Loading the 25-06 Hunting Loads with the MEC Marksman Press

We’re going step-by-step on how to handload reliable and accurate 25-06 hunting cartridges on the MEC Marksman single stage press.

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About the Mec Marksman Press

This is a terrific heavy duty single stage press.

From the MEC web page: 

The MEC Marksman is a single stage metallic reloader.  Reload with the ultimate precision press. The MEC Marksman is made of ductile cast iron for strength and durability and our patented shell holder self-centers each cartridge. The ram provides smoothness and accuracy for every load. Compatible with all 7/8-14 thread dies to change calibers quickly. Reload .22 Hornet to .416 Rigby with one convenient machine.

Features:

– C-Channel style frame construction for maximum strength and visibility.

– Lower one piece linkage, to reduce any slop or play in the linkages.

– Primer tray and debris are below the reloading zone allowing for more room.

Last summer, I used the MEC Marksman press to handload 45-70 cartridges in this story. Read about it here.

It’s a well-built press with good leverage. I really appreciated the open front of this press, which gave me plenty of room to work.

Hornady Lock and Load Die and Conversion Bushings

Gavin already had this press set up with Hornady Lock and Load Die and Conversion Bushings. I was impressed with how quickly the dies can be swapped when using this great product! 

From the Hornady product page: 

Simply thread a Hornady Lock-N-Load Conversion Kit into your RCBS Rock Chucker or other reloading press using a 1¼”-12 thread, and you’re ready to start using the Lock-N-Load System.

It’s the easiest way to get the most out of your reloading press. These bushings let you take advantage of Hornady’s Lock-N-Load technology even if you own a competitors reloading press.

The Lock-N-Load Conversion Kit includes three Lock-N-Load bushings and one conversion bushing.

Press Conversion Bushings Item #044095

(2-pk.) Die Bushings Item #044094

(3-pk.) Die Bushings Item #044093

(10-pk.) Die Bushings Item #044096

Lock-N-Load® Conversion Kit Item #044099

About the 25-06 Remington

Standardized in 1969 by Remington, the 25-06 was a wildcat as early as the 1920’s when the 30-06 was necked down to 25 caliber to shoot lighter bullets. It really came into its own with the introduction of slow burning rifle powders like H4831. 

25-06 has become well known as a multi-purpose cartridge often used for deer and antelope, particularly in open country. Friends of mine have successfully used the 25-06 on heavier game such as elk and black bear. It also does a fine job on coyotes and varmints such as rockchucks. 

Read about my 25-06 rifle and last summer’s mule deer hunt here.

The 25-06 is capable of excellent accuracy and has been used by at least one major bullet manufacturer for accuracy testing.

This time, I’m comparing different powder and bullet combinations that show great promise for open country deer and antelope hunting.

Nosler’s 115 grain Ballistic Tip bullet has proven an excellent choice for deer and pronghorn antelope. The standard 1:10 twist of my Remington’s factory barrel handles this 115 grain bullet well. The bullet typically demonstrates good accuracy and has proven quick lethality on several deer and antelope hunts. 

This 4×4 Wyoming mule deer was taken at 355 yards with the 115 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip.

Handloading for Hunting

It’s vital for hunting ammunition to be 100% reliable. It must fit into the magazine and cycle through the action smoothly. A loaded case must be able to be ejected. The ignition must be foolproof. I’m willing to accept a little reduced accuracy for that reliability. After looking forward to hunting season all year and perhaps spending a fair bit of time, money and effort getting ready for the season, ammunition should not be a weak link. You also owe it to the animal(s) you are pursuing to have reliable and accurate ammunition that will work and ensure an ethical harvest. 

Case Sizing

Clean the brass prior to sizing. This is easily done in a brass tumbler. I dry tumble using walnut shell media— it takes about an hour to clean a batch of cases. 

I’ve used both neck sized and full-length resized ammunition for hunting, with a slight preference for the full-length sized cases. Eventually neck sized cases need to have the shoulder bumped back to maintain correct fit in the rifle’s chamber. 

What about sizing new brass? YES! Sometimes new brass has deformed case mouths or other inconsistencies. Full length resizing ensures the case is ready to load. 

(Left) A brand new piece of factory brass with a deformed case mouth. The round case mouth (right) is after resizing with a full length Redding resizing die.

For sizing, it’s important to properly lube the case. There are many good products to use for this. I prefer lanolin based products. Just a little of it smeared on the case does a great job. I also like to brush the inside of the case mouth with a nylon brush before resizing. It helps the expander ball smoothly move through the case mouth. 

After sizing, tumble the brass again to remove the sizing lube before taking any additional steps.

Additional Case Prep

Normally I make a quick inspection of the cases to check for obvious problems such as a crushed case mouth or a primer pocket or flash hole that has burrs or needs other attention. If it’s warranted, I’ll take care of those issues. 

Generally, I just chamfer and deburr the case mouth for easy bullet seating without damaging the bullet.

Priming

The 25-06 doesn’t normally need a magnum primer. Due to the accuracy of the cartridge when paired with a quality gun, I typically use a match grade large rifle primer. For this loading project, I used the Lyman E-ZEE Prime Hand Priming Tool

Powder Charging

The 25-06 thrives on slow burning powders with heavier bullets. I have had great results with both the 115 grain Berger VLD hunting bullet and the 115 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet.  For the 115 grain bullets, I settled on IMR 8133, one of the newer Enduron series of powders that are temperature insensitive and contain decoppering additives. Hodgdon’s latest data with the 117 grain Hornady SST indicated 3200+ fps was possible. Thinking about hunting in open-country, that figure made me smile in anticipation. 

I tested IMR 8133 Enduron powder in an earlier article with the 7mm Remington Magnum and was very impressed with the velocity of a 150 grain load. It seemed logical to try it in the 25-06 as well. 

From the Hodgdon product page:

IMR Enduron 8133 is the slowest burn rate in the Enduron family. Loading density is perfect for magnums, contributing to superb uniformity. This is a true magnum propellant yielding outstanding performance in 6.5-300 Weatherby, 264 Win Mag, 28 Nosler and 300 Rem Ultra Mag, among other cartridges. Loading density is perfect for magnums, nicely filling the case at maximum charges, contributing to superb uniformity and accuracy.

The main features of the Enduron series are copper fouling eliminator, insensitivity to temperature changes, ideal loading density and being environmentally friendly.

IMR 8133 performs comparably to Hodgdon Retumbo but charge weights are materially different.

IMR recommends always consulting www.IMRReloading.com for the most accurate, up-to-date data.

Available in 1-LB and 8-LB containers.

The 110 grain Nosler Accubond was propelled by a powder I’ve often relied upon for 25-06 loads — Hodgdon Retumbo.

From the Hodgdon product page: 

This magnum, extruded powder was designed expressly for the really large overbored cartridges such as the 7mm Remington Ultra Magnum, 300 Remington Ultra Magnum, 30-378 Weatherby Magnum, etc. Retumbo adds 40-100 fps more velocity to these cartridges when compared to other normal magnum powders.

In addition, it is an Extreme Powder, making it perfect for big game hunting under all types of conditions.

Available in 1 lb. and 8 lb. containers.

The 100 grain Barnes TSX load used H4350. Note that some sources show my load as over maximum, while other sources show it as safe. I’ve shot this load many times and it has proven safe and accurate in my rifle.

From the Hodgdon product page:

H4350 is an extruded propellant in our Extreme series that has been one of our most popular powders with shooters for decades. During that time, Hodgdon has modernized H4350 by shortening the grains for improved metering and making it insensitive to hot and cold temperatures.

H4350 is ideal in the WSM family of calibers (270, 7mm, 30, 325) and is also the standard in such cartridges as the 243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, 270 Winchester, 338 Winchester Magnum and many more. For magnums with light- to moderate-weight bullets, it can’t be beat!

Available in 1 lb. and 8 lb. containers.

The MEC powder measure has a hopper visually reminiscent of their well-known shotshell reloading hoppers. It has a large capacity and can measure from 1 grain to 60 grains. I also used the MEC powder trickler and their electronic scale, both of which operated well.

Bullets and Bullet Seating

The leverage provided by the MEC Marksman press made bullet seating an easy chore. 

Nosler’s manual led me to seat to 3.250.” No crimp was necessary; neck tension alone was sufficient to hold the bullet firmly in place.

Four different bullets were chosen for this test:

  • 115 grain Berger VLD Hunting Bullet
  • 115 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip
  • 110 grain Nosler Accubond
  • 100 grain Barnes TSX
From left to right: 100 grain Barnes TSX, 110 grain Nosler Accubond, 115 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, 115 grain Berger VLD

There is a huge difference in construction and BC of these four bullets.

Bullet Powder Notes
100 gr. Barnes TSX

G1 BC .336

53.5 gr. H4350 All copper hollow point known for deep penetration
110 gr. Nosler Accubond

G1 BC .418

59 gr. Retumbo bonded tipped hollow point known for good expansion and not breaking up
115 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip

G1 BC .453

61.1 IMR 8133 tipped hollow point, good expansion, somewhat frangible
115 gr. Berger VLD Hunting

G1 BC .483 – G7 .247

61.1 IMR 8133 Has a light jacket and open tip, known for violent expansion in the chest cavity

All loads were assembled in Winchester cases with Federal 210 large rifle match primers. 

I’ve not yet hunted with the 110 grain Nosler Accubond, but have seen other Accubond bullets perform well and am looking forward to hunting with it. I’ve taken three mule deer with Berger VLD’s. I’ve used the 115 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip to take several mule deer and two antelope. The 100 grain Barnes TSX has also brought me a couple of mule deer bucks, one as close as 20 yards! 

Range Testing for Velocity and Accuracy 

 

 

Bullet Powder Avg. Velocity (fps) ES (fps) SD (fps)
100 gr. Barnes TSX

G1 BC .336

53.5 gr. H4350 3309  51 22
110 gr. Nosler Accubond

G1 BC .418

**Most accurate load**

59 gr. Retumbo 3203  18 7
115 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip

G1 BC .453

61.1 IMR 8133 3199  46 17
115 gr. Berger VLD Hunting

G1 BC .483 – G7

61.1 IMR 8133 3145  30 11

These are all easy-shooting, fast-stepping hunting loads. I didn’t try to find the optimal cartridge length with each load. Doing some tuning on bullet seating depth would surely tighten the groups. I can’t find any faults with the 110 grain Nosler Accubond load, which had the tightest SD and produced the tightest 100 yard group — five shots in .62 inches. From a hunting weight 25-06 with a 6x scope, I’ll take it!

Conclusion

MEC’s Marksman press is heavy, strong, has great leverage, very smooth to operate and comfortable to use. The large open area on the front of the press is a nice advantage over some other presses. 

Assembled on the high quality MEC Marksman single stage press, the 25-06 once again proved itself capable of both good accuracy and good velocity. Those are excellent qualities in an open-country hunting cartridge. I’d happily hunt deer or pronghorn antelope with any of these four loads. 

Get the Gear

There’s no better place to get this gear than Midsouth Shooters Supply:

MEC Marksman Single Stage Press $226.79 

MEC Powder Drop Assembly $124.10

MEC 100R Digital Reloading Scale Kit $36.72 

MEC Powder Trickler $26.52

KMS Squared UFO Press Light for the MEC Marksman:

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Thanks,
Guy Miner

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