I'm components shopping and a question came to mind:
Inside 600 yards, is there any tangible (see it on the paper) benefit to spending more than Sierra Match King money on a bullet?
Don't get me wrong, I love premium stuff whenever I can get it. But being what the prices are on just about everything now, we're all trying to pinch pennies where we can.
So, is the SMK bullet our standard for a "very good" bullet at those ranges or is there something else that is "much better" for a little more money?
For reference, I am finding the 175gr SMK around 35 cents a pill. Bergers are coming in a 57 cents.
What do you say?
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Short answer, Yes it is.
The 168gr SMK was the gold standard for a long time. Its performance has been eclipsed by newer designs, but for inside of 600 yards there's nothing at all wrong with it. The 175gr SMK will retain velocity a little better and be affected by wind a little less, but only a little. It's every bit as accurate as the 168. I ran a comparison of the 175gr SMK vs the Berger 175gr OTM at 300 yards, and it took a very close look to see any difference between them. The Berger came out on top accuracy-wise but only by a small fraction of a MOA.
We have several shooters who use the 168 and 175 SMKs with success. The 168's have a reputation of not going through the transonic zone well and therefore are usually used out to 600-700 yards. The 175's do a little better out to 1000-1100 yards but can be sporadic after that.
For the money, the 168 grain SMKs will do what most non-competitive shooters require out to 600 yards.
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Here is my understanding of the issues with the SMK 308 offerings out of a .308 Winchester case.
The 168SMK was the darling of the 300yard/meter competitions, I believe even at the Olympics when they used to have that discipline. The 168 SMK is a good bullet with a low price compared to other match bullets and hunting bullets. It was thought to be the standard for accuracy for a time.
However, as the distances increased the effects of design flaws of the 168SMK bulllet.
1- The boat tail has an angle that is too steep and therefore the benefits of the boat tail design are negated at longer distances. This affects the BC of the bullet and it loses speed more rapidly than it should.
2- The 168SMK is unbalanced; the ogive is much lighter than the base therefore the center of mass is much further to the rear of the bullet compared to its center of shape. This means that as the bullet goes transonic, it is much more likely to go erratic and start tumbling.
3- Before the advent of pointed bullets, Sierra always discounted the negative effect of a ragged meplat with varying sizes for the meplat hole. I believe the effect of such ragged and inconsistent meplats is much greater than what Sierra led us to believe.
More recently, Sierra introduced a new version of the 168SMK, the 168TMK. In this bullet, they fixed the boat tail angle issue and bypassed the ragged inconsistent meplat issue by using a polymer tip at the meplet. The result if a much improved bullet that flies faster and longer compared to the original 168SMK.
Inside of 600 yards, you may not be too adversely impacted by the 168SMK issues, but you will lose more velocity compared to a better design.
The 175SMK also suffers from the ragged inconsistent meplat, but it has a proper boat tail angle and its center of mass is closer to its center for shape thus providing a better bullet, especially past 300 yards.
In F-class, the 175SMK (or TMK) is simply ignored as not being up to the job. However, I use a lot of 175SMK and HPBT 175 designs from Nosler and so one for my non-competition ammo. On the other hand, I will most probably always avoid the 168SMK.
I have been out of rifle shooting for over 10 years. What is IN for F-T/R these days?
Right now the heavies are leading the pack. A very popular bullet is the Berger 200-20x. The bullets around 200-210 gr are the ones winning the matches.
The 180-185s are history. They did well in their day, but the 200-210s are all over them now.
RNShooter, the SMK 168/175gr is excellent inside 600 yards for sure. As I understand it, the delima for the SMK is that during the transition from super-sonic to sub-sonic. The SMK becomes unstable during the transonic zone. This happens at around 900 yards for the 168's and right at 1100 yards for the 175's depending on your loads. I have shot the 175's out to 1200 yards at PRS matches. So, certainly, inside of 600 yards you are good to go.
The Berger hybrids are an attempt to solve the trans sonic issue. I hope this is helpful.
Yeah, I've not ever heard that the 175SMK goes unstable as it goes subsonic. There is no real reason for it to do that as its center of mass is a lot closer to its center of shape, unlike the 168SMK.
Also, the Berger hybrids are not "an attempt to solve the trans sonic issue." Berger bullets do not seem to suffer that issue, or at least the ones used at longer distances. The hybrid design is where Berger is attempting to grab the benefits of the the VLD design (secant ogive, high BC) and the ones of the tangent ogive (more immune to seating depth).
It's even stated on their website:
"Berger Hybrid Target bullets blend the best aspects of tangent and secant nose shapes into one ogive. It starts at the bearing surface with a tangent ogive that aligns itself when the bullet contacts the rifling. Then it transitions to a secant ogive, proven to be least influenced by wind, with its reduced drag properties. The result is a high Ballistic Coefficient (BC) bullet that is easy to load and shoot."
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