Belt Mountain Enterprises' New "Punch Bullets"

 

by Paco Kelly & Jeff Quinn

photography by Paco Kelly & Jeff Quinn

May 23, 2005

 

 

 

Ed. Note: Unbeknownst to each other, Paco Kelly and Jeff Quinn were each working simultaneously on their own articles testing Belt Mountain Enterprises' new "Punch Bullets". Paco actually submitted his article to me just as Jeff was finishing his! So, bearing in mind what they say about great minds thinking alike, and given the two men's differing testing methods, I've combined the two articles into one.

Boge Quinn

Paco's Part:

Kelye Schlepp, the owner/operator of Belt Mountain Enterprises, always surprises me with his products and their perfection. Kelye (pronounced Kelly) is the manufacturer of those excellent base pins for single action handguns; if you are not familiar with Kelye's base pins, you should be! Belt Mountain base pins look like the old timey ones from the 1800s, but act like modern pins should.  They tighten up the cylinders in single actions, stopping any side to side sloppiness that most of the modern single actions seem to have right from the factory. From Rugers to any of the Colts or Colt clones, Kelye has a base pin that will tighten up your gun.

So when I talked to Kelye on the phone I had to smile as he told me about his new ďPUNCH BULLETSĒ, named that because they punch right thru big game. And they do that.  They are machine turned and lead filled. From the looks of them with their perfect caliber size and weight, from bullet to bullet, I guess a screw machine is used.

They seem to be made from  heavy copper/brass stock.  My hardness tester states they are way above 40 BHN. The photo shows the rate much higher, but that is because I had it laying sideways on the scanner.

Lets start with the 45-70 first, because I just tested it....With 53 grains of Accurate 25/20 from my 24 inch custom Marlin lever action... the 400 grain bullet clocked at a consistent 1800 fps plus.  The average of four shots was 1812 fps, the highest 1820 fps and the lowest 1801 fps. These are my loads, in my gun FYI only.  Pressure is around 28,000 psi.  

These are the most beautifully made 45-70s I have ever seen.  In fact, all the caliber/bullets sent to me are just excellent... looking mighty fine.   I didnít have an elk to test these on, even if I did I would welcome a frontal shot cause these beauties would completely transverse the animal.  It will even do it on moose.  Why can I be so certain? Because at a modest 1650 fps with a load of 40 grains of ReL #7 at around 26,000 psi... I couldnít keep them inside 60 inches of wet phone books with 1/4 inch plywood sheets every 20 inches.

The entrance was as usual, just around the size of the bullet... the exits were around 1 and Ĺ inches.  Expansion, none at all in any animal..  Iím sure they went thru without any expansion... the larger exit was because of the slowing of the bullet spin and the debris of paper and wood being pushed ahead of the bullet.  We found evidence of that on the ground behind the test material. Even the bullet dug out of the berm showed no expansion!  My heavy load that generates 42,000 psi gave 2134 fps. This out of a new Marlin 450 or my almost new 45-70, will take down any animal on earth cleanly if placed right.  This testing was done before I hurt my back.

This bullet is made for the big bears, the African buffalo and elephant.  They go absolutely straight in the heavy medium we tested in them... no riveting shown in the one dug out of almost a yard of hard dirt berm. I was going to dig out more, but the caliche dirt here in Arizona is like cement. One was enough.

These bullets are pricey, but you donít use them for anything but big game... thatís big, big game! Want to take your big game with a 45-70? These are the bullets to use.  Of course you can also use them in a .458 Winchester caliber rifle.  But they are made for the 45-70, and why carry a heavy .458 when the trim Marlin 45-70 is much lighter and faster at recharging the chamber than a bolt action!

The 320 grain .452 caliber bullet is for single actions. And for taking large game with single actions.  Out of my 45 Colt Ruger (the large frame, not the new smaller frame) I was getting 1350 fps... surely I could go way higher in my .454 Freedom Arms SA or my Reeder custom 45 Colt/Ruger custom five shot SA.  But Iím just getting over a torn group of muscles and nerves  behind my right shoulder blade, and the strength of my shooting hand has diminished. (Itís coming back slowly...if I had known I was going to live to this age, I would have taken better care of my body). 

But even with the medium velocity, 40 inches of wet phone books couldnít stop them.  If I were in bear country I would carry the Freedom Arms revolver or the Reeder Ruger SA with this bullet stoked to 1600 fps. That same load would take a large elk, even a moose.  But the problem with moose is they will die with one well placed shot, but it takes more than one to make that happen before they make it to water to die in...ugh.  

I once skinned an elk that made it to water, shot once with a 444 rifle slug.  Iíll pass on that experience again if I possibly can. You probably wonder why... well handling the animal is somewhat harder, skinning it partially under water is not a lot of fun.  And the water gets very bloody, so the clothes you have on soak up the bloody water... such fun.

The .475/380 grain Punch Bullet is the answer to one of the finest handgun hunting calibers so far.  Iím not much on 50 caliber handguns, that's just my personal choice. I feel the .475 will do the same things a fifty will do, but with better down range ballistics and penetration.  A friendís .475 Linebough custom was used for my testing, with the friend doing the shooting.  A 380 grain bullet doing near 1500 fps that doesnít expand is also very hard to stop.  It went thru the wood pile as we called the 60 inches of phone books and plywood for near 55 inches... punching thru two of the plywood sheets. It doesnít get any better than that.

Believe me, if you are going big game hunting, or in big dangerous game country, from .452 thru .458 and on to .475, .500 and .512, Kelye Schlepp has the right bullet for you.

Contact Kelye at:

Belt Mountain Enterprises Inc.

P.O. Box 3202, Bozeman, MT 59772

Phone 406-388-1396

www.beltmountain.com

Tell him Gunblast sent you, and remember, his base pins will tighten up your hunting handgun as well.

Paco Kelly

Jeff's Part:

For a few days now, I have been testing out a new .45/70 bullet from Belt Mountain Enterprises.  Unknown to me, Paco Kelly has been doing the same. This afternoon, just as I came in from a day of chronograph and penetration testing of the bullet, I received the article from Paco by way of Boge. Paco is a better writer than I, and has years more experience, but after spending much time on this project, I decided to add my findings to his., and hopefully the reader will benefit from both parts.

I will not plow the same ground here as my good friend, as it turned out the we used different powders and different penetration media in our separate endeavors. The best powders that I found in my trials consisted of Accurate Armsí AA2460 and Hodgdonís H322. While I got velocities as high as 2248 feet-per-second (fps) with a healthy dose of H322, velocities were becoming erratic, so I backed off on that charge. Penetration tests also showed that there was little to be gained by pushing the bullet any faster than just under 2000 fps. Also keep in mind that all of my testing was done with my Marlin Guide Gun, which wears an eighteen and one-half inch ported barrel. Pacoís test gun has a twenty-four inch barrel, so the reader can likely glean useful chronograph information from both parts as well. My favorite load, which gave good velocity and excellent consistency used 60.1 grains of AA2460 in new Starline cases with a Federal 210M benchrest primer. These clocked 1958 fps from the short-barreled Marlin at twelve feet from the muzzle in 76 degree weather with moderate humidity. As can be seen in the photos, this was a compressed load.

To test penetration, I was glad to see that Paco used wet telephone books, as there is no way that I could accumulate enough to do so. Where I live, our telephone books measure six inches by nine inches, and are just under one-quarter of an inch thick. I would have to gather up 240 of them to get the sixty inches that Paco used.  I used instead a medium of which I have plenty. I shot the Punch bullets through live hickory trees. As a comparison, the 405 grain Remington soft point bullet over the same charge of AA2460 powder would penetrate less than six inches of live hickory. The Belt Mountain Punch bullet penetrated over thirteen inches of hickory, exited the back side of the tree and penetrated through four inches of dry magazines that I packed tightly into a box that I used to catch the bullet. These were not some soft sissy home decorating or womenís fashion magazines, but hot rod Harley periodicals, filled with pictures of tough bikers, cold steel and polished chrome! Hickory and dry paper has little relation to live flesh, hide, and bone, but does show the relative penetration abilities of the Belt Mountain bullets. The fired bullet shown weighed the same after being fired through the tree and paper as it did before firing. The sectioned bullet photo shows the construction of the bullet, with the whole front section made of brass with the lead core swaged into place, adding weight to the bullet. The circumferential grooves reduce the bearing surface for lower pressures, leaving plenty of bullet to engage the rifling.  The load listed above worked very well in my Guide Gun, showing no signs of excessive pressure, with easy case extraction. The cases received a heavy crimp into the crimp groove of the Punch bullet, and functioning was perfect in my rifle. Recoil was stiff in the little Marlin, but the light weight and quick handling qualities of the gun make it a good choice to carry as a stopping rifle against large hairy carnivores. It should also be perfect for use in hunting the huge wild cattle of the world. I can think of nothing in which the .45/70 Punch bullet would not offer excellent penetration. Unlike some solids, the flat nose and solid brass front section of the Punch bullet assures straight-line, bone breaking penetration.  Kelye makes these for several handgun calibers also, but I have yet to give them a good workout. Mike Rintoul of Grizzly Cartridge Co. is loading these Punch Bullets into some of his premium factory cartridges, with more loadings surely to follow as the bullets become more readily available.

Give Kelye Schlepp of Belt Mountain a call and try a few of these bullets yourself. I can think of nothing that I would rather carry when hard-hitting, bone-crushing penetration was required to resolve a situation. I highly recommend them.

Contact Kelye at:

Belt Mountain Enterprises Inc.

P.O. Box 3202, Bozeman, MT 59772

Phone 406-388-1396

www.beltmountain.com

Jeff Quinn

NOTE: All load data posted on this web site are for educational purposes only. Neither the author(s) nor GunBlast.com assume any responsibility for the use or misuse of this data. The data indicated were arrived at using specialized equipment under conditions not necessarily comparable to those encountered by the potential user of this data.  Always use data from respected loading manuals and begin working up loads at least 10% below the loads indicated in the source manual.

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Paco's Reeder Custom .45/70 was the test bed for his load development with the Belt Mountain Punch Bullets.

 

 

Paco's testing of Belt Mountain's Punch Bullets yielded perfect results every time. Penetration and weight retention were phenomenal. Bullets tested included the 320-grain .452" (top picture, for .45 Colt / .454 Casull); 380-grain .475" (middle picture, for .480 Ruger / .475 Linebaugh); and 400-grain .458" (bottom picture, for .45/70 / .458 Winchester).

Jeff tested the .45/70 Punch Bullets in his Marlin "Guide Gun", proving the performance of the Belt Mountain bullets in a shorter-barreled rifle.

 

 

Jeff's Marlin "Guide Gun" features a ported barrel for recoil management using the heaviest loads, and XS Sight Systems "ghost ring" sights for quick & precise use on large & dangerous game.

 

 

Belt Mountain Enterprises' .45/70 Punch Bullets. Section view shows the precise and rugged construction of this premium projectile.

 

 

Bullet comparison (left to right): Remington 300-grain JSP, Remington 405-grain JSP, and Belt Mountain 400-grain Punch Bullet.

 

 

Compressed load of AA2460 (top) was embedded in the soft lead core of the recovered Punch Bullet (bottom). This compression yielded a very consistent and accurate load.

 

 

After penetrating 13 inches of live hickory and 5 inches of dry paper, the 400-grain Punch Bullet shows almost no signs of deformation and 100% weight retention. These bullets really perform!