.22 Creedmoor Loads Using Peterson Cartridge Small Rifle Primer Brass
Date: Sep 13 2022
Hornady supplied the brass used to develop my first .22 Creedmoor loads. Other companies like Alpha Munitions, and the Peterson Cartridge brass highlighted here, have begun to fill the gaps. More germane to our discussion here, is that Peterson Cartridge offers both large and small rifle primer brass, which I’ll get into in more detail shortly.
The .22 Creedmoor is nothing more than the 6.5mm or 6mm Creedmoor necked down to accept .224 bullets without any further changes (necks may require turning or reaming to ensure proper chamber fit/bullet release). The trim-to length is 1.91 inches, like the 6mm Creedmoor. The .22 Creedmoor makes the most sense paired with a fast-rifling twist, firing 77- to 90-grain bullets with exceptional ballistic coefficients (BC) for long-range or windy-day varmint shooting. Paired with a heavy-for-caliber monolithic copper or bonded-core bullet, like those from Hammer Bullets, Barnes, Badlands Bullets or Swift, the .22 Creedmoor serves well for light big game such as hogs, deer or pronghorn.
The test rifle holds a heavy-contour, stainless steel PROOF Research barrel with a 1:7 rifling twist. Little Crow Gunworks’ Dale Hegstrom installed this barrel on a trued Remington Model 700 .308 short action and finished it at 26 inches and threaded it for a suppressor. The Timney Trigger was tuned to break at 1.25 pounds. The barreled action was skim bedded into a Stocky’s Accublock EuroMatch stock with aluminum bedding block. A Magpul Magazine Well Kit with a PMag 5-round detachable magazine and a short section of forearm-mounted Picatinny rail for the purpose of holding a bipod, completed the build. I added Precision Hardcore Gear’s 20 MOA Tru Level Picatinny rail and 34mm Ranger rings. Trijicon’s superb AccuPower 4.5-30x 56mm turreted scope made an ideal pairing. With a FAB Defense Spike Tactical Bipod and a Rebel Silencers SOS Hunter suppressor attached, the rifle weighed 16 pounds.
My original load development, contained in Handloader No. 330 (February-March 2021), included six bullet weights from 77 to 90 grains fueled by 15 different powders. QuickLoads software was used to determine safe start loads. That project, approached conservatively, produced some tight-shooting combinations and zero overpressure signs. Hodgdon’s Reloading and Peterson Cartridge’s websites now include .22 Creedmoor data, with my initial loads lining up well within that pressure-tested work.
Here, the goal was to work with Peterson Cartridge’s Small Rifle primer brass, while also auditioning new powder and bullet combinations. This curiosity stems from my work with the 6mm Creedmoor and eventual adoption of Lapua brass with small rifle primer pockets. The Finnish engineers who exhaustively test Lapua products have determined that small rifle primers provide an accuracy edge in the 6mm Creedmoor. The Lapua brass did shrink groups ever so slightly, though, it would have to be acknowledged that Lapua’s exceptional quality could have as much to do with this as primer-pocket dimensions.
Peterson Cartridge has also earned a rock-solid reputation for exceptional quality. Carefully weighing 10 new, unprepped Hornady Large Rifle primer and 10 Peterson Small Rifle brass, the Hornady averaged 148.84 grains with a 1.5-grain weight deviance, Peterson averaged 165.28 grains with a .7-grain weight deviance. Water-filled Hornady cases with a spent primer in place held 51.8 grains of water on average, Peterson cases held 49.1 grains. I reduced all loads by one half (69- and 77-grain bullets) to full grain (80- to 90-grain bullets) to account for volume discrepancies and the pressure increases certain to result. CCI BR-4 Small Rifle Match primers and Hornady Custom Grade Dies were used.
Regarding bullets, new introductions included Rocky Mountain Reloading’s 69-grain 3-Gun Hunter and Berger’s 80-grain VLD Target. The 3GH was added to see what kind of velocity would result, the Berger to see if the boat-tail/hollowpoint design would match the performance of Hornady’s poly-tipped 80-grain ELD Match bullet. Repeats included Sierra’s 77-grain Tipped MatchKing, and Berger’s 85.5-grain Long Range Hybrid Target and 90-grain VLD Target.
The Rocky Mountain Reloading 3-Gun Hunter mirrors Sierra MatchKing’s profile, while providing an estimated .335 G1 BC and promising more reliable expansion on game. I’ve taken average-sized hogs with these bullets from my .223 Remington AR-15, as well as many small varmints. The 80-grain Berger included an impressive .445 G1 BC and proven terminal performance on burrowing rodents. The .420 G1 BC of Sierra’s 77-grain Tipped MatchKing is created by a green polymer tip and sleek boat-tail, the plastic tip initiating more reliable expansion on small varmints than original MatchKings. Berger’s 85.5-grain Long Range Hybrid Target includes a mega .524 G1 BC and has become my #1 bullet for this rifle while targeting distant rockchucks. Expansion is explosive, even to 400-500 yards. Finally, the Berger 90-grain includes a 6mm-class .512 G1 BC, and will expand on varmints.