Hornady A-MAX and Nosler Ballistic Tip .308

Posted: March 13, 2014 in Product Reviews
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This is a brief review of the Hornady A-MAX and Nosler Ballistic Tip rounds (168 gr.) in .308.  Both rounds are reputed to be highly accurate and suitable for a variety of hunting applications.  My personal interest was how well each shot in a semi-supported position in a hypothetical perimeter-defense scenario using my Sig 716 Patrol.  Since my ACOG was zeroed (at 100m) with 168 gr. Winchester Match, I also want to get an idea of how various .308 rounds in the same weight shoot relative to this ‘reference’ round, including a rough measure of how they are affected by wind.

In previous testing, I found that SSA shot significantly lower at 100 yards and was dramatically affected by wind relative to the Winchester Match.  Barnes Vortex was slightly lower and somewhat less affected.

Environment

I shot a small sample of each round at Fusion Tactical Range.  Stations were setup at 100 yards and I shot from a bipod support on a slightly uneven table.  I had to sit on two sandbags to maintain a somewhat uncomfortable firing position.  However, we don’t get to choose the timing of the Zombie Apocalypse, so it is necessary to make do with whatever is available at the time.

I began the session at approximately 1:30 in the afternoon. The sun was in my eyes and to the right.  Wind was directly in my face.  I did not measure wind speed as I have little expectation of having the means to gauge exact wind speed and direction in future hunting or defensive situations.  The wind coming over the trees no doubt caused unpredictable swirling around the berm and target area.  I expected shots to be a bit low, so I made a couple reference shots for each round and then tried to compensate with old-fashioned Kentucky windage in actual target shots.

I setup an 8″ orange gong target and two Zombie targets.  The Zombie head was inclined at approximately a 45-degree angle and measured 6.5″ in length and 4″ in width.

Hornady A-MAX

hornady

I loaded a single round of the A-MAX and took a shot at the orange gong.  Since I expected the show to be a bit low, I wanted some sort of reference for measuring.  So, I placed the top line of the ACOG right across the top of the gong where it connects with the metal support.  The wind seemed to die down to almost nothing just before firing.

The round felt very good when I squeezed off the shot.  Dane, the Fusion RSO, was spotting for me with his rifle scope and he said, “I think you got it.”  Neither of us had sufficient magnification for a detailed view of the result, especially with the angle of the sun.  So, it was time for a trek downrange.

You can see where the round impacted in this photo.

gong1

The metal support was bent at an almost 90-degree angle.  It actually snapped off when I took the target back to my car.  Here is a view from the other side.

gong2

The marks are from 230 gr. .45 rounds at 25 yards from a prior practice session.  The .45 rounds hardly made the gong move, but the .308 A-MAX retired it for good 🙂

Next, I loaded two rounds and took ‘reference’ shots at the Zombie head.  Point of aim was approximately center of the head, as best I could see with the angle of the sun and the incredibly bright green display from the ACOG BDC.  I placed the top line of the BDC as best as I could see between the eyes and aimed just to the right of the eye area.  The first two shots are the yellow marks.  They were slightly low, as expected from the wind, and separated a bit from the biped wobble.

Unfortunately, none of us could see the shots in detail.  I really need to invest in a good spotting scope.  So, it was a 200-yard walk for me after every two or three shots.  After returning to my station, I took two sets of three shots.  I over-compesated for wind on the first three (the ones at the top of the head) and did a better job on the second three.

target1

The A-MAX rounds have a very good feel and recoil was such that I could get back on target pretty quickly, even without having a solid shooting platform.

Nosler Ballistic Tip

nosler

By this time in the afternoon, the sun angle was becoming very annoying.  I wanted to give the Nosler rounds at least six shots for comparison, so I ran through the same drill with the second Zombie target.  The two ‘reference’ shots were the same point of aim and impacted at the low chin and shoulder area.  The latter was a poor shot by me since I squeezed the trigger just as one of the sandbags I was sitting on started to slip.  So, my general observation was that these rounds are almost completely unaffected by the wind at the time.

I loaded and then fired two sets of two rounds.  Two ended up right between the eyes, but not on subsequent shots.  The other two were just a bit low, but that was more a case of me struggling with the sun and an uneven shooting and sitting platform.  The target was taped on and the swirling wind had started to loosen it, so it was time to quit.

target2

These rounds had a noticeable kick and really rocked my relatively heavy Sig 716.

In summary, I believe both of these rounds are keepers.  Now that I understand how they shoot, I’ve loaded up a couple mags of each.  I suppose if faced with a Zombie hoard, I would tend towards the A-MAX since I could get back on target faster and I really liked the feel of this round.  If I had to make one shot on either HogZilla or MegaZombie, I would probably use the Nosler.

After I test some more rounds and narrow my selections down to a small set, I hope to provide chronograph data and results at distances in excess of 100 yards.

Thanks for stopping by Texas Gun Show Review and if you have direct experience with either of these rounds, please leave a comment for others who may be interested.

–  Diligencia, Vis, Celeritas

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