You might think that the plethora of rifle cartridges available in the market today would be a hindrance to the creation of new cartridges for the sports shooting industry.
If you narrow the field by looking at only 30 caliber cartridges, you still face a bewildering array of choices. Two of the newest entrants into this category, the .28 Nosler and the .300 PRC. bear a closer comparison.[snippet]
The .28 Nosler is a cartridge developed by the Nosler Corporation. The cartridge fires a bullet with a diameter of .284 inches or 7mm. The Hornady designed the .300 Precision Rifle Cartridge (the .300 PRC) as a precision long-range rifle cartridge to satisfy the needs of long-range hunters.[/snippet]
In general, the .28 Nosler offers higher muzzle velocities and a flatter trajectory with a trade-off in shortened barrel life.
On the other hand, the .300 PRC brings to the table more bullet selections for handloaders, better ballistic coefficients, and better barrel life. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each cartridge can help you make a better choice based on your shooting needs and expectations.
Nosler and the .28 Cartridge
When Nosler began manufacturing rifle ammunition, the first cartridge introduced was the .26 Nosler. The .28 cartridge (6.5 mm) features high muzzle velocities and a flat trajectory over long distances. Nosler intentionally created the cartridge to be used with the many available standard-length actions currently available.
The Nosler Cartridge Family
Subsequently, Nosler has introduced several other cartridges based on this original design. These cartridges include:
- .26 Nosler (2013)
- .27 Nosler (2020)
- .28 Nosler (2015)
- .30 Nosler (2016)
- .33 Nosler (2017)
- .22 Nosler (2017)
Of Interest for this article is the .28 Nosler. For all practical purposes, the .28 Nosler is built on a shortened 7mm Remington Ultra Magnum (7mm RUM). Many shooters and reloaders consider the .28 Nosler the best of the seven cartridges designed to date by Nosler.
Hornady and the .30 Caliber Revolution
In 2018, Hornady announced the release of the .300 Precision Rifle Cartridge (.300 PRC.) At the time, the .300 PRC was the latest .30 caliber innovation in the market. The years proceeding 2018 have seen a large number of new .30 caliber-based cartridges appear in the marketplace.
Not Just a New Cartridge, but a New Rifle Action as Well
Hornady set out to design a cartridge that would use heavier more aerodynamically shaped bullets. The goal was to produce longer ranges with better performance.
Essentially, Hornady abandoned the usual process of building a cartridge to fit one of the standard rifle actions. Instead, Hornady designed the cartridge and then built a rifle to fit.
The .300 PRC is a necked down .375 Ruger Cartridge. The cartridge case features a rather long head height which allows long aerodynamically shaped bullets to be properly seated. The new cartridge is long at 3.7 inches when loaded. This length prevents the use of standard length rifle action.
How do the Ballistics of the .300 PRC and the .28 Nosler Compare?
The best place to start when deciding if the .28 Nosler or the .399 PRC meet your expectations and needs is the ballistics. Putting the data side by side can give you an idea of how you should expect each cartridge to perform, However, simple ballistics can never tell the whole story. These numbers are just a place to start the comparison.
|Cartridge||Muzzle Velocity and Energy||100 Yards Trajectory and Energy||200 Yards Trajectory and Energy||300 Yards Trajectory and Energy||400 Yards Trajectory and Energy|
|300 PRC 200 gr||2860 fps 3607 ft-lbs||+1.7”|
|.28 Nosler 175 gr||3125 fps 3806 ft-lbs||+1.2”|
Both cartridges deliver impressive numbers over these distances. Mind you, this data is based on common factory-loaded ammunition with the most common bullet weights. Hand-loaded ammunition can deliver much different performances with these cartridges.
What do the Ballistics Say?
At first glance, these two cartridges seem to deliver similar performance. However, looking closer there is much to learn about the differences in these cartridges.
While they may be similar in size and bullet weight, the performance difference can mean a lot depending on your style of shooting and your expectations from your cartridge selection.
From Muzzle to Target – The Path Taken
As shooters we all understand that the path a bullet takes from the muzzle of our rifle to the impact point on the target is anything but straight and level. The actual path describes an arc that rises and then falls as the bullet travels toward the target.
Looking at our ballistics table we can see that the 300 PRC rifle cartridge describes a path that begins with the bullet impacting the target on the bullseye at 200 yards.
As we move downrange, the impact point drops to 20.1 inches below the aiming point. To hit the aiming point you must aim 20.1 inches above your target at 400 yards.
The .28 Nosler firing a lighter bullet follows a much flatter trajectory toward the target. When the rifle is zeroed at 200 yards, the bullet will impact 15.8 inches below the aiming point at 400 yards.
This requires the shooter to aim almost 16 inches above the intended impact point to achieve a hit.
Delivered Energy Determines that Class of Game You Should Hunt
Hunters should always be aware of the amount of energy delivered by the cartridge they shoot. Delivered energy often determines what class of game animal a particular cartridge can consistently take at various distances.
Delivered energy, the type of game you routinely hunt, and the distances involved are critical decision points.
What you Hunt is Critical
Choosing the right caliber for your hunt is a critical decision. In general, both the 300 PRC and the 28 Nosler are quite capable of taking most North American game animals consistently.
Most experts agree that both of these rifle cartridges are well suited to taking larger game animals. Most hunting experts and professional guides agree that either of these cartridges is adequate for these animals
- Mule Deer
- White-Taled Deer
- Black Bear
The success of your hunt with either the 300 PRC or the 28 Nosler depends on your skill, shot placement, and the correct choice of bullet weight for the animal you are hunting.
The Mechanics – Recoil, Weight, and Actions
From a mechanical standpoint, there are some critical differences between the 300 PRC and the 28 Nosler. These differences can affect your rifle cartridge choice in different ways.
Three points in the mechanics category that we believe to be more important are recoil, weight, and rifle action.
In large caliber rifles, recoil is always a factor. The fact of the matter is that both of these cartridges can deliver significant recoil depending on the cartridge load. The quest for flatter trajectories, higher speeds, and more energy require a trade-off in recoil.
Several factors can affect felt recoil such as rifle weight, bullet weight, and gunpowder load characteristics. However, we can generalize that the 300 PRC which typically is loaded with heavier bullets and gunpowder charges delivers more energy back to the shooter in the form of recoil.
Many hunters trying to decide between the 28 Nosler and the 300 PRC are interested in long-distance precision shooting. These shooters may be seeking a new rifle and cartridge combination for competitive distance shooting.
Some are hunters planning extended hunts for elk, bears, or other exotic species that require trekking over long distances in rough terrain.
In either case, rifle and cartridge weight can be an issue. Competitive shooters may not be as concerned as shooters who must carry a rifle and cartridges for hours at a time on a trophy quest. Most hunters and competitive shooters report that rifles for both calibers are available with reasonable weights
In general if you want to shoot either the 300 PRC or the 28 Nosler you are going to need a new rifle. Rebarreling and existing action, especially for the 300 PRC, can be an issue.
The overall length of most 300 PRC cartridges is 3.7 inches. This makes the 300 PRC unusable even in long-action rifles.
The Pros and Cons of the 300 PRC and the 28 Nosler
In the final evaluation, we need to look at the pros and cons of each of these rifle cartridges. Putting these issues side by side is often provides the clearest picture for our decision-making process.
|.28 Nosler||.300 PRC|
|Flat trajectories||Lots of load options and bullet weights|
|Resistant to wind drift||Works best with heavy high-BC bullets|
|Higher delivered energy at longer ranges||Generous powder capacity for developing loads|
|Inherently accurate at distance||Relatively flat trajectories with good delivered energy|
|.28 Nosler||.300 PRC|
|Expensive to shoot||Limited selection of factory loads|
|Very few factory loads currently available||Only Hornady is making bullets|
|HIgh Felt recoil from most rifles||Relatively high felt recoil|
|Short barrel life for average shooters||Rifle choices may be limited|
Overall, these two cartridges rank closely. Average shooters may have a hard time distinguishing between the two to make a decision. When two cartridges rank so closely, the decision must often boil down to minuscule factors often involving the shooter’s characteristics rather than the cartridge.
Where do We Stand?
The decision for us is, as we have stated, much more about expectations and habits. We think that for most average shooters and hunters, either caliber cartridge will work well.
Since we don’t routinely participate in long-range precision shooting competitions, we are going to make a decision based on our expected hunting uses.
Based on our criteria for a long-distance cartridge for hunting, we must pick the 28 Nosler over the 300 PRC.
The 28 Nosler provides us with a flatter trajectory and more delivered energy than the 300 PRC. In the field, the slightly faster bullet that hits harder is a better choice.
The 28 Nosler or the 300 PRC – Which is Better for You?
In the end, your decision must be made based on your expectations and needs. Understanding your requirements is paramount to making a good choice between the 28 Nosler and 300 PRC cartridges. Both offer pros and cons that can affect your shooting style and habits.