Sierra GameChanger review from NZ

Winnie_64

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Sierra recently released a new series of plastic tipped hunting projectiles called the ‘GameChanger’. Sierra has produced some great traditional lead nose hunting bullets over the years with their GameKing and Pro-Hunter lines and I have used them to shoot a lot of animals. The packaging labels them as Tipped GameKings and they are a lead-alloy core projectile with a tapered copper jacket and translucent green polymer tip. I knew that if they performed anything like a traditional GameKing then Sierra would be on to a winner.

I managed to get hold of a small quantity for testing in 6.5mm and 7mm and decided to load them in my Custom 7mm Short Action Ultra Magnum and .264 Winchester Magnum to test in close and at extended ranges to 500m on game. NZ Ammunition Company supplied me with some H1000 powder manufactured by Hodgdons to try which is very close in burn rate to AR2217.

After loading up some ladders starting a few grains under my AR2217 load data I headed to the range with the LabRadar to determine my speeds and see which combinations shot best. The 7 SAUM is built on a Defiance Machine action and has a Proof Research carbon fibre wrapped barrel with a Trigger Tech trigger and AG Composites carbon fibre stock. It is a consistent ¼ MOA shooter and was put together by Mark Macfarlane at Desert Guns in Cromwell. It proved itself again by pushing the 165 grain GameChangers at 3100 fps and producing a 10mm group centre to centre. Happy with that I switched over to my semi-custom .264 Winchester Magnum built by Master Rifle-Smith Robbie Tiffen at Gunworks Canterbury. The Mighty .264 did not disappoint producing a 11mm group pushing the 130 grain GameChangers at 3153 fps.

Since all the hard work was done it was time to test these new projectiles on some game. Heading to my favourite spot in the Wairarapa with my four-year-old daughter Isla, we tried to locate a fallow spiker for some Spring venison. Lady Luck was not on our side and with the Manuka planting about to go ahead the Cocky had asked us to remove as many Goats as we could. I set up on the first two Billy Goats feeding up a native covered face 300m away. With the camera rolling I dispatched the first with a neck shot dropping him instantly. Observing the ‘dead right there’ performance of the 7mm GameChangers when striking bone, I elected for a rear lung shot on the second goat who hadn’t moved thanks to the muffled report of the ASE UTRA suppressor. Aiming for the crease of the shoulder, I gently squeezed of the shot with the camera rolling. The sound of a good hit came back and the goat staggered forward three feet and dropped, never to rise again. Once we recovered the animals it was clear the Tipped GameKings were completely penetrating and leaving 20mm exit wounds. The neck shot offered more resistance and therefore a more emphatic result with a very large exit about the size of my palm.

Happy at close range we elected to try to shoot some at 300m plus, I say we but really, I was keen to keep shooting and Isla was interested in the contents of the packed lunch! With the promise of a boiled sweet we moved to higher ground and settled in behind the .264 Win Mag. There was a consistent 15 mile per hour wind blowing from our four o’clock and it made wind calls challenging but having practiced regularly in these conditions I was confident in stretching out to 450m. There were plenty of goats feeding between 250-450m and I settled on a lone nanny with two juveniles. With a 1.4 mil elevation correction and 1 mil of wind on I sent a 130 grain bullet into the crease of the goat. Jumping at a good hit she ran at a dead run for 30m before piling up out of view of the camera. I manged to shoot another pair of billies in the thick gorse with the .264 at 350m and a mob of nine goats was thinned to two at 400m before we switched back to the 7mm SAUM. With all of the shooting most of the animals had gone to ground for good reason and with Isla’s patience running thin we shot a final nanny at 400m with the SAUM. Facing towards us I aimed right between the shoulder blades and at the shot it dropped instantly.

Once Isla and I had recovered as much meat as possible we hiked up the ridge to the side by side and headed back for a well-earned cuppa. All told we took twenty-five goats and the Sierra GameChangers proved to be a good reliable bullet. There was a marked difference in the stopping power in favour of the 7mm and I would primarily put this down to shot placement on my behalf and bore size. Back at home I sectioned a bullet to reveal a thick jacket and deep hollow point beneath the polymer tip. The ogive starts at .038” and thickens to .044” at the base. This combined with the lead-alloy core produces good terminal performance on light game such as the feral goats I was shooting and will no doubt provide even better results on deer.

Remember if you want to shoot at extended ranges on game then have the respect to go out and practice in those conditions which you want to shoot in. Understand your ballistics, use aids such as rangefinders, ballistic apps to calculate windage and elevation and film your shots so you can learn from them. Always use a dog to locate your game. Always use a bullet designed to expand at the distance you intend to shoot and remember, perfect practice makes perfect.

Sierra have designed another great product and I’m looking forward to trying out the .277 140 grain in the 270 Winchester on Thar later in the year.
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Left 264 WM Right 7 SAUM
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264 Win Mag Howa


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7 SAUM load dev
 
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WildRose

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Very good report. Are these bonded? Cannelure? Or just a thick jacket? How about lead/jacket separations?

I was always impressed with how Sierra's have shot for me but was never satisfied with the separation of lead/core even with the SGK series.
 

Winnie_64

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I think they are a bonded bullet. We did not manage to recover any projectiles but judging by the exit wound shape and diameter it would indicate all projectiles stayed together. This is in line with what they are doing in ballistic gel also.
 
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WildRose

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I think they are a bonded bullet. We did not manage to recover any projectiles but judging by the exit wound shape and diameter of would indicate all projectiles stayed together. This is in line with what they are doing in ballistic gel also.
Thanks Winnie. I'm a huge fan of the Hornady Interbond and was always disappointed that Sierra would not put out their own equivalent.

Do us a favor if you can recover some and let us know what you're seeing.
 

kiwikid

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Duane at Sierra Bullets stated in a Sierra blog that these bullet are not bonded. It would have been nice if they were but they may well still perform very well. Great to see that they have arrived here in NZ.
 
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tbrice23

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Very good report. Are these bonded? Cannelure? Or just a thick jacket? How about lead/jacket separations?
I am almost positive these are NOT bonded. I hope I'm wrong but there are no indications in Sierras description nor in another review of these vs ELDX, where both brands core separated during testing.
HOWEVER ,I love the way Sierra bullets shoot an am sure to test some soon.
 

WildRose

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I am almost positive these are NOT bonded. I hope I'm wrong but there are no indications in Sierras description nor in another review of these vs ELDX, where both brands core separated during testing.
HOWEVER ,I love the way Sierra bullets shoot an am sure to test some soon.
I've shot literally truckloads of Sierra's at varmints with great results. Incredibly accurate at any range the gun/round is capable.

Just never been happy with the frangibility on game.
 

Winnie_64

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I am almost positive these are NOT bonded. I hope I'm wrong but there are no indications in Sierras description nor in another review of these vs ELDX, where both brands core separated during testing.
HOWEVER ,I love the way Sierra bullets shoot an am sure to test some soon.
My assumption was based on the way the lead Ally stuck to the case when I melted the core out with a blow torch.

Good bullets though.
 

WildRose

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My assumption was based on the way the lead Ally stuck to the case when I melted the core out with a blow torch.

Good bullets though.
Well, when you did that you bonded it HA! We used to call that "soldering".

The way you get a good solder joint is to heat the brass/copper to the point it melts the lead. When it cools the two are bonded.
 

kiwikid

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Thanks for the review Winnie, it is good to hear how they performed on goats. Paul at NZ Ammo told me last week that Sierra had flown some samples here at Sierra's expense for review purposes which I thought was good of them. I am looking forward to getting my hands on some 6.5s to try in my 6.5-284. Will you be trying them on Reds?
Cheers kiwikid.
 

Winnie_64

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Thanks for the review Winnie, it is good to hear how they performed on goats. Paul at NZ Ammo told me last week that Sierra had flown some samples here at Sierra's expense for review purposes which I thought was good of them. I am looking forward to getting my hands on some 6.5s to try in my 6.5-284. Will you be trying them on Reds?
Cheers kiwikid.
That's right. Paul sent me some directly with the H1000.

I saw 12 reds at the farm the week prior but they weren't there in the weekend.

I have heaps of video to edit up and will throw the link on here once uploaded.
 
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