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The Original Silver Bullet
Rifle Magazine
April - May 2002
Volume 37, Number 2
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 216
On the cover...
A couple of Model 94 Winchesters represent the nearly 7,000,000 rifles shipped since 1894. Whitetail deer photo by John R. Ford. Rifle photos by Gerald Hudson. Purchase the CD-ROM here
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What should a big game bullet do? In the best of all possible worlds, it should expand easily at relatively low velocity, yet hold together at relatively high velocity. It should have a high ballistic coefficient (BC), in order to shoot as flat as possible, and also be extremely accurate. Many hunters consider those four criteria to be mutually exclusive, probably because many tough bullets don’t shoot very accurately, and many super-accurate bullets often fly apart on bone.

Some come close to the all-around ideal. Until recently the Nosler Partition headed my list. Many shooters claim Partitions aren’t especially accurate. This may have been true a long time ago, but not in my experience. I started using Partitions in the mid-1970s, back when they featured a “relief groove” around the partition, and the jackets were turned not extruded as they are today. Back then I did most of my big game hunting with the .270 WCF and .30-06. My old loading notes indicate the two Partitions used (the 130-grain .270 spitzer and the .30-caliber, 200-grain semispitzer) averaged an inch for three-shot groups at 100 yards, despite using a 4x scope on the .270 and a 3x on the ‘06. Today’s Partitions shoot even better. I own at least a dozen rifles from 6mm to .35 that average .5 to .8 inch for three shots at 100 yards with modern Partitions.

Partitions do have faults. Their softpoint noses can be flattened in the magazine by repeated recoil. This doesn’t affect accuracy but does alter BC. This is most evident in really big calibers, which is why for long-range shooting in calibers above .30, I normally switch to the Nosler Ballistic Tip.

The over-.30 Ballistic Tips also come close to our ideal bullet. Their plastic tips prevent battering, they shoot more accurately than Partitions, and they expand well while driving deeply. They don’t penetrate quite like Partitions, because they expand wider, but they do for any game up to 800 pounds or so.

A more recent all-around entry is the Swift Scirocco. Swift’s A-Frame bullets have a fine reputation as one of the premier deep penetraters but aren’t noted for super accuracy. So the Swift boys designed a new bullet, combining the best features of several others: a heavy boat-tailed jacket bonded to the core and a plastic tip. The ogive is also the Secant type favored by Hornady, which further enhances BC.

The completed bullets are then tested with one of Vern Juenke’s ultra-sound bullet concentricity machines, which I’ve mentioned several times recently. At least a couple companies use the machine to test match bullets, but the Scirocco is the only hunting bullet I know of that’s tested for internal concentricity.

I prefer to test any new bullet on game before reporting on it, but the first Sciroccos obtained, just before the 2000 hunting season, were some 150-grain 7mm’s. Because of their heavy jacket and ogive, Sciroccos are very long. This 150 7mm, for instance, is longer than Nosler’s 175-grain Partition! The only 7mm rifle I owned at the time has a slow-twist barrel that wouldn’t stabilize them.

This year I purchased a 7mm Remington Magnum and also got my hands on some .270- and .30-caliber Sciroccos. All were range-tested for comparison to some other accurate hunting loads. The accuracy listed in the table is an average of three-shot groups at 100 yards.

During the 2001 season, I killed two deer with Sciroccos. The first was a big mule deer doe, standing quartering slightly toward me at 120 yards, the rifle a .270 Weatherby. This was a good test of hold-together, since retained velocity was around 3,000 fps, and Swift designed the bullet for the .270 Winchester. The Scirocco landed right behind the shoulder knuckle, completely chopping up lungs and liver before exiting at the rear of the rib cage. I’ve shot a number of similar-sized animals with 140-grain Ballistic Tips and none have exited on any angling shot, even when started 500 fps slower.

The other deer was a medium-size 4x4 whitetail, already wounded through both hind legs by a 12-year-old girl. After her shot, the buck swam the Missouri River onto a ranch leased by an outfitter I was hunting with. When the girl and her grandfather found us, we agreed to help find the buck. After a short search, the girl missed the buck, and the deer swam back across the Missouri.

As he swam, two deer hunters in a boat showed up, offering to take the girl and her grandfather across the river. As they started out, the buck staggered onto a sandbar about 300 yards away. I called out, “If you want, I can kill him from here.”

“Would you please?” the grandfather said. I lay down, rested the .30-06 on my daypack and put a 150-grain Scirocco through the deer’s ribs - not much of a trick because, with the rifle sighted 2.5 inches high at 100 yards, I could hold dead on to 300. The buck fell but, like most adrenalized whitetails, decided not to die. His head was still up when the boat landed and the grandfather put a .243 bullet through the lungs. Both bullets showed about the same size wound channel, even though the Scirocco was traveling perhaps 2,300 fps and the .243 around 3,000. So the Scirocco expands well way out there too.

Is this the all-around big game bullet? Perhaps. I generally try new bullets on deer-sized game before moving on to bigger stuff, but between my experiences and other reports, the Scirocco may be the finest combination of expansion, toughness, BC and accuracy yet invented. It costs a lot, but then good things usually do.

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