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Nov.6, 2001. Latest update Sept. 24/2002

 

The .25 Hunter Cartridge for Deer and Varmint.

 

 

The .25 Hunter is a Wildcat cartridge based on the 250 Savage case and was designed by the well-known bench rest shooter Dan Hackett a known expert in rifle accuracy matters. Mr. Hackett made his reamer design drawings available to me and Clymer Tools made the two reamers. A shortened standard 250 savage F.L die is used for the initial set back of the shoulder. Final finished case length is 1.812". Chamber Neck is 0.2807". Neck OD with bullet 0.280".

 

Rifle Specifications

Action: Rem 700 SA blue printed to BR standards with factory trigger.

Barrel: Lothar Walther 24" Medium Sporter SS Match grade 1-10" twist.

Throat: 0.040" designed for 85gr Fowler and 75gr V-max bullets.

Stock: Remington Mountain Rifle Walnut with recoil pad.

Scope: Bausch&Lomb Elite 4200 4-16x P/A 50mm with 1/8" clicks.

Scope Rings: Two Piece Leupold.

 

Due to the nature of this specialized cartridge much credit and thanks must go to Dan Hackett. He helped me immensely with the details putting this rifle together.

The cartridge was actually designed for HBR competition. My finished case holds 46.8 gr of water to the case mouth. The 25 Hunter cartridge produces low recoil with 75 and 100 gr bullets. Which was my primary reason for choosing the .25 Hunter cartridge.

The rifle was build by Bill Leeper of Elko BC Canada. Bill also made the special reloading dies. A modified" New Dimension Hornady Seating Die Body" is the basis for the Inline-seating-die. The die is made with the chamber reamer and has a seating micrometer. The neck-sizing die also reamed with the chamber reamer uses a Wilson bushing. The dies produce first class ammo with practically no bullet runout. The FL sizing die that bumps the shoulder is made with the roughing reamer.

In the US Jim Borden has the reamers for the 25 Hunter and has built the 25 Hunter HBR rifle for Mr. Dan Hackett. With the choice of accuracy gun smith in the US there should be no problem finding a good one. Mr. Hackett would be able to point you in the right direction.

Case Prep with 22-250 Rem. Brass.

1. Expand necks to 6mm.

2. Uniform primer pockets.

3. Remove burrs from the inside flash holes and uniform. (K&M tool)

4. Set shoulder back with a shortened 250 Savage FL.die.

5. Polish inside necks with #0000 steel wool.

6. Expand necks to 0.2565 with "Expandrion" (K&M tool).

7. Trim to length to touch neck transition. (1.817")

8. Outside neck ream to 0.0004" radial clearance. (K&M tool)

9. Anneal shoulder and neck.

10. Fire form with 75-gr Hornady A-max bullets and Varget powder. (See note.)

11. Final trim to 1.812"

12. Chamfer inside neck mouth with a long-taper reamer. (Required for Moly bullets.)

13. Chamfer outside neck.

14. Polish both chamfers with #0000 Steel Wool.

 

 The Hornady 250 Savage FL Die presented some problems during forming. The die has a short neck and prevented the longer case neck of the 25 Hunter to pass through. The 250-die shoulder was rough causing wrinkles. Boring the neck out from the top to the end of the 250 neck and polish the shoulder with a brass lap fixed the trouble.

A shortened 25-06 die would perhaps work better it has a longer neck and more shoulder slope for setting the shoulder back?

The difference of brass thickness in the neck after forming the longer neck creates spring back near the new junction of the shoulder, (operation 6) and prevents the reamer pilot to enter the neck all the way. To overcome the restriction requires the use of an end cutting pilot (K&M Tool) or a special ground inside neck reamer. The K&M end cutting pilot is the way I went. This is a very common wildcat occurrence, with cases having set back and modified shoulders.

Note: I also made 50 cases from Rem. 243 Win brass. The cases were once fired and in good shape. Also the at the 0.200" datum line they were 2 thou bigger .466 rather than the .464" of the 22-250 brass. These cases were sized prior to fire forming. The fire forming will be done with 12.5 gr of 700x and compacted Cream of Wheat. The 243-head stamp will make it easy to differentiate it from the HBR brass.

These cases hold a 1/2 gr less water 46.3 gr. A slight reduction in powder weight is required. The fire forming trim length is 1.825 and cases are forced into the neck transition for solid contact. This system allows the shoulder to be set back 0.010" more, minimizing the chance of cutting into the shoulder with the outside neck reamer. This extra set back should not be used when fire forming with bullets.

While making brass for the 25 Hunter with 243 cases it was apparent that the 243 case could be used full length with only about 0.050" shoulder set back for the longer neck. Then prepare the neck and fire form in a chamber that is about 0.220 longer. The reamer is simply run into the barrel a bit more.

This would make the cartridge quite similar to the 257 Roberts Imp. a very close cousin to the 25-06. All dies would work with an appropriate spacer sleeve between the die and the shell holder to maintain headspace.

I made a test case from a new 243 Win case. This is about the easiest way to make a long and tight neck 25 Wildcat you can imagine. Of course this case would use more powder and not as well balanced as the 25 Hunter, but well suited for hunting. In five simple steps you are ready to go shooting. I would call the cartridge the 25 Hunter L for long.

From the very start I used Moly plated bullets in the new 1-10" twist Lothar Walther barrel. To re-barrel the Rem 700 Mountain rifle for the same cartridge as my HBR rifle made good economical sense by using the same reamers and dies. The 1-10-twist 24" barrel makes a fine "Walking Varminter" and a light deer rifle with heavier 100 gr Hornady Inter Lock bullets or other 100 gr makes.

Since this rifle has a special chamber with minimum tolerances, loading data at this time will not be made available. The rifle was finished only a few days before my Antelope hunt with not much time for load testing.

A hunting load with a 100 gr Hornady Moly bullet was worked up with H 414, which produced 3100 ft/MV and a 3 shot group at 100m of 11/16". I know this rifle will do better yet.

The rifle was again tested later shooting 3 shots with the hunting load out of a very cold barrel (ambient temperature -10C or 14F) with cold ammo left in the car over night. The group measured 3/8" at 100m and no change of impact. H414 seems to work well enough in this temperature. But in Canada it gets much colder.

Another load with a 75gr V-max Moly in the HBR rifle went 3430 with the 22-3/4" HBR barrel using Varget powder. This will be my varmint load. Several powders like H4350, H380 produce BR accuracy with 85 gr Match bullets in the HBR rifle. Here is a 25 Hunter target showing the accuracy potential of the 25 Hunter at 100 yards. The score is 50-5x.

 

A throat change to 0.080" may be considered to better accommodate hunting weight bullets and still have enough neck support for the 75 gr V-max to enter the lands at least 0.010". At present the throat at 0.040 is just fine.

Update Note: The throat has recently been lengthened to 0.080" to have the base of a seated 100gr hunting bullet at the neck and shoulder junction. This conversion has worked out really well and allows for a little more powder.

Further testing of hunting loads with H380, N160 and N550 powders and various bullets will be done in the future. So far I have fired only four shots at game. An Antelope at 280 yards was cleanly taken with one shot. A week later the rifle went deer hunting. Two good sized White Tail Deer one buck and one doe, plus one big Mule Deer doe were taken with three shots at about 200 yards. Both the ammo and the rifle performed in a textbook manner.

Update Note: After trying several powders and loads I have settled on H414 powder and CCI magnum primers. This has proven to be a very good combination. The Magnum primer will leave no dirty unburned powder behind and enhances ignition in cold hunting weather. It also reaches higher velocities, with the two 100 gr bullets I tried, namely the Hornady Interlock and the Nosler Partition. I reached 3194 ft with Moly plated bullets, but backed of to about 3160. Both bullets group into 3/8 with three shots. In other words nothing has changed from last year.

I also made 100 rounds with the 75 gr V-max and used them to shoot gopher with good results. At 3450 ft they are very pleasant to shoot with no noticeable recoil. The more I shoot this rifle the better I like it.

I also tried the Barnes-x 85gr and found them unsuitable due to extensive copper fouling. It was very difficult to get the barrel clean after 10 rounds, a labor I do not enjoy. The idea of lengthen the chamber, as mentioned above, has evaporated. With the performance of the case as is there is no need to increase the powder capacity. It is about as perfect as it can get.

Here are a few minor complaints. The 4-16x scope with its 2.5" objective bell is too big for a deer rifle. This is a fine scope for Load testing, targets and varmints and of extremely good quality. The good looking wood stock has already changed the point of impact by 5" and used up all the free-floating clearance. This is common with wood stocks in cold and wet weather. If the wood touches the barrel it will change bullet impact.

The Precision Shooting Magazine February 2000 features an article by Wes Lefler how to stabilize a wood stock; the article is named "Build a Walnut Rock Stock". I have done that and the forearm is now "Rock Solid". The rifle has been taken out over night in -20C then brought back into the heated house several times without any indication of change in the free floating clearance.

I have modified the procedure by using a lay up with 16 oz F.G. mat like used for building fiberglass canoes. Each layer is allowed to set up but still tacky to minimize shrinkage. Also the job is labor intensive. The inert wood stock is nice to look at and shoots as good or better than some plastic stocks.

There is nothing like having a hunting rifle that changes impact every time the weather changes or taking it in and out of camp. Always make a point of keeping the rifle at hunting temperatures if at all possible.

I am pleased with the gentle behavior of this rifle. Some of my bigger deer rifles will have to take a back seat for a while. Anyone looking for a high performance deer rifle with light recoil, flat trajectory, outstanding ballistics and super pinpoint accuracy can't go wrong with this caliber.

Barrel break in:

Due to limited time and reluctance to use too many of my prepped BR cases I utilized a limited fire lapping procedure. I prepared 10 loads impregnated with NECO fire lapping grit. Five with 800 grit and five with 1200 grit loaded with 7.0 gr of 700x powder and 100 gr Hornady bare bullets.

After each firing of an 800-grit bullet I cleaned the barrel by short stroking with JB paste, followed by solvent patches and dry patches after.

Next I fired all five loads with the 1200 grit bullets, and thoroughly cleaned with JB paste as above. Inspection after cleaning proved the barrel super smooth and shiny. Barrel makers do not recommend this method for a match barrel break-in.

Nevertheless this barrel break-in produced instant and outstanding accuracy results with no harm to the barrel that I could tell. Please note that this is a high-grade match barrel, other barrels may not produce the same results with this procedure.

It is known that some .22 match barrels had their accuracy considerable improved using a similar procedure with fine grits only. Perhaps this lapping was not needed given time and using Moly plated bullets. The 800 and 1200 grits are strictly polishing grits. It is doubtful that these grits will remove any metal at least not with 10 shots.

Note:

In the near future Mr. Dan Hacket will publish a full detailed article in a National Shooting Magazine on the 25 Hunter Benchrest cartridge and rifle. Mr. Hackett has used his rifle in BR competition and will provide us with some very conclusive insights on the .25 Hunter soon.Below is a 5 shot group fired by Dan Hacket with his 25 Hunter Kelbly Panda HBR Rifle. The group measures 0.168.

 

 

For more details e-mail.

Fred the Reloader.

 

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