Back in Mid Summer I embarked upon the journey of selecting a tactical rifle that would suffice for the F-Class game where it would be expected to be competitive against single shot long-barreled rifles that are purpose built for this most demanding of accuracy sports.
The selection of a suitable tactical rifle naturally focused upon which of the contenders could consistently shoot the smallest, tightest groups and so load development was geared towards that which would be most accurate at the distance that the particular upcoming match was to be shot which in this case was the relatively short ( by F Class standards ) range of 500m.
I’m fortunate to have on my own property a nice 500m shooting area so I was able to very easily shoot a particular load, record data, make up a new load and re-shoot.
My Favored Shooting Spot
I’d whittled down the rifle selection to two – a PGW Coyote and a customized Remington 700. At day’s end the Coyote was chosen but not because it outshone the Rock Creek barreled Remy but because it allowed for the attachment of the better bipod – a LRA versus a Harris. The choice of the Coyote though came at a price – weight – which quite sadly meant that the first choice of scope; a S+B Pmii had to be forgone for a lighter offering from Sightron ( their fine Siii 8-32×56 ).
The PGW Coyote in Match Condition
Most interestingly, the load I’d developed for long range using a Berger 185 over Varget was not the most accurate at the 500m range and neither for that matter was another ‘go to’ load that utilized the Hornady 178g BTHP. In fact the real surprise out of this whole exercise was that out of the variety of loads tested, the majority of the half minute or better groups were found to be shot using a load tipped with a Hornady 168g HPBT – and I though the 168g pills were obsolete !
The final load settled upon was 168g Hornady HPBT over 43.5 Varget in Lapua brass ignited with FGMM primers. Velocity clocked at 2735 FPS using a Magento Speed chrony and confirmed by using Strelok Ballistic App for Android.
At load development ranges of 200m and 300m the 168g load turned in consistent sub-half minute results just like the one pictured below.
Sub Half MOA at 200m
At 500m the average 5-shot grouping opens up with the 168g load but still averages in the .5’s and since 500m is still shy of the 600 yard “wall” that so bedevils many 168g projectiles with an 11 degree tail I saw no evidence whatsoever of the yaw or tumble that I was mindful of.
Below is a pretty representative 5 shot group at 500m
5 Shots at 500M – 0.531 MOA
So now I figure I am pretty much set – it will be interesting to use a rifle designed for one thing (tactical use ) in a sport dominated by rifles purpose built for that game. I’ll be posting results in a few weeks time.