by Scott Mayer
For 2012, Nosler added a new line of lower priced bullets and ammunition for high-volume varmint shooters called “Varmageddon.” They’re available as component bullets in .172″, .204″, .224″ and .243″ diameters, and loaded in .17 Rem., .204 Ruger, .221 Fireball, .222 Rem., .223 Rem., .22-250 and .243 Win. ammunition. The new bullets are quite a step up in quality from cheap bulk and rather different from Ballistic Tip Varmint bullets. For one thing, a quick scan through Internet suppliers shows that Varmageddon bullets cost about 65 percent that of Ballistic Tips for the same count, diameter and weight. I’ve been fortunate enough to get into some prairie dog and ground squirrel towns where the number of shots I took was only limited by how much ammunition I brought. In towns like those, the cost of ammunition can really add up. It’s tempting to try and shoot a town like that with cheap bulk bullets or “seconds,” but in my experience, doing so simply results in more misses and thus firing more shots, so it’s really a false economy. It’s a good thing that a manufacturer known for excellent bullets to begin with, can also make excellent affordable bullets.
Don’t mistake lower price for lower quality, though. Varmageddon is a varmint bullet designed to be destructive, but at the same time is tough enough to stand up to twist rates as tight as 1:7 inches at high velocity without turning into little blue puffs of lead vapor exiting the muzzle.
Another big difference is that Varmageddon are flatbase bullets instead of boattail, and that’s a big thumbs up in my book because flatbase bullets are inherently more accurate than boattails–just ask any Benchrest shooter. Boattails are mainly perceived as more accurate by many shooters because they’re sleeker, so they look like they should be more accurate. They’re also used in long-range accuracy shooting sports such as NRA High Power and intuitively folks think that if a bullet can make a small group at 1,000 yards, it should make a really small group at closer range. Clearly, great accuracy is possible with boattail bullets, but the boattail is only an advantage over a flatbase if you need a bullet that’s aerodynamically more forgiving. That means shooting at very long range, if you’re bad at estimating range, or are shooting in windy conditions.
You see, it’s a simple fact of manufacturing that a boattail will always be off by the tolerance of the forming die, and the smaller the bullet, the greater a percentage that tolerance becomes. Flatbase bullets don’t have that imperfection so they’re more accurate.
Another thing that the Varmageddon line offers over Ballistic Tip Varmint is your choice of bullets with polymer tips or hollow points. Granted, polymer tips bullets have pretty much taken over the varmint shooting world, but plenty of us still appreciate the performance of a hollow point.
As a high-volume shooter, I’m seriously looking forward to giving Varmageddon a try. I’m not sure we’ll see folks using them in Benchrest competition, but I am sure that Varmageddons will be the last thing that goes through the minds of a lot of prairie dogs this spring.