Thanks for all the input, and the rifle won't be used for hunting, I'm just a paper puncher until I can get my girlfriend on board with killing our furry neighbors
I'm not necessarily blaming the bullet weight for inconsistent groupings, I know for a fact that I am the inaccurate part of the system. I agree that I am being perhaps a bit too analytical, but that comes naturally to me with an engineering background and a propensity for efficiency analysis. My reason for preferring match grade bullets is simply removing one variable from the equation. If I use high quality ammo made to the same tolerances every time I can expect to have slightly better consistency.
I am lucky to shoot 1 MOA, but if handloading makes my average group go from 1.2" to 1.0" that's a significant percentage improvement and it's worth it to me. The main rifle I will be loading for is a remington 770 (I know, I know) and I will likely load some for a remington 700 ADL with the same twist rate and a 24" barrel.
I especially appreciate the unanimous response regarding the hand press, I doubt I'll be loading and shooting 500 rounds a month but I'll look for an alternative solution. Also, would you suggest using a lead sled to test the loads? I feel like if I'm going to make a greater investment I should be able to test and compare my results.
Thanks again for all the help!