TALON Manufacturing of West Virginia is producing a premium line of .308 Winchester ammunition, named after USMC Sniping Icon Carlos Hathcock II, called "White Feather". This ammunition is designed to be the commercial equivalent of the US military's M-118LR round which is currently superseding all other 7.62x51mm sniping rounds with enhanced performance from 700 to 1000 yards by virtue of staying supersonic at these distances via the slightly heavier projectile and the use of recently marketed high energy propellants . White Feather is currently packed in white cardboard 20 round boxes featuring the registered Carlos Hathcock Lông Tran'g logo and bulk packed in surplus military cans containing 480 rounds for larger volume users. The publicity tear sheets list:
Recently the company has been involved with the US Navy Surface Warfare Center and Naval Research Labs in Indianhead, Md. in development of a precision .50 BMG round for use by Navy SEALS as a heavy duty anti-equipment/personnel round, a number of varying caliber SRTA (Short Range Training Ammunition) rounds, and "contractor specified" ammunition. TALON is located in a number of differing facilities spread through the West Virginia's Panhandle area. I visited the TALON office discretely located in downtown Martinsburg, WV. and briefly met with Mike Markovcy who spearheads the White Feather project. Mike very cordially gave me the particulars on the White Feather ammunition project and a sample for test and evaluation.
TALON has spent quite a bit of time and effort producing White Feather and made some very particular choices regarding components. Neck annealed IMI Match Brass (ID headstamped PAW-MATCH 308 WIN) has been carefully produced both during manufacture in Israel, before being assembled on Manurhin commercial loading machines in West Virginia. Internal components are VihtaVuori 500 series powder, Sierra 175 gr. Match King projectiles, and match grade primers. This combination was developed in their Research and Development Labs in Paw Paw, WV.; equipped with a 200 Meter test and evaluation firing range, and in Augusta, WV. ; which houses a 100 yard instrumented test range.
White Feather was very thoroughly evaluated at both of the facilities and through selected external test groups. A good piece of field information on this can be read in the Chandler Brothers' sniping tome "Death From Afar IV"and their use of USMC Scout-Snipers as some of the "Beta" testers. Overall length of the 200 sample rounds that I acquired for evaluation was 2.800" and the length variance measured averaged at (+ or -).015". The somewhat abbreviated length is for certain function through virtually any .308 rifle whether a magazine fed semi-automatic, or bolt action. A close visual inspection of the White Feather ammo revealed the case mouths had been trimmed and squared, flash holes deburred, and the primer pockets exhibited three crimps/stakes at 120º around their circumference.
I measured the White Feather rounds for indicated runout at the neck and bullet and was surprised to find that the figure was even less than samples pulled from existing Federal .308 Gold Medal Match (stock #GM308M2) for reference! The figures shown on my Sinclair concentricity gauge of a 50 round random drawn sample showed spreads no greater than .0025" at the neck and projectile. Twenty more rounds of White Feather were randomly selected, the Sierra 175's kinetically pulled and the powder charges all measured at exactly 43.9 grains on my electronic scale.
How did the White Feather shoot? The very first group fired through a "virgin" rock stock Remington 700P-DM netted a .462" c.t.c. spread for five shots @ 100 yards. An average velocity of 2684 fps (46 ES/ 14 sd) was achieved for the first ten shots at a distance of 15' from the muzzle. The vast majority of the following nineteen 5 shot groups ran in the .600" - .750" range, the best 5 rounder being a .344" c.t.c. (Deftly accomplished with the shooting Gods looking over my shoulder), and then a couple of 1.125" groups spastically thrown in by yours truly to round out the bell curve and restore my humility.
The remaining 100 rounds of ammunition was taken to the only local 200 yard rifle range and fired under calm conditions with the five shot groups averaging a little under two inches center to center. I would have liked to have tested this ammunition at longer distances but adequate shooting ranges are becoming increasingly hard to find in my area due to urban encroachment.
Back calculations done with my Oehler Ballistic Explorer program gave an instrumental muzzle velocity of 2689 which is legitimately pushing the mark specified by the US Military for the M-118LR round from a 26" barrel. No function or extraction problems were noted during the course of testing this round and neither primer pockets nor case webs showed any signs of high pressure.>
Please remember that these results are representative of a small test quantity of ammunition, one shooter, and one rifle. Other reliable sources have placed the accuracy results with White Feather in a somewhat larger spread, and careful personal testing and use may either verify or discredit my findings.
My feelings are that a well trained sharpshooter/sniper possessing either a more accurate OEM tactical rifle or custom built tactical rifle should be able to easily surpass my groups and have no excuses for not completing static field exercises, or successfully engaging hostile targets at realistic distances.