After much contemplation, reviewing load data, visiting web sites, etc, I got the rifle last week along with RCBS dies, and components and a box of Hornady 40gr factory ammo. Before loading, I realized that the powder used by Hornady is proprietary, but, I wanted to see what I could develop with available powders.
My first range session tested H335 and the 40gr bullets managed 3,770fps but with poor accuracy and significant SDs (53fps or more on most loads). Accuracy wouldn't stay under 1" 5/100. Factory? 4,053fps, 12fps SD and .382" accuracy 5/100! Factory ammo has bullet seated deeply and they are a long way off the lands, but, needed to fit the short magazine. My handloads were 15 thousandths of the lands. Grrrrr.
Second session was loaded with W748 and Varget. Velocity came up, approaching 3,950fps, 24fps SD, .650" 5/100 being the best. This is still a long way from factory. So, a third session takes place tomorrow in which seating depth will be explored with the best load from Session 2 (W748) and some Nosler 40gr bullets to compare with the VMax.
I like the challenge, but, at some point the dog has to go hunting and that is planned for next week, a three day affair chasing and calling coyotes. The handloads will be tried, but, I've got a few boxes of factory to take along as well.
Any 204 handloaders out there? Whatcha find to be best?