The Nosler Partition, AccuBond and AccuBond Long Range:
30 Years of Success around the World
By: John Nores Jr.
John Nores Jr. is a lifelong big game hunter, ammunition hand loader and a 27 year veteran of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. As a Special Operations Lieutenant overseeing the CDFW’s Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) and the agency’s first sniper team, Nores is constantly testing and evaluating the ballistic and accuracy performance for a wide variety of law enforcement, military, and sport hunting ammunition. Nores is a featured warden on National Geographic Channel’s game warden reality show “Wild Justice,” Sportsman Channel’s award winning “Life of Duty” series and is the author of the book, "War in the Woods: Combating the Marijuana Cartels on America’s Public Lands."
Coming from a long lineage of conservationists, shooting, hunting, and similar outdoor sports have been a way of life since I can remember. With the help of my father, I passed my hunter safety class at the age of 9, and was target shooting and hunting small game and waterfowl before I was a pre-teen. Watching early morning sunrises and late evening sunsets while hunting beautiful back country areas throughout the west coast was one of my favorite activities to share with my dad and uncles while growing up. During my teenage years, I was introduced to rifle and handgun cartridge reloading by my dad, and was hooked. Dad taught me the dos and don’ts of loading methods, driving home the creed of safety, patience and perfection when crafting precision hunting and target loads.
I started reloading for my first deer rifle (a used Remington Model 600 chambered in .243 Winchester) I received from dad when I was 16. The handy little Remington was a blast to shoot, but wouldn’t shoot factory cartridges with any level of acceptable accuracy. Since this rifle was the key to harvesting my first California Black tail deer, I needed to find an accurate and heavy 6mm bullet hand load that yielded an ideal combination of penetration and expansion while maintaining good, if not exceptional, accuracy.
When reading every hunting and reloading magazine I could get a hold of that tested and analyzed bullet performance, numerous articles spoke highly of the Nosler Partition. Dad affirmed this based on his experience, and after using the partition bullet in hand loads for his .264 Winchester Magnum to harvest a plethora of deer sized game all over the east coast, he suggested the Partition for my 6 millimeter as well.
I ordered up a box of the 100 grain Partitions, and began load development for that first deer rifle with enthusiasm, pride and curiosity. After working up several test loads and spending many hours of bench rest testing over the next few weeks, I found the Partition load for my rifle. Since I had developed the load myself, I had personalized the process, and hunts with that rifle and load combination were much more rewarding. While I did not harvest a deer that season, I did connect on several wild hogs and coyotes with that sweet Partition load before the year’s end, and never had to take a second shot. The following season, I was blessed to take my first black tail buck with dad by my side and my Partition load chambered in that handy Remington. I was elated, and will never forget that evening hunt when it all came together.
That was over 30 years ago, and I still have that special .243. The original factory barrel was shot out over a decade ago, and the rifle has long since been re-barreled with the action trued and other accuracy enhancing tricks done to the system to make it an even better tack driver. To date, the .243 has taken 57 big and small game animals, predators and varmints to good effect, and rarely requires a second shot. Even with so many new technology bullets on the market today, my original Partition load is still going strong. The rifle will never leave our family, and is being used primarily today for my niece and nephew to learn rifle handling and shooting basics. I have also used that .243 very effectively in youth and women student hunter education classes where light recoil and confidence inspiring accuracy is critical for first time, small framed shooters. Even now, I often pass on my bigger calibers in the safe and grab the .243 with a magazine full of Partitions. It’s ideal for local hog, deer and predator hunts, and allows me to reminisce on those long nights sitting with dad at the reloading bench and in the field.
In the early 1990’s much had changed since those teenage days of hand loading and hunting with the .243. Now a new game warden fresh out of the academy and starting my career in Southern California’s inland empire of Riverside County, I was also developing loads for, and hunting with, a new rifle and caliber. After reading several articles by the late Jack O’Connor, and learning how effective the .270 Winchester was for my dad and uncles hunting big game all over northwestern Montana, I gravitated toward the widely used and historic cartridge. Having just purchased a Winchester lightweight mountain stainless synthetic pre-64 action Model 70, load development on the bench began immediately. Sub MOA loads were quickly developed for the new rifle, and consisted of Nosler’s 130 grain Ballistic Tips for medium sized thin skinned game (predators, deer, antelope), and their 150 grain Partitions for heavier big game (large wild hogs, black bear, elk). While performance with both was great, the point of aim and point of impact of each load was significantly different, and required re-zeroing between hunts and bullet performance needs.
In 2004, that problem was solved when I was fortunate to draw a rare and limited number Coues whitetail deer tag for the Burro Mountains of New Mexico. Knowing these deer were tough to find and elusive to hunt with a long shot likely necessary, I discovered Nosler’s AccuBond. I was impressed with the bonded technology of the bullet, the high ballistic coefficient of the 140 grain .270 caliber offering and the ideal weight of the bullet to bridge the gap between the traditional 130 and 150 grain standards.
I was successful on that New Mexico adventure, and harvested a mature 3 point Coues whitetail buck on the second day of the three day season. The single shot ended up only being 304 yards, but the AccuBond load I had worked up and practiced with had me ready and confident for up to a 500 yard shot.
.270 Winchester Load Data: Choice load for the .270 Winchester uses the 140 grain AccuBond over 53.5 grains of IMR4831 powder in Remington brass using a Federal 210M primer with a COAL of 3.315 inches. Average velocity for this load is 2935 fps with a low extreme spread of 32 fps. Accuracy for five, 3 shot groups at 100 yards average = 0.750 inches out of a Rock 5R 22 inch barrel.
That Coues buck was the first of 77 animals taken to date with the 140 grain AccuBond, and over the last 12 years, the AccuBond’s performance has been outstanding. Game taken has ranged from coyotes on the small game side up to a 1400 pound Zebra in South Africa on the heavy end. Other game taken include all five north American deer species, antelope, black bear, wild hogs up to 400 pounds, Red Stag, Warthog, Caribou, Mountain Goat and over 20 species of plains game ranging from 80 to 800 pounds throughout South Africa. One shot stops are the norm, and of the handful of bullets I have recovered from game taken with the AccuBond, expansion has been perfect and weight retention never less than 90 percent.
Black Wildebeest taken in South Africa with the .270 140 grain AccuBond bullet at 335 yards. Brisket shot allowed bullet recovery from back hip joint of the animal and yielded perfect expansion and penetration with 92 percent weight retention.
Having done extensive ammunition testing and load development for the .308 Winchester for our agency’s sniper team since 2013, I am constantly looking for more efficient and ballistically sound cartridges capable of being deployed effectively from a light weight and hikeable rifle over long distances. After researching the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge, and its high level of accuracy out to 1000 yards, I purchased my first Creedmoor in early 2015. With the new line of Nosler’s AccuBond Long Range bullets just hitting the market, and their heavy 6.5 caliber 142 grain offering available, I started working with this bullet as a first choice immediately.
I have found the 6.5 Creedmoor very easy and enjoyable to load, with the inherent accuracy of the cartridge outstanding. And with Nosler’s latest #8 Reloading Manual having comprehensive load data for their full range of AccuBond Long Range bullets, finding a good starting point for this new and exciting cartridge was easy. After just a few test loads, I found the right combination of velocity, accuracy, and consistency for the new rifle and the 142 grain ABLR combination.
6.5 Creedmoor Load Data: Choice load for the 6.5 Creedmoor uses the 142 grain AccuBond Long Range bullet over 41 grains of IMR4350 powder, in Nosler brass using a Federal 210M primer with a COAL of 2.800 inches. Average velocity for this load is 2730 fps with a low extreme spread of 27 fps. Accuracy for five, 3 shot groups at 100 yards average = 0.560 inches out of a Cooper 24 inch barrel.
6.5 Creedmoor 142 grain AccuBond Long Range load development testing. Groups on left are early load samples, with groups on the right improved with bullet seating and powder charge adjustments. Orange dots are ½ inch in diameter and overall groups on the right average 0.560 inches.
Shortly after verifying the terrific accuracy of the 142 grain ABLR, I had the opportunity to test the load on big game in California. Nothing validates the terminal performance of a good bullet better than wild hog hunting here on the west coast. With their thick skin and gristle plated shoulders, a reliable penetrating and expanding bullet is a must. The 305 yard frontal quartering shot dropped the 200 pound hog in place, penetrating through the right shoulder and vitals before exiting just below the spine of the left shoulder. Expansion and penetration was ideal, and I’m looking forward to seeing similar terminal performance from the 142 grain ABLR on other big game species in the future.
200 pound Russian hog taken at 305 yards with a single shot from the 6.5 Creedmoor and 142 grain ABLR bullet combination.
It will be three years ago this month that dad passed away, and not a day goes by without missing him dearly. But every time I sit down at my hand loading bench, or take one of my hunting rifles and hand loads for a hike in the woods, I smile with the memories of everything we shared together at that bench and in the wild. Even more importantly, I am grateful for everything he taught me about being a true conservationist, and I appreciate every aspect of the hunt from start to finish.
Reflecting back on over 30 years of hand loading and hunting with past and current generations of Nosler bullets, I’m lucky to have found such confidence inspiring performance from the company’s bonded and accurate projectiles. In the case of the .270 Winchester especially, and with good shot placement, the AccuBond design has stretched the terminal performance and capabilities of the non-belted, non-magnum, and light recoiling cartridge to a wide variety of large big game species around the globe. I can only imagine how well the new generation of ABLR bullets will perform for us all over the next 30 years.