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With the sun just breaking at the horizon, I left the city behind and headed out to my club's range, after throwing a few gallons of gas in the tank and getting the largest coffee that Circle-K had to offer. I caught a recent release of the Down Range Radio podcast while enjoying the coffee....that semi-early morning drive isn't all that bad, in my opinion.
Expectations were high for the 6.5 Grendel but there was no guarantee from anyone that I had a 1 MOA (or better) rifle. Just because I had a starting group of hand load didn't stack the deck in my favor either. I had my CED M2 chronograph packed in the back of the truck along with all my regular gear that makes a trip to the range each time I go.
I started at 50 yds. with the Hornady factory ammo. The first 3 rounds put me on the target with point of impact adjusted to 1" above the bull. I moved the target stand out to 100 yds. and put another 7 rounds down range, making a few more scope adjustments and getting some copper and carbon into the new barrel. At that point, I broke out the cleaning rod and ran a half dozen wet patches through the barrel until the powder fouling was gone. There wasn't any blue copper tint showing on the patches.
Time to hang a fresh target and see how the factory ammo really performs. At this point, for what it is worth, I realized the trigger in my lower wasn't anything to write home about. I'd rate it just slightly better than the average mil-spec trigger but no where close to my trigger job I have on my M&P15'....and that isn't a high dollar job when you compare it to other trigger options in the marketplace. I made a note to myself to see about an upgrade somewhere down the road.
I put the first 4 rounds down range, that I planned on counting, and then retrieved the target to check my efforts. The group was .749".....a 3/4" four shot group with the first box of factory ammo I was able to find....shot from a rifle that now had a total of 14 rounds through the barrel. Yeah....I admit it, I was very pleased with the results....VERY pleased. The factory ammo averaged 2599 FPS out of the 24" barrel. 3 of the 4 shots were within 2 FPS of each other while the extreme spread was just 11 FPS. I've never shot factory ammo with such a consistent velocity.
I ran two of the four charge weights I had loaded with the Hornady 95 gr V-Max bullets. The 4 shot groups were 1.179" and 1.320". The extreme spreads were pretty good, being 16 FPS and 10 FPS. I was not even close to a max charge, per my loading manual, and will be trying these bullets again with Benchmark or some of the other powders I have.
My first string using the Nosler 120 gr Ballistic Tip rounds with BL-C2 powder came in at just over the 1" mark, literally, with an average velocity of 2368 FPS. This was my lightest charge weight for this bullet and was 10% below my manual's max charge.
The next Nosler Ballistic Tip group showed promise for sure. I was happy to see a .694" four shot group with a velocity spread of 28 FPS. Ball powder, such as BL-C2, often times uses a magnum primer to ensure consistent ignition. I just might pick up a single box and see if I can tighten up the velocity spread a bit and hopefully reduce group size.
My hottest load with BL-C2 and the Nosler 120 gr bullets managed to shrink the overall group size a bit more, coming in at .656". My velocity averaged 2546 FPS, which is getting up to the point where I'm thinking there isn't too much more to safely extract from this powder/bullet combo. I'm about 4% off of max charge and will probably load a couple more groups to carefully increase the charge weight while monitoring for signs of pressure.
So this ends the 1st trip for what I'm expecting to be a long and interesting journey with my new found AR platform rifle. For the initial range trip with an untested rifle, I could not have asked for more.
I now need to run down some more 6.5mm bullets in the offerings I continue to read about in the forum threads. When I do, I'll be updating this write-up with the results.
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