300 Norma Magnum; the King of 1 mile cartridge
Some four years ago or so, I came across an article stating that the 300 Norma Mag could shoot “20-round groups as small as four inches at 1,100 yards.”. The .300Norma Magnum was designed to improve upon the .338 Lapua Magnum when loaded with 19.44 g (300 gr) Sierra very-low-drag bullets in magazines and actions that restrict the .338 Lapua Magnum’s maximum cartridge overall length. This to me was not news, I’ve seen numerous common cartridges like the 284win, 308win and 7WSM shoot inside 5inch vertical at 1000yards routinely at Stickle down range at Bisley, UK from rifle platforms specifically built to do just that with half the powder charge (58grains VS 90gains =55% more)
Here you can see the 300Norma and 215 berger Vs the 284Win case and 180 VLD together with a string I shot with the 284Win in the morning at 1000yards on the Fclass target and 5 inch Vbull.
Every new cartridge on the block gets quite some media coverage and with social media and facebook groups comes a barrage of memes and promotional material subtly cloaked in cleverly made adverts. To mention one, the 6.5creedmoor which is a very competent round was made to look by some as if it were a 264win mag when other cartridges like the 6.5x284norma, the 6.5×55 and the 260rem had been giving us those ballistics for many years. The 6.5x284Norma was the cartridge of choice for many shots made by the guys at Best of the West Kill Reel – 2017 long range kill shots. I thought the 300 Norma Mag must be another 300 Lapua Mag. The 300 Lapua however has a long case so if you want to seat your bullets far out to make the most of the case capacity, you may have to seat the bullets deeper if you want to shoot from a magazine. Not a complete deal breaker but we prefer shorter fatter cases when possible.
My 284Win Fclass Open barrel Block rifle was built specifically for 1000 yard competition and can keep an entire string of 20 shots inside a 7 inch circle at 1000 yards with most landing in a 5inch circle. It sits on a seb joypod bipod. Built on a Nesika K action with 30 inch bartlein barrel, 1.9 twist, .312 neck turn only chamber.
300 Norma mag on forums
Once I saw this cartridge mentioned on some serious forums like www.longrangehunting.com and www.snipershide.com, I decided to look closer. I had been following the series of wildcat cartridges and rifles that Kirby Allen produces known as the Allen Magnums so I thought this round must get this performance in a smaller package with Lapua brass readily available. Ryan Pierce, Shawn Carlock and other long-range shooting forum members mentioned this round in one configuration or another.
I have a yard stick by which I like to measure the cartridges I choose and I compare them to the venerable 284win which I shoot for F-open class. In the format I load it for Fclass, it is approaching a 7rem mag. It’s a fantastic round, 58grains of N165 powder for 2930ft/s with a 180grain berger VLD from a 30inch barrel. This configuration needs 5.5MOA at 1000yards (915meters) for a 10mph full value wind. I consider that very flat shooting wind-wise. This is the round I’ve shot the most at 1000yards so I have a good feel of what it can do. I’ve also shot the 308win for a while in FTR albeit not in its standard SAAMI spec format and 2.800” cartridge overall length.
In 2016, The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) selected .300 Norma Magnum as their new Advanced Sniper Rifle Cartridge. This made many long-range shooters look closer at the cartridge with serious consideration. Worth the move? Let’s see.
300 Norma Mag interior ballistics with Quickload
Next as I do with most cartridges, I went to Quickload internal ballistics software to have a look at what it’s capable of.
The numbers I saw where very impressive. I had no interest in the standard loading format and a 26inch barrel as is mostly implemented for hunting rifles. Not that this configuration is a slouch, but we like to maximize the cartridge as long as its safe to do so. I wanted to replicate the sort of performance that a 284win achieves when setup in an Fclass format, long barrel, bullets seated further out to maximize powder capacity. Moreover I knew from FClass that the 215 berger hybrid had a very good following, it holds vertical well even when loaded from a 308 win.
Let’s take another very popular cartridge – the 300 Win Mag, a long-time favourite sniping and hunting round with 200grain sierra bullet does about 2950ft/s in its standard format. Here with the 300 Norma Mag we are looking at a bullet that’s 215 grains doing 3200ft/s+ and maybe even more, Wow! I know that the 230gr bullet will do 2950-3050ft/s…
Ballistics for the 300 Norma Magnum and 215 berger.
300 Win Mag vs 300 Norma Magnum: a closer look at their ballistics
So let’s have a look at the ballistics for the 300 Winchester Magnum shooting 200gr Hornady ELD-x ammo from a 28inch barrel VS a 300 Norma shooting 215 berger at 3200ft/s.
In the graph below I am comparing the Windage required in MOA for these two cartridges in the above-mentioned configuration at each distance (meters) as well as the corresponding difference in windage required. On average, the 300 Norma Mag needs about 30% less compensation at each distance!! It is very forgiving especially when you are shooting in places where you don’t have wind flags and your wind reading maybe handicapped. So what is the trade off? Barrel life is the major trade off. You can only shoot 3-5 rounds at a go with the 300 Norma Mag, then you have to let it cool for a few minutes. Barrel life is about 1000-1200 rounds depends how you shoot it, how fast you push it and how you clean it. Ryan Pierce tells us its about 0.003 of throat erosion per 100 rounds.
Want to see the rifle we built for the 300 Norma Mag? Read 300 Norma Magnum switch barrel rifle!