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How to Pick the Best PRC Caliber For You?

If you're seeking the ultimate PRC experience, I recommend testing all three Hornady creations to find the one, two, or three that will become the perfect addition to your gun safe. 

How to Pick the Best PRC Caliber For You?

I got a bug this summer. I call it the PRC Bug. It snuck up and bit me. Frankly, this is one sickness I don't want to eliminate. I'm a bowhunter by nature, but also an opportunist. When my daughter contracted a severe illness in July, I knew disappearing into the Rockies for 10 days at a time to bowhunt elk wasn't an option.

Browning's Director of Marketing and Communications, Rafe Nielsen, had sent me Browning's X-Bolt Mountain Pro Tungsten chambered in 6.5 PRC for an October pronghorn hunt, which got the wheels in my brain turning. I started testing and tinkering — trying to decide if the caliber would be suitable for a Colorado rifle elk tag I had in hand. 

banging-steel-with-65-prc

The 6.5 PRC

Hornady launched the 6.5 PRC early in 2018. Spitting a 143-grain ELD-X bullet 250 fps faster than the 6.5 Creedmoor and hitting a muzzle velocity close to 3,000 fps, this cartridge raised many eyebrows.

Here's where we could dive deeply into ballistics and overall build. We will keep it to a minimum. In short, the 6.5 PRC has a 1:8 twist rate to ensure maximum stabilization for longer bullets, and the 30-degree shoulder promises remarkable head spacing and excellent feeding in a short-action magazine.  The cartridge shoots like a magnum caliber with significantly less recoil, and the longer bullet ensures long-range accuracy. 

I topped my Browning X-Bolt Mountain Pro Tungsten with a Leupold VX-3HD 4.5-14x40 scope and started testing different ammo types. My go-to was Federal's Custom Shop Terminal Ascent 130-grain bullet. I liked the 3,025 fps muzzle velocity and was still getting over 1,800 foot-pounds of energy at 300 yards. At 500 yards, the energy falls to 1,385 ft-lbs. 

I could have gone with a heavier-grain bullet like Hornady's 6.5 PRC 143-gr. ELD-X Precision Hunter. I tested this ammunition and had excellent results, but my groups at 200 and 300 yards were tighter with the 130-grain Terminal Ascent. Knowing my terrain and that I would be hunting in September and calling to rutting bulls, I planned to limit my killing distance to 325 yards. After shooting 75 rounds, the Browning X-bolt combined with a Leupold scope and Federal Custom Shop ammo filled me with confidence. I was getting sub-MOA accuracy to 350 yards and clanging steel to 600 yards. I firmly believe that faith in your gear trumps everything when hunting.

65-prc-federal-terminal-ascent-130-grain

The 6.5 PRC Result

I caught the 4x5 bull and his harem of cows atop a cedar-sprinkled plateau. The range was 302 yards, and I was dead steady on my BOG DeathGrip Infinite Carbon Fiber Tripod. I stopped the bull with a single cow call, centered my crosshairs in the middle of the bull's nearside lung, and squeezed. 

The bull buckled at the shot, made a short death sprint and collapsed. Upon inspection, the Terminal Ascent bullet caused massive trauma to the nearside lung and exploded the off-side lung. I dug the bullet from the bull's side, just under the hide, and discovered a perfectly uniformed expansion.

Is the 6.5 PRC the ultimate elk rifle? No. If you're a serious elk fanatic, a larger caliber rifle and heavier grain bullet would be a better choice. However, if you set your limitations, have spent time on the range, and know you can put the bullet where you want it, it's a highly effective all-around caliber.

65-prc-bull

The 7MM PRC

My 2023 elk journey was far from over, and I became addicted to banging steel and getting more precise as a shooter.

After receiving Browning's X-Bolt Speed LR chambered in 7mm PRC, a long-action rifle, and topping it with Leupold's VX-5 HD 3-15x44, I returned to work on the range. My ammunition of choice was Federal's 7MM PRC Terminal Ascent 155-grain. I had been so impressed with the accuracy of the Terminal Ascent in 6.5 PRC that I had to give it a go in this rifle. Producing a chronograph muzzle velocity of 3,096 feet per second, I banged steel to 800 yards with remarkable consistency.

The 7mm PRC bullet is long, sleek, and posts a ballistic coefficient of .586. Another Hornady jaw-dropper, the 7mm PRC, slings a heavier bullet with the same remarkable accuracy as the 6.5 PRC but with more energy retention at longer ranges. Zeroed at 200 yards, my Browning X-Bolt LR and Terminal Ascent ammo produced a drop of 17.1 inches at 400 yards and 33.9 inches at 500 yards.

Recommended


on-the-bench-with-the-7mm-prc

The 7MM PRC Result

When hunting, I always consider my quarry, the terrain, and the estimated shot distance. For this hunt in ultra-open terrain in canyons lined by steep cap rock, my opportunity would likely be more than 400 yards.

As with my 6.5 PRC hunt, I didn't have the time to send my CDS Dial into Leupold and get back a dial-to-the-yard turret. Instead, I did more shooting, more testing, and created my dope card. It was old school, I guess, but I was achieving MOA accuracy to my furthest tested distance of 800 yards.

My mentor and great friend Bill Seamans was along with me on this hunt. Bill is an elk-hunting wizard, and my goal, because I already tagged a bull, was to get Bill an opportunity. Minutes into the first morning of our hunt, high atop a rock-wall canyon, we pulled a trio of bulls across the open prairie. The wind was calm, and the loud cow whines from my Black Magic Bugling Bull Diaphragm did the trick. We had time. The bulls came slowly and methodically, and after taking multiple ranges, I knew our closest shot would be less than 450 yards.

Bill was prone on my Alps Elite Frame Pack when the bull stopped at 467 yards. I reached up, turned the scope’s dail, and Bill squeezed. The bull leapt forward and then piled up.

federal-terminal-ascent-155-grain-7mm-prc-on-elk-hide

Quickly trading places, I jumped on the rifle, stopped the second bull at a tick under 500 yards, dialed again, and the X-Bolt thundered. The bull was perfectly broadside, and knowing I would be packing close to 2,000 ft-lbs of energy at this distance, I settled the crosshairs high on the shoulder and squeezed. The bull never took another step.

I can't tell you how impressed I was with this long-range combination. The Browning X-Bolt Speed LR features an adjustable comb-height stock for ideal stock-to-scope eye alignment, and the 26-inch fluted, sporter contour barrel is a nightmare for long-range critters.

Later in the fall, I took a 562-pound Colorado black bear with this same setup, and the bear didn't take a single step. I hate to spoil the ending because we have one more PRC hunt to go, but if I had to choose one caliber for the rest of my hunting days, it would be the 7mm PRC.

7mm-prc-bull

The 300 PRC

There's no arguing the facts. The .300 Winchester Magnum is America's favorite long-action cartridge. I've never fired a .300 Win. Mag., so I won't praise it, nor will I knock it. What I do know is that I'm a PRC lover, and I couldn't wait to test Hornaday's Precision Hunter 300 PRC 212 gr. ELD-X on my final elk hunt of 2023.

For you history buffs, the cartridge was developed when the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) asked the ammunition world to create a caliber that would give its snipers 2,000-yard range accuracy on a human-sized target. With a throat length and diameter tighter than any wildcat cartridges, the 300 PRC boasts a case head size of .532 inches to ensure perfect chambering every time. Again, I'm not a ballistic scientist and don't spend my days in a lab. I'm a hunter, and when I see a caliber developed for long-range snipers, I notice.

Shooting another Browning X-Bolt build, I found this caliber paired with Hornady's Precision Hunter ammunition to be a long-range tack driver. For the first time in my life, I rang steel at 1,002 yards.

picture-of-300-prc

The 300 PRC Result

After a few days of hard hunting and extraordinary encounters, I found the bull I sought. Hunting with my good buddy and owner of Purgatoire Outfitters, Jay Waring, we crept in on a late rut fest. The herd bull, a 300-inch 6x6, was working hard to keep his harem under guard. Trying to foil his breeding party was a lesser 6x6 and heavy-horned 5x5.

We didn't call one time. The bugling and the horns clashing allowed us to use the terrain and slip in tight. While I could have taken either of the smaller bulls under 100 yards, we waited for them to vanish into the timber and for the herd bull to appear across the rocky wash. The range was 376 yards, and again, I opted for a high-shoulder shot. The 212-grain ELD-X bullet hit with loads of force and dropped the big-bodied bull in his tracks. If you're looking for the ultimate big-game caliber for large, heavy-boned animals, the 300 PRC is the logical choice, and the ELD-X bullets make for an excellent duo.

It was a fall to remember, and I will forever be grateful to Hornady for producing three exceptional, accurate calibers that served my needs remarkably well. I have no doubt any of them will fill your freezer and your trophy room. As to which one is right for you, only you can make that choice. Remember, each will get the job done, but consider the animal you're hunting the terrain, and the likely shot distance you will have when the moment of truth finds you.

300-prc-bull



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