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Since I had several hundred Hornady 95gr V-Max bullets that I had bought on sale as "blems" from MidwayUSA, I decided to see if I could finish working up something that would pass as a varmint load with those bullets. On my previous trip I had tried a couple of low end powder weights and was less than impressed with the results. The groups were notably over 1 inch and I wanted sub-MOA for varmint hunting.
I decided to load a 2 grain spread, in .4 grain increments, starting just above the charge weight I left off with two weeks prior. This would take me to nearly a max load but with some measure of safety per my 6.5 Grendel reloading manual. I stayed with the CCI-400 primers, new Lapua brass, and the Benchmark powder I had previously used. (Did I mention how consistently that powder dispenses from my RCBS Chargemaster Combo?) I picked up some CCI 450 Small Rifle Magnum primers at Cabela's during my last visit and will be trying those with the BLC-2 powder I'm using with the Nosler 120gr bullets.
This 4 shot group did pretty good. The 1st three shots fell into a .338" group but my 4th shot opened it up to .700", as shown above. Average velocity was 2812 FPS with an extreme spread of just 13 FPS. Without burning up more V-Max bullets at the range, I can live with this level of performance (accuracy and velocity) for varmint control on my farm. On a side note, I bought the above boxes quite some time ago when I decided I wanted a 6.5 Grendel. Now I wish I had scooped a bunch more.
The string in the above photo had .8 grains more powder and I've decided this will be my max load, though it is still more than a grain under the book's max. The primers look OK (no craters) but I noticed the extreme spread increased to 36 FPS wherein the prior groups were running about 1/3 to 1/2 that value. Average velocity for the 5 shots for the group in the above photo was 2910 FPS. The 5 shot group measured .694".
So....at this point, I think my load development for the Hornady 95 gr V-Max is finished. I might revisit it once I address the mil-spec trigger on my poly lower. At this point, there is just as much of a chance that it is me kicking that shot that doubles the group size. Most of the groups I shot today had 3 shot groups in the .3" to .36" range. That is certainly tight enough to make me think I may not be doing this rifle justice....or at least the hand load.
Update: November, 2016
So, it's been a while since I wrote anything about my 6.5 Grendel. I retired 11 months ago and moved back to my old stomping grounds in northern Minnesota. That means I'm once again able to go hunting without a lottery drawing, if I'm lucky, giving me permission to hunt a piece of land I've never seen before. Nothing wrong with doing it that way....it's just not for me.
So....I decided my first whitetail deer season back home would be using the Grendel. As it turned out, I actually filled my archery tag with a nice big doe which left me ineligible to fill my firearms tag. However, I could opt to party hunt with my wife and so that is what we did. As chance had it, I happened upon a nice little 6 pointer about 10 minutes before sunrise. I was hunting from a newly installed ladder stand along the edge of one of my hay fields.
The buck was shot at 110 yds. Using my own reloads with a Nosler 120 gr Ballistic Tip bullet, I opted for a high shoulder shot once the buck was broadside to me. The shot entered the left shoulder blade, broke the back, damaged both lungs, punched a hole in right should blade, and lodged just under the skin. The buck dropped on the spot and was dead before I could climb down from my stand and walk to it. The bullet was completely fragmented, which I'm not happy about. I'm waiting on input in a thread I posted on the Grendel forum about the bullet's performance.
Here is the world's best hunting partner a guy could have....my wife. After we hoisted the buck (we had to use the Warn winch on my Polaris Ranger 4x4), Donna asked me to go into the house to grab a few things before we got started. Apparently I took a little too long because when I got back to the garage, she was already skinning her deer. She watched when my doe was skinned but that is all the experience she had up until yesterday when she slipped on her Laytex gloves and got into it. Love that lady!
I still have a bunch of load development I want to do for the Grendel. I used the load recipe on the above deer based only on grouping and sufficient velocity to ensure bullet expansion. It is getting too late in the year to development now unless this weather decides to hold for a while. It will most likely happen next spring or early summer.