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Rifle Reloading Data: My Pet Loads for Target & Hunting

These are some of my pet loads. They were what I found to be the most precise in my rifles after extensive and tedious load development. I may tweak the loads slightly as the throat of a barrel erodes, but I don’t typically vary too far from what is shown here.

You should always reference a quality reloading manual and start with the minimum recommended loads and work your way up. Just because these have proven safe in my rifles, doesn’t mean they will be in your’s. Chamber dimensions, brass specs, barrel grooves and diameter can vary, so it’s very important to follow safety precautions. Failure to follow safe loading practices could result in severe personal injury (including death) or gun damage to the user or bystanders. Technical data and information contained herein are intended to provide information based upon the limited experience of individuals under specific conditions and circumstances. They do not detail the comprehensive training, procedures, techniques and safety precautions that are absolutely necessary to properly carry on similar activity. Always consult comprehensive reference manuals and bulletins for details of proper training requirements, procedures, techniques and safety precautions before attempting any similar activity. Be alert – publisher cannot be responsible for errors in published load data.

6XC Load Data

This is the load that I usually shoot in PRS-style matches when I’m using a 6mm rifle.

  • Bullet: Berger 105gr Match Hybrid
  • Powder: 39.8gr Hodgdon H4350 (Extreme Series Powder)
  • Primer: CCI BR-2 Large Rifle Primer
  • Case: Norma brass (neck trimmed to 0.0125″, case trimmed to 1.900″)
  • COAL: 2.110″ Base to Ogive (2.71″ average base to tip)
  • Muzzle Velocity: 3010 fps (from 24″ barrel)

6.5 Creedmoor Load Data

This is the load that I usually shoot in PRS-style matches when I’m using a 6.5mm rifle.

  • Bullet: Berger 130gr Match AR Hybrid OTM Tactical
  • Powder: 43.0gr Hodgdon H4350 (Extreme Series Powder)
  • Primer: CCI BR-2 Large Rifle Primer
  • Case: Norma brass
  • COAL: 2.131″ Base to Ogive (2.86″ average base to tip)
  • Redding Neck Bushing Size: 0.288″ (determines neck tension on bullet)
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2797 fps (from 22″ barrel)

338 Lapua Mag Load Data

This is the load I’ve found to have the lowest standard deviation (SD) in muzzle velocity. For shots out to 1 mile and beyond, a very low SD (at least below 10 fps) becomes critical.

  • Bullet: Berger 300gr Match Hybrid OTM Tactical
  • Powder: 90.0gr Hodgdon H1000 (Extreme Series Powder)
  • Primer: CCI 250 Large Rifle Magnum Primer
  • Case: Lapua brass
  • COAL: 3.030″ Base to Ogive (3.86″ average base to tip)
  • Redding Neck Bushing Size: 0.365″ (determines neck tension on bullet)
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2757 fps (from 26″ barrel)

7mm Rem Mag Load Data

Photo of The AuthorThis is the load I use for both long-range target shooting competitions, as well as hunting (whitetail, mule deer, feral hogs). It is super-accurate, and I’ve shot it out to 1 mile on multiple occasions. At the same time I’ve taken a 300 lb wild boar with it (see photo … the “small” one on the right weighed right at 200 lbs), with devastating terminal ballistics. I use a “Large Rifle” primer instead of the recommended “Large Magnum Rifle” primer to lower my SD (i.e. standard deviation of my muzzle velocity). After 1,000+ rounds, I’ve still yet to have an ignition problem with Federal 210M primers in my 7mm Rem Mag. However, when I experimented with CCI BR-2 primers, right at 25% of those loaded rounds were either slow-fires or misfires. If you are hunting in extremely cold weather (below freezing) you may be better off going with a magnum primer to ensure proper ignition.

  • Bullet: Berger 168gr VLD Hunting
  • Powder: 69.8gr Hodgdon Retumbo (Extreme Series Powder)
  • Primer: CCI 250 Large Rifle Magnum Primer
  • Case: Norma brass (neck trimmed to 0.012″, case trimmed to 2.491″)
  • COAL: 2.810″ Base to Ogive (3.46″ average base to tip)
  • Redding Neck Bushing Size: 0.307″ (determines neck tension on bullet)
  • Muzzle Velocity: 3027 fps (from 25″ barrel)

223 Remington Load Data (Target & Varmint Hunting)

I tried around 20 different bullets out of this gun, and a few different powders as well. I’ve also talked to several other reloaders that did the same thing, and every single one of them landed on this Hornady 55gr V-Max. For one reason or another, it is just a really accurate bullet out of just about any rifle. I shoot it out of my Rock River AR-15 20″ Varmint, but I know guys who use it out of their bolt actions as well with stunning results. I primarily use this for coyote hunting and have confirmed kills past 300 yards, but I’ve also hit steel targets out as far as 840 yards with it. I was able to find several bullets/loads that grouped around 1/2″ at 100 yards, but this one got down as low as 1/4″ with an average group being just over 1/3″ out of my rifle.

  • Bullet: Hornady 55gr V-Max
  • Powder: 26.4gr Hodgdon Varget (Extreme Series Powder)
  • Primer: CCI BR-4 Small Rifle Benchrest
  • Case: Lapua brass (neck trimmed to 0.012″, case trimmed to 1.751″)
  • Length: 2.250″ COAL (base to tip)
  • Muzzle Velocity: 3,056 fps (from 20″ barrel)

270 Winchester Load Data (Varmint Hunting)

This bullet is EXPLOSIVE! I’ve shot one very small coyote in the neck, and it had full expansion before it made it out. Even though the neck was probably only 3-4″ thick … you could stick your fist in the exit cavity. It is the most explosive round I’ve ever seen, and the blazing 3,500 fps muzzle velocity probably has a lot to do with it. I know one other guy who did independent load development on multiple bullets and powders and this class, and come to find out he also landed on the Sierra 90gr Varminter HP over IMR powder. Even the powder charge he was loading was just a couple grains off what my rifle liked. I would not use this round on heavy-skinned game like wild boar … I’ve tried it, and it took more than a couple shots to take one down.

  • Bullet: Sierra 90gr Varminter HP
  • Powder: 59.2gr IMR 4350
  • Primer: CCI 200
  • Case: Federal
  • Length: 3.212″ COAL (base to tip)
  • Muzzle Velocity: ~3500 fps

270 Winchester Load Data (Big Game Hunting)

Because this is an all-copper bullet, it packs a lot more punch than the 130gr weight would indicate. It probably is more equal to most 150gr bullets. The Barnes TSX gives world-class penetration, even through bone. The newer “Tipped Triple Shock (TTSX)” bullet adds a polymer tip instead of hollow point designed, which slightly lowers the BC (i.e. makes it more aerodynamic), and also helps start the expansion process more quickly when it comes in contact with the target. Although these bullets do get great penetration, they may over-penetrate on thin-skinned game. With these bullets I typically aim for a joint like the front shoulder, and the bone fragments created by a hit there combined with the deep bullet penetration usually means the blood trail is very short.

About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. His engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and ability to present technical and complex information in a unbiased and straight-forward fashion has quickly caught the attention of the industry. For more info on Cal, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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10 comments

  1. Hi

    what is the average 168 VLD bullet BORE diameter?[0.222?] of 7mm rem mag? 180 vld if you can.

    • Well, the bullet diameter for a 7mm is 0.284 inches. That is also the groove diameter of the barrel (ie the low points in the rifling). 7mm actually refers to the bore diameter, not the groove diameter … Well, at least roughly. The bore diameter of most 7mm barrels is 0.277 inches, but some are 0.276 inches. If you simply convert 7mm to inches, you get 0.2756 inches. The bore diameter is the diameter between the lands (ie high points in the rifling).

      Clear as mud?! This can be confusing, but I hope this answers your question.

      • cal,

        this question got triggered by your chamber print info. kinda understood groove vs bore diameter of barrel. I was planning to buy bartlien 7mm barrel. & I wanted to know if there was a difference between the bore or width of regular 7mm bullets vs vld bullets in order to determine which barrel to buy.

        Kind of optimize groove/bore diameter to vld bullet bore diameter in selecting barrel. I read that barrels are too wide on factory rifles & maybe custom barrels may or may not follow this principle. So like buying steak w/ more fat vs less, wanted to know if you saw a optimal vld width/bore which i could use to select barrel. Understand that tight fits result in higher pressures & I dont plan to handload, so it might help to what you did or found. thx.

        niqqy

      • I measured the diameter of several long-range 7mm bullets for you. These are at least what I had on the shelf. Here are the measurements I found:

        • Berger 180gr Hybrid = 0.284″ avg diameter
        • Berger 180gr VLD = 0.284″ avg diameter
        • Berger 168gr VLD = 0.284″ avg diameter
        • Hornady 162gr A-MAX = 0.284″ avg diameter
        • Nosler 168gr AccuBond Long-Range (LR) = 0.2835″ avg diameter (… interesting)

        I actually don’t even know why I kept measuring after the first several were all exactly 0.284 inches … but the last one I measured was the Nosler AccuBond Long-Range (LR) and it averaged right around 0.2835. I thought my calipers must have lost their zero, so I went back and measured several of each one … and the same results. Don’t know if it has any measurable effect on ballistics, but its interesting. Hope this helps.

  2. cal,

    finally got it & thank you very much.for the email pinging.

    so the bullet width of vld/long range=groove diameter ie perfect fit. Now reading your chamber print section, the part where the throat angle was changed from 3 degree to 1 minus 30degree is the key difference to customizing the chamber to the VLD shape.

    so as long the barrels are groove diameter of .284, the vld will fit. But if i dont handload, i might need to stay at 2-3 degree angle to not “overload” the chamber. I feel smart. If i am right about this, i thank you for me getting there after reading about what you had done on your custom build. The chamber print stuff is definitely not written about in a clear & concise manner in blogs or sniper hide.

    ps: so for late reply. can you write/do pix about your hog hunts? I cant hunt hogs in toronto; so i envy you.

    • It sounds like you’re spot on to me. Yeah, and I’m with on forums and other websites not being clear & concise … that’s exactly what motivated me to start this. I still have yet to make a dime off of it, but long range shooting is a passion of mine and I’m just hoping to help other shooters get into it. There is still a lot that I don’t understand, but as I learn I just try to organize the info in a way that is easy for other people to understand and hopefully help someone coming behind me. So glad to hear it helped!

      I really haven’t written much about the hog hunts. I might someday. They are a blast! Hunting dangerous game is certainly a thrill. I’ve definitely seen more than a couple hogs that didn’t run away from a human … when they get to the point where they substantially outweigh you, they start running at you!

      • cal,

        read a bunch of books by wayne van wzoll on long range[like the way he writes]. but he never talked about this. I dont think i would have found this out but glad that i did. i just like learning stuff for my own sake.

        hey you dont have to write about hog hunts. just take pix of you going there & I/we will fill in the blanks.

        I really enjoy watching hog bowhunts in australia. dont know why but the video & light just looks amazing & hogs look tasty.

  3. Most people don’t realize what the Barnes X bullet and it’s imitators have done for us. In the old days my .300WM shooting 180gr conventional bullets with an approx 65% weight retention yielded 117gr for penetration to vital organs or the off side shoulder [ 180 x .65 = 117 ]. Monolithic bullets like your .270 130gr “TSX” retain 95+% [ 130 x .95 = 123.5 ] So we get at least a calibre up in terminal ballistics, higher MV & better trajectory ( external ballistics ) ( higher BC ) AND LESS RECOIL . This allowed me to take a cape buffalo at 142 paces with a 160 “X” out of my 7×57…DRT! Even though I load VLDs for LRH…I carry a Barnes X up-the-snout walking in and coming out in case I get a short range shot. Inside 100 yards they print Minute of Meat with the same zero.
    “You have come a long way pilgrim”

    • Yep, those bullets are pretty amazing. What I don’t understand is why doesn’t Barnes come out with bullets with stupid-high BC’s? It seems like you’d be able to pull off designs with solid bullets that would be difficult or impossible with traditional bullets. I know Cutting Edge lathe-turns some solid bullets that have crazy high BC’s, but I’m not sure how they perform in terms of terminal ballistics … and I’ve witnessed what the Barnes are capable of.

      I had a friend who was literally a billionaire, and he went on all kinds of exotic hunts. But that didn’t mean they carried him to the animal in an air-conditioned golf cart. Some of the hunts he went on were brutal. They’d hike for a week in steep, ankle-breaking terrain in ice-cold winds … and then the moment would come. After a multi-day stalk, he’d finally be in the position for 1 shot. He told me to think about that moment. How much had you spent in money and effort to get in that position? Did you really want to cut corners on your bullet at that point? Sure, Barnes are a little more expensive … but they ALWAYS perform. He told me he did that exact hunt I described one time and reached for a Nosler Ballistic Tip, and it hit the front shoulder of the ram and split. The largest chunk of the bullet went straight into the ground where the ram stood … and a smaller piece entered into the animal. They recovered the piece of bullet that was lodged into the rocks where the animal stood … but never found the animal. That’s a sad story, but a good lesson. Unfortunately, I lost a great whitetail buck I knocked down at 100 yards with that same bullet. I can make that shot … even with buck fever. He went down immediately. After a few minutes, I started walking out to him … and he ran away, never to be seen again. There was a pool of blood, but it wasn’t a lot. Barnes bullets have yet to let me down. Actually Berger bullets haven’t either.

      Thanks,
      Cal