A few months ago I asked 173 of the top-ranked precision rifle shooters in the country about the load they were running in their match ammo. These were the guys that finished highest in the overall season for both the Precision Rifle Series and the National Rifle League (learn about the PRS and NRL). This was the first year I asked about the specific powder and 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 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!
What reloading components work best often depends on the particular cartridge you’re using, so I plan to cover the load data for each of the popular precision rifle cartridges that at least 5 of these top-ranked shooters were using. This is the 3rd installment in that series and this article focus on what bullets, cases, primers, powders, and charge weights these elite marksmen shooting a 6BRA, 6BRX, and 6BR found to work best in their rifles.
- 6mm Dasher Load Data
- 6 & 6.5 Creedmoor Load Data
- 6BRX, 6BRA, and 6BR Load Data (this article)
- 6 & 6.5×47 Lapua Load Data
- 6XC Load Data
While I’d feel fortunate to know 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 what a rich and unique data set to pull from 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 be tough to find good load data for a few of these cartridges, so I know this will help a lot of shooters. 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 manual 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.
The 6BR What?!
There are several wildcat cartridges based on the very popular 6mmBR cartridge. Most shooters firing the 6BRA, 6BRX, and 6 Dasher start with a 6mm Norma BR case from Lapua and fireform it to have slightly more capacity. (What is fireform?) Here is a diagram I made to help you visualize the differences between these cases, and the size comparison between these smaller cases and the popular Creedmoor sized case. These 6BR based cases are around 20% smaller than a Creedmoor sized case, but the muzzle velocities these guys reported were only 4-5% less for the same bullet weight, so they appear to simply be “more efficient.”
Many shooters believe these cartridges based on the 6BR are extremely consistent in terms of muzzle velocity, and also have reduced recoil compared to cartridges like the 6mm Creedmoor, 6×47 Lapua, and 6XC. I actually provide a lot of information that helps you visualize the differences in the article that focused on all the cartridges this group of pro shooters were running. You can find the 6 Dasher Load Data here, but this article will focus on the other three 6BR-based cases a significant number of these top precision rifle competitors were using.
6BRX Load Data
We’ll start by looking at the 6mm BRX, which is identical to the 6BR except the shoulder is extended out 0.100”. It still has the 30° shoulder, so you can still use 6mmBR dies that are simply set 0.100” up from the shellholder. There were 11 shooters using the 6BRX, including 5 shooters who finished in the top 25 in the NRL.
Let’s take a look at what bullets the guys running a 6BRX preferred to load:
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.
You can see many of them prefer Tubb’s 115gr DTAC RBT bullet, even though that is a fairly heavy-for-caliber bullet. That was a bit surprising to see, since it’s being fired from such a small case. There were also shooters running the very popular Berger 105gr Hybrid and Hornady 108gr ELDM, and one shooter using Nosler 105gr RDF bullets.
Now to the really interesting part. There seems to be very little load data available for the 6BRX, so I thought sharing what these guys were using on more obscure/specialized cartridges like the 6BRX might be really helpful for some reloaders. There were 11 guys who said they load for the 6BRX, and all of them said they use Hodgdon Varget powder. That shouldn’t surprise us since over 95% of the shooters were using for the 6mm Dasher also chose Varget, and the Dasher is a very similar sized case (see 6 Dasher Load Data). So let’s look at the specific powder charge weights guys were using for the 6BRX with Varget powder. Remember, the color on the chart represents the bullet weight they were pairing that powder charge with.
While the powder charges appear to be spread out over a large range, the muzzle velocities these guys reported were surprisingly consistent. In fact, 4 out of the 5 shooters running the 115gr DTAC said their muzzle velocity was right at 2820 fps, and the other was running at 2800 fps. The 4 running at 2820 fps were running 26” barrels, and the 2800 fps shooter was using a 24” barrel. The shooters running 105gr bullets all had muzzle velocities between 2800-2820 fps. Of those shooters running 105-108gr bullets, they were evenly split between 25” and 26” barrels.
100% of these guys running a 6BRX were using Lapua brass, which likely started life as Lapua’s 6mm Norma BR case and was then fireformed to the 6BRX chamber. Some shooters have told me the fireforming loads for these 6BR-based cases can be even more accurate and consistent than the final load once the brass has been sized to the chamber!
The data related to what primers shooters preferred for the 6BRX was virtually identical to what primers guys were using for the 6BRA and 6BR. I originally looked at them all separately, but the charts were all virtually identical, so I combined all of those 6BR-based cases into one chart below to have a larger sample size.
Honestly, the data above is also very similar to the primers guys preferred for the 6mm Dasher (see that data), which should be no surprise since they are all very similar sized cases running the same type of powder. The CCI #450 Small Rifle Magnum Primer was clearly the most popular, at more than 7 to 1 compared to the next most popular primers. These guys seem to really prefer that primer. It must give very consistent performance for them.
6BRX – 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 one of the top pros shared on the survey. Jake Vibbert is one of the best precision riflemen in the world, and runs the 6BRX in his competition rifle. Last year, Jake finished in the top 5 in both the PRS Open Division and the NRL! Let’s take a look at the exact load data Jake said he was using for his 6BRX match ammo:
#2 in NRL & #4 in PRS: Jake Vibbert
- Cartridge: 6BRX
- Bullet: Hornady 108gr ELD Match
- Powder: 31.2gr of Hodgdon Varget
- Case: Lapua
- Primer: CCI #450 Small Rifle Magnum
- Muzzle Velocity: 2850 fps from a 25” barrel (Standard deviation = 5 fps)
6BRA Load Data
The 6BRA is another cartridge quickly growing in popularity that is a wildcat based on the 6mm Norma BR case. Like the 6BRX, there were 11 shooters using this cartridge, including two in the top 10 in the PRS. The 6BRA is basically a 6mm BR Ackley Improved (nicknamed 6BRA for short), which means the shoulder was changed from 30° to 40°. That gives the case slightly more capacity and causes pressures to build differently in the chamber, typically resulting in a slightly higher muzzle velocity. Compared to the 6mm Dasher, the 6BRA has slightly less capacity but a longer neck, as you can tell from this photo:
Let’s look at what bullets 6BRA shooters are choosing to run in their match ammo:
Isn’t it interesting how different of a story this is compared to the 6BRX? For the 6BRA, the top shooters clearly preferred run the Berger 105gr Hybrid, but for the BRX the overwhelming favorite was the 115gr DTAC. In terms of case volume/capacity, there is only a 2.5% difference between the two cases, so it’s surprising to see such a clear difference in bullet preference between the two. Very interesting, although it could just be some weird coincidence in the data.
By this point, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the Hornady 108gr ELDM bullet represented, or the Nosler 105gr RDF, because those have been popular 6mm bullet choices for most other cartridges. However, there were also 6BRA shooters running the Barnes 112gr Match Burner, and the Sierra 107gr MatchKing.
Once again, there isn’t a whole lot of load data available on the 6BRA, so I was excited to be able to share what these top shooters have found to work best in their rifles. There were 11 guys who said they loaded for the 6BRA, and 7 of them said they used Hodgdon H4895 and 4 said they used Hodgdon Varget. That was surprising considering that out of all the 67 shooters using other 6BR-based case (i.e. the 6mm Dasher, 6BRX, and 6BR), only 2 of them were using something other than Varget. That means 97% of guys running the other 6BR-based cases chose Varget, but only 36% chose it for the 6BRA. Those cartridges are all very similar, so for one of the four to have the majority of shooters using a different kind of powder is interesting. There could be a reason for it, or it could be the natural/random variation in this particular sample of data.
3 of the 4 shooters loading the 6BRA with Varget said they were using a powder charge weight of exactly 31.5gr, and the other shooter said was shooting the 112gr bullet and was using 32.6gr.
Since 7 of the 11 guys loading for a 6BRA were using H4895, let’s take a closer look at the powder weights they were running in the chart below. Remember, the color on the chart represents the bullet weight they were pairing that powder charge with.
You can see 5 shooters were loading between 30.2-30.6gr of H4895 in their 6BRA. While PRS and NRL competitive shooters typically opt for a 26” barrel, just over half of the guys using a 6BRA chose to go with a 28” barrel. However, the velocities reported didn’t seem to vary much based on barrel length. Most reported velocities for the 105gr Hybrid between 2900-2925 fps, with a few outliers outside of that range. The 6BRA did have the lowest average SD’s based on what the shooters reported at 3.8 fps! :O
100% of the 6BRA shooters were using Lapua brass, which likely started life as Lapua’s 6mm Norma BR case and was then fireformed to the 6BRA chamber.
Once again, the primers 6BRA shooters choose to run was similar across the 6BR and 6BRX. I combined all those results in the chart below.
6BRA – Exact Loads From The Top Pros
Now let’s look at the exact load data for a two of the premiere shooters in the Precision Rifle Series using the 6BRA: Dan Jarecke and Clay Blackketter.
#6 in PRS: Dan Jarecke
- Cartridge: 6mm BRA
- Bullet: Berger 105gr Hybrid
- Powder: 31.5gr of Hodgdon H4895
- Case: Lapua
- Primer: CCI #450 Small Rifle Magnum
- Muzzle Velocity: 2950 fps from a 28” barrel
#8 in PRS & #14 in NRL: Clay Blackketter
- Cartridge: 6mm BRA
- Bullet: Berger 105gr Hybrid
- Powder: 30.5gr of Hodgdon H4895
- Case: Lapua
- Primer: CCI #450 Small Rifle Magnum
- Muzzle Velocity: 2925 fps from a 28” barrel (SD = 4 fps)
6mm BR Load Data
The 6mm BR was originally designed in the early 1960’s for Benchrest competitions, and is the parent case of the 6mm Dasher, 6BRA, and 6BRX. There are technically two variants of the 6BR: the 6mm BR Remington, and the 6mm Norma BR. The Norma version of the chamber was introduced in 1996 and had slight modifications to accommodate longer, high-BC bullets, which helped maximize the long-range potential of the cartridge and made it capable of setting world records at 600 yards and even 1000 yards. Typically if a long range shooter mentions a “6BR,” they are likely referring to the 6mm Norma BR.
9 of the top shooters surveyed said they were running a straight 6BR, including 2 who finished in the top 25 overall rankings for the PRS. The 6mm BR has been around longer than some of these other cartridges, so there is more load data available for it, but it’s still interesting to see what these guys found to work best in their rifles.
6 BR Bullets
Let’s start by looking at what bullet these guys found to work best for their application in a 6mm BR:
Of the 9 shooters surveyed who reload ammo for their 6BR, all of them said they use Hodgdon Varget powder. Let’s look at the specific powder charge weights those guys were using. Remember, the color on the chart represents the bullet weight they were pairing that powder charge with.
8 of the 9 shooters were running between 30.0 and 30.6gr of Varget in their 6BR. In fact, 6 of the 9 were between 30.0 and 30.4, so that seems to be the “sweet spot” across a variety of rifles.
While these top precision rifle shooters typically run a 26” barrel, 50% of the guys running a 6BR were running a 28” barrel. Most of the shooters reported velocities for 105gr bullets between 2850-2875, but a couple of the guys running 28” barrels said they were averaging 2920-2925 fps. Once again, the SD’s reported mostly ranged from 3-5 fps, which is impressive. It lends some credibility to the claims the 6BR cases are “inherently accurate” or “easy to load for.” Even on cartridges that are “easy to load for,” it takes good equipment and a high attention to detail to actually pull off SD’s that low consistently.
100% of these shooters were using Lapua’s 6mm Norma BR brass. While other companies make 6mm Norma brass, (including the one who’s name is included there), Lapua brass has long been considered the gold-standard for precision rifle brass. One great thing about using a straight 6mm BR is that you don’t have to fireform your brass. It’s ready to go right out of the box.
6 BR Primers
Once again, the primer that the shooters choose to run seemed to be consistent among the 6BR, 6BRA, and 6BRX. So I combined all those results in this chart:
Do you enjoy this kind of data? This is one of several posts based on a gear survey of the top PRS shooters. To be the first to know when the next set of results is posted sign-up to receive new posts via email.