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My writing routine is to type a few sentences, then reference “Common Errors in English Usage” just to see how many mortal and/or venial grammatical sins I had committed.The report on that research is typically, “All of them”. The truth of the matter is, my writing stems from the stream of consciousness school of expressed thought… which is a lot like building rat rods rather than hot rods. Rat rodders are hot rodders who can’t paint, do body work or excel at quality fabrication. Anyway, Part II…

Shooting two types of factory ammunition can become somewhat monotonous, especially when there are potentially many options open to handloaders. The 6.5 PRC is intended for long range target and hunting applications, but there is no reason it can’t be used by folks who hunt someplace other than the Arizona desert and with bullet weights other than 143 grains with a little bullet/powder juggling. Now that’s an odd visual.

All bullets of a common caliber may not be useful when handloading all cartridges of a common caliber. It is therefore handy to have a cartridge overall length gauge to check bullet clearances to rifling and to verify there is enough parallel bullet shank surface to seat a bullet without encroaching on the bullet’s ogive and to learn if a bullets cannelure will line up with a case mouth at an optimal cartridge overall length.

There are a number of types of COL gauges, however, one of the most versatile is Hornady’s overall cartridge length gauge. Versatile because inexpensive modified cases are available for most cartridges and where a modified case does not exist, as in the case of very recently released cartridges or wildcat cartridges, they are easy enough to make.

Concentrically is important when drilling out the primer pocket, so I chuck the case in a bench lathe and use a stationary chuck and drill in the tail stock. A 5/16-36 plug tap is used to thread the resulting hole. Usually these taps are matched up with an L drill (0.2900″), but I use a 7.2mm drill (0.2835) which more consistent with the taps minor diameter and holds up better in use with relatively soft brass. The final step is to open up the case neck without expanding the neck OD. I use an adjustable reamer to get a bullet slip fit without wobble and finish it off with a rolled piece of 1000 grit wet and dry paper… left over from when I was trying to master body work. All of these tools are inexpensive. i.e. the tap can be found on Amazon for $8.

Handmade tools are even better when they are put to use…

Bullet Type Weight
Application Typical
$ Per
Sierra Pro-Hunter SP 120 1.087 2.810 Hunting 0.30
Nosler Partition SP 125 1.183 2.875 Hunting 0.76
Hornady Interlock SP 129 1.178 2 .800 Hunting 0.29
Lapua HP 136 1.360 2.870 Target 0.49
Nosler Competition HP 140 1.310 2.875 Target 0.32
Hornady SST Poly 140 1.400 2.800 Hunting 0.32
Berger Target HP 140 1.394 2.900 Target 0.50

Dimensions indicated are for the subject rifle and gauging gear and techniques employed. They are noted for reference only. Loaded COL was determined using several considerations: sufficient bullet clearance from leade, sufficient bullet neck engagement, alignment of position of cannelure to case mouth. The nominal minimum seating depth applied was 0.300″, which ignores length of bullet boat tail taper where present and includes only parallel bullet shank surfaces and assures full 0.272″ neck engagement. I know, I know, short, fat case designed to avoid deep seated bullet intrusion.Theoretical benefit for most, probably born out of heavy bullet  factory ammunition considerations. In the data presented here, no powder charge selected was compromised by diminished case capacity associated with excessive bullet seating depth.

This time I remembered to photograph them before I shot them. Makes for a much better illustration than a picture of shot brass and a descriptive caption that eludes to pointed bullets once being part of the assembly. None of the charges were compressed, but then I guess that depends upon your definition of compressed. If the neck of a case is not partially or entirely filled with powder, and the bullet doesn’t require the use of a ramrod to seat, in my book that is not a compressed charged.

A first pass at getting components and load data sorted…


Cartridge – 6.5 Precision Rife Cartridge
Firearm Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target
Barrel Length 26.00″
Min – Max Case Length 2.030″ +0.000″/-0.030″
Min – Max COL 2.775″ – 2.955″
Primer CCI 250
Bullet Diameter 0.2644″ +0.000″/-0.0030″
Reloading Dies Hornady


Bullet Type  Bullet
Net H2O
COL” Powder
100 Yard
3 Shot
Group ”
1 Sierra Pro-Hunter SP
Retumbo 61.0 3245 2808 0.7
2 Sierra Pro-Hunter SP 120 63.7 2.810 H1000 59.0 3059 2494 0.8
3 Nosler Partition 125 63.5 2.875 Retumbo 60.0 3284 2994 0.6
4 Nosler Partition 125 63.5 2.875 H1000 58.5 3078 2630 0.5
5 Hornady Interlock 129 62.2 2.800 Retumbo 60.2 3134 2814 0.8
6 Hornady Interlock 129 62.2 2.800 H1000 58.5 3055 2674 0.6
7 Lapua 136 61.4 2.870 Retumbo 59.5 3121 2942 0.4
8 Lapua 136 61.4 2.870 Re25 59.0 3078 2862 0.5
9 Nosler Competition 140 61.8 2.875 Retumbo 59.5 3066 2923 0.7
10 Nosler Competition 140 61.8 2.875 Re25 59.0 3072 2934 0.6
11 Hornady SST 140 59.3 2.800 Retumbo 59.5 3143 3072 0.8
12 Hornady SST 140 59.3 2.800 Re25 59.5 3114 3015 0.6
13 Berger Target 140 61.3 2.900 Retumbo 60.0 3160 3105 0.3
14 Berger Target 140 61.3 2.900 Re25 60.0 3091 2971 0.5

I am sure there is a good deal left in the cartridge, but that takes more time than I had available. I did try Norma 217, but found it lacking in velocity. Ramshot Magnum was too fast as was Accurate MagPro, at least within the confines of the project. Hodgdon 870 yielded good results, but I am not sure how much of it is still out there and the same applies to Norma MRP 2. So I stuck with what worked best, velocity and accuracy and left further experimentation for another day when the temperature is higher and I don’t have to put on cross country skis to get to targets. By comparison, Hornady Precision Hunter 143 Grain ELD-X is rated with a 2960 fps MV and clocked 2990 fps over the chronograph… so maybe these handloads are not that slow.

Some additional information

Okay, Joe, what is with the cartridge pyramid? It was the most manageable way to show primers and case head examples for each of the loads on the table in comparison to a Hornady Precision Hunter load. No flat, pierces or spread primers and no bolt face tattoos. Below are some dimensional comparisons of once fired cases.

Cartridge A” B” C” D”
New Brass
2.024 0.529 0.513 0.294
Factory Fired 2.021 0.529 0.517 0.297
1 2.019 0.529 0.517 0.297
2 2.022 0.529 0.517 0.297
3 2.022 0.529 0.517 0.297
4 2.022 0.529 0.517 0.297
5 2.020 0.529 0.517 0.298
6 2.015 0.529 0.516 0.297
7 2.024 0.529 0.517 0.297
8 2.220 0.529 0.517 0.297
9 2.223 0.529 0.517 0.297
10 2.019 0.529 0.517 0.297
11 2.025 0.529 0.517 0.297
12 2.021 0.529 0.517 0.297
13 2.022 0.529 0.518 0.298
14 2.022 0.529 0.517 0.297

All of the new cases selected for this check measured were within half a thousandth of the new brass noted and all were trimmed to 2.024″ prior to loading. Close minimal dimension cut chambers and concentric.

Overall… No, not overalls

The Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target is a terrific match up with the 6.5 PRC. It is an easy to shoot rifle; modest recoil, precise and repeatable accuracy and the cartridge carries enough power for anything up to elk and moose. I hope Ruger goes on to offer a sporter weight in this cartridge or uses it to replace the 6.5 Creedmoor. Well made in the U.S.A. and priced for the regular guy.

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