Long Range Rifles. Boers, Beans, Bullets, and Bear Soup


(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)

A Rifle for the Recoil Sensitive

Around here, .30-06 is more common than .308 Win.  The second most popular in my neighborhood is 6.5 Creedmoor (6.5CM), then 6.5×55, and lastly a wildcat for the AR platform, the 6.5 Timberwolf. Ideally, we would be best off to standardized on .308 Winchester. Yet .30-06 is still king in these woods. It is time tested and found to be the best all around cartridge CONUS, good for mouse to moose, and the occasional Griz, because it can shoot the heaviest .308 caliber bullets with a 1:10 twist rate barrel.

The .30-06 can also punch out a flat shooting 175 grain bullet at 2,800fps with H4831sc, H4350 powder, or other similar powders. It is appreciable flatter shooting than .308 Winchester, and far flatter than .308 Winchester’s military version, 7.62×51 NATO.  Yet we do pay the price in terms of a punishing level of recoil. Therefore, my ideal long range rifle would be the 6.5×55 cartridge in a modern action capable of 60,000psi with 29 inch bull barrel attached, however that rifle is only a dream rifle.

Because I tend to flinch, I intentionally add weight to my Swedish Mausers, and load the ammo to modest pressures so that the recoil is closer to .243 Winchester.  The additional weight also stabilizes the rifle and improves my aim.  The resulting level of recoil is about 8 to 9 foot-pounds that can be compared to using a heaviest .243 100 grain bullet. As it is for most persons, my shooting is better with a lower recoiling rifle with 8 foot-pounds of recoil, versus 18 foot-pounds from a full-powered .308 Winchester cartridge that uses a 180 grain projectile, or .30-06 that can produce 23 foot-pounds of recoil.  And the .308 Win is still not as flat shooting passed 500 yards as either the 6.5×55, 6.5CM, or .243 Winchester. If we suffer from a flinch, or have discomfort from a heavy recoiling rifle, the .243 Winchester could be the best choice. It is as flat shooting as a .300 Winchester Magnum, yet easier on the shoulder than either 6.5×55, or 6.5CM. It would be a good choice for medium long-range targets, especially inside of 500 yards.

Beyond 500 yards, 6.5CM, or 6.5×55 that are essentially ballistically identical, would be the better choice. These 6.5 cartridges make hitting targets out at 600 yards, and beyond, relatively easy, and allow new shooters to be successful at these and actual longer ranges of 1,000 yards and further, relatively quickly.  This is possible because of the 140 grain 6.5mm bullet’s high ballistic coefficients that are much less affected by the wind. These rifles also tend to mild recoiling, and the cartridge tends to be more accurate than most others.

Rifles in 6.5CM are modern and made with precision machinery.  The Savage 110, or Mossberg Patriot can be purchased for as little as $300 in either 6.5CM, or .308 Winchester. Get both!  These are typically 1 MOA, a precision rifle straight out of the box, good for 1,000 yards, even if factory ammunition is used.

Recoil and Range

I began reading Chuck Hawks in the early 1990s long before he became widely read.  Sadly he has passed away, yet his analysis of rifle cartridges educated untold thousands, and lives on.  He was a great admirer and advocate of the 6.5×55 cartridge.  Americans are now enjoying some of the attributes of this cartridge in it offspring, the 6.5CM.  It is nearly ballistically the same.  6.5CM has an advantage over 6.5×55 mostly because it’s high-quality precision ammunition can be easily purchased.  And because accurate rifles in 6.5CM are relatively inexpensive and easily found available off the shelf.  Aggressively marketed and widely appreciated, the offspring of the 127-year-old 6.5×55, became a wildly successful hit.  IHMO, Chuck Hawk’s analysis was instrumental in growing the appreciation of 6.5 cartridges.

For shots that are medium long-range, shots inside of 600 yards, one can obtain further advantage by using ammunition that uses 120 grain bullets. These produce a flatter trajectory, and extend the maximum point blank range (MPR), thereby increasing ‘danger zone’, and hit probability, attributes that making range estimate less of a problem.  For ranges beyond 600 yards, use 140 grain bullets.  The 140 grain bullet is by far the best choice for most situations, in particular hunting, but one can optimize our ability to hit inside of 600 yards with lighter and faster 120 grain option.

When shopping for precision ammunition, I would choose match grade, or those advertised as having the highest ballistic coefficients.  Some bullets in the same weight class can have disappointing B.C.s, and these could be expanding ammunition intended for hunting. Choose the correct bullet for the application.  The Hornady ELD (Extreme Low Drag) 123 grain bullet has a B.C. of .510.  A 140 grain bullet design for hunting might not have as a high ballistic coefficient, and can not therefore have the same high velocity and subsequent  flatter trajectory that can be useful inside of 600 yards.

There are many obscure cartridges that offer similar performance, yet finding ammunition for the rifle could be difficult.

These are not the options, but only a few I would bother to consider given ammunition availability.  These cartridges provide the flattest trajectories for the least amount of recoil, giving the shooter a critical edge. As we age, recoil becomes an issue that prior to, was not. Even if I am reduced to being an old one-eyed fat man in a wheelchair, prop up an umbrella, and hand me a rifle in 6.5×55. The data below was extracted from Chuck Hawk’s highly-recommended website:

Expanded Rifle Recoil Table By Chuck Hawks

                            Bullet weight/velocity  Rifle Weight     Recoil Energy (ft-lbs.)

6.5mm Creedmoor (120 at 2925)                8.0                11.1

6.5×55 Swedish     (120 at 2867)                8.0                12.5

.260 Rem.              (120 at 2890)                8.0                10.2

.25-06 Rem.           (120 at 2990)                8.0                12.4

6mm Rem.             (100 at 3100)                8.0                 10.0

.243 Win.               (105 at 3000)                 8.0                 11.5

In comparison are these popular, yet higher recoiling cartridges that we should also have in our inventory.  If recoil is not an issue, then these are the only rifles one might need as they are good all-around cartridges that are widely available, and affordable.  If we are recoil sensitive, we can purchase factory ammunition that offers reduced recoil loads.  The advantage goes to .308 Winchester, and particularly 7.62 NATO, that can be found as military ammunition at the lowest cost relative to all other full-power rifle cartridges. In the likely event of a collapse, .308 Winchester would be the full-power rifle ammunition that could be found for sale, or barter when all other types cannot be found at any price.  The U.S. military still issues the 7.62 NATO M240 light machinegun and has huge stockpiles of this ammunition that might make its way into a black market:

Bullet weight/velocity  Rifle Weight     Recoil Energy (ft-lbs.)

.30-06 Spfd.   (180 at 2700)           8.0                     20.3

.30-06 Spfd.   (150 at 2910)           8.0                     17.6

.308 Win.      (180 at 2600)            8.0                     17.8

.308 Win.      (150 at 2800)            8.0                     16.3

Affordable Optics for Long-Range Rifles

To get these rifles out beyond 300 yards, I recommend an inexpensive, yet a high-quality military style scope with turrets, a bargain is the as the Arken SH-4 4×16-50.  It is only $314 with the discount code REX170, if the very desirable accessories package is ordered. This is a savings of $170.  See expert reviews by tiborasauasrex on YouTube. Make sure your rifle has Picatinny rail for this scope.
Arken SH-4 4-16×50 Gen II compared to SWFA, S&B, and others?

In closing, also recommend is the excellent instructional video series on ELR (Extreme Long Range) shooting in 101 parts: Sniper 101 by tiborasuaursrex.  Although I do not have enough time and ammunition to aspire to this level, my equipment is capable, and many of the fundamentals taught can be applied to my modest ambitions. We should strive to become a nation of riflemen.

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