I am in awe over the tight groups and extreme range performance that a lot of shooters on this board have. I have also noticed that a lot of the same guys use only specialty bullets like SMK's, Lost River, Wildcat, Amax, and Berger. Is anyone getting any decent 500 to 1000 yard groups with Partitions, Accubonds or Barnes Triple Shock bullets in 257 caliber?
Having never shot a target bullet from any of my .257 caliber rifles, I’m wondering if the bullets are capable and maybe I need a better barrel or even with the best of everything a rifle that shoots better than 1” groups at 300 can be expected to open up a bit with hunting bullets? Will match grade bullets turn my .5”-.8” gun into a gun that shoots in the .1”-.2” zone. If they will I will just do that for varmints and be happy. I want to varmint hunt with a .257 explosive bullet then switch to hunting bullets and be able to hunt big game with it as well. I need to be able to engage 2” targets with some degree of repeatability to 500 yards yet still be able to deliver a hunting bullet to 1000. Is it possible?
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I can't answer all of your questions. However, I spent a lot of time +200 rounds trying to find a super accurate load for Ballistic Tip hunting rounds. I could get 1.75" at 200yds and that was it. I then loaded some 162gr A-Maxs and immediately dropped under 1" for 5 shot groups. I've been using the A-Maxs for deer ever since.
The A-Max's have worked fine for me. 3 for 3 on neck shots and 2 for 2 on head shots. All under 200yds though.
Hope that helps,
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As far as the Wildcat bullets they are hunting bullets, as far as all the ones I have shot that is what they were designed for first. I am shooting a 125gr Wildcat bullet in my 25-06 in a attempt to push a factory gun to the 1500yd mark. So far I have been very pleased with these and all Wildcat bullets.
What big game are you planning on hunting with a 257 caliber. Is this rifle a custom job because engaging 2" target at 500 with decent repeatability is a pretty decent little shot in and of itself.
If the rifle shooting .5 groups already I wouldn't ask much more from it. I had a factory 22-250 that would punch regular .5 groups at 100yds and managed to shoot a .8 group at 400yds. Later I was able to stretch this gun out to 730yds and from there back to the muzzle a lot of pdogs died at many ranges. This was done with 55gr ballistic tips.
We have used a 105gr A-max from a 243 out to 1100yds with great accuracy and even though this is a target bullet I still consider it great for hunting as long as the animal isn't overly large.
GoodGrouper used the Bergers on Antelope with success and one of the Moderators right know has a post going about using SMK's for deer with obvious success.
As far as the 257 goes try the Wildcats if you get the chance. I have not heard great things about the Accubond for some reason, every other caliber seems to love the bullets. I have always heard of 25-06 loving the 100gr Sierra gamekings.
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I have shot sub MOA groups at 535 with my 300 SAUM with 140 Barnes X and 150 NABs. That being said, 175 smk best group is 1.4" ctc with 2.2" being average.
In my experience, match bullets are just more consistent. Consistency is wht you have to have to be effective at 1k like you mentioned. Can NPs be used at 1k? Sure. I bet a SMK will outperform it at 1k, expansion-wise!
My longest kill to date is 494 yards, and I killed the deer with a 300 WM 150 gr NP. They are plenty accurate for 500 yard work; 1k I have no clue as 535 is the limit at my disposal. Maybe by spring I will be able to say if NPs and Barnes will keep it tight at 800 yards or so.
Most of the loads I shoot are under 1 MOA at 100 with hunting bullets. FWIW my 25-06 shoots 87 gr Speers better than any other bullet match or otherwise.
The bare minimum to do what you are asking would be to try 115 NBTs for your hunting to 1k. The other bullets, NP, AB and TSX, will probably not offer you good performance at that range imo. The Wildcat bullets as previously mentioned would be the only other choice, imo, without shooting the Berger VLDs that I know of.
115 NBT 3150 fps (26"barrel)
500 yd/7.9 MOA/3.3 MOA/2171 fps/1203 ft lbs
800 yd/17.7 MOA/6 MOA/1685 fps/785 ft lbs
1k/26.6 MOA/8.1 MOA/1411 fps/508 ft lbs
125 WC RBBT @ 2960 fps
1k/25 MOA/5.75 MOA/1666 fps/770 ft lbs
I take it back! 115 NBT would be good to 750-800 yds, imo!
There is my answer to your question! Wildcat 125 RBBT for your 1k bullet, imo.
Yes hunting bullets can be accurate. Infact most of my targets are shot with hunting bullets and in some cases they shoot better then my match bullets. For the 257 try the 110 Accubond. I tried these last year in my friends rifle and he was getting 1inch groups at 300 yards with them. Give them a try.
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Re: Can hunting bullets be accurate?
In .243 win and 308 Win I have had very good luck with the Hornaday SPBT's. Have shot many .5 MOA groups and under at 600 yards even. Accubonds are very accurate as well and are a good balance of match quality with hunting charechteristics. Dont be fooled by the AMAX's rep as a match bullet. Even the manufacture recomends it for hunting deer size and smaller critters. In the right rifle Ive had sub .5 MOA groups out to 800 yards with the Barnes bullets. XBT's to be exact. So to answer your question, yes, hunting bullets can be very accurate. Most here use other types for their high BC's for flatter shooting, increased distance, minimal windage and extreeme accuracy.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (where the shot goes, how big the group is, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.