Tuesday, January 7, 2014

So...How Well Does The Scorpion PT Gold Perform On Game?

     There are still many skeptics among modern muzzleloading hunters when it comes to accepting just how well Harvester Muzzleloading's polymer-tipped Scorpion PT Gold bullets will perform on deer and other big game.  That's due to the "different" manner in which this bullet gets its outer copper surface.  Instead of a formed lead core that's encapsulated in a separate copper jacket that's formed around the core, the Scorpion PT Gold, and its hollow-pointed predecessor the Scorpion bullet, features an electroplated copper surface.

     One advantage of that electroplated surface is that, upon impact, bullets produced in this manner are far less likely to experience separation of that copper skin from the lead core.  Another advantage is the elimination of possible air pockets between the copper jacket and lead core of a so-called "conventionally constructed" jacketed bullet.

     Still, many of those who have shot these bullets, and fully acknowledge that they are some of the most accurate saboted muzzleloader hunting bullets they've ever loaded and shot, have some reservation when it comes to perceived performance on larger game.  So, let's dispel those apprehensions.

     Above is the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold, shown here with the standard black Crush Rib Sabot for loading and shooting the bullet in a .50 caliber rifle with a nominal .500" to .501" bore - and also shown with the slightly over-sized red Crush Rib Sabot for rifles with a looser .502" to .504" land-to-land rifling measurement.  This bullet has easily become my favorite muzzle-loaded big game bullet - due to BOTH the great accuracy and exceptional game-taking performance I have enjoyed.

     Since first hunting with the earliest prototypes of the Scorpion PT Gold back in 2005, as of the end of the 2013 hunting seasons, I've now taken 48 deer with the various weight (240-, 260-, 300-grain) electroplated polymer spire-point bullets.  Only one of those deer was shot twice.

     Easily 3/4ths of those deer were taken with the 300-grain version of this bullet - including the buck shown at right.  This also happened to be the first whitetail buck taken in the U.S. by a new prototype powder in the Fall of 2007.  That powder later became known as Blackhorn 209 - introduced onto the market in April 2008.

     Prior to this hunt, I had burnt close to two pounds of the powder, and the bullet the .50 caliber Knight Long Range Hunter that I hunted with that year tended to prefer was the then just introduced 300-grain version of the Scorpion PT Gold.  The majority of 100-yard groups punched with a 110-grain charge and heavyweight electroplated bullet were consistently right at an inch across center-to-center...or tighter.  The buck shown here was shot at 186 yards - and is the ONLY deer I've shot twice with the saboted Scorpion PT Gold bullets.

     Shooting from a set of home-made hickory cross-sticks, out of a brush blind upon a slight ridge overlooking a wooded sand draw, I had placed the 200-yard reticle of the Hi-Lux TB-ML multi-reticle muzzleloader scope just a couple of inches below center of the chest cavity - and squeezed off the shot.  The bullet impacted with a resounding "Wallop", and the deer just humped up and stood there.  One of the things I was testing the Blackhorn 209 prototype powder for was to see how easily and quickly the muzzleloading hunter could reload, without wiping the bore, and maintain accuracy.  I immediately pulled a speed loader from my jacket pocket, flipped it open and poured in a 110-grain charge of the powder.  A saboted 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold was inserted into the muzzle...and rammed home with the rifle's aluminum rod even easier than loading a perfectly clean barrel.

     The spent CCI 209M primer was shaken from the ignition system, and a fresh one chambered as quickly as possible.  The loading had taken, maybe, 25 seconds.  The buck was still standing in exactly the same spot.  Using the cross-sticks, I settled the cross-bar 200-yard reticle on the same spot and eased back on the trigger.  The rifle fired and the deer dropped on the spot.  When I walked down to the buck, I found that both holes were within an inch of each other - both on entry and exit sides. Each bullet had passed squarely through the lungs...the deer did not have to be shot again.

     Close to half of the deer I've taken with the Scorpion PT Gold bullets have gone down within 10 yards of where they were standing when shot.  The farthest any of the deer have gone after being hit has been 35 yards.

     The buck at left was taken in December 2009, at about 160 yards as the deer quartered away.  The 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold hit exactly where I wanted it to go, nearly catching the last rib on the side facing me.  The bullet then plowed through more than 25 inches of the 250-pound whitetail, coming to rest under the skin of the off shoulder.

     The recovered slug had nearly doubled in diameter.  Passing through the buck, the bullet had taken out the liver...both lungs...and much of the plumbing for the heart - and went just 20 yards before hitting the ground.

     The exit hole shown at right is the hit on the deer at the very top of this post.  The buck was taken in Nebraska on the very last day of the 2013 December muzzleloading season.  The distance of the shot, using one of the new .50 Traditions VORTEK StrikerFire rifles, was about 125 yards. The deer was at a fast walk, offering a perfect broadside shot. To allow for a slight lead, I put the cross-hair squarely in the center of the facing shoulder - and the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold hit the deer maybe 4 inches behind the shoulder, centering both lungs and punching out the other side.

     This exit hole is easily three times the diameter of the entrance hole.  When skinning the deer, I was amazed at the amount of under the skin trauma caused by the impact of the 300-grain poly-tipped bullet.  At most, the buck went 25 yards after being hit.

     This is the kind of performance I have enjoyed with the Scorpion PT Gold bullets - which also just happen to be the most accurate muzzleloading bullets I've shot out of a wide range of modern .50 caliber in-line ignition muzzleloading rifles.  If you're not happy with the performance of the bullet you may be shooting now, then you might want to give the Scorpion PT Gold bullets a try in your rifle.  If you've shot these bullets, and really liked how well they group, give 'em a chance on game.  I feel that how well these bullets put game down will quickly make them a favorite of yours as well. - Toby Bridges