By Frank Melloni
Photos by Frank Melloni and courtesy of Hornady
The Long-Range Grocery Getter
Traditional ethics and wisdom have taught generations of hunters that shots outside of 300 yards are simply unethical. Thirty years ago this certainly was the case for most hunting equipment. Times and technology are ever changing, therefore so must the way we view long range hunting.
With sub-MOA rifles becoming less of a luxury and more of a standard, finding an accurate rifle is not only effortless but affordable to even the smallest budget. Optics also have followed this trend. Utilizing optics like the ATN X-Sight II HD, one can plug in ballistics info and send a round down range with that same sub minute precision.
Throwing that accurate punch past conventional distances is certainly more feasible now than ever before. With better technology giving us the eyes, and rifle makers giving us the arm, that just leaves one minor detail—the fist.
The trouble with long-range hunting has always been more than simply getting the round there. The question of “what will it do when it gets there?” is equally important.
The great hunting minds at Hornady certainly are of this mindset. This is evident by their development of the ELD-X bullet and the Precision Hunter line of ammo that employs it.
The ELD-X bullet is less than a year old in some calibers, but it is making quite a splash. This bullet is the result of better testing through Doppler radar. After investing tens of thousands of dollars in this equipment, Hornady found one commonality in polymer tipped bullets . . . they melt during flight. Reformulating their own polymer, they invented a new heat-resistant tip and placed it onto a bullet designed to expand well even at low velocities. Loading this into match grade cases, with the perfect combination of powder and primer, gives us the Precision Hunter cartridge. The Precision Hunter is designed to go farther, hit harder and group tighter than anything else available, and I was fortunate enough to be able to take it through its paces.
We requested the 178-gr. offering in .308 Win. ($43.28). I utilized an old friend that has always served true, a Savage 10 FLP. The rifle has a 24-inch, 1:10 twist rate, free-floated barrel, the Savage floating bolt design and, of course, the accu-trigger. We also utilized a Kahntrol Solutions clamp-on muzzle brake (https://kahntrol.com; $149.99) to nearly eliminate recoil. This rifle constantly groups at 1/4 MOA with precision hand loads, so it is certainly up to the test. We topped it off with an ATN X-Sight II HD 5X20 (www.atncorp.com; $699.00) digital optic and went for a ride.
Our journey took us to central Pennsylvania where we plunked down at an appropriate distance. Six hundred yards out sat our target. It was time to test their claim. We gathered ballistic data from our Shooting Crony Gamma Master chronograph (www.shootingchrony.com; $220.95), which showed us a muzzle velocity of 2.450 f.p.s. Plugging Hornady’s listed BC into the X-Sight it spit out a ballistic correction and we went to work. Our first 4-shot group was right where it was supposed to be. After an afternoon of shooting we were pleased that not one group was outside of 1 MOA, even at that distance. Our average group came in at right around 5 inches. Looking at it all, we got sub-MOA accuracy from factory box ammunition, out of a stock rifle all the way out to 600 yards. It surely didn’t leave much to be desired.
At that range the estimated terminal velocity at 600 yards is 1,625 f.p.s., plenty fast enough to mushroom as pictured in the accompanying photos of testing performed by Hornady.
With everything needed for a successful hunting round in place, it simply doesn’t make sense to carry anything else when there is the potential for a long-range shot. Consistent with the ideology of the late Joyce Hornady, this round is accurate, deadly and dependable. You should have no problem putting ten of them through one hole.
For more information contact Hornady Manufacturing, Dept. OT; Tel.: (800) 338-3220 ; Web: www.hornady.com