Cor Bon!

 

by R.K. Campbell

photography by R.K. Campbell

November 6th, 2006

 

 

 

Recently I have had numerous inquiries concerning Cor Bon ammunition. I had to set back and think on some, and reflect on the fact that while Cor Bon has been around for some time they are still regarded as a 'new' company. Perhaps they still have something to prove, but that is only with those who have not used this brand. Those who have swear by Cor Bon. The diverse and expanding Cor Bon line included not only the better known defense loads but also first class hunting loads in popular calibers. And then there are the less popular calibers that Cor Bon is really the only choice in. If you wish to maximize the .41 Magnum or .38 Super, where else can you go?

The first Cor Bon products were high quality hunting loads, but the line is much more extensive these days. Lets take a look at some of the high points. I cannot comment on the loads I have not tested but it standard to reason that the quality of each group will cross over into the others. A bridge we need to cross is the reputation among shooters for 'hot' loads. A hot load is one thing or the other, but in the sense that a load is too hot Cor Bon does not meet the criteria. You will not suffer flattened primers or sticky case extraction. The loads are formulated to maximize performance for the caliber. Ordinary loads are plentiful, and Cor Bon does not sell plinking loads. Cor Bon ammunition is intended only for modern firearms in good condition. Heavy loads may shorten the life span of any firearm. But quality firearms are surprisingly long lived. I donít see many of us firing thousands of rounds of Cor Bon loads. Practice loads and competition loads, yes, but not heavy hunting loads or +P ammunition. Cor Bon ammunition is for serious purposes. An appropriate amount of ammunition should be fired to ensure reliability and to properly sight the piece in. A hundred rounds is a reasonable reliability test.

What about +P?

+P is a designation indicating the load is loaded to above standard pressure but within a standard set by the SAAMI for these loadings. As an example, the .45 ACP may reach 18,000 psi (pounds per square inch pressure) in standard loads and 22,000 psi in +P loadings. With a 230 grain bullet, a standard load in .45 ACP may reach 850 feet per second while a heavy +P loading may reach 920 fps. This increase in velocity is an aid in encouraging hollow point bullet upset. Some handguns are able to digest large amounts of these loads without any problem. But Colts and Springfields differ from Llama pistols and others.

9mm Luger

As most of you know, I am not a great fan of the 9mm Luger caliber. But with some loadings the performance of the caliber is greatly increased. Ball loadings and low velocity jacketed hollowpoint bullets simply do not do the business. Cor Bon's most famous loading is the 115 grain 9mm +P. At a time when most 115 grain Jacketed Hollow Point factory loads reached 1150 to 1200 fps, the Cob Bon +P reached 1350 fps. For some time I had loaded the Sierra JHP over a stiff charge of Herco powder for the same results. The Cor Bon load made a tremendous handload available to the public with factory quality control. This is a good loading that has suffered some controversy over the balance of expansion and penetration. It is true that the Cor Bon load and also the police-only +P+ loadings demonstrate less penetration and what some of us would call the ideal range. But the loading has proven effective and in some calibers a compromise is necessary. As for velocity, the following table gives the results I have obtained in my personal handguns.

FM High Power 1403 fps
Beretta 92 1370 fps
SIG P 226 1345 fps
FM Detective 1289 fps

In my experience Cor Bon meets or exceeds their own advertisements in four inch barrel or longer handguns.

There is also a 90 grain JHP at about 1500 fps that may find appeal with those who wish to limit penetration. This is at best a specialty load but one that shows good accuracy and a clean powder burn. For me, the big news from Cor Bon is the DPX load. This is a 115 grain load using the Barnes X bullet. This is a solid copper bullet with a long bearing surface for accuracy. The bullet's nose expands in a petal-like formation when the bullet is fire into ballistic gelatin. The body of the bullet remains solid, and the long shank gives good penetration. This is an excellent all around choice in 9mm for police work or personal defense. Many with extensive wound ballistics research experience are enthusiastic concerning this cartridge. Velocity is 1240 fps.

.38 Super

If you are a fan of this grand old cartridge, Cor Bon offers the only factory loadings that maximizes the caliber. There are two loadings, the 115 grain JHP at 1500 fps and the 125 grain loading at over 1400 fps. Accuracy in a good pistol such as the Kimber Target Model is excellent. There is really no demand for a match grade accurate .38 Super load and many loadings are lackluster at best. The Cor Bon loading will turn in 1.25 inch twenty-five yard groups from the Kimber. I am familiar with quite a few shootings with the .357 Magnum 110 grain JHP at about 1350 fps.  (The Super will not quite equal the 1450 fps 125 grain Magnum, but today's .357s are not that hot.) The Super should equal this performance, but interpolation is an inexact science. I like the Super and I like the Cor Bon load.

.40 Smith and Wesson

I respect the .40 caliber cartridge very much. It was once viewed as a compromise cartridge but we find little compromise in this round, it is more like a big bore than a "gap-splitter" between the 9mm and the .45. The .40 can be quite a round in the right pistol. Many who jump on the .40 caliber bandwagon point to the 135 grain Cor Bon load. This one exits my Baby Eagle at about  1325fps. It will certainly get the job done. However, in my experience the 150 and 165 grain Cor Bon loads are often gilt-edged accurate. The 1200 fps 150 grain load and the 1125 fps 165 grain load are good choices for all around use. I have taken a white tail deer with the 150 grain load at moderate range. It was four legs in the air, and hardly a kick.

10mm

If you like the 10mm cartridge, Cor Bon offers top flight personal defense loads and also first class hunting loads. The 180 and 200 grain controlled expansion loads are ideal for hunting medium game with the 10mm. Sometime ago, I test fired a Glock 10mm pistol with these loads. I am not really a Glock man, but mastered the trigger well enough to do several 1.25 inch 25 yard groups with the Cor Bon 200 grain load - and had the nagging feeling the piece and ammunition combination was capable of better results.

.44 Magnum

This is the big one, Elmer Keith's brain child and despite the introduction of the .454, .480 and others, our most popular handgun hunting cartridge. When confronting dangerous game at short range there is no room for mistake.  The 260 grain bonded-core hollowpoint reaches 1450 fps, more from longer barrel revolvers, and the 280 grain bullet reaches 1350 fps. But the stopper, the great penetrator, is the 320 grain Bonded Core (BC). This load averages 1175 fps and packs plenty of power. Penetration is on the level of a .45-70 rifle, per my testing. This is a load for those wishing to hunt the largest bear with a handgun, or even African game in the hands of a seasoned handgunner.

.500 Smith and Wesson

The .500 Smith and Wesson Magnum was largely developed by Cor Bon. When we talk about the .500, the sheer numbers are overwhelming. A five hundred grain bullet at 1500 fps equals or exceeds the energy of most shotgun slugs. This is the greatest of handgun cartridges and quite possibly the most powerful that will ever be produced. The size of the handguns involved and the ability of the human body to absorb recoil are a limiting factor. The Cor Bon .500 Special is a potent load suitable for thin skinned game and wild boar. However, this is load much easier on the hand and bones than the full power Magnum loads. A 350 grain .500 caliber bullet at 1,000 fps is nothing to make light of.

Specialty Loads

In a sense all Cor Bon loads are custom loaded, but a standout is the PowRBall line. Many of us own perfectly good older pistols that will not feed jacketed hollowpoint ammunition well. Sometimes, a 1911 that will not feed hollow points will begin to feed well when a Wilson Combat magazine is used. This magazine feeds the bullet nose directly into the chamber, rather than bouncing the bullet off the feed ramp. This makes for much better feed reliability. Just the same, some handguns will not reliably feed hollowpoint ammunition.  Cor Bon developed the PowRBall to feed reliably in these pistols. Among the pistols I have tested included various early model Llama pistols - which I do not recommend for personal defense. But the load fed absolutely reliably. Another piece that worked well with the new Cor Bon bullet is the Beretta 1951, a 9mm pistol that would not feed any type of hollow point. Interestingly, the Browning High Power is more feed reliable than most give it credit for, but early model Taurus 92 pistols sometimes will not feed JHP bullets. The PowRBall bullet feeds very well in these pieces, as reliably as the ball loadings I use for practice. The PowRBall is simply a wide nose hollowpoint with a polymer plug in the middle. Unlike, say, the old BAT round, the plug does not blow away in the air and allow the bullet to function as a normal JHP. Rather the PowRBall polymer plug instigates bullet expansion. It works very well. The Cor Bon  PowRBall load is my first choice for any aluminum frame .45 caliber pistol. The original Commander is a durable piece but when semi-wadcutter or jacketed hollow point loads are used, the feed ramp sometimes takes a bad gouging from the blunt nose of either type bullet. For this reason, an aluminum frame pistol must be restricted to ball ammunition or it must be designed from the first with a ramped barrel. Modern Springfield and Para Ordnance pistols used ramped barrels. The PowRBall changes this. The .45 PowRBall load jolts a 165 grain bullet to about 1200 fps. There are also revolver loads available in .38 Special. My friend Michael wondered why a PowRBall in a revolver load, but the lightweight hollowpoints with the big ball in the nose do work well and expand well. Also, a roundnose bullet works much better in speed loaders.

Another great choice is the new 160 grain DPX hollowpoint loading. This is the number one choice for short barrel .45s, at least those with ramped barrels. This load uses the Barnes X bullet. Accuracy is excellent and the special powder formulation really gives good results. I often carry this load in my steel frame Officerís Model with confidence. Accuracy is good and the loading features a good balance of penetration and expansion.

.45 ACP

Ok, I am a .45 man, so here are the figures on Cor Bon .45 caliber loads I have tested. I have not tested the 165 grain load extensively, but the 185 grain was the first Cor Bon loading and I have fired quite a few. I find the 200 grain JHP, a good load and consistently accurate in modern pistols. I like more penetration than the 165 exhibits, but then it is a special purpose loading. For police work I would prefer the 230 grain, while for accuracy the 200 grain is usually a standout.

165 grain JHP average velocity 1280 fps
185 grain JHP average velocity 1156 fps
200 grain JHP  average velocity 1065 fps
230 grain JHP average velocity 961 fps

Accuracy, Smith and Wesson SW1911, five shot group, 25 yards

185 grain 2.5 inches
200 grain 1.9 inches
230 grain 2.2 inches

Performance Match

Not long ago, Cor Bon introduced a new line intended to produce top flight accuracy. This is their flagship match grade loading. I have tested the 9mm Luger and .45 ACP examples extensively. I have never been a fan of the 147 grain 9mm hollowpoint, but this weight is ideal for a match grade bullet. Recoil is mild and velocity is subsonic. The Cor Bon 9mm loading produces excellent accuracy in good pistols such as the FM High Power. The 230 grain MATCH load uses the Montana Gold bullet. I have used thousands of the Montana Gold bullet over the years with excellent results. While my loads using Starline Brass and Titegroup powder have proven exceptionally accurate, Cor Bon factory ammunition is comparable. Quite simply this is excellent ammunition sure to get attention in competition circles.

Rifle Loadings

Cor Bon produces good hunting loads in the .45-70 and .30-06. The .30-06 is a recent introduction and I admit little experience, so more on that one later. The .45-70 loads are pretty impressive. The .223/5.56mm loads include a DPX loading that gives the caliber considerably more versatility. However, two loads that stand alone are the 7.62 x 39mm loads. That is simply nothing else like them available. I have tested both in the SKS and my Century International Arms AK 47 with good results. The 125 grain JHP is really the only good choice for personal defense. This load expands quickly and limits ricochet and over penetration. A counterpoint is a 150 grain JSP load that makes for a hunting load in the .30-30 class- not great but superior to most of what is available. After firing cheap Chinese surplus, you may find your rifle more accurate and effective than you would of ventured, given the use of Cor Bon loadings. Practice with good but inexpensive ammunition, and use quality ammunition for serious business.

I have used Cor Bon ammunition for many years with good service. I feel that in certain calibers, Cor Bon is the best choice and never a bad choice for use in quality firearms. Give the brand an honest chance and you will agree.

R.K. Campbell

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Cor Bon produces  high quality ammunition well respected in the professional community.

 

 

 

 

The author tests a great deal of ammunition and finds Cor Bon at the top of the heap in every test.

 

 

 

 

The author finds that Cor Bon works fine in his hunting revolvers such as the vintage Trooper, top, and .44 Special, bottom.

 

 

 

 

Cor Bonís 7.62 x 39mm loading is the only choice for personal defense in this formidable rifle caliber.

 

 

 

 

A practice load for the .500 was much needed and Cor Bon supplied the .500 Special, a 350 grain load at 1000 fps.

 

 

 

 

Cor Bon has wisely chosen to use the Barnes X bullet in many loadings. This is a profitable relationship for all concerned, particularly the trained marksman and hunter.

 

 

 

 

Cor Bon offers a wide selection of ammunition in the relatively new .500 Magnum. The author finds some a daunting task to fire, but the .500 Special is actually mild.

 

 

 

 

The .500 Magnum and .500 Special compared. Each is an awe inspiring cartridge. Cor Bon developed the .500 and produces extraordinary loadings for the same.

 

 

 

 

In several test sessions of 1911, SIG and Ruger .45s the 200 grain Cor Bon has proven the most accurate single loading and is never a bad choice.

 

 

 

 

This is the business end of the Barnes bullet. This is a great bullet, accurate, hard hitting and a deep penetrator.

 

 

 

 

Cor Bon uses top quality specialty bullets such as the Montana Gold match bullet in their loads. The 9mm loading has proven especially accurate.

 

 

 

 

The 9mm Performance Match load is among the most accurate loadings the author has used. The FM High Power performed will with these loadings.