Favorite Loads (Factory & Handloads)

I’m often asked what my favorite load for a cartridge is. I test a lot of different cartridges and I handload for just as many. However, the list of cartridges I use on a regular basis are not that extensive. And, I don’t routinely handload for every cartridge I commonly shoot. The following list contains loads I use in the guns I most often shoot or rely on. They’ve all been proven in the field where it matters or at least through extensive range and terminal performance testing.

.17 HMR

Factory: Remington 17 grain V-Max BT, I’ve used this load in my CZ 452 to shot a lot of small game. I’ve even hit prairie dogs out beyond 400 yards with it.

.22 LR

Factory: CCI 40 grain Velocitor (Rifle – Hunting), Accurate and deadly with expansion and deep penetration.

CCI Stinger
CCI Stinger

Factory: CCI 32 grain Stinger (Rifle & Pistol – Hunting), This bullet will expand out of a pistol or a rifle. Stingers are not always the most accurate but do deliver a wicked wound.

Factory: Winchester 40 grain Hyper Speed HP (Rifle & Pistol – General Purpose), Generally accurate regardless of the firearm and the bullet will expand when fired from a rifle or pistol.

.22 Magnum

Factory: Remington 33 grain Accutip (Rifle), This load offers a great balance between penetration and expansion out of rifles. It’s a great multi-purpose hunting load.

Factory: Hornady 45 grain FTX Critical Defense (Pistol), Expansion guaranteed from pistols along with good penetration.

Factory: CCI Shot Shell, Perfect for rats and snakes at close range.

.223 Remington

Remington Hypersonic
Remington Hypersonic .223

Factory: Winchester 64 grain Power Point (General Purpose), You can use this load for just about anything.

Factory: Remington Hypersonic 62 grain Core-Lokt Ultra Bonded (Deer), Works very well on deer with wide expansion.

Factory: Winchester 55 grain Ballistic Silvertip (Varmint), For small varmints and coyotes.

Handload: Nosler 60 grain Partition, 24.5 grains Ramshot Xterminator, A perfect load for use on big game animals like deer and hogs. Have used this load in Africa on bushbuck with success.

Handload: Nosler 40 grain Ballistic Tip, 27.5 grains Hodgdon Benchmark, Sizzling speed and generally great accuracy for varmints or target shooting.

.243 Winchester

Factory: Remington 95 grain Accutip (General Purpose), This is a great whitetail hunting load for the .243.

Factory: Remington 75 grain V-Max (Varmint), One of the most accurate factory .243 loads I’ve fired and perfect fro groundhogs or coyotes.

Handload: Barnes 80 grain TTSX, 47.2 grain Ramshot Hunter 3360 fps, Fast, accurate and deadly.

.250 Savage

Factory: Remington 100 grain Core-Lokt PSP, About the only factory option available.

Handload: Nosler 100 grain Ballistic Tip, 35 grains of H4895 2832 fps, This is a great general purpose load for the old .250-3000.

.30 Remington AR

150 gr. Accubond
Nosler 150 gr. Accubond

Factory: Remington 125 gr. Accutip, Has proved very accurate and deadly on deer.

Handload: Nosler 150 gr. Accubond, 35.4 grains of AA 2200 2600 fps, I’ve used this load on a WV black bear and on a kudu in Africa. Excellent terminal performance and the best hunting load I’ve found for this cartridge.

.308 Winchester

Factory: Nosler Custom 165 grain Accubond, Accurate in most rifles and provides great terminal performance out to the maximum practical range of the cartridge.

Factory: Norma Diamond Line 168 grain Sierra HPBT, The most accurate factory load I’ve every fired in any cartridge but this ammo is very difficult to find.

.35 Whelen

Factory: Buffalo Barnes 225 gr. TSX, I can’t think of an animal you could not kill with with load.

Norma Diamond Line
Norma Diamond Line

Factory: Nosler Custom 225 grain Accubond, Very accurate and flat shooting for this cartridge.

.32 H&R Magnum

Factory: Doubletap 115 grain Hardcast (Pistol), Deer proven and not a bad option for personal protection. Penetrates very deep.

Handload: Sierra 90 gr.  JHC, 11 grains of Lil’ Gun or 6.5 grains True Blue (Rifle & Pistol), For small game hunting and target shooting I’ve found no better bullet in .32 caliber.

.327 Federal

Factory: Buffalo Bore 130 grain Hard Cast (Pistol), This load works great on deer out of my Ruger Blackhawk.

Federal .327 100 gr. JSP
Federal .327 100 gr. JSP

Factory: Federal 100 grain SJHP (Rifle), When fired from my 16 inch barreled Marlin 1894, this load generates 2100 fps and the bullet expands perfectly.

Factory: Speer 115 grain Gold Dot, Great protection load with outstanding terminal performance.

Handload: Speer 100 grain Gold Dot, 13.2 grains Hodgdon Lil’ Gun (Rifle & Pistol), A fine general-purpose load.

Handload: Speer 60 grain Gold Dot / 60 grains # 12 Shot, 6 grains Ramshot True Blue (Snake), This load is a pain in the ass to assemble but are wicked deadly on snakes and you still get an accurate bullet to go with the shot.

.38 Special

Factory: Buffalo Bore Outdoorsman 158 grain + P Hard Cast Keith, Hard hitting with deep penetration for use on the trail or for protection from about anything.

Factory: Remington 158 grain Lead Hollow Point (Treasury Load), A great load for use in short barreled revolvers and the bullet will

Buffalo Bore .38 Spl. Outdoorsman
Buffalo Bore .38 Spl. Outdoorsman

always expand.

Factory: CCI Shot Shell Snakes and such.

.357 Magnum

Factory: Barnes VOR-TX 140 grain, Perfect for hunting with expansion and deep penetration.

.380 ACP

Factory: Winchester 85 gr. Silvertip, Light recoil in super compact pistols with good expansion. I’ve used this load to take half a dozen alligators.


Factory: Remington 124 grain Golden Saber + P, Simply the best 9mm load for personal protection I’ve tested. It performs on par with

Remington Golden Saber 9mm 124 gr. +P
Remington Golden Saber 9mm 124 gr. +P

the best .40 S&W and .45 ACP loads.

.45 ACP

Factory: Doubletap 160 grain Barnes TAC-XP MANN Load, High velocity, wide expansion and 12 plus inches of penetration. Similar loads also available from Buffalo Bore, Wilson Combat and Corbon.

Factory: CCI Shot Shell, Snakes and such.

Handload: 200 grain Lead SWC, 4.5 grains Hodgdon Clays, This load was given to me by Joe Bonar who used to be the lead 1911 smith at Novaks. Very accurate and great for competition.

.45-70 Government.

Factory: Federal Fusion 300 grain, Perfect for all big game.

Factory: Buffalo Bore 430 grain LFN GC Hard Cast, Specifically for mean critters and the load I used on my African buffalo.

Handload: Nosler Combine Technology 300 grain Ballistic Tip, 63.5 grains H 335, A great load for non-dangerous big game.