.308″ hunting bullet test day! – Barnes, Hornady, Lapua, Norma, Sako & Red Moose

Hello bullet enthusiasts!

Last month we participated the copper bullet testing day together with the Nordicshot.fi and Riista-magazine.

The caliber used was the 308win and bullets we shot to ballistic gelatine were :

  • Barnes Tipped-TSX 168gr / 10,9g
  • Hornady GMX 150gr / 9,72g
  • Lapua Naturalis 170gr / 11g
  • Norma Ecostrike 150gr / 9,7g
  • Sako Powerhead Blade 162gr / 10,5g
  • Red Moose Tarvas 165gr / 10,7g

We simulated the 50m, 100m and 200m impact distances and recorded a slow motion video from every impact at ballistic gelatine!

Results has been reported in Finnish, but all the slow motion videos and bullet datas you can find here –> https://www.nordicshot.fi/hirvikivaarin-kupariluodit-testissa-osa-2/

Sincerely yours – The Hard-Hitting Shooting Lab

Sako Gamehead Varmint RX – 308win Factory cartridge – Bullet test

At april we had a “Sako Shooting Day” at the Hard-Hitting Shooting Lab! We tested the Sako Gamehead Varmint RX 308win factory cartridge at the same day, when we tested the new Sako Powerhead Blade 308win cartridge. Sako Powerhead Blade test you can find here -> LINK

Before we go to the test results, we still want to give our big thanks to Sako Oy, who handed these brand new Sako cartridges for us to test! Really great gesture for the enthusiasts, because there are a lot of people who are intersted about these new Sako cartridges!

But, to the results!

Sako Gamehead Varmint RX 308win cartridge with 130gr varmint bullet!


Tests were shot with the Tikka T3x Tactical rifle with the 600mm barrel. We measured the velocity ca. 5m from the muzzle and got a 942m/s (3090fps) impact velocity. Manufacturer promises the velocity of 940m/s (3084fps) at the muzzle, so it was spot on!


The optimal working style of the varmint bullet is to explode to pieces! This Sako Gamehead Varmint RX, is the hollow point, boat tail bullet for the varmints! Developed by Sako Oy. With the weight of 130gr it is little heavier than the other manufacturer’s varmint bullets in 308win. Maybe it will have same kind of trajectory than the normal hunting bullets, because of the weight? The possibility to use also the varmint bullet without the need of re-adjusting the rifle scope? I do not have answer to that yet, but I am eager to see it.

First target was 70cm of wetted newspapers and after that a 5-liter water jug. Our idea was to secure also the end part of the bullet, if the bullet would not explode completely. I can tell, the first shot was a blast! The water jug fell off the table, though it was on the other end of it! There was a huge crater emerged on the newspaper pile! The hole on the external surface of the paper, was almost 10cm (3,9″) wide! After our laugh little settled down, we noticed that there is a huge wound cavity inside the newspapers! It was 24cm (9,4″) deep and it was getting even wider inside. We measured the width of the cavity to be a 16-17cm (6,5″) wide inside of the crater!

Below you can see the wound channel of the Gamehead Varmint RX.

Second target was 5-liter water jugs. Those exploded one after another. Yes, we could not stop after the first one. It was a great joy! =D What we noticed, was that if the backside of the water jug did not rip apart, there still were no exit holes of the bullet at the back wall of the jug. The bullets were completely exploded before the back wall. I would say that Sako Gamehead Varmint RX bullets works as good varmint bullets should work… they explode!

Below you can see the picture from the homepage of Sako Oy, it shows the structure of the Sako Gamehead Varmint RX bullet.

Image copyrights: Sako Oy


At the moment, this bullet is only available in factory cartridges.


The Sako Gamehead Varmint RX bullet exploded almost completely, as you can see on the photos above. It is a true varmint bullet. When you are shooting a fox with the Gamehead Varmint RX the skin of that fox will be a quite tight at the short period of time! It would not take a single step after the impact. I am sure of it!

PS. This Sako Gamehead Varmint RX will also be available in 30-06spr caliber, which is really great, because the selection of 30-06 varmint cartridges in Finland, is completely zero at the moment. The velocity of the 30-06 is adverticed to be 975m/s (3199fps).

Sincerely yours – The Hard-Hitting Shooting Lab

Sellier & Bellot Exergy – 308win Factory Cartridge – Bullet test

We did a little Sellier & Bellot easter shootout at the last weekend! Thank you for the Aseliike Remes to make it possible! This is the second part of the article series that will concentrate on the S&B Exergy factory cartridges.  We already published the 6,5×55 test and this will concentrate on the 308win caliber. The 9,3×62 will follow on the next article! The S&B Exergy Blue bullet test articles will follow right after these Exergy articles!

Exergy is the original copper made hunting bullet of the Sellier & Bellot. At their homepage , they are writing that the jacket material of the Exergy, is not available. But on the Exergy 30-06 cartridge page, they are mentioning that it is made of 100% Solid Copper. So we cannot be sure about the exact material, but we know that it is a lead free bullet with little round aluminium tip on the top of the bullet.

Sellier Bellot exergy

But, to the results!

Sellier & Bellot Exergy 180gr –308 Winchester Factory Cartridge


Test gun was a T3x rifle with the 600mm barrel. We measured the velocity ca. 5m from the muzzle and got a 804m/s impact velocity, which is little more than the manufacturer promises to the factory load ( 795m/s v0 @ 600mm barrel).

The slower impact velocity was achieved by reloading. If the velocity at the muzzle is 795m/s what manufacturer claims, the speed of 630m/s simulates the impact at the distance of 166 meters (ca. 181 yards).


The working style of the S&B Exergy bullet is to open in five petals and retain its high weight after the impact without losing the petals.

The harder hit, with the velocity of 804m/s (2638fps) was too harsh for this 180gr Exergy bullet and it lost four of it’s five petals. Which can also be seen on the retained weight (77,9%). Result was quite same, as it was with the 6,5×55 130gr version of the Exergy. Like we wroted in that previous 6.5×55 article, this kind of close distance impacts are not common in normal hunting, so we don’t see this breakdown to be very significant thing. It tells us that the velocity of the factory cartridge has probably been adjusted to the working velocity area of the bullet. The more velocity you dare to add, the better and more reliably the bullet works at the longer distances. So the the breakdown at the close distances might be a well considered decision to achieve longer working distance to the factory cartridge.

At the impact of the 630m/s (2067fps) the bullet worked great and kept all the petals intact as can be seen on the photo above. The retained weight was also very good (98,4%). This slower velocity simulates the impact at the distance of 166 meters (ca. 181 yards) and the bullet opened almost to the bottom of the expansion cavity and achieved very good 16mm width! You can expect reliable working on the normal shooting distances!


This S&B Exergy .308″ 180gr bullet is only available in factory cartridges.


Test targets were wetted newspapers. The bullet with impact speed of 804m/s (2638fps) penetrated 72cm (28,3″) of wet newspapers, and the bullet with impact speed of 630m/s (2067fps) penetrated 49cm (19,3″).

The wound channels can be seen below. From the upper diagram of the wound channel image, it is easy to see the effect of loosing the petals. Bullet has been broke immediately after the impact and made huge wound channel right from the outer surface. The remaining part of the bullet had smaller diameter and it penetrated a huge amount of wetted newspapers, because of the smaller resistance.

On the lower wound channel diagram, the bullet worked as planned. The wound channel is normal type, as is the depth of penetration also.


Factory cartridge with a good copper bullet! Quite much same kind as the 6,5×55 130gr version on the previous article! You can expect good working at the wide velocity range. Low ballistic coefficient (G1: 0,287) affects the velocity quite fast at the greater distances. Not the bullet for the real long range hunting, but at the normal hunting distances you can expect very good results! Don’t forget the suprise factor possibility at the really close shooting distances.

Sincerely yours – The Hard-Hitting Shooting Lab

Sako Powerhead Blade 162gr – 308win Factory cartridge – Bullet test

The launch of our homepage! The Hard-Hitting Shooting Lab. This page will be full of rifle bullet tests in the future! We want to welcome you to our page with the article of a really interesting product. Sako Oy’s brand new lead-free hunting bullet! The Sako Powerhead Blade!

At saturday we had a “Sako Shooting Day” at the Hard-Hitting Shooting Lab! Maybe we did a first ever Sako Powerhead Blade bullet test? In the Finland? In the world?

Before we go to the test results, we want to give our big thanks to Sako Oy, who handed these brand new Sako cartridges for us to test! Really great gesture for the enthusiasts, because there are a lot of people who are interested how this new lead-free hunting bullet will perform. It also shows their trust towards their own products when they give it to us to test!

I would like to say that it was really courageous act from them!

Sako Powerhead Blade cartridge box  308win

But, to the results!

Ladies & Gentleman! The Sako Powerhead Blade, 308win, with the 162gr bullet!

  • The factory load! The first time ever I see a lead-free hunting bullet to open over 18mm width in 308win! The bullet opened all-the-way to the bottom of the expansion cavity with the impact speed of 792m/s. I would say, that this Sako Powerhead Blade 162gr bullet is optimized for the velocities of the 308win! Velocity of this factory cartridge is spot on for this bullet and that is great thing when thinking about the future users of this cartridge. Notice that the 30-06spr and 300wm cartridges they released together with this 308win version, have a different bullet, which probably is developed for the higher velocities!
  • The reloading of the new bullet! I probably would not add much more velocity for this new Powerhead Blade 162gr bullet, because I think it is not planned for the higher velocities than the factory cartridge has. Of course, you seldom have a possibility to shoot a moose with your barrel touching the side of it, so you can adjust your desired impact speed for the specific distance by reloading.
  • The specification of the cartridge promises the velocity of the bullet to be an 815m/s at the muzzle. We shot these tests with the Tikka T3x Tactical which have a 600mm barrel and the velocities were as promised. If the bullet leaves the barrel with the velocity of 815m/s the flying velocity of the bullet is about 646m/s at the distance of 225 meters. Expansion of the bullet at that distance is also very good.
  • Test targets were wetted newspapers. The bullet with impact speed of 792m/s penetrated 46cm of wet newspapers and the bullet with impact speed of 646m/s penetrated 58cm. Considering the very good expansion of the bullet, these penetrations are also very good.
  • The wound cavity. Sako has told on their marketing material, that they have developed this bullet to open fast and really reliable. That is also the reason, why they used a pure copper instead of a gilding or copper alloys on this bullet. The fast opening could also be seen on our test. The wound cavity and the bullet opened really fast and it was easy to see immediately after shot on the external surface of the newspaper pile. The cavity opened really quick from the surface to the width of 5cm. Then widening fast to 10cm width and even from there to 14cm width. After that the cavity started to reduce.
  • Summa summarum. This is a lead-free hunting cartridge loaded with a bullet, that is made for this cartridge. You can expect really good performance!

Thrilled? – Yes, we are! Cannot wait the other Sako Blade bullets & cartridges to hit the shelves!

Sako Blade Bullet