.20 Caliber Perfection

.20 Caliber Perfection

Nosler Custom's new .204 load performs spectacularly in the field and will likely out-shoot your favorite handloads.

Not long ago I had the opportunity to hunt varmints with a new top-shelf .204 Ruger load from Nosler Custom and Norma. A combination of Nosler's Ballistic Tip bullet, Hodgdon's excellent powder and Norma's ultra-consistent cases, the load groups wonderfully and gives spectacular downrange performance.

Marketed through the Nosler Custom shop, the load coughs out a 40-grain Ballistic Tip at a shade over 3,600 fps. And did I say it grouped wonderfully?


In Wyoming, after a small tornado routed us from our hunting grounds, I found my way to the shooting bench back at headquarters and shot a series of groups. Even though I neglected to clean the rifle first, shots clustered like amorous flies. The average of four three-shot groups--fired without allowing the barrel to cool--came in at .39-inch. No fliers, no mulligans--even though it was spitting rain and the cardboard target backing was shivering slightly in the breeze.



I was on a prairie dog hunt, courtesy of Richard Folsland of Black Hills Shooter's Supply, which imports and distributes Norma ammunition. Cooper Firearms supplied several of its beautiful Model 21 single-shot bolt-action varmint rifles, which were topped with Leupold optics.

Over the course of two days I put close to 500 rounds through the Cooper's barrel, and as a testimony to both the rifle and the quality of the ammo, at no time did I need to clean the rifle due to loss of accuracy. I cleaned it every 50 rounds out of pure conscience; I had no intention to burn out the barrel of such a fine rifle.


I found the load devastating on rodents out to 250 yards. Beyond that it was certainly lethal but no longer induced quite the aerial acrobatics that a closer hit did. It also bucked the wind well--not quite like a 6mm or perhaps some of the high-speed heavier .22 caliber loads, but well enough.


Varminting is traditionally a hand-loader's sport. Much factory ammunition doesn't measure up accuracy-wise. But for shooters who don't have the time to load large quantities of ammo in today's fast-paced world, try Nosler Custom's .204 load. I'll wager it'll outshoot your handloads.

Recommended for You

Rifle Shooter editor Scott Rupp provides a comprehensive list of ideal Father's Day gifts. Accessories

Rifle Shooter Father's Day 2019 Gift Guide

J. Scott Rupp - May 07, 2019

Rifle Shooter editor Scott Rupp provides a comprehensive list of ideal Father's Day gifts.

If you're a serious shooter with deep pockets, these Leica products are worthy of consideration. Accessories

Three Rangefinder Products from Leica

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

If you're a serious shooter with deep pockets, these Leica products are worthy of...

Big game hunters in search of an accurate, long-range rifle need look no further than Browning and the new X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan. Bolt-Action

New Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Long Range McMillan Rifles

RifleShooter Online Staff - November 07, 2018

Big game hunters in search of an accurate, long-range rifle need look no further than Browning...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Scott O'Brien from Steyr Arms sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to take a look at Steyr's new tactical heavy barrel sniper rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Nosler pairs its M48 action with a new Proof Research carbon-fiber barrel for a high-tech long-range rifle you can actually carry: the Nosler Model 48 Long Range Carbon. Bolt-Action

Review: Nosler Model 48 Long Range Carbon

Layne Simpson - March 13, 2019

Nosler pairs its M48 action with a new Proof Research carbon-fiber barrel for a high-tech...

Announced in 1958, the .264 and .338 Winchester magnums hit the market in 1959 amid one of the biggest media blitzes the industry had seen. Both were introduced in “new” versions of Winchester's beloved Model 70. Ammo

.264 and .338 Magnum - Winchester Twins

Craig Boddington - May 24, 2019

Announced in 1958, the .264 and .338 Winchester magnums hit the market in 1959 amid one of the...

Some history and reloading recipes on five popular .17-caliber cartridges, including the .17 Ackley Hornet, .17 Hornady Hornet, .17 Mach IV, .17 Remington Fireball and .17 Remington. Reloading

.17-Caliber Reloading Data and History for 5 Cartridges

Layne Simpson - June 05, 2019

Some history and reloading recipes on five popular .17-caliber cartridges, including the .17...

See More Stories

More Ammo

For decades, things were quiet on the .22 centerfire front. Starting in 2017, shooters were offered not one but two hot new centerfire .22 cartridges. First out of the gate was the .22 Nosler, followed by the Federal .224 Valkrie. Ammo

.22 Nosler vs .224 Valkyrie

Brad Fitzpatrick - May 02, 2019

For decades, things were quiet on the .22 centerfire front. Starting in 2017, shooters were...

In this Cartridge Clash, Brad Fitzpatrick pits the .270 Win. against the .270 WSM. Ammo

.270 Win. vs. 270 WSM

Brad Fitzpatrick - March 04, 2019

In this Cartridge Clash, Brad Fitzpatrick pits the .270 Win. against the .270 WSM.

Craig Boddington explains why he will go along with the crowd and have a 6.5 Creedmoor before he gives up his .264 Win. Mag. Ammo

Craig Boddington on the 6.5 Creedmoor

Craig Boddington - February 27, 2019

Craig Boddington explains why he will go along with the crowd and have a 6.5 Creedmoor before...

See More Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.