....I gave up using big, complicated words like 'empirical' when whey stopped paying me to include them in studies. I like Nosler's 'cuz they're easy to spell....so in a nutshell, what DOC said works for me......��I guess the answer would hinge on how extensive your definition of "empirical" is. If you were to evaluate all of the variables associated with accuracy, to include the bullet brand and weight, barrel, barrel twist, primer, et cetera, and conduct enough replicated test, with sufficient observations per variable and replications of variable to give a definitive answer to satisfy a statistician..... the barrel would be worn out and then would be ready for a do-over.
If on the other hand, you are talking about slightly more than casual observations as to what a rifle prefers, then I suspect we have all done some of that. The conclusion in that case would be - different bullets for different folks and different rifles.
When I shot HP extensively, Sierra Match Kings were the ticket and my rifles really liked them. However, when you added the "human" factor into the mix, I could shoot as good of scores with the Hornady match bullet as the Sierra. But when I really got down to testing @ 300 yds, prone with my left arm in a sling and resting on a sand bag - the Sierra generally shot a little better group (casual observations --- I did not do a statistical analysis of groups as I never shot enough groups with each bullet to be statistically valid).
My friends who shoot F-class (bench rest on the ground) swear by Bergers and some still shoot Sierra and a few Nosler. Some benchrest shooters I knew shot hand made custom bullets.......
I hate to give you such an answer, but there simply is no absolute answer for all barrels, rifles, shooters and circumstances. With the M1A, I have found that if you select a quality bullet (by reputation in the target shooting game) and have a quality built gun/barrel, and do the shooters part - you will not be disappointed.
I shoot ATA trap and I very often look at the trap forum, trapshooters.com...... very frequently there is the eternal question, 71/2s or 8s??????
Pretty much the same deal............