.204 Ruger

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stokesrj
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.204 Ruger

Postby stokesrj » Fri Oct 06, 2017 5:33 pm

In my never ending quest to downsize I just went from 41 to 42 calibers that I load for. This may seem counter intuitive to my wife and most of you, but I'm actually trying to plan for a time when I will not have the luxury of space I have today. I plan to move from Florida back to Arizona in the coming months. I'll go from a 5,000+ square foot house to a condominium for my winter home and then hopefully buy a ranch in Wyoming, Montana, or Idaho to spend my summers and early spring and fall. So, I've been looking for a few calibers that I can reliably find factory loads that shoot well. That is a tall order as I have become accustomed to tuning loads to a rifle that will at a minimum shoot .5 MOA.

It is really hard to find factory loads that shoot under .5 MOA however, I have succeeded with one of my R8 barrels, a 6.5 Creedmoor. I have .222 Rem and .223 Rem barrels for my R8 but they don't quite cut the mustard. And occasionally I like to meet up with one of my old USAF friends and shoot varmints, high volume varmints, columbia ground squirrels in Oregon in early spring. So, I started looking into the .204 Ruger.

My friend shoots a 17 Rem, a 22-250, and several 17 HMRs. He taught me how to reload centerfire rifle cartridges outside of Fairbanks Alaska more than 40 years ago. He is primarily a varminter, and I am primarily a big game hunter, although we often cross over into each others domain.

Recently he and I were discussing the optimum varmint caliber. He really likes the 17 Rem because with it, recoil is light, so light that he can observe the hit through the scope. However, he readily agrees that wind doping is nearly impossible beyond 300 yards if there is anything more than dead calm.

For these situations he uses his 22-250. The problem with this caliber being muzzle blast, recoil, and heat generation. His rifle has a bull barrel but for this use, shot strings must be limited to six or seven shots before accuracy and mirage make using it frustrating.

We then began discussing the .204 Ruger which is based upon the longer .222 Magnum case necked down to .204" and produces velocities very similar to the 22-250 but without the undue muzzle blast and heat. So, I decided to give this caliver a try.

As most will know, EuroOptics is flush with .204 Ruger barrels for the R8. At the moment you can buy a semi-weight barrel with magazine for $499. That my friend is a screaming deal. However, I plan to do some late winter coyote calling and really wanted a standard profile barrel.

I remembered that one of our board members had a spare .204 standard profile barrel, so I bought it.

Reports have been very positive on the R8 using the Hornady SuperFormance 40 grain V-max loading for the .204 so, as usual, I ordered a set of dies, 100 rounds of factory loads, a few hundred 40 grain V-Max bullets and supporting measurement tools.

Tomorrow, I'll start to learn this caliber.
Robert J Stokes

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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby mchughcb » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:28 pm

Lol wait until you are down to 1300 square feet, that will get you really focussed on calibre selection and wifes shoe collection.

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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby dchamp » Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:44 am

Looking forward to seeing your results with the .204 Ruger. I bought one of those barrels last year but have not shot it much. If I remember right Superformance 40gr V-Max gave the best performance followed by the Nosler 32gr Lead Free.
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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby KZ45 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 6:01 pm

I have one as well. The Hornady Superformance 40gr V-Max is very accurate. You should get some good results with hand loads.

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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby Grumulkin » Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:31 pm

I have a Thompson/Centerter Contender rifle barrel in 204 Ruger. Some of the things I've taken with it include a crow and a coyote at a bit over 300 yards, a raccoon at about 350 yards, a deer at 252 yards, etc. I use heavy bullets, however, a whole 45 grains!

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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby stokesrj » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:39 pm

I had my first range session with the 204 barrel today. It produced sub MOA accuracy with the Hornady 40 grain V-Max SuperFormance loading, but not 1/2 MOA. To be fair it wasn't a good day for testing light bullets, swirling winds of 20 MPH blew my target down a couple of times and made it very frustrating waiting for lulls. I used the time to clean between each shot for the first two three shot groups, then after each three shot group until I shot one box of 20 rounds. It did produce one three shot group that was pleasing, around .2" but the very next one was .8".

At least now I have some empty cases to use for load development. I'm sure I can find a load that will shoot .5 MOA or less, but my experience with factory loads have been pretty much this way.

Watch for updates as I get more time and better weather.
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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby SPEEDY » Sun Oct 08, 2017 5:57 pm

Sounds like a good set up for a traveling hunter, this getting out of dodge for winter is definitely the way to go, great minds and all that. :dance:

The 204 is IMO a hit and miss calibre in Australia, people inevitably try to use it for bigger stuff then intended, due to that lazer like trajectory and zero recoil.
I went pig shooting with one young fella that thought it was good idea to use his, damn I had to chase down some angry pigs.
I don't know what I wanted more, break the rifle over a tree or plant it firmly up where the sun don't shine.

But for someone that wants it purely for what it was actually designed for, high volume varmints and longer range varmints and predators, I honestly can't think of a better round.
Its as flat as a 17rem and bucks the wind better then a 223rem, no recoil and damn accurate.
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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby stokesrj » Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:08 pm

That is my intended use, Columbian Ground Squirrels, Prairie Dogs, Coyotes. I saw enough good stuff from it that I am sure I can develop a pleasing load. I'm always hoping to find a factory load that shoots real well, but so far the only one I've found that meets my satisfaction criteria is the 6.5 Creedmoor 143 grain ELD-X Precision Hunter factory load. I'll try a few other 204 factory loads, the Hornady standard 40 grain V-Max, and 45 grain soft point, perhaps some others but once I settle on a hand load, I'll load up a few thousand to tide me over.
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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby stokesrj » Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:40 pm

I measured the five three shot groups I shot today at 100 yards in difficult winds. The average of the five groups was .756". The smallest was .212" and largest .965". This is accurate for a factory rifle and factory loads, I was just hoping for better.

I'll now load a matrix using IMR8208XBR and the 40 grain V-Max to see what I get. The Hodgdon manual lists 27.3 grains as max so I'll start at 26.9 and go up in .2 grain increments to 27.5.

Incidentally, the Hornady 40 grain V-Max SuperFormance load lists a muzzle velocity of 3,900 fps from a 24" barrel. I got an average velocity of 3,592 fps with an extreme spread of 112 fps and a standard deviation of 27.3 fps for 20 shots. I have no doubt that handloads can do much better.
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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby SPEEDY » Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:13 pm

One thing I've noticed with the Hodgdon powder, well at least from out Aussie ADI powders as they are called and listed here, is that their maximum load is generally pretty mild at least from the non compressed loads.

In the 260rem it lists BM2 as a maximum of 41gn with a 100gn pill, I used 43.5gn with no pressure signs for 3300fps, 44gn only got 3320fps so I considered it the max and backed off the extra 1/2 grain, but I did get to 44.5gn before I noticed the bolt getting a bit stiff.
Same with the 223rem, you could fit an extra 1.5gn in most loads before things got stiff or primers started to flatten (not a method I trust)

I found the Chrony the best mesure, I'd start 1gn below their maximum and work up in half grains till I noticed very little speed increasesay only 10-20fps ir the bolt getting stiff. Then I would work back till I found and accurate load, or play with the seating until things picked up.
I'm quite sure you have no trouble finding a right load and max pressure, you have more then enough experience abd definitely more then me.
But I thought this might be a helpful tip for new players, but highlights that ADI can be a bit mild, and I've always found the best accuracy on a warm/hot load with it.
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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby 9.3x64 » Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:22 pm

I only recently sold my last 17 cal and won't be buying another again.
It's all good and well to have stellar performance and light recoil but I found barrel fouling to be a pain in the arse with 17 cals.
I now only go as low as 22 cal, however I have never had any experience with a 20 cal.
I am curious on your opinion on barrel fouling Bob after owning a 204 for a while.
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I wonder how long it will be before Blaser introduces the new Blaser double rifle?

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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby stokesrj » Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:32 pm

So far, barrel fouling has been minimal, very similar to my .222 and .233 barrels. But I will keep track and report back.
Robert J Stokes

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Re: .204 Ruger

Postby 9.3x64 » Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:41 pm

stokesrj wrote:So far, barrel fouling has been minimal, very similar to my .222 and .233 barrels. But I will keep track and report back.

Thanks Bob, it will be good information to know.
Maybe the 20 cal bore is forgiving enough to be more practical.
Life is too short to hunt with an ugly dog.
Hunt with a German Shorthaired Pointer.


I wonder how long it will be before Blaser introduces the new Blaser double rifle?


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