I surveyed 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), and they represent the absolute best of the best when it comes to long-range rifle shooting.
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 final installment in that series and this article focus on what bullets, cases, primers, powders, and charge weights these elite marksmen shooting a 6XC found to work best in their rifles.
- 6mm Dasher Load Data
- 6 & 6.5 Creedmoor Load Data
- 6BRX, 6BRA, and 6BR Load Data
- 6 & 6.5×47 Lapua Load Data
- 6XC Load Data (this article)
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 provide optimal performance across multiple rifle configurations.
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.
6XC Load Data
The 6XC has been a popular choice among top PRS shooters since the first couple years they started having these kinds of matches. This past year there were 3 shooters using a 6XC in the top 25 in the PRS, and 4 in the top 25 in the NRL. It’s clearly a very capable round in the hands of a good shooter. Let’s look at what 6XC shooters were loading their ammo with.
Let’s start by looking at what bullet’s the 6XC shooters selected to reload in their match ammo:
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.
It only seems fitting that the most popular bullet for the cartridge that David Tubb designed is the bullet David Tubb designed, the 115gr DTAC RBT. There were also several shooters using the Berger 105gr Hybrid. The rest were spread among the Sierra 110gr MatchKing, Nosler 105gr RDF, and Barnes 112gr Match Burner.
Now that we know what bullets they were loading, let’s look at what propellant they paired those with. Of the 16 shooters who said they handloaded for the 6XC, 13 of them said they were using Hodgdon H4350. The other 2 said they were using Reloder 16 (37.6gr with an 110gr bullet, and 39.5gr with an 115gr bullet), and 1 said they were using 39.7gr of IMR 4451 with an 115gr bullet.
Since 80% were using H4350, let’s take a closer look at the powder charge weights those guys were running in their 6XC. Remember, the color on the chart represents the bullet weight they were pairing that powder charge with.
39.5-39.6gr of H4350 seems to be what many of these top shooters found to work best in their rifles. I personally shot a 6XC for a few years, and after some tedious load development, I found the best accuracy node on one barrel at 39.8gr of H4350, and found it to be 39.3gr of H4350 on the next barrel (both launching 105gr Hybrids), so these results align with my own experience.
In terms of velocity for the 6XC, the majority of shooters said they were running the 115gr DTAC from 3000-3030 fps, and the 105gr Hybrid from 3010-3100 fps. The overwhelming majority of 6XC shooters were running a 26” barrel, although there were a couple running at 27” and 28”.
Now let’s look at the cases they guys chose to run:
Norma has been making 6XC brass since the early days of the 6XC, and it is still the most popular brand among the pros, with 65% of the shooters choosing Norma. However, Alpha Munitions also had a significant number of shooters using their 6XC brass. I wasn’t even aware that Alpha made 6XC brass, but it looks like they’ve expanded their line to include a lot of other cartridges, including the 6XC, 22 Creedmoor, and 25 Creedmoor. Alpha Munitions even offers 6XC brass for both large rifle primers AND small rifle primers. The original design was for a large rifle primer, but like I mentioned in the post on 6mm Creedmoor Load Data, some shooters prefer small rifle primers on these mid-size cartridges, so it appears that Alpha has responded to that for the 6XC. There was one shooter who said they were using Lapua brass for the 6XC, but to the best of my knowledge Lapua hasn’t produced 6XC brass from the factory. They may have been wildcatting that brass from a similar sized cartridge.
Wow, 6XC shooters were using a lot of different kinds of primers! Not sure what to make of that, but it is certainly unusual to have that many types of primers used for one cartridge among this group of shooters.
As I mentioned, Alpha Munitions offers 6XC brass with either a large primer pocket or a small primer pocket, so you can see both sizes represented. It was a bit surprising to me to see CCI #200 Large Rifle Primers on top of the list, and no CCI BR-2 Large Rifle Primers being used. These guys are better shooters than I am, so there is probably a reason! That’s why I’m just trying to report what they said, and not try to draw too many conclusions on why they chose it. If I was shooting a 6XC, I’d be heading to the range to see what CCI #200 primers did for my load! 😉
6XC – Exact Loads From The Top Pros
One of the most prolific shooters using the 6XC is Regina Milkovich, the Wonder Woman of tactical precision rifle shooting. Regina is one of the most dominant long-range rifle shooters in the nation, male or female. In related news, there was a great interview with her in RECOIL magazine that is worth checking out. Regina has been using the 6XC for a number of years, so let’s look at the specific load she said she was using in her match ammo.
#11 in NRL & #20 in PRS: Regina Milkovich
- Cartridge: 6XC
- Bullet: Superior Shooting Systems (Tubb) 115gr DTAC RBT
- Powder: 39.5gr of Hodgdon H4350
- Case: Norma
- Primer: CCI #200 Large Rifle
- Muzzle Velocity: 3020 fps from a 28” barrel
Thanks again to all these top-ranked shooters who were willing to share their load data with the rest of us! This was really interesting to analyze, and learn from. We appreciate it!
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.
I’ve tracked your discussion of what the pros are using since you started writing this Blog. In your estimation, which two or three rounds are the most ballistically performing, most consistent, and most economical (cost of components and barrel life)to shoot?
I’ve gone back and forth on the 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 260 Rem, 6mm Dasher, and the 6XC so many time my head is spinning!
Hey, Peter. Great questions! I think the trick is not just looking at each of those things in isolation, but trying to strike the “right balance” between those competing characteristics. For example, the one that has the best ballistics will almost always have the worse barrel life. So if you max one out the other goes down. Everyone has a little different priorities in terms of what is acceptable for each of the aspects. I would say that recoil is one of the other major aspects these guys are considering that you left off here.
Please know all this is debatable, but I also know that saying “It depends” is not helpful. So I’ll try to do my best to give you a straight answer that is as unbiased as I can mustard up for those cartridges you specifically asked about:
Honestly, I think they’re all great choices, and you wouldn’t be disappointed with any of them. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. None are the wrong choice.
WOW! You’re synthesis of the overall differences between the list of available options is just was I was looking for!! My thoughts followed yours.. I believe I’ll swap out my 243 into a 6mm Creedmoor for Hunting purposes and do a coin flip between the 6XC and the Dasher…
I would just like to say a big thank you for doing this with the Cartridges and the rest of what you do. It is fascinating for a to see what people use for there rifles. Keeping up I know must be time consuming. How about another muzzle break testi think it’s been a few years and a lot of new stuff has come out keep up the work I so enjoy ready everything.
Thanks, Sean. Glad you find this helpful. I actually sold all my muzzle brake test equipment, so there won’t be a repeat of that, unfortunately.
First, thank you for being such a wealth of knowledge and doing so much work to get high quality information out to other shooters.
In the never ending pursuit of lower ES/SD I have invested in a much more accurate scale and an annealing machine. While I await their arrival I am debating if I want to start turning case necks or not.
A 2015 “What the Pros Use” post about handloading stated that over 50% of the top shooters turned case necks. Since then the 6mmBR and cases based around it have become much more popular. Has the percentage grown regarding how many top shooters turn necks or have the inherent qualities native to these smaller, efficient cases negated the need for turning necks due to the way these cases can perform without neck turning? Maybe a better question to ask would be is neck turning less common with the 6mmBR family of cases in the context of PRS?
I typically shoot a 6.5CM, 6CM and a 6.5×55 but I am interested in building a 6mmBr tube gun sometime soon largely because the low single digit SD’s are so attractive to me.
I will likely hold off on neck turning until I see what my new scale and annealer do for my handloads but I am curious about any trend you may have noticed regarding this after the rise of the Dasher/BRA/BRX.
Great questions, Richard. The short answer is I’m not sure. I haven’t asked what operations they were doing to cases since that post back in 2015. I will add that to the list of things to consider asking these guys next year, because I wonder the same things.
I will say that I invested in a really accurate reloading scale a couple years ago, and it made it soooo much easier to get lower SD’s. I used to have to fight and tinker forever to get a load that worked, and now with an accurate scale it seems to take so much less effort. Now, I’m not getting down to 5fps or less like some of these guys are … at least not on every cartridge. So I definitely do think the cartridge has something to do with it. But I can typically find a couple loads that land SD’s from 7-10 fps with most cartridges … when I’m using my new scale. I hope you’re also surprised at how much a high quality scale and improve your ammo.
Sorry I couldn’t be more help.
Another solid write up. Thanks!
Any idea the spread between people using original 6XC vs 6XCII chambers? I’d assume anyone using Alpha would be a 6XCII, but didn’t know about the others.
That’s a good question, Mike. I’m not sure.
G,day Cal ,enjoying all your research ,wondering if any work has been done on the reloading tools used by the pros. Cheers Rob
I have, Rob. I hope to publish that in the near future, so stay tuned!
No mention mention about Peterson 6XC Large and Small.
About best value for the volume shooter.
Hey, David. Thanks for chiming in! It was strange that none of these top-ranked 6XC shooters were using Peterson brass. They were using Peterson brass for some of the other cartridges, and you giving it your vote of confidence says a lot. I’ve started using Peterson brass for one of my cartridges this year, and I’ve had a good experience with it.
David, I know a lot of people are probably wondering this, but would you mind sharing the details of your 6XC load data? I’d heard rumor you used H1000 to extend barrel life, is that true?