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Best Long-Range Caliber & Cartridge: What The Pros Use 2012

Meet The Pros

2013 Precision Rifle Series LogoThe Precision Rifle Series (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 15 different matches are evaluated and the top 50 shooters nationwide are invited to compete head to head in the PRS Finale Match. The info below is based on the equipment those pros brought with them to the most recent finale. 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. 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?

Update: These are the results from a previous PRS finale. To see data based on the more recent PRS finale, click here.

Best Calibers & Cartridges For Long Range Shooting

Most Popular Calibers Used In 2013 Precision Rifle Series PRS

Top Calibers and Cartridges Used In 2013 Precision Rifle Series PRS

Caliber Cartridge # of Competitors Avg Finale Rank
6mm 6XC 8 16
243 Win 8 24
6×47 Lapua (aka 6-6.5×47) 5 32
6mm Creedmoor 4 9
6mm Super LR 1 Not Enough Data
6.5mm 260 Rem 12 32
6.5 Creedmoor 10 35
6.5×47 Lapua 3 28
6.5 Super LR 1 Not Enough Data
6.5 LRP 1 Not Enough Data
7mm 284 Win 2 Not Enough Data
7mm SAUM 1 Not Enough Data

Average Finale Rank By Caliber In 2013 Precision Rifle Series PRS

Average Finale Rank By Cartridge In 2013 Precision Rifle Series PRS

Top 20 Fnishes By Caliber In 2013 Precision Rifle Series PRS

Although the perennial favorite 260 Remington remained the most popular choice, many of the top competitors seem to be choosing 6mm bullets fired out of cartridges like the 6XC, 243 Win, and even a few like the 6×47 Lapua or the 6mm Creedmoor that are necked down versions of more modern cartridge designs. In fact, there were almost as many people choosing 6mm as 6.5mm cartridges. However, it turns out those using 6mm bullets finished 13 places higher on the leader board on average than those using 6.5mm bullets.

I originally thought with targets out to 1200 yards the higher BC of the 6.5mm bullets like the Berger 140gr Hybrid (G7 BC = .317, G1 BC = .618) would give you an advantage on windy days. The most popular 6mm bullet used, the Berger 105gr Hybrid, has a substantially lower G7 BC of .278 (G1 BC = .547). However, after running the ballistics myself … it doesn’t look like a 6.5mm has any wind advantage out to 1200 yards, but there is certainly a difference in drop.

Range (yd) Drop (mil) Wind Drift (mil)
6mm 6.5mm 6mm 6.5mm
200 0.3 0.4 0.2 0.2
400 1.4 1.7 0.4 0.4
600 2.7 3.2 0.7 0.7
800 4.2 5.0 1.0 1.0
1000 5.9 7.0 1.3 1.3
1200 7.9 9.3 1.6 1.6

The ballistics above were calculated for a 6mm Berger 105gr Hybrid with a muzzle velocity of 3140 fps (common for cartridges like the 6XC), and a 6.5mm Berger 140gr Hybrid with a muzzle velocity of 2860 fps (common for cartridges like the 6.5 Creedmoor). Both were ran with the same atmospheric conditions and a 10mph crosswind.

The main downside to the faster 6mm bullets is usually reduced barrel life. But, regardless of which caliber you choose, it looks like the pros are currently chambering their long-range rifles in one of the cartridges below … and any of them would be a great choice for long-range precision shooting. At least three shooters at the PRS Finale Match were using each of these cartridges.

Most Popular Cartridges For Precision Rifles:

Other “What The Pros Use” Articles

This post was one of a series of posts that look at the equipment the top 50 shooters in the country use. Check out these other posts:

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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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