August 13, 2022
By Tom Beckstrand
My inner rifle nerd gets excited when I see a product hit the “Best in Class” category, and I saw that happen in real time on an aoudad hunt during late-fall 2021. I was hunting with the 6.8 Western, a cartridge that I love for its heavy bullets with great ballistic coefficients (BC) from a short-action rifle. The new hotness was Winchester’s 162-grain Copper Impact, a solid-copper expanding projectile. The new 162-grain Copper Impact bullet is special because it has the highest BC found on a monolithic bullet that’s fired from a short-action rifle. I call this bullet “The Flying Salami” because it measures 1.61 inches long! That’s a lot of bullet for a short-action.
Monolithic bullets are not new. They are usually made from copper, gilding metal or brass alloy. What is new are monolithics designed for maximum BC, i.e., “aerodynamic efficiency.” Bullets with a high BC experience less drag when flying through the air, so they hold on to velocity and energy better. Both of these features are useful for long-range shooters. Plus, high BC bullets are more resistant to the effects of the wind and are less likely to be blown off target. High BC monolithic bullets are now arriving to the shooting scene for game, so I made sure to carefully document how Winchester’s 162-grain Copper Impact performed on my hunt.
When I found a mature aoudad ram, my rangefinder said he was 498 to 502 yards away. He stood broadside and looked at me, so any movement forward could have pushed him farther. I assumed a seated shooting position and looked through my scope. My crosshair was steady, so I dialed my hold for 500 yards — then fired. The first round impacted the 215-pound ram mid-to-high shoulder and destroyed both lungs. It lodged just under the skin on the far side. One would have been enough, but I never like to assume. The second round impacted the lying ram about 3 inches away from the first and angled up; I was shooting uphill and into his spine. Both of the recovered bullets tell the rest of the story.
Monolithic bullets need speed to perform well, so Winchester recommended an impact velocity of 2,200 feet per second (fps) or greater for Copper Impact. The elevation at which I was hunting, combined with the temperature and barometric pressure, yielded an impact velocity of 2,209 fps for my two shots. Winchester puts a large polymer tip on these projectiles to help improve expansion and, as seen here, the first bullet that passed cleanly through both lungs and lodged under the skin opened up — slightly. The second bullet hit the spine with enough velocity to deform and finished the ram. I was thrilled with how Copper Impact performed and I would abide by Winchester’s recommendation to use the 2,200 fps impact velocity cut-off for determining distance.
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