13 Mar 17
More on long-range rifles:
In military sniping, our goal is to “manufacture casualties” at long range. Instant fatalities are usually not indicated, nor necessary. Head-shots apply for the most part only to law-enforcement sniping, most of the time at 50m or less.
A 55gr 223 bullet can range out to 1km, but at that range the bullet has barely enough energy to penetrate a single layer of cardboard! Penetration of a single layer of cardboard (without the bullet getting stuck halfway through) is all the “performance” competition shooters care about!
Conversely, for those of us interested only in war-winning skills and equipment, such anemic ballistic “performance” is unsatisfactory! Just because a bullet can physically get out to 1km, or 1.4km for that matter, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be “effective” at that range.
The venerable 308Win is effective at 1Km, no doubt, in still air. But, when the wind starts blowing, the 308 becomes a 600m rifle.
The 6.5 Creedmoor, mentioned in my last Quip, is also effective at 1km, and, even with the wind blowing, one can still hit reliably at that range, unlike the 308. Beyond 1km, the 6.5 Creedmoor’s effectiveness against human targets diminishes rapidly, although it remains acceptably accurate, even in the wind, out to 1.4km.
The 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Grendel, as long-range cartridges, are thus suitable for competition only. Accuracy is excellent, but effectiveness is limited to 500m.
For both effectiveness and acceptable accuracy, even in the wind, past 1km, you’ll have to step-up to a 300 Norma, 300WM, or 338Lapua. All are recommended, but ammunition costs go way up, particularly with the 338L (sometimes in excess of $5.00/round). Practice gets expensive!
And, there is the issue of barrel life. Hot cartridges erode barrels quickly!
6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Grendel barrels are good for no more than 1.2k rounds.
Your 300WM or 300 Norma barrel will also last 1.2k rounds. 6.5 Creedmoor is usually good for 5k rounds. 308 for 8k. No one really knows how long a 338L barrel will last, because no one can afford to shoot it enough to find out, but it is probably no more than 1.2k.
What makes sense for most aspiring long-range rifle shooters is to buy a rifle with one 6.5 Creedmoor barrel and one 300 Norma barrel. Between the two cartridges, trajectory is nearly identical. So you can do most of your practice with lower-cost 6.5 Creedmore ammunition.
ARs in 5.56×45, with chrome or Melonite barrels, will last 30k rounds, but accuracy expectations are less than with sniper rifles.
Heat and friction are barrel-killers! When running full-auto, you can turn your AR into a smooth-bore in a single afternoon. Full-auto is the last thing you want on a serious rifle! So long as your rifle stays relatively cool, it will run fine, and last a long time!