Weatherby Vanguard Weatherguard 6.5 Creedmoor with Nosler 142g Long Range AccuBond

On December 8, 2017, it was a cold 40 degrees, cloudy, however, the air was amazingly still. It was “bugging me” that the last test (a few days ago and an earlier article) for 100 yard groups for this Weatherby® Vanguard® Weatherguard® rifle was windy and the 1.75 inch lateral spread may or may not have been caused by wind. The 50 yard group was very tight, around 3/8th of an inch. Accordingly, I had to know if it was the wind or rifle at 100 yards but I had no more Hornady bullets left. The next best thing was my Nosler’s.

I had powder and a some 142 grain Nosler Long Range AccuBonds, so I gave them a close look and loaded some in Nosler Custom Brass for the 6.5 Creedmoor with CCI Benchrest Primers (BR2). This is like the best of the best of the best, some might say.

Research began with a hot long range hunting load using Reloader 15 powder. I loaded 36.5 grains at a COL of 2.801 inches and 81% load density volume. The Nosler Manual tested a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2635 fps with a 24 inch barrel. Not super fast for sure, ,low recoil, but with a ballistic coefficient (BC) of over 0.7 (G1)  it didn’t have to be so fast because most spitzer bullets have much lower BC’s and lose velocity rapidly due to increased air friction.

Most technical folks like to talk about killing energy for deer at around 1000 ft-lbs energy. This round can kill a deer at 725 yards (1000 ft-lbs at 1785 fps per JBM Calculations) if you know the distance, wind, altitude etc. and the shooter can stay within a  3 to 4 inch kill radius and the bullet can shoot an MOA or better at 100 yards.

Target #1 below at 100 yards with 1.25 inch group. Yes, the first shot was from a cold shooter, me and a cold barrel. Many say the cold shot idea from a cold barrel is more myth but I digress.

Target #2 was shot 5 minutes later than Target #1 resulting in a 9/16 inch group.

Ok, so the average of the 2 groups are 0.9 inches. The bottom line is that this Weatherby Vanguard Weatherguard rifle shoots sub-MOA with this load, bullet, COL and powder.

Accordingly,  this would be a great cartridge and load on an elk out to where energy crosses 1500 ft-lbs (2200 fps) more or less, which is about 350 yards. Most experienced hunters stay within their capability with is often around 300 yards or less unless you practice at those longer ranges in field conditions and use a rangefinder.

The Weatherby Vanguard Weatherguard has a high Monte Carlo stock to align my eye with the scope and does not punish me as it has a very forgiving recoil pad with the 6.5 Creedmoor.

A match made in a hunters heaven. All I can say is, go buy this rifle for Christmas and give Nosler LRAB’s a try!!

Good Hunting! Practice, Practice Practice.

© 2017 All Rights Reserved

 

Reloading Tech: Wiring up a 6.5 Grendel

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

I hope all spent time with family and friends, and most importantly realized that we all have so much to be grateful for!

I’ve had the PressureTrace™ II system for a few years now and I’ve found it handy in examining the pressure characteristics of my reloads.  It’s been particularly handy in determining the pressure differences between two projectiles of the same weight using the same powder charge.  I’ve only used the system on my bolt guns up to now. I finally wired up my new 6.5 Grendel AR pattern rifle build, the details of which I can share in another post.

In terms of published data there still isn’t that much out there compared to other cartridges, but new data is coming out all the time.  In my estimation Alexander Arms® produces the best factory ammunition for the 6.5 Grendel since it was Bill Alexander who spear headed the design of the round.

Factory 123 gr Lapua Scenar Load

I wanted to use the Alexander Arms factory loads to compare against my loadings for my Grendel.

Since I had some time off yesterday and it was raining, I decided that I would get some load testing done under cover with the range all to myself.

Conditions:
Temp: 42ºF
Baro. Pressure: 29.83
RH%: 97%
Equipment:
Pressure Trace II System
Magnetospeed Chronograph

***CAUTION The data presented below is by no means meant to represent data published via SAAMI approved testing or test methods, and may not reflect the true pressure; this pressure testing is only meant as a comparative tool***

If you are curious as to what a Pressure Trace system is, check out the vendor website at Shooting Software

The barrel I am currently running is a Shilen Stainless Match HBAR 20″ 1:9″ twist featuring a rifle length gas system.  Its worth noting that most bullets in the 123 gr weight aren’t optimal in a 1:9″ twist barrel due to marginal theoretical stability, with the exception of the Hornady 123 gr Match ELD projectiles.

On to the data:

SAAMI MAP (Max Average Pressure): 52,000 psi

Pressure readings I’ve collected from Factory Alexander Arms 123 gr Scenar rounds following an estimated offset of 13000 psi added to original pressure value measure by the pressure trace system.

I’ve chronographed these rounds in 75-80ºF outside temps and they are cruising at about 2510 fps ±10fps out of the 20″ bbl, which is a fair amount faster than at 42ºF as we see here, so I think my estimation on the offset was correct. My aim is to establish the summer time pressure readings of the factory loads as my working maximum pressures.

Pressure readings from IMR 8208 XBR with a 26.5 starting load (not shown here) in 0.5 gr charge increments out to 28.5 gr (also not shown because of pressure signs of previous loadings.

Its clear that I’ve reached high pressure characteristics and any increase in charge weight would unnecessarily strain the Grendel and could eventually approach an unsafe condition.  I now believe I’ve established a safe maximum of 26.0 gr of IMR 8208 XBR, at least in these low temps. Surprisingly the charge to pressure correlation peaked at a lower charge weight than I would have expected based on published data out there for a similar weight projectile.  Published IMR loads with the 123gr Sierra Match King peak at a maximum charge of 28.5 grains (compressed).  I may have to re-adjust the charge downward during the summertime temps to stay consistent with pressures if I decide to stay with this load.  This is another reason why it’s always smart to back off by 10% (I started 7% from max). That being said, this is an accurate powder with 3/4″ groups.  I’ll likely study other powders as well for comparisons sake, such as Hodgdon CFE223 and Accurate 2520, both known for velocity production.  There is little data on CFE223 use, this is where the PressureTrace™ II system will shine, now that I have a baseline.

26.5 gr 8208 XBR 123 gr Hornady ELD Match vs Factory Alexander Arms 123 gr Lapua Scenar

Based on the images above, the Alexander Arms rounds are close in appearance to when I’ve fired them in the summer time, so these marks may be more associated with chambering.  One thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes just chambering a round produces some ejector swipe marks.  I think the marks on the reload to the left suggests that I should back off to 26.0gr and call it a day.

If your range has a covered firing position and it’s raining out, get outside and work your craft and understand your gun/ammunition combination, you just might have the range all to yourself

Look out for a companion piece to this article, as I purchased a 24″ barrel made by Satern Barrels and sold by Brownells, testing will commence with this shortly using the pressure trace system.

Until next time….

See you at the range!

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved.

Savage 12 Palma in Mid Range Prone F T/R Match by Jason Hale

Since I’ve started long range competition, I’ve been exploring ways that our readers may enter the sport at a reasonable cost, of course you can select your hunting rifle in your safe, but if you become serious, the modifications will start.  Enter the Savage Precision Target Rifle Line.  We reached out to Savage and requested the 12 Palma due to it’s unique stock configuration and caliber choice.  Most of the Precision Target Actions (PTA) have a screw spacing of 4.41″, however the 12 Palma has a screw spacing of 3.44″, the reason for which I am not sure.

To learn about Palma Rifle competition Click Here!

All PTA’s accept large shank barrels from your favorite Savage pre-fit barrel supplier.  What I really liked about this configuration was the adjustable stock and 3-way adjustable butt-plate.  See below for some stats on the rifle.

Savage 12 Palma Match Rifle

One thing you’ll notice right away is the odd twist rate of 1:13″.  This twist rate is indicative of the intended bullet that was intended to be used, 155-156gr bullets.  As soon as I received the rifle, I quickly picked up a rail for it and mounted the 7-42X55mm Gold Ring Leupold Competition Scope & Shade we are testing (Outstanding Scope) and ordered some 155.5gr Fullbore bullets from Berger. I recognize that this was not the set up that the rifle was designed for, but the purpose of testing was to determine accuracy potential of the rifle. You can tell that this was really meant for iron sights as you can see the front sight cut near the muzzle of the rifle so that you can clamp-on front sight tubes.  In the pictures below, you’ll also see the 3-way adjustable butt-plate which is fantastic for customizing the fit of the rifle to a specific shooter.  It can be adjusted for length of pull, cant, and height.  I made some minor adjustments to the cant and height, and left it there.  I could have spent more time on tuning the stock, but didn’t.

Once the bullets came in, I took inventory of the powders that I had on hand and selected IMR 4166 which is supposed to be temperature insensitive much like Hodgdon Varget and got to putting some test loads together.

Following a break in process, the rifle immediately demonstrated it’s accuracy potential.  Being limited for time, I settled on a load of 45 gr of IMR-4166 with a COAL of 2.800″ which was limited by the Palma Chamber, which has a very short throat.  See the group shot below.  Not bad at all for an afternoons work.

In all fairness, if this was my rifle I would have spent more time tuning to reduce Standard Deviation and Extreme Spread of velocities, but given the limited distance (600 yards), vertical dispersion would not be as bad as longer distances.  Wind would be more of a challenge.

The day of the Mid-Range Prone match, I was excited to take the rifle out and see what it could do.  I knew that with good loads, it would likely out shoot me, which is a good thing.  The prone match included 3 strings of fire at 300, 500, and 600 yards, with 15 rounds for record with unlimited sighters at each distance.  The wind picked up during the day peaking with 10 mph switching winds during my 500 yard string after settling into a more predictable rhythm for my 600 yard string.  Overall I was pleased with the day, but was a bit frustrated during the 500 yard string being behind on some wind calls that cost me more points than I wanted.  I was only one of two F T/R shooters there, the other being a good friend and great shooter Barbara Lamb, she only dropped 3 out of a possible 450 points for the day, which is fantastic.

Barbara Lamb scoring for me, while Art Lamb (in line for saint-hood, in my mind) was graciously scoring for all on our target.

My scores were 143-0X (300), 131-0X (500), and 144-2X (600), with an aggregate of 418-2X.  The rifle shot great for the little time I put into load development.  I am sure that I could have done more tuning, but in the end I needed more time on the rifle to improve.

One thing I can say, is that if the other rifles in the Savage 12 PTA series shoot similarly, you can’t deny the value, considering the cost of most custom F-Class rigs being between $3000 and $5000, or more even.  Great bang for your buck.  If you’re interested in a quick and relatively inexpensive upgrade that can be further modified easily in the future, check out Savage’s M12 Precision Target Action line.  If you want to start from the ground up and build one, you can purchase an action from Northland Shooters Supply. I’ve done plenty of business with Jim; they’re awesome!

Shoot Straight and Shoot Often!

See you at the range!

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Best Deer, Bear, Moose, Bison, Cartridge for Handloaders with .375 Ruger in a Ruger M77 Hawkeye

Years back  I needed a versatile reloadable cartridge for all game, at all distances and all conditions for that someday hunt for brown bear, or a cape buffalo or bison yet can hunt deer too.  If you are not and have not dreamed of a brown bear hunt then this article is not for you.

If you have, then I would consider the .375 Ruger to be such a reloadable cartridge in a Ruger M77 Hawkeye rifle made here in New Hampshire. The new African model comes with a removable muzzle brake. Check it out.

 

http://ruger.com/products/HawkeyeAfrican/models.html

It is a hunters gun with a soft less reflective finish that will not spook game. I have killed moose and bison as well as red stag with this cartridge and the African model rifle.

It shoots 1/2 inch groups at full power and 1 inch groups with most all other bullets down to 220 grain and loading’s for deer. With a Pachmayr Recoil pad I can shoot it in my t-shirt while standing as it cuts felt recoil in half. A full power load with 260 grain Nosler AccuBond bullets out of the barrel at 2615 fps produces almost 4000 ft-lbs at the Muzzle and 2500 ft-lbs for Moose at 275 yards at a velocity of 2100 fps for perfect mushrooming. For an elk it can reach 450 yards with 1800 ft-lbs at the bullets mushroom design speed. It is a CXP4 cartridge with CXP2 and 3 capability if handloaded.

http://www.chuckhawks.com/cxp4_safari_cartridges.htm

If you are traveling far, check that the local shop’s where you hunt have 375 Ruger rounds in case you loose your baggage. It is the main reason for years that hunters used the 375 H&H because it was like dirt, it was everywhere. But the 375 Ruger has made some dents in that theory.

If I was hunting a  really large Wild Boar up close, I would use the .375 Ruger as they have been known to charge when wounded and it is very difficult to take away its credit card with those 5 inch tusks sticking out of its mouth.

Check out my other .375 Ruger Hawkeye article

Hand Loading the .375 Ruger for Deer, Bear, Moose and Cape Buffalo

© 2017

Good Hunting!

 

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 https://load-data.nosler.com/load-data/65-creedmoor/ 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

 

 

 

 

Rifle Cartridges and Historical Perspectives for Hunting North American Game by Ed Hale

Any rifle cartridge that can come close to, or better than the 30-06 Springfield in energy and speed can take all North American Game. Lesser cartridges exist to hunt deer and black bear only.

I was never a fan of the 30-30 because the Marlin I was exposed to as a youth had a bad firing pin and sometimes would not fire. In analysis it could have been a lubricant issue in 6 degree weather. Never the less, I was not a fan but history shows it is magnificent on deer size game.

The .243 Winchester with 100 grain bullets is fabulous on deer in open terrain out to 300 yards and recoils little. It’s limitation, I believe, is that a small branch in the way can damage the path and delivered energy.

Most of the local New England clubs saw the .270 Winchester and 30-06 as a Cartridge that was not only available but it could be used on Yukon Moose and Brown bear, though many would prefer “more gun.” Especially those who wound the bear and he decides to come for you. Then a bazooka would be just fine, right! Truth be told, they are good performers but on a scale of good, better, best they were just “good” on really big game. On my upcoming Russian Boar hunt, the 30-06 is in the “better to best” category.

“Better” for big bears and moose are above the 30-06 cartridge beginning with the .300 Winchester Magnum. The problem was that the 300 Win. Mag. and larger kicked like a mule, and some after being pummeled, just sold their purchases to go back to a lighter rifle. Then along comes the Simms Recoil pads and Pachmayr Decelerator pads that often reduce felt recoil by 50%. Next is the .338 and .358 Norma Magnum. I owned a .338 Winchester Magnum and have no experience with the .358 so I will leave that for others.

I found that I could shoot my Ruger M77 in .338 Winchester Magnum and Nosler 250 grain Partitions with my T-shirt on, as long as I was not Bench Resting. Here is  my Record Book Kudu with the Ruger M77 in .338 Winchester Magnum and hand loaded Nosler 250 grain Partition bullets. One Shot, one Kill.

Magnums could be easily tamed with these recoil pads. Jim Carmichael of Outdoor Life killed Cape Buffalo with the .338 Winchester Magnum. Hand loading gives a lot of versatility.

Years later, I purchased the Ruger M77 African in .375 Ruger which, when loaded down can take small game to deer, then loaded up to bear, moose, bison and cape buffalo. It is perhaps the most versatile cartridge I own for shots out to 300 yards with a Nosler 260 grain AccuBond. Further for elk size game out to 600 yards if you practice with a laser rangefinder. Left is a Nosler AccuBond and right is a monolithic alloy solid for dangerous game. At 100 yards the impact is nearly identical.

Today there are numerous cartridges that are available such as the new 6 mm and 6.5 Creedmoor for deer and elk which are thin skinned. I have written extensively on the 6.5 Creedmoor and believe it to be the most accurate in its CXP class.

From the website below;

“Winchester calls these “CXP” classes, from CXP1 through CXP4, and has registered CXP as a trademark. CXP stands for “Controlled eXpansion Performance.” Federal lists Usage numbers from 1 through 4 for rifle hunting ammunition. With or without the CXP designation, the numbers 1 through 4 represent the same four basic types of game in both ammunition catalogs.”

See CXP classification by Chuck Hawks on bullets and game for a detailed look.

http://www.chuckhawks.com/cxp.htm

 

Bullet construction and material have made great strides like the copper bullets, partitions, and bonded bullets. Bullet engineering has manifested itself in its ability to be manufactured economically in copper, and bonded with lots of followers so really it is not just about the cartridge but the bullet and its construction as well.

Good Shooting!

© 2017

Hand Loading Nosler e-Tips for the 7×57 Mauser – Prep for A Montana Deer Hunt By Ed Hale

I have a friend Oliver whose wife Mary is an avid hunter along with him. She shoots the .308 Winchester and she shoots the 7×57 Mauser. Honestly, I have never owned a 7×57 Mauser but it shoots sweet and kicks little. She loves the Cartridge. I understand why. In Africa hunters killed everything with it! Sort of like the 7mm-08 Winchester.

I came by opportunity to shoot the 7×57 because Oliver found it was impossible to find fully loaded rounds with the Nosler e-Tip Gilding Copper bullets.

I was testing the Nosler e-tips for Nosler and had some to load for her and get her feedback on them. They are hunting Montana next week so I was happy to help them with hand loading.

My experience with Nosler e-Tips is significant and had 7 mm 150 grain heads on hand. The ballistic coefficient is .427 and can reach out even at modest velocities. Years ago my friend reloaded but not recently so he gave me the Dies to reload the 7×57. It was a straightforward reload but I had to trim the once fired cases. I deprimed and tumbled them to give them some shine and clean them up. Since they are spending big dollars I took my time hand loading and hand weighing each round to within a 10th of a grain. The powder recommended by  Nosler was H4831sc which I had in my powder locker. e-tips are not recommended to shoot at more than moderate velocities, accordingly I chose to shoot a starting load that was the most accurate for the whole of the powders I could choose. I chose seating depth to where the cannelure was on the bullet. Muzzle velocity according to the Nosler manual was a modest 2408 fps.

Adjusting for the first shot which was 7 inches to the right, I placed 2 rounds at .5/8 inch apart then we moved to 150 yards and placed the 3rd shot right next to the other 2. That was enough to prove the rounds accuracy was excellent for hunting. Now Mary should be able to shoot these as well at the range tomorrow and save rounds for the hunt. This cartridge has a Max Point Blank Range of 235 yards and will stay in a plus or minus 3 inch radius to that distance without changing the aim point. If needed the shooter can adjust the aim point beyond that distance and shoot out to 300 yards with an 11 inch bullet drop provide the wind is accounted for at 10 inches lateral with a 10 mph wind. Here a very steady rest is needed. Good Hunting to them!

In the mean time I am almost packed for my southern deer hunt with .243 Winchester and 7mm Remington Magnum both shooting e-Tips.

See the result of our hunts in 2 weeks…Happy Blood Trails to You! © 2015

 

30-06 Springfield – A Reloader’s Hunting Cartridge

The 30-06 Springfield was introduced to the US Army in 1906. That was nearly 110 years ago. In that 110 years the 30-06 became one of the most popular hunting cartridges of all time in North America and on the African Continent for American hunters.  It still is today due to the wide availability of brass, and later, many bullet weights and styles, shot largely in bolt action hunting rifles. In Africa President Teddy Roosevelt kill much game including an Elephant with the 30-06. I would choose a larger caliber like the 458 Lott for dangerous game (yet another story) , thanks!

In hunting circles the 30-06 brass is still perhaps the most widely available brass along the .308 Winchester a smaller cartridge with its own story as a military round. Every corner store that has ammo stocks the 30-06 Springfield. Reloading dies are everywhere!

What is fascinating is that the 30-06 of military fame gave birth by experimentation by Wildcatters (experimenters) to a plethora of excellent hunting calibers both smaller in diameter and larger in diameter.  The 30-06 based cartridge that has dominated the smaller caliber is the .270 Winchester (diameter actual is .277 inches) a necked down 30-06 case. It was Jack O’connor of Outdoor Life that wrote so prolifically and eloquently on the .270 Winchester for all North American Game and African Plains Game but with moderate recoil in a standard action.  If memory serves, he loaded 130 grain heads with IMR 4350 and exited the muzzle above 3000 fps. I read lots of his work in Outdoor Life Magazine growing up. He was a master story teller but ever to inform that it is marksmanship that makes the kill possible. The .270 with 130 grain bullets were easier on recoil making it easy on the shoulder on long shots out to 200, 300 or more yards. I took my son Jason on Safari with the .270 Winchester and he did very well but I hand loaded 150 grain Nosler Partitions.(see photo below)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Also the 25-06 Remington (diameter .257) held its own on deer size game at long distances and is touted as an excellent Antelope round shooting a 100 grain bullet at 3200 fps.  The .243 Winnchester and 6mm Cartridges stole a lot of the 25-06 thunder.

In the necked up version of the 30-06 is the 8mm-06 (.323 diameter) or the 338-06 (.338 diameter) but they are still in use today because of the availability of 30-06 brass and a wide assortment of bullets that came as a result of other .338 cartridges. I heard recently of someone singing the praises of the 35 Whelen (developed by Colonel Townsend Whelen developed in 1922) whose parent is the 30-06 case. The Whelen can shoot 180 grain bullets at 2700 fps, the 200 grain bullet at 2600 fps, and the 250 grain bullets at speeds of 2400 fps delivering great down punch on all North American Game. Even better is the .338 caliber bullet which when loaded in the .338-06 can push a 200 grain bullet at 2800 fps, a 225 grain bullet at 2600 fps and has a better long range ballistic coefficient (BC) and bullet selection than the 35 Whelen. Today’s excellent recoil pads are engineered to reduce recoil by up to 50% so go ahead and shoot what ever suits your fancy. If you hand load like I do then the world is your oyster with just a few rifles.

You can never go wrong with a 30-06 for North American Game and most African Game. © 2015

Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge – Initial Observations

The first thing I discovered is that new Brass for the Creedmoor does not appear to be abundant. In fact I found Hornady brass to be the one of the only available new brass in stock. Nosler Brass was out of stock. If you have read my previous articles on the 6.5 Creedmoor you will see that the Hornady brass is soft, thus making it difficult to reload. Lots of case prep to bevel the inside of the case neck without creating a sharp flair edge is difficult indeed. Pressing on with the only new brass in town, I have succeeded in reloading it more than twice. The brass is stiffer as it becomes harder with use and better for pressing the bullet into the neck.

Of great interest should be Cartridge Overall Length (COL) ; The Max SAAMI Over All Cartridge Length is specified as 2.825.

I am shooting 120 grain Sierra Pro-Hunter heads as I am a hunter first and a target shooter second. I originally set the COL for this head with case at 2.53 inches and later discovered that I could push the head out as far as a COL of 2.70 and still have enough of the bullet seated. Groups of the 2.53 COL show excellent results as groups are 1 inch or less. Yesterday I shot several rounds set at a COL of 2.70 and the result deteriorated with fliers in the 2 inch group area. One would think that groups would improve as the bullet is closer to the rifling. Not so in this case, perhaps because the case had very little of the bullet in it. I perceive that the 120 grain is still a small bullet for the 6.5 and that heavier and larger bullets will make better use of the max COL.

Bullets are readily available from most all manufacturers, key bullets like the Nosler AccuBond  are available as are several Berger Hunting Bullets, et al. The reloader must experiment with COL to see what works best and provides best groups.

On powders, my only experience is with Hodgdon Hornady Superformance at this time and I like it very much because it is a smaller kernel and meters well with less variation than larger kernels. Nosler folks suggest powders such as Varget, W760, IMR 4007 SSC, Big Game, H4350, RL17 and Hunter.among others.

Since the Creedmoor Cartridge is new, older reloading manuals do not have it. Nosler does provide load data at http://www.nosler.com/nosler-load-data/65-creedmoor/  and SAAMI specifications. Hornady has the 6.5 listed at http://www.hornady.com/store/6.5-Creedmoor but no data for reloading. Check out the scrapbook of game animals taken. It includes a record Gemsbok. © 2015

Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator System Test – 6.5 Creedmoor – Updated

Screenshot (129)

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.

DSC_0036

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.

Ruger Hawkeye Pred 6.5 Creedmoor  1st 4s group 100 yds 1.0 in.

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.

Ruger Hawkeye Pred 6.5 Creedmoor 2nd 3s group 100 yds .625 in. aft bbl scrub

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

Overall Comments:

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