That European riflemakers tend to cut their chambers a little differently from U.S. makers is the impetus behind Hornady’s Extreme Terminal Expansion (ETX) bullet in its Custom International line of ammunition. According to sources, European-cut chambers tend to have longer throats because the bullets preferred there are not as pointed as the ones Americans prefer. Traditional European bullets such as Norma’s Oryx, RWS’s H-Mantel and Sako’s Deerhead are all distinctly “blunter” than their American counterparts such as Swift’s Scirocco, Nosler’s Partition and Federal’s Fusion. These more rounded bullets engage the rifling sooner, hence the longer throats.
With that in mind, Hornady set out to design a bullet specifically for European hunters and their tastes. The result is the ETX, a non-lead, controlled-expansion copper alloy bullet with a round nose profile designed to fit, feed, function and provide high levels of accuracy, particularly in European-made rifles. It has a small hollow point and expansion cavity, routinely provides upwards of 95 percent weight retention and penetrates deeply with minimal meat damage.
Going all copper makes sense for this design. For one thing, expanding all-copper bullet technology is probably perfected at this point, and kudos to Barnes for mainstreaming the concept years ago. For another thing, copper is less dense than lead, so for a given bullet weight, a copper bullet has more mass so it has to be longer (which can be harder to stabilize), or have that added mass located around the front of the bullet creating a round nose. Hornady went with the round nose for the above obvious reasons.
How do they work? Pretty well in my experience. I was fortunate to represent SCI on a driven boar hunt in Germany hosted by SCI Corporate Sponsors Hornady and Zeiss where representatives from all over the globe had the opportunity to field trial new products. Since the ETX Custom International is not available in the United States, U.S. delegates were asked to shoot other Hornady loads that use bullets available in the U.S. As SCI represents an international body of hunters, the hosts made an exception and allowed me to use a 165-grain ETX .30-’06 Sprg. load in a Blaser R8 Professional rifle.
Before the hunt, we checked our rifles’ zeros and became familiar with their operation at a nearby range. The range used digital targets so, while I couldn’t tell you to the fraction of an inch how tightly the ETX grouped, I can say at 100 yards they were small clusters.
The hunt was a driven game affair near Wetzlar and was part of the gamekeeper’s annual management plan to keep wildlife at a sustainable level. We were encouraged to shoot roe deer and mouflon rams and as many wild boar as possible.
As is the nature of such hunts, there are some stands that are better than others. Johannes Fürst, Head of Marketing Hunting & Nature Observation for Zeiss, was posted to my right and had what could only be called one of the better stands as over the course of the morning I had the pleasure of hearing shot after shot ring out as he dropped half a dozen boar and four roe deer — all taken with one shot each using the ETX.
Fürst was kind enough to let one roe deer slip by that I took at 50 yards as it headed uphill and away from me. The ETX entered at the small of the back and exited the chest, dropping the deer in its tracks. Ordinarily, at that range with that shot angle there would be considerable meat destruction, but the EXT performed as many all-copper expanding bullets do in that it expanded to a predetermined diameter and exited instead of over expanding.
It was obvious from the evening ceremony honoring the game that the hunt had been a resounding success, but the real story was that, considering the number of animals shot, none were wounded and lost. That is a testament not only to the caliber of hunters Zeiss and Hornady has assembled for this special hunt, but of the efficacy of the ETX design.
I’m a big fan of round-nose bullets — all copper or not. In my experience, game reacts differently when shot with a round nose bullet — they generally just drop. That might be because of their greater trajectories, round nose bullets tend to force hunters to get closer to game. Regardless, they’re very effective and now engineered specifically for European-made rifles.–Scott Mayer