Steve Comus – GUN TALK

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Thursday, August 06, 2009
Shell shock
Friday, September 04, 2009
Federal Steel Doves

Nosler E-Tip

Nosler has just introduced another model in its E-Tip bullet offerings – a .30-caliber, 168-grain addition to its lead-free line. This represents part of the industry’s reaction to regulations in various places around the country where bullets with lead in them are not permitted for hunting.

The new bullet joins an expanding unleaded line from Nosler. Other E-Tip bullets include 6mm (.244 caliber) 90-grain, .270 (.277 caliber) 130-grain, 7mm (.284 caliber) 150-grain, .308 (.30-caliber) 150 and 180-grain, and .338 (.33-caliber) 200-grain.

The E-Tip is designed to deliver controlled expansion, 95 percent weight retention, accuracy and stopping power. It is constructed of 210 copper alloy, which raises the tensile strength while reducing barrel fouling. It features an olive drab polymer tip that prevents deformation in the magazine, helps aerodynamic efficiency and initiates expansion. These bullets are designed to have optimum performance at impact velocities ranging from 1,800 to 3,200 feet per second.

Although they may deliver their peak performance at those velocities, the truth is that they work at impact velocities higher than 3,200 fps. But for most hunting scenarios, that is not a factor, because that range of impact velocities in the .30 caliber world is common for everything from the .300 Savage through the various Weatherby magnums.

For comparison purposes, the sectional density of the new 168-grain E-Tip bullet is .253 and the ballistic coefficient is .493. These kinds of numbers are interesting, but are most useful when comparing the bullet to others on the market. Briefly, it means that they can work great at longer ranges, and that they will drill into the animal very well.

There has been more significant bullet development in the last couple of decades than in the entire previous history of firearm projectiles. It is a result of both technological advancements that make exotic designs possible, as well as the insistence of the market that higher performance gear be made available.

Interestingly, lead-free bullets are not a direct result of any eco-madness. Barnes offered its X-Bullet long before there were any kinds of requirements for unleaded ammo. Or, for those who want to be really esoteric, bullets made of a solid lead-free alloy were featured in the 8x50Rmm French Lebel military cartridge in the 19th Century. The famous Balle D loading introduced in 1898 featured a solid-bronze, 198-grain spitzer boattail bullet.

I still have a few of those bullets and shoot one now and then when I need to expand my database for such things. They shoot okay, but the newer unleaded bullets on the market today work a whole lot better and tend to be much more accurate.
Modern lead-free hunting bullets tend to penetrate more deeply than do their lead-core counterparts per bore diameter/weight. A lighter copper bullet per caliber generally will penetrate at least as well as its heavier per caliber lead counterpart. Also, it means that the lighter bullet offers higher velocity for a given cartridge, helping straighten out longer-range trajectory.

Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a former WON Guns and Hunting Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at

New Nosler E-Tip bullet
NOSLER E-TIP BULLET IS DESIGNED to mushroom after impact. The polymer nose element helps, as does the internal cavity. New Nosler E-Tip bullet is made of solid copper, but opens up following impact to deliver a significant wound channel.

Reader Comments
Great column! This is a first. An outdoor writer who doesn't complain about not being able to use lead. I think it's great that you simply stay with the positive aspects of hunting and shooting. Lead is a very toxic heavy metal and it's simply evolution to not use it so much these days, just as it has been taken out of things like paint, toys, etc. It's clear that lead poisoning is a reality, so if we can come up with good alternatives let's use them.
Jasson Ball
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