Hey guys. Been lurking for a long time, and finally got around to joining. This will be a fairly long first post, so hopefully you’ll see that I’ve put some research into this, and not just jumping in and asking questions I could have easily searched on the boards. I’ve got a couple questions for those of you who are certainly more knowledgeable than I (which, I assume, is just about everyone). I’m fairly new at the precision rifle/long range game, so please forgive my obvious past mistakes and new-guy questions.
A little background… Last year I had my first precision rifle built in 30.06: Bell and Carlson stock, Rem 700 action, Krieger #6 heavy bull barrel (1 in 10), custom trigger, etc, and topped it w/a FFP Vortex Viper PST
4-16x. I had it painted in MarPat digital. My intent with this project was to use it for the enjoyment of range days at long-range targets, and elk/deer hunting here in CO. So… After 6 months of trying to find the parts, waiting for the work to be done, etc, I finally picked it up. Overall a beautiful job by a great gunsmith. A few trips to the range and very quickly learned I was out of my league. The factory 180 gr Hornady SST superformance rounds I started with would go stupid out of the barrel. After researching more about ballistics, I knew I needed to learn how to hand-load. So, while trying to get used to my new baby, I started the process of teaching myself reloading (and thanks for all the help you have unknowingly given me along the way). After recommendations from friends I settled on Nosler Accubond in 180gr for my elk load. The final recipe produced a round travelling 2630 fps and (with me behind the rifle) just under .4 MOA at 300yds. I was able to get first round hits on target out to about 620yds, which is as far as my local range goes.
Fast forward to my first elk hunt… after 3 days of trekking around up at 11k ft, hearing them calling, smelling them, but not seeing them, I finally got my chance. A bull and 2 cows out grazing at 1100yds. I was able to stalk as close as 830yds with a clear shot. They were right across a valley at the same altitude, no wind, quartering away. I set up, sighted in, and had the perfect shot. Bang! Miss. It was the only shot I got. I literally spent months agonizing over why that shot missed.
Since then I’ve learned quite a bit more. At the time I had my load data set to the G7 profile, with the advertised BC of .507 plugged in. At 620 yards this worked fine, so I didn’t know to look for a problem. As I researched more I realized that BC number was way too high. I called Nosler and spoke with one of their tech reps. He informed me that the Accubond is actually closest to a G5 profile, and for marketing reasons they advertise the G1 BC on the box because, as we all know, higher BCs sell more bullets. I asked what the correct G5 BC and he told me he didn’t know- to just go out and verify at different distances. Great. Eventually I found the JBM converter, and looking at the new data, it appears I was off by over 30 inches when I took my shot.
So, needless to say I’m pissed at myself for not doing more research, and fairly pissed at Nosler for their less-than-truthful advertising. I spent a whole lot of time, money, and effort to get in position for that shot, and while the whole trip was a great experience, I really would have like to fill my tag. Now that my draw application is in and I’m starting to think about next season, I want to get this load down before I head out.
This was a very long-winded way of getting to my questions, so any insight ya’ll have on the following would be appreciated:
1) Would shooting a lighter round (165-8gr vs. 180gr) at higher speeds produce better accuracy at longer ranges?
2) Would switching to a slower burning powder in a heavy barrel produce better results (currently using IMR 4007 SSC)?
3) Does anyone have any experience with purpose-built long-range bullets, or are these just marketing ploys too? (Any thoughts on specific bullets would be welcome)