Nosler's RDF bullet - A new option for long range competition shooters

Nosler's RDF bullet - A new option for long range competition shooters
Nosler's RDF bullet is initially available in four versions. From left: 70-grain .224, 105-grain 6mm, 140-grain 6.5mm, 175-grain .308.

Nosler's RDF bullet is initially available in four versions. From left: 70-grain .224, 105-grain 6mm, 140-grain 6.5mm, 175-grain .308.

Nosler has entered the long-range match-bullet fray. Named the RDF for Reduced Drag Factor, the company's new bullet features refinements engineered to combat air friction. Yes, Nosler already makes match bullets, but building an accurate match bullet and building an accurate long-range match bullet are two entirely different things because aerodynamic-enhancing features are often at odds with accuracy-enhancing features.

Long, sleek boattails exacerbate muzzle crown inconsistencies. Secant ogives provide low drag but are picky about seating depth. Long bullets with high ballistic coefficients are harder to stabilize. In short, building an accurate, forgiving long-range bullet is challenging, but the burgeoning popularity of Precision Rifle Series and sniper-style competitions is pushing bullet companies to get into the game.

Driven by the slogan "The Point is The Point," the RDF claims to have the highest BC of any hollowpoint match bullet currently available, courtesy of a tightly closed point and tiny meplat. A long, aggressive boattail and a hybrid ogive contribute to the RDF's high advertised BC.


To promote optimum accuracy, the RDF employs a marriage of both tangent and secant ogives at the point where the bullet takes the rifling. The short, secant-like portion takes the rifling leade willingly and provides seating-depth forgiveness, and the long tangent portion of the ogive provides the needed aerodynamics.


Nosler's initial offerings will include .224, 6mm, 6.5mm and .308. Time was too short to test fire all four, so I chose the 6mm and 6.5mm. What with Hornady's legitimization of the popular, competitive 6mm Creedmoor wildcat — a favorite among obsessive PRS shooters — bullet companies are vying to produce the best heavy, sleek 6mm bullet available. Nosler's 105-grain 6mm RDF projectile offers a higher BC (.571) than Berger's 105-grain Target Hybrid (.536 BC) — a bullet it's almost certainly designed to compete with.

I don't have a 6mm rifle capable of getting the best out of the 105-grain RDF, so I asked good friend and competitive shooting partner Paul Dallin to test it in his custom 6mm Creedmoor. With no load development at all, the bullets averaged 0.56 inch for three three-shot groups. Average velocity was 3,047 fps, with a standard deviation of 12. Paul thought that with a little work, the RDF would shoot right with the Bergers he uses in the rifle, a load that shoots 0.3-inch groups.

As for the 140-grain, 6.5mm version, its .658 advertised G1 BC is one of the best around. As far as I'm aware, only Hornady's tipped 147-grain ELD Match bullet has a higher BC (.697 G1) among 6.5mm bullets, and it can't be driven quite as fast.

To test the 140-grain 6.5mm RDF, I loaded two test batches of 6.5 Creedmoor handloads for my Ruger Precision Rifle — a half-m.o.a. gun with ammo it likes. One test batch featured Reloder 17 powder, the other H4350, both in neck-turned Hornady cases.


Because the Ruger rifle uses either AR-10 Magpul or Accuracy International-type magazines, I typically limit cartridge overall length to 2.825 inches so my ammo will function either magazine. However, the Nosler RDF touched the rifling at 2.910 inches. Clearly, unless I was willing to single load, the RDF bullets would have quite a jump — 0.085 inch — to the rifling.

Since the rifle is a workingman's practical precision tool, and single-loading it doesn't make much sense, I decided to seat the bullets in the RL-17 load to a 2.820-inch OAL and the H4350 load to a 2.885-inch OAL.

The RL-17 handload provided much the best velocity (2,753 fps average over nine shots in subzero temps) and averaged an acceptable 0.83 inch over three three-shot groups. The standard deviation was only 10 fps.


The H4350 load halved the group size, turning in an honest 0.38-inch average group. At 2,653 fps, muzzle velocity was 100 fps slower than the RL-17 load, but standard deviation was tight at eight fps. It's worth noting that this was the load with the bullets seated long, to 2.885 O.A.L.

As for the new .224 RDF, Nosler's Zach Waterman suggests shooters use the Nosler manual's data and OAL spec for the company's 69-grain HPBT Custom Competition bullet. In other words, it's a .416-BC bullet that can be pushed as fast as common 69-grainers and is compatible in AR-15 magazines.

Presuming it actually does have the ballistic coefficient Nosler claims, the zippy little 70-grainer will edge out every other high-BC magazine-compatible bullet currently available. Every other mag-compatible projectile with a BC over 0.400 is much heavier. Pair the Nosler RDF's .416 BC with an additional 100 fps in velocity and you've got a winner.

While the .308 version of the RDF is good, it doesn't stand out from the crowd like the other three do. Its decent BC of .536 (G1) just doesn't raise eyebrows. That aerodynamic spec is equaled or exceeded by a crowd of similar-weight .308 bullets.

However, it's superb in one critical way. I weighed 20 bullets of each RDF version and noted the extreme spread and standard deviation of the 20 weight measurements. I also measured the base to ogive length and ran the same calculations. As diameter increased, discrepancies decreased. The 105-grain 6mm version was consistent enough to suggest good performance, but the 140-grain 6.5mm version was better. The 20 different .308 RDF bullets varied only 0.1 grain, and as for length, there wasn't even 0.001 inch of measureable difference in the base-to-ogive length across all 20.

I think Nosler's new RDF bullet is going to be a serious player on the long-range scene, and I'm anxiously awaiting the potential addition of a 7mm to the lineup.

NoslerRDF-Specs

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Ruger Launches New American Rifle Predator in 6.5 Grendel

Ruger Launches New American Rifle Predator in 6.5 Grendel

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Ruger's Matt WIlson kick off SHOT Show 2018 by taking a look at the Ruger Predator.

Springfield Armory Saint Victor

Springfield Armory Saint Victor

The SAINT' Victor Rifle delivers a lightweight and agile rifle solution while maintaining effectiveness at extended engagement distances.

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.

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

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.

Browning's new X-Bolt Max Long Range rifle is an accurate rifle tailored for long range accuracy. Bolt-Action

Browning's New X-Bolt Max Long Range Rifle

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 11, 2019

Browning's new X-Bolt Max Long Range rifle is an accurate rifle tailored for long range...

Winchester Repeating Arms releases the new autoloading Wildcat 22 LR rimfire rifle. Rimfire

Winchester Releases Wildcat 22 LR Rimfire Rifle

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 11, 2019

Winchester Repeating Arms releases the new autoloading Wildcat 22 LR rimfire rifle.

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...

See More Trending Articles

More Ammo

The RifleShooter staff put together their gift guide for the upcoming holiday season, with products from SIG, Browning, Leupold and many more. Accessories

RifleShooter Holiday Gift Guide (2019)

J. Scott Rupp

The RifleShooter staff put together their gift guide for the upcoming holiday season, with...

The .300 BLK offers more versatility in terms of rifle selection, but in terms of energy the .30-30 bests the .300 BLK by a wide margin. Ammo

.30-30 Win. vs .300 BLK

Brad Fitzpatrick - December 24, 2019

The .300 BLK offers more versatility in terms of rifle selection, but in terms of energy the...

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.

Weatherby has announced two new rifles — the Backcountry and the Backcountry Ti — and the 6.5 RPM non-belted cartridge, their first non-venturi design. Bolt-Action

New Weatherby Backcountry Rifles, 6.5 RPM Cartridge Announced

J. Scott Rupp - September 06, 2019

Weatherby has announced two new rifles — the Backcountry and the Backcountry Ti — and the 6.5...

See More Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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