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Nosler’s Big Three

Nosler is a household name in the shooting and reloading world with a legendary reputation for advanced projectile design and quality production standards, so to wrap up this series of analysing various popular projectiles used throughout the country for target and hunting purposes, it’s time to take the gloves off and get down and dirty with some of the best Nosler has to offer.

Nosler Ballistic Tip

One of the first plastic-tipped bullets to grace our shores, and certainly the first one to grab my attention as a young lad, was introduced in 1984 as an alternative design by Nosler to their famed Partition – the Ballistic Tip (BT) was an absolute trendsetter!

It paved the way for the plethora of sleek, tipped bullets that now flood the market.

It was designed to be very accurate, damage lots of tissue, and cost less than the Partition.

It’s manufactured by the extrusion process, where a gilding metal slug is pounded into the shape of a bullet jacket and then a lead alloy core is inserted.

The BT is regarded as a softer more frangible projectile, designed to shed 35-45% of its weight as it violently penetrates an animal. This is still respectable weight retention, and when kept under a 2900fps maximum impact threshold, these bullets are deadly.

There’s some confusion with reloaders about the BT and its far more frangible offspring, the varmint BT. The varmint, as the name suggests, is designed solely for explosive fracturing when used to take small game.

One area the BT has fallen off the pace in today’s world of long-range hunting is its mid-range ballistic coefficient (BC). Although superbly accurate and ideal for those shooting out to 400m, it’ll drop and be affected by wind more than some more slippery bullet options when pushing out further.

The BT has a strong following with all the standard calibres especially the mid-weight 30cal and 7mm offerings.

The 125gr has also been a great performer as a supersonic option in the 300 BLK with a healthy dose of either Hodgdon H100 or Lil’gun.

Nosler AccuBond

Possibly one of the most prolific and loved DRT killing projectiles on the market today is still the legendary Nosler AccuBond.

In 2001 Nosler developed a bullet with the penetration of their traditional Partition and with the accuracy of the Ballistic Tip.

They did this by utilising a process of proprietary bonding, welding the core to the copper alloy jacket of the bullet and incorporating a sleek, boat-tailed, polymer-tipped projectile. The result set the benchmark by which all bonded bullet designs are judged.

Marketed as the bullet that performs near or far, the AccuBond was Nosler’s attempt to fill the void for a bullet that not only holds together when used at high-impact velocity but will also get the job done downrange when bullet speed is less.

I’ve personally used them extensively over the years on all NZ big game and, without doubt, they put down game as well as any bullet this writer has seen.

We’ve also tested them at various impact velocities on ballistic gel and they’ve performed absolutely as advertised with near boring predictability .

With 75-90% weight retention throughout the ethical hunting velocity range window and excellent expansion, the AccuBond is a stone-cold killer!

Accuracy-wise, I’ve always struggled to get them shooting better than 1/2 MOA in several rifles I’ve developed loads for; a couple of 3/4 MOA only were achieved. I always told myself they weren’t designed as a match bullet and that was acceptable; I put it down to minor irregularities generated by the bonding process – how true this is, I cannot say for sure. Especially now some of the newer bonded bullets on the market are shooting 1/4 MOA. In saying that, some of the newer bullets can prove finicky to get to shoot well. The AccuBond is very easy to get shooting at least sub MOA thanks to its tangent ogive – this is also a bonus for rifles with magazine length limitations.

A fantastic combination I’ve found the AccuBond ideal for is running the 125gr projectile in a short-barrelled .308 Win. It’s an absolute hammer for goats, fallow, or even red deer with half-decent shot placement.

They run 3000fps, so shoot very flat to 300m, and are perfect for a youth load or for anyone who enjoys the benefits of a minimal recoiling round.

The 140gr is also extremely popular in any of the faster 7mm offerings as is the 30cal 180gr projectile.

Nosler AccuBond Long Range (LR)

With the AccuBond LR, Nosler have looked to gain inroads with the ever-growing, long-range hunting community.

These bullets are of very sleek design with outstanding BCs. Nosler have been very transparent saying the initially released claims about BCs were over-exaggerated and somewhat wishful thinking. They reviewed them with a more comprehensive Doppler radar testing process and released the revised coefficients which are accepted to be accurate.

They’re still boasting world-class numbers, and as long as you’re using the revised numbers, I don’t see this as anything to hold against the bullet or manufacturer.

I think where people go wrong with the AccuBond LR is they view them as a staunch,
bonded bullet and pump them as fast as they can – in reality, the bullet is actually quite soft. I’m guessing the confusion has being generated somewhat from Nosler’s marketing that they have no top-end restrictions.

I believe this leaves some shooters, who push these bullets hard, dissatisfied with their up-close-and-personal performance. The issue being, they don’t hold together like most expect a bonded bullet to at those very high-impact speeds.

The AccuBond LR (ABLR) is in fact outstanding at lower impact velocities – 2900 way down to 1300fps (as claimed by Nosler) is where it shines, exhibiting massive expansion and excellent weight retention to deliver a catastrophic permanent wound channel.

So, what’s the point in having a long-range bullet design for a projectile that performs best at standard rifle velocities?

Basically, we need to think about what range we’re most likely to be taking the shot from. For a long-range shooter, 200-700yds is commonplace. From a magnum weapon, these bullets will be a great solution to provide an accurate, slippery round that’ll hit with shock and awe!

Then, of course, there’s the other bonus that the AccuBond LR is a powerhouse in any of the standard rifle calibre options, with even greater expansion than a regular AccuBond and better performance down at lower velocity.

The 30cal 168gr, 7mm 150gr and 6.5mm 142gr are fantastic in some of the most popular calibres like the .308, 7mm-08 and any of the 6.5 lines.

The standout offerings for the long-range aficionados are the 210gr 30cal with a BC of .661 and the 7mm 175gr at .648.

Nosler also offer the ABLR in loaded ammunition. We took the 168gr .308 Win for a burn. The rounds were shot from a Blaser R8 Professional Success with an 18″ barrel. This gun has proven to be 1/4 MOA capable with reloaded ammunition.

Two five-shot groups were fired producing mirror-like results – three rounds touching with two flyers. Velocity extreme spread was from 2520-2545fps; the pack claims 2750fps. Assuming Nosler test with a 24′ barrel, crunching the numbers, this would mean about 34fps of velocity loss per inch of barrel. That’s high for a .308 Win in my experience; the .308 is one of the more forgiving calibres to shorten the tube on, and I’ve never seen more than 25fps velocity loss.

Nosler tick a lot of boxes with their range of hunting bullets. They’ve shown consistent advances in product development and obviously take note of the current trends and requirements of shooters. Their product ranges have earned a reputation for quality over the years and they’ll most certainly remain a personal favourite for a good number of New Zealand shooters.

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