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Attached is a photo of two North Fork .458 450 grain solids(from 458 Win mag). One of them was a Texas heart shot on a Cape buffalo and broke the front shoulder! Also here’s the buffalo and an elephant killed by the same bullets.
John Clader DVM was blessed with a 9′11″ bear in Alaska this spring and a gorgeous Oryx in New Mexico this summer. He utilized our 416 370 gr SS out of a 416 Rem Mag for the bear and our 308 180gr SS from a 300 Win Mag for the Oryx. Well done John!
I am a shooter, handloader, and hunter. I am also a student of “Terminal Bullet Ballistics” and
conduct tests on all bullets before taking them to the field. I have been doing this for over 15 years now
and have gathered quite a bit of data both from the test work, and from the field. I have been able to
correlate this data, which has made it possible for me to have a better idea of how a bullet may or may
not perform in the field.
I test using a mix of wet news print and catalogs or magazines. The catalogs and magazines place
higher stress on bullets than wet news print alone. The mix consists of 30% wet catalogs and
magazines and 70% wet news print. This test medium is denser and more difficult to penetrate than
animal tissue. Over many years of doing the test work, and then study bullets removed from animal
tissue I have been able to determine that for Conventional and Non Conventional expanding bullets
that I can expect an 80% to 100% increase of penetration in animal tissue as opposed to the test medium.
Solids are not the same correlation, with solids I can expect a 30%-35% increase on average, in animal
tissue as opposed to the test medium. This of course cannot take into account factors such as bone which
can make a difference with some bullets. These are “rules of thumb” and to be treated as such, and not
to be taken as 100% absolute. While no test medium is 100% equal to animal tissue, there are
reasonable test mediums such as the medium I use, that if one has enough experience with both the test
medium and animal tissue it is easy to correlate the data to be able to have a reasonable idea of how a
particular bullet will perform in the field, and the potential for it to either fail or succeed.
I have been fortunate over the years to study many bullets, by many manufacturers both large and
small, some even unknown. I have concentrated most of this study to large bore rifles as that is my
point of interest. I have never gone to the field with a bullet that I have not tested, and I have yet to
be disappointed or surprised at the outcome from the field. Today I refuse to go to the field with a
bullet that fails my test work. This has not always been true, and I have used bullets that failed the
test work, and of course it also failed in the field. A lesson learned!
Today we as shooters and hunters have the most extensive bullet selection that we have ever witnessed
and it continues to get better every year. There are many premium bullets on the market and most of
them well designed and can add a great versatility to your rifle or handgun, but one must learn to choose
the proper bullet for the job at hand. Where one bullet might fail a particular mission, it might excel
at another. An easy example is this, one does not take a varmint bullet on a buffalo hunt, and of course
the reverse is true. Each have their own particular niche and mission to accomplish, as shooters and
hunters it is up to us to educate ourselves to the point we are able to choose the proper tool, or bullet in
this case, for the job or mission at hand! I have been to the field with many hunters in the past and
they have not made the right choices and the consequences have been dire for both the animal hunted,
and in the long run the hunter. Lost game because of making the wrong bullet choice is just not
acceptable to me at all, and this happens all too frequently.
It is my desire to assist fellow shooters, and hunters, by sharing my studies and conclusions so that it
might be possible they, you, can make better decisions that will ultimately increase your chances of
success in the field, by making the right choices in bullet selection.
I have developed a series of cartridges, the B&M Rifles and Cartridges, in some cases these cartridges
need proper bullets in which to accomplish the missions I ask of them. This has lead me to conduct a
massive study of suitable solids and expanding bullets that will work in these rifles and cartridges.
After all, regardless of the cartridge, regardless of the rifle, it’s the bullet that ultimately does all the
work, either without proper bullets is useless!
This need of mine has led me to conducting extensive tests with different solids and expanding bullets
that are suitable for my requirements in these cartridges. Which has also led me to North Fork
I will start with the study of “Solids”. In most cases as shooters and hunters we consider solids only
for our largest of game, buffalo, hippo, and of course elephant. During my studies of solids I have
taken them much further into most all of my hunting regardless of species, especially larger plains
game such as zebra, eland, wildebeest, and moose, elk, and bear. I probably use and shoot more solid
bullets than any shooter or hunter on the planet, and this has been extremely successful for me. Here is
why! I had always used solids for buffalo, hippo, and elephant. During a hunt in 2006 I was testing
a .500 caliber rifle, using most .500 caliber bullets at the time were not designed for the velocities that
the rifle could push them too. I had tested all these in the test medium and was not exceeding their
terminal velocity, however I did not take chances and followed up with a custom made solid for all
animals which included zebra, eland, giraffe, and wildebeest. What I found was that my test work
was good, and the failures I had were with the round nose solid I was using as backup. I found on
several occasions it was veering off course during it’s terminal penetration and in some cases would turn
90 degrees off course! This was the beginning of my extensive study of solids, this sort of performance
was in no way acceptable, nor could it be reliable. I needed a .500 caliber solid that I could rely upon
for elephant, buffalo and hippo.
We went through several designs and tests, finally settling on a 510 gr Solid with a 65% meplat for
caliber flat nose. During this time it was a great discovery to find that a flat nose solid was the most
effective for straight line penetration and transfer of trauma. This led to the testing of nearly all
other caliber’s in which I was shooting also, including 416 and 458 caliber.
Factors involved that are of importance to straight line penetration of solids are as follows, in order of
importance, meplat size, nose profile, twist rate, construction, velocity, and sectional density.
Sectional Density, now at the end of the line of importance, and only a factor at all with bullets that
everything else is equal except SD.
Meplat size is “THE KEY FACTOR”. A meplat size from 65% to 70% of caliber is optimum in most all
cases for “Terminal Stability”. A 70% meplat size can overcome other factors, such as twist rate. In a
slow twist rate, a 70% meplat for caliber bullet can actually self stabilize itself during terminal
penetration. Below 65% meplat for caliber a faster twist may be required, such as 1:12 as opposed to
1:18. When going above a 70% meplat for caliber terminal stability is even increased, however meplat
size starts to effect depth of penetration at that point, and in consideration of many rifles feed and
function may become an issue.
Nose profile is all important in addition to meplat size. Not all nose profiles are created equal just
because of meplat size. While meplat size is first and foremost, different nose profiles can add to or
subtract from terminal stability. There are good nose profiles, and there are marginal nose profiles,
and then there is a round nose profile which is just not acceptable!
Construction speaks for itself, a solid copper or brass projectile is less effected by obstacles, such as bone,
than a conventional lead core fmj solid projectile.
An increase in velocity can assist in terminal stabilization with twist rates that are just marginal, or
meplats that are just marginal.
North Fork Solids have one of those “Good Nose Profiles”, combined with a 70% meplat for caliber,
makes it one of our “Premium Solids” that one can count on for deep, straight line penetration. This is
a “go to bullet” for the heaviest of game where if you consider hunting elephant, hippo, and buffalo a
dangerous sport, then lives could be on the line and one should only consider the best of equipment, in
this case the bullet!
In my B&M cartridges and short rifles I need a bullet that will fit the cartridge capacity and the short
WSM action I work with. In the 416 B&M this means the 370 gr North Fork. Tested against other
solid bullets in 416 caliber it comes out far ahead of any round nose of any weight or SD, ahead of most
other heavier solids even with flat meplats, and only a small handful of other solids can equal it in
performance, terminal stability, and depth of penetration. So it is at the top of it’s game. In my
limited case capacity I can run this bullet from 2400-2450 fps depending on either a barrel length of 18 to
20 inches. This also happens to be a good working velocity for terminal penetration of 416 caliber
bullets. This bullet tested very good, giving more than enough penetration for the mission in which I
would use it for in 416 caliber.
My 458 B&M is equal in case capacity to a 458 Winchester, it was always my thought that a case of
that capacity was better served with 450 gr projectiles than heavier bullets in 500 gr weights. In the
case of the North Fork 450 gr Solid, once again it fits the criteria perfectly, and it performs exactly as
designed, deep, straight line penetration.
The North Fork Solids one cannot say too much good about them, they work, they have a proper nose
profile, a perfect 70% meplat for caliber for terminal stabilization, and one other thing they have that
many of todays monolithic solids do not have is multiple bands for reduced bearing surface. I am not a
double rifle shooter, but as I understand these bullets are safe for most all modern double rifles on the
market. This is a tremendous boost in performance for the double rifle shooters that have been told for
many years they could not use monolithic solids, and have been left with antiquated bullet designs left
over for the last hundred years or so! No more! Todays savvy double shooters are moving to a better
designed, more up to date bullet, and the North Fork fits that niche for them. I have a good friend
that has been helping me with some of the test work. He shoots double rifles and has tested very
extensively the 470 caliber North Fork solid in his double rifle. Most double rifles are also burdened
with outdated twist rates for optimum terminal stability of solids. Not much one can do about that
after the fact. With the meplat size of the North Forks at 70% these bullets have been able to self
stabilize during terminal penetration, even with the poor, slower twist rates that most doubles are
encumbered with, which are not optimum for solid terminal stabilization. Yet another factor in favor
of the North Fork Solids currently available.
I have not worked as extensively as I intend to with the North Fork Premium bonded expanding
bullets. I needed a light bullet in 458 caliber that would work with some of my hunting scenarios and
so I have done some work with the 350 gr 458 caliber bullet. Testing it from muzzle velocities of 2350
fps to above 2450 fps in my 458 B&M it performed extremely well in the test work, and I have no doubt
it will do well in the field for it’s intended purposes. I would not hesitate to use this bullet for moose,
elk, bear, and all of Africa’s plains game species. Excellent penetration, expansion, and integrity.
One of the latest additions to my B&M family has been a medium 9.3 caliber cartridge and rifle. It is
very suitable for 250-286 gr bullets available today. I tested the 250 gr North Fork Premium Bonded
bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2750 fps and this bullet performs far beyond what I expected. Total
penetration was 15 inches in the test medium (equating to 24 to 30 inches in animal tissue) which is more
than enough for all game one would hunt with a medium caliber. I have currently slated to test the 286
North Fork Premium, but have not been able to get to it yet. I suspect excellent performance once again.
One thing I must mention about the North Fork Premium Expanding bullets is a phenomena that I
noticed during my test work with them. Under most circumstances when testing a conventional
expanding bullet the more velocity you run, the less penetration you will get. I recently did a test of
many of the 338 caliber bullets on the market with a 338 Winchester and a 338 Ultra. The Ultra
would run on average 250 fps more velocity than the 338 Winchester. In ALL cases the higher velocity
projectiles gave less penetration than the lower velocity projectiles. Now this makes sense if you
think of it logically, more velocity, more expansion, more frontal surface area, more transfer of trauma
to target, therefore less penetration.
The North Fork bonded bullet does not perform that way. In fact it seems to be quite the opposite with
each bullet I have tested. The more velocity, the deeper the penetration with these, which is of
great benefit for cartridges that can run higher velocity. And here is the kick, even in cartridges of
lower velocity there is no downside as penetration and weight retention is excellent regardless.
Basically, a no downside bullet with a wide range of working velocities, and too much velocity is not a
detriment to performance! This is something I intend to investigate further.
Now I would like to move on to one of the most inventive, and exciting bullet designs, and concept that
has come along in years! The North Fork Cup Point! This is what I classify as “Non-Conventional” at
it’s best! These bullets perform in several different ways and concepts. I am just now beginning to
investigate all the possible uses that can be applied with them. I have tested the 325 gr and 350 gr 458
cup points in 458 Lott at high velocity, 458 B&M at medium velocity, and 45/70 lower velocity and
performance is great across the board. These are basically “expanding solids”, no petals or blades, just
a round mushroom top. Penetration is far deeper than any conventional expanding bullet regardless of
velocity, low or high. Penetration is always the key as we know, without penetration all else is a
moot point! These bullets, even though light for caliber, even at modest velocities will penetrate
deeper in most all cases than what a conventional buffalo expanding bullet will penetrate! Some that
come to mind, 450 and 500 gr Swifts, 500 gr Woodleighs, and probably even North Forks own expanding
heavy 458 caliber bonded bullets. Most big bore expanding bullets that one uses as first shots on
buffalo penetrate to 18-24 inches in the test medium, the 325 North Fork Cup Point penetrated from 21-
26 inches depending on velocity, and the 350 gr North Fork Cup Point penetrated from 23 to 28 inches
depending on velocity! This is totally astounding and opens up all sorts of new avenues for lesser
cartridges, such as 45/70. The implications of this cannot be denied. I have a small 458 Caliber
cartridge called the 458 B&M Super Short, these two bullets will be a mainstay for this little
cartridge, increasing it’s effectiveness by great margins in the field. Even cartridges of medium to
large capacities can be enhanced in many areas with these bullets. For instance in 458 Lott running the
350 gr North Fork Cup Point at just under 2800 fps adds a lot of flexibility to the cartridge, giving the
hunter lot’s of extra options.
I tested the heavier 450 gr North Fork Cup Point and it has a bit of a different purpose. It is not meant
as an expanding solid, but a “Limited Penetration Solid”. The Cup Point limits the bullets penetration
roughly by something along the lines of 30-35% as best I can tell with the limited tests I have conducted
to this point. This would be very useful say with buffalo in herds under some circumstances. Yet,
another tool for the hunters pouch!
The Cup Points are incredible strides forward in Non-Conventional bullet design. One I continue to
explore myself and will most certainly have a use for in the near future.
Thanks North Fork!
We ran into this heard twice no bull spotted the first time, The second time a large full bossed bull came out to see what we were, one shot at 40 yards thru the chest lodged in the right hind quarter.He went 30 yards turned and came for us, he died facing us at 20 yards no more shots were required. With out the cuppoint we would have had our hands full of Dagga boy. What a great solid, that opening tip really did good work. (375 H&H)
WD Williams hunting with Kukuzan’s http://www.kukuzans.co.za/
Attached is a picture of a pronghorn antelope I took about 2 weeks ago. I shot him at 250yds in West Texas. I was using a .270 Winchester with a 130 grain North Fork. He ended up scoring 79 1/8" B&C. Thought y'all might like a picture of another North Fork kill.Thanks, Curtis Clader
Eastern Oregon Mule Deer taken by Ken Creel
with a 6.5X284 with 120gr North Fork bullets at 193 yds.
Paul Henry with a succesful African Safari
I just returned from a wonderful safari with Roger Whittall Safaris on Humani in the Save River Conservancy in Zimbabwe on which I used North Fork bullets in Cal. 416 Rem. Mag. with excellent results. I hunted plains game and was an observer on my brother’s Elephant / Buffalo hunt. Also possible were Leopard and Lion. Being allergic to becoming a greasy spot on the dirt, prior to the hunt I spent 10 months testing gun, scopes and bullets. I tested all the better bullets. Because they are machined instead of being stamped out, North Fork bullets were the most CONSISTENT bullets. They were the most accurate. The Soft, Solid and Cup all shot to the same point of impact (making lovely little cloverleafs) with the same load. They didn’t change POI from lot to lot. They shot to the same velocity with lower pressures observable on primers and primer pocket expansion. The benefit is that one can spend much less time developing loads for the rifle, and more time tending to the myriad of other tasks required to go on safari.
Just finished load development for a .416 Rem. Mag. 700 out of the Custom shop. The gun was an orphan, and had been passed around from hand to hand because it had feeding problems. It shot well enough, but wouldn’t feed anything but round nose or spire point bullets. Turned out that the magazine box was standing up in front of the feed ramp slightly. A little judicious filing to fair the lips of the magazine box to match the feed ramp and the flat points fed like butter.
Loading, which I thought would be a long and tedious process turned out to be a snap, which I attribute to the uniformity from bullet to bullet and commonality of form from flat point to cup point to soft. I also load for benchrest, and like to measure. These bullets are all the same. It’s like picking up a box of Lapua 6 mm BR brass. You just can’t find any anomalies.
I tested just about everybody’s bullets, and the North Forks seemed to group the best individually. Settling on 76 gr. of Reloader 15 across the board for the 370 gr. soft, cup and flat gave nice 2350 fps. low pressure loads with a low velocity spread, round primers, and no noticeable primer pocket expansion. Oddly, i no the different North Forks all seem to shoot about the same velocity. The Federal Trophy 400 gr. Factory load was my “check load”, and the soft also clocked 2350, with flat-flat primers, and looser pockets.
Finally the days of preliminary load development are over. I’ve got 100 new R-P Brass (Huntingtons has a giant lot of .416 brass which seems better than average), and enough primers & powder out of the same lots to assemble my loads to take to Zimbabwe in September. But will it shoot? I wondered what it will take to get all the bullets to shoot together. I’ve been stomped to death when short on time before a trip and forced to just keep shooting that .470 that won’t regulate, or that light .375 that slaps you like a red-headed stepchild and then throws the softs and the solids to different parts of the world.
Shot in at 50 yards, one soft, one cup, and one flat cut a neat cloverleaf. 100 yards yields a horizontal string about 1 caliber tall and 1.25 ” wide, still dead on. 200 yards yields another horizontal string, 3″ wide and about .75″ deep printing 5″ low. The wind is fishtailing over either shoulder, I estimate at least half the horizontal spread is a weather report. I was elated. As Taylor said, confidence in equipment is critical for effective game shots. These bullets inspire calm collected shooting.
These North Forks are simply great bullets. Dug out of drought dried black clay they look like dirtier versions of the promo pictures. I’m hoping to see what they look like dug out of some animals.