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Range Report: FN SCAR 17S – Part 3 - Hornady 168 grain Z-MAX

This is part 3 of series of load development experiments for the SCAR 17S. This test uses the Hornady 168 grain Z-MAX (Zombie Max) bullet and Ramshot TAC powder. The Z-MAX is Hornady’s marketing scheme for re-branded A-MAX bullets. I got 1,000 of them on sale.

Please see Part 1 here for full details including case preparation, handloading technique, and firing procedure at 100 yards.

Please see Part 2 here for tests with the Berger 168 gr. VLD hybrid bullets, which are match grade boat tail hollow points.

The are a few minor differences between this test and Part 2:
◦ the bullet
◦ the charge weight
◦ 4 strings of 10 rounds each; 40 rounds total plus 2 fouling rounds at the beginning
◦ Order of fire: 42 grains => 43 grains => 44 grains => 45 grains (no cleaning of barrel fouling between groups)
◦ Barrel temperature was measured and recorded with an infrared thermometer. (~25F increase from ambient temp. after 10 shots)

Rifle: FN SCAR 17S
Trigger: Timney single stage
Scope: Zeiss Conquest 6.5-20 X 50mm
Mount: Bobro 20 MOA quick release
Benchrest: Sinclair
Bags: Protektor
Cases: Winchester - (fully match prepped and weight sorted)
Primers: CCI large rifle (200)
Powder: Ramshot TAC
Bullet: Hornady Z-MAX 168 grain

I'll reserve my thoughts for now and listen to what all of you have to say first. Please feel free to ask any questions.

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Obligatory "Would have been a better grouping without the added weight of the sticker throwing it off", "Would have been a better grouping in the more accurate FDE"

All that aside, thanks for the load data, I shoot 168 but haven't used the Z-Max's.
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That was a very nicely done range report. Inspired me to go out at lunch and buy some Hornaday bullets in fact.

I am sure the rest of yall are thinking what I am too. Just imagine how much tighter those groups could have been had that rifle just been the FDE version........:wink:

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks, everyone, for the replies and questions. I’ll try to answer a few of them and share some of my thoughts as well.

First, I mistakenly wrote 1-10” twist, it is indeed a 1-12”. I intentionally took large jumps in powder to first establish velocity estimates. As you can see, I failed miserably at recording most of the data… I forgot to clear out the memory before I got started. Oops.

The charges with Ramshot TAC above are middle of the road to hot. (I usually like middle of the road and rarely run a max load). And, yes, 1.0 grain jumps are on the wider end of powder adjustments, but in this case capacity, that is reasonable for initial load development. Fine tuning can be done in 0.5 grain increments. I reserve 0.2 grain increment adjustments for small case capacity like the .223 Rem. Conversely, in my .416 Rigby, for example, I usually go with 0.5 to 1.0 grain adjustments (max loads are often over 100 grains).

Truthfully, I think Ramshot TAC is a little too fast burning for the 168 grain bullets. However, I do have a reason for trying to run it: cleanliness. Ramshot TAC and Hodgdon Benchmark are the cleanest burning powders I have shot in a semi-auto rifle. Other potential powers that I have available and are in the line-up are:
-RL 15
-IMR 8208 XBR
-IMR 4895
-IMR 4350
-IMR 3031

An important thing to remember is that load data published in handloading manuals is almost always created using 22” to 24” barrels. It is often forgotten that 16” is a very short barrel for a .308 Win and a tremendous amount of velocity is lost as a result. I think this is especially important to remember for those individuals who are using velocity data written on the box of factory ammo and using that to calculate ballistic tables. The velocity in your 16” barrel is going to be much less than what is printed on the box.

Here are some examples of published data to illustrate velocity loss in a 16” vs 24” barrel. You can roughly estimate a loss between 25 to 50 feet per second for every inch of barrel less than 24”.

Ramshot version 4.3b
(Six 168 gr bullets listed)

Starting Max
1) 40.0 – 2,540 44.5 – 2,773
2) 39.4 – 2,510 43.8 – 2,741
3) 39.7 – 2,524 44.1 – 2,736
4) 39.4 – 2,511 43.7 – 2,730
5) 39.5 – 2,460 43.9 – 2,690
6) 38.7 – 2,414 43.0 – 2,653

Ramshot version 4.5
(only one 168 gr bullet listed)

1) 39.9 – 2,516 44.3 – 2,759

Barnes #4
1) 40.5 – 2,494 43.0 – 2,653

Sierra #7
1) 38.8 – 2,500 42.0 – 2,700

(168 gr and TAC not listed in Ramshot #5.0, Hornady #9, or Nosler #7)

Anyway, that’s all for now. Let me know if you have any other questions.

When I get some time, I will scan and post my results with Berger Hybrid 168 gr bullets with BL-C(2) and IMR 4064. I also did some testing with Hornady 168 gr HPBT and Ramshot TAC.

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Looks good for zombie killin' :?

Nice work, and post. :?

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Thanks for the write up and testing, that's one nice group also. I'm not a reloader yet but over deer season I was shooting some 180 grainers I believe Winchesters and they actually seem to group better than the 168-165 grain hunting loads I was shooting for some reason. You may want to try some heavier bullets just for comparison.
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