Back in the early 1990s, I attended a meeting to help try establish some standards for muzzleloading, including standardizing bore sizes. Knight Rifles, Thompson/Center Arms, Connecticut Valley Arms, and other major muzzleloading rifle manufacturers or importers were there, and so were four or five muzzleloading bullet makers. And, I am sorry to say...Not much ever came of that meeting, other than the realization that the muzzleloading industry is the most non-standardized segment of the shooting and hunting industry.
The Scorpion PT Gold Performs The Way A Bullet Should Perform
By Toby Bridges
Warmer than usual temperatures through the Fall of 2008 had made hunting tough. Although on several hunts I had managed to take a couple of big adult does for the freezer, I just couldn't catch up with a decent whitetail buck. And what made the situation especially frustrating was the fact that I was hunting with one of the most accurate muzzle-loaded rifle, scope and load combinations I had ever packed into the field.
Through the spring and summer, I had conducted a great deal of test shooting with loads of the all new powder known as Blackhorn 209, doing the majority of that shooting with one of Knight Rifles' top-of-the-line Long Range Hunter models. And while I loaded and shot an impressive variety of sabots and bullets, I kept coming back to one combination. And that was Harvester Muzzleloading's 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold and Crush Rib Sabot. No other bullet and sabot consistently punched tight hundred yard clusters as well as this copper-plated polymer-tipped spire point.
My first hunt with the newest of Harvester Muzzleloading's electroplated bullets was during the 2006 season. I had managed to stick with a late, and cold, muzzleloader hunt, until a nice ten-pointer stepped out at almost 200 yards. That fall, I had been testing a new multi-reticule muzzleloader hunting scope for Hi-Lux Optics, and with a 110-grain charge of FFFg Triple Seven, I had the Knight .50 caliber Long Range Hunter regularly printing the lighter 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold inside of an inch at 100 yards. And using the 200-yard cross-bar reticule of the scope, it was just a matter of holding "dead center" of the chest cavity and squeezing off the shot. The sleek poly-tipped spire-point caught the deer perfectly, and the buck went down after only about a 30 yard run.
For the 2007 season hunts, I'd made a few changes to what most would have considered a "perfect combo". One was a switch to the 300-grain version of this bullet. The other was a switch to Blackhorn 209. In fact, I was shooting and hunting with some pre-production powder, nearly 9 months before it hit the market. And with a 110-grain charge, it was getting the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold out of the muzzle of the 27-inch Knight rifle barrel at 1,945 f.p.s. - with 2,521 foot-pounds of energy. And at a hundred yards, the big bullet would often produce three-shot groups with all three holes touching. My switch to the heavier, and slightly longer bullet was take advantage of its higher ballistic coefficient. Through comparative shooting to determine bullet drop from 100 to 200 yards, I had determined that the 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold has a b.c. of about .220, while the 300 grain version enjoys a higher .250 to .255 b.c.
A 110-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 gets the 260 grain bullet on its way at 2,039 f.p.s., with 2,401 f.p.e. Out at 200 yards the load retains 1,409 f.p.s., and hits with 1,146 f.p.e. On the other hand, the heavier 300-grain bullet gets out of the muzzle almost 100 f.p.s. slower, but thanks to the added weight, with more energy. Due to its higher b.c., the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold is actually flying at a slightly higher velocity out at 200 yards - 1,414 f.p.s. And that translates into a harder hitting hunting bullet at longer range. The load hits with 1,329 foot-pounds of retained knockdown power at 200 yards.
Through my previous season (2006), I had harvested 11 does and that one ten-point buck with the 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold - from as close as 35 yards to the 191 yard shot that had taken the buck. All had been one-shot kills - and 35 yards was the farthest any traveled after being shot. So I wasn't too surprised to find that the snappier load of Blackhorn 209 and heavier 300-grain bullet grounded the whitetails even quicker. During the 2007 season, I managed to take 7 does and 2 bucks with the bullet - and only one went more than 10 yards after being hit.
While doing all of that test shooting with Blackhorn 209 through much of 2008, I had inched my hunting charge up to 120-grains. And that amount of the powder gets the 300 grain Harvester Muzzleloading spire-point out of the Knight Long Range Hunter at 2,072 f.p.s. At the muzzle, the load is good for 2,856 f.p.e. When it gets to 200 yards, the bullet retains just over 1,500 f.p.s. - and hits with right at 1,500 foot-pounds of punch. And the fact that I had a rifle and load that could deliver that kind of 200-yard performance, and often keep 200-yard groups right at 2 1/2 inches, is what made it so frustrating not to be able to find a good buck on my first three hunts that fall. But, on my last hunt of the season, the Nebraska muzzleloader deer season in December, my luck changed.
I had put together a .50 caliber Knight DISC Extreme and Hi-Lux Optics scope combo for another hunter, who had to cancel out on the hunt at the last moment. Just before heading to Nebraska, I had sighted that rifle and scope in with 110-grains of Blackhorn 209 and the 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold - and the combination had been a tack driver. So, for the first couple of days of the hunt, I chose to pack that rifle - hoping I could take a good buck, and a few good photos, and rub it in on what the other hunter had missed. But...just two hours into my first evening hunt...a wide eight-pointer made the mistake of standing broadside on a small rise 130-yards away. The 260-grain spire-point dropped the deer where it stood.
I purchased my second tag, and spent the next couple of days looking at a lot of deer - both whitetails and mule deer. However, the weather was still warm for that time of the year - with afternoon highs into the 50s. The big bucks just weren't moving. The promise of snow and colder temperatures late in the afternoon meant the deer would likely feed a little early - so I headed for a large winter wheat field where the deer on this ranch usually headed to get a belly full of feed when bad weather was on the way.
I was in place, using a brush blind thrown together along the southeastern edge of the green wheat field, by 2 that afternoon. And about two hours later, the deer began to pour into the field. Temperatures dropped 20 or more degrees in that time and the snow was beginning to fly. About 30 minutes before dark, a heavy horned ten-pointer ran a doe out into the field. The buck stood with its rear toward me, not offering much of a shot. The doe then started angling across the field, stopping every ten or so yards - and the ten-pointer followed. I followed the deer with the scope, and when the buck turned just enough to offer a perfect angling shot, I looked up over the scope to get a feel for the range - I guessed 160 yards. The primary crosshair settled about where I guessed the rear rib to be, and I let it drift upward about 2 or 3 inches to allow for the small amount of bullet drop at that range. The doe stopped again...and so did the buck.
My finger tightened on the trigger and the rifle barked, followed a split second later by the hollow-sounding "wallop" of the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold driving home. The buck made a dash for the heavy cover along the fence line surrounding the field, but only made it 30 yards and rolled. The mature 160-class buck was a great way to finish off a pretty lackluster season. When I field dressed the deer, I was amazed at the damage done to internal organs. When I skinned the buck a couple of days later, the expanded bullet was found just under the hide of the opposite front shoulder. After penetrating through 25 or 26 inches of whitetail, passing through hide, muscle and bone, the recovered very nicely expanded bullet still weighed right at 270 grains. In other words, it retained 90-percent of its original weight.
The Scorpion PT Gold bullets perform exactly how I like a hunting bullet to perform. First, they are extremely accurate. Second, thanks to the electroplated copper outer surface, there's no separation of "jacket and core". Third, even if 30-percent of the bullet is shed as it passes through a big game animal, the extremely tough base holds the rear of the bullet together - insuring deep penetration, and as often as not a pass through shot. And the little lead and copper that's thrown off from the expanded front as it spins through hide, muscle and bone only exaggerates the wound cavity and energy transfer.
This is exactly what a great hunting bullet is supposed to do!
Since first shooting and hunting with the Scorpion PT Gold back in 2006, combined I've now taken 26 deer and a half-dozen wild hogs with the 260 and 300 grain versions of this bullet. None have run off to die somewhere else. In fact, none have even made it to 40 yards.