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#3209925 - 08/12/19 11:39 PM Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead?
sureshotshane Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/12/19
Posts: 7
Loc: CA
Hello all, firstly Iíll introduce myself. For those who donít care for introís skip to the question in paragraph 4. Iím Shane, I was unfortunate enough to have been born into the state of California and have to stay here at least 2 more years as my wife makes her way through graduate school. I love all forms of hunting; Iím foremost a big game hunter, my niche in the hunting world is backpack blacktail deer hunting and working ridiculously hard to kill average bucks and bulls. I hunt deer and bear in CA, muleys in Montana, whitetail in Northern ID and Elk in central Idaho. Those are the every year hunts that I feel like I canít live without, but this year I also have a Utah deer tag Iím looking forward too. I also put in for various other states that Iím still waiting on. When itís not big game season I always look forward to hunting grouse, quail, and ducks but most recently Iíve been trying to get serious about predator hunting. Iíve always been super interested, Iím a wildlife biologist by training; Iíve trapped various different types of predators for research and tagging purposes through past employment; a couple years ago I also worked a stint as a predator biologist for an organization contracted by the Navy, which included mostly predator control, that was a lot of fun! Lately though Iíve been working more in Hydrology and not in wildlife biology.

When I was young I was enthralled by the idea of trapping and so my mom took me in to the Fish and Game to take the test to get my trapping license, I got my first trapping license at 13 or 14, which isnít the easiest process in California. I didnít do a lot of trapping, mostly because it is costly to have to use box traps. But last year I decided to get my trapping license again, thinking that Iíd pony up the money for some decent box traps, or buy the materials to make some, but I didnít buy any, so I never ended up doing any trapping (after spending the $110 on the license) so Iím debating on whether I want to get my trapping license this year or the alternative is using the money I would to get some traps and instead buy myself a nice dedicated predator gun and caller. The budget only allows one. Since you canít trap bobcats in California anyways Iím leaning more toward the hunting route, instead of trapping. Bobcat is absolutely the most interesting quarry to me, second would be coyotes but I like the idea of coyote hunting because itís open all year. I buy bobcat tags that just sit in my pocket every year; a few years ago I bought a couple Carver Calls and used them here and there but never to seriously and never once did I call anything in. Partly because I had no clue what I was doing but also I think I just wasnít in a good area for it. I recently moved closer to an area with a larger population of coyotes so I decided to go out recently for a dedicated coyote search. I wouldnít really call it a hunt, more like scouting but I did bring along my 17 HMR in case of any close encounters with a coyote. I was pretty stoked on the first evening just before sunset I got a yote howling about 300 yards away, I made a little to much movement and it busted me. No big deal though, it was fun to get a response from the calls and given the stand I was at I donít think I would have gotten him within 100 yards, which was my personal limit considering the gun I was using. The next morning I set up only 200 yards from the evening stand and almost immediately got a response in the form of a howl. I saw 2 coyotes in an opening at 258 yards, they went into some brush, I didnít think they were scared so I kept calling and not 5 minutes later I looked behind me and had a coyote 147 yards away. Given the wind was gusting pretty bad, I knew the shot would likely be no good. It was fun to actually have something respond to the call. I also am fascinated with Mammalogy, I want to ad some skulls and skins to my collection, no head shots. I do all my own tanning and skull mounts. So when coyotes are prime, pelt damage is a main concern for me, and same goes for bobcats. My father also really enjoys skulls and skins and would make good gifts to him.

Most of my hunting will be here in California, but as I mentioned I am out of state for other hunts so what Iím looking forward to is hunting my grandfathers ranch for coyotes and wolves in Northern Idaho. He truly hates them and he would be pleased to have me take care of some. Also in Central Idaho there is quite an extensive population of wolves where we elk hunt, I buy a tag but I never actually pursued them. I did howl some up last year as a joke to my elk hunting buddy. We both killed our bulls way down a canyon and we had to pack the elk 3/4 mile and 1200 feet in elevation uphill to where we staged the meat to than make the 9 mile pack out to the truck. It took 3 days, but Iím very protective of game meat, and so we packed our first of 3 loads of meat to the staging area uphill, and all we had were sleeping bags and sacks of elk, and I told my buddy that we needed to basically sleep on the meat because Iíll bet there are wolves right down the canyon. He gawked, and I half jokingly said ďseriously, watchĒ and I howled a big long sequence but before I could finish my howl we got cut off by a pack of wolves not to far off. I had one hand on my elk steaks that night. In addition, I buy a Nevada Hunting License every year because I like to put in for deer, elk, sheep points so it would be nice to actually use the license for something, Iím only 2.5 hours from Nevada now so Iím planning to Chukar and Coyote hunt that way this year. Where we hunt in Montana ( Missouri River Breaks) has its fair share of coyotes. Iíd really like to be geared up for predator hunting before we leave for that trip in late October.

So the questions I have are regarding bullet accuracy and performance given that I have to use non-lead. I currently own a .270 and a .243 Winchester, along with the 17 HMR. My 243 has a 1:9.25 twist and my .270 has a 1:10 twist. Iím planning to reload some ammo for the .243 to get me by until I can get a different rifle. The reason I want a smaller rifle is pelt damage and I am really leaning toward a .204 Ruger, the guns Iím looking at are the Savage 12 Low Profile (not sure if I want the thumbhole stock or not), Ruger Hawkeye Varmint Target, or Ruger Hawkeye Predator (all with 1:12 twist). Looking around at Midway I see they offer 4 bullets for the .204 Ruger in non-lead. 1) Barnes VG 26 Grain 2) Nosler Ballistic Tip 32 Grain 3) Lehigh Defense 30 Grain and 4) Hornady Varmint 24 Grain (not actually available). I want to lean towards the Barnes because I shoot the TSX in my .270 and itís been pretty darn good but a varmint bullet is far different than a 140 grain TSX on elk. I want to hear some peoples real world experience with the above bullets as far as accuracy and performance? In addition, given the 1:12 twist of the .204 would the lighter bullets work well? I know that the equivalent weight copper or alloy bullet is longer than lead but the 26 grain Barnes even though non-lead seems light for a 1:12 twist, which I want to talk more about below. Any opinions on the make/model of gun would be appreciated as well. Also, Iím trying to work up a load for my .243 that will do minimum pelt damage in the mean time. There are 9 non-lead options I see on Midway, some are the TSX and TTSX which seem quite expensive for the job and probably will not give me much pelt left (prove me wrong though if you know better than me, because Iím only assuming), I know bullet placement matters. Looking at the lighter varmint bullets, that leaves me with Barnes Varmint Grenade 62 grain, Nosler Ballistic Tip 55 grain, as well as some Lehigh Defense which Iím totally not familiar with. I would be open to any non-lead .243 bullet that is accurate while producing the least pelt damage ( even though I know full well a .243 is not ideal if concerned for pelts). So again real life experience with some non-lead .243 bullets would be awesome. Ordinarily, a 55 or 62 grain bullet would seem awfully light for a 1:9.25 twist like my rifle. I usually shoot 80-90 grain bullets. As already mentioned, these arenít lead bullets so they are longer. Has anyone come up with an equivalent copper/alloy/non-lead comparison or chart or something that would work best for the barrel caliber and twist? I know Barnes Load Data says they used a 1:10Ē for the .243 but thatís pretty vague. So I did some math, it seems many would agree that for a .243 with 1:9.25 twist your good to shoot 80-95 traditional jacketed lead bullets. Without getting to fancy, copper is approximately 21 percent lighter than lead. Now, I know lead bullets usually contain a small amount of copper jacket, but for simplicity sake, does it stand to reason that a 50 grain copper bullet would be approximately 21 percent longer than itís 50 grain lead counterpart? So say a 1:9.25Ē twist is usually good for 80Ė95 grain bullets out of my .243, could I extend my math to say that for non-lead ammo 63-75 grains would shoot best. Also it seems you could reason that you wouldnít be able to shoot non-lead bullets that are on the heavy side 85+ grains because they would be to long and need a tighter twist? IF someone has more precise mathematics than what I laid out, let me know? I bought some Barnes 110 grain TTSX for my .270 and Iím wondering if they will be any good, not for coyote hunting but for reloading fun; if you used the 21 percent larger a 110 grain monolithic copper bullet would be about the same size as a lead 135-140 grain bullet so perhaps my .270 will shoot them just fine, I have yet to reload them but it also got me thinking about the .270 Barnes 85 grain bullets they have, which seem entirely to small for 1:10 twist I have. In all likely hood 21 percent larger is overestimating how much larger equivalent weight copper bullet is vs lead, if I had to spitball itís probably more like 15 percent. Also I didnít get into different alloys, not all non-lead is copper. I really hope someone can point me in the right direction regarding .204 bullets that are non-lead and worth a [beeep], I will seriously have to consider nixing the .204 Ruger idea in favor of 22-250 or .223 Rem (more likely 22-250) because they have more options for non-lead but at the risk of pelt damage. I want to make it work though if possible.

Apologies for the lengthy intro and first post. Iíve been doing my research but still there are questions left. For those without the patience to read through the entire post, the gist of it is.

1) Anyone have real life examples on non-lead .204 Ruger bullets that perform and are accurate? Specifically Barnes VG 26 grain or Nosler Ballistic Tip 32 grains, or?

2) Opinions on Savage 12 Low Pro, Ruger Hawkeye Predator, Ruger Hawkeye VT in .204 Ruger?

3) Any experience with non-lead .243 bullets that keep pelt damage down and accurate? Specifically the Barnes Varmint Grenade 62 grains and Nosler Ballistic Tip 55 grains, or?

Thanks from a disgruntled Californian biding his time till he can move to Idaho.

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#3209927 - 08/13/19 12:15 AM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
AWS Offline
Die Hard Member with a vengeance

Registered: 02/01/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: NM
I shoot a 6mm-204 and was playing with lead free when it looked like WA was going Lead Free. I had huge exits with the 62gr VG at 3500-3600 fps. The 55gr NBT LF has worked well for me at the same velocities both proved to be quite accurate in my 1-10 twist barrel.
_________________________
After the first shot the rest are just noise.

Make mine a Minaska.

Heaven has rules and walls, He-l has open borders

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#3209930 - 08/13/19 03:45 AM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
DiRTY DOG Offline
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 2535
Loc: West
The 55gr Nosler BT-LF is fantastic at 6mmDTI velocities (3550 fps). That's about 400 fps slower than 243. Unfortunately, Nosler hasn't produced a batch in a long time so everybody is currently out of stock. Around the new year a Nosler tech told me they were waiting for a shipment of material before they could start another run. I sure hope they don't discontinue it because it's a great bullet.
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Aim small miss small.

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#3209952 - 08/13/19 11:08 AM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
sureshotshane Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/12/19
Posts: 7
Loc: CA
Dang, its to bad they arenít available right now.

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#3209956 - 08/13/19 11:46 AM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
spotstalkshoot Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 12/22/13
Posts: 1403
Loc: so.mn
Thompson Center has 1/10 twist barrels on the Compass line and the Predator line. Both will be accurate reasonably priced rifles. The compass has a threaded barrel, the Predator various camo finishes. Either should spin the longer lead free bullets. And be fur friendly.

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#3209958 - 08/13/19 12:11 PM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
Rustydust Offline
PM senior

Registered: 10/21/07
Posts: 5893
Loc: Southwest Idaho
Originally Posted By: sureshotshane

1) Anyone have real life examples on non-lead .204 Ruger bullets that perform and are accurate? Specifically Barnes VG 26 grain or Nosler Ballistic Tip 32 grains, or?


Thanks from a disgruntled Californian biding his time till he can move to Idaho.


Hey Shane. Welcome to PM.

I bought a bunch of boxes of those Nosler lead free 32 grain Ballistic Tips several years ago. It was a "whoops" as I did not realize that they were lead free until I got them. But my mistake so figured that I would try them in my Savage M12 .204 and see how they did. First thing I noticed is how long these bullets are compared to the regular 32 grain BT. They look like the 40 grain bullet with a ballistic coefficient to match. But I weighed them and shonuff they are 32 grainers. So I loaded a couple dozen of them up with my favorite Benchmark load and headed to the range. To my surprise and delight they gave me less than a half inch 5 shot group at 100 yards. Then then did it again to make sure that was not a fluke. They shoot so well in my particular gun that if they were the only .204 bullet available I would not be all that unhappy about it.

And I'm a transplant too. Moved to Idaho 20 years ago. Best move that I ever made. Dont know what took me so long to do it.
_________________________
I once asked a liberal "What is it with you people? Is it ignorance or apathy?'
He said, "Well, I don't know and I don't care.'"


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#3209992 - 08/13/19 05:30 PM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
DiRTY DOG Offline
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 2535
Loc: West
Originally Posted By: sureshotshane
Dang, its to bad they arenít available right now.
They have been out of production for over a year. I've called a couple of times. Today Nosler told me the same thing they told me 6 months ago: they are "30-something days past the expected production run but it should be soon".
_________________________
Aim small miss small.

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#3210026 - 08/13/19 09:33 PM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
mooretitan Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 07/09/11
Posts: 83
Loc: CA
I shoot the 24 grain NTX in the 204 and have been pretty happy with it. Makes a little hole and dumps everything into the animal. Good accuracy.

In the 243 I have used the 62 grain VG and it makes a mess. Accurate 1/2 inch at a 100 but man it puts a big hole in them.

If I had to use the 243 I would use a 80grain ttsx and just punch a small hole in and out.

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#3210042 - 08/14/19 08:59 AM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
zr600 Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 02/21/14
Posts: 1316
Loc: North dakota
Check out the Hammer line of bullets they are made in Montana have a very close following on the Long Range Hunting forum. You might have some experimenting to do till you find a bullet that your gun likes and performs the way you like.

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#3210064 - 08/14/19 01:36 PM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
sureshotshane Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/12/19
Posts: 7
Loc: CA
Thanks for all the replies. Iím glad to hear some success was had with the 24 grain NTX. I think I am going to load up some 80 gr TTSX for my 243 as an all around round.

Ive never heard of the Hammer line but just looked them up. They are for sure worth a try but spendy for sure.

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#3210066 - 08/14/19 02:18 PM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
Nick R Offline
New Member

Registered: 06/11/16
Posts: 23
Loc: California
Iím stuck in CA too so Iíve been playing with some different non lead loads. For my .204R, Iím shooting the 31gr Hammers over 8208XBR 0.12 off the lands with great results. Getting about 3900FPS out of a 20Ē barrel.

I had a Tikka .243 that shot the 80gr TTSX very well with superformance powder. Donít remember the exact load but Barnes has data on their site to get you started.

One word of advice before purchasing any non lead bullets would be to use Bergerís twist rate calculator to make sure the bullets will stabilize in your barrel. I learned the hard way that 32gr Nosler Lead free ballistic tips wouldnít stabilize in my 1-12 twist .204 even though nosler said they would. Good luck!

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#3210078 - 08/14/19 03:09 PM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: Nick R]
DiRTY DOG Offline
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 2535
Loc: West
Originally Posted By: Nick R
Iím stuck in CA too so Iíve been playing with some different non lead loads. For my .204R, Iím shooting the 31gr Hammers over 8208XBR 0.12 off the lands with great results. Getting about 3900FPS out of a 20Ē barrel.
FYI, those 31gr Hammer bullets are not legal for hunting. They are not listed on the CA Non-lead Certified list. Hammer does not have ANY 204 or 223 bullets approved yet, only one bullet (80gr) in 243, and generally only a few options. Maybe they just haven't submitted their stuff for approval?
_________________________
Aim small miss small.

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#3210080 - 08/14/19 03:11 PM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
Nick R Offline
New Member

Registered: 06/11/16
Posts: 23
Loc: California
Interesting. Didnít notice that. Thanks for the heads up

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#3210091 - 08/14/19 05:28 PM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
sureshotshane Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/12/19
Posts: 7
Loc: CA
That's very interesting considering on their website for the .204 Ruger it literally says "for the varmint hunters in CA..."??? A twist rate calculator sounds like just what I wanted! I'll check it out right now.

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#3210092 - 08/14/19 05:30 PM Re: Introduction and .204 Ruger/.243 Non-lead? [Re: sureshotshane]
sureshotshane Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/12/19
Posts: 7
Loc: CA
Just took a look at the Berger Twist Rate calculator. It appears to only have Berger bullets and the lowest grain 204 is a 40 on the calculator?

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