TC Encore Pro-Hunter 30-06 Barrel and Forend

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I have just received the 30-06 barrel and forend for testing. Nice packaging! I tried to swap the barrel of the muzzle loader which requires you to tap out the hinge pin which I did with a wooden dowel. I got the new barrel on and the hinge pin went in quickly. I added the new forend which did not come with mounting screws so I figured the screws from the muzzle loader forend will work. But they didn’t. They were only for the muzzle loader, larger in diameter and designed to attach to the ramrod standoffs. So I contacted TC folks who are sending the correct screws. I made the recommendation that all rifle forends be packaged with the correct forend mount screws. I will begin testing the rifle next week. I have already attached the second TC 7429 steel scope mount base (Weaver style) to the rifle and swapped the Leupold VX-III scope to it. It was very fast and easy to swap over the scope as it required loosening the two large knurled screws that hold the scope to the base.

While the screws are arriving I will load up some rounds for the 30-06 Springfield.

We wait…

© 2016

 

 

TC Encore Pro-Hunter Muzzle Loader with Leupold VX-III 2.5-8 initial shots by Ed Hale

Below this article is the detail Physical Exam on the T/C Encore Pro-Hunter Muzzle Loader.

In this article:

This afternoon, I went to the range to get the rifle and Leupold VX-III on paper. I tried a shot with the 300 grain Hornady sabot bullets at 25 yards to see if it was on paper, it was far away from the bull in the lower left. Accordingly, I chose to bore sight the rifle as the easiest way. So I took out the Speed Breech plug with just my fingers and a flip of the wrist and I could see through the bore and the scope. Nice! I dialed in the scope and two more shots later I was near the dead center but a half inch low. I moved the target to 50 yards, dialed up the vertical adjustment 16 clicks, approximately 2 inches, figuring some drop, and chose a 1 inch square in the lower right to aim at… and I hit it. “Guess I figured well. Wow! I thought,  ok now lets shoot at 75 yards with no further drop adjustment but I ran a bore snake in the barrel once before I shot.”  The first shot was an inch high. The second shot was way left as I likely pulled the shot for a myriad of possible reasons but the heavy trigger and newness to the rifle are likely reasons not the rifle itself or the scope.

I let that go and concentrated on the next shot and place that round within an inch of the first 75 yard shot which was just an inch high.  See the target below.

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This was impressive but more shooting at 100 yards will tell more and for a three shot group. I pulled the Breech plug, wiped it clean and ran the bore snake in just a few minutes, ready for the next time. The Fox Tactical Butt Stock Cheek Rest pouch worked great to store the long jag.

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Until then,

Shoot Straight, Shoot Often!

© 2016

TC Encore Pro-Hunter Muzzle Loader Physical Examination Report by Ed Hale

Just like my doctor checking all my vital signs, looking in the nooks and crannies in a physical exam, I am doing the same but with a new rifle and detailing my findings.

The T/C Encore® Pro-Hunter™ Complete Rifle has a history of success. It is such a well thought out firearm that can be a muzzle loader, today, a Rifle or Shotgun tomorrow or even a Pistol if you purchase the grips and barrel.

https://www.tcarms.com/firearms/interchangeable-platforms/encore-pro-hunter/t-c-encore-pro-hunter-complete-centerfire-firearms

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The work horse of the gun is the core trigger/hammer and its Encore housing. In early rifles this was called the lock mechanism as in Flintlock or Caplock and mates to a single shot rifle, a shotgun or a pistol with stock or grip and forearm. The lower tang on the trigger housing is a lever you must pull to open the breech. This trigger breaks at 7 lb 8 oz.dsc_0010-1

The muzzle loader 28 inch barrel is called the Endeavor 209×50 cal Magnum and sports an innovative, state of the art metallic looking Weather Shield® exterior coating that is nearly impervious to rust and patented Speed Breech XT® . It is a visual work of fine engineering and machinist art with the breech plug that removes simply with a 90 degree twist for easy cleaning. Note: Ambidextrous Swing Hammer®.

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I fired a bench rest shot yesterday at 100 yards with open sights and hit a 4 inch target on the first shot. I opened the breech and pulled the speed breech plug with a twist of my hand to clean the barrel with no effort. Below is the grip side of the speed breech.

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You pull the black decapping arm rearward about 1/4 inch and it can be rotated to the right and out of the way so the plug can be rotated to its removal align marks and pulled out of the barrel. Marvelous!

Note the hammer above can be adjusted right or left. Another great feature!

Loading powder and bullet is accomplished by placing a powder charge in the barrel then a bullet and using the ramrod and extended threaded loading/cleaning jag to drive the bullet down to seat firmly on the powder or a cleaning patch.

For ease of loading in the field or at the range, the muzzle has no initial rifling for the first inch (see barrel below without rifling at the muzzle) so that it can cradle and align the bullet as it is placed in the muzzle with your fingers. Nice! No more fumbling for a faster reload and proper bullet alignment.

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The Jag (below) is not part of the ramrod it must be carried separately. Without this Jag the rifle cannot be loaded so don’t lose it! I would order another spare Jag just in case. I ordered a Hoppe’s 410 shotgun bore snake with embedded bore brush for fast cleaning. The 410 shotgun bore is 45 caliber in size.

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The loading ramrod below has a swivel T handle to aid in seating the bullet.

At the range, I put a 300 grain Hornady bullet through my chronograph with 100 grains of Black Powder substitute and it registered 1655 fps. That equates to over 1840 ft-lb at the  muzzle and deer killing energy to 200 yards with that load.

The rifle instruction manual for the muzzle loader has recipes for both powder pellets and for loose powder that go up to 150 grains of powder equivalent and bullets up to 400 grains. Wow!

The stock has a recoil tamer built in to it called Flex Tech where recoil on the stock is absorbed by the recoil pad which extends up the grey radial marks on the stock.

Thompson Center T/C Encore Pro Hunter Flextech Rifle Stock Set

If you like a lighter trigger that is the only thing an owner might do is to have a gunsmith tune the trigger to your liking. I have two TC scope mount bases (not part of the rifle) coming and a 30-06 barrel so we can really see the accuracy of the rifle and its versatility.

The muzzle loader is balanced at 8.25 lbs. much more than I I would have thought with a 28 inch barrel and not overly front heavy as some muzzle loaders can be.

The excellent attributes of this rifle are many as we can see above. Minor weaknesses in this Muzzle Loader Rifle are the heavy trigger and the unattached non storing Jag. Both can be remedied with a trigger job and a butt stock storage pouch.

To date I have just completed mounting a Leupold Scope using a 7429 T/C Encore mount base to use with weaver rings and added a Fox Tactical ™ butt stock cheek rest and storage pouch.

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I am going to the range today to see what accuracy I can obtain for the upcoming accuracy test report.

Shoot Straight and Shoot Often!

© 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coyote Trailing New Hampshire Whitetail Fawn by Ed Hale

In preparation for Deer Season I sometimes bear hunt in northern New Hampshire. A few weeks ago I placed a Moultrie Trail Cam and got these videos. It has been a three years since I used this camera and forgot to set the time and date correctly. This was taken September week 1 of 2016. Here setting the cameras I am carrying the Ruger American Predator Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor with a Leupold VX-6 3-18x44mm. Great bear medicine and great anything medicine for deer, bear, and moose. At 6.6 pounds the Ruger American Predator carries like a feather and shoots like a target rifle with the the finest Leupold Scope!

 

as you can see this coyote looks healthy and right behind a doe with a single young fawn in the next video. No mice for this yote, it wants venison!

Both look very healthy and already eating acorns and unaware of the danger that lurkes behind.

I was hoping to get a bear to step into the camera. The next video you can hear a huff sound and that may be my bear but was reluctant to step into the camera lens.

 

I was very pleased to capture these short videos for my NH Rifleman Readers. I hope there is more to come. I found an old primary scrape nearby as it has the remnants of ground that has been scraped and beat-up though covered with leaves and the overhanging spruce branches all knarled from his antlers. I will set up the camera on it later in October perhaps.

 

© All Rights Reserved

 

TC Encore Pro-hunter Muzzleloader – Out of the Box by Ed Hale

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The TC Encore Pro-Hunter Rifle with 50 cal. muzzle loader barrel arrived at my local FFL dealer fully assembled and ready to shoot. This Pro-Hunter model can also change barrels to center-fire ammo. I have a 30-06 barrel on its way for testing with it. The TC brand, as you know, is part of Smith and Wesson.

Out of the Box – Shots with fiber optic sights

The Pro Hunter does not come with a scope mount but is set up with fiber optic sights. Accessories include a flat wrench to open the breech and a Allen wrench to adjust the hammer angle to accommodate a scope.

I measured trigger pull at 7 lb 8 oz.with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge, very heavy indeed.  I set up at target at 25 yards and stoked it with 100 grains of black powder substitute and a 300 grain Hornady saboted bullet to the target at 25 yards and later at 50 yards. I bench rested the rifle.  See below. The first shot hit 3 inches low at 25 yards so I raised the rear sight 4 clicks and hit 1 inch low. Then moved to 50 yards and shot again and hit 3 inches low but on center and made an adjustment and hit the same spot low again. Recoil was very manageable. So I adjusted up another three clicks up on the rear sight and twinned the one inch low shot. Though the trigger pull is heavy it was smooth and broke clean.

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What I discovered is that to fire each shot, I had to pull the ramrod and screw in the brass extention Jag from my pocket. Unfortunately there is no place to store the Jag on the rifle where it could otherwise be misplaced or lost. The good part is that there is no rifling for the first inch or so of the bore so the bullet and sabot could be inserted into the barrel tip easily.

Below the user end of the rifle is handsome indeed. Out of the box accuracy is very good with the fiber optic sights. Much More soon…

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© 2016

 

Leupold RX-1200i TBR Wind Compact Digital Rangefinder – Review by Ed Hale

The Leupold RX 1200i TBR-W (True Ballistic Range® -w/ Wind) DNA Digitally eNhanced Accuracy is super jam-packed rangefinder with features for the serious hunter/shooter.  It weighs in at a mere 7.8 ounces. Wow! DSC_0009

with this rugged case below with Quick Reference Card inside that includes tables to set your bullet performance info (see more on this later). A manual is included that provides all the details.

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Looking through the eyepiece;it has rubber sleeve  that can fold over for those with eye glasses.

Below is the battery compartment which takes a CR2 Nuon  see image of battery below where you lift the lower half-ring and turn clockwise to open it.

 

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Laser and Objective lens below.

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This housing of the electronics is a sealed waterproof machined aluminum rubber armored rangefinder and will deliver years and years of great service if cared for.

Once you have read the instructions (I had to read them a few times) it is a easy-to-use comprehensive MODE packed laser rangefinder for both bow and rifle. It incorporates a 6×22 monocular and will range deer size game from 5 to 800 yards, inanimate objects to 900 yards and reflective targets to 1200 yards. The greatest feature besides the orange OLED Display, and the True Ballistic Range (that takes angle into account) perhaps is Scan mode ( I tested it and works great) when you hold the laser button on wild game you can hold the button down and move the crosshairs from animal to animal or an object to see the distance without taking your eye off the monocular.

Here is a rifle cartridge example below that sets the correct footing for the rangefinders 800 yard deer max;

A 300 Winchester Magnum shoots a 165 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip at about 3150 fps. Wow, that is fast for the 165 grain head! A look at what happens at 800 yards is that it runs out of ethical killing energy of 1000 ft-lbs beyond that, even though its velocity is 1654 fps. The wind component is 6 MOA or 51 inches at 90º with a 10 mph wind.  You have to shoot “a lot of gun” to go beyond 800 yards and kill deer size game and know the wind too drifts your bullet 51 inches, more than a deer length. A nearly impossible shot under those circumstances. So perhaps 800 yards is a great benchmark distance after all. 

Back to the Rangefinder: The RX1200i has reticle choices too with a simple cross hair called Plus Point™ ideal for small game or very distant targets, Duplex® with Plus Point™ and Duplex® without Plus Point™ which is more like a rifle scope reticle. MSRP is around $519 but prices have come down to below $375 making it a really great buy for this big game hunting season!

The bright orange OLED display is far superior in display than black LED especially in low light… a fabulous feature only a hunter at dawn or dusk can appreciate.

Image of OLED Plus Point

Wind

The new Wind feature can only be used when you enter your rifle velocity/caliber from the table provided in the manual or the Quick Ref Card for modes such as HOLD, MIL and MOA where your cartridge data is entered too because without velocity and bullet data a wind calculation is not possible. The wind calculation portion will provide a fixed 10 mph value at 90º  to the muzzle. Accordingly, if the wind is quartering at 45 or 135 from east to west you must half the wind value in MOA, HOLD and MIL modes when the wind feature is turned on. Example: Wind in MOA mode may say 2 for a 375 yard shot. (being 2 MOA and assumes a 10 mph wind so if it were 5 mph then “half the value to 1” or if the wind were quartering at 10 MPH it would also “half the value” If the wind were 15 mph from 90 degrees you would add 1/3 more to the value and use 3 MOA and adjust your scope accordingly

The hunter/shooter can switch between modes (modes in red are my most used modes with BAS being the easiest without bullet info) such as:

BAS Mode -Ballistic group and sight in distance. Part of TBR (True Ballistic Range) This default mode displays the equivalent horizontal range which takes angle into account. As a rifle hunter the BAS mode will perhaps be the most used mode who simply wants the horizontal distance ± to the animal and takes angle already into account and the hunter has already knows the drop table for the caliber and load like me. Wind deflection function cannot be turned on here because it does not  know your projectile velocity etc.

BOW Mode –  works with TBR (True Ballistic Range) to find the horizontal Range ±1/10th yards. Arguably the most used mode for the bowhunter.

HOLD Mode– will display the amount of holdover to use in inches or centimeters and takes into account your cartridges ballistic path in table settings provided for hunting calibers and can turn the wind feature on.

MIL Mode – will display the amount of holdover in milliradians. Most helpful for those with Mil Dot reticles and know how to use them. Mil Dot reticle scopes are becoming increasingly popular for very long distance fans and military.  Can use Wind feature. 

MOA Mode – will display the Minute of Angle adjustment for your target which is based on your cartridges ballistic path you choose in a later mode to select the cartridge or group based on what you are shooting with a bullet path height and with sight-in range of 200 yards. (see the Quick Reference Card) This is helpful to the target shooter and hunter who works in MOA mode and you can turn the wind feature on. Most hunting rifle scopes out in the field today are set-up in MOA increments so this mode can be very helpful for a long range hunting and target beyond MPBR (Max Point Blank Range). 

TRIG Mode -calculates both the true vertical and horizontal distance components such as the height of a tree. A once in a while use feature.

LOS Mode – Provides straight line distance to the target without taking angle into account. A least used mode, I think.

Last Target Mode – for TBR/ W only displays the farthest distance between two objects measured.

Specifications:

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Battery: CR2 Nuon seen below.

From the website: https://www.leupold.com/hunting-shooting/rangefinders/rx-rangefinders/rx-1200i-tbr-with-dna-digital-laser-rangefinder/

“All RX-1200i Compact rangefinders are completely weatherproof and feature multi-coated optics, selectable reticles, measurements in yards or meters, and fold-down rubber eyecups to accommodate users with or without eye glasses. Pocket-sized and packed with features, Leupold’s new RX-1200i TBR with DNA makes all other rangefinders dim in comparison. Product includes Cordura® holster, lanyard, battery and complete instructions.

The RX-1200i is covered by the Leupold Golden Ring® Electronics Limited Two-Year Warranty.”

Most hunters that are going to use this rangefinder have a much higher level of long distance shooting skills. 

Many retailers are less than MSRP and less than $400 for this rangefinder making it a top choice for hunter who know value when they see it.

I give it a solid A grade for the value, price, ruggedness and accuracy and of course it’s a Leupold.

In a Leupold review it was said that an elk hunter lost his rangefinder and later his outfitter/guide found it and sent it to him. It wasn’t working so he sent it to Leupold who said they could not fix it but will gladly send him a new one! You can’t beat that! 

Good Hunting!

© 2016

 

 

 

 

Bear Season Opens September 1st in New Hampshire

September 1 is the general season opening day. New Hampshire’s Population of black bears is growing despite record harvests. The population is estimated at 6000 bears. Wow! That is a lot of Bruin! Note that baiting permits for bear needed to be turned in by the first week of August for this year.

See this site for bear season details by WMU. . http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/hunting/bear-season.html

The best resource for hunters locating bears is the 2015 New Hampshire Wildlife Harvest Summary.

http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/hunting/documents/2015-harvest-summary.pdf

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In it you will learn where the deer moose and bears are, how big, male to female ratio and harvest by town even. So if you are thinking about hunting bear then read this great report like I do each year.

 

Good Hunting! Be Safe!

Newfoundland – A Brief Vacation Visit! By Ed Hale

 

My wife, who has Newfoundland heritage, and I visited just few weeks back and landed in St John’s, in the northeast corner of the Island.  Ok, so I left my rifle home on this trip and took my Nikon D60 instead.

So we began our trip with some local micro-brewed beer and weekend cod fishing. Here are 2 market size cod that are about to become fillets for dinner. As you can see, I’m a happy man, and well fed too!

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Back home along Massachusetts fisherman are restricted to 1 cod fish per day due to the weakness of the fishery but no where near what Newfoundland encountered.

It was 1992 when Newfoundland shut down the Cod Fishery due to over-fishing. Today the Cod are back and Fishing for these delicious fish has returned under strict regulation.  Regulation has its place, eh!

Nestled on the shore side of St Johns is the fishing village of Quidi Vidi and carved out of the granite landscape. Photo’s by author Below.

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This photo I took with my Nikon D60 is very special as I waited for the sea gulls to congregate. Looks like a post card doesn’t it!

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We fished just a 1/4 mile off shore with hand lines and just red teaser worms and hooks.IMG_1137

While in St John’s my wife wanted to visit a local brewery called Quidi Vidi Brewery (photo by author below) where she fell in love with Iceberg beer brewed there. Icebergs which contain very pure water from around 20,000 years ago or so “they say”  break up and are harvested to make the Iceberg beer. Smaller bergs that can be taken on small vessels are called mini-bergs.

 

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At dinner in St John my wife Sue and I feasted on local fare and Iceberg beer and mingled with the locals. Somebody has got to do it, eh! As the Canadians say.

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We rented a Ford SUV in St Johns and me and the Mrs. drove to the the family cottage in Jamestown about 130 miles up the Trans Canada highway. The cottage is on the ocean, you see.  It was 30 years ago, when I visited Jamestown with the wife and pointed out this house and shoreline property for sale to my mother and father-in-law who have family nearby. It was affordable to them back then and in just a few weeks they purchased it and never looked back.

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The view from the upper deck overlooks Goose Bay, and inlet of Bonavista Bay. Breath taking! So now you know why I recommended this property to family. It was carved by God and Nature to create this splendid view of James Head and Goose Bay.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonavista_Bay

So the wife and I explored a bit and found ourselves at Bonavista Cove where John Cabot landed in the fourteen hundreds.

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We walked here in hopes of encountering a Puffin, a beautiful pelagic seabird at home in the north Atlantic. It was my wife that spotted the Puffin first and I proceeded to shutter my Nikon D60 to produce this photo of the only Puffin we saw.

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Some folks have a problem saying Newfoundland and mumble New Finland, or perhaps New Found Land. Just say this to say it correctly; understand Newfoundland. The “found” part is said as “fin” and you are good-to-go.

A great vacation adventure!

© 2016 Articles and Photos Property of the Author- All Rights Reserved.

 

The Ruger American Rifle – Like a Custom Rifle…by Ed Hale

Today’s hunter wants it all in a great rifle. Custom shops hummed in years past to make your trigger crisp and adjustable, your barrel float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. The custom shop or you the shooter swaps out your hard buttplate for a state of the art recoil absorbing rubber pad. All of this for say, $2400 in wood. But you can’t afford that…so… .

 

So along comes Ruger who with American know-how, engineers a rifle from the ground up with all of the same Custom shop attributes for under $500 dollars. Yes, you heard that right!!  Custom attributes are already there. Like the…

Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger

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Four shot Magazine

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Power Bedding Block System

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Crafted soft buttpad for Maximum Recoil Reduction

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Even a threaded barrel for future devices such as flash or noise suppressors.

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Easy to Actuate Tang Safety (shown in the Fire position)

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as above in an ergonomically designed synthetic stock and more with Patent Pending Power Bedding, Integral bedding block system which “positively locates the receiver and free-floats the barrel for outstanding accuracy.

The bolt is a one piece, three lug bolt with a 70° throw is part of the new Ruger American design and provides easy cycling from the shoulder. Even the bolt has a serial #.

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I have shot rapid fire with my .243 Winchester version.  The rotary magazine is a synthetic and fits flush with the stock. I would opt to buy a second magazine as a backup if you misplace it.

All for under $500 dollars.

The rifle has exceptional balance and at 6.6 pounds a dream to carry all day long in the back woods as it has swivel studs for a sling.

Who is this rifle made for? It is made for young and old, expert and beginner. This Rifle was made for you and me! And its affordable!!

Ok so is there a downside to the rifle? Yes… If you don’t own one! That is the only downside.

Good Hunting!

© 2016

 

 

 

Ruger American – Predator 6.5 Creedmoor with Selected Bullet Performance Data by Ed Hale

The first shots out of the Ruger American™ Predator are just astounding in my last article as they were sub Minute of Angle. The engineering innovation that went into creating the Ruger American Brand is exemplary for its price point and accuracy and it is 100% American made! I am a believer and loved the chambering in 6.5 Creedmoor which was designed for extreme accuracy for target but right at home in the fields and woods of North America for deer, elk, caribou and black bear and most African Plains game…

I purchased a Ruger American in .243 Winchester a few years back and I love how it handles at just 6.6 pounds. Now to test a 6.5 Creedmoor in the Predator model.

Spec’s are listed below but more on the website. These Ruger’s are cold hammer forged and my sub MOA groups last week and today seen below attest to the ultra- precise rifling that provides exceptional accuracy. The Ruger Marksman Adjustable™ Trigger can adjust from 3 to 5 pounds and aids in the off-the-shelf accuracy like a custom rifle.

http://www.ruger.com/products/americanRiflePredator/specSheets/6973.html

predator spec.

I collected JBM data for two bullets that I own in the Ruger American; Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor with Sierra 120 grain Spitzer with 120 grain Pro-Hunter Spitzer with 43 grains of H4350 Powder at a fast speed of 2760 fps.My test bed scope is my trusted Leupold VX-6 3-18x44mm set at 10x for 100 yards.

http://www.jbmballistics.com/cgi-bin/jbmtraj-5.1.cgi 

A 4 shot group measured 5/8 inch at 100 yards and delivers MPBR max at 265 yards and 1194 ft-lbs. The Ruger American was right there today with outstanding sub-MOA group of 5/8 inch off a Bench Rest at 100 yards.

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What a highly accurate rifle for the price of around 400 to 500 dollars Just a few years back it cost thousands of dollars to own a shooter with 1/2 inch groups. 

Ruger Predator 6.5

Later I shot the Ruger American- Predator with a slightly slower factory loaded 143 grain Hornady ELD-X Precision Hunter at 2648 fps far below to collect bullet performance data.

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The Ruger American- Predator shot the 6.5 Creedmoor Factory Loaded Hornady ELD-X Precision Hunter a bit slower but at 100 yards delivered over 350 more ft-lbs than the 120 grain head due to heavier bullet weight/speed and its Extremely Low Drag. This bullet shoots 1 inch groups at 100 yards with no noticeable recoil difference. Energy at Max Point Blank Range MPBR of 265 yards is 1663 ft-lb with the Hornady ELD-X vs 1194 fps for the Sierra. A difference of 470 ft-lbs in favor of the 143 g VLD-X in the Ruger American – Predator 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle. I love this Ruger American- Predator rifle and bullet Combo.

6.5 creed ruger american Hornady143 g ELD-X2684fps

Moreover, with with the 6.5 Creedmoor in the Ruger American Predator’s 22 inch barrel with 143 grain Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X load it maintains over 1000 ft-lbs at 600 yards to kill a deer. The Sierra at 1000 ft pounds can only reach to 350 yards.  Lesson Learned? I get it! I  shot the Ruger American with a t-shirt at the bench rest. The recoil pad is fantastic and absorbs recoil handily. The precision trigger on the Ruger is a blessing. I gotta get me one of these!

© 2016