Byron Pace is pleasantly surprised with what he finds from an ammo make known as a value-for-money brand
As a brand, Geco is known for producing cheap centrefire fodder. Indeed, this is well deserved at £896 for 1,000 rounds of .243 Win (£17.92 a box). But don’t let that make you think its ammunition doesn’t perform. The first thing to note is the unusual bullet weight of 105 grains, which is somewhat restrictive given it’s the only .243 load on offer. This will immediately put off fox shooters, but those looking to hunt deer should take a serious look.
For most, the 100-grain bullet is the staple choice in .243 Win, and shoots well from most factory rifles. However, lower-weight bullets group tighter owing to the more suitable 1-in-10in twist that generally comes as standard. Does this mean the 105-grain bullet won’t shoot well from an off-the-shelf action? No is the short answer – on the range, I printed 1.5in groups all day. I have no doubt that it would perform better from a faster twist rate barrel – something in the region of 1-in-9½in or a bit faster. This, however, is a separate discussion. It should also be noted in this, and all future ammo reviews, that grouping through a single rifle is a poor evaluation of ammunition quality. As we all know, some rifles will eat certain brands or models far better than others.
An initial glance appeared to show well constructed rounds on good-quality brass. Weighing the cases from a sample of pulled ammo produced a mean of 190.53 grains, with a distribution of +/- 0.58 grains. As a benchmark for this, we will use the uniformity of .260 Rem Lapua brass, which is possibly the best-formed brass on the market. A .260 Rem sample gave 172.4 +/- 0.2 grains (note: this was a sample of eight cases, which is far fewer than would usually be used, owing to the feasibility of pulling more rounds. Expect the true spread to be larger). Holding a 0.5 per cent tolerance between case lots, the Geco ammo would have fallen just outside – the lightest case at 190.1 grains plus 0.5 per cent would make 191.05, which was marginally less than the heaviest case at 191.1 grains. The Lapua was well within tolerance for the sample.
Comparing the headspacing to SAAMI specifications gave readings just under the 1.63in minimum, at 1.624in. Neck thickness was consistently 0.016in +/- 0.001in, which will be interesting to compare going forward (meticulous handloaders will strive for half a thou). Bullet run-out was very impressive at 0.001in on average. Taking total length measured to the bullet ogive gave very consistent results as well, with one notable flier (most duplicated measurements at 2.174in, with the one round at 1.167in being an exception). Case length varied by 0.004in, averaging 2.036in – 0.004in under SAAMI max and well within tolerances.
Taking a cross-section of the fired case exposes uniform tapering walls, and a very well formed flash hole with no noticeable burr. The bullet itself is flat-based, similar in character to Sierra Pro-Hunters although the lead tip is not as well formed. Protruding from the copper jacket, the bonded lead clearly parts as if overfilled. I doubt this would noticeably affect accuracy in a hunting rifle, as the soft lead soon becomes a molten mass on firing.
Like many factory rounds, a light crimp on the case mouth creates extra neck tension to grip the bullet. On pulling the head I was surprised at just how deeply the crimp had deformed the copper jacket. Largely speaking, benchrest shooters would never consider crimping owing to the detrimental effects of bullet deformation and accuracy. It is, however, common practice on factory hunting rounds or when handloading bullets with a specifically designed canular. Federal V-shok, by comparison, has a much lighter crimp into a canular on the bullet. How much this affects the accuracy of a round is a point for debate, but it is generally accepted that deformed jackets will have a marginally measurable affect. Would this be noticed in a standard hunting rifle, in hunting situations? The answer would probably be no.
Geco describes the bullets as thin-jacketed with a well-controlled deformation process, although it says the “exit hole is not guaranteed with this design”. On paper the 105-grain bullets are launched around the same speed as factory 100-grain rounds (2,955fps), which makes trajectory differences negligible out to 300 yards. It does, however, pack almost 90ft/lb more ME.
Running a string through the chrono was impressive initially, recording three in the six rounds as duplicates at 2,873fps with a total extreme spread (ES) of 61fps (lower MV owing to my shorter test barrel). ES of 61fps may be unacceptable for benchrest shooters, but for hunters it only equates to 0.2in vertical string at 200 yards with a 100-yard zero. There are few people who can shoot that well in the field.
The general consensus is that Geco ammo is very good value for money, and I would most definitely agree given how well they held up on detailed inspection.
Ammo supplied by RUAG (01579 362319, www.ruag.co.uk). Reloading tools from Hannam’s Reloading (01977 681639, www.hannamsreloading.co.uk).