If you are a regular to NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING, we don't have to tell you just how we feel about the saboted Scorpion PT Gold bullet from Harvester Muzzleloading, of Henderson, Kentucky. If you are, you already know we shoot these bullets more than any other during our test shooting ... and you likely realize that the 300-grain version of the bullet shown here is the bullet we definitely hunt with more than any other. Since the first prototype of these bullets back in 2005, I have taken 62 big game animals with 63 shots. The dandy whitetail buck that required a second shot was nice enough to stand in the same spot after being hit with the first, allowing me to quickly reload - and drop the deer with the second shot - at 186 yards.
See that 300-grain hollow-point on the far left side of this photo? That's Harvester Muzzleloading's earlier Scorpion Funnel Point bullet. For several years, I hunted with the big hollow-point, which shot great and put game down quickly. It's still available for those hollow-point fans out there ... and still shoots as good as ever, and hits game with a tremendous wallop. However, since convincing the company to install a polymer tip in the bullet, transforming it into the Scorpion PT Gold, I've never looked back. Today, the Scorpion PT Gold is Harvester Muzzleloading's best selling bullet ... and for good reason ... it shoots with tremendous accuracy and takes game down quickly!
The great Missouri Breaks whitetail buck in the above photo certainly never had much opportunity to debate the long range accuracy and game taking performance of the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold last fall. A single shot from 223 yards away dropped the deer on the spot!
To a point, I've pretty much been one of those who feel ... "If it's not broken don't go trying to fix it!" But, even with the stellar track record of the .451" diameter Scorpion PT Gold, I honestly feel there needs to be a change made.
Harvester Muzzleloading needs to develop a .430" diameter Scorpion PT Gold!
Now, let's "fast backward" to 1985. That hollow-point shown above on the right side of the photo is the Hornady .430" diameter XTP Jacketed HP. This was the very first saboted bullet I ever shot ... and it wasn't out of an in-line rifle. My first shots with saboted bullets, specifically "THIS BULLET", was with a custom half-stock rifle I had built ... using a custom cut 1-in-24 twist barrel. I had also tried the sabots in a 1-in-48 twist .50 T/C Hawken I also shot and hunted with ... and they had shot horribly out of that rifle - often keyholing on the target (when I could keep them on the target) at 50 yards. But, my 1-in-24 twist bore custom half-stock punched a number of honest 1 1/2-inch hundred yard groups - loading and shooting a 100-grain charge of Pyrodex "RS".
In February 1986, I received my first Knight MK-85, Serial No. 31, and that rifle even featured 1-in-48 twist rifling. It too shot horribly with those early sabots, with either the 240- or 300-grain Hornady .44 XTP bullets. It was the accuracy of my faster twist custom barrel that convinced Tony Knight to speed up the rifling of his innovtive new in-line rifle ... to be able to shoot equally modern saboted bullets with great accuracy. An ultra modern muzzleloader needed to be shot with an equally ultra modern muzzleloading projectile system. The rest of that story is now history ... or is it?
What gives with that "polymer tipped" 300-grain .430" Hornady XTP shown above left?
One of the things that always impressed me about the .430" diameter 300-grain XTP hollow-point was it's relatively high ballistic coefficient (b.c.). As a hollow point, the bullet has a .245 b.c. That's just .005 shy of the .250 b.c. of the 300-grain .451 Scorpion PT Gold, or Hornady's own 300-grain .452" SST-ML saboted bullet.
A few years back, I got to thinking about just what a polymer tip in the 300-grain .430" XTP would do for the bullet's ballistic coefficient ... and did a little nose work on some of the bullets and installed a few of those golden polymer tips from the Harvester Muzzleloading bullet. Today's top muzzleloader powders, namely Blackhorn 209 and FFFg Triple Seven, can get these saboted bullets out of the muzzle of a 30-inch .50 caliber barrel, such as the Traditions VORTEK Ultra Light LDR and the CVA Accura V2 LR, at just over 2,000 f.p.s. That's enough velocity to insure that the heavier petals/sleeves of a .50x.44 sabot open up and get away from the bullet immediately upon exiting the barrel.
Pyrodex and black powder could not produce enough velocity to force those heavy petals/sleeves to open ... which also contributed to the horrible accuracy of saboted .44 bullets during the late 1980's and early 1990's. The addition of that polymer tip to the 300-grain .430" diameter XTP upped the bullet's b.c. to around .300 - shaving off nearly 25% of bullet drop between 100 and 200 yards ... and the tipped bullet hit with around 150 additional foot-pounds of energy at that distance.
The .44 bullet that has done even more to convince me this is where modern .50 caliber muzzleloading is headed is the Cutting Edge Bullets 250-grain machined all-copper MAXIMUS bullet shown on the right in the photo directly above. This .430" diameter bullet has a b.c. of .311. The bullet is shown here with our favored now 10-year-old 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold. Loaded ahead of 110-grains of Blackhorn 209 or FFFg Triple Seven, the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold gets out of a 30-inch barrel at around 2,000 to 2,010 f.p.s. - with between 2,660 and 2,690 f.p.e. At 200 yards, it would retain about 1,450 f.p.s. and hit with around 1,390 f.p.e.
Weighing 50-grains lighter, the 250-grain .430" diameter MAXIMUS would exit the same 30-inch barrel at close to 2,050 f.p.s. with around 2,335 f.p.e. Due to its higher .311 b.c. and faster muzzle velocity, at 200 yards the bullet would retain around 1,570 f.p.s. - and drive home with right at 1,370 f.p.e. At just 210-to-215 yards, the lighter all copper bullet would retain more energy than the 300-grain polymer tipped .451" bullet.
If the addition of that polymer tip can significantly up the performance of the Hornady .430" diameter XTP ... it can do the same for a .430" diameter Scorpion PT Gold. Likewise, just having a .430" diameter 300-grain Scorpion in the Harvester line would give hollow-point bullet fans a bullet that would very likely come very close to matching the .245 b.c. of Hornady's 300-grain .430" XTP. (The current 300-grain .451" Scorpion likely has a b.c. close to .190-to-.200.)
We now have the modern black powder substitutes which are truly "High Performance Muzzleloading Propellants" that can give us the velocities to tap the better aerodynamics of smaller diameter bullets ... and the rifles for shooting such saboted bullets. So ... Why isn't a current muzzleloader bullet maker offering a copper jacketed/plated .430" diameter long range hunting bullet?
I wouldn't change a thing about the present .451" diameter Scorpion PT Gold bullet. It's just too good a bullet. But I think it needs a somewhat slimmer and trimmer companion to be poised to take its place ... because muzzleloading is about to change one more time - and longer range performance will play an ever more important role in product popularity. - Toby Bridges
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