Every year there are new cartridges offered by gun makers and ammunition manufacturers. Usually at SHOT Show there is a release and a buzz about the new offerings. Then for the months that follow there are articles one right after the other extolling the attributes of these “new” offerings.
This year we saw the 6.5 PRC was the new cartridge announced by Hornady. This cartridge is clearly directed to the long range shooting market. The Precision Rifle Series has provided a direct way for manufactures to learn what the shooting public wants for long range rifles, cartridges and accessories.
Ballistically the 6.5 PRC falls almost dead between the 6.5 Creedmoor and the 264 Winchester Magnum. The case is a necked down version of the 300 Ruger Compact Magnum. The PRC has a published muzzle velocity of 2900 fps, making it about 200 fps faster than the 6.5 Creedmoor. 6.5 PRC still fits in most short action platforms (308 length).
One reason the Creedmoor picked up such a large following was the relatively light recoil it produces. If you are competing in a game that requires large numbers of shots fired, recoil can be an issue simply because of fatigue. It may not hurt, but over the course of fire it can wear on you. That will be the trade off that shooters deal with when looking at the 6.5 PRC, it will have more recoil than its smaller brothers in the game.
4D Reamer Rentals reports that the 6.5 PRC wasted no time in becoming a hot rental. Custom gun makers all over the country have been ordering the reamer and gauges in amazing numbers. Fred @ 4D says, “We bought tools as soon as we heard that Hornady was releasing the PRC. Not long after SHOT Show we started filling orders. The is was like a floodgate opened, the demand for the PRC was off the scale compared to new releases in the past.” He went on to tell that they ordered more tools but the demand from the reamer makers was very high as well so it took time to get the added tools into circulation.
It’s pretty likely you will see the 6.5 PRC in several production rifles in 2019.
Another cartridge that became popular this summer at 4D was the 7mm/300 Winchester Magnum. This is simply a 300 Win Mag necked down to 7mm with no other changes. Now there have been versions of this wildcat around for a long time, so what made demand explode all the sudden?
It may be as a result of the writing of Nathan Foster of New Zealand. Nate created a wildcat variation of the 7mm/300 Win Mag that he dubbed the 7mm Practical. Nate produced a book entitled, “The Practical Guide to Long Range Hunting Cartidges” When I spoke with him recently he stated he believed the rise in interest in the 7mm/300 was at least in part do to the fact he had released his book for sale in the United States.
Foster also has an extensive web site that provides a wealth of information he calls, “Terminal Ballistics Research” here I linked it to the page for the 7mm Practical.
The down side, if there is one, to Foster’s 7mm Practical it is that the shoulder angle is changed and cases must be fire formed. This is the reason that so many guys are opting for the 7mm/300 Win Mag. Most shooters equate the ”practical” moniker with simple wildcats that are necked up or down from a parent case with no other changes. Avoiding the need for fancy custom dies and lots of time at the reloading bench is what most shooters want from a practical conversion.
4D tells us that they have had a single reamer for the 7mm/300 Wincheser Magnum for a very long time. “It rented once or twice a year until this spring. Demand was so high we had to buy two more reamers to keep up and we still missed a few orders because guys did not want to wait.”
Foster’s starting loads below would work for either version of the cartridge as the case capacity is nearly identical. His favorite powders for this cartridge is the very slow burning H1000 or Retumbo. Yes- data is for both due to powder behavior in this case.
|Bullet weight||Start load||Velocity||Comment|
|162gr ELD-M||76||3200||Always reliable.|
|73.5||3200||Caution with TMK as bearing surface raises pressures. Caution with ELD-X and other heavy jacket bullets (pressures).|
|175 ELD-X||70||3050||Caution with this heavy jacket bullet (pressures).|
|180gr ELD-M||71||3000||Extremely accurate. Watch
for pressure spikes, approach 74gr with extreme caution.
|195gr Berger EIEIO||70||2950|