When the February 2011 issue of American Rifleman showed up in my mailbox a few days ago, I look at the cover and see “Shooting & Loading the 6.8 SPC“. Ooo! How apropos!
In reading the article I was taken aback. How much actual experience with 6.8 SPC did the author, Bryce M. Towsley, have? I know he’s been around, but I’m talking specifically with the 6.8.
The article isn’t overall bad, but it just doesn’t seem all that well-informed.
He says “The 6.8 SPC is not a ‘drop-them-in-their-tracks’ cartridge”. I beg to differ, having dropped a deer DRT just a couple months ago. I know others have experienced the same. He also mentioned that they rarely exited, but until that same deer hunt I have never recovered a bullet… all have exited, and this one didn’t purely because of the angle at which I shot the deer (all hail Barnes TSX performance). But I’ll give him a pass on this given the rest of the paragraph seemed to have been speaking of past performance, not modern 6.8 performance.
Then he says after testing a multitude of factory ammunition and handloads, he says didn’t find the 6.8 to be particularly accurate. Eh?
Ignore the ones in the center as I was still zeroing the rifle. This is from a Wilson Combat 6.8 upper using Silver State Armory 85 grain Barnes TSX “tac-load”. The 3 groups on the diamonds are not accurate?
If the data in the article is complete, then I’m not sure what to say. Either it’s your gun, your handloads, or your factory ammo choice. Try some Silver State Armory for factory ammo. For handloading, Silver State Armory’s small-primer brass is the best.
When it comes to performance when hunting, the article makes it sound like 6.8 isn’t good for much beyond varmints and whitetail deer. People are taking elk with 6.8, big mean hogs with 6.8. So, not really sure why 6.8 gets the brush-off from the author.
What’s more confusing? While the online article doesn’t have the sidebar, the print article has a sidebar on 6.8 by Bill Wilson (the “Wilson” in “Wilson Combat“). Bill has done a lot of testing and work with the 6.8, and here’s the proof. <– go on, click it. It’s not just the copy nor testimonials at the top of the page; it’s not just the guns listed in the middle of the page. Look towards the bottom of the page and the number of animals taken, and those are just the big trophy-like ones. Look how many big Texas feral hogs were taken with 6.8. And look all the way at the bottom at the steel plates and the grouping there at long distance.
Furthermore, Bill’s sidebar says:
My initial impressions of the 6.8 SPC were its accuracy potential, functional reliability and lack of recoil. Shot through quality barrels, it’s easy to get 1/2″ to 1″ 100-yard groups with bullets suitable for hunting. Few load combinations I tried shot worse than 2″.
One article contradicts the other article. So which is it? Is 6.8 accurate or not? Me? I’ll take Bill’s word for it because I know how much work he’s done in this area.
But my personal reason for experimenting with the 6.8 SPC was not tactical or target shooting. It was hunting, specifically hog hunting. For those who have not hunted hogs, be aware that a 100-lb. hog is as tough to kill as an average whitetail, and a big, tough old 200-plus-lb. boar is as hard to put down as some elk-sized animals. They are tough, require good shot placement and deep penetration.
So how does the 6.8 SPC actually work on game? This little round has terminal performance way out of proportion to its size. At the time of this writing I know of more than 50 hogs weighing up to 270 lbs. that have been cleanly taken with the 6.8 SPC with neck and shoulder shots at distances up to 150 yards.
…my favorite [loads for hogs] being the 85- and 100-gr. Barnes TSX and the Nosler 130-gr. AccuBond. For predators and whitetails, I like the Barnes 85-gr. TSX, 110-gr. Sierra Pro-Hunter and the 100- or 110-gr. Nosler AccuBond.
Based on my hog and deer hunting experiences, however, I would not hesitate to shoot the largest hog, a large mule deer or a black bear with my 6.8 loaded with Barnes 110-gr. TSX bullets.
When you actually know what the history is of the 6.8, when you know what’s going on with the 6.8 and what it can actually do, you find it’s quite a fantastic and capable round. If you really want to stay on the cutting edge of what’s going on with 6.8, or if you just want to learn more about it, 68forums.com is your best resource.
I got into 6.8 because I wanted something more capable than .223/5.56 for hunting, but didn’t add tremendous amounts of recoil. Something in the AR platform gives lots of versatility and flexibility of options. I wanted this so I could have something my kids could hunt with. Thing is, it’s becoming what I’m enjoying to hunt with. :-) I’d say the only downside is there still isn’t an inexpensive option for plinking rounds.
If this article can get more people interested in 6.8 SPC, that’s great. Unfortunately I wonder if people are going to read the article and blow it off due to the way the article was written. Hopefully people will pay more attention to Bill Wilson’s sidebar.