I shoot the 140 vld with great success on game. The 160 woodleigh shoots very well with h1000. And the 147 eld also has been very accurate. Mine is a 8 twist and waiting on a new barrel at present. New chamber will be 6.5-270 since I prefer sizing down and now won’t need to trim to length. RL26 and RL22 also work great.
I've got no specs. Will be meeting with the gunsmith this week. The only thing for certain right now is a REM 700 LA and a Brux barrel, (because he has it in stock) finished at 27". I am going to try one of the new ORYX chassis'. Don't have any idea on glass or trigger yet.
I have a 6.5-06 AI that I built a few years back.
I know you are not building an AI but it may help to know what has worked well out of mine, keep in mind the AI runs a bit more powder than a standard 6.5-06.
I shot H-1000, Retumbo, RL-26, and Magnum out of mine. My rifle liked Retumbo the best.
My rifle did NOT like Magnum, groups were terrible.
RL-26 had excellent speeds but accuracy was not very good.
H-1000 was very good, very consistent groups throughout a range of powder charges with decent velocities.
Retumbo had the edge on groups, and the speeds were right in between H-1000 and RL-26. The node I settled on is 61.5gr and is shooting a Berger 140 Elite hunter @3075fps. this load will consistently shoot <.25 MOA
I also think that H4831 would be a great powder to try, may work very well out of the standard 6.5-06. I have never tried it because I got Retumbo to shoot so well.
Rifle Specs are: Remington 721 action (converted to fist 700 stocks by swapping bolt handle and trigger), Proof research sendero light contour barrel 24", Mcmillan Game hunter stock with edgefill, Nightforce SHV 5-20x56 with target turret.
Thinking a guy could use a 280ai bushing die with a smaller bushing for the 6.5-280ai. Might be a cheaper way into dies as well. Just bought a 6.5-284 die set and leaning that way on my 6.5-06 rebarrel. Just something different and easy brass.
I was concerned about fireforming before building my ackley also. Mostly because I had never had to deal with it before, I've learned now that it is not a big deal.
I do like the idea others suggested about doing a 6.5-280AI and using nosler brass. there are times when it would be nice to just go buy some brass and not have to deal with it. Not sure if that makes it harder to find dies or not though, and it also depends on what reamers your gunsmith has available, he may have to buy a 6.5-280AI die which could factor into the cost of your build, may be worth it if you dont want to mess with fireforming.
I went with a set of dies from 4D die company they were pretty reasonable on price (~$100) I don't know if they offer a 6.5-280 AI die specifically, But I do believe they make custom dies also. They are not as nice as some of the higher end dies, I would compare them to the quality of standard RCBS dies. But for the price they have worked fine for me, and it beat spending several hundred to have RCBS or another company custom make a set.
I have grown to not mind fireforming. I get extremely good brass life out of my AI so I do not have to fireform very often. When I do fireform a batch of brass, I load up 50-100 rounds in new nosler or norma brass with the cheapest bullets I can find, and a standard 6.5-06 book charge of IMR4350 (many other powders would work this is just what I have on hand). I make a trip to the range and use these rounds to work on form and trigger control etc. Surprisingly my fireform loads group very well, and I can practice consistently out to 500 yards with them.
Once fireformed I usually save half the cases for hunting and use the other half as practice cases. About once a year I make a new set of brass, my old hunting brass become my practice cases.
After initial fireforming I trim the cases to length. I check after every firing but I have not yet had to trim my cases again past that. I love the ackley shoulder, virtually no case stretch, very good brass life, and a very efficient and mild recoiling round.
If you have any other questions about the AI, need any help with load workup, or fireforming questions send me a PM I'll be happy to help.
Right now I'm thinking I will use .270 brass as I have 300 new pieces on hand. I will also be trying the COW method for the first time for the fire forming. At least that's what I'm thinking right now. Rifle is still probably 2 months out.