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Great Long-Range Hunting Ammo

Great Long-Range Hunting Ammo
Want to stretch your lethal range? Try these five factory loads.

Judging by precision hunting rifle, optic and ammo sales, a vast demographic of hunters- particularly those in the West, where increased range has a direct correlation to higher success rates- want more range. Whether your ethics agree with it or not, long-range hunting is a thing.

An outstanding side effect of this trend is the quantum leap that has recently been made in bullet and ammunition development. Projectiles are more accurate than ever, and feature better terminal performance characteristics. And factory ammunition is more consistent, both in terms of group size and in tighter velocity standard deviations- a major consideration at extended distances.

As a result, there are now several top-shelf, match-accurate factory loads engineered specifically for use on big game. In alphabetical order, here's a look at the best of them. (Ballistic coefficients are listed in G1 form.)

Barnes VOR-TX LR

Barnes VOR-TX LR

Right up front, the all-copper LRX (Long Range X) bullets loaded in this ammunition does not have the extremely high ballistic coefficient (BC) that the others featured here have. But they're high enough- much higher than traditional big game bullets- and have the advantage of pairing extreme accuracy with best-in-class toughness. Many rifles shoot this factory ammo into less than one-half MOA, and you can take any ethical shot presentation because the LRX expands reliably but sheds almost no weight, resulting in massive trauma coupled with deep, deep penetration. In terms of accuracy and terminal performance, VOR-TX is impossible to beat. Cartridge cases are nickel plated to prevent corrosion in wet-n-wild climates. Available in the following cartridges:

6mm Creedmoor, 95-grain LRX, BC TBD (new)

6.5 Creedmoor, 127-grain LRX, BC .468

.270 Winchester, 129-grain LRX, BC .463

7mm Rem. Mag., 139-grain LRX, BC .470

7mm Rem. Mag., 145-grain LRX, BC .486

.300 Win. Mag., 190-grain LRX, BC .499

.300 Rem. Ultra Mag, 190-grain LRX, BC .540

.338 Rem. Ultra Mag, 250-grain LRX, BC .602

.375 Rem. Ultra Mag, 270-grain LRX, BC .449

In old Mexico the author shot this massive coues buck from about 370 yards using a Barnes LRX bullet.

Federal Premium Edge TLR

Federal Premium Edge TLR

While this load doesn't typically offer quite the super-precise accuracy that several of the others featured here provide (it's advertised as a one-MOA load, which is about right and is entirely adequate for most work inside 600 yards), I believe that the Edge TLR bullet offers the best terminal performance of the entire lot. The rear half of the Edge TLR bullet is monolithic, meaning it will never fragment on impact, and the lead frontal core is bonded into the aggressively tapered jacket. In short, the Edge TLR expands beautifully at very low impact velocities, holds together superbly at very high impact velocities, and flies very, very flat. The SlipStream tip is resistant to heat erosion, so BCs don't degrade at long range, and the boat-tail design and long, slender secant ogive provide outstanding aerodynamics. Both case and projectile are black nickel plated against corrosion. Available in the following cartridges:

.270 Winchester, 136-grain Edge TLR, BC .511

.270 WSM, 136-grain Edge TLR, BC .511

.280 Ackley Improved, 155-grain Edge TLR, BC .583

7mm Rem. Mag., 155-grain Edge TLR, BC .583

.308 Winchester, 175-grain Edge TLR, BC .536

.30-06 Springfield, 175-grain Edge TLR, BC .536

.300 WSM, 200-grain Edge TLR, BC .625

.300 Win. Mag., 200-grain Edge TLR, BC .625

From high on a camelthorn-covered ridge in Namibia, the author took these two oryx bulls at 520 and 997 yards while testing Federal's new EDGE-TLR bullet.

Hornady Precision Hunter

Hornady Precision Hunter

This is the load that really kicked off the long-range hunting-ammo race, and in all-around terms is potentially still the best of the lot, since it combines superb accuracy (many rifles average between 0.5 and 0.75 MOA with it) with decent terminal performance and extremely high Doppler-radar-confirmed BCs. The ELD-X projectile it features has an erosion-resistant Heat Shield tip, sleek profile, and a very effective positive expansion mechanism engineered into the tip/jacket relationship. I've seen it cleanly kill everything from coues deer to Alaskan moose. Occasionally the core and jacket will be found separately against the far-side hide on a harvested animal, resting a couple inches apart, which irrelevantly concerns some hunters. Assuming adequate shot placement, the ELD-X always kills fast. Precision Hunter ammunition is loaded in match-grade brass cases, and is available in the following cartridges:

6mm Creedmoor, 103-grain ELD-X, BC .512

.25-06 Rem., 110-grain ELD-X, BC .465

.257 Weatherby, 110-grain ELD-X, BC .465

6.5 Creedmoor, 143-grain ELD-X, BC .625

6.5 PRC, 143-grain ELD-X, BC .625

.270 Winchester, 145-grain ELD-X, BC .536

.270 WSM, 145-grain ELD-X, BC .536

7mm-08 Remington, 150-grain ELD-X, BC .574

.280 Remington, 150-grain ELD-X, BC .574

.280 Ackley Improved, 162-grain ELD-X, BC .631

7mm WSM, 162-grain ELD-X, BC .631

7mm Rem. Mag., 162-grain ELD-X, BC .631

.308 Winchester, 178-grain ELD-X, BC .552

.30-06 Springfield, 178-grain ELD-X, BC .552

.300 RCM, 178-grain ELD-X, BC .552

.300 WSM, 200-grain ELD-X, BC .597

.300 Win. Mag., 200-grain ELD-X, BC .597

.300 Weatherby, 200-grain ELD-X, BC .597

.300 Rem. Ultra Mag, 220-grain ELD-X, BC .650

.30-378 Weatherby, 220-grain ELD-X, BC .650

.338 Win. Mag, 230-grain ELD-X, BC .616

.338 Lapua, 270-grain ELD-X, BC .757

Hornady's Neal Emery took this Alaska-Yukon moose from 611 yards using his 7mm rifle handloaded with ELD-X bullets.

Nosler Trophy Grade Long Range

Nosler Trophy Grade Long Range

In my usually less-than-humble opinion, this ammo bears an uncommon distinction: The cartridge cases are the best of all those featured here. No, they're not nickel plated against corrosion, so if you take your accurate hunting rifle into saltwater swamps, wipe your ammo down at night. What these cases have is best-in-class consistency. Metallurgy and construction are superb. Before loading, cases are trimmed to perfect length, chamfered and deburred, flash holes are reamed for uniformity, and cases are weight-sorted. Then they're loaded with Nosler's AccuBond Long Range projectile, which is a svelte, bonded-core bullet with a petite polymer tip and long, aggressive boat tail. In a rifle that likes them, they can provide eyebrow-raising accuracy. However, in my experience they're not as forgiving as the other projectiles featured here, meaning that percentage-wise, fewer rifles shoot them with uncommon precision. Terminal performance is excellent, although they're not a particularly tough bullet. Don't take steeply quartering shots except on light, thin-skinned game. Much to Nosler's credit, the company has just Doppler-radar-tested bullet BCs and updated advertised numbers. Available in the following cartridges:

6.5 Creedmoor, 129-grain ABLR, BC .530

6.5-284 Norma, 129-grain ABLR, BC .530

26 Nosler, 129-grain ABLR, BC .530

26 Nosler, 142-grain ABLR, BC .625

.270 Winchester, 150-grain ABLR, BC .591

.270 WSM, 150-grain ABLR, BC .591

.270 Weatherby, 150-grain ABLR, BC .591

.280 Ackley Improved, 150-grain ABLR, BC .546

7mm Rem. Mag., 168-grain ABLR, BC .616

28 Nosler, 175-grain ABLR, BC .648

7mm STW, 175-grain ABLR, BC .648

7mm Rem. Ultra Mag, 175-grain ABLR, BC .648

.308 Winchester, 168-grain ABLR, BC .525

.30-06 Springfield, 168-grain ABLR, BC .525

.300 WSM, 190-grain ABLR, BC .597

.300 Win. Mag., 190-grain ABLR, BC .597

.300 Weatherby, 210-grain ABLR, BC .661

30 Nosler, 210-grain ABLR, BC .661

.300 Rem. Ultra Mag, 210-grain ABLR, BC .661

.30-378 Weatherby, 210-grain ABLR, BC .661

33 Nosler, 265-grain ABLR, BC .732

Winchester Expedition Long Range

Winchester Expedition Long Range

Winchester Ammunition has a long-standing relationship with Nosler, and this fine load sports the same AccuBond Long Range projectile featured in Nosler's own extended-distance hunting ammo. (Refer to the Nosler section for a discussion of bullet performance characteristics.) Cartridge cases, however, are nickel plated against corrosion, and of course are charged with Winchester's own propellants. If you want to shoot the ABLR, try both loads; your rifle is likely to like one or the other. Also, in some cases a different-weight version of the ABLR is loaded, such as the 142-grain bullet in Winchester's 6.5 Creedmoor load versus the 129-grain projectile in Nosler's ammo. Available in the following cartridges:

6.5 Creedmoor, 142-grain ABLR, BC .625

.270 Winchester, 150-grain ABLR, BC .591

7mm Rem. Mag., 168-grain ABLR, BC .616

.30-06 Springfield, 190-grain ABLR, BC .597

.300 WSM, 190-grain ABLR, BC .597

.300 Win. Mag., 190-grain ABLR, BC .597

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