Product Review of Nosler Bullets and Brass

By Ron Avery

At SHOT Show 2007, I made my way to the Nosler Booth to look over their impressive display of hunting, competition and handgun bullets. One thing led to another and before too long I found myself talking with Kyle Hopp of Nosler’s Public Relations and Custom Shop.  As part of our continuing research into practical, high quality training and products, I was intrigued with the possibilities and options with the various rifle caliber bullets that Nosler offers as well as their brass. From prior experience with the Nosler Partition®, I knew that it would penetrate and kill well at all ranges. I wanted to try out various caliber bullets, usingboth the Ballistic Tip® bullets and the Accubond® bullets for both practical use in competition, hunting etc. and tactical use.

Author shooting the JP Rifle at 300 yards from the Carroll Ultimate Precision Rest

In short order, I had a supply of bullets in .22, .25, .270 and .300 as well as some Nosler brass for testing and evaluation and the game was on! I envisioned the test to encompass various varmints like jackrabbits, coyotes, foxes on up to deer and elk. I also was evaluating the bullets for their potential for law enforcement and tactical use. I enlisted the aid of my good friend and Practical Shooting Academy Pro Staff member, Rich Kendall, who was the perfect guy for the job of assisting me in this project. Rich is one of those completely dedicated shooters who will experiment with everything and anything if it shows promise. He is very honest about what he believes and he has a vast range of experience when it comes to shooting all kinds of animals at different distances over the years with different calibers and bullets. One of the first things that we wanted to look at was the brass itself. Reloaders are known to be very picky when it comes to case preparation. I am no exception. As a professional shooter and trainer, time is something that can be in short supply. Spending hours on case preparation can be counter-productive to developing high performance loads. I am happy to report that Nosler brass is about as perfect as you can get for your money. I don’t make that statement idly. Concentricity, uniformity of weight and primer pocket depth are extremely uniform. The cases are already resized and the flash hole reamed. Literally, what we were able to do was seat primers, put in powder, get the seating depth adjusted and then assemble our loads for those calibers we had brass for. For those that don’t have the means or the time to spend on case preparation, this is the way to go! One of the first tests we performed was an accuracy test with the .22 caliber, 50 grain, Nosler Ballistic Silvertip. What I was looking for was a bullet that could be driven at relatively high velocity out of a 16 – 20” barrel AR-15 for both tactical use and varmints. As part of the testing, we used a JP Enterprises AR-15 with an 18” barrel on it. I also had on hand my Mid-South Tactical Network AR-15 with a 17” barrel.

Most 5 shot groups averaged this size at 100 yards with the 50 grain Nosler CT Ballistic Tip® The spread was due to the wind and the shooter getting used to the rest.

We used Jim Carroll’s Ultimate Precision Rest as part of the testing. This rest is ingenious in that it can quickly be moved and set on an object and locked in or left free swinging while providing enough stability to make a shot. It also has a built in recoil reducing system that made even a .300 Win Mag seem tame. I will write about it in a future article. We fired groups at 100 yards to get a feel for the rest and the load. It was a breezy day with the wind coming in erratic gusts up to 10 mph. Even, so we shot quite a number of sub-inch groups. Most measured right around the size of a penny.

300 yard group under windy conditions with 50 gr. Nosler Ballistic Silvertip

Having established our hold, it was time to shoot the rifles at a distance. The wind was a bit of a problem but I was able to hold a 3 inch group at 300 yards with the JP Rifle. Later in the afternoon the wind died down and Rich got on the rifle. He fired a 3 shot group at 400 yards that measured just under 2 inches!

PSA Pro Staff Richard Kendall’s sub-2 inch group with 50 grain Nosler Ballistic Silvertip.

We did some shooting with Rich’s .300 Winchester Magnum and 165 grain Nosler Accubond® bullets. We were able to hit steel targets out to 900 yards quickly and repeatedly using Carroll’s rest.

We then tried some handloads using Nosler .30 competition bullets in two semi-auto .308’s and my bolt action .308 sniper rifle. We used the 155 grain HPBT and the 168 grain bullets. My 16” barreled, DPMS .308 semi-auto that was modified by MSTN really liked the 155 grain custom competition bullets that were loaded into some of Nosler’s superb brass. Rich shot some 3 shot groups with it that measured right around a quarter inch at 100 yards! It shot groups around ¾’ out of the 20” .308 upper. We gained a bit of velocity from the 16” to the 20” barrel but the 16” barrel upper is one of my favorites for compact performance. Those competition .30 caliber bullets shot phenomenally well and should be a winner for the competition circuit.

The author shooting his MSTN .223 rifle with Trijicon 1.25x4 TR-21R scope. To the side you can see Kowa’s excellent compact 15-30X ED spotting scope that we used for spotting hits.The author shooting his MSTN .223 rifle with Trijicon 1.25x4 TR-21R scope. To the side you can see Kowa’s excellent compact 15-30X ED spotting scope that we used for spotting hits.

We also used the .30 caliber 150 gr. And 165 gr. Accubond® and Nosler brass out of a DPMS .300 Remington SAUM as well as my bolt action .308. Most groups would go well under an inch with some hovering around the ½” mark using the bolt gun and the semi-autos.

Practical Shooting Academy Pro Staff - Rich Kendall hitting steel targets at varying distances out to 900 yards with Nosler 165 grain Accubond® in .300 Win Mag.

Rich was able to do quite a bit of field testing of loads on game animals this year while hunting and guiding. He used his .300 Win Mag and the 165 grain Accubond® as well as a 25/06 using 110 grain Accubond® bullets during the 2007 elk and deer seasons here in Colorado. During the course of the 2007 season, he let different clients shoot these rifles at both elk and mule deer at distances ranging from 75 yards to over 400 yards. Altogether, he witnessed 6 elk killed with the 165 grain load out of his .300 Winchester and 6 more with the 110 gr. Accubond® out of the 25/06. The Accubond® bullets penetrated cleanly, expanded precisely and stayed together.

Using the 50 grain Nosler Ballistic Silvertip, he has taken (so far) 8 coyotes, 3 foxes and numerous jackrabbits etc. this winter with an 18” barreled DPMS AR-15 at distances out to 400 yards plus. I used a 150 grain Partition® bullet in my .300 WSM to harvest a mule deer buck at 360 yards on a horseback hunt here in Colorado. I was using a handload that Rich put together which launched the bullet at around 3300 fps. This was a potent load. The bullet hit a little far back due to the wind but the buck humped up from the shock of impact and didn’t move very much. You could tell that he was hard hit and he went down with another shot. Due to time constraints I wasn’t able to do a thorough examination of the wound channel but I suspect that the bullet wound was extensive. I shot a cow elk on a late season tag at 287 yards using a T/C Encore chambered in .270 Win. I was using a 130 grain Accubond® at around 3100 fps. The elk was quartering towards me and I put the crosshairs on her near shoulder and touched the shot off. At the impact, she spun around and ran over the top of the hill which was 25 yards away. As we approached the crest of the hill and glanced over it, I saw my elk lying just 30 yards away She was very big in the body and Rich said that she was as big in the body as a six point bull.

After field dressing, we noted that the bullet has taken out both lungs very handily, doing extensive damage and then kept on going. We went to a local meat processing plant and had them skin out the elk and cut open the chest cavity to examine the damage. We found the bullet stuck under the hide on the off side 3 feet from the point of impact with the shoulder. It had held together and had a nice mushroom to it.

The bullet had punched through the toughest part of the shoulder bone and opened a 3” hole in the near side chest wall. It had then smashed through both lungs, ranged through part of the gut and then stopped against the hide. The recovered weight of the bullet was 99 grains. It appeared to have dumped a lot of its energy into the chest cavity while hanging together to penetrate deeply. This is excellent performance on the part of the Accubond® bullet.

All in all, I am thoroughly pleased with the performance of Nosler bullets. I have used them both in the competitive shooting arena for handgun as well as in the hunting fields. They are accurate and dependable in performance and I have every confidence that they will do the job they are designed to do. I will be doing further testing for law enforcement and tactical use in Part 2 of this article. I look forward to a lot more shooting with them in the future!

.270 Winchester 130 gr. Accubond®

Recovered Nosler .270 Win. 130 gr. Accubond® taken from large cow elk. Distance 287 yards. Recovered weight is 99 grains.

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