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Bullet testing

03 Oct 2017
@ 03:08 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

This is not the easiest of subjects so you will have to excuse me as I try to type this out.

From time to time, I am asked why I have not tested a certain brand of bullet- one that may be the latest and hottest thing.

What I want you guys to understand is that I have tested most bullets, including many I have not written about. In some instances, I may be sent test bullets from the manufacturer or from an importer who is investigating the merits of a certain design. This also often occurs at the prototype stage.

Sometimes, the bullets I test simply fail to perform regarding both accuracy and terminal performance. The bullets may vary a great deal in weight from bullet to bullet (accuracy issues). Some may completely fail to expand no matter the angle I use them from or the impact velocity. Others may produce good performance but only at certain velocities. Others still may produce a delayed reaction allowing game to break into a long dead run- OK for flat land, no good for shooting game in the mountains over ravines.

I make my reports and send them away with photos. Some folk are happy with this (Dustin from DRT is a good example along with his father). Others give no response, not even a thank you- when things don't go their way.

Following this, I try to give the maker / importer some space to find resolutions to any discovered issues along with any advice I think might help.

Many of my tests occurred years before a bullet became well known. In the past, I have performed this work freely for the benefit of the bullet makers or importers, the hunters and their game. I have charged nothing for this, working purely on good will. My bad. In some cases, I know my reports to an importer never reached the bullet maker because the bullet maker has later asked me to test their bullets, not knowing that I have already done so (including their prototypes). I generally delete these emails.

So sometimes, when I say nothing, it is for the best. It gives the bullet maker room to grow without me damning them from the start. In other cases, my point of contact has been so arrogant or disrespectful that I could care less how the bullet performs, I don't want a bar of it. I may highlight both the strengths and limitations of a generally good bullet design, but my point of contact will not accept the limitations, holding the performance of the bullet above realistic standards and beyond basic physics and biology, willingly misleading hunters. The strengths and excellent performance I reported were simply not good enough for this person. However, if I continue to give that person space, they may give some ground eventually of their own volition and finally include such things as velocity / expansion parameters within their sales data. In other cases, my own research may be defunct if the bullet I tested has changed over time without my knowledge and again, such old reports may be unfair to the evolving manufacturer.

As I have said, this is not an easy thing to write about. If a bullet maker tools up for a certain bullet, commits a wad of cash to the project, he wants results. Consulting me after the fact is often not the best way to approach this. Nor is putting down hunters for snap shot errors or shooting what the maker considers to be too far such as ridge to ridge shots down south. As most of you know, I look for a range of factors in a bullet. I cannot afford to think small. I have to think like a Canadian hunter, a US hunter, a UK hunter, a kiwi hunter and so forth. I have to take your cultural methods into consideration, your game animals, your ranges and terrain. I spoke to some extent about 'forgiving bullets' in my previous podcast.

I do not understand why some people think that a certain bullet can only have strengths or only have weaknesses, thinking purely in absolutes. Sure, I have tested a few duds that would not expand at all but what I am talking about here is a bullet that works well yet has limitations, yet no more or less than others. When a bullet maker or importer tries to force me into believing that his bullets have no limitations, I simply cut him off and would rather say nothing.

I hope you each understand where I am coming from.


03 Oct 2017
@ 03:39 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Bullet testing
And yes, some do turn out to be very good bullets and some do get neglected within this knowledge base.
03 Oct 2017
@ 09:28 pm (GMT)

Bob Mavin

Re: Bullet testing
Hey Nathan. It's a shame our politicians don't have your attitude.
03 Oct 2017
@ 11:51 pm (GMT)

Andrew Murray

Re: Bullet testing
I think it must be very hard to be going against the flow in any thing in life. You will often see other rush ahead, not for adding anything to the field but for recycling the same old, same old. It is odd indeed.

That said, I know myself, and I bet evryone else here is grateful for the time and effort you put into the research, in real life situations, not simulations or mock ups. Sometimes people just don't want to know, other times they haven't heard anything different before. The ignorance of those who haven't seen the other side can be excused to a large degree, but the willful ignorance or just plain defiance of those who should know better really gets you down.

I hope that you continue to do it, it's very rewarding for everyone, but the biggest toll it takes surely is on the doing the hard yards. We all benefit from your research but you're on the one doing it. So a big thanks to you and Steph for toughing it out.

Much respect to you both!
04 Oct 2017
@ 12:08 am (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Bullet testing
Amen, Andrew.
04 Oct 2017
@ 03:54 am (GMT)

Ricardo Laborin

Re: Bullet testing
Amen Again.

We've never heard of a family being supported and fed by ballistic gelatin. Let's become real men again and resist the faux "new and improved" marketing machine in EVERYTHING in life. That being said, balancing this with an open mind and excitement for real progress might be the bee's knees.

I'm so grateful for the Foster family, our interactions have made my life better.
04 Oct 2017
@ 12:40 pm (GMT)

Lane Salvato

Re: Bullet testing
Here here Ricardo. The Fosters have been a blessing to me too, and I've never met them in person.

If I'd known Nathan a year earlier I'd have saved myself about $ 2,000 in unnecessary rifle expenses and loss of an animal. Their research is the best, most valuable thing I've found within the hunting industry, ever. I guess the internet is good for some things after all!

With Nathan's guidance I've had enough courage to tear into a brand new Winchester Model 70 rifle to bed it and make it my own. My mistakes cannot be numbered but it's been so much fun learning, and getting it right a little at a time. Of course by the time I get it right Nathan may be too old to know what's going on!

I've also learned so much about terminal ballistics, affirming some things that I saw in the field but didn't understand, and also understanding that different jobs require different bullets.

It's an ongoing honor for sure.
05 Oct 2017
@ 03:27 pm (GMT)

john feyereisn

Re: Bullet testing
I understand, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Keep up the good work! I have learned alot here.
07 Oct 2017
@ 10:25 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Bullet testing
anyone else seen latest offering from Nosler???? 220grn ROUND NOSE green tip .308 cal designed for subsonic speeds of the AAC/Blackout?????????
not this COULD be very interesting concept at the $60 per 50 box qouted on another forum
I cant seem to find sample packs of the heavier .308 soft projectiles so I can load up a very few to try out in x39mm and .308 as bush loads........
this latest one very much got my attention
now Bossman what say you????
will it be better than the much loved AMax/eldx/elmx at close ranges and moderate speeds????? or is it a marketing gimmick?????
I can already see guys loading it hot in say a 300 magnum and it blowing up on surface and killing its reputation before it starts.....

keep up the great work Nathan and Steph.


We are a small, family run business, based out of Taranaki, New Zealand, who specialize in cartridge research and testing, and rifle accurizing.