• Hornady .30-06 Custom Rifle & Light Mag Ammunition Review

    Having recently acquired a Savage Model 114W chambered in .30-06 Springfield and hunting season approaching fast, I thought it would be beneficial to our readers to provide an ammunition comparison for this caliber geared towards deer hunting. The .30-06 Springfield cartridge is considered by many to be the tried and true, old reliable cartridge for hunting most species of medium to large game in the continental United States.

    In preparation for this review, several ammunition manufacturers were contacted to participate, but Hornady was the only major manufacturer to oblige my request. Most everybody knows the Hornady name, and that they have a great reputation for quality and accuracy. Hornady offers a very extensive line of ammunition covering everything from custom match ammo to hard hitting hunting loads. Simply put, there isnt much Hornady doesn't offer ammo for.

    As mentioned above, the test rifle for this review is my recently acquired Savage Model 114W. It is equipped with a factory Turkish walnut stock that has been glass bedded and fitted with a LimbSaver recoil pad. Fred Moreo of Sharp Shooter Supply timed and trued up the action, and also installed one of his Competition triggers. The rifle is topped with a Leupold Vari-X II 3-9X40mm Tactical scope with a mil-dot reticle.

    For the test, Hornady send eight boxes of .30-06 ammo; four boxes loaded with 150gr. bullets, and four boxes loaded with 165gr. bullets. This consisted of 2 boxes of each weight, and two different lines: their Light Magnum and Custom Rifle.

    Hornady's Light Magnum ammunition delivers more energy, flatter trajectory and up to 200 fps faster velocities than standard ammo without the additional heat or pressure associated with conventional magnums. A special cool-burning powder and a new loading technique make it possible, and features premium Hornady bullets with the original Interlock ring.

    The Custom Rifle ammunition offers you more consistency and accuracy than standard ammo. This ammunition is manufactured to the tightest production tolerances in the industry with select components and the best Hornady bullets available. Hornady technicians say that nine times out of 10, it will out perform ammo produced by the average reloader.

    The ammo tested showed no sign of feed problems, as there were no hang ups or extraction troubles. While the brass wasn't highly polished, and some cases had a slick substance on them, all were free of dents and other noticeable defects. Every round fired flawlessly, though some did prove to be somewhat smokey as result of the powder used in the particular load and nothing that would detract from its performance.

    As you can see, some of the ammo shot relatively well, but none offered groups to get overly excited about. For minute-of-whitetail however, all would have provided acceptable accuracy to ensure the bullet landed in the kill zone assuming the shooter does his part.

    The SST bullets tended to be more accurate than the Inter-Bonds overall, but also proved to be slightly slower. The Light Magnum ammunition produced consistently higher velocity numbers with both bullets, but also produced more felt recoil than the Custom Rifle variety.

    In the 150gr bullet category, the Custom Rifle load with a SST bullet would be my choice for optimum accuracy. For the 165gr category, The Custom Rifle and SST combo again takes honors for accuracy. The increased accuracy of these two loads far outweighs what little advantage they may be giving up in velocity, and the SST bullets are proven performers when it comes to stopping game dead in its tracks.

    While none of the loads tested provided minute-of angle accuracy with my particular rifle, I feel they performed quite well for factory loads. For those who do not handload their own ammunition, or find themselves in a pinch on their next hunt, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of the above mentioned Hornady loads.

    Ammo Review Reminder:
    While we always include accuracy and results in our testing of any ammunition, we want to remind our readers that each individual firearm will have it's own unique preference when it comes to ammo. For that reason we remind you not to read too much into the accuracy results for ammo tested in a particular firearm or judge it solely based on what the targets look like. The author could have been having an off day, the conditions could have been poor, or possibly that particular firearm just didn't like that particular ammo. For that reason we suggest you place more weight on the included bullet run-out and/or chronograph data (when available) which is a better gauge of the consistency and quality of the ammunition.

    Hornady Manufacturing Co.
    P.O. Box 1848
    Grand Island, NE 68802
    (308) 382-1390

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