Unleaded, Please…

With Lead-Free Projectiles here to stay, these are Eight Great All-Copper Bullets for Hunting, Shooting

Story by Phil Massaro Photos by Massaro Media Group

The Barnes TTSX (with blue polymer tip) and Barnes TSX are tough bullets, suitable for nearly all hunting situations.
I might be dating myself, but I am old enough to remember when unleaded gas was an option over regular (leaded) gasoline. Lead often gets a bad rap, due to its toxicity to people when exposed to high levels. However, the malleability of lead makes it an excellent choice for projectiles, especially during the centuries when firearms underwent radical developments.
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The simple muzzleloader, firing a patched round ball, could be well fed with a bullet mold and a healthy supply of lead. Our earliest projectiles for what we consider modern cartridges were either pure lead or some sort of lead alloy, hardened a bit to resist premature deformation. To this day, the majority of our rifle and handgun projectiles are comprised of a lead core surrounded by a jacket of copper, and lead shot remains a popular choice for most anything other than waterfowl. As I stated, lead can be toxic, and it was in the mid-1980s that lead shot was first banned for use on waterfowl.

Leaded gas, lead paint; right on down the line, lead gets more and more removed from our everyday lives. But it wasn’t always a bad thing. Lead’s beneficial use in handgun and rifle projectiles is undeniable, however it does have certain limitations. It can be too malleable – as John Nosler found out in the 1940s when his bullets came apart on the shoulder of a bull moose – and for decades, bullet manufacturers have been engineering different designs to come up with the best balance of expansion and penetration.
It was Randy Brooks, then-owner of Barnes Bullets, who had the idea of removing the lead core altogether and using just copper for his projectile to avoid jacket/core separation, all the way back in 1979. By 1986 his idea had come to fruition when he took the first head of big game with his lead-free X bullet. That Alaskan brown bear fell to a 270-grain Barnes X from his .375 H&H Magnum, and began a whole new facet of the ammunition industry. Fast forward to 2013, and you’ll see California pass a bill prohibiting the use of all lead ammunition for hunting on public and private land, supposedly in an effort to remove the risk of condors and other scavengers being poisoned by lead bullet fragments or shot in gut piles. I’m not here to debate the validity of those studies or the merits of the subsequent laws, but to show the effects on the bullet industry, and that is to say that the lead-free projectiles are here to stay.
And, while Barnes remains a leader in the copper bullet industry, they are not the only player in the game. In fact, just about every major player in the bullet manufacturing industry has one sort of lead-free monometal bullet or another. Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of the copper bullets, what makes them tick, and I’ll highlight a few of my favorite designs.

Copper, by nature, is less dense than lead, so when comparing a lead-core bullet to a copper bullet – of the same shape, weight and diameter – the copper bullet will always be longer. This does a couple of different things: It changes the center of gravity and it usually requires the bullet to take up more space within the case. In those cases where the volume is already a bit compromised – like the .308 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington and .350 Remington Magnum – the heavier copper bullet can pose an issue, as it will eat up a considerable amount of space.

In the instance that a lead-core bullet is at or near the edge of stable flight, many times a copper bullet of the same shape and weight will not be stable. For example, the 6.5mms will assuredly stabilize a 140-grain cup-and-core bullet with the standard 1-in-8-inch or 1-in-9-inch twist rates, but not a 140-grain copper bullet; the length is just too much to stabilize. This will pose an issue with the target crowd, who rely on that combination of bullet weight and conformation to retain every last bit of velocity for a flat trajectory.

The Woodleigh Hydrostatically
Stabilized Solid is just about the
perfect medicine for dangerous game, and works equally well on lighter game.
For the hunting crowd, who require the proper terminal performance to ensure a quick, humane kill, the copper bullets really shine. Generally speaking, they are very tough – sometimes too tough – and will definitely reach the vital organs. Copper is not only lighter than lead, but is less malleable. Hence the reason it has been so successful as a jacket material: It is just soft enough to be engraved by the rifling in the steel barrel, yet is hard enough not to “smear” down the barrel like soft lead will.
The secret to the best copper hunting bullets is to get them to expand properly and reliably. Brooks went through several designs with his hollowpoint Barnes X until he got what he was after; some of the earliest designs didn’t expand and acted much like a solid, whistling through at caliber dimension. With the TSX, TTSX and LRX, that is no longer the case. Most copper bullets will feature either a hollowpoint or a polymer tip inserted into a hollow cavity to get the bullet to expand. There are a few exceptions to that rule, namely the Peregrine Bushmaster and PlainsMaster, the North Fork Cup Solid and the Woodleigh Hydrostatically Stabilized Solid.

Additionally, most copper monometals will feature multiple grooves cut in the shank of the bullet to reduce the amount of bearing surface, in order to minimize the amount of copper fouling. The original Barnes X had no grooves and fouling was an issue. I spent a considerable amount of time using an ammonia-based bore cleaner and a nylon brush, scrubbing copper fouling out of the bore of my favorite rifles.
For the handloaders, you’ll often find that the copper monometals will perform best with powders on the faster end of the spectrum; I suspect the lesser amount of bearing surface creates a more even pressure with the faster powders. And, for reasons I cannot explain, I’ve had great success with copper bullets and ball powders.

Federal’s Trophy Copper load – shown here in the
excellent .300 Holland & Holland Magnum, 180
grains – is a formidable bullet that delivers both
great accuracy and terminal ballistics.
The following copper bullet designs are some of my favorites. The Barnes TSX, TTSX and LRX. The Barnes bullets are among the best you could ask for, and they’ve never let me down in the field. I’ve either used them personally or loaded them for friends and clients in cartridges from .243 Winchester up to the .505 Gibbs. They are accurate, hit hard and kill quickly. For hunting at longer ranges, the TTSX and LRX – with the polymer tip – offer a bit flatter trajectory and will retain a bit more energy. Retained weight is usually in the 90-plus-percent range, if you recover a bullet at all, as pass-throughs are very common.
The Hornady GMX. Hornady’s GMX (Gilding Metal eXpanding) features their signature red polymer tip and has been a great bullet. I’ve loaded this in the .300 Savage for a California pig hunter, as well as in the .30-338 wildcat and the 9.3×62 Mauser; all the hunters were more than pleased.
The Federal Trophy Copper. Federal’s monometal is a tough, accurate and dependable bullet. I’ve used it in the .243 Winchester to put a big Texas whitetail down in its tracks, quite literally, and I’ve seen it bring a vintage .300 Holland & Holland to life. This polymer-tipped boattail is loaded in Federal’s Trophy Copper line, in cartridges from .270 WSM, 7mm WSM and .300 WSM to the 6.5 Creedmoor, .30-06 Springfield and .300 Winchester Magnum, to the .280 Ackley Improved.

The Woodleigh Hydrostatically Stabilized Solid. Hailing from Australia, Woodleigh has long embraced classic bullet designs, modeled after century-old designs, for vintage rifles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, their Hydrostatically Stabilized Solid is a radical design, using a small dish at the nose of the bullet to create a cavitation bubble ahead of the bullet. This both destroys blood-rich tissue in a 6- to 8-inch radius around the bullet’s path, and clears a pathway for the bullet. That dish expands ever so slightly, and if I were forced to choose just one bullet for all game animals, including hippo, buffalo and elephant, it would be this design. I took a huge Zimbabwean bull elephant with a 400-grain Hydro from my .404 Jeffery; the penetration and trauma from two body shots was very impressive.

Massaro with a
Mozambican reedbuck
ram taken with the
Heym SR30 HPPR
(High Performance
Precision Rifle) in .300
Winchester Magnum
and Barnes LRX bullets.
The Cutting Edge Raptor. Here’s another very unique design, with the ogive of the bullet designed to break into small blades to cause massive trauma for the first 6 inches or so, while the base of the bullet stays at caliber dimension for deep penetration. They are accurate, and their terminal performance on thin-skinned game species is amazing.
The Peregrine BushMaster and PlainsMaster. Peregrine Bullets – from the Republic of South Africa – makes a unique monometal bullet that relies on the compression of air to guarantee expansion. Using a copper bullet with a hollow cavity that is capped with a bronze cap or plunger (depending on model), the bullet’s ogive is driven outward, radially, from the axis of travel.
You see, the air in that cavity under cap isn’t easily compressed, and the copper walls of the bullet will blow outward upon impact, giving excellent expansion, and the long copper base ensures deep penetration. I’ve killed four Cape buffalo with this bullet, and it’s become one of my favorites.

Brownells – Match Precision Optic® (MPO) 5-25X56MM Rifle Scope $999.99

243 Winchester Caliber

Versatile, Dual Purpose Caliber?

In the plinking and precision long range world we all like to talk about which gun or caliber is better than the other. This goes the same in the hunting world as well.
Something that hunters and semi-seasoned hunters talk about is the best or versatile deer rifle/caliber. For the non-hunters most will only think of the .30-06 or .308.
All the old favorites are normally there, like the classic Marlin, Remington and Ruger rifles.
They go back and forth on what’s better between a .270 Winchester, a 308 Winchester and a 30-06 Springfield.
But, some experienced hunters will tell you go with the .243 caliber rifle.
This hunting rifle may be smaller than most, but it packs a pretty good punch from varmints to medium-size game. Even if you’re content with whitetail in your area, that is cool as well.

The .243 is light, small and perfect for beginning deer hunters. The .243 Winchester cartridge was initially designed as a target/varmint round, it may be used for animals such as coyotes, black tail deer, whitetail deer, mule deer, pronghorns, and wild hogs.

Taking Aim with a .243 Rifle (WideOpenSpace)

Hunters from the western states have used the .243 on mule deer and bears. At under 200 yards the .243 may just be the most accurate round. Low recoil attributes to its high accuracy.
Some hunters share the sentiment that the .243 just simple isn’t big enough for a true ethical shot. However, with the added accuracy of this round, shot placement is deadly with practice. Taking a shot from 200 yards is a common thing.

We mentioned the versatility of the .243 caliber. If you handload your own, you can try these loads:
  • 55-grain for varmints
  • 70-80 grain – will retain velocity and resists the wind better and a better choices for coyote, bobcat, and fox
  • 90-100 grain for deer and pronghorn
  • 105-115 grain – Federal Hi-Shok, Remington Corelokts and Winchester Power points are to go with.
Word of caution – the heaviest grain does not mean it will take down the biggest game. .243 is not meant for that.

Here’s a plinker at 500 yards

Bolt or Lever?
When we get into the .243 rifles, a classic bolt action usually leads to better accuracy with a Ruger American.
This factor is what hunters base their decisions whether to have one or not.

If you want to factor in the coolness of the rifle of lever action, Savage and Browning make some awesome lever rifles.
But if those sounds like a little too much rifle, look at Rossi and Henry. They make single shot 243’s.

Browning .243 Lever
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Rossi 243 Rifle
Henry .243 Rifle

These rifles average around $250-$500, so you don’t need to spend too much. The thing to do is shop around which has bundles like a rifle that comes with a scope, recoil pad, maybe a synthetic stock and an adjustable trigger.
Its like plug and play right out of the box.
It’s important with all cartridges to match the bullet to the game animal. If you only hunt whitetail, small game and is recoil sensitive, the .243 is for you.

Here is Gridlessness take on the awesome .243 Caliber.

Jumping The Gun Gap

[su_heading size=”24″ margin=”0″]JUMPING THE GUN GAP[/su_heading]

World Record Dirt-bike Champion, Cam Zink Is A Brother In Arms

Interview by Danielle Breteau

Cam Zink
One of Cam’s favorite firearms is his Tikka T3 Tactical .308. (ADRIAN MARCOUX PHOTOGRAPHY)

[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]S[/su_dropcap]o, why would a shooting magazine reach out for an interview with a world-record-holding mountain bike rider/jumper/guru? Well, because he also totes a gun and hunts. In fact he comes from a family of hunters and totes many guns.

That’s why! Another reason we reached out to this young man was to demonstrate that gun owners, CCW carriers and hunters come from some of the most unlikely places. Think of the new generation of youth shooters who are paving the way for an ever-growing firearms-friendly community. Cam Zink represents that new generation, and while his livelihood is not in the industry, he is a brother in arms. I would like to introduce the shooting community to Cam Zink who made the Guinness Book of World Records – the first time – by completing a 100-foot, dirt-to-dirt backflip jump on a mountain bike. However, that wasn’t enough, so he followed that up by completing an astounding 120-foot straight-air jump, at the same location, earning him a second world record title for the longest dirt-to-dirt jump. Stand by for a second – just announcing that feat left me out of breath. Enjoy getting to know Cam Zink.

American Shooting Journal Hello, Cam, thanks for talking to us.

Cam Zink My pleasure.

ASJ Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with guns, or where the influence came from?

CZ Well, it was a family thing. My father was an avid shooter and started taking us out hunting when I was pretty young. The first gun I ever shot was a .22, but the very first deerhunting rifle I ever owned was a .243 Winchester.

When he is not shooting, Cam and his brother Howie run YT USA, a mountain bike manufacturing company based in Reno. (IAN COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY)

ASJ What did you think about hunting when you first started?

CZ Like I said, it was a family thing. It’s just what we did together. My brother Howie and I were just happy to be out with our dad.

ASJ What does your father do?

CZ He used to run a T-shirt, embroidery and screen-printing business, but is now semiretired. He is currently remodeling the house they live in to flip it. He has done everything in his life, including being an electrician, which helps with his new semivocation.

Cam ZinkASJ And your mother?

CZ My mom was a real estate agent, so she couldn’t take off work to take us to races like my dad could, but she came when she could, and we loved it!

ASJ How did you get started with mountain bikes?

CZ I started out like any other kid, riding bikes around the neighborhood. We had some school yard jumps, and I guess I realized around then that I had a bit more of a natural talent for riding. Later, one of my dad’s friends, Stan Fail, started a bike-component company called Kooka. He brought some high-end bikes into my dad’s shop, and my dad was super intrigued. That’s when my dad bought us our own mountain bikes, and Stan brought us to some races. The rest is history.

ASJ Does your brother hunt and ride as well?

CZ He does, and is currently the chief operating officer for YT USA, the North American franchise for YT Industries, which is the bike company that also sponsors me. Howie was always my hero growing up because he was so naturally gifted in all types of riding. When he got older and bought his first car, he started hanging out with girls. Bike riding took a back seat for him then.

Cam and Howie Zink
With a father who was an avid hunt, Cam (left) and Howie were raised to love the outdoors and be shooters. This and mountain biking was always a part of family outings. (IAN COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY)

ASJ Tell us more about YT USA.

CZ YT is a German-engineered mountain bike manufacturer that was solely in Europe until recently. They have now expanded to North America, Australia and New Zealand. What sets them apart is their bikes are sold directly to the public via the internet. No middleman, which keeps costs low. My brother and I run the North American franchise for them out of Reno, Nev.

PHOTO 4 Cam as a KidASJ So, when you say low prices, what are we talking about?

CZ Prices range from around $900 to $5,400.

ASJ Wow, it sounds like there is a full range of bikes for all levels. Tell us about your favorite guns, or better yet, the guns you own.

CZ I have several different models, all for different reasons. My daily carry is a Ruger LC9, but the trigger is a bit annoying. Other than that, I have a S&W .40-caliber handgun and .22 revolver, a Remington 20-gauge shotgun and .243 rifle, a Tikka T3 Tactical .308, an H&K .45 and, of course, an AR-15.

Cam and Howie on one of their family’s camping and outdoor trips. (CAM ZINK)

ASJ What type of guns are you looking to add to the family?

CZ I really want a Kimber Solo. My dad has one, and it is the best subcompact I’ve ever seen. I also want to get a .300 AAC Blackout as well, especially now that I am sponsored by SilencerCo., an industry leader in silencers for firearms.

ASJ You mentioned that you have hunted. Tell us about that. What have you hunted so far?

CZ I have only successfully shot one deer with my dad under a junior tag, and have been on several antelope and deer hunts with friends. I love duck hunting too, and in the next few years I’m going to make it up to Montana to hunt deer again.

Among activities such as extreme mountain biking, film making, shooting and his new family. Cam works hard running his and his brother Howie’s business. (IAN COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY)

ASJ I know you are involved with the creation of a charity that means a lot to you. Can you tell us why you started it and what it offers?

CZ It’s called Sensus RAD Trails, and I simply started it to build better bike trails. There are many organizations out there that build questionable trails, and take an

ASJ You have a huge following of fans who look up to you. Who inspires you?

CZ I look up to many different people, all for different reasons. I have a lot of diverse goals with my business, riding, life, family, writing, film making, shooting, etc. The people I look up to most are: Shaun Palmer, a professional snowboarder, skier, mountain biker and motocross rider who USA Today once put on the cover titled The World’s Greatest Athlete; Hunter S. Thompson, the late journalist, author and founder of the gonzo-journalism movement;Corey Bohan, an Australian BMX X-Games superstar; Rob Dyrdek, a professional skateboarder who founded Street League Skateboarding and holds 21 separate Guinness Book Of World Records for skateboarding; Travis Pastrana, X-Games gold-medal champion in several events, including supercross, motocross, freestyle motocross and rally racing, but mostly known for being an outrageous daredevil; and Johnny Knoxville, who is an actor, comedian, film producer, screenwriter and stunt performer.

Cam’s daughter, Ayla Zink, is on her way to a world championship dirt-bike title. We might have to wait a couple more years, though. (CAM ZINK)

ASJ Do you have any regrets in life so far?

CZ I try not to have regrets, but if I did, it would be some of the stupid things we did as teenagers. It’s impossible to change the past, so it’s hard to harbor regrets if you plan on changing the future [grin].

ASJ Do you have any new projects up and coming or anything we should be watching for?

CZ I completed a movie that just came out called Cam Zink: Reach For The Sky, and you can see it on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Video and a few other places.

ASJ We will definitely check that out, Cam. Thanks for talking to us.

CZ Thanks for having me. ASJ

Cam Zink

Ian Collins and Adrian Marcoux