My experience has been kinda the same as peetza's.
If I'm making competition loads I want to see how low I can load the rounds and still have the firearm be reliable.
If I'm making practice rounds I might load them a little hotter (to simulate the recoil of a full power self defense load).
If I was hunting I would load them to the upper limits of pressure and velocity. I don't hunt.
Either way I start at the lowest possible charge and work up from there. I usually load 10 per load at .2 grain increments (.5 grain for rifle), then if that load works I load 50-100. If I get no failures in that batch then I start cranking them out.
gtalk:renfes steamID: Sefner