Among the first of what will be a long list of new hunting and shooting-related products that we’ll see introduced for 2018 is from Federal, who in mid-August announced a new line of hunting ammunition called Premium Edge TLR All-Range. Quite a mouthful, really, but the way I see it it’s Federal’s answer to Winchester’s equally new Expedition Big Game Long-Range and Hornady’s Precision Hunter ELD-X.
Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you must be aware that for the last couple of years the concept of “long range” has pervaded the firearms industry to an astounding degree. Seems that almost every new model rifle or scope is somehow geared to extreme range hunting and/or competitive shooting, so why not ammunition as well?
Despite the fact that Federal has chosen to apply the term All Range, the subliminal message in really Long Range. The press release states that this new line of ammo offers match-grade long-range accuracy and reliable expansion at low velocities, along with high weight retention, deep penetration, and lethal terminal performance at close range. That pretty much describes the perfect bullet, so let’s see how they claim to have achieved it.
One of the claims made for the Edge TLR (Terminal Long Range) bullet is that its Slipstream Tip provides reliable expansion at all velocities from the muzzle out to extreme ranges. Of course other premium bullet makers make the same claim, but Federal says they’ve achieved it through some unique design features. For one, the Slipstream Tip is of a heat resistant material that addresses the problem of tip deformation that occurs with polymer-tipped bullets at high velocities. Hornady was the first to discover the problem and address it with the introduction of their ELD-X bullet with Heat Shield tip. Now Federal can make a similar boast.
Of course tip deformation affects accuracy, but another claim made for their Slipstream Tip is that it “…breaks free upon impact, allowing fluid to enter the hollow core, where it generates pressure and easy expansion, even at low velocities.” As to how low, they claim the nose will peel back along its skived grooves at velocities as low as 1,350 fps, which is the velocity of their 200-grain .308 Win. load at 1,200 yards downrange.
Yet another claim — and one, which I’ve never heard before — is that this bullet penetrates in a straight line because its four nose petals expand uniformly and to the same degree. According to Federal, asymmetric expansion — uneven mushrooming, if you will — causes bullets to veer off course, tumble, or even exit out the side of the animal. In theory, that’s got to be true, so it probably deserves a bullet point (no pun intended) on the page listing the bullet’s features, but I can’t help but wonder to what extent has this been a problem in the real world.
AccuChannel is yet another new feature Federal has introduced in the Edge TLR bullet. We’re all aware that circumferential grooves on the bearing surface of the bullet decreases friction, hence pressure, and reduces bore fouling. Indeed, three such grooves on a bullet is the hallmark of the excellent Barnes X-Bullet. But according to Federal’s Product Development Engineer Justin Carbone, three grooves, or even two grooves, are superfluous. “We learned that by strategically placing one groove we could achieve the same benefits and accuracy as multiple grooves.”
Also, according to Carbone, standard grooving causes a five percent drop in BC per groove, so by going with just one groove, a 10-percent drop in BC is avoided. Then too, with only one groove there’s less bullet deformation, which has to increase potential accuracy, even if ever so slightly. But going to one groove wasn’t the only twist incorporated into this new bullet. Using fluid dynamics modeling to tweak the groove geometry to reduce drag even more, the rear wall of this single groove is sloped rather than being 90 degrees to the bearing surface. As such, the air flows more easily in and out of the groove, which reduces pressure and drag. It’s another one of those “Yeah, that makes sense!”
Initially only four loads are being offered in the Edge TLR line, all in .30 cal, and all in bullet weights that are heavy for the bore size. There’s a 175-grain load for the .308 Win. and .30-06, and a 200-grain in .300 Win. and .300 WSM. Doppler radar was used to verify that the 175-grain bullet has a BC of .536, and the 200-grain, .625, putting them among the very highest hunting bullet BCs in the industry. That, of course, translates into flatter trajectories and less wind deflection.
Even the look of the Edge TLR cartridge is unique. Both case and bullet are coated in a black-nickel finish that not only provides an added measure of corrosion resistance, but a business-like if not ominous look.
To sum it all up, Federal’s TLR Edge line claims to hold together at the high impact velocities of close range shooting, thanks to a copper shank and bonded lead core, yet still expands and penetrates deeply at the greatly reduced velocities involved in extreme range shooting. The two 175-grain loads carry an MSRP of $47.95; the 200-grain loads $59.95. –Jon R. Sundra