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I recently tested and hunted with a new copper-solid bullet from Lehigh Defense that might combine the best of both copper and lead-core bullets. It holds enough weight to penetrate deep into tissue, and it expands violently, causing a lot of damage in short order. Best unlike lead, you can hunt with it anywhere.

It’s called the Tipped Xtreme Chaos. When I first heard about it, I wondered the same thing you probably are right now. Exactly how much more chaotic could ‘extreme chaos’ be? To find out, a few other writers and I took the bullets to Gunsite and then on an African safari. While my two trips weren’t enough of a test to declare the Tipped Xtreme Chaos the best copper bullet ever, I was definitely impressed.

What Makes the Xtreme Chaos Different

A man's hand hold a new Lehigh Defense hunting cartridge with a harvested animal in the background.
Leheigh’s Tipped Xtreme Chaos combines the best of both worlds when it comes to terminal bullet performance. Sabastian “Bat” Mann

Like other copper solids, the Tipped Xtreme Chaos bullet will mushroom and peel back to a diameter of .40 inches from a starting size of .30 caliber (this varies depending on caliber). Unlike other most copper solids, the ogive of the bullet has been cut to shed four copper petals into any water-based media it impacts—whether that be a grapefruit or a game animal’s chest cavity.

When the bullet hits soft tissue, hydraulic pressure causes it to expand violently. The process is similar to Lehigh’s Controlled Chaos bullet, but there’s a difference. The Xtreme Chaos is made from softer copper and is machined in such a way that the shedding pedals will peel back and expand the tip of the bullet’s shank. This lets it mushroom like a traditional copper solid and leave a larger exit hole for better blood trails.

After the shot, you’re left with five wound channels instead of just one, and a solid-copper shank heavy enough to break bone should it need to.

How We Tested the Xtreme Chaos

A group of shooter stand around a table where a bullet has been fired into ballistics gel.
Mike Cyrus of Leheigh Defense explains how the Tipped Xtreme Chaos works. Sabastian “Bat” Mann

Of course, the bullet is brand new, so our sample size of test cases is small compared to older bullet designs with years of successful real-world use. As I said, I’m not ready to call it the be-all-end-all copper solid. But what I saw this bullet do in our tests and in the field was pretty compelling. Here’s a breakdown of how we tested the bullet and how it did.

Xtreme Chaos Accuracy

First, about seven other shooters and I shot hundreds of 175-grain Tipped Xtreme Chaos 308 rounds through a 16-inch-barreled Mossberg Patriot rifle at Gunsite. (As of this writing, Lehigh only offers 115 and 155 grain 308 bullets and loaded ammo to the public.) We were impressed with how consistent and accurate the bullet was out to about 300 yards. Though the heavy bullets from a short barrel dropped quickly, we laid down sub-MOA groups and accurate hits out to practical hunting distances on vital-zone-sized targets. In other words, it’s right in line with kind of precision you’d expect any other modern hunting bullet.

Gel-Test Penetration Results

While at Gunsite, we shot the bullets into Clear Ballistics gelatin. Those familiar with this medium know that it isn’t water based and will not produce the same results as a bullet hitting soft tissue. To fix this, we placed two inches of pork ribs in front of the gel, with the idea of letting the bullet expand on flesh and bone—as it’s designed to. The gelatin then captured that expansion so we could see how it works.

Lehigh Defense Tipped Xtreme Chaos Hunting ammo on a table with ballistics gel in background.
After hitting the pork ribs, the bullet expanded with five distinct wound channels. Sabastian “Bat” Mann

We shot through the pork and gel from 100 yards and observed reliable expansion and the shedding of four distinct petals. Give or take, the shank penetrated about 20 inches. The four pedals penetrated just shy of 8 inches of gel and radiated about 3 inches out from the shank. The shank retained 120 grains of weight and expanded to .40 caliber. The pedals each weighed around 13.7 grains and measured .50 inches across.

Related: We Put 5 Top Big-Game Bullets to the Test

Hunting With the Xtreme Chaos

There are few places better than Africa to see how a bullet really works. Africa gives you a variety of game and shot opportunities in a short time. Almost every hunter in our party used Tipped Xtreme Chaos bullets for animals ranging from about the size of an elk to smaller than a pronghorn. With the nature of our hunts, we shot from different distances and shot animals that were standing in different positions. Most of our shots were from around 200 yards, with some under 100. Along with our own impressions, we asked our PHs for their input, as they get to see the effects of many different bullet types and calibers season after season.

My PH, Hein Van Zyl, had a habit of saying “jeepers” every time he saw something surprising or remarkable. While observing the effects of the Tipped Xtreme Chaos on game, he said jeepers a lot. The first animal I shot was an impala at around 75 yards. It was facing me with a frontal shot, standing in thin brush. At the shot, it ran about 20 yards and collapsed. The bullet entered through the chest and exited two-thirds of the way down the body through the back, and there was a massive blood trail.

A hunter in Africa with an impala taken Lehigh Defense Xtreme Chaos ammo.
The author with an impala he took with the Tipped Xtreme Chaos. Sabastian “Bat” Mann

What I found most impressive about the Xtreme Chaos was how it performed on behind-the-shoulder shots. A few other hunters and I hit animals behind the shoulder without breaking any major bones. Unlike some copper solids I’ve seen in the past, the Tipped Xtreme Chaos still caused enough damage to quickly and ethically kill the animal—a lot like a lead bullet will.

Our PHs felt the same way. They were all surprised at the heavy blood trails and short tracking sessions for a variety of game, even when we hit animals a little too far back. This doesn’t mean you can shoot an animal anywhere with a Tipped Xtreme Chaos and it will die, but it seems to point to this bullet’s ability to act more like a lead-core projectile while still retaining enough mass to penetrate and break bone if needed. If you’re on the fence about copper solids because of lackluster blood trails and wounded animals that run forever, I’d give the this bullet a chance. We recovered almost every animal hit either on or just behind the shoulder without the need to call in a tracker.

Final Thoughts on the Xtreme Chaos

The only downside I experienced with this version of the Xtreme Chaos was bullet weight and trajectory. We shot 175-grain projectiles with our 308s out of a 16-inch barrel, giving us more drop than you’d get with lighter bullets at longer ranges. That said, I don’t typically shoot past 300 yards in the field, and with today’s bullet-drop compensating optics, you can land heavy bullets farther than you’d think. In the future, I’d like to try the same design in a lighter bullet, like the 155-grain load.

A box of Lehigh Defense Tipped Xtreme Chaos ammo resting on a warthog taken on a hunt.
The Tipped Xtreme Chaos should work on a variety of medium to big game. Sabastian “Bat” Mann

In my opinion, the pros really outweighed any cons. The Tipped Xtreme Chaos hits like a freight train, dumping a massive amount of energy upon impact, and it retains enough weight for reliable exit wounds. And while I’m not sure how much the expanding shank affects blood trails, all of the animals we shot put a lot of blood on the ground.

F&S Shooting Editor, Richard Mann, was also on the trip, and he summed up this bullet’s performance best. “I look at the Xtreme Chaos as a mono-metal version of the Nosler Partition in how its designed to create a large initial wound channel while continuing to penetrate,” he said.

I’ve hunted with a few copper solids in the past, and from my experience, this is the best one I’ve shot game with yet. Having similar performance to a lead bullet without the downsides of lead could be a game-changer.