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A lot of us are interested in the Ballistic Coefficient of the muzzleloader bullets we shoot, because that gives us an indication of how flat our muzzleloader bullet should shoot. But, no matter what the manufacturer claims the BC of their bullet is; no matter how much we argue over those claims; it comes down to this. How much does your muzzleloader bullet actually drop at 200 or 300 yards and how does this compare with other muzzleloader bullets? Recently a test was conducted, by a well respective member of the muzzleloading community, of several different muzzleloading bullets.

There were some guidelines for the test:

1. The same shooter must do all the shooting.
2. All bullets must be shot from the same gun, at the same location.
3. All bullets must be shot with the same charge of the same lot number of Hodgdon Triple 7 loose powder.
4. Each bullet must be tested three different times on three different days with the results averaged.
5. All bullets are to be shot in five shot strings with the highest and lowest shot being removed from each string.

The actual test was conducted with 100 grains of Hodgdon's Triple 7 FFFg loose powder (the test required nearly 8 pounds of powder).


The Web Magazine For The Serious Muzzleloading Hunter

For Immediate Release August 1, 2006

A Look At Muzzleloader Bullet Drop

By Toby Bridges

Earlier this spring (2006), Cecil Epp of Precision Rifle Custom Muzzleloader Bullets challenged me to establish which of today's muzzleloader hunting bullets are actually the flattest shooting. He did so knowing full well that his extremely aerodynamic and high ballistic coefficient bullet designs would definitely fare extremely well in the testing. I knew it too, but took the challenge anyway.

The first order of business was to choose the bullets to be included. Right off, Cecil sent me a sufficient supply of the saboted 195-gr. (.357" dia.) duplex-sabot "Dead Center"; 240-gr. (.400" dia.) "Dead Center" and "Extreme Elite HP"; 260-gr. (.400" dia.) "Dead Center" and "Extreme Elite HP"; 300-gr. (.430" dia.) "Dead Center"; and the 340-gr. (.451" dia.) "Dead Center" bullets. The roundup of other newer aerodynamic bullet designs included the 250- and 275-gr. (.451" dia.) Parker Productions "Ballistic Extreme" spire-points; the 250- and 290-grain (.451" dia.) Barnes "TMZ" bullets; the 250- and 300-gr. (.452" dia.) Hornady SST poly-tipped spire-point bullets; and the 245- and 285-gr. (.451" dia.) Barnes "Spit-Fire" bullets. And just for comparison, the 223- and 295-gr. (.499" dia.) "Power Belt" Aerotip bullets; 260-gr. (.451" dia.) Harvester Muzzleloading "Scorpion" funnel-point bullet; and the 250- and 300-gr. (.452" dia.) Hornady "XTP" jacketed hollow-point bullets were also included in the trajectory testing.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle was finding one rifle that would shoot all of these different projectiles with sufficient accuracy to determine just how much each bullet dropped from 100 to 200 yards. Several sessions at the range in mid to late May narrowed the choice down to two modern in-line rifles - the .50 caliber Knight Rifles "Long Range Hunter" version of the DISC Extreme and the .50 caliber Thompson/Center Arms "Omega". Both shot very well with the 100-grain charge of FFFg Triple Seven that would be used for all testing. However, the Knight rifle showed an accuracy edge with a wider range of the bullets.

The following testing was conducted through June and July, with early morning shooting temperatures ranging from the low 60s into the mid 70s. During the 60-day test, I made 16 trips to the range (50 mile round trip each time); shot for an average of just over 3 hours during each trip; and in all fired a total of nearly 500 rounds. Most mornings, I would test 4 to 5 different bullets before the summer heat would put an end to the day's shooting.

Surprisingly, I did not have to do all that much adjustment to the 3-10x40mm scope each time I switched bullets. Each bullet was first sighted "dead on" at 100 yards, which usually required no more than 3 shots. Then, shooting at a self-adhesive Birchwood Casey target placed on the upper half of a 30"x30" piece of brown craft or wrapping paper, I'd fire 5 shots. The bore was wiped of fouling and the rifle allowed to cool down for a full five minutes (in the shade) between each shot. The lowest and highest hits on the paper were then discounted and the amount of drop for the remaining three hits averaged. Over the course of the two-month trials, each bullet went through three such sessions, and then the results of those three sessions were averaged.

Following is a look at the comparative rates of drop for the 20 different bullets that were eventually tested, ranked 1 through 20 from the "Flattest Shooting" to the "Bullet With The Most Drop".

No. 1 Precision Rifle 195-gr. .357" diameter (duplex sabot)
"Dead Center" - 5.25" drop

No. 2 Precision Rifle 260-gr. .400" diameter
"Dead Center" - 6.9" drop

No. 3 Precision Rifle 240-gr. .400" diameter
"Dead Center" - 7.3" drop

No. 4 Precision Rifle 260-gr. .400" diameter
"Extreme Elite HP" - 7.4" drop

No. 5 Precision Rifle 300-gr. .430" diameter
"Dead Center" - 7.5" drop

No. 6 Precision Rifle 240-gr. .40" diameter
"Extreme Elite HP" - 7.9" drop

No. 7 Precision Rifle 340-gr. .451" diameter
"Dead Center" - 8.85" drop

No. 8 Parker Productions 250-gr. .451" diameter
"Ballistic Extreme" - 9.7" drop

No. 9 Barnes Bullets 250-gr. .451" diameter
"TMZ" - 9.9" drop

No. 10 Hornady 250-gr. .452" diameter
"SST" - 10.8" drop

No. 11 Parker Productions 275-gr. .451" diameter
"Ballistic Extreme" - 11.2" drop

No. 12 Barnes Bullets 290-gr. .451" diameter
"TMZ" - 11.5" drop

No. 13 Barnes Bullets 245-gr. .451" diameter
"Spit-Fire" - 11.8" drop

No. 14 Hornady 300-gr. .452" diameter
"SST" - 12.3" drop

No. 15 Barnes Bullets 285-gr. .451" diameter
"Spit-Fire" - 12.9" drop

No. 16 Power Belt Aerotip 295-gr. .499" diameter
plastic skirted bullet - 13.8" drop

No. 17 Power Belt Aerotip 223-gr. .499" diameter
plastic skirted bullet - 14.9" drop

No. 18 Harvester Muzzleloading 260-gr. .451" diameter
funnel-point bullet - 15.9" drop

No. 19 Hornady 250-gr. .452" diameter
"XTP" jacketed hollow-point bullet - 18.7" drop

No. 20 Hornady 300-gr. .452" diameter
"XTP" jacketed hollow-point bullet - 21.2" drop

In the second half of these tests, all of these same bullets will be shot at 250 and 300 yards to determine the amount of drop at those ranges. This shooting will be conducted in mid to late September, when early morning temperatures will once again be in the low to mid 60s. At that time, each bullet and 100 grain charge of FFFg Triple Seven will be chronographed. Watch for that report in early October.

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