Ramshot powders are used in many
Black Hills Ammunition loads, because of their consistency, precise metering and fine
accuracy. Here Jim Morey, president of Swarovski Optik N.A., tests a TDS reticle with
Black Hills .22-250 ammunition in a Kimber Model 84 on prairie dogs.
Whats a good rifle
powder? Lets start with fine accuracy and reasonably high velocity, then add easy
metering and insensitivity to cold and heat. Oh, and it shouldnt make our .30-06s
bore look like the inside of a wood stove chimney.
Not many powders qualify on all
counts. In last Octobers Handloader (No. 207), I reported on the new Ramshot ball
powders, imported by Western Powders of Miles City, Montana. Mostly I discussed TAC, a
civilian version of a military powder developed in Belgium for the 7.62mm NATO, known to
hunters as the .308 Winchester. TAC was developed specifically for use in automatic
weapons, so it couldnt foul much, and velocities and pressures needed to be
consistent over a wide range of temperatures.
TACs burning rate is in the
IMR-4895 to Reloder 15 range, so it works great wherever those powders do. Being clean
burning and relatively insensitive to temperature, it works perfectly for high-volume
varmint shooting, especially in the .223 Remington. In my own .223s, it provides a
combination of velocity and accuracy as good as any powder on the market, meters within
.10 grain and burns so cleanly I regularly shoot hundreds of rounds without cleaning.
Ive tested my .223 Remington
loads at zero degrees Fahrenheit and gotten exactly the same velocity as at 70 F. I havent
chronographed any loads at higher temperatures yet but just returned from the annual
Ramshot prairie dog shoot. Afternoon temperatures hit the high 90s both days, yet
TAC-powered .223s from Black Hills Ammunition never created a hint of a sticky case. These
factory loads basically duplicated my favorite handload with the 50-grain Nosler Ballistic
Tip, using 26.5 grains of TAC in Winchester brass. I took prairie dogs out to over 500
yards, even after 200 rounds had gone through the Remington Model 700, and a few even
farther, in part due to the 3,500 fps average muzzle velocity from the rifles
The long-range hits were also made
possible by the new TDS reticle Swarovski introduced in several scopes this year,
featuring four hash marks below the crosshairs that match point of impact out to 500 or
more yards. The TDS differs from most other such reticles in that the lower hash marks
progressively lengthen, creating a Christmas-tree that provides a very handy
Even with the TDS, I couldnt
have made consistent long-range shots for two days without very accurate, clean-burning
ammunition. In my rifle the Black Hills .223s averaged about .5 inch for five shots at 100
yards, even after 200 rounds without cleaning.
Ive also tried TAC in other
calibers, anywhere one of the 4895s or Reloder 15 is a good choice. Its a great
varmint powder in just about any caliber up to the .257 Roberts but also works well with
deer bullets in short-case larger bores. Lately its worked very well with both 125-
and 150-grain bullets in the .300 Savage - which youd expect, the Savage being
similar to the .308 Winchester.
It also performs well in the .308s
big brother, the .358 Winchester. I just had an older Ruger 77 rebarreled to .358 by
Charley Sisk, using one of Harts new .35-caliber blanks. This rifle was designed
specifically for shooting the 225-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, a bullet much too long for
the 2.8-inch magazines normally found on .358 rifles. Instead we used a .30-06-length
Model 77, but even with the extra action length theres not much powder room. TAC
bulks less than any other powder Ive tried in its burning range, and in early trials
shot three-shot groups under an inch with velocities over 2,500 fps from the 22-inch
Since last year Ive also wrung
out the other two Ramshot rifle powders, Big Game and Magnum.
Big Games burning rate fills a
real need: slower than Reloder 15 yet faster than IMR-4350. There just arent many
powders in this slot. Ive tried Big Game in cases from the .220 Swift to the .30-06,
and its worked great with appropriate bullet weights in every caliber.
In the Swift, Ramshot data lists
41.5 grains as maximum with 55-grain Ballistic Tips. In my sporter-weight Ruger No. 1,
41.0 grains worked best, accuracy averaging .5 inch for five shots at 100 yards with a
muzzle velocity just under 3,900 fps from the 26-inch barrel. This combination worked
perfectly in the field, even at near 100 degrees, without a hint of a sticky lever. If youre
going to stick a Swift case on a hot day, the Ruger No. 1 will lock up long before a bolt
Big Game works equally well in the
.22-250 Remington and may be the perfect powder for 150-grain bullets in the .30-06, where
Reloder 15s a little fast and IMR-4350 a little slow. Fifty-five grains gets just
about 3,000 fps with the 150-grain Nosler Partition from the 24-inch barrel of my Ultra
Light Arms .30-06 with .6-inch accuracy and apparently mild pressures. Ramshot data lists
up to 59 grains with some 150-grain bullets, at 55,000 psi.
Ramshot Magnum was formerly called
Big Boy, but the name was changed to prevent confusion with Big Game. Magnums a real
slow burner on the order of H-1000 or Reloder 25. In my one truly overbore
rifle, a .270 Weatherby put together by Mark Bansner, Magnum matched the 100-yard accuracy
of similar extruded powders but with smaller velocity variations. (This rifle doesnt
have the Weatherby freebore, so my 72-grain load would be relatively mild in a standard
Weatherby rifle.) Due to a very windy spring, I havent had a realistic chance to try
it at longer ranges, but because of the consistent velocities, I suspect it will prove one
of the best choices for big magnums, belted or unbelted. Like all Ramshot powders, Magnums
very dense, so fills less of the case than extruded powders.
Ramshot powders dont work
particularly well with reduced loads, a characteristic common to most ball powders. But in
every rifle Ive tried them in, groups and velocity spreads shrink as the powder
charge increases. Theyre very easy to work with and a definite improvement over the
dirty-burning ball powders weve all used over the years.
Ramshot just published its second loading
guide with pressure-tested data for most popular rifle and pistol calibers, as well as its
clean-burning Competition shotgun powder. For more information call 1-800-497-1007, or go
online and visit its web site: www.ramshot.com.