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Reloading Components – What The Pros Use

This post reviews the reloading components (bullets, brass, and gun powder) the best precision rifle shooters were using in 2014. The data is based on a survey of the top 50 shooters in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS). The PRS tracks how top competitors place in major rifle matches across the country. These are the major leagues of sniper-style competitions, with targets typically in the 300-1000 yard range. This is the 3rd year we’ve collected this data. For more info on the Precision Rifle Series and who these guys are scroll to the bottom of this article.

Long-Range Bullets

Here is the breakdown of the most popular long-range bullets used in the 2014 Precision Rifle Series:

Long-Range Bullets

Berger Bullets were clearly the favorite again this year, which wasn’t a surprise. But it did surprise me to see them take an even more commanding lead. Last year 2 out of 3 shooters were using Berger Bullets. This year, out of the top 50 overall finishers, 39 were using Berger Bullets! Wow.

Bryan Litz and the other guys at Berger Bullets have established themselves as the innovators around high BC bullets. BC stands for Ballistic Coefficient, which quantifies how aerodynamic a bullet is. A bullet with a high BC value indicates that it can cut through air and wind very efficiently (i.e. doesn’t have much drag), which drastically improves ballistics down range. As these pros would tell you, in long-range shooting, BC is king. It’s common for amateurs to focus too much on high muzzle velocity, but velocity will quickly diminish if a bullet doesn’t have a high BC. The highest BC’s usually come from the heaviest bullets, which translates to lower muzzle velocities. But those heavier, high BC bullets typically have more remaining velocity at 1000 yards despite starting out slower, because the lower drag helps them retain a much higher percentage of their initial muzzle velocity. I love how German Salazar explains it:

As muzzle velocity increases, drag on the bullet increases disproportionately; thus, most of what you gain in MV is quickly lost. Muzzle velocity is a depreciating asset, not unlike a new car, but BC, like diamonds, is forever.

Virtually all of these shooters are running mid-sized cartridges with moderate muzzle velocity and extremely high BC bullets, which is why 80% of them turn to Berger for their bullets.

37 out of the 39 shooters using Berger Bullets went with one of the Berger Hybrid bullet designs, but there were 2 shooters using Berger VLD (Very Low Drag) style bullets. I’ll touch more on the exact weights and styles of bullets later in this article.

Lapua Scenar Bullets were the next most popular choice, with 6 shooters choosing to shoot those bullets. 2 of those shooters were using the new Lapua Scenar-L bullets.

3 shooters were using bullets made by Hornady, with 2 of those being the popular Hornady A-MAX bullet and one opting for the HPBT Match bullet.

1 shooter within the top 50 competitors was using a JLK VLD bullet. One interesting note, the 6.5mm JLK 140gr VLD bullet that was used has the highest BC of any bullet fired by the top 50 shooters. More on that later in the article!

Best Long-Range Bullets

6mm Bullets

6mm Bullets

This chart makes me laugh. There is obviously just one bullet that virtually every 6mm shooter uses, the beloved Berger 105 grain Hybrid. It has a very high BC (G7 = 0.278, G1 = 0.547), especially when you consider its weight. A standard rule of thumb for long-range shooters is to use the heaviest bullet for the caliber, but there are some 115gr 6mm bullets … so this is one exception to that rule. Most 115gr bullets don’t have as high of a BC as this 105gr bullet, and the few that do are only marginally higher. For example, the Berger 115 grain VLD bullet has a G7 BC of 0.279, which is 0.001 better than the 105gr bullet!

… and there was one shooter using the Lapua 105 grain Scenar-L bullet (G7 BC = 0.236, G1 BC = 0.472).

Here are the muzzle velocities that these guys using 6mm bullets are running at. Since all of them were using 105gr bullets, they’re all grouped together.

6mm Bullet Muzzle Velocity

6.5mm Bullets

6.5mm Bullets

The Berger Hybrid bullet was the most popular among the 6.5mm bullets as well. Almost 50% of the shooters using 6.5mm bullets chose to go with the Berger 140 grain Hybrid bullet (G7 BC = 0.317, G1 BC = 0.618).

Behind it, there were four shooters using the Lapua 139 grain Scenar. That isn’t the new Scenar-L bullet, but the older design Scenar that actually has a higher BC. The Lapua 139 grain Scenar G7 BC is 0.290, and the Lapua 136 grain Scenar-L is 0.274. Lapua says the Scenar-L is “not a redesign in ballistics, but a refinement in all manufacturing steps. Using our state of the art manufacturing capabilities and decades of competitive experience, we have set out to tighten all measures and requirements, including our already famous quality control standards.” So it’s less about an improved design, and more about improved manufacturing processes.

6.5mm Bullet Muzzle Velocity

Ballistics Comparison of 6mm & 6.5mm Bullets

The graph below compares the average ballistics of the 6mm and 6.5mm rounds these guys were using. Virtually all of the 6mm guys were shooting a Berger 105gr Hybrid bullet (G7 BC = 0.278), and most of the guys said their muzzle velocity was around 3,100 fps. Most of the 6.5mm shooters were using a Berger 140gr Hybrid bullet (G7 BC = 0.317), and the majority of those guys had a muzzle velocity around 2,800 fps for that bullet weight. I entered that data into the JBM Ballistic Engine to generate the data displayed below.

6mm vs 6.5mm Drop Ballistics

You can see the 6mm shooters have a 1/2 mil advantage by 500 yards, a full 1 mil advantage by 800 yards, and it just grows from there. Even though the 6.5mm bullet has a higher BC (0.317 vs. 0.278), this is one of those cases where the slightly higher BC just isn’t able to make up the difference in muzzle velocity.

I also compared the wind drift of these two sets of ballistics, and that data is displayed below. They were virtually identical out to 1,000 yards, and beyond that, the 6.5mm bullet had a tiny advantage of 0.1 mils.

6mm vs 6.5mm Wind Drift Ballistics

Bullet & BC Data for Popular 6mm & 6.5mm Bullets

Here is a breakdown of the BC for each bullet. These BC’s come from Bryan Litz’s brand-new book, that is hot of the press this week! It’s an invaluable reference, and I’d highly, highly recommend you pick up a copy. Here is what the books about:

Ballistic Performance of Rifle Bullets by Bryan LitzModern rifles have reached an unprecedented level of accuracy. In many cases, the weak link in the chain of hitting targets is the trajectory modeling, which is based on bullet performance. Unfortunately, not all bullet companies are up to the task of providing highly accurate Ballistic Coefficients (BC’s). In many cases, slight inaccuracies in BC can be the cause of missing your target. Furthermore, a meaningful apples-to-apples comparison of bullet performance is not possible when the BC’s are determined differently by various brands.

This book provides highly accurate ballistic performance data for 400 modern long range bullets from .224 to .408 caliber. The Ballistic Coefficient data is based on live fire testing methods which are repeatable within +/- 1%. By employing a common testing method for bullets of all brands, shooters are provided with consistent and accurate performance data which can be used to compare and select bullets, as well as to calculate accurate trajectories which put your shots on target at long range.

The only BC data that doesn’t come from Litz’s latest book is the Lapua 6mm 105gr Scenar-L. That one isn’t covered in his book, so I’m presenting what Lapua advertises for that bullet.

CaliberBulletLitz G7 BCLitz G1 BC
6mm105gr Berger Hybrid0.2790.545
105gr Lapua Scenar-L0.2360.472
6.5mm130gr Berger VLD0.2820.550
136gr Lapua Scenar-L0.2740.545
139gr Lapua Scenar0.2900.564
140gr Berger Hybrid0.3190.622
140gr Berger VLD0.3040.593
140gr Hornady A-MAX0.2990.583
140gr Hornady HPBT0.2850.554
140gr JLK VLD0.3210.625

As we saw in the 6mm and 6.5mm ballistic comparison, sometimes BC can’t fully make up for the slower muzzle velocity that comes with a heavier bullet. There is a relationship between those two factors, and you can’t focus on just one. To try to gain insight into which bullets have a really high BC for their weight, I came up with an index that essentially just represents the BC to weight ratio. The actually calculation is the Litz G7 BC divided by the bullet weight, multipled by 100,000 (so that it wasn’t a super tiny number). Bullets with a higher index indicate that they have a really high BC for their weight.

Bullet Effeciency - BC to Weight Index

This might help us see why over half of the top 50 shooters shoot the Berger 105gr Hybrid bullet. It just has a ridiculously high BC for it’s light 105 grain weight. In fact, it’s possible that bullet could be the catalyst causing so many to switch to the 6mm cartridges. Not only do you get a bullet with a relatively high BC, but you’re also able to push it to higher muzzle velocities because it isn’t the heaviest bullet for that caliber. With the Berger 105gr Hybrid, you can have your cake and eat it too!

Update: Bryan Litz contacted me after reading this article, and he reminded me that there is a metric named form factor, which also quantifies how a bullet’s BC relates to it’s size. It doesn’t give you exactly the same insight as the metric above, but it can definitely help you analyze bullets. As you may have guessed, his new book includes form factor values as well. Out of respect for Bryan, I won’t publish those values here … to make sure you have a reason to go buy his book. It’s an invaluable reference, and if you’re reading this post I know you’ll appreciate it. To learn more about what form factor is, and how it’s calculated, read this article Bryan wrote.

Reloading Brass

Here are the most popular brands of reloading brass among the top 50 precision rifle shooters. The chart is broken down by cartridge, so that you could see what brands people were using based on the cartridge they were shooting.

Best Reloading Brass

There were 21 shooters using Hornady brass and 21 shooters using Lapua brass. 85% of the shooters were using one of those two brands. If a shooter was using the 6mm Creedmoor (most popular cartridge overall) or the 6.5 Creedmoor rounds, then they were using Hornady cases. Shooters weren’t using Hornady brass for any other cartridge.

If the name of the cartridge ended with “Lapua” (i.e. 6.5×47 Lapua or 6×47 Lapua) they used Lapua brass. No surprise, right? There were also shooters using Lapua brass for 243 Win, 260 Rem, and 6mm Dasher.

There were 3 guys in the top 50 shooting a 6XC, and all 3 of them chose to go with Norma brass. Norma is a well-respected European brass company like Lapua, who also drills their primer holes and anneals their case necks.

3 shooters were using Winchester brass. 2 of those were for the 260 Rem, and 1 was for the 6mm Super LR. It’s interesting to note that the two 260 Rem shooters didn’t go with Lapua brass like most the others shooting that cartridge did.

Lastly, the 1 shooter firing a 6.5 SAUM was using Remington brass.

Reloading Powder

Let’s look at what brand reloading powder these precision rifles were shooting at this year’s championship.

Best Reloading Powder

Really, no surprises here. Virtually all of the top 50 shooters in the PRS use one of the powders in Hodgdon’s line of Extreme Rifle Powders. You may be wondering why everyone gravitates to the Hodgdon Extreme Series powders. All of the powders in that line have Hodgdon’s “thermally desensitive coating technology,” which has been proven to have significantly less temperature sensitivity and lot variation than other powders. The chart below shows the temperature variance found in H4350 for temperatures from 0 degrees to 125 degrees, compared to other similar powders. To read more about it, check out Hodgdon’s research data and comparison.

Hodgdon H4350 Velocity Test Results

Here is a breakdown of the specific types of powder that the top shooters have been using over the past 3 years.

Best Rifle Powder

Clearly, Hodgdon H4350 is the favorite among this group. H4350 is a great choice for a slower burning powder for mid-size cartridges. Here is what Hodgdon has to say about this powder:

Hodgdon H4350 Extreme Extruded propellant is a burning speed that has been known to shooters for decades. During that time, Hodgdon has modernized H4350 by shortening the grains for improved metering and making it insensitive to hot/cold temperatures. H4350 is ideal in the WSM family of calibers (270, 7mm, 30, 325). H4350 is the standard in such cartridges as the 243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, 270 Winchester, 338 Winchester Magnum and many more.

Hodgdon H4350

There were also a few shooters using Hodgdon Varget, which is a slightly faster burning powder. Here is what Hodgdon says about Varget:

The first of Hodgdon’s revolutionary Extreme Extruded Powders, VARGET features small extruded grains for uniform metering, insensitivity to hot/cold temperatures and higher energy for improved velocities over other powders in its burning speed class. Easy ignition and clean burning characterize other features that translate into superb accuracy, higher scores and more clean, one shot kills. The perfect powder for competitive Match shooting 223 Remington and Heavy bullets. Outstanding performance and velocity can be obtained in such popular cartridges as the 223 Remington, 22-250 Remington, 308 Winchester, 30-06, 375 H&H and many more.

Hodgdon Varget

Here is Hodgdon’s burn rate chart, and I’ve highlighted each of the powders that were used by the top 50 shooters in the PRS over the past 3 years.

Hodgdon Powder Burn Rate Chart

Meet The Pros

2014 Precision Rifle Series LogoYou know NASCAR? Yes, I’m talking about the racing-cars-in-a-circle NASCAR. Before NASCAR, there were just a bunch of unaffiliated, regional car races. NASCAR brought structure by unifying those races, and created the idea of a season … and an overall champion. NASCAR identified the top races across the country (that were similar in nature), then combined results and ranked competitors. The Precision Rifle Series (PRS) is like NASCAR, but for rifle matches.

The PRS is a championship style point series race based on the best precision rifle matches nationwide. PRS matches are recognized as the major league of sniper-style rifle matches. At the end of each year, the scores from around 15 different national matches are evaluated and the top shooters are invited to compete head to head in the PRS Season Championship Match. We surveyed the shooters who qualified for the finale, asking all kinds of questions about the equipment they ran that season. This is a great set of data, because 50+ shooters is a significant sample size, and this particular group are also considered experts among experts. It includes guys like George Gardner (President/Senior Rifle Builder of GA Precision), Francis Kuehl, Wade Stuteville, the GAP Team, the Surgeon Rifles Team, shooters from the US Army Marksmenship Unit, and many other world-class shooters. Thanks to Rich Emmons for allowing me to share this info. To find out more about the PRS, check out What Is The Precision Rifle Series?

Other “What The Pros Use” Articles

This post was one of a series of posts that look at the equipment the top PRS shooters use. Check out these other posts:

Enjoy this type of data-driven information? That’s what this website is all about. Sign-up to receive new posts via email.

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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41 comments

  1. Aww, you left out the coating part…

    • Sorry, Shotty. I can say I didn’t notice any of the guys loading coated bullets in their rifles at the PRS Championship Match sight-in. I know that isn’t the answer you were hoping for. I did make a note to consider asking that question next year.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Does Litz have the 136L at .288? Your calculations don’t add up if that’s the case. It would score a 211, unless I’m missing something.

      • Hey, Ryan. I appreciate your question. Litz didn’t have a G7 BC published for that bullet (at least at the time I wrote that article). I believe Lapua released the Scenar L bullets at SHOT Show 2014, so they are still fairly new. So for the calculations on that bullet I had to use the published G7 BC from Lapua, which is 0.274. I double-checked the calculations in Excel, and they appear to be correct. Here is where I pulled the BC:

        Lapua Scenar-L BC

        Thanks,
        Cal

  2. Ahhh perfect timed article. In the process of a new build, and will be looking at components shortly!

    • Great, glad you found it helpful! That’s what I’m shooting for here.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • I did for sure. My current .308 didn’t like bergers, but I think that might have been more of my lack of knowledge than anything. Going into this new rifle (and subsequent rebarrel of my current rifle) I am going to give them another look for the .308, but I will definitely be using them for the 6mm build.

        It was very interesting to see how many people us Hornady brass – that part of the whole thing stuck with me.

  3. Norma now has 6.5 Creedmore brass listed on their website. With Winchester offering 6.5 Creedmore ammo this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if they released the brass for it at SHOT.

    • Thanks for the comments Kris. Good to know. That will make it even more interesting next year to see if guys switch from Hornady brass when they have other options.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  4. Great info as always. Thanks for your efforts. I am curious why you did not inquire re primers of choice as well?

    • Great question. Obviously that is the other component here. I’m not sure why I didn’t ask, but I’ll make a note and might add that to the survey next year.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  5. Would like to see a What the Pro’s use on Reloading Equipment ……..Press, Die’s , tools..Scales, ect. someone’s building that precision ammo , how do they do it…? thanks guys for the great info..

    • That would be interesting. I’m hoping that one of my friends will publish some material they’ve written on precision reloading. He’s able to produce some seriously consistent ammo. I’ve witnessed him fire 10 shot strings over an Oehler 35p chrono, and the muzzle velocity had a standard deviation of 3 fps. He’s done that with a 6.5×47 Lapua and also a 338 Lapua Magnum. I didn’t know that was even possible! He’s thinking about publishing it on this blog, but may go to press with it. Either way, when it’s available, I’ll be sure to post something about it on here. I can’t wait to read it myself!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  6. Hi Cal
    What length barrel ( on average) are the pros using to reach their 6mm velocities?
    Thanks
    Bill

  7. Cal, I have been shooting and reloading for over 45 years and have got into building my own rifles. I really enjoy your articles as I have been getting into long range shooting. Getting into the 1,000 yard prairie dog club is on my bucket list. This has been the best resource and current information I have seen on it. Please keep up the great work. Yes, primers and reloading equipment would be great information.

  8. Cal,
    I’ve really enjoyed your dope that you’ve put together for us, been a tremendous help to say the least. your last blog on reloading components was huge as well, however I didn’t see anything mentioned bout primers. did I miss it, if not would love to see a bit on primers as well as case prep info. thanks again for your efforts and I look forward to buying one of those cool t-shirts in the near future.
    best of luck to you,
    tom

    • Thanks, Tom. I actually didn’t ask about primers, and in retrospect that is a huge oversight. It is the one reloading component I obviously left out. I would expect most guys use Fed 210M primers, but that is a guess. I’ve already added it to the list of questions I’ll ask next year. Thanks for the feedback.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  9. Do you think the trend of moving towards the 6mm cartridges is a trendy thing or will it be here to stay? I am shooting a 6.5 creedmoor right now and am in the process of building my next tac rifle and the 6mm creedmoor is intriguing me, but I am really debating whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze when it comes down to performance given the same skillsets of the shooter.

    • Now that’s a great question! I don’t think it’s a fad. I think there is a couple things in play:

      1. The introduction of 6mm bullets (specifically the Berger 105gr Hybrid) that have a very high BC for their weight. So you get relatively high muzzle velocity and low drag so you maintain a higher percent of that down range. The result is simply better ballistics.
      2. The lower the recoil, the better you shoot. I shot a 7mm Rem Mag in competitions for a couple years, and I didn’t think it was affecting my scores … but I was handicapping myself. If nothing else, I wasn’t able to spot my own shots under 500 yards so I couldn’t make corrections to my wind call until I was way out there … or missed. But, there was no doubt when I hit a target! It would spin around a couple times, and occasionally fly off! But despite the dramatic show, it still just counted as one hit, just the same as a light tink from a medium-sized 6mm cartridge. My point is, you really only need enough energy for the range officer to call your hits. I think a 6mm bullet is the smallest caliber that does that reliably at mid to long-range. 6mm bullets give you the energy you need, but no more. That means for mid to long-range steel targets it’s the ideal balance between adequate energy down range and minimal recoil. Lower recoil equates to higher points.

      Now, remember point #1. If there is a new 6.5 bullet designed that has a significantly better BC, shooters may migrate back that way. That’s especially true if they’re able to do that with a 120-130 grain bullet, so that you can get higher muzzle velocities.

      Ultimately, we just follow the best bullet designs. For example, in extreme range shooting (1 mile and beyond) the 300 Norma is all the rage now. Why? The Berger 230gr Hybrid was released a year or two ago, and it has an insanely high BC. It made the 30 caliber a viable competitor to the 338, and so some people migrated to a cartridge that is ideal to launch that big 230gr bullet. Honestly, a way to read the future might be to look at the bullets Berger is coming out with, and find the ones that set a new high BC for the caliber or that have a relatively high BC for their weight. That will be where everyone will be going over next few years.

      But then again, don’t forget #2. You won’t see these guys all shooting 300 Norma’s next year. I still think the 6mm is ideal for steel targets at mid to long range.

      Is it worth switching from the 6.5? That’s a loaded question. I think the guys who ended up in the top 50 probably could have got there with a 6mm or a 6.5mm. They’re amazing shooters. But, the 6mm has a slight advantage ballastically. Could they have gotten there with a 308? Maybe some, but at some point the ballistic handicap is too much to overcome. Firing a 6mm Berger 105gr Hybrid gives you the best edge you can get for this kind of shooting.

      The downside is slightly reduced barrel life. That is virtually always the downside to better ballistics. So can you live with that? Everyone is different. Many mid-sized 6mm cartridges have an accurate barrel life of 2250-2750 rounds, and similar 6.5 cartridges have a barrel life of 3000-3500 rounds. Of course a lot of that depends on how you shoot. Long, continuous strings of fire can drastically reduce barrel life. Allowing the barrel to cool between shots can drastically increase barrel life.

      One big thing attractive about the 6.5 is the Hornady match grade ammo, which is available for $1.20/round. It’s quality stuff, with muzzle velocity SD’s that average 9-12 fps. You won’t find loaded 6mm match ammo for anything close to that. I know most of us handload. I’ve personally handloaded every round that has ever been fired out of my custom rifles. But what if instead of spending time in the shop loading, I spent it out at the range practicing? I bet I’d be a better shooter. That’s why a 6.5 Creedmoor may be my next build. Although I like to tinker, I’d love to retire from the reloading business!

      Hope this helps! Sorry for the novel-length response. You asked a pretty loaded question. It’s a charged topic that a lot of people have strong, dogmatic opinions on … so I wanted to try to clearly and objectively lay out the pros and cons, along with the underlying reasons that I believe helped drive the change.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  10. I found your blog a month or so ago and have really enjoyed the statistical information. I’m in the middle of gathering parts for a 6.5×284 build and had a curiosity question. I know the rage is all Berger bullets, but I was surprised to see that no one was shooting a 142gn SMK in their 6.5 guns. Has there been a trend away from them simply due to the slightly higher BC of the Bergers?

    • Hey Olin, glad you’ve found the content helpful. I think you’re right on regarding the growing popularity of the Berger Bullets, compared to the Sierra 142gr MatchKing. The Berger 140gr Hybrid has a Litz G7 BC of 0.317, and the Sierra 142gr MatchKing has a Litz G7 BC of 0.301. That isn’t a huge difference, but it is a difference. So the Sierra bullet is slightly heavier, and has more drag.

      I also think the community believes that Berger Bullets, as a boutique bullet manufacturer born from and focused on serious competition shooters, are more consistent or made to tighter tolerances than the Sierra MatchKings. I can’t say they are or aren’t. But that is the sense I get from most of the guys I talk to. And since they are very close to the same cost (Sierras are currently $41 per 100, and Bergers are $49 per 100), I guess most people go with the new Hybrid bullet design. While Bergers may or may not be better than the Sierras, they probably aren’t worse.

      Hope this helps!
      Cal

  11. Cal, in your article you use Litz G7 of .288 That is what I was speaking to.

    G7 G1

    136gr Lapua Scenar-L 0.288 0.560

    • My bad! Got you now. It was just a typo in the table. I got it corrected. Thanks for the heads up.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Well the Litz G7 IS .288 though that’s what I’m saying 🙂

      • Ah, I have everything based on the Lapua advertised BC … which really isn’t much different. If it’s still one of the top bullets used in the PRS in 2015, I’ll run the updated analysis based on that Litz G7. I do appreciate the heads up.

        Thanks,
        Cal

      • I couldn’t help but notice that nobody used Federal brass. I’m relatively new to long-range shooting and have been shooting Federal Gold Medal 308s and have several hundred once-fired cases cleaned and ready to load. But some of the forums mention loose primer pockets and reduced powder capacities in FC cases. What’s your experience?

      • I haven’t loaded Federal 308 cases, but have loaded Federal cases in other cartridges. And my experience was about that … The primer pockets get loose faster than some other brands, but other than that it is pretty good. I’d bet that the neck thickness, weight, and primer pockets & holes aren’t as uniform as Lapua or Norma, but I don’t know that for sure.

        But it’s obviously very capable. I’ve fired hundreds of rounds of that Federal Premium Gold Medal 168gr Sierra MatchKing ammo in the muzzle brake test I’m currently publishing, and have found it to have 8-10 fps standard deviation in muzzle velocity over 40 shot strings. That is outstanding! If the brass was total crap (like some say it is), you certainly couldn’t do that. If you’ve got it, I’d use it. If your super-OCD with a lot of discretionary income, I’d trash it and buy Lapua brass. It’s up to you. I bet it doesn’t make a huge difference in getting rounds on target.

        Thanks,
        Cal

  12. Hello Cal,

    I just ordered my GA Precision using your blog to choose the specs!

    Here in my country we have only the 102, 124, 126 and 128 burn rate powders. Unfortunately we don’t have anything close to the H4350(117).
    Do you have any tips which one should I try first or what to do?

    Thank you again!
    Bruno

    • Hey, Bruno. That is awesome! I’m excited for you. I’ve yet to hear someone say they were disappointed with the end product from GA Precision. They make top-shelf precision rifles.

      On the burn rate, I don’t have any suggestions. I would expect many guys to lean towards a slower burning powder if you have the case capacity to support it. The great thing about a custom rifle though is they aren’t as picky as factory rifles in terms of how much you have to “tune the load” to shoot well in the rifle. In my experience with factory rifles, you can find the magic recipe that really tightens groups dramatically. But in custom rifles, most of the loads I’ve tried have good accuracy. There may be a few that give slightly better accuracy than others, but it isn’t like finding a needle in a haystack like it can be with a factory rifle.

      Best of luck to you!
      Cal

  13. CAL great data … any idea how much of the H4350 powder these guys are using ? (For the 6.5 creedmore) I took one of the hornady Amax 140 g rounds apart and it had 45grains in it !

    • Hornady used to have the load recipe printed on the box. I noticed they removed that about a year ago, and I think that is because they changed the recipe and actually don’t use H4350 anymore. That is just my conspiracy theory, but I also noticed that their standard deviation started creeping up at the very same time they took the recipe off the box. They had SD’s from 8-11 fps, and now I’m seeing those in the 15-18 fps range. But I digress …

      Back to your question. When the recipe was on the box, Hornady said it was 41.5gr of H4350. That is a hot load, so I’d suggest working up to that. I saw some guys getting blown primers with that factory match ammo, so it really is pushing higher pressures than you’d normally see out of factory ammo. So really do use caution. I think that is part of the reason they started tweaking the load. The muzzle velocity I’m seeing is slightly lower than those old loads, which indicates a little lower chamber pressure.

      So I’m not sure the 45 grains in you found is H4350. I would NOT load to that. That could produce catastrophic pressures. Last time I took a loaded Hornady round apart, the powder didn’t even look like H4350. Some other experienced handloaders also thought the same thing. But I have no inside information on this. I just shoot thousands of rounds of it, so I’ve noticed some little tweaks over time.

      I personally shoot 39.8gr of H4350 out of my 6XC. That is a warm load, but not dangerously hot in that cartridge. I don’t load into the red. I have friends that do that, but honestly if you are getting into that dangerous area to get that extra 50 fps out of your cartridge … you simply picked the wrong cartridge. That last tiny bit of velocity only yields a 1% improvement on your hit probability at long range anyway (see the data). That doesn’t nearly outweigh how it cuts your brass and barrel life, not to mention potentially put you in danger.

      Hope this helps!
      Cal

  14. Cal,

    It seems from your article, the pros and you (your last comment) have had some good luck with H4350. I have come across several pounds of the powder but have been unable to find a recipe for the 6mmBR. I have searched the net and not found any recipes. Would you happen to have an idea of a good starting load?

    Thanks,
    –Dan

    • Hey, Dan. I don’t have a 6mm BR, so I’m afraid I can’t be too much help. This page looks like it has a bunch of helpful stuff regarding H4350 in the 6mm BR.

      H4350 in 6br or 6 Impr. — Load Info

      It looks like most guys use Varget for the 6mmBR. In fact, I looked in the Berger Reloading Manual, and they don’t even list H4350 as a powder on any of the load data for the 6BR. I don’t know how the case capacity compares to these other cartridges, but the 6BR might not be well-suited for H4350.

      Wish I could be more help!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  15. I thought I saw a comment on the one shooter this year using Remington brass. What is his reasoning again?

    • He was shooting a 6.5 SAUM. I think Remington is the only manufacturer that makes brass for that cartridge. George Gardner of GA Precision said he expected more of that brass becoming available in Nov 2015, and after that happens he expects the 6.5 SAUM to really grow in popularity among the top shooters.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  16. What is a good /very acurate powder scale for reloading. I don’t think my Hornady is doing a good job.
    R/
    Andy

    • Well, I mentioned the two of the best scales in this article: Prometheus and Sartorius. There are others, but I’d bet most would give those the nod as the best two. They’ll run you over $1000. I think the Prometheus v2 is around $3400. Unfortunatley, I’m not sure there is a good mid-priced scale (like $400-800). I looked for one a while back, and couldn’t find good options that yield repeatable precision down to a single kernel.

      Best of luck to you!

      Thanks,
      Cal