Other Match Loads

Spec Ops Shooting

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Despite the military's switch to the 175-grain load, the 168-grain BTHP Match continues to be the most popular police sniping cartridge in the United States and much of the Western world. That's because the 168-grain performs as accurately as the 175-grain at 600 yards or less, and most police sniper engagements take place well under 100 yards. The longest U.S. police sniper shot that I've ever heard of was 275 yards, which, extreme as that was, still fell far under the distance at which it would make any difference to use the 175-grain bullet. Thus, there's little reason to switch to the heavier load.

Occasionally the 168-grain Match bullet has been criticized for its terminal ballistics—that is, it does not mushroom and induce a wide wound channel upon impact. Instead, as shown in ballistic gelatin tests, the tip tends to break off, tumbling the slug or fragmenting it. When police snipers have not placed a round into a vital area (covered later), there have been incidents where suspects have not been immediately incapacitated. The solution, I think, is proper shot placement, not abandoning match-grade projectiles. The day will come, I'm certain, when accurate, match-quality bullets offering as much terminal effect as a mushrooming slug will replace our current ammo. Until then, police snipers need the most accurate ammo available—match grade.

There's quite a variety of high-quality .308 168-grain Match loads available. Federal led the way in the 1980s, but many other ammo makers have followed and offer extremely high-quality loads. Black Hills even offers regular or moly-coated bullets, while Hornady has fielded an impressive array of TAP (Tactical Application Police) Precision .308 cartridges, with the 168-grain load in both a hollowpoint and Hornady's famous A-Max tipped bullet. When I was the Chief of Competition at the NRA Whittington Center for the 1998 U.S. Military and Police Sniping Championships, competitors fired nothing but Hornady 168s, and they performed superbly. Hornady TAP also includes an A-Max in 155 grain.

USMC Sgt. Herbert Hancock, a police officer from Bryan, Texas, shot two Iraqi mortar crewman at 1,050 yards, the longest shots yet recorded there.

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