Ruger Precision Rifle Part 4: First 100 Yard Groups and Deer Hunting

When it came time to go deer hunting this year, I didn’t have to think long before deciding to take the Ruger Precision Rifle rather than my light-weight 30-06. Yes, this rifle is heavier, but I was curious to find out if it was something I could hike all day with. It actually took me more time to decide between 6.5 Creedmoor and 243 Winchester than it did to choose the rifle platform itself. It was the week after my trip to the North Central Washington Gun Club, where we took the rifles out to 600 and 1000 yards. (See the range post HERE and the follow-up fireside chat HERE).

I could have dialed-out the dope to return these rifles to their 100 yard zero, but I couln’t recall with 100% confidence what the dope was based on multiple people shooting the rifles and tweaking things, so a 100 yard validation was in order. I only had about 1/2 hour to setup targets, setup my shooting area, and shoot four 5-shot groups with each rifle before sundown. What happened next surprised me: perhaps my best results with multiple rifles during such a “quick” 100 yard range session, especially considering it was the first measured groups fired with these rifles.

The 6.5 Creedmoor was up first: and it delivered. I shot both the 120 grain loads I had loaded and some 140 grain loads as well. It was obvious that the rifle much preferred the 120 grain bullets as my 140 grain load could only do about 1″ at 100 yards where the best 120 grain group was just 0.626″ as seen here:

RPR-65Creedmoor-Hunting-100yd-sight-in-120-amax-5shots-crop-2000

Note: This load data in this article is for reference only. Always cross-reference with manufacturer’s load data. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors or possible issues you may have when using this load data. Use at your own risk.

Here’s the load data for the 120 grain load I started with which produced the group shown above:

6.5 Creedmoor “new” 120 grain A-MAX loads

  • Bullet: Hornady 6.5mm 120 grain A-MAX
  • Primer: CCI Large Rifle #200
  • Powder: Hodgdon H-4350: 43 grains
  • Brass: New Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor
  • COL: 2.670″

Wow- it seemed so easy with this rifle setup. Next up was the 243 Winchester Ruger Precision Rifle. Using some brass I had previously fired in the Ruger Precision Rifle, I performed the 100 yard re-zero with the only load I had tried in this rifle, and it performed amazingly! This load put 5-shots into a 0.341″ group at 100 yards:

RPR-243-Win-Hunting-100yd-sight-in-87gr-vld-5shots-crop-2000

To tell you the truth: I thought it would take a more time, work, and load development to get results like this. What this shows is that with the right rifle and components, sometimes you can get great results right off the bat!

Here’s the load data that produced the group shown above:

243 Winchester 87 grain Reloads

  • Bullet: Berger 87 grain HPBT (VLD)
  • Primer: CCI Large Rifle #200
  • Powder: Hodgdon Varget, 35.5 grains
  • Brass: Previously fired 243 Winchester
  • COL: 2.670″

Needless to say I was happy with how both rifles performed. I’m really looking to chronographing loads, working up optimal loads for the range and for hunting for each rifle, and generally optimizing the loading process. Lots of related stories coming on Ultimate Reloader you’ll want to check out!

But this story isn’t all about 100 yard groups or sight-ins, it’s really about the yearly deer hunting tradition that I’m now a part of. For the Williams family, this tradition started more than 100 years ago, and the family (with some friends) has returned to the same location every year since. I was fortunate enough to get invited into the “fold” by my good friend Josh. Josh started “attending” the camp when he was about 4 years old, and this year he took his twin boys (now 4 years old) to the camp for the first time. It’s been great to be a part of such a rich family tradition with so much “local heritage”.

Some pictures will help tell the story:

George Williams at deer camp many decades ago
George Williams at deer camp many decades ago
Doug (George's son) with his buck circa 1994
Doug (George’s son) with his buck circa 1994
Josh (Doug's son) with his buck circa 1992
Josh (Doug’s son) with his buck circa 1992

As you can see, the Williams have been hunting for a *long* time, and a lot of skills and stories have been passed down over the generations. There was the year that snow came early (a lot of it) leaving vehicles from other camps stuck and buried until Spring. Then there was the time a small campfire burned the roots of a tree causing it to fall over (the stump is now a Williams landmark). Add to that a ton of pranks and fun- and you can see how these guys love to come to this same spot year after year to make more of these memories. My own “tradition” is to jump into the frigidly cold river to cool down and clean off after we cut a cord-or-so of wood for the week long camping trip. Good times!

I had decided to carry the 6.5 Creedmoor Ruger Precision Rifle because I was curious how this cartridge (6.5 Creedmoor) would do with deer. Where we hunt it’s “buck only”, so does are off limits. That combined with an earlier-than-optimal adjusted season means it’s less likely you’ll see or shoot a deer. While this is unfortunate, it’s still very much worthwhile to go on the trip, and in the future I’m probably going to hunt multiple areas. We’ll see!

Carrying the Ruger Precision Rifle told me a couple things: first, the weight is not prohibitive. I liked how the rifle “hiked” and definitely am a fan of the QD sling mount system it offers. Second- the rifle does get caught on brush somewhat if you are “bushwacking” which we did some of. Not a big deal, but the not-so-smooth buttstock did catch on some tree branches and bushes while hiking. I learned how to cover up the open areas with my hand on the buttstock to avoid this issue. I also thought it would be good to hunt with a light-weight suppressor (with the rifle is equipped to handle from the factory) so as to not worry about hearing damage or hearing protection.

Here’s a video chronicling the adventures getting ready for deer camp and hunting with this rifle:

It was awesome seeing all of the fresh deer sign, and having a couple does in my crosshairs. I would have loved to have taken a buck this year, but that was not in the cards. Perhaps next year! Next up in this series is reloading for the 6.5 Creedmoor and for 243 Winchester, so make sure to subscribe or check back soon!

Thanks,
Gavin

9 thoughts on “Ruger Precision Rifle Part 4: First 100 Yard Groups and Deer Hunting”

  1. Hello again Gavin;
    I just received an e-mail response from the CEO of Ruger. I almost fell out of my chair when he really responded to my question. My question, when is the Ruger Precision Rifle going to come out in a Lefty model? He said in 2 years from when the right hand model came out. So, I will wait for it, in about 19 to 20 more months.

    I have already held and dry fired a right handed model, and it was real nice. The trigger was amazing. I work at gun store with a large chain of stores in CA., so hopefully I will see one sooner than later.

    Keep up the excellent work with the videos, Richard

  2. Thanks Gavin;
    You mentioned using a suppressor on the Ruger Precision Rifle. Are you going to buy one or build one using e-file and Form-1? That of course would be a whole new series of videos. Waiting to see which presses you’re going to use for the reloading, as in which single stage and which progressive. Keep up the great work and don’t let it interfere with the holidays!

    Will you have another chance at a deer this year? Good luck if you do.

    Brian

  3. Calvin,
    I was wondering which caliber you would recommend for target shooting at 200 plus yards, the .243 or the 6.5 Creedmore?
    Thanks,
    Larry

    1. Larry: both are good. The 243 would be my choice out to 600 yards, and the 6.5 Creedmoor out beyond that. But both can go to 1000 yards no problem, a bit more wind drift with 243. If you were hunting, that may be a factor as well (with 6.5 Creedmoor being better for elk for instance I would think).

  4. I am wondering about the hunting loads. Did you intend to use the same bullets as you did for the 100 yd groups? I’m impressed with your groups from both the .243 & 6.5 Creedmoor, but those bullets (87 g Berger VLD & 120g A-Max) seem to be designed for Target shooting. It was my understanding that the A-Max was not recommended for big game and same for the Berger VLD’s unless they are the hybrid for hunting/target.. I’m hoping someone will evaluate the RPR in .308. The cartridge has been around so long and it can be accurate out to 1000 yds. in an M1A.; surely, a bolt gun can do sub MOA at 100 yds.
    Thanks, for all the great info on UR, Gavin

  5. Hi Gavin,

    Have you tried loading the “new” ELD 140gr bullets? I’m interested in trying these but as it’s new I can’t find any data. I’m mostly interested in COL – same as A-MAX 140 grain?

    Thanks!

    1. Matt: which cartridge are you loading? For 6.5 Creedmoor, I have loaded and shot the 143 grain 6.5mm ELD-X bullets, see: http://ultimatereloader.com/2016/01/23/ruger-precision-rifle-part-6-progressive-loading-6-5-creedmoor/

      I’m still waiting for my new Hornady load book to come, so I used 142 grain A-MAX load data. For the Ruger Precision Rifle, I loaded them to the Magpul magazine length (that still gave plenty of to-lands room). For the Ruger Precision Rifle, 120-ish grain bullets seem to be the sweet spot at 100 yards so far. More on that as the story develops!

  6. Thanks for all the great info. My question is about your viper scopes. Are they first or second focal point? If this has already been covered, then my apologies, but I didn’t see that info. Thanks in advance.

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