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Winchester’s XPR – Stealth SR The 350 Legend continues... The pragmatic hunter

05/03/2021 It is that time of the year again. Lots of rain, moderate temperatures and the Lowe’s home improvement shuttle is in operation. My wife knows the proper nomenclature for the pictured flowers. She selected them from aisles and aisles of potted flowers and shrubs. She mapped the planting arrangement, defined the soil mixture, metered…

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17 Hornet Handload Data

Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity,  pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may be excessive in others. All…

Real Guns is a membership supported publication. Membership offers access to: all current and archived articles, handload data, ballistic calculators, and the Real Guns Image Gallery. Membership is available for $29.95 for twelve months.

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Ruger’s M77 Hawkeye 6.5 Creedmoor Part II Leaf blowers, rocket packs and deer at 1,000 yards


Appropriate choices are a part of life… hunting… driving a car… ordering at the drive through window at Jack in the Box when fine dining is on the menu. Take the task of leaf removal for someone who lives in the middle of a forest.

For the past eight years, my old 24cc Hitachi leaf blower could barely blow out a birthday calendar with its 441 CFM @ 170 MPH expulsion of air. If clearing leaves began in early spring, say late March, the job would be completed, literally, by the following December. Yes, I do know the difference between “literally” and “figuratively”. No, you tell me first and I’ll tell you if you are correct.

This year; 66cc Husqvarna back pack leaf blower,  972 CFM @ 236 MPH. Yes, it does weight twice as much as the Hitachi, but it is worn on a harness, rather than held in one hand, and it won’t need to be carried for long. Beside, when I get bored blowing leaves, I can pretend I am hovering over an asteroid, strapped into a rocket pack.

But most deer are not shot at 1,000 yards

1,000 yard competition is discussed and analyzed by many firearm owners but, as a percentage, shot by very few. Long range shooting, in one form or another, has been around since before cartridge firearms. NRA F-Class sporter rifle competitors shoot at a 6’x6′ target with a 10″ ten ring and a 5″ bullseye.

I am not drawn to this type of shooting for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I have to squint to see the mailbox at the end of the driveway and it is only 100 yards away. The second reason is that… I don’t really know… other than I find shooting a couple to three hundred yards in an unstructured hunting setting where topography is varied, crosswinds are not predictable and shooting distances must be estimated to be a greater personal challenge.

So when I pick up a rifle chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor, it is not a 1,000 yard F-Class entry. It is just another 308 Winchester based hot rod cartridge that should be excellent for deer hunting. Yes, I realize that has advise you that the 6.5 Creedmoor is based on the 30 TC, but the 30 TC’s parent is the 308 Winchester. Besides, the 30 TC… like a 1968 Mustang with a 390 HP 427 CI engine, is talked about but seen by few.

6.5 Creedmoor expanding bullets

Other than the Hornady ELD-X, these bullets are… pedestrian. However, they are also of excellent quality, work over a range of 6.5mm cartridges and produce good accuracy. I use them routinely in handloads for the 6.5×55, 260 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 264 Win Mag.

Bullet Type Grains B.C. 6.5 Creedmoor Application
Sierra Varminter JHP 100 0.259 Medium Game
Sierra Pro-Hunter SP 120 0.264 Medium Game
Nosler Partition SP 125 0.449 Medium Game
Prvi Partizan SP 139 0.263 Medium & Large Game
Hornady ELD-X PT 143 0.625 Medium & Large Game

Sierra rates their 100 grain Varminter as OK for deer size game, except in concert with the 264 Winchester Magnum where it is deemed too fragile for close in shots. Personally, it works well on the coyote population and similar size animals where meat and/or hide recovery is not germane.

The Sierra Pro-Hunter 120 grain is rated by that company for the same applications as the 100 grain Sierra Varminter, but without the 264 Winchester caveat. It is effective on hogs, deer, pronghorn and virtually anything else in that weight and muscle class.

The Nosler is similarly rated, however, the “H” type jacket and tough jacket make for deeper penetration. A good ballistic coefficient gives this bullet longer range, even if Nosler stops short of recommending it for heavier game. For heavier game like elk, Nosler recommends the 140 grain version of this bullet.

Privi Partizan is a tough jacketed bullet that penetrates deeply and expands well in heavy body game. It is not the most slippery bullet, but in tree riddled Maine, it has more than enough reach. When available, the price is typically low and quality is high.

The Hornady ELD-X bullet is my only concession to excess. Super slippery, a poly tip construction that can handle the heat of orbital reentry. Long in length, the ELD-X is intended to be used in concert with at a 1:8″ rifling twist. One of the solid benefits of this bullet’s construction is that it will provide controlled expansion close in at high velocity, but also at long range and lesser velocity.

At approximately 50 cents each, I would say it is a pricey bullet, but in the current world of opportunistically elevated prices and short supply, the price is hardly worth a blink. Personally, when I see “New! Super Duper Design! Space Age Materials!” I just buy the same old bullets that have worked for me over the past 60+ years of hunting. I don’t like being hustled. Anyway…

Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity,  pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may be excessive in others. All loads should be reduced by 5% as a starting point for development where cartridges have greater than 40 grains in capacity and 10% for cartridges with less than 40 grain capacity following safe handloading practices as represented in established mainstream reloading manuals. Presentation of these loads does not constitute a solicitation for their use, nor a recommendation.

6.5 Creedmoor – MAP 62 KPSIII
Firearm Ruger Hawkeye
Barrel Length 24.0″ 1:8″ Twist
Max Case Length 1.920″ +0.000″/-0.020″
Min – Max COL 2.700″ – 2.825″
Primer CCI 250 – LRM
Bullet Diameter 0.2644″ +0.000″/-0.0030″
Reloading Dies Hornady
Bullet Type Bullet

Net H2O
COL” Powder Type Powder



100 YD
3 Shot
Sierra Varminter 100 48.4 2.580 RL 17 47.5 3382 2540 0.7
Sierra Varminter 100 48.4 2.580 H414 49.0 3360 2507 0.8
Sierra Varminter 100 48.4 2.580 Norma 203-B 42.5 3307 2429 0.3
Sierra Pro-Hunter 120 47.9 2.740 RL 17 45.0 3061 2497 0.8
Sierra Pro-Hunter 120 47.9 2.740 Superformance 48.5 3105 2570 0.5
Sierra Pro-Hunter 120 47.9 2.740 Norma URP 45.0 3023 2436 0.3
Nosler Partition 125 47.3 2.790 RL 16 44.0 3005 2507 0.4
Nosler Partition 125 47.3 2.790 RL 17 45.0 3012 2519 0.6
Nosler Partition 125 47.3 2.790 Win 760 45.0 2987 2477 0.8
Prvi Partizan 139 46.9 2.740 RL 16 42.0 2847 2502 0.9
Prvi Partizan 139 46.9 2.740 RL 17 43.0 2855 2516 0.8
Prvi Partizan 139 46.9 2.740 Norma URP 42.5 2814 2445 0.7
Hornady ELD-X 143 44.3 2.800 RL 16 41.0 2844 2569 0.3
Hornady ELD-X 143 44.3 2.800 RL 17 42.0 2823 2531 0.4
Hornady ELD-X 143 44.3 2.800 Norma URP 41.5 2783 2460 0.6

Notes: I am sometimes criticized for not leaving copious notes defining my process. So some meaningful notes regarding this data. I did not smoke or drink for the duration of the exercise. I find that both or either activity will be counter productive to the objective.

Don’t skip the warning notice leading into the handload section. If it wasn’t important, I would not have included it.

Don’t request copious notes with handload data. In the first place, handloading takes skill, judgement and interpretation. As any and/or all components may change from one production lot to another… dimension, weight and volume… detail handling notes would probably not apply to you… interpretation and adaptation of information is important.

I got a new leaf blower. Isn’t that really what is important?


The Ruger Hawkeye Predator is an outstanding firearm; looks good, shoots good and it should last a lifetime as a hunting rifle. The 6.5 Creedmoor can probably replace most cartridges from 243 Winchester through to 308 Winchester. I think that about says it all.

Ruger’s M77 Hawkeye 6.5 Creedmoor Part I 'Cause Green Is Your Color... Thank you Keith


The Hawkeye Predator is a long range hunting rifle. Offered in 22-250 Rem, 223 Rem, 204 Ruger, and 6.5mm Creedmoor, everything from small to medium size varmints, through large game like elk and moose can be accommodated, depending on caliber selected. Between hunting outings, it also makes a heck of a target rifle with more than enough mechanical accuracy to challenged a shooter’s marksmanship skills.

Ruger Hawkeye Predator
Manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc.
Manufactured Newport, NH
Model # 47108
Type Bolt Action
Caliber 6.5 Creedmoor
Capacity 4+1
Barrel Length
Rifling 1:8″ RH 6 Groove
Weight 8.1 Lbs
Overall Length 44″
Stock Green Mountain Laminate
Barreled Action Matte Stainless
Length of Pull 13.50″
Sights Clean
Scope Mount
Ruger Proprietary
Safety Three Position
MSRP $1139

What makes the Predator so unique is that it is totally devoid of trendy, superfluous nonsense. It is not a rifle that has been warped, bent, stretched, shortened or in any other way tortured to pretend it to be something it is not. No thirty round magazine parked under it, no bag cuts under the buttstock to optimize use from a shooting bench, no muzzle devices, no bull barrel…. no bull.

In fact, the only deviation from what might be called sporter class standards is the Hawkeye Predator’s 24″ medium profile barrel and adjustable target grade trigger. Standard sporters typically give the 6.5 Creedmoor a 22″ and a barrel contour one weight lighter. The result is an 8 lb Predator, rather than a 7 lb standard sporter.

In a world where weight matters obsessively to some, I figure it is easier to skip the second helping at dinner, shake a pound loose and hunt with a rifle with a bit more reach.

But it isn’t a modern sporting rifle…

Typically, the AR-15 is defined as a modern sporting rifle, which is curious as the firearm type was designed in 1956, sixty five years ago. I am not sure how something qualified for social security gets to carry the “modern” banner. Additionally, the availability of semi auto and fully auto rifles with at least the same rate of fire have existed since 1777.

The Belton Flintlock sequentially discharged eight lead balls in three, five or eight second bursts. Benjamin Franklin lobbied George Washington to make a purchase of the Belton’s firearm, Washington agreed, but an acceptable contract could not be penned. An early example of early pork spending, Presidential swamp draining and attempted price gouging by a government contractor.

Transactional analysis between myself and the group therapy conducted in the Real Guns Facebook comments section, I would state that my preference for a bolt action rifle, over a modern sporting rifle, is rooted in pragmatism. I have concluded that out of the box AR-15s not as accurate, not as reliable or as powerful as similar size and weight bolt action rifles. How does that make you feel?

Hawkeye, but no Chingachook

The Ruger M77 MK I was introduced as the company’s first bolt action centerfire rifle in 1968. The next generation was introduced in 1993 as the M77 MK II. The change brought a three position safety, a newly design floorplate latch and a blade type ejector as well as a non-adjustable trigger. In 2006, the Hawkeye designation appeared on centerfire rifles, along with a slimmed down stock and non-adjustable L6 trigger. The Ruger Hawkeye Predator version was introduced in January of 2009 with a two stage adjustable target trigger.

The Ruger Hawkeye Predator, with its full length, non rotating extractor is a controlled round feed design.Controlled round feed is an alternative to push feed found in rifles such as the Remington 700, Weatherby Mark V and Savage 110.

When a cartridge is picked up from the internal magazine, the round’s rim is guided into and secured against the flat bolt face by the extractor claw and the slot in the top bolt lug. Regardless the position or angle of the rifle, the rounds position and travel are always… controlled. Driven by the bolt, push feed actions float the cartridge from magazine to chamber and have some reliance on gravity and firearm position and angle to feed reliably.


The Ruger Predator has a stainless steel hinged floorplate to facilitate unloading a full magazine. The magazine box has an aft spacer to bring the nose of each cartridge to the proximity of the feed ramp while still allowing maximum cartridge length loads. The floor plate release is embedded in the front of trigger guard; handy but still protected. Inside or out, the Ruger utilizes high quality castings and machined parts. No plastic to be found.

I have no problems with high capacity magazines, as it is always important to match personal preference with application and situation. Within the context of hunting, high capacity firearms work well for varmint hunting, long range hunting of medium size game in an open setting. They may also fit some types of big and dangerous game where not getting a critical hit after a few shots, and being left with an empty magazine, could be more than embarrassing.

My personal preference is a lesser capacity and a hinged floorplate because it fits my hunting style. I do still, stalk and post hunt, but I am a very conservative shooter and never shoot at running game or at ranges beyond a sure kill. All of my kills have been one shot with the exception of two, two shot kills and one mystery encounter. A hinged floorplate yields a flat bottom rifle and no interference with a hand or arm. They are also easy to unload at the end of the day without cycling an action.

The Predator comes with a really slick, fully adjustable, short take up two stage trigger. A departure from what has been historically Ruger non-adjustable triggers. Ruger’s description: “Two stage, light, crisp, with no overtravel” is solidly appropriate. The subject rifle’s trigger had a measured two pound pull. Adjustment, while easy, requires separating the rifle’s barreled action from its stock.

Ruger lists the barrel as a medium contour barrel, as opposed to a heavy contour target or varmint rifle barrel. It measures 0.650″ in diameter at the muzzle.

The rifle’s 1:8″ rifling twist suits the 6.5 Creedmoor, a round that does well with heavy for bore 0.264″ bullets and the latest crop of long for weight leadless bullets. The Ruger also stabilizes lighter weight bullets, delivering excellent accuracy.

The laminated hardwood stock makes for a very stable barreled action / stock sandwich. The barrel floats in the stock’s barrel channel for uninhibited barrel harmonics.

The 6.5 Creedmoor

Product names often are established to create transference; the emotions associated with something in past memory, hopefully positive, carried over to something new, prior to acquiring any actual direct experience. A common example of this is when you meet someone for the first time and feel as though you’ve known them for a long time. Frequently this happens because the new acquaintance shares traits in common with a person you know, or had known, well.

Creedmoor was a great name for Hornady, the designer of the cartridge, to reference. It was derived from the name of the rifle range opened by the National Rifle Association in 1873 on New York’s Long Island and the range was host to the famous American – Irish long range rifle competition held in 1874. The term “Creedmoor” also defines a type of rifle used for Creedmoor type, long range competition. The history of the Creed’s Moor range, its use for national Guard marksmanship training and how Colonel Henry Shaw arrived at the Creed’s Moor name, is an interesting look into post Civil war America.

There is a tendency for most 6.5mm cartridge articles to qualify them as not mainstream. This may have been true at some point in history, but not today, and the 6.5 Creedmoor probably led the way to 6.5mm popularity. What initiated the 6.5 Creedmoor’s rise to fame is quite different than what provided the inertia for it to quickly become such a popular cartridge.

The 6.5 Creedmoor was created as a technical solution to a mechanical problem for long range rifle competition. The 260 Remington was very successful in those applications. However, in order to meet overall cartridge length standards and fit within action and magazine length restrictions, case powder capacity is diminished when seating long and heavy match bullets.

Hornady’s solution, the developer of the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge, was to shorten and neck down the 308 Winchester case, reduce the body taper and sharpen the shoulders. In doing so, at a 2.800″ maximum overall cartridge length, long, heavy bullets extend further outside the case, rather than get pushed further into the case as they would with the 260 Remington.

Massaging case taper and shoulder angle kept 6.5 Creedmoor overflow capacity loss to 5%, when compared to the 260 Rem. This 5% loss, and the gain from seating long bullets further out of the case net out to approximately half to one grain of recovered capacity.

Yes, I do know that parent case for the 6.5 Creedmoor is typically noted as the 30 TC. However, the 30 TC is based on the 308 Winchester, as is the 260 Rem, and the “parent” designation belongs with the original cartridge. I guess 30 TC sounds more… Mysterious? Exotic? Not ammunition brand affiliated?

The Creedmoor’s popularity booster shot came in the form of 1,000 yard competition rifle designs that were/are relative inexpensive and produce exceptional accuracy. That reputation for accuracy, justifiably or not, carried over into more mundane hunting and recreational target rifles and the buying stampede began… and persists.

Live fire

Two types of factory ammunition were used with the Ruger Hawkeye Predator when evaluating performance, Hornady 120 grain Match and Federal 140 grain Fusion hunting ammunition.

The Hornady, rated at 2,910 fps MV, clocked 2,904 fps from the Predator. Best 100 yard group measured 0.4″, largest group size measured 0.7″.

The Federal ammo, rated at rated at 2,750 fps MV produced 2,761 fps MV from the Predator. Best group size measures 0.5″, largest group measured 0.9″.

Rifle Personality

Recoil for the combination was moderate, as was muzzle rise and report. The Ruger was comfortable to shoot and it took no time at all to settle in shooting. The action cycled smoothly, requiring minimal effort. Shooting from the bench, standing and prone, the Hawkeye was easy to make stable with a simple shooting sling.

Rifle Aesthetics… It’s complicated

Aesthetically, I would not have picked the Green Mountain stock laminate as a standalone component if I were… stock shopping. However, as part of this rifle configuration with its matte stainless barreled action I like it… a lot. The stock isn’t boring, it is stable, it is durable, and it makes for good camo from spring through fall.

Everything on the rifle, metal or organic, is cleanly finished and slick in operation, from bolt throw to hinged floorplate ammo dumping. The scope mounting is solid and a scope will stay put as installed.

The longer, medium profile barrel contributed to the rifle’s 8 lb weight, but I hauled this one around for some days and it did not feel excessive in the least. It is a very nice rifle and a good combination for hunting anything I could think of in New England.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9 SHIELD PLUS 13+ rounds in a micro-compact

05/30/2021 Yes I have been trying to improve my writing skills and to adopt some new perspectives. No, I have not yet succeeded and, no, I do not deem twenty years in pursuit of those illusive goals excessive. In any event, I signed up for the Wesleyan University Creative Writing Specialization Program. Tuition is typically…

Real Guns is a membership supported publication. Membership offers access to: all current and archived articles, handload data, ballistic calculators, and the Real Guns Image Gallery. Membership is available for $29.95 for twelve months.

Please either Sign inorJoin Real Guns.