The .20 VarTarg Wildcat Cartridge

By Don McClellan

The .20 VarTarg (Varmint/Target) is the creation of Todd Kindler. The .20 VT has to be one of the easiest wildcats to form from its parent cartridge, the .221 Fireball. All that is required is a little Imperial Die Sizing Wax, one pass through Redding's category III sizing die and you are good to go. Of course, when one chooses to buy a rifle chambered in a wildcat cartridge and take the time to reform the cases, it is a safe bet that a lot more attention will be paid to the brass during case preparation.

Remington is the only company producing .221 Fireball brass, which in my opinion is the only down side to the entire 20 VT adventure. Sorting the brass by weight and concentricity is a necessity with the Remington cases if the goal is extreme accuracy. Cleaning up the flash hole, uniforming the primer pockets, turning the necks, trimming to proper length, deburring and chamfering round out the case prep routine. I bought 100 Remington cases, began the sorting process, and stopped when I got forty good cases to start with. It took almost double that number to get forty good ones.

Unsure of where to begin with load development, I simply based my first few loads on one of Mr. Kindler's favorites. This is 19.5 grains of Hodgdon 4198 behind a 36 grain Berger moly coated bullet. I seated ten bullets 0.002 off the rifling, followed by ten at 0.004, ten at 0.006 and the last ten 0.008. The next stop was the range.

The rifle is a Cooper Montana Varminter with a 24", 1:12 twist, fluted, stainless steel barrel and a Leupold 6.5-25x50 scope. I shoot off a Caldwell BR 1000 front rest and Protektor heavy sand filled rear rest. I've been bench shooting for more years then I would care to admit and if I have learned anything in all these years, it is to be patient with a new rifle. Ditto the wind, especially when dealing with light bullets. After firing several shots to warm up the barrel, my patience paid off big time when my first serious five shot string produced an amazingly small group, less then a half inch with all holes touching at 100 meters. Subsequent groups where equally impressive with the deeper seated bullets not fairing as well as the ones seated 0.002" and 0.004" off the rifling.

If you are thinking about going down the wildcat trail, you might want to give the .20 VarTarg a look. Reforming doesn't get any easier than .221 Fireball to 20 VT. Recoil is practically non existent, so you can see your bullet impact the target through the scope. I have used the .20 VT on woodchucks and, so far, its longest kill is just over 300 yards. I feel it could probably stretch that distance a bit in the right hands. If you're interested, Todd Kindler has several books available, one of which is called The Terrific Twenties. This book covers the .20 VarTarg and several other .20 caliber wonders.

I could not have picked a better combination if I had used a crystal ball. The .20 VarTarg and Cooper Varminter rifle where made for each other. This is a wildcat for everyone.

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Copyright 2010, 2012 by Don McClellan. All rights reserved.