My cousin called to borrow a rifle for a White Tail hunt on a private ranch in Texas the first part of January. What I have decided to do is give him his first rifle, he doesn't have a clue. He thinks he's going to get to use my daughters 243Win. At least with the 300WM if he decides he likes hunting he can use this rifle on other larger game in the future.
I called a local shop and bought a new Ruger M77 Hawkeye all weather and a Leupold VX-II 3-9X40 last week. The rifle was discounted to a fair $565.00 and the scope was bought at a local mail order shop for $290.00, I'm not generally this nice to cousins but he's over do.
I disassembled the new rifle and smoothed and lubed all the right places. I also loaded up 8 samples, 3 shots each using RL-17 and 180gr Nosler Ballistic Tip seated to COL 3.340 and hit the range to get this package ready to deliver.
First impressions are good. The RL-17 doesn't fill the case but delivers good accuracy and speed. I didn't have any data with this powder so I started low and work up in the usual fashion using published IMR4350 data. I started at 65.9gr and stepped up in .7gr increments to 70.8gr.
Best accuracy came in at 68.7gr giving 3013fps and a nice 1/2" group. Highest velocity came in at 70.8gr, 3131 fps with a firm bolt lift. Interesting that the primer was never flattened with this powder and each .7gr increment gave a steady 39-46fps increase in velocity telling me that it wanted to keep going.
Rather than tweaking seating depth with the 68.7gr RL-17 charge I loaded up another batch with RL-22 using published data from Nosler. Speeds were lower and and no groups under an inch were shot. The RL-22 did fill the case but primers were punished at lower measured velocities. One other interesting thing with the RL-22 was a very large muzzle flash with each shot. The flame thrower looked cool but tells me that the RL-22 is to slow for my application.
I'm going to load up a batch with IMR4831 and give it a chance. Published data cross referenced in a few of my manuals shows this to be a good match. Once tested I'll tweak the seating depth from either the RL-17 results or the yet to be tested IMR4831 and get this rifle to it's new owner.