Selection and Testing of .308 Match Grade Bullets for F-TR Competition By Jason Hale

F-TR Rifle Competition is F-Class Competition where the TR is Target Rifle in .223 or .308 Winchester. At many matches, F-TR competitors are restricted to bi-pod, ruck or sandbags, though at the Nationals a front rest was allowed.

For me and what I’ve studied, its high mass high Ballistic Coefficient (BC) bullets that are most go-to projectiles (bullets).  You still have some folks shooting the 1:12 twist .308 Barrels that shoot between 155 gr and 175 gr projectiles, but mostly the heavy stuff.  Now at this point only one thing matters;

How does it perform with your chosen bullets IN YOUR GUN?  

My recently purchased 28” SS Criterion match barrel doesn’t seem to prefer the heavy 185 gr Berger’s, but I’ve only tried them with Varget, IMR 4064 is another option to try.  I like sticking with Varget since it works so well AND is more forgiving in variable temperatures.

If you’re just getting into competition shooting, you can’t go wrong with the 175 gr Sierra Match Kings.  You can load it to mag length. My factory barrel would shoot ¼” groups all day long.  The only downside is that when the wind is involved, it can get blown around quite a bit more than some of the other more recent slick BC offerings.  I am currently using the Sierra TMK’s and their shooting ½” at 100 yards and have a superior BC to the SMK.  So far I like them, but because the bullet profile is more secant, seating depth may be a hassle during tuning, but it didn’t take too long for me to find a depth that worked well and didn’t compress powder too much.

One item to point out, there is good reason that as a rule of thumb you don’t just try a new projectile which may be the same weight because if you seated them to the same length the depth into the case may change how compressed your charge is.  In addition, there are many other factors that are coming into play.  Spontaneous disassembly (BOOM) of your rifle and perhaps YOU is NOT GOOD.  It is wise to back off by 10% and then work back up while watching for signs of pressure.

Now for the true purpose behind this article, testing your loads.  Finding recommended loads out of a reputable loading manual is your job.  Here I will explain what I see in the data I’ve put together here.


The chart below represents testing and data gathered of bullets tested and corresponding results you may find of use.

Bullet Ballistic Coefficient Bullet OAL Base to Ogive COAL Seated to Lands Depth  Seated Into Case Previous Data/Comments
Berger 185 Juggernaut .283 G7 (Litz Verified) 1.342 0.698 2.923 0.424 Tried 1MOA best with Varget IMR 4064 an option
Sierra 175 Match King 0.495 G1 (averaged Sierra BC)

0.475 G1(Litz Verified)

0.243 G7 (Litz Verified)

1.230 0.661 2.838 0.397 2.800 (~0.040” off Lands)
Berger 168 Hybrid Target .264 G7

0.266 G7 (Litz Verified)

1.279 0.583 2.956 0.328 In Testing
Nosler 175 RDF .270 G7 1.330 0.651 2.950 0.385 In Testing
Sierra 175 TMK 0.523 G1

(Sierra BC)

0.522 G1 (Litz Verified)

0.267 G7

1.353 0.658 2.940 0.418 Current COAL 2.920 (0.020” off Lands)

Good groups 0.5 gr less than SMK due to pressure


Nosler 175 Comments/My Approach:

Looking at the Nosler 175 RDF’s you can clearly see that the tip is almost completely closed, which is awesome.  With Nosler’s claimed G7 BC of .270 which beats all of the other 175 gr projectiles, I can’t wait to try this in my current match rig.

Examining previous loads for the 175’s:

My current load for the 175 TMK is 43.0 gr of Varget (0.5 grains less than the SMK) which gets me to approximately 2600 fps.  Surface bearing length differences between the two may be the reasons which pressure signs are reached earlier in the TMK as it has a longer surface bearing length which ads friction.

Comments/Observations the Nosler’s 175 RDF:

One item that catches my attention is the length of the nose profile; it’s very long, which makes sense for a high bc bullet.  This makes it a great option for F-TR type shooters who single load and aren’t bothered by long rounds.  On the flip side, It also makes it difficult to load for magazine length without sacrificing case volume.  I may end up gaining some case volume over some of the other projectiles when loaded to the same length.  If pressures are marginal, I could eek out some addition velocity if accuracy wasn’t sacrificed.  One item examined for overall consistency is measurement of a 10 sample group for Base to Ogive length which can be associated with BC consistency.


Noslers numbers were right with the competition, including Berger.  Overall great observations for noslers new RDF.  I will likely start with Varget 8-10% below 43.0 gr and work up from there.  Since my rig is wired up for pressure readings, I’ll have some pressure trends to talk about soon.  I’ll be able to compare them to previous loads that I use as reference (Federal 175 gr Gold Medal Match and Black Hills 175 gr Match).

Comments on the Berger 168 Hybrid Target

There isn’t much to say about Berger other than two words consistency and expensive, or should I perhaps say expensive consistency.  Looking at the data compiled I may be able to drive this bullet to a higher velocity than the heavier 175’s without having to sacrifice anything.  The long nose profile may leave me some extra case capacity and the short bearing length may end up reducing friction from less contact with the bore.  In the end it all comes down to testing; if it doesn’t group, it doesn’t group.  Doing a lot of testing can sometimes be frustrating; but if you enjoy it, don’t give up.  Just don’t waste too much in components trying to get something to shoot.  You’ll know it when you’ve found a forgiving bullet.  This is why the Sierra Match King is still heavily used.  It’s just that easy to tune.  Alas, I am a tinkerer at heart and love a good challenge. I have access to Nosler 175’s for testing so we shall see if my rifle likes them. More later…

Good Shooting!

Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease in New Hampshire by Ed Hale

If you spend time outdoors in New Hampshire, particularly southern portions of the state, like the upcoming Turkey Season, then you are exposed to deer ticks that carry lyme disease causing bacteria. The deer tick also known as the black legged tick includes Massachusetts and Connecticut and Rhode Island as hotspots. Ticks are carried by Deer and Mice and contribute greatly to the tick population. One autumn I counted a dozen of them on my clothes while deer hunting near my home.

Image result for deer tick

Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan virus can be transmitted by the bite of the black legged tick (Ixodes scapularus).

In New Hampshire there are over 1300 diagnosed cases of Lyme disease each year (some go undiagnosed), over 100 cases of Anaplasmosis, 40 to 50 cases of Babesiosis. Powassan Virus infections are rare but one case was diagnosed in 2013.  Lyme Disease if untreated will cause complications such as nervous system disorder, heart abnormalities, and episodes of joint swelling and pain. Early diagnosis is essential.

Below is the website of NH Dept. of Health and Human Services on Lyme Disease.

The odds of you being bitten by a deer tick are near 100% if you spend a significant amount of time outdoors and do not take precautions which include the use of 20 to 30% DEET on your skin, Clothing sprayed with Permethrin, pant leggings tucked into your socks and the like. 

Image result for sawyers spray permethrin

If you are bitten and the tick has been in you for more than 36 hours you are a candidate for these bacteria and  Lyme Disease. See your doctor right away. The wood tick below also known as a dog tick and is not known to carry Lyme bacteria.


Treat your yard with tick killing products that are family and pet friendly. Wear light clothing so you can see the ticks if they are crawling on you. Tuck your pant legs into your socks. As a hunter you need to be highly vigilant. Turkey Season is also tick season. Take your hunting clothes off in your garage and have a pair of alternate clothes nearby. Shower if possible soon after your outing and do a hair and body scan. You can put clothes in a dryer and the ticks will die from the heat.  Check your pets and don’t let pets onto your bed as they can harbor ticks.

Spring is the time for Nymph size ticks

In the spring as it is here, the spring nymph stage is perhaps the most dangerous as these are the smallest of deer ticks and are almost impossible to spot, smaller than the head of a pin and a bite can go unnoticed. Often these little ticks will burrow under your skin leaving a red area where they entered. You may see just the back-end of the tick sticking out. If you can get a sharp-pointed pair of tweezers you may be able to pluck it out. I just purchased a pair of tweezers with a little magnifier attached. Treat the bite area with antiseptic cream and a bandaid to keep the antiseptic on the bite.

Product Details

These ticks in later stages are just a little larger making it a bit easier to see and grasp with tweezers to pull out. If at all possible grasp the head of the tick and not the body. But when in doubt seek medical attention and keep the tick body for identification. It is common to administer an antibiotic such as doxycycline for Lyme disease, early detection is essential for the antibiotic to kill the bacteria. The most common indicator is the bullseye rash but does not always occur.

Image result for bullseye rash

The bottom line here is that if you suspect you have been bitten, and symptoms within 30 days include fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck and  muscle or joint pain feel chills or flu like symptoms, joint pain, or break out in a rash, see your doctor right away to get treated. Don’t wait!

There are those folks who were never seen by a doctor or been diagnosed and many have died or live with tragic disorders of the heart or nervous system. Don’t be one of them!

Stay Safe, Hunt Safe!



1760 style – Pennsylvania Long Rifle- Build Status

If you have stayed in touch with my writing, I purchased a custom build kit from Jim Chambers ( for a Lancaster Pennsylvania Flintlock Rifle nearly identical to Jacob Dickert’s Rifles who made them for the American Revolution’s Sharp Shooters and for Over Mountain Men.

Rifle Kits Include All This

I am into the build process by 26 hours and have been very happy with my progress without any real errors to speak of thus far. Only 75 more hours to go! I now own 150 dollars worth of carving chisels and a very large 80 dollar vise. I am happy that I purchased them as they made cutting and shaping the wood much easier. The barrel is now mounted, the butt plate is cut in and the lock is being fitted to the already mortised area and needs fitting.

A video provided is helping immeasurably.  I have fitted the 44 inch Swamp Barrel (fat on the ends and thinner in the middle) to the stock using a chisel and files. The barrel tang shape was filed into a spade shape and mortised into the stock and tapped and threaded to the trigger plate.

This all sounds easy but it was not. The lock mortise was shaped for me but had to be hand fitted to the flintlock mechanism and took hours of making minor chisel cuts for fear of barging ahead and making a major blunder.

Patience is the key and an ability to work with hand tools.

I will show pictures at some point. It is all too raw at this stage.

So far so good! Very satisfying thus far!

Good Shooting!




Testing Begins Soon On The Gold Ring Leupold VX-6 7- 42 x 56mm Scope

OMG, This Leupold Scope, created in part by competitive long range shooters, is worth more than any of the hunting rifles I own and designed specifically for long range such as F-Class Competition with ultra precision.

MSRP is $2700 but I have seen it advertised for just under $2000. Is it worth the price?

At NH Rifleman Magazine we are serious about testing it.

If you are serious about winning Long Range Competitive Rifle shoots, this is one may likely bear your attention.

A superior scope is an investment in winning. A simple fact of Competition, that superior equipment and attention to detail is essential. The VX-6 product line is based on the Zoom ratio of 6 to 1. A turn of the dial takes you on an optical ride from 7 power and zooms you to 42 power magnification in just a twist.

Its 56mm Objective lens allows mega amounts of light inside and it is transmitted by its very large 34mm tube for maximum image quality.

It has shipped from Leupold yesterday and should be here soon.

Look for more on this scope soon…

Good Shooting!

Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor Reduced Drag Factor (RDF) Match Grade 140 grain from a Ruger American Predator Hunting Rifle – Initial Test by Ed Hale

First let me say that the bullets reload very easily as do most boat tail bullets. The left bullet is the 6.5 Creedmoor. See my previous article on the same subject.

I pulled up the Nosler 140 grain bullet table at and found that 36 grains of RL-15 powder shot really well at 100 yards despite a right to left crosswind of up to 10-12 mph. I tried some IMR 4895 and grouped at 1.5 inches. Good group for Deer hunting not Competition!

I tried to shoot in wind lulls as much as I could. Below are 6 shots using RL-15 in a row about  2 minutes apart per shot with no concern for barrel heating/cooling.


The right group above was my aiming point where 4 rounds squeezed into a half inch and the left 2 shots were likely the result of wind drift to the left but similar height. Bullet speed was likely just shy of 2600 fps out a 22 inch barrel. The load data chart was based on a 24 inch barrel with a muzzle speed predicted at 2635 fps. I was using a Leupold VX-3 variable at max of 8 power. The Ruger AccuTrigger is set at 3 pounds and is very crisp. I would have like a bit more powerful scope but the results are very impressive from a $400 hunting rifle that shoots hunting bullets very well too. I have another 2 rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor coming. One for hunting and the other for Competition. But you will have to wait for them to arrive, I can’t say just yet. We will use Nosler RDF bullets exclusively in the competition rifle.

Good Shooting!

© 2017





Nosler Reduced Drag Factor Match Bullet Testing Soon

RDF the Highest BC in Competition Shooting

Shortly here at New Hampshire Rifleman we will be testing Nosler’s Reduced Drag Factor (RDF) Match bullets at New Hampshire’s Nashua Fish and Game High Power Matches at 300 and 600 yards. The RDF bullet has the highest ultra high Ballistic Coefficients.


The bullet on the left is the 6.5mm 140grain RDF Hollow Point Boattail with a G1 of .658. G7 of .330 ($32/100) and the 175 grain .308 bullet with a G1 of .536 and a G7 of .270. ($35/100) Wow!!

Says Nosler:

“Nosler’s RDF line was designed from the ground up to provide exceptionally high BCs, which create the flattest trajectory and least wind drift possible. The keys to the RDF’s outstanding performance are Nosler’s meticulously optimized compound ogive and long, drag reducing boattail, which make handloading a snap and create an incredibly sleek form factor.  RDF bullets also have the smallest, most consistent meplats of any hollow point match bullet line, so there is no need to point or trim tips.

Highest B.C.’s, smallest meplat, tighter groups – Nosler RDF. ”

So as the Testing and Matches get under way we will see what these bullets can do. Look for lots more soon!

Good Shooting! GET THE POINT!

© 2017