A few months ago I took my DPMS Panther LRT-SASS – their .308 configured as a sniper system (my version is chambered in 7.62 NATO) – to the range to sample eight ammunition vendors in the hopes to find standout factory rounds. It was a mild day with minimal wind and good visibility. I mated a Nightforce 3.5-15 x 50 NXS the LR308 and headed to the range. There were only a few other shooters that day at Bell City Rifle Club in Southington Connecticut – a bit of a hike for me, but an excellent private club that is well maintained and has one of longer shooting distances around.
I used Hoppes 100 yard sight in targets, dividing up the target into four quadrants – two targets, four rounds each cleanly works out to eight groups. Five shots taken off the bench using a bipod created the results that follow. While I am not claiming to be expert, I am capable of consistent shot placement.
The eight brands and round specifications follow. The chart below compares each ammunition across published bullet weight, muzzle velocity and muzzle velocity sorted by bullet weight, low to high (left to right). Bullet weights ranged from 147-180 grains. Remember that on the small end we have the Winchester 7.62 NATO round which makes it an outlier.
A. Winchester 7.62 NATO – 147 grain Full Metal Jacket
B. Nosler Custom Competition – 168 grain
C. Silver State Armory (SSA) – 175 grain Sierra OTM
D. Hornady Match – 168 grain A-MAX
E. Federal Premium Gold Medal Match – 168 grain Sierra MatchKing BTHP
F. Black Hills Gold – 180 grain Nosler AccuBond
G. PPU Prvi partisan Match Line – 175 grain FMJ BT
H. Fiocchi Exacta Rifle Match – 175 grain Sierra MatchKing
The rifle was sighted in with the Winchester round (7.62 NATO) which is firing a much lighter bullet when compared to the rest of group. This may have contributed to the results seen below.
Subsequent shots focused on getting a five round group on paper to measure the spread. The crosshairs on each target was at the center of each of the dotted line boxes.
To arrive at the following results if there was an obvious flyer I ignored it and took the remaining four bullets as the cluster.
2” – A. Winchester 7.62 NATO – 147 grain Full Metal Jacket
1/2” – B. Nosler Custom Competition – 168 grain
1/2” – C. Silver State Armory (SSA) – 175 grain Sierra OTM
1” – D. Hornady Match – 168 grain A-MAX
1” – E. Federal Premium Gold Medal Match – 168 grain Sierra MatchKing BTHP
1” – F. Black Hills Gold – 180 grain Nosler AccuBond
1” – G. PPU Prvi partisan Match Line – 175 grain FMJ BT
1/2” – H. Fiocchi Exacta Rifle Match – 175 grain Sierra MatchKing
The top three picks ended up being Nosler, SSA and Fiocchi with the Nosler Custom Competition being noticeably tighter than the rest. Below is a chart comparing the shot group and cost of the ammunition. There is no correlation suggesting a more expensive round will necessarily beget accuracy. Each of the top three are in the neighborhood of $1.50 per round. The biggest disappointment was the Black Hills ammunition as it is a premium round made by a great company that many swear by, but on this day it did not deliver.
The best part of a range day like this one is that its worth going and repeating. It would be interesting to see if this analysis matches the experiences of other owners of the DPMS Panther LR308.