190 Hornady A-tips on test
above: 284 Winchester barrel block chassis clamping on a 31″ Bartlein barrel topped with March 8-80×56 scope 1/8MOA clicks.
The 284 Winchester has been a popular F-open round together with its sibling the 284Shehane. It was my first F-open cartridge and I decided to stay with the 284Win for this barrel to keep the same dies and reloading equipment that I have. The 284win built for Fclass provides performance similar to a 7rem Mag. With about 57grains of powder, the 284Win makes F-open an interesting challenge, relatively easy to tune and doesn’t kick like a 300WSM.
Would swapping out the 180gr Berger to the 190A-tips provide any windage advantages thanks to the BC of 0.422? The 7mm bullets have long been considered some of the lowest drag bullets you can shoot. Will those Hornady A-tips provide the precision, accuracy and repeatability required to stay in the V-bull at 1000 yards? On paper, the 190Atips at 2800fts should provide a good match to the 215gr Berger shot in the 300WSM. I shoot the 215berger in the 300Norma Mag at 3224ft/s so I am well acquainted with the performance and consistency the 215 Berger hybrid can offer.
I had already discussed the 284Win shooting the 180berger VLD.
190A-tip VS the 180 berger VLD.
I was very pleased with the 180berger VLD however I wanted to try the 190 Hornady A-Tips. I wanted to see whether this bullet could work for F-Class and testing this would be fun. I could always go to the 184gr Berger if I were not happy with the results. I managed to get my hands on some of these while in UK and snatched the opportunity to give them a go at Bisley Ranges.
Above: COAL at which the bullet touches the lands.
Hornady 190 A-Tips being seated for the ladder test which I wanted to run at 600 yards.
Beautiful inner workings of the Prometheus scales – thought to be one of the finest powder dispensers out there.
I chose a 1.8 Bartlein fluted barrel with a two tone, black flutes and stainless. The 0.422 G7 BC of the Hornady 190 A-Tip was a strong lure. I loved the windage numbers and wanted to see what it can do. The 284 Winchester will not drive the 190 A-tips hard like a 7-270WSM and so I would not face some of the rumoured “blow outs”. Moreover I had received some interesting feedback from Italian and French very capable long range shooters about the Hornady A-tips. Gianfranco Zanoni during a brief chat at Bisley had indicated that if you keep the velocities mild, the 190atips 7mm may do well.
Some months later I witnessed Fabrizio Giugga, a well known Italian Fclass open shooter from Milan which I had met at the Europeans at Bisley shoot the a-Tips in his 300PRC and conquered 2000m during Extreme Shot Italia II -2000m ELR competition. He actually had the highest points at 1 mile and 2000m closing with 3/5 hits at the 2000m plate. I was behind the spotter for most of this competition and I noticed his elevation spread was very tight. Shortly behind him, French ELR shooter Francois Dereuil turned up with his 300NM PGM shooting moly coated 250atips and he did very very well placing 2nd.
However, I knew that the requirements of an F-class rig require different thresholds. The Fclass bullet must perform well over 22 round strings (20+2sighters) and maintain a short vertical spread under 5inch at 1000yards in order to be competitive with the top brass. If you drop points due to vertical elevation, you won’t stand a chance against those very competitive shooters that can stay in the 5 ring in most conditions and maybe only drop a 4 here and there due to wind over a 60 round marathon such as the imperial meeting.
I kept the the same barrel block chassis which I’ve had for the last 3 years, it simply works and does not require any bedding. It clamps onto the barrel for the first 5inches forward of the action. The butt is an MDT stock which folds and I also added a bag rider from MDT as well. This helps when I need to travel and keep it compact with a 31 inch barrel. Also should you need to remove the barrel from the chassis, there is no risk of clipping the bedding as there is none, the action is fully free floating. The wide forend easily slides back and forth as you need and can be tightened to your ideal position. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea especially compared to some of the beautifully carved maple stocks I’ve seen out there but it works and it’s stable enough to be able to use the magnification of this outstanding March 8-80×56.
March 8-80×56 crowns the 284 Winchester
I swapped my previous Nightforce 12-42×56 BR to a March 8-80×56 which I had used a few times during my visit to Bisley. The nightforce had served me well for a long time. I had been quite impressed the first time I used the 8-80×56 seeing the actual lines on the target at 1000yards so clearly and even spotting bullet holes in paper when the atmospheric conditions were very clear.
I use about 40-50 power with this and I find this very useable. I love the parallax setting on it and the clicks are positive with 1/8MOA per click and 60MOA of elevation/40 Windage. It has the MTR1 reticle. The rifle is built on a Nesika K action. It’s an economical action which allows you to get into the sport. I’ve had it a few years now and never had issues.
March 8-80×56 mounted on the gun adjacent to the NEW March High Master 5-42×56 scope with 138MOA of elevation! I enjoyed playing with this scope so much while I was there that I ended up buying the MOA version.
This MTR1 reticle is very fine and subtends 0.04MOA (0.4″ at 1000yards) for the thickness of the reticle. It is in the 2nd focal plain. On 40x, each hash mark subtends 1MOA and 0.5 MOA on 80x and likewise 2 MOA on 20x. I even mounted it on my 33XC during the 1st edition of Extreme Shot Italia competition.
March 8-80×56 on top the Desert Tech SRS A2 in 33XC. Even with a limited 60MOA of travel, I could still take the 33XC out to 1800meters.
The 1/8 MOA allow for very fine adjustments on the Fclass target allowing you to move your tight group from the 5 ring to the V-bull easily. There is also a zero stop which you can set for this scope.
284 Winchester Chamber
This time I didn’t get a tight .312 neck as per my previous barrel. This barrel has a .316 Neck. I found neck turning involving quite some work and could not really stamp out any actual benefit on target. The rifle has a wide forend attached via an Anschutz rail to help it ride on the Seb mini rest.
This time, to measure the distance to the lands I used a different method. I took a once fired case in which the bullet would slip easily. I cut a piece of 0.5×0.25 inch paper and slipped it in the neck. The bullet was inserted and it tightened as the bullet was placed inside the neck. I clipped off the excess paper. This provides a tight enough fit to move the bullet when closing the bolt (without firing pin and spring) but not tight enough as if I had used a bushing die. It allows the bullet to move as you close the bolt and will stay put. I measured this base to ogive length 5 times within 0.002″.
284 Winchester loads
Next I loaded up 25 rounds as per my calculations on Quickload. I wanted to be around 2750-2830 ft/s. There were two nodes were the velocity would stay the same notwithstanding an increase in powder charge. I shot these at 600m plotting where each round landed. The electronic targets make this simple as each shot turns up on the screen numbered. You just have to read the velocity off your Labradar and jot it down. The impacts were pretty close to suggest it may be a good point of departure. I’m after those shots that even though they have an incremental powder charge increase, would still impact very closely vertical wise.
First node was at 2595ft/s between 53.5 and 54.6 and then again at 57-57.5 grain. This node shows stable velocities and a window that will not vary much in velocity/ pretty stable pressures. I loaded up 7 rounds of each of these loads: 57, 57.2, 57.4, 57.5 and shot these at 900yards. The 57.5 had about 3/4MOA vertical. This is known as the Audette’s ladder test.
My favorite day at the office. Simply love the comfort at Bisley with the electronic targets enjoying the full Stickledown range to myself on a weekday morning.
Notice the electronic bubble level from Long range arms
one promising load below have me 6 shots in the same vertical, with the 7th being slightly high. I wanted to test this load more.
The 190gr Hornady A-Tip sits on the runway before it’s flight to the 1000yard destination. The Eratac adjustable mount is a little heavy for Fclass but it’s my go to mount to make the most of my scopes.
Light is green and ready to go.
The load below was not good so i scrapped it. I just wanted to see how much faster it would go at 58.2 and if the velocity would be close to the ones recorded during the initial ladder test.
Bisley always has beautiful toys laying around. A very keen Fclass shooter had just got delivery of this beautiful 300WSM Rifle made in UK.
Here you can see the Fclass shooters testing bullet seating depth and adjusting it on the ranges.
This is how ammo is tuned to achieve insane low vertical spread.
284 Winchester at 1000yards in Sicily
My time in the UK was up so I flew back into the Mediterranean. After Extreme Shot Italia -2000m ELR competition, Sicily welcomes F-class Shooters to its shores in October. The Sicilian club of Casalmonaco in Trapani, north of Sicily close to Palermo, holds an F-class competition as part of the Italian league. Numerous Italian shooters congregate here from all parts of the Italian mainland. It is also the club where I get to do most testing you see on this website enjoying a range out to 2000meters which the club is still developing funded through shooting events during the year.
It takes about 20 hours to cross Italy North to South. F-Class is very sought after sport in Italy today with fervent shooters across the Italian peninsula and thanks to this popularity, the Italians have done exceedingly well year over year amassing numerous medals in F-Open and F-TR class. Gian Mattia Molina and Gianfranco Zanoni are two names that come to mind with an exceedingly stellar F-Open record. Jokingly I note that the Italians drive an entire roman legion of shooters to Bisley every year to the Europeans however it goes to show how much the sport has picked up over the years notwithstanding the challenges it encountered.
The scenery is wild, untouched except for some areas where the land is cultivated for wine or other agricultural produce.
The northern region of Sicily enjoys some beautiful and well sheltered marinas where many tourists come in droves during the summer months.
With such preliminary load testing, my 284Winchester +190A-tips load was not yet tuned for this match but I wanted to give it a go so I jumped on the ferry and headed to the North of the island to enjoy a weekend of F-Class, great food and laughter and more great food.
I ran 22 rounds on this target. With 5 rounds dropped in the 4 ring, there was no chance I would catch up with the top shots however I wanted to work on this load a little further to see if I could tighten up the shots on the vertical. I had 2 shots that had dropped out the 5 ring at 6 o’clock. That should be avoided. As Gary Costello had told me, don’t drop points on vertical. We had cameras at the 1000 yards however after a few shots into the string, keeping track of the impacts started to get fuzzy for me and likewise keeping up with the plotting and wind calls. At times the lag in the camera would make it challenging showing the exact bullet hole.
To date, I shot all my F-class matches at Bisley. There you would either have a marker showing you the impact with a white circle in the bullet hole as well as the score on the lower part of the target so you can plot your shots. The target goes down after each shot, the market inserts the marker into the bullet hole, marks the lower part of the board with your score and lifts it back up for the shooter next to you on the same lane. Here in Italy, the targets stay up and you can carry on with your string looking at impacts happening through a camera on your ipad.
I admit that the Seb mini could have been better setup by myself as well. I was shooting at an incline at the 1000yards, it took me sometime to setup the rifle properly for the match and the Seb foot closer to me could have been better setup so the rifle can recoil smoothly across the length of the forend. So all in all I thought ok not bad, you need to work on this more for the next one and you need to spend sometime on your load.
190gr A-tips at 1000yards doing 2800ish ft/s.
Seating the 190gr A-tips
I came across a really good article about bullet jump. It said “We determined that most popular bullets that we tested actually held tighter vertical at distance when they jumped beyond .050″. We tested bullets like the extremely popular Berger 105 Hybrid and proved that it holds the tightest vertical at distance when jumping in the .060″ to .090″ range, specifically around .080″ jump. We also tested other bullets like David Tubb’s 115 DTACS and Hornady’s 147 ELD’M, also finding that they perform best when jumping beyond .070″.
For the next part of this test, I have prepared 25 rounds of the same 57.5gr N165 powder charge with bullet seating depth increasing by 0.010”. I will fire 3 round groups with each seating depth. Whichever seating depth works out to shoot the best, I will then adjust the seating depth of 10 rounds and give it a go again at 900yards. The ammo below was loaded using a Frankford Arsenal Intellidropper.
284Win Seating depth Testing – Touching or Way off the lands?
Motivated by that article I had read, I sat down to prepare the loads for the seating depth testing which I would run at 100m. I was told by a few good folks like Ryan Goodman and Gary Costello to start at 100m and then venture further out to check what happens at distance of 1000yards. I needed one holers if this setup is to be competitive at long range. Gary from March Scopes UK and Ryan Goodman are some of the best shots I know and have helped me along the way with some tips. Also thanks to David Raybould and James Mccosh who had showed me some of their methods while at Bisley ranges UK.
I prepared 10 batches of 284Win ammo seating the 190gr A-Tip at 10 different seating depths starting from touching the lands and moving away in 0.010″ increments. I measured 15 Hornady A-tips and the base to o-give measurement was spot on, very consistent (+/-0.001). Here are my results. As you can see I started from 2.553″ touching the lands and moved back to 0.100″ off the lands.
Jeff Wheeler sent me the awesome ammo caddy for the 33XC, 300Norma Mag and 37XC cartridges I want to shoot. I found it very useful and dealing with him was super easy, he goes out of his way to get items to you, hats off. Below you can see a 37XC case loaded with a Windcut Bullets. Windcut bullets were sponsors of Extreme Shot Italia II last year and i got about 50 of these to test out in my new 37XC barrel.
Below: This is about how much we moved the bullet back from the initial seating depth to the end of the test of 0.100″. The Wilson inline bullet seating dies make it super convenient to do the seating depth testing on the range. Luckily, Sicilian weather in February is amazing and we enjoyed a beautiful 3 days in the sun at 15°C or 59°F but it actually felt warmer in the sun.
I drew up an aiming point for each load I had to test out at 100m. I was super curious what difference it was gonna make for this load that I had so far only tested for charge weight with the same bullet seating depth. Using the March 8-80×56 Scope, doing this test is a breeze. You can pick the exact aiming mark, I mean, you can shoot to shoot 1mm left or right of the aiming mark because at that magnification, you can see everything, including the fibre of the paper.
Below the 284 Winchester barrel block chassis rifle with a 31″ 1.8 twist optimised for the Hornady 190 A-tips is lined up on the seb mini rest. Testing the loads with the SQI-Andix AndiScan micro ballistic velocity scanner
made the process enjoyable and without attaching anything to the barrel, i knew this test would be as good as it gets. I also had the opportunity to compare it to a Magneto speed and Labradar during this weekend. More in another blog post soon.
Testing with the Ballistic velocity scanner AndiScan micro.
First off thanks to Jan for sending me this device to test out while gathering data about my rifle. This is a journey that will see this unit used with several calibers of mine helping improve the performance of this awesome device that has already seen alot of work in to it. Jan sent it out to me and it landed on the island just 1 day before the trip to Sicily so I really didn’t have much time to get acquainted with the manual and I sat down to read the manual while on the 2 hr ferry trip to Sicily. Later that weekend I found out it can also show you ES besides avg speed and standard deviation. I will review it in detail in a separate post once I get to do more reading about the unit but from the initial testing, I can see the industry improving by leaps and bounds giving shooters ever smaller testing devices and a better data driven approach to shooting.
Above: A 190gr A-tip 7mm next to a 30cal 250 A-tip which I am having a barrel chambered for in 300 Norma Mag.
The AndiScan Micro is just about the size of a packet of cigarettes. It can be mounted on your rifle with numerous attachments that come with it. I opted to mount it next to the rifle as seen in the pictures in this article. Sign up to this website to get the results of the actual test VS Labradar and Magneto speed.
So here are my findings. Surprisingly, the best two loads were those that were seated 0.080 and 0.100 off the lands. I didn’t test further out as with my 57.5gr load of N165 and 0.100 off the lands, I started to feel the powder crunch when seating the bullet. These two seating depths 2.458 and 2.478 (base to ogive) shot really nice tight one holers measuring under 0.2″ for 3 rounds. the other two loads of 2.538 and 2.518 shot 3 round groups touching but not the one holders I was asked to look for.
I need to test these in 10 rounds loads at 600m and see what it will do now. I was happy to see that these loads are just short of 2800ft/s at this 14degrees Celcius which in summer will mean, they’ll be right at 2820ft/s/ This load has the same wind drift ballistics of a 300NM shooting 215ft/s at 3200ft/s! IF you think that the 6.5creedmoor is great, wait till you shoot this.
Look at the length of the 284Win with the 190A-Tips below! That cold bore shot measured 2766ft/s or 45 ft/s slower, similar numbers to what i see from the 308win as well for a cold bore shot.
I suggest you also watch this very informative video on bullet seating testing. He goes one more step to suggest stopping the moment one round shoots outside the group so you don’t waste ammo. Basically if the first two shots don’t touch each other, why fire a 3rd round? Makes sense. He also works in 0.006″ increments instead of 0.010″ as we tested. He says innthis video that a 0.006″ bracket in his opinion is better and he correlates that with his barrel throat wear.
NEXT – Stay tuned for the updates testing this rifle again to 600 and 1000m. It takes me sometime to do these tests, I have to take a 2 hour ferry and a 4 hr drive to reach the facility in Trapani Sicily where we hold Extreme Shot Italia competition all the way to 2000m. Next one is 4-8 October 2023. That is Etna Volcano in this distance, one of the largest active volcanoes in the mediterranean.
Hornady 190gr A-tips
Can the 190gr Hornady A-tip take the 284 Winchester a step up and will it deliver those shots consistently enough? I have received the AMP MKII annealer thanks to my friend Nicola at Armeria Regina in Northern Italy. I had not yet annealed this brass so I took the opportunity to anneal, trim, chamfer to produce the best brass I can achieve.
The AMP Annealer will ensure we get more consistent brass neck tension as well. Making use of a longshot camera can really help you if you do not have access to electronic targets or a good spotter than can help plot for you. Stay tuned and Sign up to the mailing list for updates.
I spent the rest of the day doing some sightseeing and put my 284Winchester away for another day.
284Win VS 300WSM vs 300 Norma Mag
Perhaps, once of the most interesting comparisons of the efficiency of a cartridge and bullet combo is achieved comparing the windage values.
In the graph I drew below, the 284win described above shooting 190gr Atips at 2800ft/s is being compared to the 300WSM shooting Berger 215grain hybrid at 2900ft/s vs the 300Norma Mag shooting the 215 Berger at 3225ft/s. The latter is a load I run personally in my 1 Mile 300 Norma cartridge.
The figures below are really quite impressive. The 190gr Atip with its 0.422 BC is astonishing. The red line of the 284Win basically follows that of the 300Norma Magnum all the way to one mile! The 284Win burns 57.5gr of N165 vs 69ish grains for the 300WSM and the 300NM burning 90ish grains of N570. Why do I show windage? Once you have your dope for elevation, most misses will occur due to wind calls. The more efficient the bullet, the better are your chances especially where you don’t have wind flags to help you. The 300WSM in the comparison below needs 1.75 – 2MOA MOA windage to the mile.
When we shot ko1m first time in France, a young French soldier named Dylan had shot his 284Win with some remarkable performance to the mile. His misses were really close.
Watch Dylan shoot his 284win at Ko1m Caylus some years back. He may just need to swap his bullet around if he can make it work with his existing twist rate.
So the game is on. I’ll need to put these two cartridges head to head fired simultaneously (300NM vs 284Win) with the same amount of windage on the two guns and see where the bullets land in relation to the point of aim over 10 rounds. Stay tuned. Only real world testing will tell us if these numbers are so good or too optimistic for the 190gr A-tips which has definitely raised interest.