Reloading: Western Shooters' Pet Loads for Long Range

Western Shooters' Pet Loads for Long Range

by: Germán A. Salazar

NRA long-range prone shooting is popular all over the country,  and we certainly have our fair share of it, and then some, here in the Western states.  Ken Waters' "Pet Loads" articles have been a favorite of mine for decades, I even have three copies of it in book form!  It occurred to me that a similar piece dealing with some of the long-range loads used by our local shooters might be of interest to our newer shooters.  If anyone else benefits from it, so much the better.  I asked each shooter for his Palma load as well as another load and tried to get a useful variety of cartridges and minimize duplication.

It should go without saying by now that you should never take a load from a third party source - like this site - and just use it in your rifle without a workup from a lower level - that could be catastrophic.  That goes double for the loads presented here because long-range loads are, by their very nature, on the upper end of the pressure spectrum for any given cartridge.  When you also consider the variations in the actual burning rate of various powder lots, differences in barrel dimensions, differences in bullets, even of the same weight and make, it should be glaringly obvious that only a negligent fool would copy a load without working up.  And you're no fool, right?

With that having been said, considered and taken to heart by all of you, let's have a look at Palma and other long-range loads and techniques from a number of our club members.

Mid Tompkins - Prescott, ArizonaAt Camp Perry, in 1963, Mid became the first shooter to win the Highpower National Championship with the .308.  He won it six times, as well as the Long-Range Championship, the Wimbledon Cup and the Leech Cup, not to mention being on countless Palma teams as shooter and coach.  I can't think of anyone more qualified to open this article.

Tompkins .308Mid's load for the Palma rifle is a fairly standard one in some respects but not in others; let's have a look.

Brass: old Winchester .308, weighs 170 gr., same as Lapua in capacity.
Powder: Varget, 46.0 gr.
Primer: Russian LR Magnum
Bullet: Berger 155.5 gr. Fullbore
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2975 fps
Barrel: 0.2980" x 0.3075" with a 1:13" twist, 30" long.

Mid soft-seats all bullets, meaning they have very light case neck tension and are seated long in the case.  This allows the bullet to slide back in the neck as it touches the rifling when the bolt closes; he says: " My chamber is my seating die."  In order to get the neck tension just right for soft-seating, Mid turns the necks on his brass and sizes for light tension with a bushing die.  Then, just before loading, he runs the case necks over an expander mandrel that gets the inside diameter exactly to his desired dimension.  Mid commented that bushings and mandrels have to be carefully selected and sometimes changed, to get just the right neck tension on the bullet.  As for other case preparation, Mid said: "It's a waste of time to do primer pocket and flash hole uniforming" but he checks cases on the Audette tool for case wall runout.  In a final comment, Mid noted: "It's easy to go too hot on muzzle velocity; you can't see the difference in wind drift on the target from an extra 50 fps."

Tompkins 6.5-284Mid shoots a 6.5-284 for Any-Rifle matches; in fact he pioneered that cartridge for long-range shooting.  "You can use either Winchester or Lapua brass, but you must match the reamer to the brass.  You can shoot Winchester brass in a Lapua chamber (though not the opposite), but you'll get shorter brass life because the primer pockets will expand quicker due to the bigger chamber" says Mid.  He goes on to say: "Winchester brass has to be necked down from .284" and you can get a donut at the base of the neck.  Most people don't seat the bullet that deep so it doesn't make much difference."  Mid also soft-seats in the 6.5-284 using the same process as described above for the .308.  He mentioned that pre-loading for a number of rifles before going on a summer shooting tour as he does each year makes soft-seating the only way to conveniently ensure that bullet seating in relation to the rifling remains constant as the barrels erode during the course of a few thousand rounds fired.

Brass: Winchester .284W necked down
Powder: Hodgdon 4350
Primer: Russian LR Magnum
Bullet: 140 Berger or 142 Sierra
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2975 fps Berger, 3075 fps Sierra
Barrel: 1:8" twist, standard internal dimensions, 30" long.

Mid tells us that he is able to load one grain more of powder with the Sierra bullet than the Berger bullet before seeing pressure signs, thus the difference in muzzle velocity between the two.

Bob Jensen - Paradise Valley, ArizonaI think it's safe to say that Bob Jensen has loaded more .308 ammunition for Palma shooting than any other person I'm aware of.  Bob, of course, loaded over 300,000 rounds for the 1992 Palma Match, ammunition that was used by competitors from all nations; and before that, he loaded 98,000 rounds for the US Army Marksmanship Unit.  Additionally, Bob is a tireless experimenter and a careful observer of the data produced from that testing - nothing gets past his well experienced eye and keen mind for reloading.  Winner of the Wimbledon Cup in 1977 with a .30-338 Magnum, Bob now shoots a 6.5-284 for Any-Rifle matches, but I asked him to give us the magnum load for some variety and for its historic importance.

Bob sorts his cases by weight and neck turns to 0.0125" for uniform neck tension.  Unlike Mid, with whom Bob has shot for many, many years, Bob does not like soft-seating and cautions that if soft-seating isn't done perfectly, the bullets can drop into the case (to the powder level) and that will create big elevation shifts.  Bob says: "If you think a certain procedure will help, it will, so do it.  Most of this is about having confidence in your ammo."  Bob's most unique method is case sorting by score; if a case fires a 9 that is not accountable by wind or call of the shot, the case is rejected and won't be fired in competition again.

Bob is the real primer expert in this group; everything I know about primers I learned from Bob and he has guided a great deal of my own experimentation with them.  While the loads listed below (which are from 1992 and 1977) use Federal and RWS primers, Bob now uses only the Russian primers; he was the original importer of these and for good reason - they are the best, most consistent primers ever made.  One common denominator of many of these loads is the use of the Russian primers, that is not a coincidence!

Jensen .308Although he is constantly trying load variations, Bob is particularly proud of that famous 1992 Palma load and it is still a fine shooting load used by many competitors. 

Brass: Winchester .308
Powder: IMR 4895, 44.8 gr.
Primer: Federal 210M
Bullet: Sierra 155 (2155) 2.80" OAL
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2980 fps
Barrel: 0.300" x 0.308", 1:13" twist, 30" long

Jensen .30-338 MagnumDuring the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's, the .30-338 Magnum was the king of 1000 yard shooting.  Well adapted to the available powders, particularly 4350, easy to make by necking down .338 Magnum brass (or necking up 7 mm Magnum brass), the .30-338 ruled the range.  Bob's 1977 Wimbledon Cup winning load is a real classic for the .30-338, hard to improve on even 33 years later.

Brass: Winchester .338 Magnum, necked down to .30 caliber
Powder: IMR 4350, 65.0 gr.
Primer: RWS
Bullet: Sierra 190
Average Muzzle Velocity: never chronographed, Bob reports he didn't have a chrono back then.
Barrel: 0.300" x 0.308" 1:11" twist 28" long, Hart

Allen Elliott - Florence, ArizonaAllen is one of the top shooters in our area and always does well at Camp Perry and other big matches; he's also a fine Smallbore shooter and brings that same high level of intensity and attention to detail to his long-range shooting and reloading.  I won't say much more about Allen, because he'll get a swelled head if I really say how good a shooter I think he is and now that they're getting electricity in Florence he might read this down at the library.

Elliott .308Allen believes in very careful case preparation for all of his ammo.  For his Palma loads, he and two friends recently bought 5000 pieces of Lapua brass to divide among themselves.  They beveled the flash holes, squared the primer pockets, turned all necks to 0.0135" thickness (not always a 100% clean up), checked case wall runout on the Audette tool (which resulted in only 25 cases out of the 5000 being rejected for more than 0.003" runout)  Then they weighed all the prepped cases, split them into three lots and each took one lot.  Bullets are subject to equally careful inspection and preparation: each is spun on a Juenke tester and those showing over 5 units of deviation are rejected.  Allen the trims the meplats, points the meplats with the Whidden tool and sorts bullets by bearing surface length.  I asked if he dips them in holy water too, he said no, just a simple blessing by his parish priest (the bishop for Camp Perry bullets).

Brass: Lapua, approx. 170 gr. case weight
Powder: Varget, 46.6 gr.
Primer: Russian LR
Bullet: Berger 155.5 gr. Fullbore or Sierra 155 (2156) (No preference) Bergers seated to jump 0.010", Sierras seated to jump 0.020"
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2985 fps
Barrel: 0.300" x 0.308", 1:13" twist, 30" long, Krieger or Hart, no preference

Elliott 6.5-08
Like a lot of us, Allen shoots a few different cartridges in Any-Rifle matches, but he has had a lot of success with the 6.5-08 so we'll have him cover that one.  Allen does the same brass and bullet inspection and preparation for the 6.5-08 as described for his .308 except that necks are turned 100% and to the thickness required to give 0.002" chamber neck clearance on a loaded round.  This is pretty tight clearance and not recommended for the relatively new shooter.  Whle Allen tried Remington .260 brass, he was unable to get a high enough percentage of it to pass the Audette inspection to make it worthwhile.  Consequently, he uses Federal .308 brass necked down in two steps (7-08, then 6.5-08) and neck turned.  He uses Federal because it checks well on the Audette test and he had a lot of it available.  Allen said: "I have a lot of problems with donuts at the base of the neck with this one.  I got a cutter and it barely touched the donut, then I got another cutter which turned out to be slightly larger (by coincidence) and it cuts them out but it's better to do it in two steps, using the smaller cutter first, then the larger one because it's too much to take out in one pass."

Brass: Federal .308 necked down and neck turned
Powder: H4350 41.6 gr.
Primer: Russian LR
Bullet: Sierra 142 seated to jump 0.020"
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2765 fps
Barrel: 1:8" twist, standard internal dimensions, 29" long, Krieger

German Salazar - Phoenix, ArizonaMy loading technique emphasizes quality and consistency of assembly over quality control of components.  I don't weigh cases or bullets, and I don't check bearing surface length or trim meplats though I do a bit of other preparation as described below.  Generally speaking I believe that good scores come from quality ammunition and perfect shooting technique so I don't overemphasize load development or component checking.  I always full length size and check the headspace to be 0.001" to 0.002" below the fired length.  Resizing is done with Redding bushing dies set for 0.002" neck tension and seating is with a Redding competition seater.  I weigh all charges on an Ohaus electronic scale, trickling to the exact desired weight or +0.05 gr. but never under.

Salazar .308My Palma loads vary a bit and use 155, 175, 185 or 190 grain bullets.  The one I'm shooting most now is the 175 Berger and it worked very well for me in the 2009 Arizona Palma Championship, so let's look at that load.  I use WCC 60 brass which weighs about 154 grains (new Winchester brass is about the same) and turn the necks to 0.0125" thickness to make sure of even neck tension on all bullets; this is my standard thickness for .308 and .30-06 brass.  My chamber has a 0.336" neck diameter, so I end up with 0.003" neck clearance.  I don't do any additional work to the brass, but I check it all on the Audette tool and reject anything over 0.003" case wall thickness variance at about 0.200" up from the inside base.  The remaining cases are marked at the thin spot and I try to index that mark up when I shoot.  Bullets are all moly coated and the tips pointed with the Whidden tool.  Remember that moly allows about one grain more than bare bullets, so reduce accordingly if you don't moly-coat your bullets.

Brass: WCC 60 or new Winchester (both weigh approx. 154 gr.), neck turned to 0.0125"
Powder:  H4895 44.5 gr.
Primer: Russian LR
Bullet: Berger 175 BT, moly-coated, seated to jam 0.010"
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2835 fps
Barrel: 0.300" x 0.308", 1:11" twist, 29" long Krieger

Salazar .30-06
As my friends know, I like shooting the .30-06 and find that it can be quite competitive at 1000 yards, even against all the sub-caliber wonder cartridges.  Like the .308, I use a lot of different bullets, but I have a basic "go-to" load that works perfectly at any distance including 1000 yards; nothing magic, just good, solid components and careful assembly.  I normally use Winchester brass which checks out very well on the Audette tool and reject anything over 0.003" case wall thickness variance, turn necks to 0.0125" and do no additional prep or sorting - really the same as my .308 brass.  On both cartridges, I do my final sizing with a 0.331" bushing for 0.002" neck tension and trim on a Giraud trimmer as needed.  Bullets are all moly-coated and pointed on the Whidden tool.

Brass: Winchester .30-06, neck turned to 0.0125"
Powder: H4350, 53.5 gr.
Primer: Russian LR
Bullet: Sierra 190, moly-coated, seated to jam 0.010"
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2800 fps
Barrel: 0.300" x 0.308", 1:11" twist, 28" long, Hart

Gary Eliseo - Orange, California Everyone knows Gary as the maker of the Competition Shooting Stuff Tubeguns; however, Gary is also among the West Coast's top shooters and has some interesting cartridges.  As far as case preparation goes, Gary sorts his brass by weight and also says: "I'm a big believer in annealing the cases, I do it every third firing, it keeps the neck tension and headspace very consistent and extends the useable life of the brass."  Let's examine three of Gary's loads, beginning as before with his Palma load. 

Eliseo .308
Brass: Winchester, weight sorted
Powder:, 46.5 gr. VV N150
Primer: CCI 200
Bullet: Berger 155.5 uncoated, jumping 0.020" to lands
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2970 fps
Barrel: Krieger 0.307" bore, 30" long  

Eliseo 6BRX
I don't generally recommend wildcat cartridges for newer shooters because there is plenty for them to learn without also learning to reform cases and deal with chamber and die compatibility issues.  The 6BRX, a lengthened version of the 6BR, is very popular in this area and while it requires reforming, it isn't too difficult.  The 6BR necks are expanded to 6.5 mm, then sized back down to 6mm just far enough to allow the bolt to close; this is the false shoulder method.  Bullets should be seated long to jam the rifling on the first firing to ensure the case head is against the bolt face and get a good blow-out of the case without separating the case near the base.

Brass: Lapua 6BR fireformed using the false shoulder method
Powder: 32.5 gr. of Varget
Primer: CCI BR4
Bullet: Berger 105 VLD, moly-coated, soft seated into lands
Average Muzzle Velocity: dependent on the barrel, 2975 to 3015
Barrel: 1:8" twist, 30" long Krieger, Hart and Broughton Barrels, all shoot equally well.

Eliseo 6 mm Remington
Gary hasn't shot this in a couple of years but this cartridge is a very good LR performer and I've seen him shoot some great scores with it.  Gary cautions: "This cartridge can push the 115's much faster, but be careful, the bullets tend to disappear if pushed too hard!"

Brass: Winchester, weight sorted and neck turned
Powder: 47.5 gr. of VV N165
Primer: CCI 200
Bullet: Berger 115 moly-coated, soft seated into the lands
Average Muzzle Velocity: 3120 fps
Barrel: Krieger 1:7.5" twist .237 bore, 30" long

Doug Frerichs - Scottsdale, Arizona Doug is a great shooter, competitive in Palma and Any Rifle matches and a lot of fun to be around, he is never at a loss for words!  I especially value his contribution because he has made a relatively quick and recent jump into the top level of shooters and might have a different perspective on things than those of us who have been "doing what works" without much change for many years.

Frerichs .308Doug says: "My Palma load is rather common, but involves a number of treatments that work well with the 30” Krieger on my T2K. Using Lapua brass, I neck turn to 0.015” thickness, then weigh and batch all brass to plus/minus 0.5 grains. For each reloading, brass is trimmed on a Giraud Trimmer to 2.007” – a length determined for my specific chamber with a Sinclair plug gauge. Resizing is done in three steps: Redding body die; Redding neck die with 0.334” bushing run to a depth of only 0.18” for soft seating; Berger 155.5 fullbores then seated to 0.015” rifling engagement.
Brass: Lapua, neck turned and weight sortedPowder: 45.8 gr. of Varget
Primer: Russian LR Magnum
Bullet: Berger 155.5 gr. Fullbore
Average Muzzle Velocity:
Barrel: 1:13" twist, 30" long Krieger

Frerichs 6XC
Doug shoots the 6XC for mid-range and long-range Any Rifle matches.  He tell us: "With Norma brass, I neck turn to 0.014” and size for 0.002” neck tension.  I then weigh and batch to plus/minus 0.5 gr or less, depending on luck o’ the lot. Using Tubb dies with a 0.268” shoulder/neck bushing, brass is resized and trimmed to 1.905” as established by a Sinclair plug gauge for the chamber on my Schneider barrel.  The bullets I shoot in the 6XC are moly and carnauba coated using the NECO process. For the 115s, I also use a Whidden Pointer to eke out a bit more BC."  Doug gave us a long-range load and a mid-range load for his 6XC; the mid-range load, which uses the 105, is also a very good long-range load for anyone who doesn't have 115's or has a 1:8" twist barrel.

Long-Range Load
: Norma 6XC

Powder: 38.5 gr. H4350
Primer: Russian LR Magnum
Bullet: 115 DTAC, moly-coated
Average MV: 2910 fps
Barrel:  1:7.5" twist, pentagonal rifling, Schneider 28" long

Mid-Range Load

Brass: Norma 6XC
Powder: 38.9 gr. H4350
Primer: Russian LR Magnum
Bullet: 105 Lapua Scenar, moly-coated
Average Muzzle Velocity: 3015 fps
Barrel: 1:7.5" twist, pentagonal rifling, Schneider 28" long

Bill Otten - Houston, TexasBill is a dedicated Palma shooter, a member of the US Veterans Team and a very thoughtful and careful reloader and experimenter.  Bill travels to many matches iin the US and abroad and is careful to build loads that can take the miles of vibration and rough handling that are part of international travel.  With the Veterans Team going to Australia regularly, Bill has been focused lately on developing loads with components available there in case the team requires that; he's always thinking ahead!  I've known Bill for almost 25 years and we correspond almost daily.  Although he shoots some other cartridges, the .308 is his main focus and he does some of the most carefully documented testing I've seen; his loads perform as well as anyone's and a lot better than most!

Otten .308
Bill tells us: "Case prep is where the most of my time is spent. Fired cases are decapped, then washed in a Lyman vibrator using hot water, liquid dishwashing soap (the kind with a degreaser agent in it) and a media of very small metal bits of varying shapes and sizes. After this the cases are annealed after every third firing. Then full length sized using the Warner sizing die, after which they are washed again to remove the lube.  I full length size every time to ensure consistency in the case size. The Warner die gives the loaded cartridge concentricity of 0.002" or less whether measured on the neck of the case or the ogive of the bullet.  I then trim and chamfer using a Giraud trimmer."

 Bill credits his frequent annealing with allowing him to maintain consistent neck tension with a non-bushing die.  He says: "The Warner sizing die is set up to give 0.002" neck tension, which give sufficient grip that the bullet does not move in the case during transport, especially when shipped ahead to a tournament or carried in my checked baggage.  There's no need for neck turning or weight sorting of the Lapua cases as they are very consistent and within tolerances.  Bill uses the Lapua 155 Scenar and comments: "I have found the Lapua does not like to be jammed at all and does not like to be jumped more than 0.010."  Let's look at the data.

Brass: Lapua .308, no special prep or selection
Powder: Varget, charge varies depending on the lot, as needed for MV shown below

Primer: CCI BR2
Bullet: Lapua 155 Scenar, no coating, no pointing
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2970 fps

Barrel: Bartlein, 1:12" twist, 0.3075" x 0.298", 30" long

Otten 6.5x47 Lapua
Bill's other cartridge is the 6.5x47 Lapua; as I mentioned above, Bill is principally a Palma shooter so the 6.5x47L or the "6.5 Finn" is his mid-range cartridge.  However, it is suitable for long range shooting and it is something not in widespread use today and thus of interest to many.

Bill explains his selection, saying : "I use this load in 300 yard and 600 yard prone matches.  I picked this cartridge because I wanted something with a little more bullet weight and wind bucking ability, especially at 600 yds, than I was getting from my 6BR."  Bill performs the same case preparation, annealing and sizing routine as with the .308 and also uses the Warner die for the 6.5x47L and again, does not neck turn or sort cases in any manner.

  As to load development, Bill comments: "The load was developed using the guidelines in the Lapua reloading manual. Lapua and Grunig & Elmiger  designed this cartridge specifically for 300 meter shooting and I presumed their testing was far more extensive than I could ever do. My testing differed from the factory setup in the barrel twist. Lapua’s testing was with a 1:8.5" twist, but after talking with Dan Warner we decided on a 1:9" twist barrel seeing that I was not going to be using the heavier 6.5 mm bullets, i.e. those above 130 grs."

Brass: Lapua 6.5x47L, no special prep or selection
Powder: VV N140, charge varies depending on the lot, as needed for MV shown below
Primer: Russian SR Magnum
Bullet: 123 gr. Lapua Scenar, no coating, no pointing, seated to jump 0.005" to rifling
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2850 fps
Barrel: Bartlein 5R, 1:9" twist, 0.256" x 0.264, 30" long

John Chilton - Phoenix, Arizona 
John shoots F-Class, F-TR to be specific and he has quickly risen to the top of that category through hard work and careful load development.  John is working on a prone rifle to expand his horizons a bit, but for now, let's tap his thoughts on a good F-TR .308 load.

Chilton .308John modestly says: "I am still new to the sport and learning the finer aspects of the technical area of the discipline and coming to love it. Initial brass preparation is fairly straight forward by first sorting Lapua Brass to +/- .5 grns. After the first firing I first clean the brass by tumbling. I carefully put the brass into the tumbler and extract it a piece at a time so not to damage the concentricity of the fired case necks. What can I say, "I have a thing for shiny bullets".

"The brass is then sized in two steps, first I send my brass through a neck sizing die with a bushing that will size the neck roughly half of the amount I need to get to proper neck diameter. Next I run the case through a full length sizing die with the bushing that will give me 0.002" pinch on the final seating. I find that the progressive neck sizing gives me a more consistent tension of the final product and the progression of neck sizing followed by full length sizing gives lower runnout."

"I then trim the brass to 2.008" and usually get three firings before trimming again. I have settled on the Russian primers as they give me really low SD's and are affordable. I do not sort bullets but do tip all bullets with the Whidden tool. When assembling midrange loads I simply use a RCBS Chargemaster and seat bullets as the cases are charged. This scale tends to drift so I shoot in the order in which I load. If a bullet seems to seat a little light or heavy on seating pressure, it goes into the sighter portion of the box. When building long range loads I run all charges over a Denver Instruments scale."

Brass: Lapua, weight sortedPowder: 44.5 gr. of IMR 4320Primer: Russian LRBullet: Berger 175 Grain Match Target BT, Jump 0.015"Average Muzzle Velocity: 2810 fpsBarrel: Krieger, 1:12" twist, 30" long

Mike StClair - San Diego, California
Mike is another of our dedicated Palma shooters, a member of the US Veterans Team and brings long experience in reloading for team shooting where uniformity and reliability of loads among team members and from year to year is essential in order for the coaches to do their job properly.  Mike's loads favor the well-proven approach with an emphasis on quality and consistency.  With California's year-round shooting weather, you can bet Mike's loads are well tested!

StClair .308
Mike buys Lapua brass in lots of 500, sorts them by weight when new and keeps each set boxed together from then on. The brass is discarded when primer pockets get loose, usually after 10 or so firings.

Mike explains his case prep techniques as follows: "I use Redding small base Type S full length dies with neck bushings. I never use an expander. After brushing out the inside neck and steel wooling the outside neck I lubricate with Imperial Sizing Die wax and resize the brass. My goal is to set back a fired case shoulder no more than .002 inches. I keep the over all length no more than 2.015 inches; this means using my Wilson trimmer and cutting back to 2.000 inches about every 3rd firing."

After sizing, Mike cleans the brass with this multi-step process: "I wipe the lubricant off and use an RCBS rotary tumbler to wash the brass in lots of 100 (1 box at a time). Hot water, a splash of white vinegar and 2 caps of Simple green detergent are the ingredients. I have some ceramic chips in the mix also. After 2 hours or so I rinse them out--dry them and then polish in a vibrator with corn medium."

Mike uses Varget powder which he buys in good quantity, and specifes that it all be from the same lot; this ensures a consistent load over a long period of time.  He says: "I weigh each load to the nearest .02 grains on my Denver MXX123 scale and seat bullets with a Redding Competition seating die. I watch the length from the base to the ogive and try and jump them about 0.020".  As for primers, I tried the Russian ones a few years ago and had some ignition problems so I went back to Federal.  I mostly shoot the Sierra 155; I also like the Berger 155.5 Fullbore but they are more expensive. I chronograph all new lots of powder to get just over 3000 fps at my home range which is at 2000 ft. elevation."

Brass: Lapua, weight sorted
Powder: Varget, charge varies by lot, as needed for Average MV shown below
Primers: Federal 210M
Bullets: Sierra Palma Match 2156, 155 gr. for 8-9-100 yards. Sierra 2155, 155 gr. for 300 to 600 yards.
Average Muzzle Velocity: Just over 3000 fps
Barrel: Kreiger, 31" long, Palma Countour, 0.298" bore x 0.3065" groove, 1:13" twist, 4 groove. My chamber is a tight modified Bisley --Doan Trevor does my barrels. I want to try the new 5 groove barrel some day.

Jim Cobb - Casa Grande, ArizonaJim is one of those guys who manages to do a lot with a little.  I consider him to be the best team shooter in our area, he can break a shot on command, calls them perfectly and they go right where he calls them.  That last item, of course, is our interest here as Jim knows how to build and feed very accurate rifles without breaking the bank.  

Cobb 6XC
Currently, Jim shoots a post-'64 Winchester Model 70 short action, in a McGee XTC pattern laminated stock in Any-Rifle matches.  Let's have a listen to what he says about the ammo, I think you'll agree that he has a great setup.  "I don't weight sort or use an Audette checker on my 6XC brass. Now that I received my long-range High Master card I may need to improve my reloading technique to try and run with the big dogs.

The Norma 6XC brass was fairly uniform out of the package. I trimmed all of the brass to 1.908” length. Surprisingly there were a few pieces that were only 1.895” out of the bag, eventually after a few firings they grew up. I uniformed the primer pockets on new brass with the Sinclair pocket uniformer. The only reason is so the primer seating operation has the same feel, case to case when seating primers with my RCBS primer tool. If I don’t perform this operation some primer pockets are significantly tighter than others causing the primers to be flatter than I would like when seating them. I don't neck turn or uniform the flash holes with this brass.

My fired rounds have a neck diameter of 0.272”+. I full length resize and
deprime using a 0.270” neck bushing in a Redding full length sizing die; the neck expander is not used. I bump the shoulder back 0.001" to 0.002”. Next operation is a neck size only, using a Redding neck size die with a 0.269” neck bushing. I trim the cases back to 1.908” and then wipe them down with a damp microfiber towel to remove the sizing wax.

The load I typically use year round is 38.8 gr. of H4350, Wolf large rifle magnum primer and Berger 105’s. The bullets are moly coated and seated 0.020” into the lands.  Bullets are seated with a Redding Competition seater die. Loaded round neck diameter is 0.270”. This load achieves approximately 2925 fps.

This combination has shot extremely well at both long and mid ranges. A 198-10X at 1000yds during the Arizona State Long Range Championships in November, with 2450 rounds down the barrel. At a Ben Avery 600 yard match this month, a 200-7X at 2500 rounds. In August, at a South Mountain 500 yard match, a 400-26X at 2250 rounds.

Overall this is a moderately priced and efficient package that has performed very well for me. A classic M70 XTC rifle that can still be loaded with stripper clips and fed from the magazine, imagine that. Barrel wear, all slow prone has been very reasonable: at 70 rounds I had a Sinclair comparator reading of 3.130” with a jam of 0.020”.  I now have 2504 rounds down the tube and a comparator reading 3.160” with the 105’s 0.020” into the lands. I also have one box of Norma brass that has at least 15 reloads on it."

Brass: Norma 6XC brassPowder: Hodgdon H4350 powderPrimer: Wolf large rifle magnumBullet: Berger 105 #24429, moly-coatedAverage Muzzle Velocity: 2925 fpsBarrel: Krieger #16 Palma, 0.237" x 0.243", 1:7.5" twist, 30” long barrel

Martin Tardiff - Los Angeles, CaliforniaMartin is one of California's top shooters, the 2009 California Palma Champion and the winner of the 2009 Bill Chapman Regional shooting his 6XC. These matches, held at the always challenging Coalinga range are a great test of the rifleman and his equipment; Martin is always a contender in our Arizona state matches as well. Here's what he has to say:

Tardiff .308"I use Lapua .308 brass. I lightly chamfer and deburr it out of the box and I use this from 300 to 800 and some 900 yd. matches. From this fire-formed brass, I will load my 1000 yard ammo. I do not weight sort any brass or bullet for any reason whatsoever. I figure Lapua and Berger are way better at that than me. I use a Redding bushing die with a 0.336" to get 0.001” to 0.0015” neck tension. I find that the Berger 155 VLD’s give me about 1/2- X ring elevation. I know this from the 800 yard 150-15x I shot last year at Coalinga. Noma Mayo was scoring me and had shot the same score on the previous relay but added that I had used about half of her elevation. I’ve been annealing my brass of late and find it gives me more consistent neck tension when seating bullets. My load shown below gives me 2930 fps. I have been told that this is a light load...I’m good with that."Brass: Lapua .308Powder- N-150, 45.5 gr. .
Primers - Russian, Lot 1-03.
Bullet: Berger 155 VLD (naked), jam 0.030” into the lands
Average Muzzle Velocity: 2930 fps
Barrel: Krieger, 30” long, 1:13” twist, 0.307” bore, ‘95 Palma chamber.

Tardiff 6XC
"I use Winchester 22-250 reformed to 6XC using Larry Medler’s mushroom free case forming method except for the neck turning bit. I can shoot this at 600yd matches and stay competitive. I use the Tubb SSS neck/shoulder-bump case forming die. When I first received the die I had some severe issues with it; the die would shave brass off the bottom third of the virgin case. Gary Eliseo did some of his magic and massaged it so that I could use the dang thing. I purchased a 0.269" neck./shoulder bushing from SSS which gives me 0.001” neck tension. I anneal this brass every 2 or 3 firings.

Doan Trevor chambers all of my barrels and he supplies a “0” headspace gauge with each one. This is really handy when sizing my brass. I just size my single load ammo 0.001" to 0.002” under the “0” reference on the gauge and I’m good to go. Doan uses my Dave Kiff 6XC no turn chamber which has a 0.273” neck. With the Winchester brass this gives me 0.001” clearance all around (0.002" total clearance).

Brass: Winchester 22-250, reformed to 6XC

Powder: H4831sc, 41gr.
Primer: Russian LR, Lot 1-03
Bullet: Berger 115 gr. VLD (naked) 0.030” jam into the lands
Average Muzzle Velocity: 3050 fps
Barrel: Krieger 30”, 1-7.5” twist, .236 bore

Brass: Powder: Primer: Bullet: Average Muzzle Velocity: Barrel:


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