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Federal Premium Introduces an Improved Muzzleloader Bullet

May 20, 2015
Bill Waugaman - Staff Writer , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Modern muzzleloaders are a sophisticated firearm, and so are the projectiles used in them. With the introduction of sabots and modern bullets, the days of using patches, round ball and lead bullets are almost gone. Even hunters using flintlocks have been switching to sabots and bullets. In November 2014, Federal Premium announced its new Trophy Copper Muzzleloader Bullets with B.O.R. (Bullet Obturating Ramp) Lock MZ System, a bullet design for muzzleloaders that does not use a sabot.

Instead, the B.O.R. Lock MZ System is a polymer cup with a hard, fiber-reinforced polymer base ring that is permanently attached to a polymer tipped copper-alloy bullet. When the bullet is loaded, the polymer base ring scours any fouling in the barrel. This reduces the need to clean between shots and ensure that the bullet is seated completely at the bottom. When fired, the base cup pushes forward onto a raised band on the bullet that expands its diameter contacting the rifling and sealing the bore.

I use a Traditions Buckskinner flintlock for hunting in Pennsylvania's primitive muzzleloader season. Loading a bullet and sabot for the first shot in a clean barrel is not too bad. After the first shot, loading subsequent shots can be a real challenge. I've tried bullets and sabots from different manufacturers, but the loading difficulty is always the same. Federal claims that the Trophy Copper Muzzleloader Bullets require half of the loading force of most sabots and require less cleaning. That caught my attention.

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First, I tested loading of my Buckskinner using a 240-grain Thompson Center Mag Express bullet and sabot with a 90-grain charge of American Pioneer Powder. Loading the first bullet and sabot in a clean barrel did require some effort as I have come to expect. Loading the next two bullets and sabots required from 35 to 51 pounds of pressure. Ouch.

After a good cleaning, the same was done using the Federal B.O.R. Lock MZ System with the same powder and powder charge. To say I was surprised is an understatement. Eight shots were fired without any cleaning between shots. For loading, it only took 15 to 32 pounds pressure on the ramrod each time to fully seat the bullet once it cleared the muzzle.

Next, the same test was done with a Winchester X-150 in-line using three Hodgdon Triple Seven 50/30 pellets. Loading the in-line was a lot easier than the flintlock. Pressure on the ramrod loading the first three shots with the Thompson Center bullet and sabot was in the 22 to 35 pound range each time. Then, instead of cleaning the barrel and starting over, the X-150 was loaded eight more times with the B.O.R. Lock MZ System. For all eight times, pressure on the ramrod was only in the 11 to 20 pound range.

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How the B.O.R. Lock MZ™ System works

There is a difference when inserting a projectile into the barrel of these two rifles. The rifling in the X-150 is recessed about 1/4" from the muzzle making the initial projectile insertion very easy. Since the rifling in the barrel of the Buckskinner extends to the muzzle, the projectile requires a little pressure and wiggling to get it started in the barrel.

For best results, Federal recommends using the B.O.R. Lock MZ System in muzzleloaders having a 1-in-28" rifling twist. With my Buckskinner flintlock, the Federal bullet had a tendency to keyhole because of the 1-in-48" twist and a short 21" barrel. The 26" barrel Winchester X-150 does have the recommended twist and the bullets punched nice round holes.

The point of impact of the B.O.R. Lock MZ System in both rifles was another difference from the Thompson Center Mag Express bullet and sabot. In the X-150, the Federal had a point of impact about 2" higher slightly left of the bullets and sabots. In the Buckskinner flintlock, the point of impact was about 4" higher. There was no consistency left or right probably for the same reason as the keyholes. A slight change in the powder charge could improve accuracy and grouping performance.

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For hunters using an in-line, the Federal Trophy Copper Muzzleloader Bullets with B.O.R. Lock MZ System gives you some definite advantages over the typical bullet and sabot, especially in the ease of loading. If you have been considering an alternative to what you are currently using, this would definitely be worth checking out.

For flintlock hunters, the longer barrels on many flintlocks may help to stabilize the Federal bullet, but a slow rate of twist could still be a problem. The ease of loading is an absolute advantage for use in a flintlock. If Federal develops this B.O.R. Lock MZ System specifically for use in flintlocks with slow twist rates, I would be the first to switch without hesitation.

The .50 caliber, 270 grain Trophy Copper Muzzleloader Bullets with B.O.R. Lock MZ System comes in a 15-pack and has an MSRP of $24.99. For more information, check out the Federal website at



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