Gun Digest

Norma Strike Series: Bench Performance Hunting Ammo

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The bench results of the three bullets that make up the Norma Strike Series will make you a believer.

What Comprises The Norma Strike Series:

When I was a young man, premium ammunition was virtually unheard of. We shot what was available.

But when I finally saw the benefits of the premium stuff, I was immediately hooked. I had seen a few boxes of Norma ammunition—a brand I was definitely unfamiliar with—with the lower-case brand name and wood grain look, and I was amazed at the performance.

Fast-forward three decades, and that kid (with a lot less hair but a bit more wisdom) would have developed a passion for premium ammunition and would become rather well-acquainted with the Norma brand.

The Norma EcoStrike, a lead-free, monometal bullet, is designed to give deep penetration.

Long before I ever pulled the trigger on Norma’s ammunition, I developed a love for the company’s component brass. It has given me some of the most accurate handloads I’ve ever created. As I began testing different brands and types of ammunition for various articles, I saw a common thread with Norma factory ammunition: It has been consistently accurate, in addition to delivering the terminal performance that any hunter would be happy with.

Famous for the consistency of its products, Norma not only loaded some fantastic bullets from famous producers (its African PH line is built around the excellent pair of the Woodleigh Weldcore softpoint and Woodleigh Full Metal Jacket), it also began to produce its own superb bullets.

On-Target Ammunition Information:

The Norma Oryx, with a semi-bonded design and a soft nose, is a wonderful hunting bullet. Giving excellent expansion at the front end, the rear of the jacket is chemically bonded to the lead core to prevent jacket/core separation and guarantee deep penetration. It’s never let me down.

Norma’s Strike Series

However, Norma has endeavored to build upon the reputation of the Oryx—and the company’s bullet-making capabilities—by developing the Strike series of projectiles.

Mrs. Massaro’s Savage LadyHunter certainly liked the 150-grain Norma EcoStrike load.

Located in Amotfors, Sweden, Norma Precision caters to hunters all around the globe—from the deer hunters of the United States to the professional hunters across Africa and everywhere in between. Each and every hunting situation is different, and just as we have many different cartridges to fill our hunting needs, there are many different bullet designs to handle the wide variety of game animals.

Currently, there are three models available in the Strike series: EcoStrike, TipStrike and BondStrike Extreme. They are three distinctly different bullet designs, and each does its job perfectly. I had the unique opportunity to visit the Norma Precision plant in Amotfors to see exactly how Norma’s stuff is made.

The plant is as efficient an operation as I have ever seen. Each station is clean as a whistle, and Norma has taken every effort to see that materials are used in a manner that generates minimum waste. All in all, it’s one impressive operation.

Green As Grass: EcoStrike

The projectiles for the Strike series are as different as night and day.

The Norma TipStrike, a flat-base, polymer-tipped bullet, is designed for rapid expansion.

The EcoStrike is an all-copper hollow-point bullet with a green polymer tip and proprietary plating. The plating reduces the amount of copper fouling associated with bullets of this design. The bullet uses a “waist” mid shank to reduce barrel friction and maximize velocities. Being of monometal design, the EcoStrike will hold together, no matter the impact velocities, and will give very deep penetration. The bullets are very uniform—they are turned on a machine—and have shown impressive accuracy, in addition to great terminal results.

Testing the new ammunition in a few different calibers and rifles here in the States, I noticed the accuracy of the EcoStrike immediately. The .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield and .300 Winchester Magnum stuff all printed sub-MOA, with one rifle giving exceptional accuracy: my wife’s Savage Lady Hunter in .308 Winchester.

I asked her to try the EcoStrike. She sheepishly told me the first bullet hit a bit above the bullseye, but she missed the target with the second two shots. Knowing she shoots well, we walked down to the target, only to see one ragged hole—three shots in a group measuring ¼ inch. We adjusted the scope, and I asked for a second group, which measured barely larger than the first.

Quick And Lethal: TipStrike

Norma’s TipStrike is designed on the opposite end of the spectrum. Listening to the desires of both wild boar hunters across Europe and American deer hunters—both of whom enjoy the benefits of a bullet with rapid expansion and energy transfer—Norma has developed a bullet perfect for both scenarios.

he 170-grain Norma TipStrike shot very well in the author’s Winchester Model 70.

The TipStrike bullet is a flat-base, copper jacket/lead core design with a spitzer point and orange polymer tip. While the ballistic coefficient certainly isn’t that of the target-style bullets, it still shoots plenty flat enough for a hunter who stays within sane ranges; and it, too, is wickedly accurate.

My trusty, old .300 Winchester Magnum—a Model 70 Classic Stainless that has served me very well—will put three 170-grain TipStrikes into a sub-½-inch group at 100 yards; this is perfect for any deer hunting situation.

The TipStrike has a tapering jacket with a small interior rim near the base to firmly hold the lead core to the copper jacket. The package results in a bullet that gives wonderful expansion up front yet results in about 75 percent weight retention … when you can recover them. The flat-base design actually aids accuracy, and the polymer tip initiates that quick expansion.

The Norma BondStrike Extreme is a bonded-core boattail bullet with a polymer tip. It is designed to retain its energy at longer ranges and withstand high-velocity impact.

When you want a bullet that gives the “off switch’” performance that will put a deer down in its tracks, the Norma TipStrike delivers.

Tough as Nails at Any Distance: Bondstrike extreme

Norma’s BondStrike Extreme is the third in the series. It’s a polymer-tipped, bonded-core boattail that’s designed for deep penetration at a wide variety of distances.

Released at the 2019 SHOT Show, BondStrike Extreme is the perfect choice for the Western hunter whose shots tend to be on the longer side or for hunters who like a bullet that can handle the strains of high-impact velocity (such as a .300 Magnum up close) yet still expand reliably at lower-impact velocities. I’ve tested the new design in both .308 Winchester and .300 Winchester Magnum. The former was used on a whitetail buck, and the latter was used on a west Texas aoudad, which are renowned for their ability to soak up lead.

Norma’s BondStrike Extreme .300 Winchester cartridge is a great long-range hunting choice.

At the bench, both printed very well, with my Ruger 77 MKII .308 putting three shots into exactly 1 MOA and my Winchester 70 Classic Stainless .300 Win. Mag. printing ¾ MOA. The shot on the deer—a mature buck, but nothing stunning in the antler department—was at fewer than 50 yards.
It was a straight-on frontal shot. The deer went down as if pole-axed. The bullet took him in the spine, killing him instantly. It traversed about 12 inches of spine and was found in the tenderloin, understandably distorted.

So, whether up close or way out there, the BondStrike Extreme can cover it. The polymer tip helps maintain an already-high ballistic coefficient (it has a G1 BC of 0.615), and the muzzle velocities of both tested calibers were at spec. Consequently, the BondStrike makes all sorts of sense for those who hunt at longer ranges.

Something for Everyone

If you prefer the performance of a premium, monometal bullet, the Norma EcoStrike is your baby. It generally runs on the light side for caliber, giving a bit more muzzle velocity in close, but it has a ballistic coefficient good enough to let hunters make the shot they need to. It’s lead free in order to be legally compliant with those areas that prohibit hunting with lead-core bullets, and the polymer tip and hollow cavity guarantee consistent expansion.

This BondStrike Extreme 180-grain bullet was recovered from an aoudad ram shot at 32 yards. In spite of the high-impact velocity, the bullet held together.

For the deer, antelope and sheep class of game, Norma’s TipStrike is hard to beat. It hits hard, opens quickly and yet stays together to drive deep into the vitals. My own experiences with this bullet have proven Norma’s claim that this bullet provides—and I quote—“instant stop, because we don’t believe in blood trails.”

For the tougher animals, which might be taken at longer distances, the BondStrike Extreme will get the job done for sure.
So, if you want a fantastic trio of ammo for your favorite rifle or just want a breath of fresh air, give one or all of these products a whirl. I believe the bench results, alone, will make a believer of you.

The Norma EcoStrike is available in the following calibers: 7x64mm Brenneke, 7mm Remington Magnum, 7x64R, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 WSM, .300 Winchester Magnum, 8×57 JS, 8×57 JRS, 9.3x62mm, 9.3x74R

The Norma TipStrike is available in the following calibers: .243 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, 7x57R, 7x65R, 7×64 Brenneke, .280 Remington, 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum

The Norma BondStrike Extreme is available in the following calibers: .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 WSM, .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 Remington Ultra Magnum

The article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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