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Old May 30, 2011, 04:23 PM   #1
flashhole
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How many of you do load development at the range?

Whether it is a public range or the back 40, where do you get the biggest bang for the buck reloading while you are shooting the fresh loads? Powder selection, bullet seating depth, primer choice ... what?

I recently built a "portable" reloading set up and have been dragging it to the range but don't seem to be getting a noticible difference in accuracy. Where should I be focusing my efforts?

I have a very good set up for range duty, just not seeing the path for accuracy improvement. My guns shoot under 1/2 MOA now with my handloads but I have not given serious attention to any particular reloading step to see a notable change.

Any suggestions?
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Old May 30, 2011, 04:28 PM   #2
Rifleman1776
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My backyard is my range.
Yes, I do two rounds for test purposes with increment increase of no more than 2 gr. of powder.
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Old May 30, 2011, 04:51 PM   #3
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I almost always to a ladder test for my rifles and my reslults are pretty good but I know I have guns that are more capable than me. I also know when I have a good hold when the round goes off so the shooters ability is not a real player here. I am focusing on tweaking my handloads. Everything is in bounds on this, neck turning, neck tension, sizing technique, component selection, everything. I am looking for specific things to do to improve accuracy.

I am shooting a Rem 700 221 Fireball and a Kimber 223 Long Master Classic.
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Old May 30, 2011, 04:58 PM   #4
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If 1/2 inch groups arent doing it for you then the next step is like becoming a benchrest focused shooter. This means things like only top end Lapau or Norma brass, each one weighed and checked for interior case volume, add to this a case neck thickness cocentricity gauge and further sorting of the brass. Primers for sure make a difference as do match grade bullets but pretty much beyond that it gets into spending money to upgrade the firearm unless you are starting out with bencrest quality stuff . Wringing out an additional 1/4 inch off those 1/2 inch groups can be tedious and time consuming and of course more spendy. All the best in your endeavors,,,,,,

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Old May 30, 2011, 09:50 PM   #5
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I do, it saves weeks of time.



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Old May 30, 2011, 10:27 PM   #6
sandman31774
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I haven't worked up a load at the range yet...but, i bought a lee hand press recently for when I want to do just that !
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Old May 30, 2011, 10:44 PM   #7
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Sounds like a really good idea

It is an hour to the shooting range from my house. So a trip out to shoot very much is at least a half day. Having the ability to tweek a load that is close would be a great time saver! Thanks!
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Old May 31, 2011, 03:37 AM   #8
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I use the Missouri Dept. of Conservation Range here in Lake City, 15 mins from my house basically. But I load all my stuff for each rifle and go shoot, 5 round groups of each different powder weight charge at one hundred yards, then I take it home and measure it out and do my tweaking in my laboratory. Jmorris has the real ticket there, but my wife is never going to let me focus that much attention and money on benchrest shooting. I only do it for my hunting rifles, so I can make quick, accurate, clean kills.
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Old May 31, 2011, 04:39 AM   #9
Mike / Tx
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I haul my box of toys out to the range, or to the country when I am working up loads. It might not be the prettiest set on the block, but they are functional and load good ammo,
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Old May 31, 2011, 10:55 AM   #10
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I don't try loading at the range. I have given it some thought but for me it's just not practical. If I had a setup like jmorris, then maybe it would work for me. But beyond equipment, I find that I have to be in the proper mindset to get good accuracy. There are some evenings when I have the time to reload some new loads for rifles, but I just don't have the right focus to do it right. Likewise, there are some days when I can just feel like I am focused and will be able to shoot consistently. If I don't have the right mindset, it's kind of a waste of time to measure those groups that I am trying to develop. Whether it's shooting or reloading, my standards and focus are more demanding for rifles than handguns. If I'm just in the mood to crank out some rounds or go shoot something but I feel a lack of focus, then I'll shift my attention to my revolvers and leave the rifles for another day.

I just can't imagine turning out great rifle loads in the wind and the grime and the glare outside. It's tough enough under controlled conditions at my bench.
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Old May 31, 2011, 12:23 PM   #11
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I'm about 20 minutes from my local range, so I'd rather build the loads in the shop and save the shooting work for the range. I'll work up a few recipes and have a plan of work before I go. Uses my time more wisely.
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Old May 31, 2011, 02:10 PM   #12
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I did 12 years ago, and I am still using the organization I developed for that at home.

I can move my reloading around the house in a few minutes.

I can take reloading equipment with me when I go hunting.

But I gave up on reloading at the range. Loads tuned for accuracy are never reproducible for me.
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Old May 31, 2011, 05:27 PM   #13
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I agree it does take the right mindset to load at the range and to shoot well too. It has been raining a lot here in NY and humidity has been way up. On my last range outing I noticed the stock on my Kimber had swollen to the point I no longer had a free floating barrel.

If it ain't one thing its another. I finally had the time to do some development and mother nature bit me in the arse. I left all the other guns at home so I could focus on the one gun. I ended up shooting about 20 rounds and packed it up.
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Old June 1, 2011, 11:24 PM   #14
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I've thought about it ALOT. I'm trying to finish my load development for my Stevens 200 in 270 Win. I've got the powder narrowed down (IMR 4831) and have an idea what charge (laddered a set and it likes the lighter charge). I just have to build up some new rounds and play around with the OAL. If I could build at the range, I could finish the development. I've been waiting 2 almost 3 weeks to complete because the range is 30 minutes from my house and life has been kinda hectic.

If I could shoot the next run and narrow down the specific charge, I could then play with the OAL in the same range trip.

I've got a bunch of brass already prepped and primed. All I would need to do is charge and seat bullet. If I unmounted my single stage and put it on a 2x4 and then c-clamped it, it would certainly work. I don't know if the range would allow me to charge the cases while in rifle lane though. Need to check with them on that. Worse case, I charge / seat in my car. Wind would not play a factor then which would be good if using a beam scale.
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Old June 2, 2011, 09:54 AM   #15
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I've always had a range load development kit, but have recently read about a fellow whose best load always worked when loaded at home, but gave overpressure signs when he tried to replicate it at the range. It turned out his powder was being settled by vibration during transport from home. That tighter packing makes it a little harder for the ignition flame to travel between the powder grains, so it acts like a little bit slower powder. That means loads developed at the range in the usual way may not work the same way when loaded at home, depending on the powder.

I intend to experiment with a portable loading tray shaker to see if range loads can be made to match transported loads that way. In the meanwhile, I'm charging cases at home and corking them, so they shake down in transport, then using my hand press and a Redding Competition Seater at the range to set bullets in. That lets me tweak seating depth first, then run up through graduated loads watching for pressure signs. I stop and empty the remaining cases of powder when I hit an upper limit I'm comfortable with.
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Old June 3, 2011, 11:43 PM   #16
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Hello, Unclenick. As to your statement about the guy with overpressure becasuse his loads were not "shaken down"....Perhaps one shouldn't believe everything one reads...even if it was printed in one of those slick "gunzines"
Methinks his overpressure at the range was due to trying to use a scale outdoors without adequate protection from stray breezes. Most modern smokeless leaves a bit of room inside the case, and I seriously doubt transporting rounds from your loading bench to the range is going to make a bit of difference in ther ballistic's.
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Old June 4, 2011, 05:56 AM   #17
flashhole
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Dipper cups help solve that problem. I like dipper cups. The trick is getting one tuned to your specific load. Lots of techniques on how to do that.
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Old June 4, 2011, 12:47 PM   #18
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I have an extra RCBS single stage (aluminum!) press mounted to a small table I bought from Midway years ago. Certain reloading and load development issues are best addressed at the range. Getting a digital powder scale to work in that environment is often a bit of a challenge. Loading at the range can save unnecessary or unproductive trips to the range and with today's fuel prices it's something to think about. May want to consider a few additional safety precautions when loading in this environment as well.
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Old June 4, 2011, 03:09 PM   #19
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Ideal Tool,

I still can't recall the source, but I believe the fellow said the difference was consistent, which would knock out the breezy scale theory. I've been there and done that (it's a second reason I have for corking filled cases at home), and the errors are inconsistent. It did occur to me that if he transported his rounds nose-down, that the powder might have tended to pack toward the nose and stay there, while his range loads remained upright. If the load was near maximum and didn't fill the case well, that could do it.

I used to demonstrate that effect with some M72 '65 I had which was only filled to about 80-83% load density with 4895. Tip the muzzle down and come up level to fire and you got nice rounded primers and low velocity. Tip it up and come slowly down level to fire and it gained 80 fps and the primer flattened noticeably. Its an example of what a difference in ignition can do. But its just one way to make ignition different. Packing powder is another.

Anyway, no point in disputing something so easy to prove or disprove experimentally. Develop some loads at the range using a scale and save 15 aside to take home and back to the range another day. When another day comes, make up 15 more at the range, foul the gun, then start shooting over the chronograph for velocities. I'd expect it to turn out some load combinations are affected more than others. I'll put that on my list for this year.
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Old June 4, 2011, 03:56 PM   #20
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Hello again, Unclenick. What I have done is make up a powder charge/measure/click chart. This requires a very accurate & repeatable powder measure for safety..mine is a Harrell's Schuetzen. These loads were intended for cast-lead bullet shooting in an original Stevens 44 1/2 .25-20 S.S. Now with cast, if your using a sutiable powder, your accuracy will go out the window long before pressure issues surface. What I do is start out on the low end and using the micrometer adjustment, drop 10 charges at that setting. Weigh these, & divide by 10..this will give you a pretty accurate weight for that setting..if any doubt exists..do it again. work your way up, I usually try for .1 gr. increments. I stay short of any maximum loadings, both for safety & accuracy. This will only work for that lot of powder, another can requires careful re-checking. The benchrest guy's use this method at their matches, sometimes going up or down a few "clicks" depending on conditions...In fact, if asked, they will very often refer to a load as so many clicks.
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Old June 4, 2011, 08:10 PM   #21
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I went through a similar exercise myself and created a table. I weighed several different powder charges against the micrometer setting on my Redding measure. I did this with several different powders for several different cartridges I load.

It is easy to extrapolate a specific weight and correlate it to a micrometer setting when you have adequate granularity in the measured loads when you create the table. You can assume the correlation (weight to micrometer setting) is linear over small volume changes between adjacent measured values and have high confidence you will be very close to your estimate.

The table also helps match a dipper cup to a specific micrometer setting.
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