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Low Cost Practice Loads

Low Cost Practice Loads

After belly crawling for close to 100 yards then waiting 45 minutes, it was time to make something happen.  The Cow Elk where not moving and it was getting dark.  My only option was to lay in the prone position and try to thread my shot through a patch of recently burned trees.  As I laid down and aligned the crosshairs, I found the opening I needed between branches. I squeezed the trigger and instantly knew the shot sailed high by the reaction of low hanging twigs that went flying and by my hunting partners verbal confirmation. It was a clean miss.

This was the first time since the early years of my hunting career I missed what should have been a make-able shot.  The only thing keeping me from going crazy was the knowledge I wasn’t leaving a wounded or unrecovered animal behind.

This was the first year I wasn’t able to spend much practice time at the range.  I can't complain about the reasons too much.  I was blessed to have my family grow by one.  Having a new addition at home consumes any free time you may have and puts a strain on the budget.  But it is definitely worth the time and money.

With my passion for shooting and hunting growing every day and my oldest daughter showing the same interests, I looked for ways I could be more cost effective and increase time spent with my family by getting them to join in the fun.  With factory rounds costing more than I was willing to spend, and having a decent supply of brass, powder, and primers on hand, I looked for budget-friendly practice bullets for my 30-06. A little browsing on the FS Bullets & Brass web site lead me to Pull Down Bullets from Top Brass.

At $43.99, a 250 peice bag of Top Brass 147 grain .308 FMJ bullets makes each bullet just 17 cents. When compared to the 75 cent per bullet price of the .308 150 grain Barnes TTSX bullets I had on hand, the Top Brass bullets seemed just what I was hoping for. I was excited to see if they would liive up to my expectations.

To get an even comparison I chose 10 bullets from both brands. I first did a visual inspection, then compared overall measurements, and finished with the all-important range test. The Barnes Bullets were just as I expected. They were consistent in all measurements with no visible flaws, perfect in all respects.  The Top Brass Pull Down Bullets actually pretty good. Their measurements were perfectly acceptable but certainly not as consistent as the new Barnes bullets.  The biggest difference I noticed was minor cosmetic imperfections caused by the tools used during the pull down process. As I don’t plan on using these for hunting or long-range competitive shooting, I am not worried about minor cosmetic flaws or small fluctuations in measurement.             


Top Brass Pull-Down FMG 147 Grain

Barnes TTSX 150 Grain

Average Weight



Standard Deviation



Average Length



Standard Deviation



Average Diameter



Standard Deviation



I noticed no discernible differences during the reloading process. The Top Brass Pull Down Bullets worked just the same as any new bullets I have used in the past.  Now the real test will come when I go to the range and compare the cheap Top Brass bullets to the more beautiful and expensive Barnes TTSX bullets. I am optimistic the Top Brass FMJ  bullets will get the job done while saving me a ton of money. Now I just need the weather to cooperate and give me a day without the cold winter winds.

Thank you for reading my thoughts and experiences as I learn how to reload and increase my shooting ability.  Have fun, stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors.


Read More by Travis Peacock

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