Under appreciated - The 280 Ackley Improved

ELR Shooting Range

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Jun 7, 2013
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30 Miles North of Sanderson, TX
First off, I know this can be a heated debate/discussion/cussing. I just want to share a few things I have learned that work for me and I AM NOT bashing others opinions or integrity!

After having dabbled in shooting/reloading for over 25 years and being lucky enough to be around some great shooters, one can learn some things. Further, running a sizeable hunting operation can open your eyes to a lot things as well.

I set out on a mission to find a caliber that was going to give some barrel life and I DID NOT want a .308 and wanted something a bit different. A good friend and F-Class shooter along with Clayton Smith, owner of West Texas Ordnance (gunsmith) both suggested the 280 Ackley Improved. I had never considered it as I am a 6.5mm/.264 shooter and wanted something pushing 3,000FPS. Again, barrel life was an somewhat priority and know what happens when you step into the fast moving 6.5 realm, .....shortened barrel life. Long story short, I ended up with a .280AI and absolutely have come to respect this caliber.

Having finished up our Long Distance Shooting Range, I was able to stretch it out and have been successful with ease shooting 1 mile using a Horus H-37 reticle and Atrag Ballistic Solver.

Here is breakdown of my rifle:
Built by West Texas Ordnance
Rem 700 Action
Krieger #19 with 1 in 9" Twist finished at 28" in length with SAS Tomb brake
Bell & Carlson Medalist Stock (adjustable cheek piece)

I am running 180gr Berger Hybrids with H1000 powder on CCI 250 primers.

This rifle doesn't punish you and hits with a respectable force at distance on steel. Take all this for what it's worth! It has been a pleasant surprise and a caliber I know I did not appreciate until as of recent!
 
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Broz

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Dec 8, 2008
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Montana
Sounds like the combo fits you well. So are you getting 3K with the 180's? What charge weight and altitude?

Thanks!

Jeff
 

ELR Shooting Range

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Jeff,
I have to admit at being a bit skeptical but trusted my 7mm buddies and their opinion. Two different chronographs showed 2906 fps and the other showed 2,925 fps and elevation of 2,950 feet. I am running 62.0 grains of H1000. The rifle is a toad and not fun to pack but I am glad I went with the 28" barrel. I was trying to milk what I could out of it without having toting a telephone pole around....aka 30"+!
 

Broz

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Dec 8, 2008
280
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Montana
Thanks for that info, I just wanted to compare it to a few 7mm-300 wins I have put together. We run 10+ grains more depending on brand of brass and case volume, but we are getting north of 3100, to as high as 3175 with 180's at 4100' asl. So far barrel life has been good.

Thanks
Jeff
 

ELR Shooting Range

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Those are some impressive numbers. I have considered running more powder but decided to keep a good thing going (don't fix something unless it is broken!), especially when considering I would risk compacting the powder column. What type of 7mm's? Using H1000?
 

Broz

Sergeant
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Dec 8, 2008
280
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Montana
The 7mm-300 win. I neck down a 300 win to 7mm and yes use H-1000. It is not quite as fast as some 7mm's but still retains good barrel life. I feel it is as far as I want to push a 7 as I have had my share of throat burners and I am over that for the most part.

Jeff
 

sandwarrior

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ELR Shooting Range,

Just about everything you are doing, I did with my .280 Ackley. For brass I started with a bunch of Remington 'range pick-ups' and that was 'okay'. I then bought a bag of Winchester and sorted it for 40 rds. That worked pretty well. The best was actually spending the cash and getting a box of Nosler brass. I found it to be quite adequate to 1k. I planned to take it to one mile but job and thus financial situation changed, so it got sold. I did choose to keep my 7mm-08 that I was successful shooting to one mile with. It was purpose built to take 180's as far as they will go, just not as fast as most other cartridges.

Anyhow, IMO, the .280 AI is about the perfect mix between getting enough velocity to take full advantage of the heavy 7mm's, without being a barrel burner. Or, a bad kicker.
 

was21

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Figured out the 280 and especially the 280 AI was the way to go many years ago. Finally got around to building one up a few years back.
I wish I had done it sooner !

Worked up some great 140 loads for antelope and the 162-175"s for the real ranges (will have to look them up). Haven't had it out for a spell but this thread has me thinking of getting it out again.

FWIW
YMMV
 

oughtsix

Latitude 45 bound
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Jan 2, 2006
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What do you suspect you could get for velocity if you shortened the barrel to 26 or even 24 inches? I too am looking to get to the 1-mile mark, without burning up a barrel as part of the learning curve. The 280AI will be the first rifle I build when I finally rid myself of grad school....
 

Donald

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The 280 imp is a very useful round just don't try and turn it into a 7mm RM because it isn't
 

Briant_az

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May 5, 2013
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I am having a 280ai built now and I cant wait to hit the range with it. I am a hunter and have shot a couple deer with a 280 and I decided the 280ai would be great for my first custom rifle. I shoot the berger vld hunting 168s out of the 280 rem and I plan to Shoot the same out of the ackley.
 

ce72

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My friend has over 75 custom made rifles . The two most accurate rifles he owns are 280ai. Which in turn inspired me to build one. The 280 ackley I own is crazy accurate at long range and is so much more enjoyable to shoot compared to the magnums.
 

ELR Shooting Range

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30 Miles North of Sanderson, TX
I started out on a regular .280 as kid for my hunting rifle. For some reason, I never really 'fell' for the rifle. I then had a 300WSM built and later the .264 wildcats. An F-Class buddy and my gunsmith (West Texas Ordnance), talked me into the .280AI. Wow, I was super pleased. Accurate and a thumper, especially for long range steel shooting with the Berger 180gr Hybrids.
 

BoilerUP

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Jan 16, 2011
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sandwarrior said:
I did choose to keep my 7mm-08 that I was successful shooting to one mile with. It was purpose built to take 180's as far as they will go, just not as fast as most other cartridges.
I'm curious your 7-08 barrel length & velocity with 180s...understanding your rifle is throated appropriately.
 

sandwarrior

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I'm curious your 7-08 barrel length & velocity with 180s...understanding your rifle is throated appropriately.
Boilerup,

You might be amazed at this but, 2700 fps. A lightly compressed load using 45.1 gr. of RE-19 behind the 180 Berger or JLK. Standard large rifle CCI primers. Lapua .308 brass necked down and turned to .312". COAL is 3.020" with ogive off the lands about .020"-.030". This works in the long barrel I have, 26" It's a 1-8" twist Shilen Savage pre-fit. Funny thing about the barrel is the lighter bullets don't get any more speed. Like there is some unwritten speed limit of 2700 fps. I use this same load for SMK 180's and it gets better short range accuracy. Long range is still up in the air as to how well they shoot for me against the Berger 180's and the newer 190's. I know they drop more.

The load itself is higher pressure than I had originally thought. But, still within working parameters for the cartridge.
 

VKC

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At 2900fps I can't see your barrel life being much different than a downloaded 7wsm or saum. Am I missing something?

Must say that I've always had an eye on this caliber but I have a hard time justifying it with my 7wsm.
 

Case280AI

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Dec 29, 2018
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Good afternoon, I was a bit bored today and decided to look around and see what chatter there was on the 280AI. About a year and a half ago I ran the numbers on the estimated performance of the 280AI. I had planned on shooting the 180 ELDMs and was hoping to achieve 2800 FPS. My brother decided to build one a few months before I did. The specs on his are Stiller action and 28" Bartlien 1 in 8.25 barrel. He runs hornady and norma brass, at about 61.5 of H1000. He achieves about 2850-2875 FPS. I was impressed. But after seeing his rifle complete and figuring out that the bullet seating depth on the 280AI saumi cartridge was terrible compared to the amount of shoulder that was left to used on the bullet itself. I had Roberts Precision Rifles build my rifle off of the 280AI saumi only .04 deeper on the lands. With this, I seat my bullets .04 roughly shallower than my brother's rifle, I run 62gr of H1000 and my rifle bushes the 180s at 3000 fps. My rifle is a Stiller action mated to a 29.5" Shilen SM 1 in 8 4 groove ratchet barrel.
 
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codym

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Nice. 280 ai is one of my favorites. I’m running a 24’ proof carbon 1:9 with the 175 Berger EOL’s at 2950 with RL 23. I have some h-1000 loads but RL 23 gives pretty impressive speeds with the heavier 175-180 class pills. I wonder what you could get out of a 6 more inches of barrel...
 
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Case280AI

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Dec 29, 2018
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Nice. 280 ai is one of my favorites. I’m running a 24’ proof carbon 1:9 with the 175 Berger EOL’s at 2950 with RL 23. I have some h-1000 loads but RL 23 gives pretty impressive speeds with the heavier 175-180 class pills. I wonder what you could get out of a 6 more inches of barrel...
I did actually run more powder at 3100 fps roughly