The first time I tangled with the 300 PRC it was just being introduced by Hornady ammunition. At that time, the .300 Win. Mag. was being retrofitted into sniper rifles used by the U.S. Army in the ‘sand box.’ However, the latest rage on the internet and in the backcountry at that time was the Norma .300 Magnum. It seemed that every place you looked someone was offering a new high-performance, long-range cartridge of one type or another.
The 300 PRC was an offshoot of this activity, and for the most part, it was a direct link to the 6.5mm PRC, 6mm PRC, and other up-gunned cartridge offerings by Hornady. PRC, as such, stands for Precision Rifle Cartridge. Therefore, the buyer should expect more from this round than what was offered previously by any of the major ammunition manufacturers and designers.
Based on the .375 Ruger necked down to a .30 caliber round, this Hornady development was designed from the rim forward as a do-it-all long-range cartridge. With its long neck measuring 1.12 inches, the cartridge case is capable of accepting any high-performance bullet currently offered. Hornady offers a pair of factory-loaded offerings to compliment handloader bullets for the cartridge in target and big game designs.
When taking on this cartridge, as applied to a current production or custom built rifle, some basic understanding of the cartridge’s ballistics is a must. Flying blind is not the best idea when the ammo costs (even handloaded) are off the charts… and getting hits on steel targets at ranges of 1,500 yards to one mile is in and of itself the work of a serious riflemen.
The skill level for this type of shooting is trained into a shooter and trained hard. The use of specialized ammunition such as the 300 PRC’s ELR bullet makes for a unique experience in long-range shooting. This is not your dad’s old venison-harvesting rifle.
300 PRC Ballistics
While in some cases ballistics is a boring subject, in this area of shooting it is everything. Lacking a solid knowledge of just how your bullet is going to perform is a major mistake, and the shooter is better off staying away from long-range shooting systems all together.
The correct ballistic data can be obtained using special apps that you can get on your smart phone or home computer. You’ll then need to print the information using a filing system covering a variety of loads for your long-range rifle. I use a combination of both. I like to first generate the load data on paper. Then, on a given day, I can plug in the exact weather conditions for the time I will be shooting.
In terms of the 300 PRC, you have a cartridge with a bullet BC of 0.663 (that is very high) and designed by Hornady to perform well both on game, barricade objects in area fire control (military, police) and steel target shooting. I was at the final testing and design review of the Hornady ELD bullet at the point of the projectiles were release to the public.
Few have any idea of the amount of work that goes into a new bullet project. The Hornady ELD, when tacked on to the 300 PRC, is a total work of long-range art. We I first encountered the ELD, I shot it with shooter spotter teams out to 1,500 yards, using .300 Win. Mags at the time. The performance of the bullet was nothing less than outstanding. I have covered this because the exact bullet being used can be a major consideration when pushing bullets into the next county.
Data for a Long Shot
In effect, when shooting long range, a hunter owns a valley. A steel or paper target shooter owns everything out to a mile, sometimes more. At a range of 1,800 yards, the 300 PRC is still above transonic velocities. (1,197 fps). That means the bullet is still stable in flight and clearly quite capable of range extension well beyond a mile. My data base ends at 1,760 yards (one miles), but there is data available being computer generated that shows additional long-range performance patterns as applied to the 300 PRC.
When taking on the 300 PRC, the shooter needs to not only develop the basic ballistics profile of the bullet being used, but also bullet drop and sight adjustments at varied distances. For the most part, the ‘rule of 600’ kicks in here. I wrote this extensively in two of my long range books. It deals with the fact that regardless of the cartridge brand or type, after 600 yards many of them (if not all) start to look a great deal alike in terms of performance.
At the point where the 300 PRC starts to require some extensive click adjustments while using Hornady ammunition with the ELD bullet, is at (or close to) 400 yards. At that point, a dope card (Data of Previous Engagement) needs to be produced, and range settings for your MOA or MRAD scope turret adjustments need to be recorded. The dope card will then be taped to the rifle receiver or stock.
While every range is not required in terms of listing exact scope settings, major distances are. With the 300 PRC, you should have data for each 400-yard segment — as a minimum — to the range limit you intend to shoot. When hunting coyotes and related targets at long ranges, I often mark my exact click adjustments on a dope card for each range from 300–600 yards.
Table Ballistics Calculator: Range one mile. Based on Hornady Ballistics Program.
Trajectory — inches
MOA Up — MILS
For steel target shooting, I rely on my data book which holds my scope turret dope adjustments to a full mile. I have seen a hunting partner make a successful long range varmint shot out to 1,000 yards. The exact ballistics dope was applied using scope click adjustments. I am not saying this is an easy shot, but it is possible by way of the 300 PRC.
The following is a printout I made by way of putting in information for my exact location during a hunt. My elevation was 3,000 feet, which affected the terminal ballistics of my bullet in flight. Air temperature, which is critical, was put into my program illustrated here at 59 degrees F. The colder the air, the more resistance the bullet faces. Compensating for environmental conditions when calculating bullet drop is critical when making a long-range shot.
Here you can see out to about a mile that the 300 PRC can make the trip and do as well as any of the ultra-long-range rifle cartridges. A point in fact is that the 300 PRC carries far less baggage than almost all other cartridges in the category. With that being noted, it blows my mind why the U.S. military did not select this as a go-to sniper cartridge over a foreign brand when applied to combat snipers. The current choice being the Norma .300 Magnum is far more limited in terms of maintaining a steady flow of ammunition available on the battlefield, as well as retaining less ‘bugs’ in the world of internal and external ballistics performance profiles. However, that is in fact a subject best left for another day.
Please be advised that I have tried to take an objective approach to the Hornady 300 PRC, and I know full well that there are ardent fans of many other cartridges that do solid work on targets, as far away as three miles. Every cartridge has its pros and cons, but this Hornady introduction into the world of long-range shooting was developed in response to the increased interest in shooting distance with high-performance rifles.
The 300 PRC is friendly to handload. The cartridge retains good barrel life. It is not over-bored as some others are. By using the .375 Ruger’s parent case pressure, barrel wear is kept to a minimum.
The 300 PRC is recoil friendly in the right rifle. It is offered in both big game conventional hunting rifles and static shooting in chassis long-range rifles. In this area, I shot a Ruger Precision that carried a dry weight of 20.35 pounds, with the long-range Tract Ultra HD Toric 4-20x50mm glass sight. Shooting from a portable benchrest, and a lightweight bag rest, I have put this rifle and paired Hornady ELD fodder through extensive long-range drills including simulated military police barricade and structure/area interdiction.
Are you a long-range shooter? What’s your longest shot? What’s your favorite cartridge for shooting at extended distance? How does the 300 PRC compare to your longe range go-to? Share your answers in the comment section.
Read the full article here