Sako Finnlight and Barnes TTSX bullet

Problems with the .30-06

Q: Can you point me in the right direction? I have a Sako 85 Finnlight in .30-06 that I’m planning to hunt sambar with this year. I’ve been reloading for a while, but am no expert.

I’m having trouble getting the Barnes 165gn TTSX going faster than 2650fps.

I worked up slowly from 53gn to 55.5gn of AR2209, which is maximum in the Barnes Manual. The velocity started at 2600fps and only increased to 2650fps when I reached the maximum charge of 55.5gn. This is 200fps slower than what the Barnes data lists.

Since there were no obvious signs of high pressure, I increased the load to 56gn, 56.5gn and 56.8gn, which brought velocity up to 2715fps. Even though I am 1.3gn over the listed maximum, I’m still 100fps under what Barnes lists. Still no sign of excess pressure!

For comparison I tried an old box of Hornady SuperFormance ammo with 165gn GMX bullets which chronographed at 2930fps. This is only 10fps slower than what it says on the box.

Should I keep increasing the powder charge slowly, maybe in increments of .3gn? Obviously, I’ll keep an eye out for flattened primers, sticky extraction etc.

Or should I give up on those projectiles and try something else?

I can’t see the use of owning a .30-06 that gives lower velocities than the .308 Winchester. I am using once-fired Hornady cases and CCI large rifle primers.

– Andrew Pirpinias

A: In my .30-06 I loaded 58gn of AR2209 behind the 165gn Woodleigh bullet for 2870fps. And I loaded 60gn of AR2209 with the 150gn Woodleigh for 2910fps. That’s using Winchester brass in a 24” barrel.

If you are loading 56.8gn behind the Barnes 165gn TTSX then you are getting close to the 58gn I am loading. Increasing the charge by .3gn is a waste of time; increase it by one grain at a time and keep a sharp watch for any signs of excessive pressure.

You should be able to get the 165gn TTSX out of the muzzle at over 2800fps. That would be a good load for sambar.

Maximum loads can vary quite a bit between different rifles. Evidently, your Sako can digest more powder than some others.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.