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280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights

31 Jul 2018
@ 11:18 pm (GMT)


I'm wondering if anyone has experience with this caliber that could suggest an appropriate projectile for light to medium game in NZ.
I have recently bought a Kimber Montana in 280 AI specifically for hunting in the South Island of NZ. Game hunted would be Red Stag, Wapiti (Elk), Thar and Chamois, at ranges out to 400 yards max. The rifle has been sighted in with Nosler Trophy Grade 140 gr AB's which shoot like a dream in this rifle but cost a fortune. From what I have found on the internet to date, the benefits of the higher BC projectiles in terms of accuracy don't seem to kick in till 500 yards plus although this may not be the case with terminal performance. I am intending to reload and can sort powder etc, just looking for some advice on a bullet that will get it done effectively from 100-400 yards, any advice appreciated


01 Aug 2018
@ 06:55 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Hi Vince, to begin with, it is important to understand that the Kimber rifles in larger calibers can be finicky. Having said this, there has been some improvements made to the barrels in recent times to help settle harmonics. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon to find a fussy rifle that shoots up to and around 5" at 100 yards if it does not like the ammunition it is being fed. Therefore, any advice on suitable bullets must be considered theory only until it is proven that your rifle can shoot that bullet. In other words, forget the internet, ballistic tables and gun rag reviews. Deal with what is in front of you.

The 140gr AB has been written about in the KB. As I have said numerous times, this bullet weight can be fairly ho-hum and this bullet design neither fish nor fowl. It will work well until the day it doesn't - either on lighter animals out at longer ranges or on large body weights in close. Depending on how the rifle is used (game weights and ranges), this bullet weight and design can be classed as being inconsistent in comparison to a heavy bullet. Your rifle may shoot the 162gr SST or ELD-X well at around 2900fps but it may also shoot the 175gr bullet at around 2750fps. Though muzzle velocities are low, the 175gr will expand violently on light game but give adequate penetration on large game, especially at mild impact velocities. So there are two or three options you might want to try, loaded with ADI AR2213sc.

The heavy bullets may sound... well heavy, but if this were the parent .30-06 (ideal for larger animals), the 180gr weight would be considered the traditional middle ground. There is no need to treat the .280 any differently if targeting larger animals. The key is to choose a bullet that expands quickly for light animals without sacrificing too much penetration on large game. But again, all of this is theory until you have tested the rifle to see what it likes.

As an aside, if we were to wind the clock back 30 years, move me off to the side and put Rod & Rifle editor Graeme Henry in the hot seat with his Q&A section, he most likely would have said the following: The .280 works very well with the Speer 145 grain Hotcor and BTSP bullets on small to medium sized bodied deer such as Sika and Fallow. But for Wapiti and Red deer, the 160 grain Hotcor is the better choice, its light core bonding helping to ensure deep penetration. For hunting on the tops at ranges of 300 to 400 yards, the fast expanding 160 grain Speer BTSP is especially useful and can be used on a wide range of game.
01 Aug 2018
@ 08:39 pm (GMT)


Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Hi Nathan,
Thankyou for the reply, very informative and no bs, nice to get some feedback without the axe to grind stuff that seems so common on forums these days.
I already have the AR2213SC (good to know I got the right powder) and the Nosler 140's were bought primarily to get some brass for reloading although I have to admit I was definitely impressed with their paper performance at 100 yards.
Will get some Hornady 162's and 175's and try an OCW with both, the guy I hunt with has a 7mmRM so if they don't shoot in the 280AI they won't go to waste!
I also handload 150gr ELDX in my 7mm08 so I might throw these into the mix as well. Great to hear G.H. mentioned again, used to read him in R&R years ago, a big 270 fan if I remember correctly.
Anyway thanks again for the advice, will let you know how it goes.
02 Aug 2018
@ 01:11 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Yes, Graeme Henry set the bar for me. He was honest, helpful, tested everything as best as he could and tried put himself in other folks shoes. He set a good example which I have tried to follow. And yes, he liked the .270 Win, driving the 150gr Speer bullets at 2950fps from a 24" barrel (Finnbear). On the other hand, he also liked the .280, .30-06 and the 8mm-06. It is not hard to see why either.

With regards to the 150gr, you may want to leave that be for now because its a bit short in the SD department for the .280 versus larger bones. It will work OK but if you happen across a Thar at close ranges in a watershed etc, it may not break through the shoulder. The small step up to the 162 (or the bigger step to the 175) along with a reduction in velocity can be quite helpful in this instance, with no negatives for extended range work.

As to your 7mm-08, this can be approached in an entirely different way as per my writings within the KB. Further details can be found in the Cartridges book.
02 Aug 2018
@ 01:16 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Heck I forgot, he also liked the .25-06 and 117gr Gameking, based his build on a VZ33. Funny how I have a memory for guns and loads.
05 Aug 2018
@ 01:41 am (GMT)

Kenneth Kephart

Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Sorry i'm late to the game, but thought i would weigh in.

I'm not as familiar with your powder designations as i should be, but like powders in the IMR 4831, RL19, RL22, and RL26 for cartridges of this volume.

As for projectiles,
I've really been liking the 150gr Nosler AccuBond Long Range out of my three 7mm rifles. (7mm Rem Mag, 284 Win, 280 Rem.)
High G1 BC(0.613), bonded for close in shots, and expand down to 1,300 fps, allowing a longer "mechanical" distance. Plus they have not shown to be as finiky as the regular AccuBond.

I do shoot many bullet types, manufacturers, weights, in all 3 rifles. 120gr varmint to 168gr. Berger VLD.
There are many great bullets out there for a particular need.

I don't shoot the heavier bullets (over 168gr), due to the entire nature of the 7mm vs 30 cal in the velocity increase along with the higher sectional density. In otherwords you really don't need to go heavier than 160gr for any of your stated game.
05 Aug 2018
@ 08:19 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Hi Kenneth, that is not actually true sorry. The LRAB is advertised to expand at 1300fps. How it actually behaves is quite different. If you would like photo evidence, please see my Cartridges book. Or if you want to go cheap, there is a PDF somewhere on this site showing Hornady's tests.

Otherwise yes, this is another option but I would like to see Vince set his course in one direction, hunt, observe, then if changes need to be made based on his hunting methods (ranges / bush / open), he could adopt a tougher bullet. I had thought about the LRAB but for now, I just want to see if we can strike the balance for body weights and ranges using a heavy pill rather than via construction. There is not much room for cartridge error down south. If the shot is screwed up, the animals can be trapped in ravines, difficult or zero recovery, some retrievals can be hell on your nerves if you are not used to it. So the focus needs to be on maximum internal damage but hopefully without loss of penetration. We can manipulate this not just through bullet construction but also SD and muzzle velocities. There is a lot to consider when giving advice.
06 Aug 2018
@ 08:44 pm (GMT)

Adrian Regnault

Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Hi. I've been shooting a .280AI for 3 years now and have mainly focused on developing loads projectiles in the 150, 160, 162 and 168gr range. I only use 140s for fire forming as I don't see the point of using them for long range hunting when there are so many better options, but I do use them in my 7-08. The 150 Nosler BT performs well but I prefer the heavier higher BC projectiles, although I'm a bit limited as my barrel has a 1 in 10 twist. I'm currently shooting 160gr tipped SMKs which are very accurate and effective on game. The 168gr Berger also performs well in my rifle as does the 160gr Accubond (although it seems to be powder sensitive and best results have been with RL 19 and 22, as opposed to 2213). The 162 Amaxs are a bit random, but that's probably due to my barrel being a bit too slow for them. Didn't have much luck with the 150 long range Accubonds either, but neither has a friend who's shooting them out of a 7SAUM with the required twist rate. Hope this helps
08 Aug 2018
@ 07:25 pm (GMT)

Phil Van Zuylen

Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
+1 on Graham Henry always liked his style read a couple of his articles in an old R&R I found in a hut one wet day this year! +2 for Nathan always good relevant reading too!
18 Nov 2018
@ 04:51 pm (GMT)


Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Hi Guys

Firstly thanks for the replies, any info and experience is always useful. I have finally got around to doing the first OCW test and thought I would post the results in case they can help someone else.

The load testing was for
Nosler once fired brass (in 280AI)
Federal primers
AR2213SC powder
Hornady 162gr ELD-X projectiles
seated at 3.330 coal

Sighted in with 53.6 gr x 3 shots, then 10 groups of 3 shots at 3/10 grain increments up to 56.6 gr.
One slightly pulled shot at 54.5gr and 1 shot with 55.1gr that may have been a weighing error.
No pressure signs during firing, rifle seems to like it low and slow so the next step is playing with seating depth to try and tighten this a little.
Thanks for your help
14 Feb 2019
@ 07:35 pm (GMT)

Vincent Marcon

Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Hi Guys, have managed to refine the loads a bit and here are the results. I have settled on 54.6 grains of powder and moved the seating depth out to the maximum that will fit in the magazine.

100 yard target 0.246 inches

400 yard target 1.993 inches

I had forgotten to reset the turret after sighting in and ran out of elevation travel at 400 yards which is why the shots are low, this has been fixed and the rifle is sighted in at 200 yards. One more round of testing out to 500 then off to Canterbury on March 15th to find a big Red Stag
15 Feb 2019
@ 09:06 am (GMT)

Luis Vazquez

Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Good luck on your Red Stag Hunt.


17 Feb 2019
@ 10:46 am (GMT)


Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Looks pretty good to me Vince. You should be happy with that.

Just a couple of tips with the Montanas - if you already know, no harm done, but they may be helpful. I've owned a few of them and found some of this out the hard way.

1/ Kimber assembled many of the stainless 84Ls with the wrong front guard screw. For some reason best known to Kimber,they used the screw from the 84M which is .100" shorter. The result is only one turn of thread engagement in the action. The fix is a Rem 700 rear guard screw shortened to the correct length. If yours has the short screw, don't bother taking t up with Kimber. Whoever answered my email, claimed had shit for brains and claimed that the screw was correct for the model and designed that way. If they had just owned up and posted a new screw to all effected it would have been cheap, easy, and good PR.

2/ You may have already done this, but a light trigger pull is particularly helpful with such a light rifle. Any tension or flexing in your trigger hand is far more likely to result in rifle movement than with a heavier rifle.
Your groups suggest that is no issue at the range, but for me it occasionally has caused problems in the field. Mine are set at 2lbs. Any lighter and cold fingers can be a problem for me.
How you grip the pistol grip is very important for the same reason.

3/ Most important to grip the forend. Apart from the documented reasons regarding accuracy, if you use the crossed arms/no f/e grip position prone, and try for a rapid reload, the cocking resistance simply lifts the light rifle out of position and you lose sight picture and position making a good follow up shot very hard, particulalry if your scope is set at a high power.
I learnt this one on my first bull thar with the Montana - just had to watch it walk around till it fell over.

Enjoy the rifle. With that accuracy, it should be a joy to carry and to use.
18 Feb 2019
@ 05:40 pm (GMT)


Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Thanks for the good wishes Luis, it's pretty intimidating country for a North Island bush hunter so we'll need a bit of luck.

Really good info on the Montana Iain, I had done plenty of research on the Kimbers but hadn't come across the issue with action screws, so ran straight to the gun safe to check before I read items 2&3! Front screw has about 2.5-3 turns of engagement so I'm guessing they have realised the ballsup, just not owned up to it and fixed it on existing rifles, not very smart.

I haven't lightened the trigger as yet, it is a bit heavier than I would like on the range but I figured in the field possibly using gloves it would be ok, might rethink this now.

I wouldn't dare to admit not holding the forend on this forum, one of the hidden benefits of buying the rifle I have found is just how fussy it is with good repeatable form and technique, it punishes you straight away for not getting things right every time, and that has translated to better groups with my other rifles as well.

Thanks for the advice
18 Feb 2019
@ 07:50 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: 280 Ackley Recommended Projectile Weights
Well done Vince. You've learnt that to "Shoot well" you have too shoot well. Nice to read this and see your development with your rifle.


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