Ruger Precision Rifle Suppressed Load Development: Hornady 147 ELD-Match and H4350
Suppressors are here to stay. What was once a novelty in the precision rifle world has grown increasingly common. You’d be hard pressed to find a serious gun collection that doesn’t contain a suppressed rifle of some kind. In this post, we are going to take a look at load development in the Ruger Precision Rifle equipped with a Q Thunder Chicken suppressor. We’ll see how the 5 different loads we tested shoot and compare the suppressed load results to the unsuppressed load results.
The test rifle is the same stock Ruger Precision Rifle (GENIII) that I’ve been shooting in previous posts. Other than the fact that it was a limited run of rifles coated in Barrett Brown Cerakote, this RPR is the same as any other you’d buy off the shelf in a store. In fact, this was a rifle that I grabbed off the shelf from my store. It wasn’t hand picked, in fact, it was the one that had some shelf rash on it. The rifle is topped off with a Nightforce NXS 8-32 SFP scope in a Spuhr mount to it along with a Harris bipod. For this post I added a Q Thunder Chicken Suppressor.
The Q Thunder Chicken is a 100% titanium fast attach suppressor. Rather than housing baffles or a mono-core inside a tube, the Thunder Chicken is a series of Titanium cups that are laser welded together. This eliminates a need for an outside sleeve and reduces weight. it is attached to the muzzle via the Cherry Bomb muzzle brake. The Cherry Bomb is a non-directional brake that is attached to the muzzle of the rifle with a standard 1/2″ socket, slick. ( I went ahead and Debo’d the above images from Q’s website).
With the rifle set up and ready to go, it is time to head to the range. Since the 147 ELD-Match shot the best on our first trip to the range, I went ahead and loaded the same 5 loads I tested last time. This would provide a comparison between the performance of the rifle with the standard muzzle brake in place (unsuppressed) and the rifle with the Thunder Chicken in place (suppressed).
WARNING: The loads shown are for informational purposes only. They are only safe in the rifle shown and may not be safe in yours. Consult appropriate load manuals prior to developing your own handloads. Rifleshooter.com and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.
I used Starline large rifle primer brass that was not prepped.
Velocity data was recorded with a MagnetoSpeed V3 barrel mounted ballistic chronograph. Pro Tip, don’t attach your MagnetoSpeed to your Thunder Chicken if you plan on shooting more than a few rounds. You’ll melt it. Trust me, I know.
For the RPR equipped with the Thunder Chicken, the Hornady 147 ELD-Match and H4350 load muzzle velocities ranged from 2,433 to 2,561 feet/second. Standard deviation ranged from 13.6 to 23.3 feet/second with an average muzzle velocity of 17.8 feet/second. 5-shot 100 yard accuracy ranged from .598″ (.571 MOA) to 1.152″ (1.100 MOA) with an average group size of .832″ (.795 MOA).
You’ll note in the picture of the groups above, the first group is significantly lower than the subsequent groups. This was fired with the zero for the rifle without the suppressor and the point of impact was approximately 4.5″ lower and 2″ to the right when the suppressor was attached. After the first group I dialed a correction.
Overall the results with the 147 ELD-Match were fairly pleasing. While they didn’t perform quite as well as those I shot without the can, that could simply be a function of dialing in the right load.
I don’t ever want to waste a data set. Having shot the 147 Hornady ELD-M and H4350 (my chronograph melted right after this), I decided to compare the results I gather with those from the same load, in the same rifle, fired at the same temperature without a suppressor. I made a series of line graphs to compare the results. In each of the following graphs, the suppressed data (Thunder Chicken) is plotted with a red line, while the unsuppressed data is plotted with a blue line.
Effect of Suppressor on Muzzle Velocity
When you examine the graphs above, you’ll notice the suppressed loads behave similarly to the unsuppressed loads. The changes in muzzle velocity due to powder charge seem to be more consistent with the suppressor attached, while the group size and standard deviation are marginally bigger. I would suggest this may not be as much a function of the suppressor as it may represent the need to tweak the loads for use with the suppressor.
Best group of the lot was the .598″ (.571 MOA)! That’s respectable, especially considering this is a factory rifle with factory Starline Brass. Nothing particularly fancy here.
The Thunder Chicken worked well. I really liked the light weight and ease of attachment with a non directional muzzle brake. You can learn more about Q here, or purchase a Thunder Chicken from Brownells.