Perhaps the best .17 caliber coyote bullet of all time…
Many .17 shooters have long considered the 30 gr. Gold that Todd Kindler of the Woodchuck Den used to make as “the” bullet for coyote with large capacity .17’s. The combination of high BC, accuracy and terminal performance on coyote may be unmatched. My .17 Predator, which has been my main squeeze on stand since I had it built over a dozen years ago, was built around the 30 gr. Gold. And I have had great success with that rifle and the 30 Gold on coyote over the years, accounting for over 500 coyote killed.
But a few years ago, Todd stopped making his fantastic bullets. He sold his dies and since then, there have been no more 30 Golds. Guys regularly come on the predator hunting forums asking where to get them, to be met with the same sad answer every time, that the 30 Gold had been relegated to “unobtanium” status.
Until, that is, just a few weeks ago. The dies along with a supply of J4 jackets of the correct length for making the 30 Golds are back in production and the 30 Gold is available again!
Montana Mize, of Hamilton, Texas now owns the original dies, along with a good supply of the long .17 J4 jackets needed to make the 30 Golds and is in full production. Note – Montana is not the guy who originally bought the dies from Todd Kindler. So, what you may have heard about the guy that bought them originally, does not apply to the new owner!
What are these new Golds called, anyway?
I wasn’t sure what to call the new Golds. Because the maker is in Texas, I started calling them Texas Golds. But when the bullets arrived, the sender was listed as Montana Mize. So I thought maybe they should be called Montana Golds? I asked Montana what he calls them. He said that the name Texas Golds seems to have stuck, so Texas Golds it is!
Spot check, weight, ogive, length, diameter…
The day the new bullets arrived I sat down to compare the new Golds to the old Woodchuck Den Golds. I noted some differences in ogive length, weight and diameter. See chart below for details.
I chose just ten random bullets from my box of old stock WCD 30 Golds and ten bullets from the new box of Texas Golds. As you can see in the chart above, the new Golds weigh about .4 grain more than the old ones. And the ogives are about .011 longer. And, the diameter is about .0004 smaller than the old ones too.
Note too, that for each dimension I measured, the new Golds have more variation, especially in weight and ogive length.
How do they shoot?
Enough of the measuring though, yesterday morning I was able to get out and shoot some groups.
I have only one rifle I intend to use these bullets in, so all I wanted to know is how these new bullets shoot in my .17 Predator compared to the old ones. With just under 1,000 rounds through the bore and about .055 of throat erosion, this rifle has definitely lost a step and no longer has the guilt edged accuracy it had when new. About a year ago I added a Thunder Beast Ultra 7 6.5 suppressor to the rifle, all groups were shot suppressed. Scope is a Leupold 4.5-14×40.
For test loads I used the same lot of brass, primers and powder and loaded up the Texas Golds and some of the old Golds with the same load I have been using since the rifle was new. Because the ogives of the new Golds are .010 longer than the old Golds I have, to keep the relationship to the lands the same, I adjusted the seating die .010 deeper on the new Golds. Comparator measurements of the two after loading are within .001 of each other.
At this point, I’ll mention that I have adjusted the seating depth of my load out over the years to follow the lands. But, I’m out of neck. There is well less than a caliber of bullet shank in the neck. They are as long as I’m comfortable making them for field use. Being able to seat the new ones .010 deeper didn’t hurt my feelings one bit.
I shot the groups off of a folding table, not a solid concrete bench. After many years shooting off this table I’m confident that I can shoot consistently “almost” as good off of it as a solid bench. But, in truth, it really is only “almost” as good. A solid bench likely would have sucked the groups up just a tiny bit.
Conditions were a bit foggy, enough to cause some degree of difficulty in aiming on a few shots. And because it was only about 25 degrees out and I was shooting kind of fast, I had some mirage coming off the barrel and suppressor.
I have never been a really good group shooter either. Competent, but no more than competent.
So, I tell you all of this in order to emphasize that these groups should not be construed in any way, shape or form, as an attempt to find the accuracy potential of these bullets. I am absolutely certain that a more accurate rifle, a better group shooter, a more solid bench will yield smaller groups. I’m not a bench rest shooter and my .17 Predator is a sporter weight hunting rifle, not a benchrest rifle.
The only thing I was trying to find out, was how these bullets shoot compared to the old bullets, in this particular hunting rifle. Using the exact same load. Nothing more!
So let’s look at the groups.
I shot only two, five shot groups of each bullet. Alternating, first WCD, then Texas, WCD and Texas. As you can see, the old WCD Golds turned in groups of .455 and .445, for a .450 average. The Texas Golds turned in groups of .585 and .455 for a .520 average. The old .17 Predator is barely hanging on to 1/2 MOA by the skin of its teeth…
Two groups of each, honestly, isn’t enough data to prove anything. But, with this rifle, since new, I have striven to keep paper punching and load work to an absolute minimum. After a little bit of load work when new, this rifle has scarcely touched paper in the years since, except for very occasional zero checks. It’s for killing coyote, plain pure and simple. The barrel life on a hot rod like the .17 Predator is short. I intend that when this barrel is done, it’s short life will have been well lived, devoted to killing coyote. This one has .055 erosion already and definitely isn’t as accurate as it once was.
My Thoughts On The New Golds VS. The Original WCD Golds
So, as I said, I was only interested in seeing how the new bullets shot, with the exact same load, compared to the new ones. In this short test, they didn’t shoot quite as good. But pretty close!
Frankly, given the variations in ogive, weight and diameter measured, I didn’t expect them to shoot as well as the old ones. But they shot pretty well, just the same.
A couple more things worth mentioning. The new Golds had the same POI as the old ones – a good thing if I want to switch between them. Also, after shooting the groups, I strapped the Magnetospeed on and ran four rounds of each bullet for chrony data. The eight shots formed a nice round group measuring .560, not too shabby and again showing exactly the same POI.
The chrony data was interesting, as the new bullets averaged 40 fps slower than the old ones. The differences in weight and diameter perhaps?
More shooting would certainly be more definitive. I’ll leave it up to you the reader to draw your own conclusions, or lack of conclusion. I’ve made mine.
Do they shoot good enough? For coyote hunting, I’d certainly say so. And, let’s not forget, this is a new bullet maker. What I see in the dimensional and group data, is room for improvement. After talking to Montana again this morning, it sounds like he was already way ahead of me on this – he mentioned tightening up his process and dimensions before I even brought it up. I’m betting any bullets he ships today, are even better than the ones tested here. I’ll be buying more of them, for sure.
Speaking of coyote hunting… That’s another test, for another day. How well will these new Texas Golds kill, compared to the old ones. Personally, given that I know they are made from the same jackets, core material and from the same dies, I am highly confident that they’ll kill just the same. I’ll report back on that, when I’ve killed enough coyote with them to form a solid conclusion but I’m expecting them to perform superbly on called coyote, just like the originals.
To order these new 30 Golds, give Montana a call at 254-784-9533. He ships fast! He has other weight Golds besides the 30s and says he’ll have .20s online soon as well. If there is a particular .20 caliber bullet you wish you could have, it might be worth putting a bug in his ear. I did <grin>.