Popular Muzzleloading Bullets, Ballistic Coefficients, and What They Mean

Hornady 250 grain .452 XTP BC = .146

Hornady 300 grain .452 XTP BC = .180

Hornady 250 grain .452 SST BC = .21 (This identical bullet, sold as the T/C Shockwave, then magically has a .24 published BC. Lying about BC's to sell bullets is apparently alive and well.)

Hornady .458 #4500 300 grain Hollow Point BC = .197

Parker Ballistic Extreme .451 275 grain BC= .23

Parker Ballistic Extreme .451 300 grain BC= .26

Barnes XPB 275 grain BC = .21

Barnes T-EZ 290 grain BC = .223

Barnes Original 300 grain Semi-Spitzer Soft Point BC = .291

Parker Match Hunter 300 grain BC = .37

It should surprise no one that there is very little difference in the flight characteristics of most “.45” caliber projectiles of the same shape and weight, because there isn't much and never has been.
Without exception, 300 grain class bullets are better terminal performers than their 250 grain counterparts. Doc White has gone as far as suggesting that under 300 grain bullets should be voluntarily banned in privately owned hunting areas.

In general, 250 grain cup / core bullets are best avoided altogether, although at relatively low velocities the 250 XTP is a proven performer, if you stay off of bone. Good as a low-recoil load: Barnes all-copper bullets have essentially no velocity limitation when it comes to muzzleloaders, so if you can't break the 250 grain malady for some reason, the Barnes T-EZ 250 is a good choice.

Assuming a 2000 fps launch velocity, the 300 grain #4500 Hornady Hollow Point has a six inch kill Maximum Point Blank Range of 184 yards. At 2100 fps, 193 yards.
Assuming the same 2000 fps velocity for a Barnes Original 300 grain Semi-Spitzer Soft Point, our MPBR is 194 yards. At 2100 fps, 202 yds.

Debates about ballistic coefficients, as you can see, are largely pointless, as all the noise is about a lousy 10 yards of Point Blank Range, with a 2000 fps load. Either load is a more than sufficient 200 yard load, if you know your trajectory and windage.

The only bullet that qualifies as a significantly flatter projectile is the Parker Match Hunter. At 2000 fps, the MPBR is 198 yards. At 2100 fps, 208 yards. The reason isn't drop, it is windage primarily. Our 2000 fps 300 gr. Hornady 4500 HP has 11.74 inches of 10 mph wind drift at 200 yards. The Parker 300 gr. Match Hunter at the same 2000 fps launch velocity has 5.94 inches of 10 mph wind deflection at 200 yards, 5.39 inches at a 2100 fps muzzle velocity.

Failure to compensate for a 10mph crosswind at 200 yards with the Hornady 4500, it is highly probable you have a bad hit, despite a perfect vertical hold. With a Parker Match Hunter, it is also highly probable you can just go pick him up.

Obviously, we can improve that a bit with even higher launch velocities, contingent on how much additional hearing damage and recoil abuse you want to inflict upon yourself. There is a reason no one in their right mind hunts whitetail with a .458 WinMag, and it isn't because a .458 WinMag won't kill a deer.

Wildly rapid 'expansion' of a .45 caliber bullet is hardly of great importance. Bullets do not actually expand, of course, they merely deform. As Dr. Fackler has shown, deformation of a bullet is a good thing, regardless, as long as penetration is adequate.

Notes on Bullet Wounding Performance

1) Powerbelts, particularly the lighter weight versions, are the worst. They are also inexplicably popular.

2) The 250 and 300 Hornady XTPs are generally good on deer, so long as you do not exceed their velocity design parameters. The 300 grain XTP is substantially better.

3) The Hornady SST (T/C Shockwave) is the most miserable-performing bullet I've seen when used at high velocities. It is far, far too fragile for a high performance muzzleloading application and an advance to the rear compared to the XTP. It was so bad that T/C tried marketing a "Bonded Shockwave" for a time, but those sadly had accuracy issues.

4) The Parker 300 grain Ballistic Extreme has been impressive so far, making two holes. It is better choice than the 250 if impact velocity is significant. The 275 grain, predictably, strikes the middle ground.

5) The Barnes XPB 275 did a fine job in South Africa for me on warthog and kudu. It needs to hit at 1600 fps, or higher, for the requisite 90 degree petal opening. I used it by accident, as the 300 grain Barnes Semi-Spitzer was in “unobtainium” status prior to that hunt.

6) Barnes T-EZ 290: the same outstanding performance as I've enjoyed for years with the classic 300 grain MZ-Expander, it just flies better. Three of the last four Minnesota black bears were taken with the Barnes T-EZ 290; the fourth was taken with the Barnes Original 300 grain SS-SP.

7) Barnes .458 300 grain Semi-Spitzer Soft Point is a truly tough bullet, with generally superb accuracy as well, and better-flying than most .45's. I've never recovered one, it has always made two holes. However, Amanda did recover hers . . . along with her first bear:

8) Parker 300 grain Match Hunter is the best-flying 45 caliber bullet ever offered to the muzzleloading enthusiast. I have not been able to get it to group at moderate velocities in 1:28 rate of twist barrels. It shoots lights-out in the Savage 10ML-II (1:24) and the Remington Model 700 Ultimate (1:26) and handily the pick of the litter for those two rifles at present, followed by the Barnes Original.

9) To be tested: Nosler 300 grain .458 Ballistic Tip MZ (soon) and Federal Premium Trophy Copper 270 grain non-saboted Muzzleloading Bullets (delivery info unknown).

Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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