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Old November 5, 2011, 06:43 PM   #1
dbuffington
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Why Reload?

Hi Folks!

If anyone ever asks you why they might want to reload, show them these targets...

Both were shot at the same time on the same day with the same rifle at the same range at the same distance.

The first was shot with off-the-shelf Federal GameShok with 85 grain Barnes TSX premium bullets, not a cheap load by any stretch of the imagination:



The second was my handload using Federal cases and an 85 grain Sierra bullet:



By the way, the targets themselves were slightly different, but they're sized the same here so you can make direct comparisons. In each case, each ring is one inch in radius further out from the center point.

Enjoy!
Dave
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Old November 5, 2011, 06:58 PM   #2
dbuffington
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Why Reload? - Why?

Hi Folks!

A few minutes ago I posted a thread titled "Why Reload?" showing the difference in consistency between a factory load and a handload.

Now, my question for the experts out there is...

Why? That is, why is there a difference?

Again, both targets were shot with the same gun (a Browning BLR in .243 Winchester) with the same scope (2x Leupold scout scope) on the same day at the same time on the same range (50 yards) under the same conditions (cool, calm). The only difference were the loads, which were...

- Federal GameShok with 85 grain Barnes TSX bullets

- My handload:
- Fireformed, neck sized Federal brass
- Sierra 85 grain HPBT bullets (Sierra No. 1530)
- 43 grains Reloader 22
- Lee "Factory" crimp

And I must point out that I am NOT a skilled reloader. I reload occasionally, mainly for older, stranger guns for which ammo is difficult to get.

Also, I chronographed these loads while I was shooting the targets. The results:

- Federal
- Average = 2956
- Extreme spread = 127.5
- Standard deviation = 47.60

- Handload
- Average = 2652
- Extreme spread = 146.2
- Standard deviation = 53.49

Arguably, the handload data is worse than the Federal data.

So, again, why the difference?

Thanks!
Dave
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Old November 5, 2011, 07:06 PM   #3
Xfire68
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It takes time and effort to fine tune the load to your gun.

In time you can make better ammo then factory and in some cases much much better.

There is some fine factory ammo out there today but, it also cost big money and a hand loader can produce high end ammo at a much lower cost depending on the caliber.
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Old November 5, 2011, 07:07 PM   #4
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From here you must look at your loading practices. Were you consistent with each and every round you handloaded? Did you trickle charge each and every round?

PLUS, you have showed extreme spreads with velocity. Which load was more accurate?

Big fluctuations in ES can be inconsistent loading practices, using a powder that is temp sensistive, erratic powder ignitions, and the list can go on and on.

Velocity is good, but accuracy counts.
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Old November 5, 2011, 07:27 PM   #5
dbuffington
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Oh, I'm not unhappy with my handloads. If you look at the original post, you'll see they grouped beautifully. Conversely, the federal grouped horribly.

Yet, according to the chrony, the two loads are very similar. So why the big difference in grouping?

Thanks!
Dave
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Old November 5, 2011, 07:46 PM   #6
Lost Sheep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbuffington
A few minutes ago I posted a thread titled "Why Reload?" showing the difference in consistency between a factory load and a handload.

Now, my question for the experts out there is...

Why? That is, why is there a difference?

(edited for brevity)

- Federal
- Average = 2956
- Extreme spread = 127.5
- Standard deviation = 47.60

- Handload
- Average = 2652
- Extreme spread = 146.2
- Standard deviation = 53.49

Arguably, the handload data is worse than the Federal data.

So, again, why the difference?

Thanks!
Dave
One might ask the question, "How is it that your handloads, with a greater velocity spread and standard deviation produces noticably smaller grouping?"

I wonder what would happen if you loaded up some rounds that came closer to the velocity of the factory ammunition? Would the group open up?

Barrels "whip" when having a bullet fired through them. The vibration pattern and timing causes some variation in the exact direction the muzzle is pointed at the exact time the bullet exits. Velocity is easiest to measure, but the amount of whip and the length of time the bullet spends in the barrel are important. The conglomerated effects of whip/vibration, velocity residence time determine where the bullet will be pointed when it starts to be affected by exterior ballistics (bullet flight).

Where your bullet goes depends on where the muzle was pointed when the bullet exited. If the barrel vibrates the exact same way every firing, and the bullet takes exactly the same amount of time to get out of the barrel, it is likely the muzzle will be pointed exactly the same direction each time. The trick is to get variations in that timing down as low as possible. A stiffer barrel helps, but that increases weight. Free floating a barrel allows it to follow its own pattern of vibration without interference from the stock. Tuning the velocity of your load so that the bullets' timing causes them to exit the barrel at a "node" point, where the muzzle is moving slowest helps.

There are volumes, libraries, even, written on the subject. Most of it is beyond me.

Good luck.

Start here
http://optimalchargeweight.embarqspace.com/#

The article begins with this paragraph

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Newberry from his article
With any given bullet and powder combination, there
will be a specific amount of that powder which will
cause the bullet to exit the muzzle at the "friendliest"
portion of the vibration cycle. This does not necessarily
correspond with the tightest velocity figures, however.
Lost Sheep

Last edited by Lost Sheep; November 5, 2011 at 07:54 PM.
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Old November 5, 2011, 07:50 PM   #7
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I would think in the case you have here. 1- that your rifle just likes the powder combo and bullet combo better. Your devation seems a little high for hand loading. I would think if you tinker with your hand loads somewhat you will be very happy with what will happen. Good luck and load on
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Old November 5, 2011, 07:56 PM   #8
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Here's one thing you can look at-- the Sierra 1530 HPBT is a smooth sided bullet. You crimped it into place squashing it all out of shape. By adding the crimp you also added another variable to the results. Unless you have fully automated loading machinery and bullets designed for crimping you crimps won't be the same from case to case.
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Old November 5, 2011, 07:57 PM   #9
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Dave, Here is something from Barnes site on seating depth for the TSX bullet.

"TSX bullets .030 inch to .070 inch from the lands, starting at .050 inch off the lands, as recommended with other X-style bullets"

Depending on how your rifle is throated shooting Factory ammo with Barnes bullets may not be the best choice because of the seating depth issue.

Not all bullets are equal because they have the same weight. You be better to stick with standard type bullets like Sierra,Speer and some of the Hornady.
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Old November 5, 2011, 08:23 PM   #10
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I do not wanna sound like an arsehole, but for 50 yards, both groups are pretty lacking
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Old November 5, 2011, 08:32 PM   #11
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Well, this doesn't say much about reloading since you used two completely differet bullets. Barnes bullets are known to be pretty finicky bullets. Your rifle may just not like them. That said, it is pretty well known that handloading is awesome so you are not wrong on that point.

You should be able to get better groups with your handloads depending on the gun. Keep developing a load and see how small you can get that group to go.
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Old November 5, 2011, 08:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbuffington
- My handload:
- Fireformed, neck sized Federal brass
- Sierra 85 grain HPBT bullets (Sierra No. 1530)
- 43 grains Reloader 22
- Lee "Factory" crimp
Wrong powder (and too little of it) for the weight of the bullet. Reloder 22 shines in the .243 Winchester with heavy bullets, but for bullets in the under 90 grain range, the powder is too slow. You're probably seeing the results of that too-slow powder in your high SD numbers.

Don't misunderstand, I use RL22 in the .243. I use 100 grain bullets and get 3100 fps, but I'm using 45.5 grains and seeing 3100 fps with wonderful accuracy. However, that 85 grain bullet needs a faster powder. If you like Alliant powder like I do, I'd suggest that you step up to a faster powder. Use RL17 or 15 and I'll be that you'll see better velocity and lower SD numbers.

Why the difference? The factory uses a better powder for the application. Use a faster powder, like RL17 or 4350 of either flavor and you'll see your numbers improve.
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Old November 5, 2011, 08:50 PM   #13
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Good explanation from my fellow posters so I won't attempt to elaborate. I will comment on your "why reload -why" question. In my opinion its more fun than going to a store and purchasing a box of ammo for your rifle for one. Another reason...., I've learned more about rifles and ballistics in general since I've started reloading. Take for example your question and the responses. You get well thought out answers based on years of reloading experience.

Last edited by TheNatureBoy; November 5, 2011 at 09:01 PM.
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Old November 5, 2011, 09:37 PM   #14
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I shoot a lot, Cowboy Action Shooting. I reload so I can afford to shoot a lot. I can also adjust my loads to the gun for any number of reasons. My SAA shoots high? I go to a lighter bullet. My SAA shoots low? I go to a heavier bullet. For small changes I can adjust the powder weight by small amounts. I can also pick the bullet, from HP to hard lead to soft lead to gas check for the type of shooting I'm doing. To teach a kid to shoot it's very light loads, to punch a hole in a feral pig it's a much hotter load.
There's also the 'odd' caliber ammo to consider. I like my .38-55 but factory ammo is really loaded light, by loading my own I can turn a light deer load into a Black Bear load.
BTW, I buy a lot of virgin components so really don't 'reload' as much as just make my own. I guess technically though every shot Davy Crockett fired was a 'reload'?
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Old November 6, 2011, 05:17 AM   #15
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Essentially duplicate threads merged.
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Old November 6, 2011, 05:19 AM   #16
dbuffington
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Thanks to all! To answer some questions...

>I do not wanna sound like an arsehole, but for 50 yards,
> both groups are pretty lacking

Agreed. In this case, the real limits on the minimum are my skills (poor) and the scope (2x), which is perfect for the gun's intended use, but lousy for making small groups.

>Your devation seems a little high for hand loading. I would think if you tinker
>with your hand loads somewhat you will be very happy with what will happen.

Oh, and I'll definitely do that. However, what shocks me here -- and what has shocked me in the past -- is the the difference between the factory load and my handload, my first in this caliber.

I keep expecting my first recipe for a given gun and caliber to be worse than a factory load. Instead, they're always better.

So, are factory loads that bad? Or are individual factors -- as, in this case, the bullet difference -- that important?

> In my opinion its more fun than going to a store and
> purchasing a box of ammo for your rifle for one.

And fun is what I'm having

Thanks!
Dave
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Old November 6, 2011, 07:54 AM   #17
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This is why I reload.

Factory ammo is mass produced and is sized to fit most any chamber within specification.
The first time you fire a cartridge in your bolt action, lever action, break action (non repeating) rifle. The cartridge will take the form of your chamber.
You will the neck size this casing so that the next time you insert this cartridge in your rifle it will have a much closer fit. The tighter the fit the better the accuracy.
You can also increase accuracy by uniforming the primer pockets and deburring the flash holes for more consistent ignition.
Weigh your cases for more consistent case volume.
Adjust how close or far you are to the lands and grooves (bullet jump).
Adjust the amount of powder, type of powder, bullet type and bullet weight to suit your needs.

These are the advantages of reloading and these are my results as a novice.


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Old November 6, 2011, 02:44 PM   #18
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Awesome pictures. That is exactly and I mean exactly the sort of difference I see in my R700 in .308. I shot groups like the top image for years using 150gr Core-Lokt. And then when I tried out some homemade 150gr reloads, it was like a completely different rifle. Shooting through the same hole, < 1" groups, the whole works.

I had reloaded for pistol for a few years, and I'm not a good enough pistol shooter that I could really tell the difference. So I was skeptical when it came to rifle rounds. But man oh man, the difference is unbelievable.
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Old November 6, 2011, 11:13 PM   #19
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I have been reloading for over 25 years; mostly due to necessity (odd calibers, & old calibers). .300 Savage, .280 Remington, .375 Winchester, 41 magnum, 7mm & 8mm mausers to name a few. Commercial ammo is available for these, but @ $30-$50 dollars a box - no thank you ! As far as the mausers go I don't like surplus ammo. nuf said.

1-box ammo = 1 set of dies

you guys know the rest!

plus my ammo is tailored to my guns and bullet selections are greater than factory ammo;

.280 Rem = 130 antelope, 145 deer, 160 elk
.300 Sav = 150 deer, 180 bear & elk
.41 mag = 210 deer, 250 bear

you get the point, plus there is something very satisfying about a tight little group that I created !
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Old November 7, 2011, 12:30 AM   #20
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When I started reloading 30 yrs ago it was for reasons of economy as well as quality. In those days factory high performance rifle and pistol ammo was mostly found in the realm of the handloader. We all know how the economy angle worked out. It was a year before I could load rifle ammo that was more accurate than RP factory ammo (my rifle really liked that stuff) but I could use premium bullets not found in factory ammo at the time.
Nowadays my ammo generally outperforms factory ammo (after a fashion) but I load premium components tailored to my rifle; factory works fairly well in almost any rifle. If I didn't load for oddball chamberings I'd be hard-pressed to justify loading for reasons other than enjoyment. I'd be willing to wager a stack of reloading dies to a Krispy Kreme donut that I could easily find a factory load on the shelf of a well-stocked gunshop that performs well within minute-of-whitetail in my .30-06, .30-30, .35 Remington or .45-70. Throw in a 45-90 and an affinity for hard-hitting cast boolits and suddenly factory loads don't make much sense.
Reloading isn't for everyone but it keeps me (relatively) sane, entertained and broke. What more could you ask for?
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Old November 7, 2011, 11:10 AM   #21
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Why reload?

Well here's one darn good reason;

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/873...oint-box-of-12

I can load those 500's with my own cast lead 440 grain bullets, 50 of them for under 14 bucks! If I were to switch to the 350 Hornady HP, the cost would go up to $8.00+37.99=$45.99 for 50! This is the extreme example though. They are very proud of the 500 ammo, it's a limited production. Not too many people enjoy getting beat up by that cannon.
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Old November 7, 2011, 01:38 PM   #22
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Dbuffington,

The sweet spot load information is all good, but I think the main reason the Federal loads do relatively poorly is the TSX bullet is 1.061" long, while the Sierra bullet is just 0.934" long. With your BLR's 10" twist, the Sierra is being launched with a gyroscopic stability factor, s, of just under 1.7, while the TSX gets just over 1.2. Sierra's suggested range for hunting level precision is 1.3 to 3.0, while for benchrest and other target shooting the common optimum range given is 1.4 to 1.7, right where the Sierra is.

That lack of adequate stabilization means the bullet will need a long distance to go sleep (recover from the initial yaw it picks up leaving the muzzle). There is a good chance it will take several hundred yards before it starts giving its best moa performance, and that still won't be great. You really need a 9" twist to stand a chance at working well with this bullet.

A lot of folks list twists by bullet weight, but it is bullet length relative to its weight that is most critical to stability. Weight comes second and velocity a distant third. The Barnes and other solids are less dense than lead core bullets, so they are long for their weight.

Even at s=1.7, you may find the Sierra bullet shoots smaller moa at 100 yards than at 50. You'll just have to try it to see. Too many variables to say for sure.

As said earlier, your powder choice is too slow for best results. You probably have about 52 grains of water capacity under your bullet. Using the old 85% rule, multiply:

52 grains H2O capacity × 0.85 = 44.2 grians

Look through the load manuals for the loads of different powders with your bullet weight that gives you the highest velocity with a 44.2 grain charge (interpolating between listings is OK). These powders will tend to be good candidates. When I run these numbers in QuickLOAD I get the Reloader 17 suggested earlier, but also the various 4350's, just to cover a couple of examples. VV N550 and IMR 4831 are other possibilities, if you have any of these.

Another thing you can try, if you don't want to change powder, is a magnum primers. They can help you get a hard-to-ignite bullet going. Be sure you seat your primers firmly (though not damaging them). That often helps with MV extreme spread.
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Old November 8, 2011, 04:35 AM   #23
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I enjoy reloading. I shoot a reworked 8 mm I purchased 30 years ago. factory ammo is very weak as there were 2 diffrent barrel sizes. My loads give me close to 30-06 performance. 221 fireball can really perform with my own loads as factory once again is weak, same with my 375 JDJ. So for me enjoying the firearms with only 1 choice of factory ammo reloading opens up a whole world of possibilities. It seems to be a enjoyable hobbie tweeking loads until I find the perfect combo.
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