Max effictive range of factory bullets?


Well-Known Member
Sep 14, 2009
So I'm pretty new to the long range world, and one very common theme I've noticed is "you'll only reach max potential with a rifle if you hand-load". Now I'm sure that this is correct but is it necessary for hunting situations?

Lets say I want to be able to take large game out to 800 yards, is this possible with factory ammo(300 win mag, in case your wondering)? If so, what would be your top pic for brand and grain?

I guess I'll find out sooner or later when I put my rifle together for next year and hit the range with it, but I wanted to hear some opinions first.

Now, I don't have the time to learn re-loading just yet, but I definitely plan on it. Plus there isn't a lot of space to set up a loading bench in my apartment. :D

If it is doable, I want you to know that as an inexperienced long range shooter I'm not gonna go out next season and start flinging bullets at animals 800 yards out just because you say it's "possible". I am very intrigued with long range shooting, but I have too much respect for the animal to take a shot unless I know 100% that I can hit where I'm aiming, and I understand it takes practice to become proficient at these ranges.

When you read "max potential ", it means consistency and or accuracy from YOUR particular barrel.
It doesn't mean power, or max distance.

It is a sad fact, and hard for people to believe, but no 2 barrels are the same. On the other hand, ammo is very consistent.
As such, off the shelf guns shoot differently from one another using same ammo. So when you buy a gun and plan to use factory ammo, you'll find that there are maybe 1 or 2 types of ammo that shoot well enough in YOUR gun. It is not predictable either.
This tends to set your limits, as HITTING game is more important than pretty much anything else.
To get around this you must reload so that you have more adjustments than just this box or that box. Reloading allows you to adjust which bullet, bullet seating depth, the necks' grip on the bullet, which powder, how much, which primer, etc.
All to get the most out of THAT barrel. And the payoff is huge.

Take a factory gun, shoot various available factory ammo, and you might find that the best accuracy potential is +/- 1" at 100yds. That will be worse than +/- 8" at 800yds because the further you go, the tougher it gets.
Now with that same gun a reloader can tune for under +/- 1/2" at 100, and may end up actually being able to take game at 800yds.

Anyway, carefully consider weight and balance if you carry hunt. And if long range shooting is really your endeavor, learn basic external ballistics before proceding with any scope purchases. Best advice I can come up with at the moment...
MCR offers good insight as usual.

As he siad, max potential can be found with tailored ammo.

That doesnt meen that factory loads cant work at 800 yards. In fact, my longest kill was done using factory ammo. This was just under 800 yards. It was a new rifle and I had a hunt coming up and did not have time to work up a load AND gather true BC info, drop tests etc.....So I found some factory ammo the rifle liked (solid 1/2 MOA) and dialed it in out to 900 yards, went hunting and the end result was a one shot kill at 763 yards in 2002. With all of that said, I worked up several loads after that hunt. They all were much better loads than the factory loads. This was with accuracy and terminal performance in mind. That rifle and handloads went on to take nearly 20 big game animals out to as far as 600 yards by 2008 since that first kill in 2002.

Handloads that are tailored to a given rifle is almost always better than factory but in many cases factory ammo can work.
Thank you both for your response.

And if long range shooting is really your endeavor, learn basic external ballistics before proceding with any scope purchases. Best advice I can come up with at the moment...

Not really sure where your coming from here...
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