The title isn’t exact as I shot 73gr-77gr match loads. I have for a long time wanted to do comparison side by side testing of the MK 262 class loadings. The match loads using bullets around the 77gr weight are popular and they should be. The 75-80gr bullets in 556MM seated to magazine length is excellent in AR15 rifles and carbines. The 77 gr Sierra with 24.0 grains of Varget or RE-15 or Vit is a decades old and proven recipe for successful long range shooting with a service rifle. The military MK262 load is a tweaked version of same load and it has done some amazing things in the recent two wars. It is just a great load. To say I think highly of it myself would be an understatement. I prefer my handloaded version but I still use factory versions for more general purposes.
So the last few weeks a I have been accumulating factory loads to test for accuracy side by side all from the same rifle at a range that can tell us something but not so far away I am fighting wind so much that the groups lose all ability to tell us anything.
The factory loads talked about today are above. As more come out and I get my hands on more of them, I will continue with this series. I did not use the new Federal Gold Medal Match ammo with the 73 grain Bergers because I ran out and I used them all up in a previous long range testing. For the sake of completeness I will do them in the next part.
For the gun, I used my MK12 MOD 1 with my Nigtforce 22X optic. I did this because the barrel is a match barrel with a true 1/7 twist, it is sort of the rifle that helped define the MK262 and its existence during the GWOT in the minds of many people and the military MK 262 round as we know it was fine tuned to be used in the MK12. Lastly it has a 18 inch barrel, It is between the 20 inch of a full rifle and 16 inch of the carbine. I didn’t have enough of each type of ammo to test out of rifles and carbines so splitting the difference may be a happy compromise.
I shot the groups off very stable sandbags out at 400 yards. I thought about going further but the heat, mirage and wind would have made it questionable how much may have been me or weather conditions if one brand of ammo shot worse than the other. For now this will continue to be the range used for testing the match loads. If I come up with enough ammo for all brands tested after part two I may do it all over again at 600 or 800 yards if a day with good conditions comes up. All that together is a tall order though. Shooting purely for smallest group size on the few days of truly good condition is hard work. It takes time, a lot of time and patience and I have really started to feel my glasses need to be replaced with a newer pair after a trip to the eye doc. I have noticed a lot more eye strain and trouble over the last year when I do these all day long sessions shooting for smallest group.
First up is a 20 shot string using the red box Black Hills 77 grain match load. This is what I keep the MK12 zeroed with for crows. After a few adjustments I shot the remainder into the center. A great load and is more or less the real legit MK262 load.
The group below is the “white box” Black Hills 77grain match load. The same load but “factory seconds”. There is not difference in accuracy.
Below group was fired using the 77gr load from SSA. I know a lot of people like this load and it uses the Nosler 77gr bullet that I think is just as accurate as the Sierra bullet but this time it did not do very well.
The Federal Gold Medal match 77gr Sierra HPBT load is a long time performer and a favorite of mine. It didn’t let me down.
The Norma match load shot great too. For the price it better! This was the first time I ever fired the Norma match. It is just too pricey for me.
The PMC is probably the cheapest factory load I tested. It shot pretty decent though considering the price. I think if I wanted to stock pile a large amount for use in carbines or use not really for long range precision but more for the bullets weight, this would be what I would buy.
Next is the Hornady Match ELD 73 gr bullet load. This is their new ballistic tip designed to not deform when shot from heat or all the other things that can deform the tip. Jury is still out on that one for me. I don’t know about real long range performance with the ELD bullet yet but at 400 it seems to be a bit better than their HPBT AKA “open tip match”.
The last is the Hornady HPBTWC T2 round. This 75gr bullet load is loaded for 556MM so it is higher pressure than the 223 TAP load or match load. It is a bit less accurate as well. Not a good “match” round if you want accuracy but it is a good round for killing stuff.
So what did we learn? That the 7X bullet weight match factory loads all shoot pretty good. Some are lower velocity than others and you can’t zero your gun with one and expect it to work with all other loads obviously. I was glad to learn that all of these are pretty good loads when it comes to accuracy at ranges most users will shoot at. My opinion of factory ammo has went up a bit too. I look forward to testing some of the other 7X gr bullet loads on the market. I also learned my handloads are still better as I already knew and that I will continue my confidence in the black hills load and Federal match loads if I want a factory load to use along with my hand loads.