Donâ€™t know how many here know about the North Fork bullets, so I thought I would talk about my experience with them.
I picked up a Marlin .45-70 about 3 years ago and immediately started looking for a bullet that would give me the velocity I wanted using 40,000 CUP data, provide highly consistent and accurate loads, and would hold up under the worst conditions.
The first bullets I tried were the 350g Speer and Hornady bullets. These gave great accuracy with velocity at or just under 2200fps. The Speer bullets were a bit trickier to load due to the longer ogive and the necessity to keep OAL down to where the loaded cartridges would cycle through the rifle, but it was my favorite as it was designed for .458 Mag velocities and had a thicker jacket. My tests (and others) indicated it would expand a bit slower and penetrate deeper. Either would have probably done any job I asked of them.
Next came the .300g Barnes X, which promised higher velocity due to its lighter weight. Accuracy was never tested as I only had 10 bullets and loaded them each with different powder charges. Couldnâ€™t get the velocity increase I was hoping for and abandoned further efforts with these bullets.
The Remington 405g bullet has been a workhorse for many years, but velocity was limited to 1982fps in my tests and recoil at that velocity was ferocious. Even though I got great accuracy the velocity limited range more than I was willing to accept.
The Swift 400g A-Frames offered a bonded core, which I found very attractive. The problem with these bullets was the ogive was so long I could not build loaded cartridges to a length that would cycle through the rifle. Cartridges that were loaded directly into the chamber, in fact, were so long they would not eject until the case rim was freed from the ejector hook. No way they would cycle from the magazine. Swift now makes a 350g A-Frame which is designed for the .45-70, but I have not tested it.
I tried hardcast but couldnâ€™t get the velocity I wanted â€“ at least not with anything approaching the accuracy I demanded.
Then I discovered the North Fork bullets. There is only one weight for the .45-70, a 350g bullet. The North fork construction is like a Trophy Bonded (solid shank with bonded lead core up front) but they have a series of circumferential grooves which act to reduce the bearing surface and, accordingly, pressure. Tests with H4198 yielded velocities just under 2200fps. Accuracy was outstanding and these were (and still are!) the most consistent loads I have ever built. It is not uncommon for 4 and 5-shot groups to shoot under an inch with Extreme Spreads under 5fps. (Thatâ€™s right, Extreme Spread, not Standard Deviation, which is often in the range of 1.8fps!)
I knew I had found my load and results in the field were more than satisfactory. A forkhorn mulie shot at a lasered 192 yards, quartering away, made a tight circle then tried to run up hill in the fresh snow. It made it about 20 feet uphill before collapsing. In over 20 years of hunting I have never seen another blood trail like this one â€“ it looked like someone had sloshed blood out of a bucket. The bullet exited and meat loss was minimal due to placement â€“ behind the right front leg with the exit in front of the left leg. Two days later I took a 6x6 bull elk at a lasered 213 yards with a broadside shot. In and out the near leg, obliterating the leg bone in the process, into the chest where it obliterated a near rib nicked the heart and shattered a far rib. Three layers of hide and three bones, uniform expansion to around 0.650â€. Came to rest under the hide on the off side. Expansion stopped when the solid rear shank was reached, which makes me wonder what would have happened with a Hornady or Speer.
The next year I developed loads for the 7mmMag using the 160g North Forks. While I never got a shot at game the development effort yielded excellent accuracy and consistency. In fact, my 1981 Ruger turned in the best 3-shot group it had ever shot â€“ less than one caliber at 0.266â€ center-to-center.
Yesterday I was at the range with 180g North Forks and my new .300 Win Mag. After a fouling shot, the next three bullets went into less than a half inch, with two holes touching. This is my primary elk load this year.
Just wish I could get them in .257â€â€¦
for more if interested.