.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 Videos

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Joe Mantegna talks about the origins of Bullpups.

RS Sako Finnlight II

The new Sako Finnlight II sports an innovative stock and Cerakote metal paired with the terrific 85 action.

Magazine Cover

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.

Get the top Rifle Shooter stories delivered right to your inbox.

×