How Accurate Is Factory Ammo when Paired with a Custom 6mm Creedmoor Rifle Part II: The Range Report

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Part Two of answering the question on how accurate is factory ammo when paired with a custom 6mm Creedmoor rifle, is the range report.  In this second article I will cover Accuracy Testing and Velocity, while briefly discussing the different brands and offerings that ended up on our shooting bench.  My final thoughts on rifle build and accuracy, along with the results from the range.  I will include my final thoughts on the accuracy testing and answering the question posed previously.  Part Three will be forthcoming in a few days and will cover ammunition energy and our rockchuck hunt report.

For the second phase of the project we needed to decide on what factory ammunition to test. Would we only test ammo that is more suited for the 1 in 8 twist? Would we choose only match or hunting ammunition? It was determined that for the most comprehensive results we would simply test them all! Now this isn’t to say we were able to test every 6mm Creedmoor ammunition made, however we did test all ammunition available to us. We received the ammo from multiple sources including local gun stores, online orders, and some was generously supplied by Peterson Cartridge Company.

Hornady Precision Hunter – 103 grain Hornady ELD-X

Hornady Varmint Express – 87 grain Hornady V-Max

Peterson Precision Ammunition – 108 grain Hornady ELD-M

Barnes VOR-TX LR – 95 grain Barnes LRX

Hornady Black – 105 grain Hornady BTHP

Hornady Match – 108 grain Hornady ELD-M

Federal Premium Gold Medal – 105 grain Berger Hybrid OTM

Federal Premium Gold Medal – 107grain Sierra Matchking

 

Range Testing Factory 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Range Testing Factory 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Once the ammo was received we packed up our equipment, ammunition, rifle and headed to the range. The first order of business was to get our Rock Creek Barrel broke in. I completely understand there are many opinions on this subject and those who prefer to break in a barrel have their own

method. My thoughts are this: I need to sight the rifle in anyway and a few extra shots down the barrel with cleanings in between will not hurt anything. My process is this: shoot one and clean five times, shoot three shots and clean five times,  your barrel break-in is now complete with 1 box of ammo. I prefer to use Montana X-Treme cleaning rods, solvents, patches, brushes, and jags.

They make outstanding products and would encourage you to check out www.montanaxtreme.com for their complete line of cleaning products. For the barrel break in I used the Bore Solvent.  It is a general purpose cleaning solvent that works well on carbon and copper fouling. It is also safe on your barrels, unlike other more aggressive solvents.

Now on to the accuracy testing. For stability the ammunition was shot from a bench using the Accuracy Solutions Bipod XT with the Accu-Tac HD50 bipod and a rear bag. This provided a rock solid setup with no inadvertent movement of the rifle.

Sub-MOA App Calculations

Sub-MOA App Calculations

We utilized a Labradar to obtain the muzzle velocities and statistics of the ammo performance. The Longshot LR-3 – 2 Mile UHD to record our target impacts. If you have not seen these camera systems yet head over to www.longshotcameras.com and check out their complete line of cameras. We had zero issues with the camera and ran them all day with no interruptions in communication or battery life. We will be releasing a full review of this system in the future so stay tuned!  Finally, we used the Sub-MOA Application to calculate the final groups (which were verified by hand).

Ammunition Test Results:

 

Hornady Precision Hunter – 103 grain Hornady ELD-X

With the barrel break in behind us we jumped into shooting our five shot groups. For each ammo we shot 2-five shot groups and documented the results of each group size, average group size, average velocity, extreme spread, and standard deviation. The first ammunition tested was the Hornady Precision Hunter which is loaded with the Hornady 103 grain ELD-X.

The ELD-X stands for Extremely Low Drag – Expanding making them a perfect choice for hunting applications. They feature match grade accuracy paired with controlled expansion. These bullets lived up to their name and shot well with a group size of 0.96” and 0.70” for an average group size of 0.83”.

Hornady Precision Hunter 103 grain ELD-X - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Hornady Precision Hunter 103 grain ELD-X – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Hornady Precision Hunter 103 grain ELD-X - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

Hornady Precision Hunter 103 grain ELD-X – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

 

 

Peterson Precision Ammunition – 108 grain Hornady ELD-M

The second ammo tested was the Peterson Precision Ammunition loaded with Hornady 108 gr ELD-M. The ELD-M stands for Extremely Low Drag – Match which feature Heat Shield Tips. This ammunition shot extremely well with a group size of 0.65” and 0.62” for an average group size of 0.635” !

As of July 1, 2020 this ammunition is not available for purchase but will be released in the near future. Graf and Sons is the exclusive distributor for Peterson Cartridge so check out www.grafs.com for this ammo to drop. Peterson also makes a 105gr using Berger Hybrid Target bullets and loads up 90gr Sierra GameChanges bullets. Unfortunately neither of these were available to include in our testing, however we anticipate a follow up article in the future with any other ammunition available and load some custom hand loads for comparison. Watch for this article later this year.

Peterson Precision 108 grain ELDM - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Peterson Precision 108 grain ELDM – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Peterson Precision 108 grain ELDM - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

Peterson Precision 108 grain ELDM – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

 

Hornady Varmint Express – 87 grain Hornady V-Max

Next on the list was the Hornady Varmint Express loaded with 87gr V-MAX bullets. The only way you have not shot or at least heard about V-MAX bullets is if you live under a rock. They are a swaged lead core bullet, with a hollow cavity for extreme rapid expansion. The V-MAX bullets feature explosive terminal performance and are definitely a favorite among varmint hunters.

Although I absolutely love V-MAX bullets they did not perform as well as others in this test. One issue is the bullet weight, the 87 grain bullet is a bit light for the 1 in 8” twist of this rifle and the results verify this fact. This ammunition shot  group size of 1.55” and 0.99” for an average group size of 1.27”.

Hornady Varmint Express 87 grain VMax - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Hornady Varmint Express 87 grain VMax – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Hornady Varmint Express 87 grain VMax - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

Hornady Varmint Express 87 grain VMax – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

 

Barnes VOR-TX LR – 95 grain Barnes LRX

The fourth ammunition tested was the Barnes VOR-TX LR – Long Range Ammunition. I have to admit I have not shot a ton of Barnes ammunition over the years, but wow was I impressed with it’s performance. The VOR-TX  LR ammunition is loaded with Barnes LRX bullets. These bullets feature a polymer tip for increased ballistic coefficient, an engineered scored nose cavity which produces razor sharp petals upon expansion, and Accu-Groove technology for minimal fouling. All this while offering superior accuracy.

This hunting ammo was in the top 3 for average group size and was only beat out by match ammo. The Barnes shot a group size of 0.78” on the first and 0.55” on the second for an average group size of 0.665”.  We also used this ammunition in our hunt review of the 6mm Creedmoor build and am happy to report it performed exceptionally. Watch for Part 3 of this series to see some rock chucks obtaining some unnatural elevation gains!

Barnes Vor-TX LR 95 grain LRX BT - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Barnes Vor-TX LR 95 grain LRX BT – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Barnes Vor-TX LR 95 grain LRX BT - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

Barnes Vor-TX LR 95 grain LRX BT – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

 

Hornady Black – 105 grain Hornady BTHP

Just over half way in our list we have the Hornady Black 105gr BTHP [Boat Tail Hollow Point].  Although this ammunition is optimized for gas guns it doesn’t mean it wont shoot lights out from bolt action rifles. This ammunition is loaded with the .243 diameter 105gr BTHP from Hornady. These match bullets are claimed to be the most consistently concentric bullet jackets available with near zero wall thickness variation.

These bullets produced groups in the middle of the pack with acceptable accuracy. This ammunition shot a group size of 0.93” and 0.70” for an average group size of 0.815”.

Hornady Black 105 grain BTHP - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Hornady Black 105 grain BTHP – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Hornady Black 105 grain BTHP - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

Hornady Black 105 grain BTHP – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

 

Hornady Match – 108 grain Hornady ELD-M

Number six, the one, the only, Hornady Match – 108gr ELD-M. Now we have already covered this Hornady bullet above, as it is loaded in the Peterson Cartridge Ammunition, and there must be a reason this bullet shows up twice in our list. That reason is accuracy. You are now reading about the most accurate ammunition we tested. In addition to all the features discussed about the 108gr ELD-M bullets, Hornady takes the precision one step further with their match ammunition. The match ammunition boasts rigorous quality control, carefully selected cases, and when paired with match grade bullets make for a great combination.

As stated above this was the most accurate ammunition tested and shot the smallest group of the day with a group size of 0.48” and 0.69” for an average group size of 0.585” !  Who says you can’t shoot a ½” group with factory ammo?

Hornady Match 108 grain ELD - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Hornady Match 108 grain ELD – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Hornady Match 108 grain ELD - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

Hornady Match 108 grain ELD – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

 

Federal Premium Gold Medal – 105 grain Berger Hybrid OTM

At number seven we have the Federal Premium Gold Medal loaded with 105gr Berger Hybrid OTM. Berger bullets are considered by many to be the best bullets available and the 105 Hybrid OTM [ Open Tip Match] is no exception. Berger Hybrid bullets are made with their hybrid ogive which blends tangent and secant designs to optimize efficiency, reduce wind-drift, and minimize sensitivity to seating depth.

Although these bullets are exceptional, this ammunition did not shoot as well as others that we tested. This ammunition shot a group size of 0.86” and 0.83” for an average group size of 0.845”.

Federal Gold Medal 105 grain Hybrid OTM - 6mm Creedmoor

Federal Gold Medal 105 grain Hybrid OTM – 6mm Creedmoor

Federal Gold Medal 105 grain Hybrid OTM - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

Federal Gold Medal 105 grain Hybrid OTM – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

 

Federal Premium Gold Medal – 107grain Sierra Matchking

Last but certainly not least we have the Federal Premium Gold Medal loaded with 107gr Sierra Matchking. The Sierra Matchking’s are known for record setting setting accuracy and they proved to shoot extremely well from our custom rifle. Sierra states that although they are not recommended for most hunting applications they are commonly used for varmint hunting. Albeit without the same reliable explosive expansion at equivalent velocities in varmints compared to their lightly jacketed bullets, such as the Blitzking.

This ammo had the second smallest group of the day with a group size of 0.53” but then a group of 0.87” for the second. This equated to an average group size of 0.70”.

Federal Premium 107 grain SMK - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Federal Premium 107 grain SMK – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition

Federal Premium 107 grain SMK - 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

Federal Premium 107 grain SMK – 6mm Creedmoor Ammunition Accuracy Results

 

Summary:

From the results of our range test you can see that there was definitely some ammunition that shot better than others. That being said every rifle will shoot differently and shoot some ammo better than others. This fact is very important because it is not the intention to diminish reliability in one brand over another, its just the facts. So, lets briefly go back and review the questions we set out to answer in this project.

6mm Creedmoor Factory Ammunition Accuracy Results

6mm Creedmoor Factory Ammunition Accuracy Results

 

How accurate is factory ammo shot from a custom rifle?
The answer is very accurate. We had 7 of the 8 ammunition options consistently shoot under 1” groups, with a couple shooting near or under ½” groups. This is more than many people achieve with handloads from factory rifles.

For hunting situations, does quality factory ammo shoot well enough in a long-range custom rifle?
In the group of 8 ammunition choices I would classify 2 as hunting ammo. The Hornady Precision 103gr ELD-X and the Barnes VOR-TX LR. Both of these ammunitions are more than adequate for hunting purposes.

 

Conclusion and Final Thoughts:

In conclusion this rifle was truly a work of art, with every component chosen for optimum performance. It shot extremely well over a wide variety of ammunition choices and generally preferred the heavier bullets, which makes sense with the faster twist rate. The anomaly to this was the Barnes VOR-TX LR – 95gr LRX. As a hunting bullet they rivaled other match bullets and were outstanding. Based on these results we will be using the Barnes ammunition in our upcoming hunt test. We would like to thank everyone involved with this project and especially like to thank Dale and Jerry at Stiller actions for assisting in making the project a reality.

 

David Hillis
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