Atomic 29 projectiles

Review: Atomic 29 copper projectiles, made in Australia

Atomic 29 projectiles offer outstanding accuracy, weight retention and straight-line penetration, and these Australian-made bullets also come at a great price.

Atomic 29 is the brainchild of South Australian Cameron Strachan, who enjoyed shooting and hunting as a child. As he grew, so did his interest in ammunition.

Atomic 29 projectiles
Atomic 29 produces all-copper hunting bullets in a growing range of calibres and weights

He started experimenting and making his own projectiles, and his success eventually developed into a business complete with CNC machinery now producing 17 common calibres in 23 different weights in commercial quantities. And he is expanding the list.

The name Atomic 29 originated over a few beers with mates around a barbie. Someone asked, “What’s the atomic number for copper on the elemental table?”

All Atomic 29 bullets are of 100 percent copper construction, having a hollow-point meplat and a boat-tail base. 

The drilled hollow-point varies in depth and diameter depending on calibre and bullet speed. 

Atomic 29 projectiles
We tested six Atomic 29 projectiles, from .277 up to .375, with velocities ranging from 2794fps to 3424fps

The boat-tail base assists in ballistic efficiency and helps with the bullet seating operation.

Three or four bands are cut into the shank to help with copper flow and barrel fouling. These bands also decrease chamber and barrel pressures. 

As with other monolithic bullets, Cameron recommends projectiles be seated so they are 50 thou or more off the rifling lands when chambered.

The bullets are designed for hunting. They do not possess the high ballistic coefficient and extended ogive of other monolithic projectiles. 

Unlike their competition, Atomic 29 bullets stabilise in most standard-twist barrels.

Atomic 29 bullet review
Accuracy testing ranged from very good to absolutely outstanding

For testing, six projectiles were chosen:

  • .277, 130gn in a .270 Wby doing 3360fps
  • .284, 135gn in a 28 Nosler at 3424fps
  • .308, 155gn in a .300 Wby at 3391fps
  • .338, 220gn in a .340 Wby at 2945fps
  • .366, 250gn in a 9.3×64 Brenneke at 2855fps
  • .375, 270gn in a .375 Ruger at 2794fps.

No loading development was done with the six calibres selected during accuracy testing. Instead, existing loads simply had their projectiles replaced by Atomic 29s.

Rifles used in the test were:

  • Blaser K95 in .270 Wby, 28 Nosler and .300 Wby
  • Blaser R8 in .340 Wby and 9.3×64 Brennek
  • and a custom Sako L61Rin .375 Ruger.

The ideal projectile (if there is such a thing) is one that instigates early expansion, causing a large wound channel and retaining its weight for deep straight-line penetration. The Atomic 29 has this in spades.

After shooting a group of each calibre for accuracy, a shot was then fired into a line of five bags filled with a mixture of soil and sand. This mixture closely replicates that of animal tissue. Behind the bags was a large, dead box tree.

Atomic 29 projectiles
Recovered projectiles from test media as well as animals demonstrated exemplary weight retention

On nearly all occasions there was complete penetration, with the bullets embedding into the tree backstop. 

Only three of the larger calibres were recovered. This may be due to the larger expanded frontal area and slower velocity. Each of the recovered projectiles showed excellent expansion and nearly 100 percent weight retention.

A bullet exhibiting these traits can be relied upon to not only kill small game, but take down larger animals.

In the attempt to recover bullets from game animals I recruited a good friend, Darren “Ned” Kelly, to recover bullets from some of the large pigs he shoots on his property.

Atomic 29 projectiles
Testing showed Atomic 29 projectiles expand quickly then retain their weight for deep penetration. They kill very effectively

The first seven hogs had complete penetration, so he had to try something different. He patiently waited until two pigs lined up — a 60kg boar behind a very large 80kg sow.

Both animals dropped instantly. The 250gn Atomic 29 from his 9.3×62 Mauser had struck the sow on the shoulder, smashing bones before exiting. It carried on through the boar’s shoulder, travelling up to the neck until it finally came to rest under the skin behind the ear. 

This demonstrates perfect straight-line penetration. It travelled through two pigs, expanding two-and-a-half times its size and retaining 99 percent of its original weight.

I was so impressed I plan to switch to Atomic 29 exclusively for hunting. 

Atomic 29 projectiles
Australian-made Atomic 29s  can be ordered directly from the maker and are likely to become common in gun shops

Their accuracy is outstanding and I am confident that as I spend more time tweaking load development and bullet seating, things will only improve — not that they need to. Their performance is as good as one could hope for.

There are three reasons I am a fan of the Atomic 29 bullet.

First, they are designed and made in Australia. I always buy Australian products first. Plus, Cameron is a top bloke with an excellent product.

Second, availability. Currently, sourcing premium bullets is nearly impossible and I doubt it’s going to change any time soon. Cameron always has what I want, ready to go.

Third, cost. Anyone buying from overseas knows prices have skyrocketed. I don’t mind paying good money for an excellent product, but when I can purchase a world-class product here in Australia at around 60 percent of the overseas cost, it’s a no brainer.

For more information, visit the Atomic 29 website.   




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Ken Harding