Accelerating Short-Cased Magnums

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posted on May 12, 2009
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Mr. Ling, a true fan of American Rifleman who is proud that he has not missed an issue in nearly 60 years, recently informed me he does not care for articles about new cartridges. "You're just splitting hairs going on and on about some whiz-bang that's five or 10 f.p.s. faster than the last one," he chided. "Listen, you make a good shot, and none of them are any better than what we already have. Who needs them?"

Mr. Hornady is equally attentive when the new Rifleman arrives at his desk, but you can bet he takes a different view of new-cartridge articles. The company that bears the family name and was founded by Steve's father, the late Joyce Hornady, seems determined to keep our attention focused on new developments in ammunition.

Over the past decade, Hornady has introduced an amazing array of new rounds. There are little, fun ones like .17 HMR and .204 Ruger; big brutes like .376 Steyr and .375 Ruger; efficient deer-stoppers like .30 T/C and .308 Marlin Express; and highly specialized numbers like .480 Ruger and 6.5 Creedmoor. Hornady's latest whiz-bangs, the .300 and .338 Ruger Compact Magnums, may well be the most mainstream of the lot because they are targeted at a huge user group-North American big-game hunters.

So let the hair splitting begin.

The hairs in this case were covering the shoulder of a 6x6 bull elk that had just turned for one last look in our direction. For several minutes it had been walking straight away, effectively denying me a shot, and very shortly it would follow the rest of its herd over the horizon. "Five-twelve," ranged outfitter John Porter, no longer bothering to whisper. "You know where to hold." Thanks to an insightful pre-hunt range session with Porter and Steve Hornady, I knew precisely what to expect from my pre-production, custom- barreled .338 RCM. Rested on my pack, the rifle was as steady as could be, and from the prone position I was as steady as I can be. Accordingly, the 225-gr. Hornady SP bullet did indeed split those shoulder hairs and abruptly slammed the bull to the turf.

Mr. Ling's contention, that if we "make a good shot" with whatever rifle/cartridge we're using, the result will be a hit, I can't argue with; but I will offer my observations on the RCM cartridges as a way of pointing out how our equipment can play a pivotal role in helping us to make that good shot....

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