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Wildcats and the Not So Wild

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I recently wrote up a little comparison on some of the wildcats I've helped develop and others I have worked with. It was requested that a sticky be done. This wlil be open for comment to all the board. Questions can flow as needed. Opinions will be shared and blood pressures will rise but we will all have fun. I have started with only AR cartridges that are less common but there are many more out there. I will go back on my first posting here and add more cartridges as it goes along if more information is obtained or to flesh it out with other non-standard chamberings.



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A little background here to get this started is in order. I have shot all but one of these that I will speak to. The only one I haven’t shot has not been released yet but I have spent many a keyboard session using my Google-fu to gather data from hither and yon. You know Yon? He’s the guy from Minnesota with frostbite of the tongue.


I’ll do these in caliber order. As I said only a synopsis. I’m not going to hit all the inner sanctum secrets of these as that’s what my book is for. I will not address the 17’s here as they are a bit on the edge of the edge for most shooters. I will also not address the ‘cats that reside in my bolt guns that are designed for next zip code operation though I have many of these chambered up I bolt action barrels. Not all cartridges addressed are wildcats as some are actually SAMMI’d but many do not realize that they have been certified and many for quite some time.


First up are the 20’s. Not a lot of interest in these by some but for others between the 17 and 20 they find a Holy Grail for the trigger experience.


20 Tactical: 223 necked to .204. External changes in shoulder placement being bumped about 0.020 and a 30 degree shoulder. . Best for varmints up to coyote it is a laser. Generally recognized as being designed by Todd Kindler of The Woodchuck Den it was revolutionary to the shooting world. Limited to 40 grains in standard 10 twist barrels though stepping up to a 9 will usually garner you a 55 grain pill usage. 32’s at 4100, 39”s at 3900. Disadvantage is the dies are not as readily available though loading data is more prevalent as it was the first one on the block of notoriety. Some factory fodder was available from HSM.


20 Practical: 223 necked to .204. There are no external changes in shoulder placement or angle. Best for varmint up to coyote. Designer is unknown. Limited to 40 grains in standard 10 twist barrels though stepping up to a 9 will usually garner you a 55 grain pill usage. 32’s at 4100, 39”s at 3900... It is a ballistic twin to the 20 Tactical and 204 Ruger. The advantage is that with a straight neck down bushing dies for a 223 can be used at no cost other than a bushing addition. Any 20 Tactical data can be used in this one as it has slightly more capacity thanks to no shoulder bump. Handload only.


204 Ruger: Parent case is the 222 Magnum. Brought out by Ruger/Hornady with consultation/input from Todd Kindler its success is unquestioned. Brass can be made, if one is desperate, by simple neck up of the parent case and fire forming. Velocities and performance of this one is the same as the two preceding cases. Factory ammunition and dies are abundant. SAAMI’d.


The first three are excellent on targets both paper and warm. Bang for the buck on a PD field cannot be beat. These three cover some of my best shooting chamberings I own.


The next two are hot rods that are impressive to say the least. Case capacity is within about 1 CC with the LBC slightly larger.


20 LBC: 6.5 Grendel case necked to 204 done with bushing dies. It is a straight neck down with standard shoulders. Speeds are a solid 150-175 FPS in excess of any of the smaller 20’s. Case forming is not overly hard but neck turning is probably a good idea. This one uses a 7.62X39 bolt. NOT a GRENDEL depth bolt. It can be touchy as top end is reached.


20X6.8: 6.8 SPC case necked to 204 it is done with bushing dies. It is a straight neck down with standard shoulders. Speeds are a solid 150-175 FPS in excess of any of the smaller 20’s. Case forming is not overly hard but neck turning is probably a good idea. This one uses a 6.8 bolt. Like its ballistic twin the 20 LBC It can be touchy as top end is reached.


The 22’s encompass some of my favorites and have been being added too in the recent past. They are all close to the same in performance except for some vagaries of physics that I will touch on only lightly. These could make for a spirited cartridge war discussion that could devolve to the scum sucking pig level but like Elmer and Jack we all just have to get along.


22X6.8: 6.8 SPC case necked to .223. It is easily formed with bushings though some standard type dies do exist. A gain a straight neck down with standard shoulders. This one will do 50’s at 3750 or so and 77’s in excess of 3100. In a fast twist, 1:8, the devastation of a 50 grain bullet on small rodents is truly amazing. Operating at the highest pressures of any of the 6.8 case variants it can win any speed contest up to 80 grains. Case capacity 35.22.


22 LBC: 6.5 Grendel case necked to .223. It is easily formed with bushings though some stranded type dies do exist. Straight neck down with standard shoulders. This one will do 50’s at 3750 or so and 77’s in excess of 3100. In a fast twist, 1:8, the devastation of a 50 grain bullet on small rodents is truly amazing like its sibling. . Ballistically it will outrun the 22X6.8 or any of the others across the board with heavy bullets and keep up with them on the lighter pills. While it does have less top end pressure it has far greater case capacity than the newest challenger the Valkyrie. Case capacity 37.96


22 Nosler: Parent case 30 Remington/6MM Hagar. This one is a rebated rim with a 223 case head and a 6.8 SPC body. It is a full 45 MM long like a 223. It is limited to 55,000 PSI and will out run the really hot 556 loads because of higher case capacity but not by much. Shot side by side with a 22X6.8 it was found to be 50/75 FPS slower than the 6.8 case head size. It can be loaded with readily available dies either bushing or standard type. Sole source brass may hurt this one but factory ammunition is available. Case capacity 37.12 SAAMI’d


22 Valkyrie: Parent case 6.8 SPC. Shoulders are bumped and angle is changed from the parent. This one was designed as long range alternative with the use of 90 grain bullets in a very fast 7+ twist tube. The case is cut back to approximately 40 MM and with a long neck. The case capacity is severely impacted. Factory ammunition will be available and the cases could be made out of 6.8 SPC parent brass. With the fast twist it may be that any extremely light, under 60 grains, bullets may have issues. If brass becomes available from any source besides Federal who was the shaker and mover on this it will benefit the cartridge immensely. Stated case capacity is only 32.2 and while it will do the big boys it will not have a prayer keeping up with the 22 LBC or 22X6.8 at 80 grains or less. A possible SAAMI certification in early 2018 at SHOT has been predicted.


As noted previously the Valkyrie is the only one of these I have not shot. Rest assured I will have one once the final specs on the case are published. It will be interesting but for a true handloader it offers nothing other than the 90 grain option. I will not go into external ballistics much but if one had a mind to he should run the hot 20 calibers against any of these out to 1000 yards and the results should best be viewed setting down with no beverages being swallowed when the enter button is pushed. You have been warned.


That covers the 22’s that are being shot COMMONLY in the AR platform though there are a few more out there. The 22 PPC is one of those BTW.


Next up would be the 6 MM’s. Short and sweet they are generally covered by three recognized chamberings though as noted there are many of those out there also as in the 22 offerings.


6X45 aka 22X223. Parent case is the 223. Designed about 15 minutes after the first 223 case hit the hands of a man with a press. Balanced perfectly for pills up to 90 grains it is a PD and deer slayer in the hands of a competent shot. Bullet selection is astronomical and this is one of the strong reasons to choose it. With the introduction of magazines that load to 2.314 the selection is even better since we useless boiler room. Thanks to the greater expansion ratio it will shot one class heavier bullets than the 223 at the same velocity or same same weight at higher speeds. 87’s at 2900-3000 are easily doable. Dies are available in any size or shape you want and brass is the common 223 in all its offerings. Maybe the most versatile of any 6 MM on the market and most respected by the old hands. SAAMI’d but virtually zero factory ammunition is available.



6X6.8. 6.8 SPC necked to .243. No shoulder movement or angle changes are done. Designed by Ritch Johnson it is one of the best balanced of the two noted here and reigns supreme on the lighter bullet area under about 90 grains. 58’s at 3550 make bad medicine for coyotes and other predators. 87’s at 3000 are common. It is nicely situated as a light deer rifle and will take antelope with aplomb. Being a straight neck down it can be done with custom standard dies or the ubiquitous bushing style that most prefer for flexibility in neck tension. Case capacity is 35.5.


243 LBC: Parent case 6.5 Grendel. No shoulder movement or angle changes are made. Designed by Ritch Johnson it is probably the best balanced 6 MM wildcat on the market. It will handle the slightly heavier bullets above the 6X6.8 range up to 105’s though the 95 is the ultimate speed/BC winner when shot at distance. It is easily formed with standard, custom, dies or the Grendel bushing type. Brass choice and quality is Lapua. None better exists for consistency and brass life. 95’s at 2900-2950 are easily doable. It has slightly more capacity than the 6X6.8 and with heavy bullets gives up less of that so that is why it does so well. Excellent 50 yard target performance has been seen and this will go to 1000 without breathing hard if one had that in mind. Case capacity is 36.17.


25 Sharps aka 25X45: Parent case 223. The next step up from the 25X45.It offers slightly heavier bullet potential but due to its bore size few bullets weights are offered in the lower end. A nice small deer round and excellent on coyotes it would be ideal for a young/smaller shooter. Ignored by the public mostly but with the Sharps Rifle Company moving it into the light of day it gets more press. Factory ammunition and cases is available from them as are dies. It was SAAMI’d by SRC also. The cartridge is capable of very nice groupings and would make a good calling rifle.


25X6.8: Parent case 6.8 SPC. A straight neck down this one shines as a deer cartridge in the woods. I did the reamer design on this cartridge because I just had too. It has enough extra capacity to push the 115/117’s well but will shine with a 110 AccuBond. Made up with bushing dies it is well behaved and is a nice bridge to the medium game area. Several other versions of it are on the market but smoke and mirrors aside none out does the other except in lack of propriety dies and the necessity of some versions require the cases need the shoulders blown out to a sharper angle for full capacity that isles than 1 CC in reality. Extensive work was done by one shooter who resides in Alaska and it is impressive.


6.5X6.8: Parent case 6.8SPC. As straight neck down again easily formed in a single pass with one bushing. Designed to run with the Grendel in 6.5 with its extra pressure cushion it is not spoken of much. It will handle up to the 123’s without issue but being longer at 43 MM it does start having competition with the 6.5 G. above that. Velocities are slightly higher than the G. below 123 grains but at 123 it is about a wash. An excellent deer round and in the hands of a cool shot it is capable of much larger game.


American 30: Parent case 6.8 SPC. This one has a shoulder bump, angle change and is shortened to 1.620. This is Thor's Hammer in the little 30’s that are most common. It has more capacity than the 7.62X39 and will out run a 30-30 with bullet weights up to 150 grains because of its higher operating pressures. Teamed with a 125 Nosler it is a deer/light elk cartridge deluxe. Many mule deer have fallen in excess of 300 yards with this one. Truly a great cartridge designed by Ritch Johnson. It uses standard 30 Herrett dies that are readily available. It is fully capable of being used in subsonic applications and is much easier load for than most realize. Energy and velocity it is only exceeded by one common 30 wildcat that is not easily obtained although I d have one that I play with. The 6.8 case head is a plus for this cartridge although a Grendel variant with an enhanced bolt will stay with it and exceeds even the A-30 in performance across the board.


So guys this was short overview. Not overly technical. I have written a page or so on each cartridge for the book that gives more history and performance. I am in the process of getting pictures taken and range sessions so that I can offer some baseline load data for those of a mind to step out of the box and get on the wildcat podium.





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OK Guys. This is my Christmas present to the board and all my wonderful and supportive friends here. As you know every good book with reloading data should have more than a bunch of tables and numbers if it hopes to show a fellow not only what he's loading but how it got to that point. Historical perspective is always nice.


I can trace back the origin on all these wildcats many years. The 6.8 variants in particular were originated in a base form back in the 30's and I can expound at length about those along with case pictures but that's a different exercise. Below is the short blurb on the 6X.8 that will be posted up in the reloading chapter I have a section for each chambering. I believe there are 24 + or - of those. Thanks to Federal and Nosler I need to add two more..lol


So in the spirit of giving..MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!







The first 6.8 variant designed for Black Hole has been a success from day one. It has been accepted by the shooting public and hardly a day goes by that is not mentioned by some user or potential shooter. In flexibility it spans the usage chart from light bullet varmint rounds to heavier bullet choices usable in the game fields at outstanding ranges on deer and antelope.


The 6X6.8 was conceptualized by Ritch as a faster and bigger coyote round. The quest was started to fill the niche using a 6MM bullet and a modern case. Supported from day one by Carl, BHW owner, development was swift and fruitful with overall development time one of the fastest we have seen. Only taking four reamer changes the final result shoots so well, as they say, as to be called scary accurate. If there were a 6.8 case that truly is inherently accurate it would be this one. Using small powder charges that push the proper weight bullets at pressures not straining the platform nor burning out barrels are the strong suites of this round.


A simple neck down using the proper sized bushing in the Redding Type S die is fast and simple. No shoulder angle changes or set back means no fire forming is needed leading to an economical wildcat that pays off in huge dividends.


A loading from 55 to 95 grains in hunting ammunition allows the shooter to match the projectiles to the job. At 55 grains PD’s and coyotes are natural targets. Tactical Ammunition sells a 58 grain loading developed by the Pro Staff that has been proven time and again as a top notch coyote round. In the 90 grain range big game are within reason and reports of success come in each big game season. So far the longest recorded kill was 646 yards on an antelope with a magazine fed 90 Berger.


Velocities on the 6X6.8 can run at a smoking 3700+ FPS for the lighter bullets up to a very respectable 2950 with a 95 grain fed from the magazine. The Berger 90’s, as mentioned above, enhance the capabilities of the cartridge as a long range game chambering with proven performance. Pressure testing of this wildcat came into play early on with this cartridge. The early testing ensured that all the developing players knew what a safe load was and set the stage for factory support for the round.


Dies are for most loaders the Redding Type S. However, a more normal die set up using the sizer from CH4D, listed as the 6MM Remington SPC by them, is affordable and made directly from reamer prints supplied at the chamberings inception make exceptional dimensionally correct ammunition. Seating can be completed with the correct Hornady seater or the matching seater from CH4D. As this is also a no turn neck case forming is easily accomplished through the usage of two bushings. Variations in final neck thickness are addressed via selection of the final bushing.


Brass as furnished by any manufacturer is usable and with some types case life is nothing short of phenomenal. Many cases have been loaded in excess of ten times and still show no signs of neck splits or loose primer pockets. The later condition can be reduced if one chooses to step out of the sane loading box and go where no man should venture without a lucky talisman or two in their pockets.


If a one size fits all cartridge is needed this may well be the answer to the one gun approach. Shooting skill and self control can make this cartridge perform out of all proportion in the game and target fields. In the hands of a target shooter it is capable of producing some phenomenal results. Matches shot at 500 yards have shown consistent sub-MOA behavior and are much more enjoyable to shoot than the cartridges consuming twice the powder and copper.



I hope this gives you a peek into my thought process. Of course I must mention that copyright property rules apply. My writing style is different so I don't think that any of the big boys will lift it but you just never know. Some of those bloggers have no scruples.



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Thanks for doing this Greg.

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