When the 300 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) was launched by Hornady in the Fall of 2018, I claimed that it was “about to be the hottest new cartridge, especially in long range shooting and hunting circles… the world just doesn’t know it yet.”
Was I right? Read on to see our review of the 300 PRC cartridge and decide for yourself.
.300 Precision Rifle Cartridge Background
The 300 PRC is effectively a name brand for the 30-375R cartridge. To make the 300 Precision Rifle Cartridge, Hornady took the 375 Ruger Compact Magnum and necked it down to accept a 30 caliber bullet.
This provides some great advantages – good enough to make me an absolute fan of the 300 Precision Rifle Cartridge.
As you’ll see below, I typically avoid new cartridge offerings as many end up being just a fad that don’t really offer more than another similar cartridge already offers. However, modern cartridge and bullet design has come a long way.
Namely, modern cartridge design has helped to develop cartidges that shoot well in a variety of rifles/chambers with better shoulder angles, neck lengths, and bullet seating options (how far the bullet sticks out of the case). Modern long range bullet designs have much higher ballistic coefficients (their relative efficiency moving through the air) which often result in longer and sometimes heavier projectiles.
To get the best performance out of these new bullets, they usually need to stick further out of the case which often exceeds the overall lengths allowed by older cartridges. Therefore, to push these new bullets to their potential, a larger case is sometimes needed for more powder and a new chambering must be established to allow for the longer overall length.
The long range shooting community, in particular the military/tactical community has been chasing the great performance characteristics of high ballisitc coefficient 30 caliber projectiles as a great balance of aerodynamic performance, effect on target, and recoil.
300 PRC Specs
|Parent Case||375 Ruger|
|Cartridge Length (Max)||3.7″|
|Bolt Face Diameter||0.540″|
|Shoulder Angle||30 degrees|
|Bullets||ELD-X | ELD Match|
|Bullet Weight||212gr | 225gr|
|Muzzle Velocity (fps)||2860 | 2810|
|Energy (ft/lbs)||3850 | 3945|
|Ballistic Coeffecient (G1)||0.673 | 0.777|
|Ballistic Coefficient (G7)||0.336 | 0.391|
As an example, some in the tactical shooting community have started to adopt the 30 caliber bullet of the 300 Norma and use it in lieu of the larger and long-used 338 Lapua Mag.
According to inside sources at Hornady, one of their motivations for coming to market with the 300 PRC was to avoid the unsafe conditions presented by the 300 Norma when shooting at angles. Apparently, the load density of the 300 Norma resulted in some inconsistent pressures.
300 PRC Review – Our Take
The 300 PRC is a relatively new cartridge and I fell in love with it on some long-range testing and subsequent elk hunt before the cartridge was officialy released.
Now, to be fair, I regularly warn against adopting the latest new “fad” cartridge. After all, there’s always a new cartridge coming out that promises to do what no other cartridge has done before. Usually, the claims are true (mostly), but I rarely think it is worth chasing the newest thing.
First, you could be an early adopter only to have the cartridge fade away and you’re left with a rifle for which you can’t find ammunition.
Or, if there is ammo available, it’s expensive and hard to find. I’m a big fan of using a cartridge that can easily be found at a local sporting goods store – you never know when you’ll be at a shooting match or on a hunt and need more ammo (thanks for losing my ammo, TSA).
When the 300 Norma came out, I was outspoken about questioning whether it was smart for the military to adopt it for the ASR program. Part of my concern was that it might have been a new “fad cartridge,” the other part was that I didn’t think there were enough performance benefits to outweigh the giant 338 Lapua-sized action needed (especially when other calibers where fairly close in performance…e.g. 30 Nosler).
Also, even the 6.5 Creedmoor which has well proven its worth, didn’t win me over until recently. Finally, I’m solidly on the 6.5 Creedmoor bandwagon!
So, why do I think that the 300 PRC is going to be a winner? Essentially, it is the next step up from the 6.5 Creedmoor in design and performance and it resolves issues with other similar cartridges without any of the negatives of the 300 Norma.
There’s a good reason that the 6.5 Creedmoor is the darling of many long range shooters (and now adopted by SOCOM). It takes advantage of some ideal dimensions of the 6.5mm bullet and newer offerings offering high ballistic coefficients and its case design allows it to be accurate in many factory rifles. Also, it is a convenient balance of performance and recoil in a short-action.
The easiest way I can explain (perhaps by over-simplifying) is to say that the 300 PRC is effectively a larger 6.5 Creedmoor. Proportionaly, it shares similar dimensions (shoulder angle, case to overall length ratio, etc.) and achieves great performance of a new modern bullet design while balancing recoil and rifle size.
The 300 Norma handily beats the 300 PRC on ballistic performance. This is becuase it can shoot the same or similar bullet faster. However, this comes at a cost. The 300 Norma requires the same XL-sized action as the 338 Lapua Mag because of its large cartridge case and it recoils more than the 300 PRC.
Why do action size and recoil matter to the tactical long range shooter?
Let me go back to the 6.5 Creedmoor example for a minute… The 6.5 Creedmoor effectively the same trajectory as the 300 Win Mag out to 1,200 yards. So, why is it MUCH more popular today for long range shooting than the 300 Win Mag?
First, the 6.5 Creedmoor is designed for a short-action rifle wich means a shorter bolt throw (length of operation of the bolt) and, the barrel and stock being equal, a lighter and shorter rifle making it easier to carry and operate. It also means smaller (and lighter) magazines which are easy to manipulate and allow someone to carry lighter ammunition in a smaller container.
Sure, the 300 Win Mag could have just been necked-down to accept these newer effecient 6.5 mm bullets (there are a few artridges out there that do this) but you’d be stuck with the same sized action and bolt and more recoil. If this was ok with most people, the 6.5 Creedmoor wouldn’t have taken off like it has because the bigger version would clearly have better ballisitic performance.
Now back to the 300 Norma Mag. Again, it clearly outperforms the 300 PRC. However, for me at least, I like the 300 PRC for many of the same reasons I like the 6.5 Creedmoor.
The 300 Norma Mag is a result of necking down the 338 Norma Mag to accept a 30 caliber bullet. And the 338 Norma Mag is a very efficient cartridge that was designed as an improvement over the 338 Lapua Mag with an efficient case design and the ability to stick longer efficent 338 bullets further out of the case with the same overall length.
The 300 Norma Mag, therefore, shoots a smaller bullet than the 338 Lapua Mag out of the same sized action and bolt. In a very crude analogy (for which I’m sure I’ll receive plenty of comments below), the 300 Norma Mag is like my example above of redesigning a 300 Win Mag sized cartridge to shoot the more efficient 6.5 mm bullet. Sure, it’ll outperform the 6.5 Creemoor but you’d be stuck with the same sized action and more recoil.
As a military sniper, if I’ve got to carry the same sized and weight rifle, I’d rather have bigger perfomance. If I’m shooting a smaller bullet, give me a smaller rifle.
The 300 PRC, much like the 6.5 Creedmoor, allows for a smaller and lighter action (and thereby rifle) with less recoil. It also allows for smaller magazines and lighter ammunition. For many (me included) this is worth having less than maximum performance out of a particular bullet.
Lighter rifles and ammunition means that a soldier can carry more ammo further. Lighter recoil means that a shooter, no matter how tough you are, can shoot more with less risk of flinching.
If you’d rather have the max performance possible then you likely don’t agree with me. I just ask you this: If ultimate performance is all that matters (foregoing weight, size, and recoil), why stop at 300 Norma Mag? Why not go for an even larger cartridge and action that pushed the same bullet even faster?
In my experience, the 300 PRC is a perfect blend of size and performance. The testing I conducted resulted in excellent results that make me a big fan of the cartridge.
But, enough about my opinions, let’s look at the raw ballistics.
300 PRC Ballistics
The SAAMI spec drawings note that the 300 PRC will be able to push a 225 grain bullet at 2,800 fps.
At the range, I shot Hornady TAP Precision 300 PRC 225gr ELD Match ammunition. Using my Lab Radar doppler chronograph (this thing is absurdly awesome), I measured a consistent 2840 fps out of a 24 inch barrel on my Barrett MRAD.
Frank Green of Bartlein Barrels says that 2,900 fps is easily attainable with 225gr bullets from a 26″ barrel.
As a note, Bartlein arguably makes the BEST barrels available. If you’re in the market, you can snag a Bartlein barrel at Brownells.
Based on the results, the performance of the 300 PRC bridges the gap between the 338 Lapua and the 300 Norma.
This was very interesting to us – the 338 Lapua was the king of long range tactical shooting and the 300 Norma took off as a lighter and faster bullet out of the same case.
As I’ve noted above, I am not a fan of the 300 Norma. Sure, it has awesome ballistics on paper, but it requires the XL action of the 338 Lapua and it’s not that much better than alternatives (but it is “better”).
Enter the 300 PRC.
As you can see from the chart below, it has better energy on target and drops less than the 338 Lapua Mag past 1,000 yards and it recoils a LOT less.
It is also a much smaller cartridge so it’s easier to carry and the rifle can be smaller and lighter. Also note that although the 300 Norma out performs the 300 PRC, it’s not by much.
I’ll take the 300 PRC any day over the 300 Norma. Note how the 300 PRC (red line) is in-between the 338 Lapua (green line) and the 300 Norma (blue line) in performance (and is slightly closer to the 300 Norma). It does all this in a smaller and lighter recoiling package.
Want the absolute best performance? Get the 300 Norma or one of the rounds that outperforms it.
But, want a great balance of everything? I’m loving the 300 PRC. In the graph below, the solid lines are the ballistic path (drop) and the dashed lines are the energy.
Green = 338 Lapua Mag Red = 300 PRC Blue = 300 Norma
Here’s some data on a 225 grain Berger Hybrid bullet traveling 2900 fps out of the 300 PRC:
|Range (yards)||Drop (in)||Drop (moa)||Drop (mrad)||Wind. (in)||Wind. (moa)||Wind. (mrad)||Veloc. (fps)||Energy (ft-lbs)||Time (sec)|
So, why get a new caliber for essentially a few percentage points better performance than the 300 Win Mag? Great question. I loathe belted magnums. It may not be a real issue to have a belt on a cartridge, but it is definitely a perceived one that I don’t like. ????
Also, the length of the 300 Win Mag case as compared to its overall length doesn’t allow for longer/higher BC bullets to be loaded out as far as they like to be. The 300 PRC, on the other hand, is a non-belted magnum that can push the same weight bullets slightly faster without reaching dangerous pressures. Also, the cartridge design is begging for the high ballistic coefficient bullets that will stick out longer due to their longer sleeker design. Not sure what ballistic coefficient is or why it matters? You should check out a copy of the bestselling Long Range Shooting Handbook!
Even though the 300 PRC is fairly close to another cartridges, it is superbly accurate by design. In this way, it is much like its little brother, the 6.5 Creedmoor. The case dimensions and chamber are just begging for accuracy. If you can see a reason to chose the 6.5 Creedmoor over other similar calibers, then the 300 PRC is going to be a great step-up for you. NEW INFORMATION IS COMING IN DAILY ABOUT THIS CARTRIDGE – WATCH THIS SPACE FOR UPDATES!
300 PRC Rifles
More and more manufacturers are adopting the 300 PRC – this is great news for the cartridge!
The first rifle (we know of) in 300 PRC was the Barrett MRAD. However, Ruger now offers a Ruger Precision Rifle in 300 PRC, Bergara offers 4 models of rifles in 300 PRC, and Christensen Arms and Cooper firearms also offer multiple models in 300 PRC.
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