Powerbelt Muzzleloading Bullets Review

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Modern muzzleloading offers an array of propellants and projectile choices. One popular choice of projectile is the conical bullet and in states where sabots are illegal during muzzleloader season, conical can be the best choice. Powerbelt Bullets of Nampa, Idaho offers a variety of solid lead and copper plated conical bullets for today's muzzleloader. For this review we decided to take a look at some of their bullet offerings.


Powerbelt Bullets in Copper series (left), Platinum series (middle) and Aerolite (right).

Powerbelt bullets have been around for some time and offer a diverse lineup of projectiles for 45 cal, 50 cal, and 54 cal muzzleloaders. For this review we are focusing mostly on the Aerotip bullets in the copper series, platinum series, and the new Aerolite series. All of these bullets use a ballistic (aero) tip that improves their ballistic coefficient over similar blunt nose or hollow point projectiles. Improved ballistic coefficient translates into less bullet drop for a given muzzle velocity and can make longer shots easier by taking some of the guess work out of hold over.

Currently the copper series Aerotips weights for 45 cal are 175gr, 195r, 225gr, and 275gr. For 50 cal Aerotips are available in 405gr, 223gr, 245gr, 295gr, and 348gr. Finally for 54 cal offerings are in 295gr, 405gr, and 348gr. The copper series aerotip bullets are similar to the pure lead bullets but they are copper plated and topped with a ballistic tip and a straight walled plastic gas check.


Copper series Powerbelt Aerotip 50 cal in 245gr.

Platinum series Aerotip Powerbelts are offered in 223gr and 300gr for 45 cal and 270gr, 300gr, or 338gr for 50 cal. Currently there are no 54 caliber platinum Powerbelts. The platinum Powerbelts are similar to the copper series Aerotip except they have a slimmer ogive and a fluted gas check which improves the ballistic coefficient over the copper series. The plating is also a silver color giving them the "platinum" name.


Platinum series Powerbelt 50 cal 300gr.

Aerolite series bullets are currently only offered in 50 caliber in 250gr and 300gr weights. Overall the Aerolites have a similar profile to the platinum series with the same fluted gas check. The big difference is the black plating color and the much larger polycarbonate red tip. The red tip is fitted into a larger hollow point, so while the overall bullet has a similar profile to a Platinum series (although they are longer), the lighter weight allows the Aerolites to be driven at a higher velocity than Platinums, given the same powder charge.


Aerolite series Powerbelt 50 cal 300gr.

In general all Powerbelt bullets are easy to load. The plastic gas check helps get the rifling started and the bullets are easily pressed into the bore. Surprisingly Powerbelts are easy to load even with a significantly fouled barrel and it's not unusual to shoot 15-20 repeated shots without barrel cleaning using Pyrodex 777.

The only real issue with loading is pressing the bullet in without deforming the tip which will degrade accuracy. Some traditional bullet starters may deform the Aerotip and the Powerbelt company sells a universal bullet starter that has a variety of detachable tips that can be made to fit many different conical shapes without deforming the tip. If you plan to shoot a lot of Powerbelts it may be worthwhile to pick up this bullet starter or similar.

Generally accuracy with the Powerbelt Aerotips is very good especially if one is willing to experiment with powder charge, powder type, and bullet weight. If a particular bullet is not grouping satisfactorily, moving the charge weight down (or up if you're not already at max load for your rifle) in 10 grain increments can make a noticeable difference.

The best overall ballistic performance (higher retained velocities and greater distances) goes to the Platinum and Aerolite series because of their better ballistic coefficients and lighter weights. However keep in mind that when dealing with a muzzleloader, ballistic performance is not the only goal. With the slower velocities of muzzleloaders it's important to get the bullet mass up and as high as reasonably possible. For deer, especially mule deer, hunters should be shooting for a bullet mass greater than 300 grains or better and on elk 338 grains or better. The heavier the bullet weight the better weight retention will be after impact.

In states where sabots are illegal during hunting season, Powerbelts are an excellent choice. In regions where sabots are allowed, Powerbelts still offer easy loading and heavier bullet weights, although generally cannot compete with the highest velocities offered by sabots.

For more information visit www.powerbeltbullets.com.

Comments

for me powerbelts work great

for several years I hunted with a traditions buckhunter inline 50 caliber I shot hornady speed loads with a 250 grain spier point sabots on top of 2 50 grain pyrodex pellets and it worked great with open sights had no problem hitting a 3 in dot at 100 yards, I got a new cva wolf for christmas its great the more compact carbine size makes it easier to carry and the quick release breach plug and easy disasembly make it easy to do a thorough cleaning also the break action style makes for a sealed breech which is nice on wet days, since I had to sight it in as was an going to use it hog hunting as well as deer I decided to try a different bullet somthing heavier an decided to try the powerbelt copper series aero tip 348 grain, I was a little apprehensive at first looking at the design and reading some reviews about them being soft lead but also know that for 30 years my dad has used a hawkens rifle with a patch and round ball with no problems and that old timers used pure lead conicals (which powerbelts are a modernized version of) to consistantly kill buffalo, most animals shot and lost are lost due to poor shot placement not poor ammo, I just got back from sighting my wolf in and am impressed they load easy but not so easy that I'm worried about them coming unseated I could not detect any blowby matter of fact the gun seemed to kick harder with them and the accureacy was outstanding sighted dead on at fifty yards I then backed up to 100 yards and was still dead on there was not even any drop as I expected with a heavier bullet and I was still only using 2 50 grain pyrodex pellets as before, I don't know what experiences other people might have had with these bullets out of other guns but I think from now on the 50 caliber 348 grain copper series aero tip powerbelt is what ill be using in my gun

aero tip bullets

I use the copper aero tip bullets,295 gr. with100 grains of white hot pellets in my CVA optima and get very good results with this set up. I have had no problem killing deer with these bullets.

Powerbelts

I have used one package of .50 cal. 245 grain powerbelts and was disappointed in their performance in my Knight Disc rifle. Four of the rounds produced squib loads in which the two 50 grain American Pioneer pellets flew further than the bullets. It seemed to me that the easy to load PBs. didn't offer enough resistance for the powder to fully ignite. I prefer Sabots. The variety of bullet weights, construction, design and caliber far exceed what is available with Powerbelts. Maybe the heavier weight PBs. perform better? I was at the butchers a few days ago and noticed a box containing various projectiles recovered from deer that were brought in. It was easy to pick out the PBs. by the little nub in the back of the bullets. Yes, the PBs. got the job done, but they were completely flattened out, like little pancakes. I prefer a tougher bullet that will have a good chance of a complete pass through for blood trailing. I have read of PBs, moving off the powder charge if a gun is bumped or tilted foward for periods of time, which is why it is recommended that bullet seating be checked from time to time. I can't picture this happening with a sabot that is a real chore to get down the barrel.

groovy mike's picture

I won't waste powerbelts in MY muzzle loader!

I have never used PowerBelt projectiles in my muzzle loaders (yet). I might do so, since I have acquired a fair number of them in some transaction involving a box lot of muzzle loading supplies but I am not yet sure about that. I’ll tell you why. They work too darn good in my cartridge rifle to “waste” in my muzzle loader! I recently acquired an 1890s era double rifle with parts made in England and either shipped through or assembled in India. This was undoubtedly put together for tiger hunting or just possibly for use on Himalayan bear or Indian elephant but most likely for tiger. The side by side hammerless rifle is chambered in three inch 500 express. This is the bridge cartridge between the older 500 black powder express and the modern 500 nitro express. The brass cartridge case and the projectiles used are interchangeable. But pressure limits apply. Now I could but 500 nitro express factory loaded ammunition – IF I was willing to pay five dollars per cartridge and up, but I am not so instead I invested eighty dollars in a set of reloading dies and began to look around for 50 caliber projectiles. I bought a mold to cast lead projectiles for plinking and sighting in – that sort of thing, but when I began to look for jacketed projectiles my eye fell on the box of muzzle loading supplies and I wondered if a 50 caliber power belt bullet with its expanding base just might fit the bill. I worked up a load with IMR3031 powder and took her to the test range. With seventy grains of IMR3031 a copper clad power belt projectile from the right barrel hits the target a foot high at 25 yards and the same load from the left barrel delivers a 50 caliber hole in the paper touching it. Granted – 25 yards is not much distance, but it proved to me that the potential of those old barrels and iron sites when paired with the power belt bullet was plenty accurate enough to deliver accuracy and knock down for white tail deer at moderate ranges this fall. I haven’t yet perfected the load and site adjustments for 100 yards, but I will be working on that very soon and I’ll be using my fast dwindling supply of powerbelt bullets to do that!