback of the jacket is uneven. This lopsided expansion was evident at all other ranges as well, with a large frontal diameter that made penetration slightly (about 1-1.5 inches) less than the Remington and Winchester factory loads at the same range. At the closer impacts of 25 and 50 yards, the bullet jacket was loosened from the lead core when the cannelure was breached by expansion. Absent the cannelure, no mechanism locks the jacket to the bullet, and they are free to separate if conditions allow it. In phone books, the core was loose on closer impacts but the jacket was always found to be touching the core when the bullets were recovered. The bullets only came apart when they were in hand.
I would give this bullet points over the Hornady for better expansion at longer range, but maybe a few demerits for the lack of core/jacket cohesion. Even that is not much of a criticism, since the core was always found with the jacket, but I wonder if such separation might occur if the bullet hit, say, a large hogÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shoulder on a close range impact. It is also possible that due to the .35 RemingtonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lower velocity this might be a bullet that could be used on a lot of game with no problem with jacket separation whatsoever. It may very well depend on what part of the animal was struck by the bullet. I doubt the Sierra would be a bad choice, but as 200 grain RNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s go there is another bullet that is demonstrably better.
The Remington 200 grain Roundnose Core-Lokt
I will not be evasive; I think this is probably the best and most suitable 35 Remington bullet available. Regarding construction, it is the most sophisticated bullet of the bunch. It has the old, original, true Core-Lokt construction, which is a thickened jacket midsection, tapering at both the nose and the base, with a scalloped jacket and barely visible skiving cuts in the corners of the scallops. This swelling in the middle, near the cannelure, prevents the core from separating from the jacket, even on close range impact. Believe me, I tried to hurt this bullet, and at 35 Remington speeds it cannot be done. I even got cute and tried inserting hardwood boards in the phone books at around a 3 inch depth to see if I could stress the bullets, and it turned out that this made it easier on the bullets, not harder. At a range of 6 feet at 2220 fps, the rollback of the jacket was approximately to the cannelure, and the expanded diameter was wide, but penetration was still around 12 inches, about 3 inches more than the Hornady that was fired at 2140 fps at 25 yard books. Depth of penetration when launched at 2220 fps was little different than the Remington factory load at 1985 fps at nearly all ranges, with maybe a half inch of separation between the two, which is in the range of error. Overall, penetration ranged from 12 to 14.5 inches, depending upon distance, with the deeper penetration at longer range, just like the factory loads. I cannot tell you if speeding up the Remington bullet 235 fps hurt penetration or helped, but gut feeling would lead me to think increasing the velocity might lower penetration slightly due to slightly larger expanded diameter. I doubt you could tell the difference on game as regards penetration. What, then, is the value of pushing the same bullet 235 fps faster? I thought I might attempt to show that by testing at 200 yards. Included are photos that show the difference in expansion when the Remington 200 is launched at 1985 fps (factory) and 2220 fps. Increased rollback of the jacket and somewhat larger frontal diameter are evident in the higher velocity bullets. The factory loads still showed very good expansion, however, and no doubt would be effective, as many users have attested. A different way to look at it is this: If you have been happy with the 200 Remington Core-Lokt factory load performance at 150 yards on, say, whitetail deer, then youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d obtain that same performance in bullet expansion from the handload approximately 60-70 yards further downrange. If you need the extra range, fine, if not, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s okay too. For whatever itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worth, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had reports of whitetail deer and antelope taken with the Remington 200 Core-Lokt factory load (usually around 2000 fps) at over 200 yards, and the users reported that it worked just fine. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s further than some would rate the factory load as capable of performing, but the field evidence seems to strongly back up the results of the testing I did.
The fact is that the Remington bullet works at any realistic 35 Remington speed, mild to fast. Here is a point that I think is very interesting-in all of the testing, which consumed more bullets than any other type, NOT ONCE did I recover a bullet that had tumbled. This despite shooting through holes left by the passage of other bullets (hey, it happens, whether you want it to or not). When doing so with some other bullets, they tended to tumble when encountering these voids. The Remington always penetrated nose first and exhibited extremely uniform expansion, no doubt aided by the scalloped jacket with the skiving cuts in the corner that do such a fine job of aiding expansion when velocities drop off at distance. I also believe that this skiving allows the bullet to expand at lower speed than brands that lack these features. This symmetrical, easy expansion means a symmetrical bullet that penetrates straight, but the thick midsection limits overexpansion at close range.
This bullet is suitable for almost everything youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d hunt with the .35, and even though the roundnose does not seem to connote Ã¢â‚¬Å“long range bulletÃ¢â‚¬Â the Remington is the most likely to expand at distance of any of the handloading component bullets, save maybe the Hornady 180 SSP. The only other comment I can make is that the 180 and 220 Speer bullets outpenetrate it, but there are few situations where greater penetration than the Remington bullet offers is needed. For most uses I think it is the best bullet that can be used, and to top it off it is the cheapest of the 35 Remington game bullets. You cannot complain when excellent performance and low cost are combined in one projectile.
The Speer 180 Flatnose Softpoint
The 180 Speer has been offered as a handloading component for a long time, and Speer promotes it as being suitable for the .35 Remington in past and present editions of their handloading manuals. It is somewhat more streamlined than the various 200 RNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, and according to Speer possesses a somewhat higher ballistic coefficient. Past editions of the Speer handbooks give this bullet a velocity of up to 2427 fps (using IMR 3031). It seems to be a pretty popular selection among .35 Remington handloaders, and the lighter weight may suggest a faster opening bullet than the various 200 RNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. When actually tested in the books, however, it quickly becomes evident that this is a deeper penetrating bullet than the 200Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s. It also tends to expand to a smaller frontal diameter than any other bullet save the similar profile 220 Speer. The jacket folds closely along the shank of the bullet, and penetration averages about 50 percent deeper than any of the 200 RNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s at all ranges.
It is difficult to see any skiving or weakening cuts in the jacket to aid expansion, but the jacket nonetheless peels back uniformly and did not exhibit the lopsided expansion of some of the other bullets. The core never came close to slipping, even when fired into the books at a range of six feet. Penetration was generally in the range of 17 to 22 inches, depending upon distance, with the deeper penetration at the longer 200 yard range. These bullets were fired at a velocity of from 2300 to 2380 fps using H335. The variation in velocity was due to temperature changes on the days the data was gathered, from quite hot (95 F) to around 45 degrees F. No real differences were noted with an 80 fps change in velocity, and I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect any. No doubt these velocities were higher than many are used to seeing from the .35, but they are documented handloads from manuals and are quite safe. The reason for the higher velocity was to stress the bullets on close range impacts and also due to the tough construction of the Speer bullet.
I also have a good collection of bullets that tumbled in the media when they encountered voids left by the passage of other bullets. I thought this was useful, as the upset of the bullet nose was evident, but expansion was less than those that had traversed wet paper pointed forward the entire length of their penetration. It was apparent that they experienced just enough resistance to upset the bullet somewhat, then tumbled, as they were recovered with the jacket folds pointing forward rather than rearward. This could be analogous to a bullet that just hits deer ribs and lung tissue before exiting the deer on a long range double lung shot. How effective this might be is a good question. My own use of the 180 Speer has been at the closer ranges, and I have used it with good satisfaction and noted the excellent penetration and good sized wound channels. In my opinion, it is entirely suitable for the .35 Remington, but as with most things there are a few important codicils to consider.
I have had reports from other users of the .35 that wound channels on game dropped off sharply at long ranges or low impact velocities, including use at long range in cartridges possessing much higher velocity than the .35 Remington. This seems to agree with some of what I have seen, but I think this can be overcome if velocities are kept at the higher levels and distances are not stretched too far. If you insist on using the bullet at the 2000-2100 fps velocities published in some loading manuals, then I would suggest using the Remington 200 Core-Lokt instead, as it is more suitable for lower velocities, opening better than the Speer 180. Where the penetration of the 180 might come into play is on tougher targets like feral hogs or black bear, possibly even timber range shots at elk where its greater penetration might prove useful. Since these animals take more killing, and due to the fact that the Speer is a tough bullet, additional velocity will not cause problems with underpenetration or core-jacket separation at higher .35 Remington speeds. Larger wounds also result from the higher velocity.
My rifles show notably better accuracy with the 180 Speer than with the 200 RNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in most loads, but I am sure this can be a rifle specific thing. Try Ã¢â‚¬Ëœem for yourself and see how they shoot.
The Speer 220 grain Flatnose Softpoint
When Buffalo Bore introduced their loading of the 220 Speer in the .35 Remington at a claimed 2200 fps from an 18.5 inch barrel, I am sure they greatly increased interest in the old woods cartridge for possible use on tougher critters. I understand, but do not know for sure, that they load it to Ã¢â‚¬Å“the upper end of SAAMI specificationsÃ¢â‚¬Â. I have also heard that they claim it is okay to shoot in older rifles, but donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quote me, please email Buffalo Bore and find out for yourself.
To attempt to duplicate this performance, but also to play it a bit conservative, I decided to load the 220 Speer to 2120 fps and test its performance. I also later duplicated the tests at 2200 fps velocity. My decision to do so was after loading the bullet to around 1900 fps as suggested in several loading manuals and then testing expansion results. I can say that I greatly prefer the additional bullet performance of the higher velocity loads, and my opinion is that if you want to shoot the 220 at 1900 fps youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be better off using something else. The higher velocities are within the acceptable velocity range of the .35. I came to that firm conclusion after input from one of the ballisticians working for a major powder supplier. This fellow has a sliderule for a brain and is willing to discuss safe loading practices for the .35 that are comparable to .30-30 pressure levels.
The 220 Speer penetrates considerably more than the 200 RNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, but despite its higher sectional density than the 180 Speer it does not penetrate all that much deeper than the lighter bullet. I would put the penetration at 18-24 inches, depending upon range, with more penetration as the range is increased. At 2120 fps, expansion still was present at 200 yards, with expansion characteristics very similar to the 180 Speer. The jacket folds close to the shank of the bullet, with a small frontal diameter. Most of the long shank length is still present in the recovered bullets. I could not hurt the 220 Speer at 2200 fps on 6 foot close range impacts, and like the 180 Speer the core did not separate from the jacket. However, it exhibited the same tumbling as the 180 Speer when it encountered voids in the books.
I have used the 220 Speer on deer with good success, with a decent wound channel and excellent penetration, but this was also at the closer ranges. I expect that it would be difficult to recover a bullet from a deer unless maybe it was a lengthwise shot, and I am not sure even that would stop it unless it encountered a full stomach or a lot of bone along the way. Actually, it is probably completely unnecessary as a deer bullet, and likely the 200Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s would do a better job there. I also cannot see using it for longer range shooting on light resistance, like a rib shot on a 200 yard whitetail deer. However, it can be applied to better effect on tougher animals, and am I glad the .35 user has the option of its availability should he need it. Certainly, it is the most accurate bullet available in my 336Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, and I attribute this to the long bearing surface of the bullet and the low extreme spreads and standard deviations of handloaded rounds, which have high loading density due to the deeper seating of the 220 grain bullet. This bullet has more shank below the cannelure than any other, but when loaded looks identical to rounds loaded with the 180 Speer as they share the exact same nose profile. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mistake one for the other when hunting, as the 180Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s and 220Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s hit nowhere near each other with the same sight setting. Marlin 336Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s in .35 need to be rezeroed each time bullet weight changes or when a significant velocity increase or decrease occurs with the same bullet weight.
The RCBS 200 Flatnose Gascheck cast from Wheelweights
This has proven to be a very accurate bullet in my 336Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, and quite unfussy. Most any reasonable load produces very good accuracy as long as it is not driven too fast. When cast of wheelweights, I generally have best accuracy at 2050 fps and below, but I find usable accuracy to be present up to 2200 fps, which is as fast as I have pushed it. A small amount of tin helps mould fill out, and the BHN of bullets as cast measure around 12, with a weight of 214 grains with gascheck and lubricant. It has been rather gratifying to discover that so loaded, the RCBS makes a good whitetail deer load with expansion characteristics most similar to the 200 RNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s save at the very closest ranges. At ranges of 6 feet to 25 yards, the bullets nearly turn inside out and expand to a wide diameter, but lose very little weight with no fracturing when launched at from 2050 to 2200 fps. Penetration is around 10-11 inches. Curiously, at fifty yards the same loads expand to a smaller diameter and lose some weight to fracturing around the periphery of the mushroomed bullet, with 12 inch penetration. At 100 yards on out, the recovered bullet shows expansion characteristics and penetration similar to the 200 RNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, with slightly (1-1.5 inches) less penetration than the 200 Remington Core-Lokt. At 200 yards, expansion occurs as long as muzzle velocity is higher than about 1950 fps, and the bullets have expansion, penetration and frontal areas that are very similar to the better 200 RNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s.
Despite what some may think, I have never encountered evidence of skidding when unhardened wheelweight alloy is used in Microgroove Marlin 336Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s. Rifling grip is very adequate. The occasional RCBS bullet may show minor gascutting. Obturation of the bullet is helpful and occurs with wheelweight alloys in the Marlin using deer appropriate loads. Generally, as long as bullets obturate sufficiently but not excessively, accuracy is better than if they do not (more about this later). I tried hardening the RCBS bullet to 33 BHN, the best I can do in my oven, and tried to make a close range penetrator load for my .35. I had visions of the super hard lead alloy bullet holding its original shape to provide great penetration, and I figured that the low antimony content might eliminate fracturing. So sorry, didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happen. I fired these bullets at 2160-2200 fps using Varget, and obtained dismal accuracy and penetration of around 21-24 inches, or around the same amount as the 220 Speer. The bullets, fired into the books at 25 yards, lost part of their nose from fracturing but did not expand appreciably. It was clear that 2200 fps was too much speed for even these tough bullets to hold together in the books (a hard cast pistol bullet fired at 1600 fps penetrated nearly twice as much). Accuracy problems were apparent due to clues provided by the recovered bullets, which clearly showed skidding, uneven rifling engagement, and gascutting of the hard alloy. One bullet was recovered that clearly showed that the bullet has entered the barrel so unevenly that it stripped the gascheck partly off the base, produced severe gascutting on that side, and stayed partway on the bullet as it continued up the barrel! No wonder accuracy was poor. These bullets measured about .3595Ã¢â‚¬Â as cast. My Marlin rifles are .358 to .3585Ã¢â‚¬Â groove diameter, depending upon which rifle we are talking about. Certainly Microgroove rifles were produced with oversize groove diameters, but even when barrel sizes are within specifications like on my rifles some obturation is necessary if the chambers are on the large side, the rifle has minimal to no throat and your mould does not cast a sufficiently large enough bullet. This is the standard dilemma for many rifles and moulds, and even in the Ã¢â‚¬Å“supposedlyÃ¢â‚¬Â superior lead handling Ballard rifled Marlins. If bullets are cast hard, Marlin rifles of ANY bore diameter or rifling type may require oversize bullets, often much larger than the Ã¢â‚¬Å“standardÃ¢â‚¬Â sizes. Proper alignment in the throat is critical. If the rifle has little to no throat (like most Marlins) the chamber neck becomes the throat, and an oversize bullet helps guidance into the barrel. If any of this is unclear, consult the guys at Beartooth for their suggested sizing diameters for the various Marlin rifles. Hardcast is particularly diameter critical if obturation is not occurring, and remember that obturation can be overdone, spoiling accuracy if bullets are driven by too much pressure.
As for game use with unhardened wheelweight bullets at standard .35 Remington speeds, I have included a photo of an RCBS.35 bullet that was recovered from a whitetail deer. I shot it at a range of 40 yards, and the impact velocity of the bullet was around 2000 fps. I hit higher on the deer than I had intended, as I have problems with losing the gold colored brass bead in dim light (solved it with a Firesight). Anyway, the bullet entered the deer about six inches below the chin, smashed the neck vertebrae, and penetrated downward to lodge inside the left front shoulder without breaking it. The guy who carves up my deer felt it land on the floor of the locker after he boned out the shoulder. He kept an eye out because we knew it had lodged in the deer and asked him to look for it.
Despite smashing the bone, the bullet was in one piece but had opened up to a fan-blade like shape. The neck is one of the larger bones on a deer, and the RCBS bullet had done a good job of disposing of it. I have used the RCBS/wheelweight bullet with good success on deer, but might hesitate a bit to use it on larger game at closer ranges unless it was cast harder, say BHN 16 or thereabout. If all jacketed bullets were discontinued in .35 caliber, the deer hunter could get by just fine with cast wheelweight bullets for the .35 Remington with little sacrifice in range or penetration.
The 180 grain Hornady Single Shot Pistol Bullet
Apparently this bullet is a good seller at Hornady, as they produce around a half million per year. There are a lot of lower velocity 35Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s and pistol length barrels that require an easy opening bullet for reduced velocities. The SSP 180 meets that need. My questions were few; how would it hold up at close range and what were the expansion characteristics at longer ranges? To answer this question, I fired it at 2380 fps into the books, range twenty feet, and also at 2300 fps out of my Bullberry barreled Contender pistol in .35 Remington at the 100 and 200 yard books.
At close range, velocity 2380 feet, (call me Elmer Keith) the bullets expanded to wide diameter and penetrated around 8 inches, less than any other bullet save the 125 pistol bullets discussed later. Bullets held together, no doubt due to the Interlock feature, but the lead remaining in the jackets looked almost melted. They also blew the crap out of the phone books. Two shots, one in the top half and the other in the bottom, were all the first few books could take. These look adequate for most lung shots on deer but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d hesitate to use them against tough resistance at close range at these velocities. At 100 and 200 yards it was apparent that the scoring in the nose of the bullet was not shallow, but deep, as the nose of the bullet peeled back into clearly defined segments. The bullet expanded to wide diameter at 200 yards and showed around 11 inches of penetration. This appears to be a deer bullet, and if any doubt about the expansion qualities of the .35 Remington at long range are present this bullet should answer all questions. There are more suitable cartridges than the .35 Remington for the longer ranges, but if this bullet is placed properly in the chest it looks to be able to cause sufficient damage way out there. A 2300+ fps launch velocity should be sufficient to at least 200 yards as regards trajectory, and these bullets can be used in tubular magazines if the soft nose is clipped and filed off flush with the jacket. The resulting meplat is considerably larger than the 150 Remington PSP factory load and similar to the 180 Speer. Little loss of ballistic performance should occur, as the bullet still has most of its tapering ogive. It is also possible to load the levergun as a two shot with pointed bullets, one in the chamber, the other in the tube.
The 225 Nosler Ballistic Tip
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect that this bullet will be of interest to most levergun shooters, as it is completely inappropriate for a 336, being too pointed for tube magazines and too long in overall length to feed through the action when seated to a proper depth to ensure case grip on the bullet. Still, though, 2000 fps is possible in the Contender pistol with no problems, and it is at this velocity that I tested it. To be truthful, using this bullet wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t my idea, it was my friend DaveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (7-30) when he sprung it on me during a phone conversation. I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to buy any, but on our next range shoot he dumped a box of 50 on my bench. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Swap for the 7 millimeter gaschecksÃ¢â‚¬Â he declared. Hah! I thought. What use were these damn things? I doubted I could get them to expand at any distance in the .35 Remington pistol, since IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be shooting them quite a bit slower than the intended velocity range of the manufacturer.
Well, that turned out to be wrong. They did expand at a full 200 yards, much to my surprise. However, at the longer distance, an undesirable characteristic was showing up: every bullet shed the core from the jacket. When this happened, penetration totaled about nine inches, with the core found about two or three inches deeper than the jacket, recovered in a bent Ã¢â‚¬Å“UÃ¢â‚¬Â shape. At 100 yards, three out of four bullets retained their cores, and at fifty yards all bullets stayed together. I did not try them at any closer distance. When the bullets held together penetration went from fourteen to eighteen inches, with a rather tubular wound channel. That is to say, it did not start out large in the first few books and taper; it was a more moderate size throughout the books. The fifty yard bullets penetrated somewhat further than the 100 yard bullets because the jacket folded more closely along the shank, and also because more of the jacket tore off. The 200 yard bullets shed their cores because the velocity was sufficient to fold the jacket at around a ninety degree angle to the bullet; this braked the jacket, and the core separated.
I cannot help but think these bullets would be much better if they had some mechanism to keep the core in the jacket, perhaps something like HornadyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Interlock feature. The jacket is very heavy and actually weighs more than the lead core. These bullets were very accurate from my Contender pistol, which has a 1-14 twist. I understand some well known writers like this bullet for larger game, but at Contender pistol velocities they may leave something to be desired. I am sure they would do for whitetail deer, but there are probably better choices. The bullets are big and very streamlined, and the .35 Remington kinda looks like an oversized version of J.D. JonesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ .300 Whisper cartridge, with the big bullet sticking way out of the .35 Remington case. They may be the deadliest looking of my .35 Remington handloads, but they are not the most effective.
The Hornady 125 grain XTP
This is a pistol bullet, intended for the .357 magnum and .38 Special calibers, but they work in the .35 Remington as a super varmint scatterer. My guns really prefer the 158 grain bullets over the 125Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s in terms of accuracy, but I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have any on hand and decided to just shoot what was on my shelf. I wound these up to 2600 fps and let fly at the fifty yard books, which made quite an explosion. Two shots. one in the top and the other in the bottom, would completely annihilate a phone book, leaving a hole you could darn near stick a fist into. Soggy wads of paper were blown everywhere. These bullets at close range are about as explosive, if not more so, than the plastic tipped varmint bullets, since pistol bullets will expand at a lower speed than the more pointed plastic tip rifle bullets. These were launched about 600-700 fps slower than your typical .223 prairie dog load, however. There was an intact bullet at the bottom of these large holes, which penetrated six inches, destroying the first two books and were found in the very front of the third book. They had expanded nearly flat and had a fair amount of lead still attached. If your rifle will shoot these with decent enough accuracy I guarantee no woodchuck would survive a hit with one of the 125Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, and placement doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to be that precise to ensure an instant kill. The critter will be torn in half, if not pureed. If your gun will not shoot the 125Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, the 158Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s will probably do much better, and the explosive effect is still there. Certainly there are much better varmint guns, but sometimes it is fun to put the old deer rifle to other uses.
Some Closing Comments
I have a few loose ends to tie up, but not many. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll post those results as I get them over the summer. The shooting results were interesting and informative, and indicate there are variations in the performance of the bullets available for handloading. There were a few surprises. Combined with the hunting experience I have, I think this information will help me select the best bullet for the application in which it will be used. If in doubt, shoot the handloaded Remington 200 Core-Lokt for most game, perhaps the Speers if you think you need more penetration for some reason. Keep the velocity high when using the Speer bullets, or use them on larger animals where their slower expansion would be no handicap. If you intend to duplicate factory velocities the Remington bullet would be preferable. I think the Remington would never be a mistake at any safe velocity. Often good things donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t last forever, so I hope the financial interests at Remington are not tempted to cheapen the bullet or change its design. Roundnose and flatnose bullets are not the most popular offerings these days, and I am thankful .35 Remington handloaders have as many bullet choices as they do.
I would appreciate hearing from other .35 Remington users about their results using these bullets on game.