Categories
Ammunition

Federal Terminal Ascent Ammunition

Terminal Ascent Bullet Performance at 1000 yards

Announced in time for the 2020 SHOT Show, Federal Premium unveiled a new line of hunting ammunition called Terminal Ascent.

In simple terms, this is a new line of ammo that claims:

  • match-grade accuracy,
  • deep-penetration at all ranges,
  • reliable expansion at low velocity,
  • high weight retention and
  • lethal terminal performance at all ranges.

While this ammo might be considered long-range hunting ammunition because of its great performance at distance, the reality is it is an “all-range, all-velocity” line that is said to perform no matter where your target is.

Let’s jump into some of the features of this new line.

General Construction

Federal designed these loads to blend the best characteristics of expanding big game ammunition with the exceptional accuracy of match-grade rounds. While compromise loads can leave the user unsatisfied with all aspects of a round, Federal Premium believes the Terminal Ascent line successfully combines all of the best attributes.

How did the company manage this?

Bonded Design

Many hunters want high weight retention as this is a good indicator that the bullet will stay in one piece and penetrate deeply. When taking a game animal, a shoulder shot is common meaning the bullet has to penetrate heavy bone to reach the heart and lungs for a humane kill.

Federal Terminal Ascent Long Range Hunting Ammunition

Hitting an animal at close distances means the bullet velocity will be high, which can cause over expansion and fragmentation in some bullet designs. A bonded round means that the jacket and core have been joined during the manufacturing process and will not separate when hitting a target.

In other words, bonded bullets are unlikely to shed weight and are likely to penetrate deeply enough to hit vital organs.

Terminal Ascent bullets have a solid shank: a thick copper base that supports the lead core. Combined with the bonding process, the shank helps ensure the bullet has high weight retention after hitting the target.

Slipstream Tip

Polymer tipped bullets were once seen to be a gimmick by some in the industry. Performance in the field tells a different story. It now seems that nearly every manufacturer has at least one bullet line with a polymer tip.

Slipstream Tip on Terminal Ascent Bullet Ammo

While the Terminal Ascent bullet has a polymer tip, it is not a common plastic point. Rather, it is a patented hollow core tip that initiates the expansion of the bullet at lower velocities.

During the testing of other polymer tipped bullets, Federal engineers determined that the expansion of bullets was inconsistent once the range reached 600 yards. This was due to the velocity loss at those ranges.

Initial experimentation showed that drilling a hole in the very tip of the bullet allowed for expansion at lower velocities which extended the useful range of the bullet by several hundred yards. With a hollow polymer tip, target media would enter and cause expansion – very similar to how the hollow point bullet works.

However, the hole at the front of the tip degraded the bullet’s flight characteristics. It almost seemed to circle back to square one. Would you need a polymer tip for your polymer tip?

The solution was a hollow polymer tip that did not have a hole in the exposed end. Through experimentation, the Federal design team discovered that the point of the hollow tip would break off on impact with the target. That would allow target media to enter the polymer tip’s hollow core and initiate expansion.

Federal Premium Terminal Ascent Hunting Ammunition

This design – called the Slipstream Tip – greatly improved the expansion of the bullet at lower velocities while maintaining the ballistic characteristics of the standard polymer tipped rifle bullet.

Another aspect of the Slipstream Tip that enhances performance is the choice of material. Federal uses the same polymer as it uses in its Trophy Bonded Tip which puts the softening temperature at 434Ëš F.

Terminal Ascent vs Precision Hunter Tips

It appears to me that the Terminal Ascent line is a direct competitor to the Hornady Precision Hunter line. In that line, Hornady uses a Heat Shield tip to prevent tip softening and to improve expansion at distances beyond 400 yards.

Is the Terminal Ascent better than the Precision Hunter? I have no way of even guessing at how the two match up in the field. And the bullet weights used by each company are different in each caliber. So, there is no direct comparison of the G1 BC either.

Except for two cartridges: the 300 Win Mag and the 300 WSM. Both companies selected 200-grain bullets for these cartridges. Here is how the factory specs match up:

 

Terminal Ascent Velocity

Precision Hunter Velocity

Terminal Ascent G1 BC

Precision Hunter G1 BC

300 Win Mag - 200 grains

2,810 fps

2,850 fps

.608

.597

300 WSM - 200 grains

2,810 fps

2,820 fps

.608

.597

I’d argue we can’t make any definitive statements about the two based on this information alone. However, it would seem the two lines are going to be in the same ballpark of performance. I’m looking forward to seeing field results.

AccuChannel Grooving

Federal developed a new process for adding grooves to a bullet shank to improve accuracy and reduce barrel wear and fouling.

For many people, the engineering for the new AccuChannel Grooving is getting into the weeds a bit. So, I’ll keep it simple.

Essentially, engineers performed a series of experiments and learned how to reduce the number of grooves needed on a bullet shank to achieve the same level of performance. By reducing the number of grooves, you can improve the ballistic coefficient (BC) of the bullet.

Likewise, the team found a way to improve the groove geometry to further reduce drag on the bullet.

Loads and Specs

 

Bullet Weight

Velocity

Energy

G1 BC

6.5 PRC

130 gr

3,000 fps

2,598 ft-lbs

.532

6.5 Creedmoor

130 gr

2,825 fps

2,304 ft-lbs

.532

.270 Win

130 gr

3,000 fps

2,598 ft-lbs

.493

.270 WSM

136 gr

3,240 fps

3,171 ft-lbs

.493

.280 Ackley Improved

155 gr

2,930 fps

2,955 ft-lbs

.586

.28 Nosler

155 gr

3,200 fps

3,525 ft-lbs

.586

7mm Rem Mag

155 gr

3,000 fps

3,098 ft-lbs

.586

.30-06 Sprg

175 gr

2,730 fps

2,897 ft-lbs

.520

.308 Win

175 gr

2,600 fps

2,627 ft-lbs

.520

.300 Win Mag

200 gr

2,810 fps

3,507 ft-lbs

.608

.300 WSM

200 gr

2,810

3,507 ft-lbs

.608

Ammo will be sold in 20-round boxes. Suggested retail pricing will start at $42.95 for a box and go up from there. Actual pricing is set by the dealer, and I expect to see many of these loads closer to the $30-35 range.

Final Thoughts

Terminal Ascent Ammo from Federal at 2020 SHOT Show

The final word on these new loads will be offered once they make it into the field. But for now, this line looks impressive. I am eager to see what they can do.

If you get some on the range or out on a hunting trip, how about leaving your observations in the comments below. I’ve got a lot of readers who appreciate hearing how these loads perform in real-world conditions.

Categories
Ammunition

Rob vs. Rob: A Return of the Great Caliber Wars

I’m old enough to recall the debates of .357 Magnum vs. .45 ACP in the gun magazines. Those arguments came before the rise of the Wonder 9 pistols of the mid to late 1980s.

Once semi-automatic pistols became the norm at police departments and with shooting enthusiasts, I witnessed the arguments of 9mm vs. .40 S&W (and skirmishes over the .357 SIG, 10mm, .400 Corbon and others.)

bullet effectiveness

I thought that shooters got the ill-informed bickering out of their system during those decades and people were off to settle more important issues. Issues like what is the best technique to add an electric fan to your holster or what style of Realtree matches which caliber.

I’m afraid I was wrong.

Recently, Springfield Armory announced a Mod.2 version of the XD-S pistol. Like the original XD-S, Springfield Armory introduced the first guns in .45 ACP. I would expect the company will follow its existing pattern of introducing the follow up gun in 9mm.

It seems that the choice to introduce the gun first in .45 caused some small dust up in social media. At about the same time, competition shooter Rob Leatham, a Springfield Armory representative, put out a video about his preference for the .45 ACP.

In Leatham’s video, he talks about the .45 ACP being “more powerful” than the 9mm. He seems to imply that because the .45 ACP cartridge tends to have more momentum than the 9mm, that it is a better choice for self-defense. Leatham could have demonstrated this with a paper shooting target but opted instead to knock down some steel targets to better illustrate his point. (Ed. note: Leatham’s original video appears to have been taken down.)

In the video, he specifically mentions trainer and author Rob Pincus. Pincus holds a  preference for the 9mm cartridge as a self-defense round.

In response, Pincus posted a bit of a tongue in cheek article that offers evidence to the 9mm cartridge’s usefulness in actual self defense encounters. You can read that article here.

I should note that Leatham and Pincus have worked together in the past, and I believe they are friends. I have no reason to believe there is any animosity between them.

I have a great deal of respect for both Leatham and Pincus. Both have accomplished a great deal in their respective careers. In this video they talk about the calibers and “controversy” here:

https://youtu.be/7LL2-HiE8j4

Leatham is an accomplished competition shooter. However, in the original video – which has been removed – Leatham appears to make an argument that the .45 offers better “stopping power” than the 9mm based on the concept of momentum. I haven’t heard a serious argument made for momentum being an indicator of load effectiveness against an attacker since the early 90s. I was a bit stunned by his emphatic assertion that momentum as being something of significant note.

However, Leatham appears to suggest in the above video that he wasn’t making any references to the effectiveness of the cartridges in stopping a violent attacker. He said the video was made while he was in his “annoyed mood” and that he might have “snapped” during a conversation off camera about the differences in the two cartridges. Leatham even admits that he was being a “smart ass” with his comment about 9mm being adequate for people that can’t handle .45 ACP.

People rarely make good decisions when they are angry, and the original video may be an example of that.

During the last 30 years, we’ve seen significant advances in both bullet technology and lab testing of defensive loads. Additionally, emergency medical personnel have been interviewed and surveyed to get their insight into the effectiveness of various bullet wounds.

By and large, what is most likely to stop a violent attacker is multiple gunshot wounds delivered quickly into vital areas. That could be from a 9mm, .38 Special, .45 ACP or virtually anything else that can penetrate deeply enough to cause massive bleeding by hitting the heart, lungs or other areas. Barring a hit to the central nervous system (brain and spine), rapid blood loss is what will shut down an attacker.

A quality 9mm hollow point will do the job as effectively as a quality .45 ACP round. Some might argue that extra width gives the .45 a slight advantage in wounding capacity, while others will say that the decreased recoil of the 9mm allows for more rounds to be delivered into the attacker.

My opinion: both will get the job done. Carry what you like and treat everyone’s opinion with a healthy degree of skepticism.

Categories
Ammunition

New Cartridge: 6.5 SOCOM

6.5 SOCOM Ammunition

PCP Ammunition will show its new 6.5 SOCOM cartridge at the 2018 SHOT Show according to information released by the company.

Although details about the new cartridge are scant, it would appear that the cartridge was designed for the new sniper rifle system that the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is exploring. Earlier this year, SOCOM indicated it was looking at 6.5mm cartridges for use in a semi-automatic snipe rifle platform.

Although the .260 Rem and 6.5 Creedmoor were mentioned in this Military Times article, a new cartridge that offered substantial benefits over existing ones could draw the attention of SOCOM. Those benefits would have to outweigh the known performance of the existing rounds, however. But weight may be one of the key factors in the search.

6.5 SOCOM CartridgeIn the same Military Times article, Major Aron Hauquitz said that SOCOM was also looking at developing polymer ammunition to reduce the weight carried by soldiers in the field. Since PCP Ammunition manufactures polymer cased ammo, it seems the company may be ideally suited to make a run at the sniper cartridge need.

Based on the limited information released by the company, the 6.5 SOCOM will indeed use a polymer case. So far, one load has been mentioned by the company, and it uses a 130 grain Berger Hybrid Tactical bullet. No information on velocity or other measurables was available at the time of this writing.

The cartridge will be paired with a new semi-automatic rifle called the GF-10 at launch. The rifle will be manufactured by Gorilla Firearms, a sister company to PCP Ammunition and Gorilla Ammunition. The GF-10 is designed as a lightweight AR-10 style rifle.

As additional information on the new cartridge and rifle come out, I will update this page. Thoughts on the 6.5 SOCOM are welcomed in the comments section below.

Categories
Reloading

MEC Gets Into Metallic Reloading: The Marksman Press

MEC Marksman reloading press

MEC Shooting Sports, better known in the shooting community as just MEC, announced it was moving into metallic reloading starting with its first single stage press: the MEC Marksman.

MEC is well known for its high quality shot shell reloading equipment, but has not really attacked the metallic reloading market. That seems to have changed.

The MEC Marksman appears to be a sturdy press. It is made of ductile cast iron and has a seriously beefy appearance. According to MEC, the press is suitable for loading everything from .22 Hornet to .416 Rigby.

Standard 7/8-14 threaded dies are used in this press, and it should be compatible with any of the dies currently being made by Lee, Hornady and others.

mec marksman shell holder

The press uses a floating shell holder that helps to properly align the case with the die. It seems this self-centering shell holder is unique as the company has obtained a patent for it. I have to admit ignorance here and say that I’ve never loaded shotshells. So, I do not know if this floating shell holder uses any similar technologies that MEC might use on its shot shell machines. Can anyone help me out?

MEC does not list a suggested retail price for this press. However, a quick check at Midway USA shows the press listed at $179.99 and an expected arrival date of 11/20/2016.

In addition to the press, the company has plans on introducing a complete range of reloading gear to include:

  • a powder measure
  • a powder trickler
  • calipers
  • powder scale
  • case prep tools
  • components

I expect we will see a range of products at the SHOT Show in 2017. I’ve already seen a number of reloading products from other companies announced, such as the CFE BLK powder from Hodgdon.

Right now the pistol and rifle loading market is represented by several quality manufacturers including Hornady, RCBS, Lyman, Dillon and Lee. MEC is already established in the shotshell market, so it will be interesting to see if the company can gain a foot hold with metallic loaders. Competition is good for us consumers, so I hope MEC does well.

Categories
Ammunition

Hornady’s .357 Magnum Critical Defense Load – Quick Ammo Review

Combine the legendary stopping power of the .357 Magnum with modern bullet design and you can potentially create an amazingly effective self-defense round. That seems to be exactly what Hornady had in mind when it developed the Critical Defense load chambered for the classic Magnum.