The .20 Tactical

By Chuck Hawks

Designed by Todd Kindler, the .20 Tactical was intended to fill the "gap" between the .17 Remington and the .223 Remington. Its my guess that not too many varmint hunters were losing sleep about that "gap," but for the shooter that just has to have something different, perhaps the .20 Tactical has appeal--or at least had appeal until the advent of the .204 Ruger.

Ballistically, the .20 Tactical is a good varmint cartridge on the order of the (surprise!) .17 Remington or .204 Ruger. Why the "Tactical" nomenclature I have no idea, as this is purely a varmint cartridge.

Unfortunately, there are few bullets available to the reloader in .20 caliber, although the success of the .204 Ruger may alter that. (Of course, the .204 will also dampen whatever interest there is in the .20 Tactical.) Berger offers a 36 grain MEF bullet and Hornady offers a 33 grain V-MAX bullet in .204" diameter. The latter is, I believe, being replaced by 32 and 40 grain V-MAX offerings.

The .20 Tactical is based on a necked-down .223 Remington case. The shoulder angle remains 23 degrees. The case length is 1.760" and the COL is 2.245". Correct bullet diameter is .204".

The sixth edition of the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading has data for the .20 Tactical. The most suitable powder appears to be Viht N-130, 21.2 grains of which can drive the 33 grain V-MAX bullet at a MV of 3600 fps. A maximum charge of 24.8 grains of N-130 gave the same bullet a MV of 4100 fps. These Hornady loads used reformed Frontier .223 brass and Remington 7 1/2 primers. They were tested in a Howa 1500 rifle with a 24" barrel using a 1 in 12" twist.

These figures indicate that with maximum loads the .20 Tactical is about 125 fps behind the .204 Ruger in MV. At the speeds these cartridges operate that is not very significant, and neither cartridge will ordinarily be loaded to the maximum by savvy reloaders in any case. However, it does make it difficult to see why any rational shooter would choose the .20 Tactical over the commercially available .204 Ruger.

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Copyright 2005, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.