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Dan Bowers

    Columns - February 2004
    Dan Bowers    

      Penn Bullets

      In the modern days of big industry and large companies the small guys are struggling along and regularly get run out of business. That's a shame because quite often these small companies are where some of the best products can be found; such is the case with the Penn Bullet Company located in Indianola, PA.

      My first encounter with Penn was at a local gun show where I purchased a box of there 180gr .357 truncated cone bullets. I ran these through a 10" .357 Magnum barrel using various powders with excellent results. The 500 count box only lasted a few weeks; at the next show I bought two more boxes. After that it was a few years before I got back to that show.

      Well about a year ago my interest in shooting big bore cast bullets began to grow. So thinking about where to get a good quality cast bullet for a reasonable dime I went back to the next gun show and walked to the Penn Bullets display table. I purchased several boxes of bullets which included their 320gr .44 caliber, 255gr .45 caliber SWC, and 270gr .45 caliber Thunderhead. At that time I also found out they do mail order and can be found on the web at

      The Penn 320's were accurate in Dan's contender as well as his revolvers.
      I ran the big 320's through three different .44 Magnum handguns. Two were ten inch Contenders, one blued with iron sights and one stainless steel with a red dot style sight, and the third was a New Model Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter with 2X Weaver scope. The 100 round batch of test ammo was in Winchester-Western cases with CCI large pistol primers and charged with 20gr of Hodgdons 110 propellant. The Contender with irons produced one inch groups at twenty five yards on a regular basis. Leading or fouling was non-existent. The optically equipped .44's were test fired at 50 yards and also produced great groups. The Ruger would pile a cylinder full of heavy Penns into 1.5 inch clusters and the Contender did much the same with ten rounds. For curiosity sake I fired a ten round group at 100 yards with the stainless Contender that solidified my confidence in the Penn Bullets. Those ten rounds measured a mere 1.947 inches when measured center to center! That's pretty awesome from a .44 Magnum with no load development and no magnification optics.

      My everyday .44 Magnum practice load utilizes a 240gr Penn SWC and 6 grains of Bullseye. Over the chrony this load cruises almost 900fps and is super accurate.

      The .45 caliber Thunderhead design is a very aggressive mold that works amazingly well on target and should hit game...well, like thunder. I ran these through my 5.5" Ruger New Model Blackhawk .45 Long Colt. Stoked with Winchester 296 or Hodgdons 4227 propellant would drive them to 1300fps and group under two inches at twenty five yards. The 255gr bullet performed equally well and is my typical carrying around load for the Ruger.

      About the time I finished up the range testing it was time for hunting season. On the third day of our two weeks season I was presented an opportunity to unleash a 320gr bullet from the Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter on a young doe.
      A Pennsylvania doe taken with the 320 grain bullet.
      The particular deer I harvested was standing apart from six other deer that all scattered at the shot. She dropped so fast without even a flinch that I lost track of her as the other deer flushed and thought I had missed! It would not have been the first time I'd missed but I felt very sure the hit was solid. After a brief search I found her piled up right where she stood. From a distance of about 65 yards the big bullet entered the right side ribs just behind the shoulder, punched a fair size hole through all the internal goodies and exited. Though all the major respiratory organs were hit nothing in the mammals nervous system was damaged. I can only derive that the hydraulic shock from the heavy Penn Bullet rendered her unable to run or even recoil upon being hit.

      I was really looking forward to letting loose the awesome .45 caliber Thunderhead on a deer but the weather turned sour late in the season and deer were tough to find. But there's always next year. If you would be interested in viewing their entire line of cast bullet offerings, checking prices, or to contact Penn Bullets you can visit their website listed above or call 412-767-4670.
      Shown here are the 270 grain Thunderheads. The wide meplat on these bullets make them hit very hard but if extreme penetration on very large game is required a smaller diameter meplat may be a better choice.

      Good shooting,
      Dan B.

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