Curious about Hornady’s new monolithic hunting bullet? Let’s take a look at the CX in 7mm Rem Mag!
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Why choose a monolithic hunting bullet?
Monolithic bullets are favored for their deep penetration on big game. Monolithic bullets also don’t deposit lead fragments in those wonderful steaks and roasts we hunters enjoy.
Some areas, like California, prohibit lead bullets, making the use of copper and copper alloy bullets mandatory. Hunters have several options for copper and copper alloy bullets from various manufacturers. Hornady gives the best of both worlds with the CX.
About the Hornady CX
For years Hornady has offered the very successful GMX monolithic hunting bullet in a variety of weights and diameters. Not content to rest on their laurels, the engineers at Hornady took a good bullet and made it even better.
The crimping cannelure and pressure relief grooves were redesigned and the former polymer tip was replaced with the newer Heat Shield polymer material to prevent melting. The ogive was extended for a sleeker profile. All of this was to decrease drag, improve the ballistic coefficient, and allow the bullet to retain velocity farther downrange. Velocity is a key factor in bullet expansion. For the CX bullet, Hornady recommends an impact velocity of no less than 2,000 fps for proper expansion on big game.
The CX™ (Copper alloy eXpanding) bullet from Hornady represents the most advanced monolithic hunting bullet on the market. Its optimized design offers extended range performance, greater accuracy, high weight retention, and deep penetration.
The CX is made of a copper-zinc alloy that will not foul the barrel as rapidly as pure copper will. This bullet offers impressive penetration and expansion, even in lighter weights. Hornady’s CX is offered in a wide range of sizes from a light 80 grain 6mm up to the 250 grain .375” bullet. This broad selection of hunting bullets is useful for a variety of game from small deer and antelope all the way up to heavy and dangerous game.
I tested the 150 grain Hornady CX with my 7mm Remington Magnum — a Ruger No. 1 single shot rifle with a 26” barrel. I’ve hunted with a 7mm Remington Magnum off and on for over 20 years, taking elk, mule deer, antelope and an occasional coyote. I’ve previously used the 175 grain Nosler Partition or the 160 grain Sierra Game King, both of which performed admirably. Let’s take a look at the CX next to several popular hunting bullets including the 150 grain Hornady ELD-X which I tested with IMR 8133 powder last fall.
Note how long the 150 grain CX is compared to other popular 7mm hunting bullets!
Also note the G1 BC of the Hornady CX bullets – it doesn’t seem high. In fact, they may read lower than previously published G1 BC figures for the GMX bullets. The difference is in the way the BC’s were measured. Hornady is now using doppler radar to obtain the BC’s of their bullets — a more accurate means than was used in the past.
My Ruger has a 1:9.5 twist rate and stabilizes all of the above bullets well. It was interesting to me that the 150 grain Hornady CX was longer than any of the other 7mm hunting bullets that I had on hand, including the much heavier 175 grain Sierra and Nosler bullets. That extra length is due to both the copper alloy construction and the CX’s long, tapered ogive.
Hornady recommends this bullet for both medium and large game up to 1,500 pounds.
Bull elk can be tough to take down. As hunters, we know that shot placement is paramount in making a quick kill. A well-placed quality bullet helps ensure success.
This shows a lot of confidence in their bullet! Having used other monolithic hunting bullets in the past, I have no reason to doubt its performance.
I tested my 26” Ruger Number One 7mm Remington Magnum at 48 degrees Fahrenheit in 1,250’ elevation.
We also shot a reduced load with H4350 at 2800 fps to simulate impact at roughly 200 yards.
A note about handloading the CX bullet: It’s harder than a traditional lead core bullet and it doesn’t compress as readily in the bore when fired. This translates into pressure signs showing at lower powder charges. I was unable to safely match the powder charges I’d reached last year while shooting the 150 grain ELD-X, but the pressure does generate good velocity. As you can see in the chronograph data, increasing the load by a mere two grains of IMR 8133 raised the average velocity 59 fps, but also increased the extreme spread and standard deviation figures. I decided that 73 grains, producing 3217 fps, was plenty for my needs.
According to Hornady’s 4DOF ballistics calculator, this load’s performance is excellent for medium to long range hunting. When launched at an easily attained 3200 fps, the 150 grain CX retains an impressive 2,078 fps at 600 yards, ensuring good expansion on game. It’s also quite flat-shooting. Zeroed at 300 yards, it only requires 7.8” total come up at 400 yards and only 22.3” at 500 yards. With those figures, a hunter can “hold on hair” out to 400 yards and score good hits on game! That sort of performance makes hits at those distances reasonable for a skilled shooter.
An interesting thing to note is the Gyro Factor. Hornady advised us you want to see a value of 1.2 or greater. As we go up in 100 yard increments, the Gyro Factor gets higher, meaning the bullet is more gyroscopically stable downrange. The spin of the bullet doesn’t decay very fast, but the velocity decays linearly. Since the bullet is technically overspun, it becomes more stable.
I’ve used my 300 yard zero with the 7mm Remington Magnum and other high velocity cartridges in the past with excellent results in the field. It’s the good-old practice of “sight it in three inches high at 100 yards” combined with a sleek bullet and a high muzzle velocity. The flat trajectory simplifies making hits out to 400 yards or so when seconds count.
Ballistics Gel Test
Of huge importance to hunters is how the chosen bullet will perform on game. Since we can’t go around shooting deer, bear and elk out of season, we use Clear Ballistics Gel to test the penetration and expansion of hunting bullets.
I prepared two 7mm Remington Magnum loads to test with the new Hornady CX bullets. The bullets were propelled at roughly 3200 fps MV and 2800 fps MV. The 2800 fps approximates the velocity at 200 yards with the full-power 3200 fps handload. The 3200 fps load represents muzzle velocity.
This CX bullet expands well, but is obviously a deep penetrating bullet. This bullet penetrated 30.5” at 2800 fps impact velocity and 33” at 3200 fps impact velocity.
Deep penetration with good expansion is a big benefit when targeting large, heavily muscled and heavy-boned game. The CX stands in contrast with the Hornady ELD-X, which favors rapid expansion over deep penetration. Either way, Hornady has the hunter’s interests covered.
See the chart below:
Those penetration figures are far deeper than those we observed in the 6.5mm Creedmoor test of the Hornady 140 grain ELD-M and 143 grain ELD-X bullets. The deepest penetration in that test was the ELD-X at 24.5 inches. For hunting situations in which rapid bullet expansion is desired, Hornady’s ELD-X is an excellent choice. For deeper penetration, the Hornady CX bullet is preferable.
Interview with Hornady
We recently had an opportunity to speak with Seth Swerczek at Hornady. When I asked about the CX’s performance on game he remarked, “You will get exits.” Some hunters like a bullet to exit the game they take; others prefer for the bullet to expand and remain in the animal. There are benefits to both.
Seth was involved with the development of the CX bullets. He told us that many of the employees at Hornady are hunters themselves. They took a look at the existing GMX and asked how it could be improved. Efforts were concentrated on revising the cannelure grooves and replacing the polymer tip with Hornady’s Heat Shield polymer tip. Those two changes and some changes to the shape of the bullet provided it a higher BC, which translates to velocity being maintained farther downrange.
Monolithic hunting bullets thrive on velocity, handling high velocity and high impact speeds well. Like the GMX, the CX needs 2,000 fps impact velocity to reliably expand. Compared to the GMX, the CX bullet gives the hunter another 100 to 200 yards of retaining that 2,000 fps velocity.
I see the Hornady CX as an evolution of their earlier GMX, improving on the performance of that successful bullet. Nothing is certain in hunting, but I am hoping to take game with the Hornady CX this season and I’ll report back on the performance in the field. In addition to my usual elk, mule deer and black bear hunts this fall, I’ve got an African plains game hunt scheduled. This should give the CX a great workout!
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