Norma’s lead-free copper bullet has been on the market for more than a year. I have had plenty of opportunity to test it in real life…. Here is my conclusion.
By Jens Ulrik Høgh
There is plenty of expanding monolithic copper bullet designs to go around. The ECOSTRIKE from Norma is one of the latest from major manufacturers. As many others it is based on a single slug of copper in its purest – and thus softest – obtainable form. It is CNC-machined in shape with extremely tight tolerances. Plated and mounted with a plastic tip.
What separates different copper bullets from each other is mainly the outer of the bullet which determines it’s external ballistic properties and the inner contours of the nose cavity which are crucial to the terminal ballistic performance. In ECOSTRIKE’s case Norma has opted for a very sleek and ballistically efficient shape with a long and slender tip, a boat tail and a waist design that minimized the bearing surface in order to reduce friction and increase velocity. With a ballistic coefficient of 0.42 this bullet is a good flyer and wind-buster! In my experience, the nose cavity makes the bullet expand reliably upon impact at velocities as low as 650 m/s (2,130 fps) and as high as 950 m/s (3,110 fps). Within this velocity range the bullet will typically stay together in one piece with very close to 100% weight retention (it loses the plastic tip of course so it’s 99.X %)
ECOSTRIKE field test
I have had the opportunity to test the ECOSTRIKE intensively on big game hunts in Europe and Africa as well as on the shooting range. I have been shooting the .30-caliber 150 gr. Version in factory loaded ammunition in .300 Winchester Magnum and .308 Winchester. All in all I have killed approximately 50 animals with the bullet ranging in size from African springbok and European roebuck to blue wildebeest, mountain zebra and large European wild boars. Most of the animals I have killed are in the upper weight range of the animals described. With the .300 my average number of shots per animal is 1.05. The average is based on 42 game animals shot from distances from zero to 400 m+ (440 y). I have not experienced any malfunctions in any respect. Usually the bullet exits. I have only recovered one. That was from a blue wildebeest bull shot from the front. The perfectly expanded bullet was lodged under the skin on one of his hind quarters. This bullet leaves no metal fragments around the wound channel and it is therefore perfectly safe to feed the blood-shot pieces and entrails to the dogs or leave it to the eagles.
In my Mauser 03 hunting rifle in .300 Winchester Magnum the accuracy of the ECOSTRIKE factory load is phenomenal. If I do my part the rifle will consistently print 5-shot groups well below 20 mm (0.8”) at 100 m (110 y). I have won several accuracy competitions with the combination. Best competition result so far was a three shot group at 100 m (110 y) measuring only about 4 mm (0.16″) center to center. It is without doubt the most accurate bullet I have shot in that rifle.
In the .300 the factory load leaves the muzzle at 1.000 m/s (3,280 fps). I find it to have the best-balanced effect on game from about 50 m (55 y) from the muzzle to about 370 m (405 y). Within this window, the effect on the game is comparable with that of premium bonded lead-core bullets. In the .308 Winchester the window is narrower due to the lover muzzle velocity. It works just fine from the muzzle and out to about 200 m (220 y).
To read more about ECOSTRIKE visit the website of the manufacturer (click here!)
The ECOSTRIKE numbers…
This is what I think of ECOSTRIKE as an all-round hunting bullet.
Why not 10? Because some of the bonded lead-core bullets are still more suited as all-rounders with good effect at lower impact velocities. But this is definitely one of the best lead-free designs and more than good enough for the majority of my hunting.
The quality of this product is superb. Anything but a maximum score would be unfair.
Value for money
ECOSTRIKE is quite an expensive all-round load. Not compared to the cost of hunting in total but in relation to cheaper ammunition alternatives. However, value for money is not super relevant when it comes to hunting ammunition. I am certainly willing to pay a high price for premium functionality.