A new type of bullet from Lehigh Defense caught my eye: Xtreme Penetrator. The bullet is solid copper, but with a tip that narrows to a solid flat “X” design. Then certain calibers, used in lever-action rifles, also have an indentation in the middle of the “X”, to prevent one round from setting off the adjacent round in a tubular magazine. It’s a well thought out design.
But given that the bullet does not expand or fragment or yaw, how can it be effective for hunting or self-defense? The gel tests offer a clear answer. The “X” design spins rapidly, pushing the gel (and one would assume flesh and blood, too) in an outward direction, clearing a wide path. The result is a large wound cavity, at least, as far as we can tell from the gel. I think the bullet is too new to be certain how it will perform in self-defense, but it is a good product to keep an eye on.
Lehigh Defense also makes several other unusual and I suppose “innovative” bullets. These are also solid copper or brass, not lead bullets. The “controlled fracture” bullet breaks into four pieces, for four wound channels. They also make a solid CNC machined bullet that does not expand or fracture; it is useful mainly for long range target shooting.
Their “maximum expansion” bullet has four copper petals that open to about 90 degrees. It is maximum expansion, I’m just not sure if the highest degree of expansion will give you the best result for hunting or defensive purposes. There is undoubtedly a trade-off between expansion and penetration. Lehigh claims that they “do not expand on dry mediums like wood, drywall, bone, or sheet metal,” but only on soft tissue or fluids. But I wonder how well they expand after passing through a barrier.
Their “multiple projectile” round is a set of nested copper cones that should separate and cause a set of wound channels. But then again, each cone is only a fraction of the overall bullet weight. This probably limits penetration.
The Lehigh Defense subsonic bullet design provides great expansion despite low velocities. The gel tests here seem to indicate good penetration as well. There is a market for subsonic bullets with both expansion and penetration.
Finally, their “controlled chaos” bullet design offers a high degree of fragmentation, much like the Speer TNT design, but without the lead. Penetration is shallow but the damage is extensive.
Out of all the above types of new bullet designs, I favor the Xtreme Penetrator. It offers good penetration with a large wound cavity. I expect you might get too much penetration from some loadings (e.g. .357 Magnum) in this design. But this video from Ammo Quest raves about the Xtreme Penetrator in .380 ACP. He has a point. You don’t have a lot of velocity or bullet weight to work with in that caliber. The XP design gives you both penetration and a large wound cavity. But again, I think that it will take some time for any of these bullet designs to prove themselves in hunting and self-defense.