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  • Category: Shooting

Nosler Custom Competition rocks!

Sometimes you struggle a lot to make a bullet print nice groups, and other times there is less effort. With the Nosler Custom Competition, it was too easy!


 
My "long range" rifle, the one I've used for a couple of Swedish field shooting competitions (where distances from 200 to 600 meters are common) is a plain old Tikka T3 Super Varmint in 308 Winchester. The only alterations I've made to the rifle is spray it with Duracoat Tactical Black, replace the bolt shroud with one made of metal, install a "tactical" bolt handle with is a bit nicer to use than the factory one, and also replace the aluminum recoil lug with a steel version. I used to have a McMillan A-TH stock for it, but actually sold that and went back to the factory stock as the McMillan was simply too bulky and heavy.
 
The 308 is certainly not the best choice for longer distances due to its inability to launch bullets of high ballistic coefficient (bc) at sufficient velocities, but for some reason I stick to it. Maybe that's because I like to do things the hard way, or maybe it's due to the fact that I mainly use it at my home shooting range where the maximum distance is 300 meters. I should have gotten the 6,5x55 version but I didn't. Previously I had worked up a handload with Hornady A-Max 168's as these are a fair trade-off between low recoil (due to relatively low weight) and decent but not superb bc. This load has been used for the field shooting competitions and the idea was that they are also suitable for hunting small to medium sized game. In Sweden, it basically means animals up to and including roe deer in size. This bullet would certainly be suitable also for dispatching the larger deer species, but I have not had any chance to hunt those.
 
When the time came to try the cheaper Nosler Custom Competition 168 grain bullets from the bulk pack of 1000 I had bought, I felt lazy and tried the same setting on the bullet seater as for the A-Max. I also used the same amount of Norma 203-B powder (equivalent to Reloader 15). I figured that the amount of powder would certainly be fine, and since the Nosler bullet has a tangent ogive, it should be fairly tolerable to seating depth. Boy, was that an understatement!
 
After a brief sighting in of the Vortex Viper PA 6,5-20x50 with mildot reticle, this 5 shot group was shot prone with a Versapod bipod at 100 meters:
 
 
This was followed by some photography and chugging a cup of coffee (I never visit the range without a big thermos of the black stuff!), and then I moved to the 300 meter line and set up the rifle. The excellent Shooter app told me to dial 5,6 MOA on the elevation so I set it to 5 and 3/4, as the Vortex scope has quarter MOA clicks. I then proceeded to shoot another 5 shot group. For some reason, the groups always look a bit large thru the scope at ranges beyond 100 meters than they really are, so I am never happy when shooting at this distance. I wasn't particularly impressed until I drove down to the target and saw this:
 
 

Too bad this bullet isn't suitable for longer ranges due to the so so bc, but for these ranges up to 300 meters, it is awesome. Of course, the Tikka T3 is also a big part of this equation. The T3 just keeps impressing the h--l out of me. And combined with the Nosler bullets... boy oh boy!