Load Testing & Ammunition Development

by Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU

The last 10 to 15 years have produced several significant advances in precision rifle shooting, to include scopes, barrels, stocks, triggers, and bullets. Going back to the 1990s, the Sierra Match King (SMK) bullets set the standard for long range shooting. The 168 grain SMK loaded into Federal Gold Medal Match was also the standard by which other .308 Win. sniper ammo was evaluated. But back at the same period in time, factory bullets by Berger and Lapua and custom bullets by Cauterucio were also winning long range matches.

Fast forward to current times and the shooter now has a wide selection of exceptionally accurate bullets to chose from. While Sierra SMKs remain a force to be reckoned with, evidenced by the 190 SMK and 220 SMK being utilized in the current military .300 WinMag ammo, Berger and Hornady have also made huge advances in their long range bullets. The Berger 185 Juggernaut and 215 Hybrids are both excellent .308 Win and .300 WinMag bullets, while the 200 grain Hybrids and 200.20X Hybrid have been dominating 600 and 1,000 yard competitions. The Berger 215 Hybrid is also being loaded into USSOCOM 300 Norma Magnum ammo.

Hornady has also come a long way in crushing the competition with their ELD-Match bullets and factory match ammunition. When I built my first 6.5 Creedmoor I ran extensive testing with the Hornady factory 140 and 147 ELD-M ammo, both of which shot consistent sub-MOA and often 0.5 MOA groups out of a 24″ Bartlein 1:8″ twist barrel.


6.5 Creedmoor with an Atlas action, Bartlein medium Palmer barrel, in a McMillan A6 stock, Accu-Tac bibod, topped with a Leupold Mark 5HD scope.

6.5CM Ammo

Hornady factory 140 and 147 grain ELD-Match ammo. 

20200519_140ELD-M H4350

Hand loads with the Hornady 140 ELD-M bullets and Peterson brass racking up consistent 0.25″ and 0.35″ groups

In STTU long range precision rifle classes we chronograph the participants’ ammo to check for muzzle velocity and consistency, and the Hornady factory ammo has been some of the most consistent that we have tested. The Hornady 178 grain ELD-M in .308 Win. has had the lowest extreme spread (ES) and standard deviation (SD) of any factory ammunition we have tested. The Berger 185 Juggernauts and 215 Hybrids have also set the standard for factory .300 WinMag ammo.

Berg 185 215

Berger factory .300 WinMag 

122618 Berger 215


STTU .300 WinMag built on a Rem 700 action, Bartlein Heavy Palma barrel, McMillan A6 stock, topped with a Leupold Mark 8 scope. Ballistics solutions with a Kestrel 5700 Elite with Applied Ballistics. 

See you on the range.



About Mark V

Dedicated shooter, seeker, traveler, teacher, trainer, educator
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s