Is This the New Big-Game Champion Load?

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On the high plains and in the northern Rockies, Federal’s new TLR hits all the right notes.

by Wayne van Zwoll for HuntDaily; promoted by Savage Arms/Federal Premium


The Dakota prairie had not been kind to me. Places that had yielded deer in seasons past showed nary an antler as I prowled coulees and creek bottoms, slipping through cedar draws and “glassing grass” to pick out deer that bedded in rabbit-high bluestem because few hunters looked there.

One afternoon remained. Rory dropped me off on a bluff shadowing a bend of the Missouri. The water rippled, cold and dark, below stair-step hills tumbling to its shore. Rory would place others of our group on a ridge to the south. I’d still-hunt to them, probing plum pockets, nudging deer to their rifles.

The buck lay where I thought a deer should be, in a ruff of sumac shielded from wind and human traffic. But I didn’t see him until he rocketed up the opposite slope. I sat. He paused at the crest. I fired.

“Our new Edge loads have great reach,” Federal engineer Jared Kutney had assured me. “Reason: a very sleek bonded bullet with a special polymer tip. We call it the TLR, for Terminal, Long Range. Fine accuracy. We get upset down to 1,350 fps, with 95-percent weight retention at 3,000 fps in gelatin.”


I found the “black nickel” case a nice cosmetic touch. More useful: “We use powders unaffected by wide swings in temperature.”

Jared told me that Edge TLR bullets have a lead core under a substantial jacket tapered thin at the nose from a very thick heel. “Edge TLR bullets have a lead core with 0% antimony. The jacket, made from gilding metal (95% copper, 5% zinc), is formed using our precision impact extrusion process, creating a solid shank in the back half of the bullet and tapered jacket walls in the front.  The core and jacket are combined using our robust bonding process, yielding a bullet with controlled expansion and high weight retention. Bullet weights, materials, and geometries were deliberately selected to produce industry-leading terminal performance within a long-range bullet compatible with standard chambers, magazines, and rifling twist rates.”

Now, expansion down to 1,350 fps seemed a stretch. That’s .30-06 velocity at 900 yards! Few big game bullets are built to upset reliably at speeds below 1,600 fps. “The Slipstream tip on the TLR has a lot to do with how Edge bullets open,” said Jared. “It’s of the hard, heat-resistant polymer we use in Trophy Bonded Tip bullets; but this tip has a hollow shank that readily shears or ruptures. Fluid enters the cavity instantly to trigger upset at long range where velocity has fallen off. External jacket skives help.”

Edge TLR bullets perform well in game and deliver tight groups like this. photo by Wayne van Zwoll

Longer boat-tails give Edge TLR bullets extremely high ballistic coefficients. Though a tapered heel has little effect on bullet flight over ordinary hunting ranges, it significantly reduces drop and drift at distance. The 175-grain TLR bullets in .308 and .30-06 Edge ammo have a G1 ballistic coefficient (C) of .536. The 200-grain TLRs in .300 Winchester and .300 WSM register a G1 C of .625. Those numbers are 10- to 15-percent higher than for other boat-tail bullets. “Ballistic coefficient changes with velocity,” said Jared. “Doppler radar confirms the hard, heat-resistant Slipstream tip smooths deceleration curves.”

Before hunting Dakota deer, I had fired Edge ammunition in my Stevens 200, a .300 Winchester snatched from a used-gun rack for less than $300. This slender, Spartan rifle had astonished me with sub-minute accuracy. My first three TLRs stayed inside an inch. The second knot measured just over .70. For the whitetail hunt, I’d borrowed a Savage rifle in .308—a more appropriate deer cartridge.

Accuracy prescription: Savage rifles boast a floating bolt head, and face-mounted extractor and ejector.

A word about other Savage rifles I’ve carried in Dakota hills: My walnut-stocked “Classic” .243, so accurate it seems lucky, took a brief back seat to an AccuStock-equipped Model 16 in 6.5 Creedmoor.

“In 2009, we found a way to economically install an alloy rail/bedding block in the molding of a synthetic stock,” said then-CEO Ron Coburn. This metal spine, of 6061-T6 aluminum, extends through the magazine web, accepting both guard screws. A third screw, far forward, engages a small alloy wedge. As you snug this screw, it crams the washer-style recoil lug against its abutment in the bedding block. In addition, the sides of the block around the magazine well are designed to spring .010 inch before the receiver bottoms out. “AccuStock applies consistent pressure to the receiver,” explained engineer Chris Bezzina, “Consistency improves accuracy.” My trials with AccuStock-equipped rifles have delivered tight groups.

The Savage Accustock chassis.
The Savage Accustock chassis.

Not that Savage has halted rifle-stock R&D. It has since introduced models adjustable for comb height and length of pull. I recently used a cleverly-designed prototype sleeker than any other adjustable stock on the market. Like others from Savage, it will be affordable and a fitting complement to the 110 family of rifles.

Shooters have taken this sturdy bolt action to heart – and for granted – since its 1958 debut. The stainless, short-action Model 16 that filled my freezer last fall clearly evolved from the Model 110, and retains most of its features. It has a floating bolt head, a lug-mounted extractor, and a plunger ejector. Judicious use of stampings and alloys keep a lid on manufacturing costs. A barrel nut makes headspacing easy and contributes to the rifle’s storied accuracy. The 110 has spawned many short- and long-action versions, in chrome-moly and stainless steel, with synthetic and wood stocks, detachable and internal magazines. While the bolt release has changed, the tang safety is still as easy to use from the left shoulder as the right. Originally a two-position switch, it now has three detents so you can cycle the bolt “on safe.”

A sliding tang safety suits right- and left-handed shooters. Savage’s now has three positions.

In 2003, Savage unveiled its AccuTrigger, now standard and adjustable from 1.5 to 6 pounds. The central blade must be depressed to release the striker. In tests, hurling AccuTrigger-equipped rifles to the concrete failed to cause jar-fires. This innovative mechanism affords light, crisp trigger pulls safely.

Currently, Savage gives two-digit labels to short-action rifles, three-digit to long-action. Chrome-moly and stainless steel sporters are designated 11/111 and 16/116. Walnut-stocked Classics: 14 /114. My .243 Model 14 consistently prints 3/4-minute groups. I like the recessed magazine latch, the snug-fitting box, and the way I can top-load stacks in the rifle. My south-paw hunting partner appreciates Savage’s selection of left-hand models.

While I had met the .308 Model 16 only when rolling into deer camp last fall, the many Savage rifles I’d used over the years afforded a measure of confidence. A zero check with TLR ammunition erased all uncertainty.

Edge ammo boasts ballistically superior bullets that drive deep but open at speeds down to 1,350 fps.

The whitetail buck took my bullet quartering away and too far back. It pitched over the ridge at a gallop, gone in an instant. I dashed down into the steep draw and puffed up the far side, topping out where the buck had stood. A tuft of hair confirmed the hit. Given the bullet’s landing zone, the lack of blood was no surprise. Catching my breath, I eased ahead, reeling the gaping basin beyond into view. The buck had stopped, clearly ailing. Offhand but carefully, I fired again, dropping him. My first TLR had driven nearly the length of the torso. Federal didn’t engineer this bullet for 100-yard pokes at quartering game, but its performance on the buck impressed me more than did its ballistic coefficient.

Federal’s Mike Holm, who oversees rifle ammunition production, confided that additional Edge loads are on tap. “Not just .30s, but with .264, .277, .284, and .338 bullets. Also, we plan to sell bullets as components.”

Savage has long emphasized a focus on reliable, accurate, no-frills hunting rifles. Millions are afield!

The trend to long-range shooting has drawn riflemen to loads that swap fast starts for flatter flight and hard hits out yonder. Lightweight bullets quick out of the gate are overtaken by longer, heavier TLRs. Velocity gaps widen with distance, as do energy gaps. At 400 yards, the Edge beats the sleek Sierra in the .30-06 by 290 ft-lbs. The .300 Winchester Edge load shows a whopping 640 ft-lb advantage at 400 yards. Many hunters would say the real disparity is even greater, as bullet weight has greater effect killing game than ft-lb figures indicate. Bullets of high ballistic coefficient also reduce wind drift. At 400 yards, a 10-mph crosswind nudges a Sierra GameKing launched from a .30-06 about 14.6 inches. A comparable Edge bullet sidesteps 11 inches. A Nosler Partition from the .300 drifts 15.4 inches—an Edge TLR just 8.9.

But numbers are just part of the Edge story. Your rifle will should tell the rest.



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article copyright © 2017; promoted by Savage Arms and Federal Premium

Although Savage Arms and Federal Premium are among our sponsors, the views expressed in this article are those of the author. receives compensation from Savage Arms and Federal Premium in various forms to help promote their products.