Let The Hunting Season Preparations Begin

Written by Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks

Well here we are again. Deer season. Elk season. Hunting season period, however you want to spell it. The best time of the year. The anticipation of time spent in the field. The memories of seasons past. The camaraderie of hunting camp, or as with our crew, the opening morning breakfast. Then the actual successful hunt itself.

This year like most years the time has approached so swiftly that I am not even sure what gun that I want to hunt with. I asked Paul, one of the other SiHunters_Prayererra Tech’s this question. Why can’t we be satisfied with the gun and load that we used last year?

His answer was simply, Because we are gun people.

The rifle and load of last year still shoots just as well but, I want to try something different. I have been accused of having a malady called “RTD.” If you are not aware, that stands for “Rifle Trader’s Disease.” It seems that every year I trade or buy something different to hunt with.

When trying to decide what I want to try, I have a few things that I always consider. Where will I be hunting this year? What are the distances that I anticipate? What rifle have I not hunted with yet?

At this point I still have time to work up loads and confirm scope zeroes.  I will have to make that annual trip to the gun shop and see what catches my eye. If nothing happens I may have to go back to “Ol’ Reliable” from last year. Of course this is part of the hunt. If we only loaded and shot what we needed, we wouldn’t shoot much at all. That would make life pretty boring.

Now, let’s see….. Will it be a .270 this year? Maybe a .250 Savage? Or I could just pull out the ol’ -06 again. Well…… I’m not sure yet, but I can say this – whatever you plan to hunt with, it is time to tune it up and get it sighted in. If you need help with trajectories or loading issues, give us a call at 1-800-223-8799.

Gone Huntin’

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Personal Defense Ammo for a 38Spec

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin

This is a continuation of my last post giving my results from my 1911 chambered in 45ACP. I’ll be reporting on my Smith & Wesson Model 10 chambered in 38Spec with a snubbie barrel and it was a tough go, but I have picked a winner from our lineup to use in it.

#8325 Sierra 140 gr JHPThe first bullet I found when I initially purchased this firearm was Sierra’s 140 gr jacketed hollow point #8325 and it shot very well for me. Even though it gave me accuracy, I never could get any kind of velocity from it. My accuracy load only gave 750fps, but I never pushed it over 800. At 750fps, it didn’t expand at all through my water test as you can see in the photo. After the initial examination, I picked out the layers of jug plastic from the hollow point cavity. It went through and stopped in the 6th jug for a whopping total of 27” or so worth. Needless to say, it wasn’t going to work for the job of self defense, so I had to find another.

#8300 110 gr JHP BlitzWhen I considered another (preferably a lighter one), I did look over Sierra’s  125gr JHP #8320 but decided to go all the way to the lightest one we offer. Sierra’s 110gr JHP Blitz #8300 bullet was going to be the choice test subject for this firearm. I was able to test a few powders but none gave the accuracy I wanted or the velocity I needed (or thought I needed) from it except one. The velocity I hoped to achieve was 1,100fps and I was able to but I had better accuracy from a load that gave 1,050fps and actually gave an exact replica of bullet expansion as the faster velocity did so I kept it at the lower charge. The bullet you see stopped in the third jug so it went around 12” or so. It expanded to a 0.6” diameter and retained 100% of its weight. Needless to say, I have found a winner.

On a side note, there have been shooters call and ask what kind of velocity loss they will see from this length barrel compared to data specs. Of the velocities I chronographed from my firearm compared to several other sources, here is the rundown. From a 7.7” test barrel, I found a 300-350fps loss; from a 6” test barrel, I found a 180-200fps loss; and from a 4” test barrel, I found a 60-90fps loss depending on what manual I was looking in. Unfortunately, this is not set in stone and your results may vary but you could use this as a rule of thumb if you like.

In conclusion, I am going to use Sierra’s 110gr JHP Blitz #8300 Blitz bullet from my backup but please remember you may not get the same velocities from your firearm as I did. If your gun also has a short barrel and is not rated for +P loads, you definitely won’t so don’t push it. I may do another post on how this bullet works at slower velocities as well as how our heavier bullets work at faster velocities.

Till next time, have fun shooting.


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Usable Hunting Zeros

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Rich Machholz

I don’t know how many times a week I get asked my opinion about what constitutes the best zero for a hunting rifle.

Sometimes the question is “if I am zeroed at 25 yards where will I be at 100?”.  Or “if I am zeroed 3 inches high at 100 where will I be at 50?”  And then again it might be “I want to be zeroed for 300, how high should I be at 100?”

Of course there are several things that effect this and one is anticipated range.  Obviously the caller has something in mind because there is a stated range.  Maybe it is lack of practice yardage, lack of time or lack of knowledge but we can fix this.

We know that the vast majority of deer are harvested at less than 100 yards, usually substantially less.  But that buck of a lifetime may present itself on the far side of the field and that is about 300 yards so we need to take that into consideration also.  So what are we to do?  Here is my advice formed from several notable mistakes made by friends and me personally in the field.

First Scenario – I’m going to a western state and anticipate long shots so I zeroed for 300 yards.  I practiced diligently and felt suitably proficient in my ability to take a 300 yard shot.  So I get to my destination and head off into the game fields.  I’m sneaking around in stealth mode and right there in front of me is the buck I came for no more than 75 yards away.  An easy shot in any state except the state I was in.  The heart area was obscured by sage brush and I had only a  high shoulder shot available.  Piece of cake at this distance.  I had a decent rest available that I used and carefully took aim being sure to slide my shot just over the top of the sage for a spine shot.  I took the shot and the deer disappeared unscathed!  I missed?  Yup, shot right over his back, never touched a hair.  How could that have happened?  Easy!  I was at least 3 inches high at that distance and I didn’t account for it in the amount of time I had to make the shot.  Had I had access to the vital heart or even lung area the shot would have been successful albeit not where I thought it should have gone.  The good part is I never touched the majestic buck.  The moral to this story is I changed my zero that afternoon to an  inch high at 100 yards and collected a very nice buck the next day.  The distance?  About 80 yards.

Scenario two – We are zeroed very carefully at 200 yard here in Missouri.  It is a solid zero as evidenced by multiple targets fired at various distance at longer and shorter distances.  Our altitude is just under 1000 feet about sea level at the range we were shooting.  We get to where we are going to hunt and all we have presented are long shoots on open prairie.  Uh oh, no way to get closer and the range finder is reading 327 yards.  What to do?  We have a 200 yard zero, no problem just hold mid-body right behind the shoulder and let ‘er rip.  Boom, I see the bullet hit mid-body right next to the shoulder.  Three steps and down right there.  Although a successful shot I asked where did you hold, right where you told me mid-body, was the answer.  No way, this isn’t a fire breathing magnum and the range read was good why was this little gun so flat?  Then it dawned on me, we’re at 8000 feet and the trajectory is flatter at 8000 than it is at 1000 for sure.

Big Buck Deer

Mike Machholz’ 270 w/130 grain SBT GameKings® zeroed at 200 yards accounted for this nice white tail at 125 yards in 2014.

Scenario three – I’ve got my brush gun and it carries a tried and true 100 yard zero.  I can hit a gnat at 100 paces, no problem.  So here I am enjoying a nice sunshiny day on the north side of a cut bean field on a very beautiful November day.  Being careful to stay among the trees but not really sneaking along.  I catch movement about 250 yards away on the other side of the field.  I lean against a tree and get a steady look with my binoculars. It is a very nice white tail buck, head down obviously following a hot scent.  All I can do is watch.  I’d have to hold over his back to even consider this shot and there is no way I could be certain I could make a successful shot at that distance with that rifle zeroed that way.  I carefully ducked into the trees and headed in the direction the buck was traveling.  I had the wind but he had the light.  Knowing that I hustled to the end of the  field to intercept him in his amorous blindness where I could cut the range to a very doable 75 yards.  Apparently the buck knew that to and failed to show.

The answer to all three of these scenarios is simple, a 200 yard zero.  Almost any unbelted hunting cartridge that produces at least 2600 fps with your chosen hunting load will benefit from this.  Basically you will be about an inch high at 50 yards and 2 inches high at 100 yards and 8 inches low at 300 yards.

Posted in Hunting Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

2015 Michigan Multi-Gun Championship

Written by Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant

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I just had the pleasure of attending the Michigan Multi-Gun Championship in Brighton, Michigan on the 19th (ROs) and 20th of September. Held at a private gun club called the Livingston Gun Club, this range is surrounded by homes just a short distance away. Consequently, any of the ranges that centerfire will be shot on has baffles overhead to make sure there are no stray bullets escape the bays. There is one 100 yard range but the firing line is under baffles. You would expect a range as condensed as this range is to be a poor set-up for a 3 gun match but these guys really made it work. I was really impressed at how good the stages were and with a lot of targets in a small area . Some of the targets, were your choice of which firearm you wanted to use. The downfall was the noise. Nearly every AR there had a comp on it and under the baffles and roof, you better make sure your fillings in your teeth were solid or some of those guns concussion would shake them loose. One of the stages even had a shoot room that was all rifle and had targets hanging upside down from the ceiling and some in the near darkness of a room.

All prizes were awarded by random drawing and there was a rifle, uppers, scopes and a host of other good prizes. Brian Butcher won Open, Jay Carillo won Heavy Metal (I quiver when I think of all the concussion that .308 had under those baffles, he probably shook some of them loose!), Matt Koopikka won Practical and Rick Birdsall won Factory. They had 104 shooters total at the match. All in all, this was a good match in a small setting.

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2016 Generation III 3 Gun Match

Written by Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant

2016 Generation III 3 Gun Match Lake Ozark MOWell, I just returned from the Generation III 3 Gun match at Lake Ozark, Mo. Four of  us made the short trip. Pat Daly, the president of Sierra, Gary Prisendorf, one of our Ballistic Technicians, Chris Hatfield, our second shift production manager, and myself.


Sierra Bullets President Pat Daly


Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf


Sierra Bullets Second Shift Production Manager Chris Hatfield


Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant

You couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather than we had. It was cool enough of a mornings that some people were even wearing jackets. Generation III 3 Gun is a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting competitive shooting for junior shooters. Proceeds from this match go toward helping pay entry fees for junior shooters for some of the major 3 gun matches around the country. The junior shooters that shoot this match, shoot it for free. Everything at this match is oriented toward junior shooters. Many of the guns won in raffles are donated back to junior shooters. It is for a great cause and it shows in the sponsorship from a wide variety of companies.

This match is held in natural terrain on a 1000 acre ranch near the Lake of the Ozarks. Our first stage was across a lake. You started off shooting a rifle off a floating boat dock at targets across a lake both on the bank and on another floating boat dock. You grounded your rifle safely, then backed up and shot handgun targets from the walkway on the dock you were just shooting off of. Grounding your handgun, you retrieved your shotgun and had slug targets on another floating dock (in the center of the lake), falling poppers that launched clay pigeons and falling plates. You could choose what order you wanted to shoot everything. Myself, I opted to shoot slugs first and get them out of the way, then all the birdshot targets. Unfortunately, the stage got thrown out. The wind would pick up and there was problems with the docks holding the slug targets swinging around where you couldn’t see the targets. Before anyone complains about the safety of shooting over the water, there is a large hill covered with timber as a backstop.

Many other stages had targets hidden in the brush that you engaged while moving down a trail. One stage you had to crawl into a bunker and shoot out of it. It had several long range rifle targets on it. Since I can’t crawl or kneel, I took a 30 second penalty and shot off hand from 3 different positions. It was a really great match and a pleasure to not have to deal with dust or heat that you have with so many matches.

229 shooters shot the match, with 170 being Tactical Optics, which Nick Atkinson won, 6 in Heavy Iron, which Jomar Villamor, a police officer from Minneapolis, Mn. won, 11 in Heavy Optics that was won by Jesse Tischauser, 20 in Open, which was won by none other than Jerry Miculek and James Casanova won the Tactical Iron division.

For more information about this match please visit generation3gun.com.

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Does Bullet Shape Influence Accuracy?

Written by Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd

A question we often have to answer here at Sierra is referencing bullet shape and how accurate it is. An example would be the Sierra #2130-30 caliber 150 grain Spitzer bullet and the Sierra #2125-30 caliber 150 grain Spitzer boat tail bullet.

“So which one is more accurate?” is the usual question.

If we did our job correctly in the manufacturing of the two bullets they have equal accuracy potential.  The only real difference between them is the shape of the base of the bullet (flat-base as compared to boat tail). This shape difference does not change the potential of accuracy, but it DOES change how the bullets shoot in individual guns and possibly the load required to deliver optimum accuracy. Sometimes a shooter will do a load workup and hit an accuracy node quickly with one bullet and have good accuracy, but when they switch to a similar bullet they experience a lesser accuracy with a similar load workup session and decide the first bullet “shoots better” in that gun. If both bullets are produced to equal accuracy potential, it is most likely that the load workup missed the combination that would optimize the accuracy of the second bullet and more testing would reveal that accuracy potential. Before I get in hot water with a lot of you shooters, this is not always the case and sometimes guns just WILL NOT shoot the second bullet design despite any load utilized.

I have also had shooters inquire if a bullet with a higher ballistic coefficient (BC) (more efficient shape) is more accurate than one with a lesser BC. This scenario is very similar to the one written above. Despite the bullets being shaped differently if produced the same the accuracy potential is equal even if the efficiency (BC) of the two bullets are different. The shape of the bullets can and does change the load tune (combination of powder charge, distance from ogive to barrel rifling, neck tension etc) and how finicky that a bullet is to changes or variations of the load that makes them shoot to their potential. Again, before I get in trouble with you shooters, please realize that I am referring to sheer accuracy in a NO WIND condition, it goes without saying that the higher BC bullet is usually more desirable in the environmental conditions we have to shoot in.

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FNH 3 Gun Match Reports

Match Report from Bruce Piatt

The FNH-USA 3 Gun Championship was held at the Peacemaker National Training Center in Glengary WV last week, September 3-5.  About a week out, I was prepping my usual Heavy Metal Iron Sight gear for the match when I received an email from match staff advising me that they would not be recognizing my division this year.  What an opportunity to try out my new Burris XTR II 1.5 x 8 scope that I received just a couple of weeks earlier.  Welcome to Heavy Metal Optics Division.

The division change meant that I could put away my pump shotgun and use my VersaMax semi-auto but it would be limited to a 9 round capacity.  I’d still be using my 10 round .45 Caspian wide body. The big change would be taking the iron sights off my DPMS G2 .308 rifle and sighting in with my Burris XTR II.  This would be the first time shooting my .308 with a scope so I would need to to a lot of homework to work out my holds with my ammo.  It wasn’t long before everything was running smoothly and the match was upon me.

The 3 day match seemed to speed by with 10 stages clicking by quickly.  While shooting the stages, I didn’t feel as though I was burning anything down, I was just keeping up with the OPEN and Tac Optics shooters on my squad.  I struck a plastic barrel on a small stage on day 1 with a pistol round giving me a penalty but other than that, things just went smoothly. The next thing I know it’s the morning of Day 3 and people in the Heavy Metal Optics Division are coming to watch me shoot my last stages. After my final shots were fired, those HM spectators stepped up and told me I had just won my first Heavy Metal Optics Championship.

Match Report from Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant

Well, the 2015 FNH is in the dust (literally). This exciting match is put on by FNH under match director and long time 3 gunner, Larry Houck. Larry really knows how to put on an excellent match. He has enough range officers on each stage so you don’t have to set or paste targets. All you have to do is concentrate on shooting. A few of the stages were set up in bays, but many were in natural terrain.  Shots ranged from fairly close paper to some 400 yard rifle shots.

One stage, you shot rifle from a small shooting area in front of a boat, moved downhill and grabbed your shotgun and as soon as you touched your shotgun, the first clay pigeon was launched with 5 more on report, then you had a bunch of steel to engage. Another neat thing about this match was you had an option on which firearm you could use. Most steel targets could be shot with handgun or shotgun with shot. Slug targets could be shot with one slug or 2 pistol. Paper targets could be engaged with pistol or rifle.

It made a very interesting match because everyone had a different idea on how they wanted to shoot it. Some shooters such as Monte Long often chose to shoot handgun in place of his shotgun. It made it where if you felt more comfortable with one firearm than another for reasons like being faster to load, they had a choice.

This is some very beautiful country with leaves just starting to show a hint of changing colors. Another 3 weeks and the whole country side there would have  been really colorful. Dust was a major problem though. It was very dry down there and with that many vehicles on the road, the dust turned more like talcum powder. You would get a $20 speeding ticket (cash only and no change given back, so if all you had was a $50 or $100, the fine went up) for driving over 10 mph. The thing about it though, it was so dusty you couldn’t see to drive more than about 8 mph. All speeding fines plus fines for shooting targets with the wrong ammo (for instance birdshot plates with slugs) went to the Junior Camp where many of the top shooters in the country teach the kids the correct way to safely handle firearms and how the best way to shoot different  stage scenarios. There are a lot of excellent junior shooters coming out of these camps. There was several hundred dollars raised for the Junior Camp especially from target fines. There was one RO that will probably try to claim about 3 kids on his taxes this year. I guess he was pretty persistent in shooting shot targets with slugs.

Larry not only knows how to put on a good match but he knows how to feed you as well. His mom’s church group does the lunch at the range with a wide variety of delicious food. He should get them to cater the banquet, because the range food was excellent.


I was on a great squad with some excellent shooters and a couple of my long time friends from Texas, Monte Long from XS Sights and James Darst. 260 shooters shot Tactical Optics Class with Daniel Horner (US Army) taking first and Greg Jordan (Armalite) taking second. In the Open Class, they had 41 shooters with Joel Turner taking first, Nick Kalishek taking second and my good friend Tony Holmes taking 4th. 15 shooters were in Tactical Limited Class with Joel Turner and Rick Birdsall taking first and second.  Only 12 shooters tackled the Heavy Metal Optics Class with Bruce Piatt and Dean Deturk taking first and second. That brought it to a total of 328 competitors.

FNH had 3 side matches that you could shoot to try out their firearms (I love their O/U shotgun) and each side match you shot, they gave you a ticket. All those tickets were turned in at the banquet and the winner won a new FNS-40 pistol. I was really surprised when I happened to be that lucky person and I would like to thank FNH for that fine pistol. I have already shot it and it shoots great.

Larry did an outstanding job on the prize table also. There was nearly $200,000 worth of merchandise on the prize table. If you are looking for a great 3 gun match to shoot, this is definitely one you will like. Well, I am off to the Generation III 3 Gun match, so see you on the range.

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