October 6th, 2010

Hornady’s New 285gr .338 Bullet Wins HG at IBS Nationals

Hornady plans to release a brand new 285gr, .338-caliber match bullet within the next few weeks. This bullet, which boasts a mind-blowing 0.735 G1 BC, has already proven itself in competition. At the 2010 IBS 1000-yard Nationals in September, Scott Fletcher won the Heavy Gun (HG) group title shooting the new Hornady 285gr BTHPs. Scott’s 4-match, 10-shot per target group Aggregate was 9.148″. Scott was shooting a large wildcat, the .338 Sloan. That cartridge is nearly identical to the new .338 Norma Magnum*, which could be described as a “chopped” .338 Lapua Mag — shorter with less case capacity.

Weight is unlimited in the 1000-yard Heavy Gun class. Weight soaks up the recoil of big cartridges like the .338 Norma Magnum, making them manageable to shoot. The Big 30-Cals have long dominated this HG category, but some shooters like Fletcher are experimenting with some really big cartridge/bullet combinations, in pursuit of class-leading ballistics. We don’t know how fast Fletcher pushes his prototype Hornady 285s, but that 0.735 BC has to give the bullets awesome performance in the wind.

Artist’s concept — No photos of the new bullet are available.

.338 285grain Hornady

New Manufacturing Process Produces Bullets with Near-Zero Run-out
According to Hornady’s Chief Ballistic Scientist Dave Emary, the new 285-grainer is a VLD-style, secant ogive projectile with a standard, drawn-copper jacket and lead core. This is a BTHP, NOT a plastic tip bullet like Hornady’s A-Max designs. Emary says, “This bullet was originally developed for the military. It has just about the lowest drag possible with conventional bullet construction and ogive design.” The .338-caliber 285gr bullet is the first of two new super-low drag bullets Hornady will be releasing before the end of the year.

The new 285gr bullets are built with a new manufacturing process that improves jacket concentricity to previously unattainable levels. Emary says: “Measured along the entire jacket, these bullets have extremely low eccentricity. We measured zero to a couple ten-thousandths total run-out along the whole jacket. As a result the bullet has show truly outstanding long-range performance, with sub-half-MOA accuracy at extreme ranges.” Hornady Project Engineer (and 1K shooter) Joe Thielen added: “These bullets are specifically designed and built for long-range use, and the jackets are the some of best I’ve ever seen.”

When will the new bullets be available? End of the year at the latest. Emary says the 285s should be available “before the end of November”. When we asked Hornady Marketing guru Steve Johnson, he said “Soon. They’ll be out soon.” When pressed as to “how soon”, Steve responded: “The release is imminent… imminent”.


*The .338 Norma Magnum was originally developed by the American sport shooter Jimmie Sloan as a long-range sport shooting wildcat cartridge. It was designed to shoot the .338-caliber, 300gr Sierra MatchKing projectile from actions/magazines too short for a .338 Lapua Magnum. Sloan licensed the design to the Norma group. Both the .338 Norma Mag and the larger .338 Lapua Mag are derived from the .416 Jeffreys, but the .338 Norma Mag fits in a shorter action.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 4 Comments »
October 6th, 2010

6mm 90s & 95s — Lighter Bullets May Be Better for Mid-Range

Many shooters using the 6mmBR case or a 6BR Improved (6 BRX, Dasher), automatically assume they should be shooting the heavier 105-108gr bullet designs because these offer the “best” ballistic coefficient attainable with a bullet that can work in an 8-twist barrel.

95 grain Sierra MatchKingHowever, if you are shooting a 6BR at medium ranges, say 250 to 400 yards, you should seriously consider trying the 90-95 grain class of bullets, which includes the Berger 90gr Match Target BT, the Lapua 90gr Scenar, the Berger 95gr Match Target VLD, and the Sierra 95gr MatchKing.

First, you may find that, in your barrel, the 90-95 grainers are easier to tune in terms of seating depth, and they may offer somewhat better raw accuracy — yielding smaller groups than the heavier bullets. But remember — each gun/barrel is different.

Second, another advantage of the 90-95s is that you can fill the case fuller with the Varget/RL-15 class of powders (with appropriate throats). You can use more powder and therefore get closer to an optimal 100% case fill. With a 95gr VLD seated long we were able to get virtually 100% fill with a slow lot of Varget. Don’t try that with your 105s!

Lighter Bullets Offer More Speed in a 6BR
You’ll find that, in a standard 6mmBR rifle, you can drive the 90-95 grainers considerably faster than the 105-108 grain bullets at equivalent pressures. In an Eliseo R5 Tubegun, with Broughton 27.5″ 5C barrel, we were able to push the 95gr VLDs a full 160 fps faster than the 108s. This means that the true ballistics of the 90-95s rival that of the heavy bullets — at medium ranges.

We were able to drive the 90-grainers and the 95gr VLDs comfortably and very accurately at 3050 fps, whereas we maxed out at about 2890 fps with the 105gr and 108gr Bergers. At 300 yards, the 95gr bullet’s speed advantage compensates, in large part, for any BC shortfall compared to heavier bullets. In fact, in our rifle, the 95gr VLD actually shows less wind drift at 300 yards than either the Berger 105 Match Target BT or the Berger 108 Match Target BT. See chart.

Here’s data from JBM Ballistics, using G7 Coefficients (500′ alt, 70° temp):

LESSON: Don’t always assume that the heavier bullet has superior ballistics. You have to test, find the accuracy nodes for each bullet in your gun, and run the ballistics for the velocities you can actually achieve with good accuracy. As above, you may be surprised. In our Eliseo Tubegun, the 90-grainers shot tighter than 105s and we gave up little, if anything, in wind drift at 300 yards.

Great Accuracy from 90s and 95s in 6mmBR Tubeguns
In our Broughton-barreled Tubegun, the most accurate bullet so far has been the 90gr Lapua Scenar. In a Savage 6BR with 3-groove PacNor Barrel the Berger 95gr VLD has been ultra-accurate. But we really want to try the 95gr Sierra MK as well. Forum member Randy (aka “InfantryTrophy”) has been shooting the 95gr SMK with great success, and impressive accuracy. Here is his report: “The 95 SMK shoots great. I have not had the opportunity to shoot the 95s at 200 or 300 yards, but I can’t think of anything better to use. This is my first 5-round group fired after about 15 break-in rounds. The load is 29.5 grains of Reloder 15 with SMK 95. The gun is an Eliseo R5 with Pierce action and Broughton 27″ barrel. Shown below is a 5-shot, 100-yard group shot at 100 yards on MR31 target with iron sights, from rest.” Randy measured his group at 0.214″. It looks a bit bigger than that to us, but it is still impressive:

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 2 Comments »