Ruger Compact 6.8mm SPC


If you have read through Bill's writings, particularly the article on the 6.8mm SPC, then you know who I am. I'm the customer who came into his shop one day looking for a new rifle. What drove that event was my love-hate relationship with the .243 Win. I love it, its accuracy, its range, its stopping power, its versatility. What I hate about it is the small entry wound and that sometimes the bullet expends all its energy and does not exit a deer. Despite best intentions and best of bullet placements, occasionally a deer will run on you and sometimes there isn't much of a blood trail, if there is one at all.

Where I hunt, down on the family farm in Mississippi, tracking a deer in the thick woods and underbrush is challenging enough even with a blood trail. I decided I wanted something with a bit more uummpphh to it, but not something which was going to be uncomfortable to shoot. Like Bill, I'm not much of a fan of recoil and muzzle blast. I retired my first and only deer rifle, an old bolt action Winchester Model 670A in .30-06 purchased when I was 16 years old, years earlier in favor of the .243 Win. But before I could go shopping for a new rifle I first had to obtain the blessings of "She Who Must Be Obeyed" and it was agreed this would be my Christmas present. Gotta love the lady. My search for my Christmas present took me to the internet where I explored calibers ranging from .25WSSM to the 7mm-08 and that lead me to Bill's shop and eventually to the 6.8mm SPC
and our discussion. The 6.8mm SPC seemed to have everything that I was looking for; range, ballistics, broader spectrum of bullet weights, accuracy, and some healthy uummpphh packaged in a .277 bullet. Bill handed me a Ruger M77 Compact and it was love. The set and feel of the rifle, and the fact the 6.8mm is designed to be fired through short barreled compact rifles made the Ruger really enticing. But still I was hesitant to commit to this relationship until a subsequent visit to Bill's shop where he told me about his own shooting experiences with the 6.8mm SPC and showed me his targets. Sold!!! I bought the Ruger compact in 6.8mm SPC and had it set up with a 4x12 variable scope.

Next stop the family farm and the tail end of the Mississippi deer season. I set up a target at 100yrds and put the rifle on a bench rest to site in the scope. I employed Bill's recommended process of firing three shot strings followed by cleaning the bore and then making adjustments to the scope. The ammunition I used was Silver State Armory's 110gr. Barnes TSX cartridges. Those are the solid copper bullets. I'm not a reloader, yet, so I'm bound by what is available in factory loads. But, nine shots later the rifle was hitting dead center. The entire process was smooth, the rifle being just an absolute pleasure to shoot. What I enjoyed most about the experience was being able to see the holes appear in the target with each shot. The recoil and the muzzle blast was that easy and manageable. After that it was out to the woods. On that trip I only saw a few deer and only one of those within
range. It was a young doe so I passed on the shot. That ended my deer hunting for the year.

This year I made the decision to use the Ruger exclusively so I could become more familiar and comfortable with it. Probably a wise decision. Given Mississippi has a very long deer season, starting in early November and closing at the end of January, there is ample opportunity to get in a few hunting trips. My first trip took place over Thanksgiving and the weather was unseasonably warm with a full moon. If you saw a deer, it was usually at dark thirty in the morning or evening. I shot at a deer, a large doe, early one morning. I missed and got a second shot which I promptly missed again. This sent me back to my homemade range later that morning where I discovered there was a problem with operator headspace and timing. I was shooting high. Some range work corrected this and toward the end of my hunt I took a small buck with the Ruger just before dark. I was very pleased with the performance of both the rifle and the Barnes TSX cartridge. Though the deer did run, I did not lose it in the muzzle flash or recoil, seeing exactly where it went, and the Barnes TSX bullet passed cleanly through the deer. There was no issue with a blood trail. Took less than 15 seconds to walk from where the deer was shot to where the deer was down in a pine thicket. The next opportunity to hunt took place over Christmas when the weather was much colder and blustery. We even had a "White Christmas". None the less I was on a stand one morning when a large bodied buck, by southern whitetail standards, nosed out from the woods. He was about 75yds from me and presented a clear flank shot. The shot hit him just behind his right shoulder and I watched through the scope as he folded up and dropped onto his right side. When I got to him, I noticed a bulge of pulverized tissue extruding from just behind his left shoulder and I wondered if this was the exit wound. Didn't look right though as there was no blood and I could feel a lump under the skin. I was thinking a piece of bone perhaps. It wasn't until I dressed out the deer that I found the source of the extruded tissue and the lump. It was the bullet poking between the ribs and sticking halfway through the hide. It was a Barnes TSX all copper bullet and it was about 95% intact. Impressive thing to look at.

Overall I am highly impressed and pleased with the Ruger compact and with the choice of the 6.8mm SPC cartridge. It is easy to work with on a stand or while moving through the woods, a pleasure to shoot for those who are recoil sensitive, and it is very accurate within the ranges at which most deer are shot. There is one other aspect of this rifle/cartridge combination that I liked. When I was doing my range work to correct my "operator head space and timing" problem, I took the time to fire some 6.8mm SPC Remington 115gr. Core-lok bullets through the rifle to see how they patterned. There was no significant difference between the strings of 110gr. Barnes TSX copper bullets and the 115gr. Remington lead and copper bonded bullets. They were striking the target in the same place, sometimes right on top of each other. Definitely an advantage as I won't need to adjust the scope to account for the different bullet types and weights.


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Last Modified: Saturday, January 8, 2011 0:33 AM