Federal Trophy Copper MZ Muzzleloading Bullet

by Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

Illustration courtesy of Federal Premium Ammunition
Illustration courtesy of Federal Premium Ammunition
James R. Clary Ph.D.
James R. Clary Ph.D.

Los Lunas, NM -(AmmoLand.com)- When this Federal bullet was introduced, it was touted by many writers as being the “end all – be all” of muzzleloader bullets.

According to the sages it was going to make all saboted and powerbelt bullets obsolete. And, Federal’s advertising makes this bullet sound like the “final answer” for all muzzleloaders:

Federal Premium is redefining modern in-line performance with the all-new Trophy Copper Muzzleloader Bullet. Its exclusive B.O.R. Lock MZ System provides outstanding accuracy in a non-sabot design that’s easy to load, scrubs fouling from the breech and ensures consistent bullet seating. The system’s foundation is a polymer cup that’s permanently attached to the bullet base. The force of ignition pushes the cup forward onto raised bands along the bullet shank, expanding its diameter. This engages the rifling and seals the bore, optimizing velocity and accuracy. The rear of the B.O.R. Lock MZ cup features a hard, fiber-reinforced polymer ring that scours fouling from the breech as the bullet is pushed into place. This decreases the need to clean between shots and makes it easy to seat the bullet at the exact same depth for every shot. Because there’s no bulky sabot, required loading force averages about half that of most sabot bullets. Like other projectiles in the proven Trophy Copper line, the copper-alloy bullet features a polymer tip, with a deep, hollow cavity and skiving that allows for consistent, devastating expansion.”

Not so fast. We may be just plain old country folks, but we are skeptical when salesmen come around promising to solve all of our problems. “Trust me” is their favorite line, “we are the experts.” Granted, Federal Premium ammunition is some of the best on the market. No argument there…. but, how about their new muzzleloading bullet? Does it live up to the Federal reputation or is it just another bullet? There was only one way to find out ….. take it out and shoot it.

Federal Trophy Copper MZ, CVA Aerolite, Harvester Scorpion PT Gold, Shockwave SST bullets (left to right)
Federal Trophy Copper MZ, CVA Aerolite, Harvester Scorpion PT Gold, Shockwave SST bullets (left to right)

Before going to the range, we compared the Federal Trophy Copper MZ (270 gr.) bullet with the CVA Aerolite (250 gr.), Harvester Scorpion PT Gold (260 gr.) and Shockwave (Hornady) SST (250 gr.) . We are not ballistic experts; however, it seems logical that the smooth surfaces of the latter three bullets will be more aerodynamically stable and “fly” better than the Federal with its “on-board” accessories (polymer sleeve and fixed fiberglass-reinforced base). However, only range tests will confirm or refute our conclusion based on that observation.

Per Federal’s recommendation, we used our 1:28″ twist rifles for the tests. With the recommended two-pellet load (100 grains) of Triple7, the Federal Trophy Copper MZ was fired into ballistic gel at 80 yards. The results were rather startling, to say the least. Not only did the bullet not expand, it had apparently tumbled, prior to impacting the gel and went in backwards. From the picture below, one can see the path of the bullet entering the gel on the left and the polymer sleeve after it detached from the bullet. This picture also confirms that the integral polymer sleeve and fiberglass disc base remain with the bullet in flight.

Federal Trophy Copper MZ bullet & sleeve in ballistic gel @ 80 yards
Federal Trophy Copper MZ bullet & sleeve in ballistic gel @ 80 yards

We took two unfired Federal bullets and removed the polymer sleeve with its fixed base and the ballistic tip. We weighed them as well as two of the fired bullets and they all weighed exactly the same – 251.1 grains. Federal was correct on that point, the bullet does retain 100% of its weight. The picture below compares a fired bullet (left) with an unfired bullet (right). It clearly illustrates that there was no expansion.

Fired Trophy MZ bullets (left) & Unfired Trophy MZ bullets (right)
Fired Trophy MZ bullets (left) & Unfired Trophy MZ bullets (right)

Since our tests with the ballistic gel indicated that the bullet can tumble, we didn’t have much hope that it would be accurate, but we had to try. We fired three rounds at 100 yards, using the Caldwell Lead Sled for stability and obtained the following results:

Three-shot group at 100 yards with 270 gr. Trophy Copper MZ bullets
Three-shot group at 100 yards with 270 gr. Trophy Copper MZ bullets

In the hope that we could get a more satisfactory group, we set up a new target and fired 7 more rounds, allowing the barrel to cool between rounds. Those results are recorded in the following target:

Seven-shot group at 100 yards with 270 gr. Trophy Copper MZ bullets
Seven-shot group at 100 yards with 270 gr. Trophy Copper MZ bullets

We could not get satisfactory groups with the Federal bullets. I suppose it’s possible that we got a “bad” batch of bullets and that someone else might obtain better results with a different batch. However, only additional testing can determine that.

Looking at the above target, a shooter on the range next to Jim remarked, “Well, it isn’t minute-of-angle, but it might be minute-of-deer, if you were lucky.”

That pretty well sums up our conclusion.

For comparison, in case you are wondering, the following targets are typical for the CVA Aerolite, Harvester Scorpion PT Gold and Shockwave SST bullets at 100 yards from the same gun with a two-pellet Triple 7 load.

 

250 gr. CVA Aerolites,    260 gr. Harvester Scorpion PTs, 250 gr. Shockwave SSTs (from left to right)
250 gr. CVA Aerolites, 260 gr. Harvester Scorpion PTs, 250 gr. Shockwave SSTs (from left to right)

Our conclusion? The Federal Trophy Copper MZ is not a bullet that we would want to go hunting with.

James R. Clary, Ph.D.
Contributing Editor, Guns & Shooting Online
Field Editor, Universal Hunter Magazine
Associate Editor, N.A. Muzzleloader Hunting Assoc.

Mary H. Clary, B.S., R.N.
Women’s Editor, Guns & Shooting Online
Associate Editor, N.A. Muzzleloader Hunting Assoc.
Field Editor, Universal Hunter Magazine

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