Lighten Your Load

HSM Low Recoil: Enough Thump, Less Bump

HSM’s .308 Low Recoil 150-gr. load tamed John’s hard-kicking Remington Model 600 — and
delivered superb groups as well. At 2,257 fps, it’s a ballistically improved .30-30.

HSM’s .30-06 Low Recoil in a pre-64 Model 70 Winchester should handle most “real world” deer-hunting.

There’s no way I can do anything today even close to what I could do at the age of 20, 30 or even 70. But I feel highly blessed to still be able to shoot and have my eyes and trigger finger work together. This doesn’t mean I can shoot everything I want to shoot, and definitely not everything I used to shoot.

I can no longer take the pounding of full-house .45-70s, .450 Marlins, or .444 Marlins fired through an easy-handling levergun. Bolt guns chambered for such cartridges as the .338 Winchester or .375 H&H Magnum are no longer on my menu. Even my old pre-64 Model 70 Winchester in .30-06 has become a problem. And my .308 Remington Model 600 is now an unbearable thumper.

For those in the same boat I’m in, we’re faced with the choice of either shooting small bores only or finding loads we can handle. The latter has been made much easier as HSM is now offering Low Recoil loads in several rifle chamberings. My .375 and my .338 were sold a few years ago to raise money for a friend’s special project so I requested test rounds from HSM in the rifles I still have — .243; 7mm-08, .308, and .30-06.

HSM loads all Low Recoil rounds with Sierra bullets, so it’s obvious they’re serious about quality. Both the .308 and .30-06 are loaded with a special 150-gr. Sierra made specifically for HSM’s Low Recoil lineup, while the 7mm-08 is loaded with a 140 grain and the .243 an 85 grain.

Yes, I know most of us don’t need Low Recoil loads for the .243; however, there are many young kids, women (and men for that matter) who are just beginning to shoot and can get off to a much better start by using them.

Lever lovers take note: HSM also has Low Recoil loads with cast bullets for the .45-70 and .38-55.

The .30s don’t get gentler with age. HSM offers Low Recoil loads in both .308 Winchester and .30-06.

Low-Voltage Test Battery

For testing the HSM Low Recoil loads I went with a .30-06 pre-64 Model 70 Winchester (.30-06) and a .308 Remington Model 600 (.308) both of which had been gathering dust for several years now. For the .308 Low Recoil load I also pulled out a Thompson/Center Encore. Barrel lengths on these three are 24″, 18-1/2″ and 15″ respectively. I also borrowed my grandson’s .308, an early Ruger Model 77 with a 22″ barrel and my friend Denis brought along his .30-06 pre-64 Model 70 Winchester Featherweight 22″ and also a .308 Savage 24-1/4″ Model 10T. So we had the bases pretty well covered.

Both the .243 and 7mm-08 test rifles were Ruger Model 77 Compacts with 16-1/2″ barrels. I have no problem handling the .243 with standard loads (at least not yet!), but the 7mm-08 is right at the top level of what I want to experience.

To begin, I started with the .243, worked my way through the 7mm-08 and all went well. I then switched it over to Denis who shot the .308 and .30-06 loads through his rifles. Now it was my turn to go up to the .30 caliber rounds. The Model 70 has a traditional Weaver 4X and needed just a couple of adjustments to get it sighted in at 100 yards. All went well with a muzzle velocity of 2,400 fps from its 24″ barrel and a group of 1-3/8″.

Denis’ 22″ barreled Featherweight lost 75 fps in muzzle velocity, however, it shot slightly better with a 1-1/8″ group. Then I moved on to my grandson’s Ruger .308 and again everything went fine. Who said we would have difficulties? I found out when I switched to the Remington Model 600 Thumper. It didn’t take long to realize there was something wrong and I finally heeded the words of Dave Petzal who once said 99 percent of any rifle problems we have are scope-related. I simply could not get consistent results with the Remington so I removed the scope and replaced it with a 4X Burris I took off a Marlin 336 in .35 Remington.

HSM’s 7mm-08 Low Recoil load tames the Ruger Model 77 Compact. Full-power loads in
this caliber can be surprisingly energetic in super-lightweight sporters.

John has no complaints about full-pop .243s. But HSM’s .243 Low Recoil 85-gr. load is ideal for beginners.
Especially in this Ruger Model 77 Compact.

A Fractional Glitch

Normally I start at 25 yards to sight in a scope, however, I figured this one would at least be on paper since it had already been sighted in for the Marlin. This proved to be true and I proceeded to precisely sight it in at 100 yards. At first it was shooting high and left, so I calculated how many clicks I would have to move, and now it was shooting way to the right. I made other adjustments and was getting nowhere when Denis asked whether the scope had 1/4″ clicks. We discovered it had 1/2″ clicks! Once this problem was solved, the Remington was sighted in and I proceeded to shoot a 5/8″ group with the 150-gr. Sierra loaded to a velocity of 2,260 fps. I never expected to ever get such results from the short-barreled Model 600.

The same load also shot superbly in Denis’ Savage with a 7/8″ group at a muzzle velocity of 2,370 fps. Switching to the Encore — which has a 15″ barrel and an SSK muzzlebrake — three shots went into 1-3/4″ at 100 yards. Muzzle velocity was 2,050 fps. Recoil was tamed tremendously with a combination of the HSM load and the SSK Muzzle Brake with the barrel moving less than an inch off the sandbags when the Encore was fired.

Both Ruger Model 77 Compacts joined right in the group with a one-inch group at a muzzle velocity of 2,100 fps with the .243, while the Compact 7mm-08 — one of my favorite little rifles — rivaled the .243 with the same group size and just a few feet more muzzle velocity. These little 16-1/2″ bolt-action carbines are easy to carry in the field, shoot exceptionally well, and with the HSM loads not only give excellent groups but do so without punishing your shoulder. The 7mm-08, at least to my way of thinking, is one of the unsung great rifle chamberings of all time.

HSM Ph: (406) 777-2106

HSM’s .308 Low Recoil load was eminently kind to John’s hands in the Thompson/Center Encore.

Low recoil, high accuracy: Targets fired with HSM Low Recoil loads in .308, .243, 7mm-08 and .30-06.

Bolt To Lever

HSM also offers a couple of loads for leverguns. The .45-70 number consists of a 405-gr. hard cast bullet loaded pretty close to the original black powder loading — 1,380 from a 24″ barreled Marlin Model 1895. Even with the iron sights, I could put three shots in less than two inches at 42 yards.

The other levergun load is for the .38-55. Now, as anyone who’s ever loaded for this cartridge will attest, the .38-55 can be very picky about bullet diameter, and for best accuracy above 1,400 fps, a gas checked bullet is normally needed. Bullet diameter preferred by each individual rifle can be anywhere from .375 to .380″ and some leverguns — which require the larger diameter cast bullets — will by some miracle also shoot .375 200-gr. bullets exceptionally well.

With a cast HSM load not particularly tailored for any specific rifle, muzzle velocity with a plain-based 240-gr. bullet is just a hair under 1,500 fps with a group at 42 yards of 2-1/2″. In addition to these two easy shooting levergun loads, HSM also has Low Recoil loads in .30-30, .30-40 Krag and .32-40 Winchester.

HSM ammunition is made right here in America, specifically in Montana, which is about as American as you can get (except for Idaho, of course). They offer over 150 different calibers with 800 different varieties including standard full power loads as well as Low Recoil loads. One caveat: the Low Recoil loads are intended for manually operated actions — they may not cycle in autoloaders. Aside from Low Recoil rifle loads, HSM also offers Low Recoil sixgun loads along with standard sixgun ammunition.

GUNS Magazine September 2018

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