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Working up a load


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#1 Stiff Neck

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 10:43 PM

I'm a novice reloader, and there are a couple of other novices around here as well. I thought I'd share my method of working up a load. Those with more experience and wisdom than I have, feel free to comment or make suggestions. If there's a better way to do it, I'm all ears.I'm trying to work up a super accurate load for my Savage 12FV 223 for punching paper at 100 and 200 yards maybe 300 max. I chose the 53gr Sierra Match King BTHP bullet to experiment with cause the local shops don't have the 69gr SMKs and I'm not ready to make an internet order yet. Posted ImageMy brass is all cleaned Winchester once fired and full length resized with an RCBS die and Imperial Sizing Wax. They're all cut to the suggested "trim to" length each time they're used, chamfered, deburred, primer pockets uniformed, and flash holes deburred indexed off the trimmed case mouth. I haven't gotten into weighing and seperating cases yet... I measure the powder in an RCBS powder measure just below what I want on my RCBS 5-0-5 scale and then trickle the last bit in with a powder trickler for the exact amount I need. It's too easy to get lucky with 3-shot groups, so I use 5-shot groups for testing. I start off with 5 rounds each spaced 0.5 grains apart. The best accuracy seems to usually be just under the max load, so I load up some extras in that range and a few more +/- 0.2gr in each direction and hope that's the sweet spot. I'll show you what measurements I used just to illustrate the method, but you will have to use your own recipe from your manual for your individual loads. For this particular load using H335 powder, I loaded the following combos:5x 26.0 gr5x 26.5 gr5x 27.0 gr5x 27.5 gr (almost max)I figured the best accuracy would be near 27.0 gr, so I also loaded these additional rounds:5x 26.8 gr10x 27.0 gr5x 27.2 grBullets are seated with an RCBS competition micrometer seating die, which is way easier to use than a standard seating die. The O.A.L. is checked with dial calipers, I measure the first couple until they average close to what I want, then leave it alone. The runout on my loaded ammo is between 0.00125" and 0.0015" on average, which is very acceptable. I like the free printable targets from Midway's website, so I printed off a bunch of those. I shoot on public land using my portable shooting bench and tape my targets to a cardboard box 100 (lasered) yards away. Today I forgot to bring a box, so I had to use my target binder as a backstop. I cleaned the bore thouroughly and got ALL the copper out. My bore fouls less and less now that it's broken in after about 800 rounds. I set the scope to 20x and fired a cold shot with my favorite hunting round, just to check the POI, followed by 4 more to see how they compared to the cold shot and to foul the barrel a bit. Put that target aside. I only had about 30 min of light left, so I had to shoot fast. My barrel was warmer than it should be for testing loads, but oh well. After each shot, I checked the brass and primer for signs of pressure in my rifle. As I approached max, the primer showed some slight flattening, but nothing serious. Here is the first target showing the first four basic loads:Posted ImageAs I suspected, the best accuracy is just under the max recommended load. Since I had loaded up some more rounds in that range, I fired them off. It was nearly dark, so I used some orange stickers to help me see a little better. I really had to rush these shots off before it got too dark to see. There was just a slight breeze maybe 1-3 mph. Posted ImageFour shots in the 2's and 3's (one ragged hole) repeatedly, with a flier in each group. I'm pretty sure the fliers were due to shooter error, because I was really rushing my shots. And this was with a warm barrel too, I didn't have time to wait between shots, so it was one after the other. Now I've got a pretty good idea where the sweet spot is. As much as I hate paying to shoot, I need to go to a real range with a real bench during the day to get some more consistant results. My shooting bench isn't 100% rock solid, it was getting dark, and I was rushed tonight, which adds too many variables into the equation. I'll load up some more +/- the sweet spot and see what groups best at the range. Maybe then I will mess with the seating depth, but for now I'm sticking with the manual's suggested depth. Like I said, I'm pretty new at this, so if anybody has any suggestions on where to go from here, feel free to help me out. (hint, please add input) :lol: If it weren't for the flier in each group, those would be some pretty good groups! :lol:

#2 Heywood

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 05:13 AM

How many of you use the ladder method for load dev? I've typically done it the way mentioned above but was thinking of trying this. If you do use the ladder method, at what yardage? It recommends 200 but I'm not sure if I can find a range or area with this distance. Does 100 yrds provide adequate spacing of rounds to be of value?You've got some good looking groups there discounting the occasional flyer! I'd say you're on the right track by heading to the range, get the rifle rock solid then see what it'll do. With a bolt action, you can start neck sizing your brass, this allows for less expansion and a custom fit to the chamber. I still trim mine to the saami spec not the chamber. I also shoot 5 shot groups to see what the load will do and work up in .2 grain increments. It's probably a little too small increments at first, I probably should use .5 and then once it's in the ballpark work around it in smaller steps. Hahaha, I just noticed that's the same setup I use, Caldwell bag up front and the little leather one in back, works well doesn't it.Good Luck!

#3 Cranky Farmer

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 06:21 AM

Looks like 27 grains was very accurate for you!

#4 Gunner

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 07:55 AM

That top picture looks like Suprise Valley. :lol: Thanks for the write up Stiff Neck.

#5 Stiff Neck

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 08:22 AM

Yeah, that top picture is Suprise Valley, it's the best picture of my rig I have.

#6 Fjold

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 08:40 AM

Now that you seem to have a bullet and powder load working well. I'd recommend that you start fine tuning the seating depth to see where your rifle likes it. Working within the confines of your magazine length start tracking the OAL and adjusting the seating die up and down to see how much difference it makes.
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#7 Magic Chicken

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 08:57 AM

are you shooting each group at once, or are you round robining the loads? shoot 1 load at it's target, next load at it's target, next load at it's target until you've shot 1 of each load at their respective targets and then starting over again? or are you just shooting all 5 in each load at a time?This guy seems to have a pretty good system. Dan Newberry's Optimal Charge Weight Load Development His method does take a little time, but I believe it is probably the most accurate representation of each load. But I'm a newbie reloader too.
Eric - Newbie Varmint HunterMember NRA (life), CRPA, VHA, USPSA

#8 Stiff Neck

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 09:06 AM

I've been shooting all 5 shots at once. I've read Dan Newberry's stuff, it sounds good. I'll probably try that for final tuning. Should I keep messing with the powder weight now? Or just stick with 27.0 gr and start messing with the seating depth? I think I'm gonna keep messing with the powder to find THE best measure first, then move on to the seating depth.

#9 coolvarmint

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 08:49 PM

Should I keep messing with the powder weight now?

Really just a matter of how small a group do you want to get to. Even for BR guys to shoot aggs of .2 and .3 consistently is extremely difficult and a ton of work. Id much rather shoot .5-.8 and shoot a lot more and spend a lot less time inside at the reloading bench trying to squeeze another .1 off of an already good group. Just depends on what your shooting at and how much you like to fiddle with your loads. I think most of us would be better spent sending rounds downrange. I think most shooters myself included could improve groups more with shooting practice then reloading. I try to shoot a few thousands rounds a year thru rifles. Just my 2 bits... Scott

#10 Stiff Neck

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 07:14 AM

Good point about practice, however, no amount of practice will compensate for an inacurate rifle/load. How can I achieve a goal like shooting consistant sub 1/2 inch groups if my load will barely do it on a perfect day?

Just depends on what your shooting at and how much you like to fiddle with your loads.

Well, it didn't take hardly any work at all to find this load. I think more work is definately worth my time. It's a small investment now, that will pay off until the barrel wears out. As a former serious competitor in the shooting sports, there's no such thing as "good enough". The whole reason I bought an accurate rifle and a reloading setup was for the purpose of shooting as tiny groups as possible. :lol:

#11 Magic Chicken

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 09:37 AM

The whole reason I bought an accurate rifle and a reloading setup was for the purpose of shooting as tiny groups as possible. :)

If you're only going to punch paper for small groups, get a rail gun. :) They will put 5 shots in 1 hole.McCluskey Precision RiflesYoung Rail GunsRFD RiflesIt doesn't get any more accurate than that! :lol: (NOTE: This post was intended as a joke, not meant to offend anyone. But rail guns are cool, I got to shoot a couple of groups with one once)
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#12 coolvarmint

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 09:04 PM

The groups you took pictures of are great except for the fliers. They are not caused by your loads. IMHO. I think you have a great starting point with what you have. You can play around all you want with OAL and finding the sweet spot off your lands. But when one of those fliers goes down range toward a live target its a miss. Doesnt matter if your groups on paper are .2 or 1.0. Any rifle and load that shoots .5 consistently is outstanding. There really arent factory guns that are shooting better than that, consistently day in and day out. Remember even 1/2 MOA at 500 yards is 2.5 inches. Heres an example of much bigger numbers. .204 with a 40 grain Vmax about 3800+ FPS at 500 yds:33" of drop (with 100 yd zero), 10 mph wind:25", 7 mph: 17 ", 5 mph:12.7". That means if you misjudge the wing by 1-2 mph you will miss by more than that 1/2 MOA. These just illustrate why saving that inch or two at 500 yards is less significant than being able to dope wind or even accurate establish distances. Dont everyone jump on me about the loads. I agree the most accurate load you can get out of your rifle is extremely important, but there are other areas that will pay off equally and maybe more. Just have to balance all things out. Again I think you have a great load to start working with. Have as much fun as you want with reloading. You can start trimming meplat, checking individual rounds for runout, measuring each and every load by hand, of course calibrating your scale rountinely and monitoring the temperature and humidity in the reloading room, weighing individual case and grouping them, measuring the length to ogive of all your bullets after you weigh and sort them...you can get carried away. Im in awe of the BR guys that can do that and the way that they shoot. I just cant. Im very happy with a load that shoots .5 when I do my part. I just wish I did my part as routinely as my gun and loads do. On simple thing you can do to make your loads more consistent is measuring you loaded ammo with a comparator. It measures off the same place on the bullet every time. A caliper only measure to the tip which can be quite different even within the same lot of bullets. There are several different ones available and resonably inexpensive. And you need one in conjunction with a seating length tool to measure you lands and then where your bullets are in relation.Good luck. Scott




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