Before hunting season, I was trying to work up a load that would perform as well as the Federal Cheapo factory loads I purchased when I first bought the rifle in a pinch on a road trip 12 years ago. I wanted a bit heavier bullet, but I have been unsuccessful. I purchased Hornady 165g SST's as this has been a good bullet in my other hunting rifles. Using IMR4350 I have tried loads using 54 to 57 grains in half grain increments. 55 grains ran best with a 1.2" group at 100 yards (CCI BR Primer, Federal cases). Now here's the rub; The Federal 150 grain Powershok Wallyworld cheapies group sub half inch and have shot 5 shot groups that all touch. The federal round runs around 2880 through the rifle (Tikka T3). At 57 grains, the SST's are running at 2775 average, but with pressure signs so I stopped there (57 gains was the worst groups of the bunch). The SST is a very different bullet than soft point, flat based bullet that they load in the Federal Powershok. My gun prefers this bullet, but my desire for a custom round is keeping me from accepting that I can't do better than an $11 box of ammo from Walmart. I was thinking I would get a flatter shooting, equally as accurate hand load. Questions: Is anyone else using 165g SST's in .30-06 and getting them to 2900 fps successfully? What loads get you to that speed? Is there something about the Tikka rifle that does not shoot boat tail bullets well or this bullet weight. Am I just not using the right bullet and should buy a soft point, flat based bullet (Speer or Sierra?)? Did I not go heavy enough.... perhaps 180's? These are for hunting only. I use competition dies, measure every powder load with a tuned scale. Thanks all!