Imagine a top secret mission that requires you to head to an exotic location with a sweet rifle. The mission to test a yet-to-be-announced ammunition from the same people that supply the Swiss Armed Forces and German Bundeswehr. Well, that’s me not too long ago. Some might debate Texas farmland being exotic, but when the SHWAT™ Team was asked to do live media testing of Ruag’s Norma brand BONDSTRIKE Extreme long range hunting ammo, I was all over it. I grabbed a Falkor Defense Petra and zeroed it.
There’s a whole lot more that goes into bullet research and development than most people realize. Getting projectiles to perform as desired at different ranges is critically important to hunters. Sometimes your game is closer than you expected, sometimes it’s further out.
Bullets that perform well at close-to-intermediate distances often don’t expand properly when impacting targets at longer ranges. At the same time, bullets that are designed to expand at lower velocities tend to break apart and fragment above a known velocity, for example at closer ranges.
My mission was to see how Norma’s new BONDSTRIKE Extreme long range hunting ammo performed at close distances. Now, the hunt that we tested this on was quite a frozen adventure, a rarity where I typically hunt. You can read When the Weather is Bad, but Your Equipment is Bad A$$: A Review of the FLIR 536 & 736, but for this article I’ll stick to NORMA, the bullet, and our findings.
Norma was founded in Sweden in 1902 and spent most of their first 48 years making military ammo. In 1950, Norma started exporting hunting ammunition for the first time. Since then, they have built quite a reputation producing precise, reliable, quality ammunition. Norma’s website does a great job of explaining their history, but just in case you aren’t familiar with them, I wanted to let you know that this isn’t their first rodeo. Here is what Norma has to say about their new line:
BONDSTRIKE Extreme will be on shelves in early 2019 and will be available in the following configurations:
308 Win 180gr BONDSTRIKE Extreme
30-06 180gr BONDSTRIKE Extreme
300 Win Mag 180gr BONDSTRIKE Extreme
300 WSM 180gr BONDSTRIKE Extreme
300 RUM 180gr BONDSTRIKE Extreme
“This is long-range hunting at its best. Our engineers created a bullet that is bonded for weight retention and penetration—but gets excellent accuracy,” said Paul Lemke, General Manager for RUAG Ammotec USA. “The ballistic coefficient on this 30-caliber projectile is fantastic. From a performance standpoint, BONDSTRIKE Extreme will stand out from the crowded long-range hunting bullet market. With a variety of additional 30 caliber cartridges, big game hunters will reap the rewards of this long-range hunting ammunition come fall.”
Norma supplied 300 Win Mag 180gr BONDSTRIKE Extreme for our test. On our hunt I was able to take 2 hogs with this load, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty and see what we found.
The first hog I shot was at 75 yards. I took two shots because somehow I missed the first one. When I slow the video down from my FLIR 736, it appears to be a good shot but the hog takes off full steam ahead, seemingly uninjured. I was able to get a follow up shot and it hit high on the rear hip area. The 180gr BONDSTRIKE Extreme passed through, 16-18 inches, right-to-left, and exited through the left rear quarter. This 215 pound sow went straight down and bled out in about a minute.
I was impressed to see the hog go down that hard and expire so quickly when taking into consideration the shot placement. Upon further examination of the hog, I could find no trace of my first shot hitting, but the second shot was absolutely devastating.
Even though the round hit high on the rear quarter it was still 3.5 inches below the spine. The energy from the 180gr BONDSTRIKE was still enough to break the back and immobilize the sow. The backend of the hog was completely destroyed, and the bloody scene made it obvious that a severed artery was the cause of death. The exit wound was rather large and blew out a chunk of meat close to the size of a baseball. This would not have been a kill shot with a lesser caliber, or perhaps a lesser bullet.
The second hog is where things get interesting. It was taken at 120 yards. This shot was right on target and the BONDSTRIKE Extreme projectile landed just above the heart. This was our biggest hog of the night at 240 pounds and it dropped like a rock. For our mission purposes, I passed on my personal favorite, the neck shot, because I wanted to recover the projectile. In my experience, hogs will often run a ways on lung shots (though not all the time), so it was impressive to see how hard this hog went down.
The bullet passed through the vitals, broke through the far side shoulder plate and came to rest in between the meat and outer layer of fat.
The projectile was facing the way it had entered the animal and does not appear to have tumbled. It also does not appear to have fragmented in any way; impressive when you consider that it shattered the outside shoulder plate.
I went ahead and opened up that front quarter to see what kind of damage had been done and the results were pretty catastrophic. Here is a picture with my hand for size reference (I wear a large size glove).
I was not able to accurately weigh the retrieved projectile, but it had beautiful expansion and reached ⅝ of an inch.
Given my past experiences, I was not expecting to recover a 300WM bullet at these ranges. I figured it would either pass through or fragment into a hundred pieces. Early results impressed me and I look forward to testing more of these rounds in 2019. I am particularly interested in the 308 Win 180gr BONDSTRIKE Extreme, I think my PWS MK216 would like to snack on those. In conclusion, if you hunt stout animals where shot distances can vary greatly, I would definitely check out this round. It looks like Norma has another winner on its hands.