I’m really excited about the next few articles! Each year I survey the top-ranked precision rifle shooters in the Precision Rifle Series and the National Rifle League (learn about the PRS and NRL), and this year I got some new insight I can’t wait to share. For the last several years I asked the top shooters questions about their load, like what bullet, primer, brass, and powder they used, but this year I asked about the specific powder charge weight they were loading. I made it completely optional, because I wasn’t sure if everyone was willing to share or would know that detail off the top of their head as they were taking the survey. I asked them to simply leave that question blank if they couldn’t remember the exact weight they were running. Of the 173 shooters that I surveyed, 162 of them said they handload their ammo and 82% of those guys were willing to share their load data with all of us! Thank you to all the shooters who completed the survey!
In the past, I’ve published what loading components were popular overall, but what guys go with often depends on the particular cartridge they’re using. So over the next few articles, I will walk through each of the popular cartridges (those with at least 5 of the 173 shooters surveyed using it) one at at time, and dive into the details of what ammo load these shooters found to work best in their rifles. (See the data on cartridges they’re running.) I’ve been analyzing all the data, and have tried to summarize it all in a format that is easy to scan through and get value from. Here’s my plan for articles, which covers 94% of the cartridges these top shooters were using:
- 6mm Dasher Load Data (this article)
- 6 & 6.5 Creedmoor Load Data
- 6BRX, 6BRA, and 6BR Load Data
- 6 & 6.5×47 Lapua Load Data
- 6XC Load Data
While I’d value knowing what load any of these top shooters are running, this set of data is the aggregate of well over 100 truly world-class shooters, so it is both a rich and unique data set to pull insight from. Having such a large sample size allows us to draw more meaningful conclusions on what loads and components seem to work well across multiple rifle configurations. It can also be tough to find good load data for a few of these newer cartridges, so I know this will help a lot of shooters. It’s better than going with what some random guy says on Facebook or in a forum! And while some of us enjoy tinkering with loads, knowing what load other accomplished shooters found as the “sweet spot” for a cartridge may help minimize time in the reloading room and maximize time at the range. I think even the guys who completed the survey will be interested to see what their fellow competitors found that worked best in their rifles.
Important: You should always reference a comprehensive reloading manuals and start with the minimum recommended loads and work your way up. Many of these shooters could be running “hot” loads, and just because the load is safe in their rifles, doesn’t mean it will be in your’s. There are a ton of factors that vary from them to you, including exact chamber/barrel dimensions, brass specs, reloading scales, powder lots, seating depth and tension, etc., so it’s critical 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 are based upon survey responses from other shooters under specific conditions and circumstances. The author has not independently verified the accuracy of the data, and cannot be responsible for errors in published load data. Because this site and its affiliates have no control over the individual loading practices and/or components used, no responsibility is assumed by PrecisionRifleBlog.com or its affiliates in the use of this data. The information is to be used at the sole discretion of the user and the user assumes all risk.
6 Dasher Load Data
The 6mm Dasher was the most popular cartridge overall among these shooters with 27% of the top-ranked shooters in the PRS & NRL choosing to run that cartridge. Of the 47 shooters using a 6 Dasher, 100% of them were using handloaded ammo. None of the major ammunition factories have started offering 6mm Dasher ammo at this point, so reloading is the only way to go if you chamber a barrel in 6 Dasher.
6 Dasher Bullets
Let’s start by looking at what bullet these guys running a 6 Dasher thought worked best:
On the chart above, the various colors represent where a shooter landed in terms of rank. For example, black indicates shooters who finished in the top 10 in the PRS, the darkest blue is people who finished 11-25 in the PRS, and the lighter the blue, the further out they finished in overall standings. The green colors represents the top shooters in the NRL, where the darkest green is the top 10, medium green is 11-25, and light green are the shooters who’s season rank landed from 26th to 50th. The chart legend itemizes the league and ranks each color represents, but basically the darker the color, the higher up the shooters placed.
Because the Dasher has less case capacity than other cases like a Creedmoor, it makes sense that a lot of guys opt for the lighter Berger 105gr Hybrid bullet over Tubb’s 115gr DTAC RBT that is also very popular among 6mm rifles. Over 80% of the guys running a 6mm Dasher were using either the 105gr Hybrid or 115gr DTAC. The rest of the group was spread among several other capable match-grade bullets, including the Sierra 110gr MatchKing, Hornady 108gr ELDM, JLK 105gr VLD, Sierra 107gr MatchKing, Berger 108gr BTHP, and the Berger 105gr VLD.
6 Dasher Powder
Of the 46 shooters who specified the powder they were using for their 6 Dasher, 44 of those said they were using Hodgdon Varget! That’s just over 95%! There was one guy running Hodgdon H4895 and one running Reloder 16, which could be good alternatives if you can’t find Varget – but Varget is definitely the clear favorite to fuel the 6 Dasher.
Since almost all of the guys were running Varget, let’s take a look what powder charge weights they were running. Note that the colors on the chart indicate the related bullet weight, which you can see on the chart’s legend.
How cool is that view?! It really helps you visualize where most shooters found the “sweet spot” for their 6 Dasher. Of the 35 shooters who specified the exact charge weight they were using on the 6 Dasher, 74% were running between 32.0 gr and 32.8 gr – and 40% were all in a narrow window at 32.3-32.5gr! That range seemed to produce the best results for the majority of these shooters.
Of the guys that were loading in that very popular band (32.3-32.5gr of Varget) and running the popular 105gr Hybrid from a 26” barrel, they reported average muzzle velocities from 2925-2975 fps. What’s really interesting is that most of the people running that configuration reported a miniscule standard deviation in muzzle velocity of 4-5 fps! Multiple shooters have said the reduced recoil and extreme consistency of the Dasher was the reason they switched over to. Some precision rifle matches have stages with targets that are 1 MOA or less out to 1000 yards, and consistent muzzle velocity becomes critical when you’re trying to hit tiny targets a long way off.
6 Dasher Brass
98% of people use Lapua brass for 6mm Dasher, so there isn’t much need to show a chart for that! Lapua doesn’t make brass specifically for the Dasher, but most start with Lapua’s 6mm Norma BR case and fireform it for the Dasher (What is fireform?). There was one shooter who said they were using Norma brass.
6 Dasher Primers
Now let’s look at what primers these elite marksmen believe work best in their 6 Dashers:
The CCI #450 Small Rifle Magnum Primer was clearly the favorite among this group of elite shooters. That is a magnum primer, but from what I heard it produces some extremely low standard deviations (SD) in muzzle velocity, meaning the ammo is extremely consistent shot-to-shot. I’ve also heard that magnum primer doesn’t show signs of pressure as quickly as some of the other softer primers, so guys might be able to run slightly higher pressures with it. I can’t say for sure why so many of these shooters prefer it, but the data clearly shows they do. The CCI #450 primer was used 5 to 1 over the next most popular primer, which was the CCI BR-4 Small Rifle Primer. Other popular primers were the Federal 205M Match Small Rifle Primer, the Federal 205 Small Rifle Primer, and CCI #400 Small Rifle Primer.
6 Dasher – Exact Loads From The Top Pros
While it’s good to see the aggregate data over all of these top-ranked shooters, I thought you guys might appreciate if I spotlighted the exact load specs a few of the top pros shared on the survey. Here is the 6 Dasher load from two truly world-class competitors who finish towards the very top of the leaderboard at virtually any match they attended. I’ve personally watched both of these guys shoot, and they’re ridiculously talented! When they’re really on (which is often), I’d literally pay money to watch that show. Clearly they have worked out a load that seems to work pretty well! 😉 To be honest, it surprised me to see how similar their load data was – they’re within 1/10th of a grain of each other!
#1 in PRS: Matthew Brousseau
- Cartridge: 6mm Dasher
- Bullet: Berger 105gr Hybrid
- Powder: 32.6gr of Hodgdon Varget
- Case: Lapua
- Primer: CCI BR-4 Small Rifle
- Muzzle Velocity: 2950 fps from a 26” barrel
#2 in PRS & #3 in NRL: Austin Orgain
- Cartridge: 6mm Dasher
- Bullet: Berger 105gr Hybrid
- Powder: 32.5gr of Hodgdon Varget
- Case: Lapua
- Primer: Federal 205 Small Rifle
- Muzzle Velocity: 2960 fps from a 26” barrel (SD = 5 fps)
Thanks again to all of these top-ranked shooters for taking the time to share this info with the rest of us!
Enjoy this kind of data? This is one of several posts based on a gear survey of the top-ranked precision rifle shooters. To be the first to know when the next set of results is posted sign-up to receive new posts via email.