What it takes to ring steel well beyond the mile mark
The world of extreme long range (ELR) shooting is alive and well. This sector of riflery specializes in hitting targets beyond 1,000 yards, a concept considered extreme just a few short years ago. Now, however, breaking the 1,000-yard barrier is common so we look to the next shooting frontier: 2,000 yards. Given the rifles and equipment available today, hitting targets at this distance is difficult but not impossible. Here’s a short list of steps to take to make it happen.
Pick The Right Cartridge
Lots of cartridges are capable of hitting a target 2,000 yards away, but some make it easier than others. My top pick is the .300 PRC. Hornady designed this cartridge around a special operations requirement of achieving a 50-percent hit rate on a man-sized piece of steel at 2,000 yards. It is the only cartridge designed with this specific goal in mind.
What makes the .300 PRC special is the design puts a long, pointy bullet in a magnum-sized case without pushing the bullet inside the case and into the gunpowder. Most long-range cartridges do that and the result is the gunpowder can bend the bullet when it ignites, destroying accuracy needed for hits at long range. The .300 PRC bullet is also big enough that the shooter can spot impacts near the target to make adjustments for follow-up shots. Smaller bullets can get to 2,000 yards just fine, but they don’t move enough dirt with a miss to make spotting impacts possible.
For Best Results, Handload
Factory ammunition isn’t loaded with enough precision to get consistent hits at 2,000 yards. Sure, it can be done, but it’ll take a lot of shooting to get there. If the goal is to just get the occasional hit, factory ammunition will suffice. Consistent hits will require handloaded ammunition.
When loading ammunition for targets at 2,000 yards, the best bullet choices are Hornady’s 230-grain A-Tip and Berger’s 220-grain Hybrid Target. Both bullets have the aerodynamics required to quickly make it to 2,000 yards and the proven performance at these ranges to yield the expected results.
The brass cartridge cases are also important. Choose a case from one of the premium brass manufacturers because they will have the most consistent internal volume and create the most consistent velocity. For .300 PRC shooters, the best cases are available from ADG and Lapua (in that order).
Rifles Up To The Task
Choosing a rifle for target shooting at 2,000 yards requires some consideration. The rifle doesn’t have to be expensive if shooting at this distance occurs occasionally or non-competitively. My top pick for a good rifle that isn’t obscenely expensive would be the Ruger RPR in .300 PRC. Once the barrel has a couple hundred rounds on it, refine the load development and hit those long-range targets!
If the rifle in question will accompany the shooter to ELR matches, then it’s time to shoot the lock off your wallet and get a rifle that can handle the abusive environment that comes with the territory. ELR matches can require lots of firing from these big magnum cartridges. That generates a lot of heat and, with that heat, comes parts failure. Extractors breaking is a common occurrence. Also, triggers see a lot of exposure to blowing dust and trigger failure is common. The best way to avoid issues is to focus on rifles that were designed to operate in harsh environments, like premium sniper rifles. I’ve had great luck with the Accuracy International AXSR and I’ve seen the Sako TRG and Barrett MRAD also do well.
Hitting a 36-inch by 36-inch steel plate at 2,000 yards is a tall order, but it’s definitely doable. Having the right equipment is the first step, the second step is learning how to use it. Take the advice above and you’ll be well on your way.
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