April 26, 2018
If there's one good thing that's come out of the regrettable trend toward long-range "hunting," it's the advent of super-performance bullets. By this I'm talking about bullets able to perform well across a cartridge's velocity spectrum, so whether you've got an opportunity at a bull elk at 50 yards or 300, you can rest easy knowing the bullet won't blow up or fail to expand, respectively, out of even the most powerful magnums.
Federal is the latest to get into the game with the Edge TLR. The feature that sets it apart, according to the company, is the bullet's Slipstream Tip. This is one area more bullet developers have been focusing on as they work on new products, and the key to the Slipstream is its hollow design.
"A small cavity runs the length of the shank all the way up to just below the point itself," said product development engineer Justin Carbone. "That point breaks free upon impact, allowing fluid to enter the hollow core, where it generates pressure and easy expansion, even at low velocities."
The tip is also heat resistant. As far as I know, Hornady was the first to realize that polymer tips can begin to melt at high speeds (high friction), and the resulting deformation can change the bullet's flight characteristics at very long range. Federal claims the softening point of its Slipstream is 434 degrees, high enough to resist heat-instigated change and deliver consistent long-range flight.
The Edge TLR's tip is paired with a carefully designed nose that features external skiving. This skiving allows the bullet's petals to peel back even at the slow speeds encountered when shooting game at long range.
This is an important consideration, even if you don't hunt at long range. Remember the old Winchester Fail Safe? I hunted with it quite a bit back in the early 2000s, and it was a great bullet, except for one thing. When velocities dipped—and here I'm talking a couple hundred yards, not way out there—the nose petals on this non-tipped bullet peeled back minimally if at all and produced little expansion.
On the flip side, bullets can fail to perform when they strike at high speed. As an eastern deer hunter who favors mild cartridges, I'd only heard of this phenomenon until I was working at Petersen's Hunting and traveled to Argentina for red stags. I was toting a .300 Ultra Mag loaded with Swift Scirocco bullets, and I smacked a stag right on the shoulder at less than 100 yards. The animal ran off. We eventually found it, discovering a meteor-strike-size crater on the shoulder but little penetration into the vitals.
The Edge TLR combats this with a tough copper shank and a lead core that's bonded to the jacket. I've not had the opportunity to take any big game with this bullet, but I'll take the company at its word when it says that even at close range it will get the job done in similar fashion to its legendary Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullet.
High ballistic coeffients are all the rage these days, and with good reason. Any bullet that wants to claim long-range capability—whether on game or on targets—needs the ability to move easily through the air. This brings higher retained speeds, and higher speeds mean less time for gravity and wind to work on the bullet.
The Edge TLR accomplishes a high BC via a secant ogive, which tapers more gradually along its length than, say, a spitzer. This reduces drag, although the shape also can make the bullet sensitive to seating depth.
The Edge TLR also features a longer boattail. This is a two-edged sword as well because long boattails can affect stability. To compensate, Federal's designers figured out the optimal boattail angle that would give them the length they wanted without having to worry about bullet stability. They also added a groove to help increase accuracy and further reduce drag.
Like I said, I haven't hunted with the Edge TLR, but you can see the accuracy results I achieved with it. Both of these .30-06s tend to be above-average shooters, and both delivered the goods with the Edge TLR. I was particularly impressed with the Remington figure was since scope power in this case maxed out at 6X. The 700's longer barrel also brought lower standard deviation and extreme spread, but the shorter-barreled Ruger's numbers were just fine.
The Edge TLR is available in loaded ammo—.308 (175 grains), .30-06 (175), .300 WSM (200) and .300 Win. Mag. (200). New loads on the horizon include .270 Win. (140), .270 WSM (140) and 7mm Rem. Mag. (155). Component bullets are available as well. See the reloading section elsewhere in this issue for component offerings.