System Test: All components to make the shot.
Rifle – Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator 6.5 Creedmoor
Scope: Leupold VX-6 3-18x44mm B&C Reticle
Brass – Hornady
Bullets – Sierra Pro- Hunter spitzer 120 grain flat base
Powder Hodgdon Hornady Superformance at 47.5 grains
Max Cartridge OAL is 2.825
Cartridge overall length used in this test is 2.53 inches due to my own flawed empirical tests. The longer reach to the rifling I used does not appear hurt hunting accuracy at all.
A system test is one which integrates all factor into one. The shooter, rifle, brass, bullet, powder, scope,trigger pull etc. On 5/20/ 2015, I shot at my club range at 100 yards. I had to wait till late afternoon to shoot as the wind was blowing gusts past 20 mph for most of the day. In less than 10 mph wind I shot a 4 shot 1 inch group that I was just “ok” at 100 yards See photo below. That group below is truly excellent for a hunter but if you are target shooting, then I expect sub-MOA groups such as 1/2 inch or tighter from this 6.5 Creedmoor since that its derivative, a supreme target rifle that a hunter can use as well. Trigger pull average of several pull sequences is 2 lb 2.6 oz and very consistent and very crisp. As a hunter this is too low, I think, for the average shooter but in competent well practices hands is just fine for bean field hunting at long-range where there is a rest involved.
That night I chose to change only one of the factors. The cleaning of the barrel was the factor that was easiest to eliminate as a contributor to this mediocre performance. Accordingly, I scrubbed the barrel with a brush and Butches Bore Bright alternating to patch and back to the brush until it shined like a mirror. It is often the case that new barrels need some break-in rounds.
The next morning I went to shoot at 600 yards as pictured in the prone position above and found that my set up, rest and such was too low indeed as I struggled to relax. I shot just 5 shots and hit the target each time but I was not at an optimum position. Groupings reflected my suspicion as they were in the black but grouped greater than 12 inches with no wind. With 1 inch groups at 100 yards translates to 6 inch groups, and that was just not happening. I stopped shooting at 600 yards and went back to my club and shot a 100 yard target to see where it fell. I had to reset the Leupold back to its zero point having adjusted it 12 minutes up for 600 yards. So I cranked the vertical adjustment back down to its 100 yard zero (48 clicks). This is a test point for the Leupold scope! It should be back where I left it at about 1 inch high above the bull.
Below is the 2nd 3 shot group at 100 yards. Yes, three shot group! The first two bullets went through the same hole at 100 yards and the third printed just 5/8 inch above.
More alternate shooting and cleaning will aid to base line the accuracy of this load. Am I happy with the second group ever out of this rifle? You Bet. The weather was perfect with almost no wind, sunny and bright.
The only component of this system that gave me difficulty was the Hornady Brass. I found that the shoulders were too soft and any pressure to press the bullet into the case resulted in a slight bulge of the case where the shoulder meets the rest of the case body. Trial and error and lots of chamfering were successful however. I would try other manufacturers if I need more brass but as I recall there were no immediate choices, and preferred Nosler brass (none available).
Component Score (10 is the highest) Score
Rifle – Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator 6.5 Creedmoor 10
Scope: Leupold VX-6 3-18x44mm B&C Reticle 10
Brass – Hornady Neck Too Soft 6
Bullets – Sierra Pro- Hunter spitzer 120 grain flat base 2891 fps 10
Powder Hodgdon Hornady Superformance at 47.5 grains 10
System Score (without Brass) 10
The rifle with this Leupold scope is just right for an adult hunter to carry afield and recoils so little that a young shooter with a rest could shoot it well. Cranking the Leupold scope up 48 clicks and down proved exact for where I created the scope elevation zero at 100 yards proving its accuracy in this case. On reloading the Brass; As I reload the brass it will stiffen so over time it will be less of an issue.
Bottom line I need to be better prepared to shoot Prone at 600 yards with a better adjustable rest or front bi-pod with rear bag support. The prone bi-pod is perhaps the best overall afield as my son suggested recently. Perhaps some target bullets too. I plan to purchase a roll out prone blanket, change the Prone Rest and test it before hand. As you can see, we all learn from our mistakes. If we make none, we learn little.
Happy Shooting! © 2015