Reloading The .204 Ruger

Posted on: Tuesday January 5, 2021
Reloading The .204 Ruger
MD Smith

MD Smith


The .204 Ruger

(Photo from Hornady – loaded ammo with 32 gr. V-Max bullet)

Firing a 32 grain bullet at well over 4,200 FPS is moving right on out. Most common bullet weights range from 26 grain (Barnes) to 50 grains for this little 20 caliber hot-shot. Some people think you can neck size down a 223 case and that is what this round was made from. No, the large part of the case is longer and neck taper is different. If you wanted to try to neck down something available, I understand a .222 Rem Magnum might work. You neck it down and fireform it. But brass for the .204 is as easy to get, so why do it? This was a joint project from Ruger and Hornady, and not originally a wildcat project.

Barnes says of their 26 grain, .204″ bullets, “Barnes� Varmint Grenade� is a unique varmint bullet that delivers explosive results. Originally developed for military applications, the bullet�s copper-tin composite core is highly frangible, greatly reducing the chance of ricochets. The new flat-base, hollow-cavity bullet remains intact at ultra-high velocities, yet fragments explosively on impact. Virtually vaporizes ground squirrels and prairie dogs, even at extended range. The bullet blows up completely at high speed, creating little or no exit wounds on larger animals. Leaves coyote and bobcat pelts virtually undamaged. Delivers sniper-like accuracy for dependable long-range kills.” Regarding loads, Barnes said, “you can use other published load data from Hodgdon or Hornady and the 32gr bullet for use with the 26gr Varmint Grenade bullets. Use the minimum load data to start. Working up in 1/2 gr. increments.”

You can get brass from Hornady, Norma, Nosler, Remington & Winchester. That’s what I suggest you do. 2008 prices range from $.25 to $.50 each in 100 lots.

Loads for .204 Ruger:
(Note: Most are maximum loads, you should use 10% less to start.) But where you see a (MAX) load, the one above it is the starting load, do not go below that amount.
(See note on Powders below or read all about various Powders.) TAC is “Ramshot TAC, a versatile rifle powder that performs well in a number of different calibers. TAC has the ability to provide some of the industry’s highest velocities for 80 grain bullets in the .223 caliber while maintaining SAAMI pressure guidelines. TAC is a double-based powder providing for ease of metering and consistent charge weights.” [ ed:It’s being tested widely in the .204 ] – Jeff Quinn likes Hodgdon Varget and Accurate Arms 2460 for loads.

Bullet size is .204″ in diameter. Due to different barrel lengths, type of bullet, seating depth, primer type and other factors, you may not get near the FPS charted. It is just a guide and the reason you should start under these charges and work up.

26 gr. Barnes VM (Varmint Grenade) (You can use loads from the Sierra 32 grain below)
IMR 4198 21.0 gr. 3,736 (min)
IMR 4198 23.5 gr. 4,143 (max)
XMR 2015 24.5 gr. 3,615 (min)
XMR 2015 27.0 gr. 4,045 (max)
Benchmark 25.5 gr. 3.661 (min)
Benchmark 28.0 gr. 4,172 (max)
X-Terminator 25.0 gr 3,773 (min)
X-Terminator 27.5 gr 4,163 (max)
Win 748 27.5 gr. 3,712 (min)
Win 748 30.0 gr. 4,200 (max)
RL-10X 24.0 gr. 3,806 (min)
RL-10X 26.5 gr. 4,197 (max)
H335 26.0 gr. 3,986 (min)
H335 28.5 gr. 4,161 (max)
H4895 28.5 gr. 3,680 (min)
H4895 26.0 gr. 4,222 (max)
Varget 27.5 gr 3,787 (min)
Varget 30.0 gr. 4,139 (max)

TAC 29.9 gr. 3,427 fps-(unverified)(MAX) [note from a user: “32 grains TAC is MAX/MAX and will produce over 4,200 fps” – not verified, caution] This load likely exceeds max pressures, use at your own risk I would use the TAC loads below for the 32 grain

32 gr. Sierra BlitzKing
X-Terminator 24.8 gr. 3,607 fps
X-Terminator 27.5 gr. 4,008 (max)
TAC 26.0 gr. 3,700
TAC 28.5 gr. 4,100 (MAX load)
Benchmark 26.0 gr. 3,700
Benchmark 27.9 gr. 4,000+ (max load)
IMR 3031 23.0 gr. 3,782
IMR 3031 26.2 gr. 3,935 (Max)
AA Rel-7 20.0 gr. 3,725
AA Rel-7 23.0 gr. 4,087 (Max)
Varget 26.0 gr. 3,500+
Varget 28.8 gr. 3,900+ (max)
IMR4895 26.0 gr. 3,500+
IMR4895 28.3 gr. 3,950+ (max)
32 grain Hornady V-Max
H4895 29.0 gr. 3,980 fps (Max load)
RL-15 26.5 gr. 3,600
RL-15 29.3 gr. 4,100 (max)
IMR 4895 27.0 gr. 3,627 (start)
IMR 4895 29.0 (Compressed) 3,949 (max load)
IMR 4198 23.5 gr. 4,006 (max load)
Varget 27.0 gr. 3,548
Varget 29.0C gr. 3,792 (Max)
H335 26.0 gr. 3,712
H335 28.3 gr. 4,042 (Max)
Benchmark 26.0 gr. 3,500+
Benchmark 28.0 gr. 3,900+ (max)
35 grain Hornady V-Max (you can use the Berger loads below as well)
H4895 28.2 gr. 3,910 (Max load)
Benchmark 25.0 gr. 3,590 (start)
Benchmark 26.6 gr. 3,863 (Max)
35 grain Berger HP
H4895 26.0 gr. 3,577
H4895 28.2C gr. 3,908 (Max load)
IMR 4895 26.5 gr. 3,609
IMR 4895 28.3C gr. 3,866 (MAX)
Varget 28.0 gr. 3,702
Varget 29.0C gr. 3,814 (Max)
H335 25.5 gr. 3,659
H335 27.5 gr. 3,902 (Max)
Benchmark 25.0 gr. 3,587
Benchmark 26.6 gr. 3,855
IMR3031 25.0 gr. 3,609
IMR3031 26.1C gr. 3,796 (MAX)
39 gr. Sierra BlitzKing
Benchmark 25.7 gr. 3,645 (max load)
H4895 26.5 gr. 3,638 (Max)
IMR 4895 27.0 gr. 3,755 (Max)
IMR4198 20.0 gr. 3,200+
IMR4198 22.0 gr. 3,500+ (max)
IMR-3031 23.3 gr. 3,200+
IMR-3031 25.3 gr. 3,600+ (max)
RE-10X 21.6 gr. 3,200+
RE-10X 25.1gr. 3,700+ (max)
IMR4064 25.2 gr. 3,200+
IMR4064 27.2 gr. 3,600+ (max)
40 grain Hornady V-Max
X-Terminator 23.0 gr. 3,241 fps
X-Terminator 25.5 gr. 3,601 (Max)
TAC 24.0 gr. 3,300
TAC 27.0 gr. 3,680 (MAX)
H4895 26.0 gr. 3,501 fps
H4895 27.7 gr. 3,741 fps (Max
Load)
H335 25.0 gr. 3,506
H335 26.8 gr. 3,736 (Max)
Benchmark 24.0 gr. 3,415
Benchmark 25.7 gr. 3,645 (Max)
IMR4895 26.0 gr. 3,410
IMR4895 27.8C gr. 3,696 (Max)
IMR3031 24.0 gr. 3,454
IMR3031 25.6C gr. 3,691 (Max)
IMR4064 25.5 gr. 3,381
IMR4064 27.5C gr. 3,611 (Max)
RL-15 25.0 gr. 3,405
RL-15 27.3 gr. 3,800 (max)
Varget 26.0 gr. 3,395 (start)
Varget 28.1 gr. (compressed)
3,647 fps (Max)

45 grain Hornady SP

H4895 22.0 gr. 3,205
H4895 24.8 gr. 3,500+ (Max)
Varget 23.3 gr. 3,200+
Varget 26.7 gr. 3,600+ (Max)

50 grain Berger Hollow Point Boat Tail (HPBT)

H335 22.5 gr. 3,037
H335 24.3 gr. 3,265 (Max)
H4895 24.0 gr. 3,165
H4895 25.7 gr. 3,352 fps (max)
IMR4895 24.0 gr. 3,095
IMR4895 26.2C gr. 3,343 (max)
IMR4064 24.0 gr. 3,075
IMR4064 25.8C gr. 3,327 (max)
Benchmark 22.5 gr. 3,108
Benchmark 24.0 gr. 3,256 fps (max)
IMR3031 22.0 gr. 3,038
IMR3031 24.0 gr. 3,282 (max)
Varget 24.0 gr. 3,070
Varget 26.0 gr. 3,284 (max)

(Note: hard to stabilize longer bullets, 1 in 12 twist is not enough)

 

Discussion: This 20 caliber cartridge has been around since 2004. It is especially accurate with the smaller bullets like the 32-40 grain ones.

References: Internet sites (powder and bullet companies) – Numerous magazine articles on reloading special calibers and personal loads where noted.

* * * * *
Powders: RL-15, RL-7 are Accurate Arms Powder; H335, H4895, Benchmark & Varget are Hodgdon, IMR powders are also supplied by Hodgdon. X-Terminator & TAC are powders from Ramshot. Ramshot and Accurate are the same company (Western Powders Inc — Miles City � Montana) in 2008.