Category Archives: Technical Articles

Technical Articles – How To’s, Tips & Tech

Heavy versus Light Projectiles

Recently a friend and I started a discussion about which projectile would be better suited to my 6mm 284 for long range hunting applications. Neither of us are experienced long range shooters so as you can imagine there was a lot of “I dunno” comments.

One point that was brought up was whether lighter or heavier projectiles should be used. We both agreed that the light projectiles would shoot flatter, but then we started discussing whether the heavier projectiles with their better ballistic coefficiencies (BC) would “over take” the lighter projectiles even though they left the barrel at a slower velocity.

Of course there are other factors to take into account such as what the intended game would be and what the projectile construction consisted of. However I decided to over-look these points and focus purely on whether the better BC projectiles would eventually out-pace the lighter ones.

Using the 6mm 284 as an example, I entered some data into a ballistic program to see if I could make some sense of it all. I decided to use the extreme projectile variance of a 58gr Hornady V-Max and a 105gr Hornady A-Max.

The 58gr V-Max has a BC of 0.250 and the 105gr A-Max is listed at 0.500. So we can see straight up that the heavier A-Max has doubled the BC rating of the lighter V-Max.

Then we have the difference in velocity which is just as impressive. Using an average taken from two different reloading manuals, I entered the 58gr V-Max as leaving the barrel at 3850fps and the 105gr A-Max at 3050fps. That’s a difference of 800fps! I used a 250 yard (228m) zero which seemed realistic for the application.

The 58gr V-Max is 1.42 inches high at 100 yards, 1.37 inches high at 200 yards, zeroed at 250 yards, 2.44 inches low at 300 yards, 11.02 inches low at 400 yards and 25.93 inches low at 500 yards.

Drop Chart. Click to enlarge

The 105gr A-max is 2.45 inches high at 100, 2.02 inches high at 200, zeroed at 250, 3.34 inches low at 300, 14.23 inches low at 400 and 31.71 inches low at 500 yards.

So at 500 yards (457m) the 105gr A-Max has nearly 6 inches more drop than the 58gr V-max even though the BC of the A-Max is more than double the 58gr V-Max.

However, if we extend the range even further we start to see the projectile BC at work. At 800 yards (731m) both projectiles have dropped almost the same and at 1000 yards (914m) the 58gr V-Max has dropped 48 inches further than the 105gr A-Max!

Retained velocity at this distance of the 58gr projectile is roughly 1047fps and the 105gr A-Max is 1513fps. Depending on altitude the V-Max is just under the speed of sound but the 105gr A-max is still well above it.

Just for fun I decided to look at the energy figures of both loads and this is probably what most hunters will be interested in. Right from the start the 105gr projectile has nearly 300ft/lbs more energy than the 58gr V-Max. As the distance increases, so does the advantage of the 105gr projectile. At 500 yards the difference is now 556ft/lbs, however at 1000 yards the difference has now dropped back to only a 393ft/lb advantage. We can now see that the heavier projectile does indeed deliver more energy at all practical ranges. Not everyone follows the energy idea but in any case it makes for an interesting exercise.

Energy Chart. Click to enlagre

Wind factor is also something to consider when taking long range shots and the figures between the two projectiles were quite interesting. It’s often said that less flight time equals less wind drift so let’s see how true that statement is.

Using a 10 mph crosswind the 105gr A-Max has approximately 3.58 inches of drift at our 250 yard zero. The 58gr V-Max on the other hand has 5.51 inches at the same distance. That’s nearly an extra 2 inches of drift. At 500 yards the 105gr A-Max now has 10 inches less drift and at 1000 yards the difference is now over 70 inches. So at all ranges, our slower and heavier projectile is less affected by wind than the quicker starting 58gr V-Max. Interesting!

So, by using a ballistic program I’ve been able to answer some questions that I’ve been wondering about for some time. Whilst so many other factors come into play when making a long range shot, I can at least now understand the theory behind Ballistic coefficiency!

Cartridge Profile: 300 Weatherby Magnum

I’m a big fan of Roy Weatherby and his associated rifles. I don’t agree with all his ideas but the Weatherby history has interested me for a long time and both the Mark V and Vanguard rifles are among my favourites.

This article is about my favourite Weatherby cartridge, the .300 Weatherby Magnum. Even with the newer magnums around today, this cartridge is still being labelled as the best big thirty for all round use.

Roy Weatherby experimented with the .300 Holland and Holland case when he was discharged from the army in 1944. His results gave birth to the first and arguably best of the Roy Weatherby line of cartridges, the .300 Weatherby Magnum.  Roy led an aggressive advertising campaign which ultimately (although not easily) led to the .300 Weatherby being used by well-known hunters such as Herb Klein and Eldin Gates. Gates in particular used the big thirty to take just about every game animal worth mentioning which included Africa’s dangerous “Big Five” (which includes Elephant!).

A Weatherby Mark V Sporter

Weatherby’s ballistics published in 1961 (probably on his home-made chrony) gave the .300 Weatherby some impressive speeds. The 150gr projectile was quoted at 3545fps and the 180gr was listed as 3245fps. In my opinion these results were probably a bit optimistic as I couldn’t seem to duplicate them in my rifle. Individual rifles vary of course and occasionally you do see shooters claiming to be able to safely obtain these speeds. As always, make sure you work up to your working loads and once you start reaching the upper limited of the cartridge, remember that it’s better safe than sorry.

Useful projectile weights for the .300 Weatherby really start at the 180gr mark. I have used certain 150gr projectiles which didn’t seem to offer any “real” advantage over the 180’s. If you do decide to use 150’s then make sure that it’s a strongly constructed projectile like a Nosler Accubond or Barnes X. Stay away from Sierra Game Kings, they are way too soft for the sort of speeds you will be obtaining (trust me on that one). Most of my shooting was with 180gr Nosler Accubonds and they performed exceptionally well on the medium game that we are most likely to encounter here in Australia. If you want to chase the bigger game of the Northern states, then stepping up to at least a 200gr Barnes X would be a wise decision.

As with most of my rifles over the years, I generally only use one or two different loads. Depending on how quickly I find an accurate load is usually the deciding factor as to how many loads I experiment with. Once I’ve found a deadly and accurate load, then I rarely play around with different combinations. My rifle is a Mark V Accumark and my favourite load using 180gr Nosler Accubond is with 82gr’s of Reloader 22. I get 3060fps (average) with this load which is mild enough to keep barrel and case life at reasonable levels. By experimenting with different powder’s and projectiles you will probably be able to increase the speeds, but whether or not the increase will be noticeable is debatable. I stuck with that particular load mostly because it produces 1 moa or less on a consistent basis.

Buying commercial ammunition for the .300 Weatherby (or any Weatherby for that matter) is an expensive exercise. I was once quoted $95.00 for a packet of 20 rounds! You certainly wouldn’t want any problems trying to sight in a rifle if you’re paying that sort of money for ammunition. Even brass cases aren’t cheap, but a good supply of them will probably last you the life of the rifle. When your burning 82gr’s of powder with each shot, you have to keep in mind that barrel life isn’t going to be a strong point. Considering that a .300 Weatherby will usually get used a lot less than say a .308 Winchester, then a barrel may still last you a lifetime of hunting.

Empty case prices are expensive, but ammunition prices are extreme!

I don’t mind admitting when I find recoil excessive and the .300 Weatherby certainly has plenty worth mentioning. I found sighting in my rifle quite unpleasant but the recoil whilst hunting is manageable. The recoil is best described as “sharp” and sighting in my 458Lott was more pleasant than the big thirty. Tolerable recoil is a personal thing and there’s nothing wrong with admitting when you’ve reached your limit. If you are contemplating a .300 Weatherby and you’re concerned about the recoil, then definitely do your best to test fire one before considering the purchase.

It’s interesting that the popularity of the .300 Weatherby doesn’t seem to have been affected by the introduction of several newer .30 calibre magnums. I guess Weatherby owners aren’t going to be trading in there “classics” just because a magazine ad says a shorter/fatter cartridge is better.

Catching Yabbies

Whenever I’m packing for a hunting trip, I always make sure I pack a yabby trap. Yabbies are abundant in most farm dams in these parts and they make for a good feed. Catching Yabbies is a great activity for kids and it’ll keep them occupied and interested on an otherwise fruitless hunting trip. There really isn’t much too catching Yabbies but there are a few things worth knowing if you’re just getting into it.

Yabbies can be caught by using fishing line and some meat to entice them into the shallows. Once they are nearly out of the edge, you simply scoop them up with whatever you have handy. I’ve also heard of people using meat inside a stocking. Once the Yabbies cling to the stocking they get tangled and can’t escape. I’ve never used this technique so hopefully someone else can comment on its effectiveness. If you’re looking for a decent feed, then you really need an Opera House style fishing trap. Most tackle shops will have these traps and I’ve also seen them for sale in K-Mart and Sam’s Warehouse. The great thing about traps is that you can leave them set overnight to help increase your catch. Make sure the trap is securely tied and the location is obviously marked.

Kids love being in charge of catching the Yabbies

Yabbies are scavengers so there are a wide variety of baits to be considered. I prefer using meat of some description and it seems to work better when it’s had some time to age in the sun. Fish products are also very effective and sometimes I’ll use the leftover fish frames from a previous catch. Perhaps the most convenient bait is tinned dog/cat food or tuna. Punch a few small holes in the tin with a knife so the smell can dissipate without the trapped Yabbies being able to eat all of the contents. It’s also worth tying the tin to the bottom of the trap so the Yabbies can’t reach it from the sides.

Most Western dams seem to hold a least a few Yabbies. Left over Yabby shells from feeding birds is often the first sign of their presence. Burrows in the mud are also another indication. I’ve found that Yabbies don’t seem to like the spring fed dams that we get around these parts. Quite often there’ll be huge numbers of Yabbies in a dam and none in a spring fed dam only a few hundred meters away. I’ve never understood this as Yabbies are well known for being adaptable to a wide array of water conditions.

In some locations, Yabbies can be caught all year round. They will slow down a bit over the winter months but I’ve still caught them in areas which receive the occasional snow. However, summer is when they are most active and they do prefer the cover of darkness.

The easiest way to cook a Yabby is just to boil the whole thing until it turns a red/orange colour. The most amount of meat is in the tail but I find the claw meat to be a little sweeter. Some cracked Pepper and Lemon juice will make one of the best meals your likely to get whilst out on your hunting trip!

Plenty to go around here!

Note: Make sure you check the legalities of your area before using any traps.


Hunting Smarter!

Game animals are a bit like humans in that they learn by association. This level of learning varies between the different species, but I’ve always found pigs to be one of the smartest. If you interrupt their regime with any sort of consistency, they’ll quickly adapt to better their chances of survival. This is part of what makes hunting such a challenge, but it can also be the cause of many a frustrated hunter.

I recently experienced first-hand how quickly pigs can adapt and I thought I’d share my thoughts in this article.

I had been hunting a particular property for several years without a lot of success. I was getting game but not in the numbers that I was expecting given the amount of fresh sign that was always around. The farmer is a good friend of mine so I decided to sit down with him and have a good chat about the property. What I discovered was that apart from me there was only one other person that had access to his property. It was a local guy who lived only a few kilometres away and he used both rifles and dogs to hunt whenever (and whatever) he wanted. From the comments made, I assumed that not all the activities of this particular character where of the sporting nature. I decided then that I would need to hunt smarter if I was going to get the results I was looking for.

The first obvious problem was how to avoid using a vehicle but still being able to hunt in dark conditions. The solution was easy

Classic Pig sign!

enough and I brought a rifle mounted spotlight. The next problem was how to locate the game given that they never seemed to be around at the same time that I was. The solution to this was rather obvious as well. I needed to hunt at a time that the pigs wouldn’t be expecting. So, how do I work out exactly when this time would be? I figured that the local guy wouldn’t be so keen to stay out late in the cold when his warm bed was only around the corner. Given his close proximity to pigs, I also figured that his motivation wasn’t going to be as strong as mine as things often get taken for granted when they are so easily accessible. Giving it some thought, I decided to get some sleep early on in the evening and then start my hunt somewhere around the 2am mark.

Once I was caffeinated and awake enough to get my legs to move, I mounted my portable spotlight and checked the wind direction. I was heading off to a nearby feeder which I decided held my best chance of spotting a pig. After a 2km walk in the dark, I knew I was close to 100 meters away from my target. Flicking on the spotlight, I gave the area a quick scan. Something was moving around the feeder but I couldn’t make it out from that far away. Switching off the light, I closed the gap to 50 meters and moved next to a tree that could be used as a rest if needed. Shining the light straight into the feeder saw a mob of small pigs getting stuck into the grain. They didn’t even flinch when the light went directly on them and they certainly weren’t going to let me interrupt their feeding. The pigs were small and I was after something bigger. In any case, I couldn’t have shot into the feeder without damaging the concrete. Holding still, I scanned the surrounding area and picked up a big black shape just about to squeeze itself under a wire fence. As soon as the light hit the Boar, he spun around and started heading towards the timber. Knowing I had little time to act, I took an offhand running shot and hoped for the best. As the sound of the shot rang out I was blinded by the muzzle flash, and then to add to the confusion my spotlight detached itself from its mount. By the time I had recovered enough to assess the situation, I couldn’t see any sign of the pig. I don’t take many offhand shots so I assumed that I must have missed the Boar and that he was now safely in the timber. Moving over to where I had seen the pig, I scanned for traces of blood without any luck. As a last effort I headed off in the direction he was taking before I had fired. After about 50 meters I nearly stepped on him! He had fallen into a slight depression in the paddock which had hidden him from the spotlight beam. He was stone dead!

I returned later in the morning with the farmer and together we weighed him in at just a touch over the magic 100 kilo mark! He was my personal best at the time and I was well chuffed. There are bigger pigs out there but he is still the biggest that has been taken on that particular farm. He had battle scars all over him and some were fresh enough to be still bleeding. One particular cut into the back of his neck was very nasty. It had healed up over time, but it’s testament as to how tough these critters are.

Pigs are born survivors! Check out that wound!

I learnt a lot on that particular trip and over the next few days I took more quality pigs using the same and similar techniques. I found it interesting that the big Boar was only just heading in for a feed at 3am in the morning. He knew when it was safest to venture out into the open, and I could tell by his reaction to the spotlight that he knew it meant danger. If I had of been in a vehicle and shining the light all around the paddocks, I’m sure that I wouldn’t have had the privilege of even seeing the old boy. Because of what I learnt, I very rarely hunt the same way twice if I fail to produce any results. I figure that the biggest advantage I have over game is that I can adapt my hunting style until I find one that works. The idea is that if something isn’t working, then try something else! A lot of hunters out there will be well aware of this point, but it’s something that I’ve only embraced recently. It’s improved my hunting a hundred times over and if this article helps someone think outside the routine, then I’ll be a happy person.

A recent fighting injury on the pigs leg