Rifles photo

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I’ve written before that the only ballistic information you can believe is what comes out of your barrel and hits your targets. This was driven home yet again last week when I ran some drop tests on my beloved 6.5×55 New Ultra Light Arms rifle. I use two loads in it: the first is Norma factory rounds firing 156-grain Oryx bullets at 2,508 fps; the second is a handload that shoots the sensuous, attractive 130-grain Swift Scirocco at 2,750. I sight in the Oryx loads  (of which I am fond because they don’t punch dinner-plate-sized holes through 90-pound deer) to hit 1.5 inches high at 100 yards; this is fine for 90 percent of the shots you get at whitetails. The Swifts print 3 inches high, and if I think I may get a long shot I use those.

However, until last week I was relying on guesswork to figure how much the two slugs actually dropped, so I went to the range and found out. The Scirocco was no surprise; it dropped 7 inches below the point of aim at 300 yards. The surprise was the Oryx. I first tried it at 200 yards, and it dropped only 2 inches below the point of aim which is odd because it has a low ballistic coeficcient, not much velocity, and is zeroed pretty low.

“What ho,” thinks I, “maybe I can use this sumbitch at 300 yards,” so I tried it, and it fell off the paper. Going by the holes in the backstop, the Oryxes dropped 17 inches from the point of aim, which means it is a dandy 200-yard bullet, but no farther.

So now I know, rather than assume, and there is a world of difference between the two.