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.204 Ruger, I'm impressed

Discussion in 'Rifle Discussion' started by roknHS, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. roknHS

    roknHS Idaho Member

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    I wanted a dedicated varmint rifle. Thought about the .17 HMR and .17 Mag, but you can't reload for them. Then I checked the .222 Remington and it has similiar but better performance than the .17 Mag. A good Remington 788 in .222 is hard to find and the $200 dollar (1975) rifle now goes for $500 dollars and up.........if you can find a good one. So, I was discussing the alternatives with my son and he comes up with the .204 Ruger as a possible cantidate. I researched the .204 and found it to be most everything I was looking for and more. I watched Gun Broker, Guns America and Gun Auction for a couple of months and found the selection of .204 rifles to be much better than .222 rifles. To my knowledge, Savage is the only manufacturer that still chambers a new rifle in .222 (Savage 25). Quite a few manufacturers are offering the .204 in new models.
    I ended up with a nearly new Savage 11 with a 3-9X40 scope for under $400 bucks. The Savage is a well made no frills (other than the accu-trigger) basic platform that functions well and shoots fantastic. I got some off the shelf Hornady ammo with 32gr V-Max bullets to start with. No problem for me to put 3 shots in a .75" group. My shooting buddy can bring it down to .50" group......he always out shoots me.

    I think, with some good handloads in the 4000fps range this is going to be some great fun. My son has a 22-250 that will have a hard time outshooting the .204.
    The .204 shoots pretty flat out to 400yds before it starts to really fall off. Most of my shots will be under 250yds due to the terrain around here. I know wind can be an issue at long ranges with these light bullets but, the bullet travels so fast the wind has to be pretty substantial to affect much.

    I'm impressed with the .204 round. Little recoil, extremely accurate, reloadable, ammo availability and component availability seems good. Whats not to like.
     
  2. Darkker

    Darkker Mesa, Wa Active Member

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    Don't be surprised if you have to slow down your dreams of 4,000fps. I've had a few 204's, who's best groups aren't running flat-out.
     
  3. roknHS

    roknHS Idaho Member

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    I welcome your experienced advice. I'm not a maximum load, red line all the way, shooter. I load for several calibers from .243 to .300 Win Mag; I look at the Max Load data and try to stay a few hundred feet per second under that. I don't like to stress my firearms and I would rather have less recoil instead of more. The bullets I'm going to try in the .204 range from 26gr to 35gr. I'm not stuck on the 4000fps number but I think moderate rounds should approach that. If they do or don't isn't of consequence really. Accuracy, performance on rodents and coyotes, and affordability of reloading got me interested in the .204. From what I've seen so far, I'm not disappointed, I'm impressed.............. Thanks for the input.
     
  4. erslll

    erslll Hermiston OR Active Member

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    I am loading 39 gr Sierra Blitzkings and 35 gr Berger HP for my 204s. According to my chronograph, the 39 is running about 3500 fps and the 35 is running about 3600 fps. Not very hot loads but very accurate. I really like my 204s.
     
  5. roknHS

    roknHS Idaho Member

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    erslll,
    Glad you have experience with the Sierra Blitzkings. I've been reading more about the bullets and loads guys are using in the .204 and the Sierra bullets are mentioned quite a bit. From what I've read, there is a large following that use the Berger 35gr. The concensus is: They are spendy ($5 - $7 dollars/100 more), very accurate and fur friendly. Many that have experience with a variety of bullet choices, rate the Sierra's number 2 behind the Bergers. Currently I have a few boxes of off the shelf Hornady 32gr V-max loaded ammo. I'm picking up components as I can find them. I have some 32gr Hornady V-max bullets, 26gr Barnes Varmint Grenades and I had to put some Berger 35's on backorder cause I couldn't find them locally. Next time I get to town, I want to see if I can find some Sierra's to look at. I know about the 39gr bullets, is there any other weights you could recommend?
    My Savage rifling is a 1:12 twist. From what I can learn, most feel the 1:12 twist does better stabilizing bullets under 40 gr. Do you have any thoughts on maximum bullet weight?
    My powder inventory options are: Varget, H322, H4895, W748, H4198 and IMR 4198. I'm using CCI 400 small rifle primers and Hornady brass. I've got some Winchester brass on backorder cause I couldn't find it locally.
    I loaded 5 trial rounds with the Barnes 26gr bullets using 28.5gr of W748. Haven't had a chance to try them yet. I'll let you know how they perform compared to factory ammo.
     
  6. oli700

    oli700 Rogue Valley Well-Known Member

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    FWIW it is one of the only rounds I saw on the shelves the entire time this ammo madness was going on so factory loads should be easy to come by
     
  7. captqc

    captqc Tigard Silver Supporter Silver Supporter

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  8. roknHS

    roknHS Idaho Member

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    Thanks captqc.
    Good site........lots of good info..........
     
  9. erslll

    erslll Hermiston OR Active Member

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    Agreed that the Bergers do seem to be one of the most popular bullets and they are a little more expensive but they have been just about impossible to find anywhere for a year or so. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to shoot a coyote with them but everyone does seem to like them for that purpose. The Blitzking is also very popular, cheaper and available. I picked up a box of 500 about a month ago. Haven't been able to try them on a coyote either. The 204 is a great coyote round but I haven't been using mine for that purpose lately. I did use some factory 40 gr VMAX on them and the performance was outstanding. No fur damage at all. You might be able to find a 204 diameter entry hole and that was it. No exit at all if hit well.

    I think in order to shoot anything heavier than a 40 gr, you would need a faster twist barrel like a 1:10. I have never had much interest in that as it seems to defeat the purpose of the 204.

    I use Benchmark powder in all my 204 reloads. I would guess that W748 would work fine. That is the powder I use for my 223 reloads and it sure does meter well. Honestly, I haven't tried any other powder for 204. I will say that I tried reloading some 40 gr VMAX with Benchmark and didn't get very good results out of either of my guns. Maybe with a different powder but, for simplicity reasons, I have been trying to stick with one powder per caliber. Since I have very good loads for Bergers and Blitzkings, I think I can do without the VMAX. Now I just need to get rid of some VMAXs. :)
     
  10. roknHS

    roknHS Idaho Member

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    Thanks erslll,
    Your experience is valuable to me. I haven't had a chance to try the Barnes loads. I've been sitting here in a fog bank for the last 5 days. I've been out coyote calling a couple of times. I could have been surrounded with yotes and never would have known............couldn't see past 60yds.
    I never planned to shoot bullets heavier than 40gr. Like you said, a faster rifling twist would be needed for stabilization. I know this Savage 11 will shoot the 32gr. factory loads very well so, I'll probably stick with those until I can get some Berger 35's. I did have some concern about ruining fur with the V-Max bullets............not so much after your comments. Thanks for you input.
     
  11. broncman

    broncman E. of Portland yet to close! Quality Control!

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    I know you already have the 204 but was wondering why the the 223 wasn't mentioned? You stated yourself that you do most shots at 250 yards or under.
     
  12. Backfire

    Backfire Tualatin, OR Active Member

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    I had the opportunity to try a friend's .204 and I was favorably impressed. One of my .222 rifles has had a great many rounds through it, and I considered rebarreling it. If so, I will choose the .204 as a chambering. I have other .22 centerfire varminters, but the .204 looks like it would be fun to handload and my local retailer has a supply of Hornady 32-gr. bullets.
     
  13. roknHS

    roknHS Idaho Member

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    broncman,
    I like the .223 cartridge. The first centerfire I bought for my son was a .223 and he killed his first deer and may coyotes with the rifle. He still uses it 15 years later.

    When I decided to get a dedicated varmint rifle, my criteria was accuracy, fast, flat shooting and affordable reloading. The .223 is certainly a cantidate based on my criteria. The .222 was my first thought as it was the bench rest shooting competition champion for some 20 years. On an accuracy level (and some may argue), the .222 cartridge beats the .223's, .17's, .22-250 and so on. All are good cantidates and many choose them for one reason or another; I really wanted the .222 because it was the accuracy champion for so may years. After looking for a couple of months, I decided there really wasn't much of a selection of good used .222 cantidates out there for sale. The .204 is based off the .222 Remington Magnum cartridge, which is based off the .222. It shoots flatter, faster and in my opinion is a more accurate cartridge than most of the other "varmint calibers" that are availble today. I'm sure my opinion will cause some to come to the defense of their favorite caliber varmint or target rifle but, it is my opinion.
    I said most of my shots will be under 250 yards. That doesn't mean I don't want to shoot out at 400 yards or even 500 on occasion. I see coyotes on my place at those distances from time to time.
    So, I didn't mention the .223 because my focus was on the .222 initially. I eventually expanded my view and ended up settling on the .204...........and I'm glad I did.

    Missed a coyote at about 250yds this morning.......I don't think it would have mattered what caliber bullet or what stamp was on the case.........cold, fog and enough wind to make my eyes water and blurr. I missed him at around 4000fps............but it was fun.
     
  14. erslll

    erslll Hermiston OR Active Member

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    That is a fast coyote but totally believable. They are fast animals.


    :cool: