I’ve worked my way through shooting groups with six different factory hunting loads with the goal of selecting a hunting load to go hunting with my latest hunting rifle and I’ve learned quite a bit along the way.
Before I get into the results, I want to get a couple of things out in the open before anyone takes my results as an endorsement for a hunting load or even sound advice.
- I’m new to hunting – took my first deer less than a year ago as of writing this.
- I’m pretty new to guns in general and have spent much more time developing pistol skills – as such I’m pretty confident that my results are tainted with my lack of skill and experience.
Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way, take them with a grain of salt:
- The biggest variable and source of inaccuracy is me.
- Just about any quality rifle and ammunition combination will be sufficient to ethically to take a deer at less than 100 yards assuming the cartridge provides a deep enough wound channel and the shot is placed in the vital zone.
- The testing that I’ve done has allowed me to learn a lot about my ability to shoot this rifle and my limits.
Those lessons are perhaps more important than any of my “test” results.
With that out of the way, here are the results:
- The smallest 4-shot group I was able to shoot at 100 yards was 0.3615″ with the Hornady Precision Hunter ammo.
- The runner up was a group with Federal Fusion which measured 0.518″
- I was able to shoot the smallest average 4-shot groups at 100 yards with Federal Fusion ammo. The average group measured 0.7246″.
- The runner up was Sellier & Bellot with an average group size of 0.8915″.
- I was able to shoot the most consistent 4-shot groups at 100 yards with Federal Fusion ammo. The standard deviation between groups measured 0.1720″.
- The runner up was Hornady Precision Hunter with a standard deviation of 0.4773″
And here is a list of the different 6.5mm Creedmoor hunting loads I tested:
- Sellier & Bellot 140 Grain Soft Point
- Hornady Precision Hunter 143 Grain ELD-X
- Remington Core-Lokt 140 Grain Pointed Soft Point
- Federal Fusion 140 Grain Soft Point
- Federal Power-Shok 140 Grain Soft Point
- Federal Non-Typical 140 Grain Soft Point
With this information, I’m pretty much settled on Federal Fusion for the factory hunting load with this rifle. At least for this season. It seems my rifle likes it.
However, I’ve purchased my first silencer and plan to use it while hunting when I take possession of it. Given the current NFA approval wait time of 9+ months, it’s not likely to come into play during the 2019 hunting season. When it does and depending on how Federal Fusion performs with the addition of the can, I may revisit a couple of the other factory loads like the Hornady Precision Hunter.
If I’m being honest with myself, I may even try some more Hornady Precision Hunter before the can comes into play. I really like the higher ballistic coefficient of the projectile and I would like to replicate the sub 1/2 MOA shot group. I may even try my hand at hand loading the ELD-X projectile before the year is out.
Until Federal Fusion is unseated, I will finish dialing in my rifle with Federal Fusion and get ready to go hunting.