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by Gary Smith a.k.a. Gary Last updated: 2009-11-16 23:40:47
Perhaps I watched too many cowboy movies in my youth but shooting a silver bullet in a single action revolver makes me smile. There isn't much call for real cowboys anymore but not to be denied, I began hunting with handguns more than 25 years ago and have lost count of how many big-game animals I've taken with pistols and revolvers. When it comes to big-bore, straight-walled cartridges, I have come to prefer a jacketed, expanding bullet when hunting all but the very largest game. One reason for this is that jacketed bullet technology has come such a long way in the last decade.
On the forefront of advanced bullet technology and design is Winchester. They provide a number of great bullets for handgunners and their latest achievement is a dual jacketed — dual bonded bullet called the Supreme Elite Dual Bond. The dual bond is a very unique design consisting of an inner jacket that is chemically bonded to an inner lead core and an outer jacket that is mechanically bonded or crimped to the inner jacket. It's designed to open at a controlled rate into 12 segments or petals, 6 on each jacket, with expansion of up to twice the original bullet diameter while retaining nearly 100%% of its original weight for a combination of knockdown power, solid penetration and significant tissue damage.
Over the years, one thing I've come to expect from Winchester factory loadings is top accuracy. I've had excellent success in the field with their other Casull loads and the new 260 gr. dual bond may be the most accurate one yet, at least from my guns. To test what the load is capable of, I bench tested my 10-inch Freedom Arms 454 Casull topped with a Leupold 2.5x-8x EER handgun scope. At 50 yards I was able to consistently shoot 4 shots with most bullet holes touching, delivering a sub 1-inch average group size. Moving the distance out to 100 yards the groups opened up to a predictable two inches with my best group measuring a scant 1.7 inches.
My 10-inch gun delivered a higher muzzle velocity than is listed on the Winchester box by about 100 fps but that's not too surprising. Curious about the new design, I spoke with Winchester Product Manager, Glen Weeks, regarding the downrange impact velocities. Glen said that in order for the 45 caliber bullet to expand properly the impact velocity needed to stay above 1400 fps. As you can see from the accompanying chart, it retains that velocity from my 10-inch gun out to nearly 150 yards although I would suggest keeping your shots at large game to around 50 or 75 yards maximum.
Most handgun hunters will end up using this bullet on game under 250 lbs. but I wanted to try it on something a good deal larger — elk. Well where can you hunt elk in July? Were else, Texas! A two-year drought and the well-known state of the economy are yielding some fantastic bargains for hunters in the Lone Star State. A call to the DB Hunting Ranch in Bertram booked my hunt and a few days later I was stalking elk through the mesquite and cedar thickets. Keeping to my limited budget, I elected to try for one of the spike bulls the ranch was offering. After a few hours of spot and stalk, and an attempted ambush that went South, I finally got a shot at the bull from about 60 yards with my open-sighted, 4 ¾ inch, 454. He stood at a quartering angle and from the time I shot until the bull was down was just under 13 seconds. Impressive! The bullet penetrated the shoulder blade about 4 inches down from the top, took out two ribs and lodged next to the stomach on the off-side of the body cavity. Penetration on the elk was approximately 28 inches and included some very significant damage to the soft tissue and bones.
Handgunners heading to the woods this fall can have confidence that the new dual bond will fly true and hit hard. The recovered bullet exhibited retention of nearly 90%% of the original 260 grains and it did expand to double the original diameter. The reason for the slight loss in weight is because three of the inner petals ripped off, most likely from contacting the shoulder and rib bones while still at a high velocity. Based on my observations on the elk, this bullet may be a little light for anything larger because of its expansion characteristics unless you limit your shots to broadside encounters and try to avoid heavy shoulder bones in the largest animals. I'm certain this bullet will fully penetrate deer and other medium game from all but very oblique angles and will likely fully penetrate larger game on broadside shots with proper shot placement.
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