Shooting It In

In preparation for the hunt I tested several brands of ammunition. At the range we shot 100-yard groups with each load. It didn’t take long to recognize the Open Country is a shooter. Testing 8 different factory loads—none of which produced a 3-shot group larger than 1.40—I was a bit surprised actually and darned sure pleased with the results. One group from the Prime load measured 0.30! Both my shooting partner John and I felt the rifle balanced well with mild recoil. We both found the bolt a bit rough when cycling, but after running 100 rounds through the Open Country it started to smooth out.

The 100-yard test targets that came with the rifle were shot with Hornady Match Ammo and were most impressive. But I wanted hunting bullets so I tried Hornady’s 129-grain SST (2,947 fps/1.15 inches), 143-grain ELD-X (2,689/1.0), and their 120-grain GMX (3,072/1.1) offerings. I also tried Nosler’s 140-grain BT (2,623/1.4), Prime Ammunition 130-grain HPBT (2,831/.30), Federal 120-grain Trophy Copper (2,864/1.3), and Fusion 140-grain SP (2,732/1.2). This would provide enough data to allow me to make a wise choice.

Just prior to departure for the hunt, I received some Vor-Tx 127-grain LRX ammo. I tried it at 200 yards and was impressed with a 1-inch, 3- shot group (it clocked at 2,822 fps). I ran several more rounds downrange at steel targets on my farm. With different size AR 500 steel plates at various yardages, the practice provided an opportunity to confirm which hashmark to use at specific ranges. Once I got accustomed to the scope reticle, I found it certainly removes luck from the equation when long-range pokes are called for. I had confidence in this combination of rifle, scope and ammo. Now if we could only find a big bull…