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Old November 24, 2011, 02:47 PM   #1
frumious
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Loading cartridge Y down to cartridge X levels

Hi All,

In another thread where a discussion of charge "maxness" vs. accuracy is going on there have been several musings of "why buy a rifle chambered in Y and load it to X levels?". Some examples are:

Why buy a 30-06 and load it to .308 levels?
Why buy a 30-06 and load it to 30-30 levels?
Why buy a 22-250 and load it to .223 levels?

I'd like to discuss this. Here's my take:

First, I think the downloading a 30-06 to a .308 is hair-splitting since there is so much overlap in the two cartridges anyway, as far a bullet weights and powder charges for a given bullet weight goes. For example, my Lyman 49th indicates these values for IMR 4064 and a 168 HPBT:

Code:
Cart      Start Grains    Start Vel      Max Grains    Max Vel
30-06     45              2551           50            2816
308       40              2415           45            2717
Note that I consider "downloading Y to X" to mean "making Y go only as fast as X". There is a lot of velocity overlap between 308 and 30-06 so I don't really think it is meaningful to discuss loading one to the other.

Now, 30-06 down to 30-30 is different. For a 168 HPBT in 30-06 vs a 170 JFP in 30-30, again with IMR 4064, Lyman 49 indicates this:

Code:
Cart      Start Grains    Start Vel      Max Grains    Max Vel
30-06     45              2551           50            2816
30-30     27              1845           30.5          2150
NOW we have something to talk about. The velocities are quite different between these two cartridges. But herein lies the rub...nobody would download 30-06 to 30-30 because safe reloading practice dictates we never reduce charges by that much. 30-06 starting load dropping to 30-30 max load is nearly a 33% reduction. We can't do that in good conscience. Or can we?

Finally, 22-250 down to 223. This time a 50 grain jacketed Blitz (whatever that is) and IMR 4895. Lyman 49 indicates this:

Code:
Cart      Start Grains    Start Vel      Max Grains    Max Vel
22-250    33.5            3230           37            3704
223       23              2570           26.5          3115
These two cartridges are much closer; they almost overlap. So it seems that by lowering the starting charge to 31-32 grains you could get the 22-250 safely into 223 territory. I would call this a good example. I would also say that it is one of the few good ones that is ever put forward.

However, the other thread I mentioned didn't seem to be talking about charges below minimum. The posters were just comparing max vs other charges along the recommended range. And they used these "why download Y to X" statements seemingly to advance the argument that anything other than a max charge in cartridge Y makes Y less of itself.

So I guess the question is does a 30-06 at a starting charge lose any of its "30-06ness"? Does a 22-250 lose any of its "22-250ness"? Based on the above data it doesn't seem to me like they do. I think a lot of times these "why download Y to X" statements fall into the category of things that sound good, but really don't make much sense when you give them more than a cursory examination. But that's just me.

Thoughts?

BTW, happy Thanksgiving!!

-cls
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Old November 24, 2011, 03:17 PM   #2
PA-Joe
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There is one problem with your assumption and that is people are downloading using the same powder. As a general rule you do not want to go below 70% of the case capacity. You can change powders to one that still gives +70% case capacity and yet provides a lower velocity. One reason to do this is to graduate yonger shooters using dad's or mom rifle. You can dowload the 30-06 to 30-30 velocities and as they get older you can increase the powder charge and velocity. You may also want to download if your hunting conditions do not require maximum bullet performance. For example hunting in the northeast where most shots are under 50 yards. Why waste the powder if you do not need it.
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Old November 24, 2011, 03:45 PM   #3
rockfish1
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I find standard 30-06 loads uncomfortable to shoot, from the bench, and tend to flinch in anticipation of recoil. Not a problem when shooting at deer with hunting clothes on. This year I purchased a new scope and some Remington Managed Recoil Ammo to site it in. I found the ammo very pleasant to shoot and have been going to the range about once a week to practice. I also began reloading this year and found a recipe for reduced recoil youth loads from the Hogdons manual.
I find these loads very comparable to the RMR and enjoy shooting them. I will save my standard 30-06 loads for deer hunting. By the way at short range POI is almost the same.
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Old November 24, 2011, 04:48 PM   #4
Shotgun693
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I've loaded a round lighter when using a gun to hunt game really smaller than the gun/round it was chambered for. Like hunting Hill Country deer, 100 lbs max, I loaded a 7 mm Mag about 200 fps slower. I've hunted rabbits with a .357 loaded down (could have used .38 but only had .357 brass available). That and I guess plinking would be my only reason to down load a round. Opps, when I carried a .44 Mag I often down loaded to less than a Mag but more than a .44 Spl.
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Old November 24, 2011, 07:05 PM   #5
Brian Pfleuger
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My point from other threads is why you would download a cartridge as STANDARD practice rather than simply using the "lower" cartridge.

Certainly, there are times/reasons to "download" a cartridge but it makes no sense to me to buy a 22-250 and load it to 223 levels, or even "mild" 22-250 levels because of "accuracy" when it's a virtual guarantee that some other combination of powder/bullet/primer will give you BOTH the accuracy AND the missing velocity.

Also, your premise that cartridges can not be safely downloaded to "lesser" cartridge levels is false. Certainly it is not appropriate with certain powders or possibly other components but it CAN be done.

Trail Boss can be used to load cartridges to VERY low levels. A 30-06, for example, can be loaded to MUCH LESS than 30-30 levels with Trail Boss. Because the pressure is low and barrel vibrations minimal, many Trail Boss loads exhibit excellent accuracy.

Alas, the arguments have all been made and no one's mind is changing. It's a free country. Load what you want.
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Old November 24, 2011, 08:34 PM   #6
jmorris
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Do a search on subsonic 308 loads. Speeds under 1100fps and tiny charges of fast powders.

Another look might be 300 RUM, IIRC you can get 3 "levels" of factory loadings. All the way from take your arm off, somewhere around 300 mag and down to 30-06.
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Old November 24, 2011, 11:14 PM   #7
res45
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Being able to download a cartridge from one power level to another to me is versatility. I do it with cast lead bullets and several fast to med fast burning pistol and shotgun powders,not only does this allow me to shoot more and much cheaper but i can hunt anything for large game to barn rats with the same rifle or just plink tin cans or shoot paper targets out in the back yard all day long at pennies per rd.

Last edited by res45; November 25, 2011 at 06:56 AM.
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Old November 25, 2011, 07:11 AM   #8
Bart B.
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Folks using reduced loads need be aware of one thing......

When powder charges are reduced by about 10% or more, the normal setback of a rimless botttleneck case shoulder then pushed back out no longer happens. Depending on the shoulder angle and firing pin spring strength, the amount of shoulder setback varies. The case headspace is now shorter than chamber headspace. If it's too short, incipient head separation starts and continued use of that case often ends up having its head partially blown off.

Use a case headspace gage such as the RCBS Precision Mic to ensure your reduced load cases have sufficient headspace.

Last edited by Bart B.; November 25, 2011 at 07:17 AM.
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Old November 25, 2011, 01:26 PM   #9
frumious
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Well I wasn't going to respond to this thread but I feel compelled to, now. Look, guys, I didn't create this thread to argue the benefits of loading reduced charges in rifles. I think that was what the other thread was about and I didn't intend to transplant it. I myself have a Marlin 1895 in 45-70, a cartridge which is blessed with low, medium, and high loadings. I use the low-power loads with lead - because they are fun - and medium-power loads with jacketed - because they work. If you want to load low-power loads with Trail Boss or pistol powder for your son or daughter or wife or your arthritis-ridden shoulder then go ahead. I DO TOO.

But that's not what I am talking about.

One thing I am talking about loading 30-06 to 30-30 levels. Not below 30-30, with Trail Boss. Or way below, with Bullseye. But to 30-30 levels, with a rifle powder. I defined "loading Y to X" as "making Y go as fast (slow) as X". Maybe this definition is too restrictive. If so, discuss. But if not, then tell me how I can do it, because a load that reduced seems to go against the grain of what I have learned as a reloader. Which is, "don't go too much below starting loads". I know this is not a hard-and-fast rule...I know this from my 45-70. But if you know some details around *when* it is safe to download this much, then discuss.

By the way, this is a point I had hoped to see discussed a lot. I observed IMR 4064 being used in greatly different quantities in two rifles with the same caliber, although the 30-30 is nearly half an inch shorter and not as fat. But still, it showed me there is no "magic" quantity of 4064 where it works if you're above this quantity, but sticks a bullet in the barrel if below. Is this evidence that I *can* use 30 grains of 4064 in a 30-06? Or are the cartridges too different to make this leap? And if they are too different, are there two that aren't? Or is this line of reasoning just dangerous?

The other thing I am talking about is loading 22-250 to 223 levels...these powder charges are close enough that I'd almost try it. Would you?

So anyway, I am talking about the validity of the STATEMENT "download Y to X". Not the validity of the PRACTICE of downloading a given cartridge - for accuracy or recoil management or suitability to game or whatever.

Please don't bring that other thread over here.

Hope everyone had a happy turkey day!

-cls
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Old November 25, 2011, 01:57 PM   #10
Brian Pfleuger
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If the "practice" is valid, how exactly would the statement not be?

There are TONS of examples. I used 30-06/30-30 and 22-250/223 because they're common we'll known cartridges. There are SCADS of similar cartridges that have overlapping data.

Once again, I (for one) never once said, nor in context implied, that a person should not or would not want to "download" a cartridge. I simply said that it doesn't make sense under MOST scenarios to not seek near max velocity.

Very few folks, when working up a load for a 40gr 22-250 would stop at 3650 fps (max 223, starting 22-250) just because the gun shot 1/4 MOA. I dare say that virtually everyone, under TYPICAL (not singular) circumstances, would continue on to max published loads... hoping to still get those 1/4 MOA groups NEAR the top and, if they didn't, I dare say, MOST folks would *logically* go looking for a different load option that WOULD exhibit near peak accuracy at near peak velocity.
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Old November 25, 2011, 03:09 PM   #11
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4895 powder was always advertised as the most versatile powder speed-wise, but also that it gave safe and good accuracy down to 60% load density.

In a 30-06 with bullet seated one caliber into the neck, the case capacity is about 63 grains of water, which equates to 56 grains of 4895. 60% of that is 33.5 grains, which should give about 2250 fps with a 165 gr bullet (30-30 level).

Ball powders and slower powders do not do well with reduced loads, but some powders are designed for it. Also, straight-walled cartridges are more forgiving of light powder charges. It just depends on the powder.
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Old November 25, 2011, 06:29 PM   #12
Bart B.
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Quote:
Is this evidence that I *can* use 30 grains of 4064 in a 30-06? Or are the cartridges too different to make this leap? And if they are too different, are there two that aren't? Or is this line of reasoning just dangerous?
Yes, it's dangerous if you plan on reloading with max loads in a fired case that used thay light of charge. The case will have excessive headspace; especially if two or more extremly reduced loads have been fired in it.
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Old November 25, 2011, 07:46 PM   #13
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Cast bullet shooters routinely load bullets down to 1100-1200 fps for target work. Even the venerable .30-06 is susceptible to this treatment. It's easy to load to .30-30 levels and there might be any number of scenarios where that would be acceptable. I haven't played much with downloading the .30-06, but I have played with the .30-30 and downloaded it to... well.

How about a 115 grain bullet at subsonic levels? I call those mouse-fart cartridges and they're a lot of fun. Or, the .311041 loaded to about 1200 fps for plinking, or that same 311041 loaded with as small as 3.0 grains of Bullseye? It makes a dandy squirrel load in those places where it is legal.

Quote:
But if not, then tell me how I can do it, because a load that reduced seems to go against the grain of what I have learned as a reloader. Which is, "don't go too much below starting loads".
All that is good advise, but sometimes we want to experiment, to learn beyond what might be in the book.

The information is out there. One of the best starting articles is the one by Paco Kelly over at his Leverguns site. LINKY HERE! Why might we do such things? Why do people race sports cars? Why do people climb mountains?
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Old November 27, 2011, 07:17 AM   #14
Mike / Tx
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Quote:
Why might we do such things? Why do people race sports cars? Why do people climb mountains?
Why in the heck would someone jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

As has been mentioned using the proper powders there are many ways to drop both the pressure and velocity of many cartridges down to levels of same caliber but less powerful ones very safely. Personally I dropped my .308 down to 30-30 levels and used the 170gr RN bullets for hog hunting. The area is thick brush and shots are sometimes measured in inches and feet over yards, so I didn't feel I needed the added power, and sure as hell didn't want to go buy another rifle just for it. It's called versatility.

Quote:
My point from other threads is why you would download a cartridge as STANDARD practice rather than simply using the "lower" cartridge.

Certainly, there are times/reasons to "download" a cartridge but it makes no sense to me to buy a 22-250 and load it to 223 levels, or even "mild" 22-250 levels because of "accuracy" when it's a virtual guarantee that some other combination of powder/bullet/primer will give you BOTH the accuracy AND the missing velocity.
Why should a person who is possibly limited on finances fill up a closet with rifles or handguns when they can simply pick and choose the loads they need or want, to accomplish a much wider variety of uses? It's a ton cheaper to pick up another pound of powder, than another rifle, and still be able to use the components you have on hand.

Oh an not everyone seeks out the utmost velocity from every caliber they load. If you have 1/4 MOA accuracy at 3600fps, why punish the brass and barrel, simply because you can? Well because you can obviously, but in reality what do you really gain? is the groundhog any deader, or are the holes in the paper target any rounder?

I do believe in working every rifle up to a max load with any given powder I am considering using. But this is simply so I know where I can go, and where I need to back off. I have a 7 pound Rem 700 in .270 which is a bear to shoot with full throttle loads, but with 46.5grs of IMR-3031 and the 130gr bullets, it is a powder puff, but easily shoots under 1/2" at 100 and under 1" at 200yds. I know I can get 3000fps from it and a bit more but why go there? It don't kill the deer or hogs any deader, and the holes in the paper look identical to me. It does however mess up twice or more the amount of meat as the lower velocity load does, so that is another consideration which might be taken into account.

Several years ago I started playing with my .308 and the Youth Loads from Hodgdon. The end use was so that my then 3.5yr old grandson could learn to shoot it and possibly get him a hog. He was VERY insistent that he could do it nd wanted to do it, so the work began. I spoke with several bullet manufacturers as well as Hodgdon, in very in depth discussions on the whats, hows, and whys, of using the data and which bullets would be best at the impact velocities I was to expect. In speaking with Hodgdon, they said that using the data listed in the standard loading guide, for any caliber which had H-4895 listed, that you could reduce the "MAX" listed load by their 60% rule, and then work it all the way back up to this "MAX" listed load using the same components.

Well I'm not sure if you have looked over the H-4895 listing but, if you go to the reloading data base, select rifle, then select something like .243. When it loads click on the powder tab and select H-4895, and hit get data. Everything in that list can be loaded using the reduced loads as per Hodgdon, and it pretty much covers everything I have in the house. I might also add that every load I have used with it so far, while not getting the top end velocities from with every bullet weight, have been very accurate and easily under 2" at 100yds with most bullet weights. In fact I have it stored away as my SHTF go to powder.

As for reducing loads to lesser power levels, yes I do it on a regular basis with the 30-06, .308, also in .243, 25-06, and .270, and last but not least in my 357, 41, 44, and 454 magnums. Just because I can go from 0-150, don't mean I have to burn the tires off every time I leave a light, but it's nice to know I can if I want too.
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Old November 27, 2011, 10:47 AM   #15
old roper
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I've been reloading since the mid 60's there always been reduced loads around. Speer manual #14 has them for the 22-250,30-06 and other selected calibers.

Can not be around as long as I have and not try it. First time I did it money was tight was a way get little more shooting in never hunted with them shot few varmint is all. Other times I did it was for a light recoil range load @ 100YDS.

I sure won't take my 30-338mag out hunting with one of those loads nor take the 22Br shooting PD at 223 velocity and I've never done it to try save barrel life.
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Old November 27, 2011, 11:17 AM   #16
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Another option is to switch to a slower powder such as H870 (or any other equivalent) for use in a 30-06. A max charge under a 200 grain bullet will barely break 2,000 fps. You get 100% case fill and reduced velocity. And WC872 is very cheap.

The downside? It'll be dirty as that slow powder doesn't have a complete burn.

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Old November 27, 2011, 07:57 PM   #17
jmorris
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Quote:
it doesn't make sense under MOST scenarios to not seek near max velocity.
I have one example, I wanted a rifle chambered in 7mm BR as it always worked well for me out of my XP 100. After pricing I decided to just get a 7-08 and down load it.
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Old November 27, 2011, 10:37 PM   #18
res45
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Not only will shooting reduced load save you on component cost but your rifles throat will love you for it. Barrel life and accuracy will be extended over the life of the barrel especially in the smaller caliber high velocity rds.
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Old November 29, 2011, 01:46 AM   #19
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Hello, One thing I haven't seen mentioned is the downloading of vintage rifles..such as the .30-40 Krag, with it's single locking lug, or the Winchester 95' in .30-03 or .30-06. These and other antique firearms should IMHO be shot with reduced loads out of respect for their age.
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Old November 29, 2011, 02:03 AM   #20
kraigwy
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Look at it another way;

Suppose someone shoots matches that require a certain round.

They shoot that match at 200 yards. The required round is capable of excellent accuracy at reduced velocity. Plus there is less recoil making it easier on the shooter.

The example I'm using is CMP GSM matches, fired at 100 or 200 yards max. The ammo required has to be the ammo designed for that rifle which can't be modified for the match. There is no reason to load the round to 2700 feet per second if it develops excellent accuracy at 2200 ft per second.

Also reduced loads cost less to load.

Another example is high power rifle matches. 200, 300, 600 and even 1000 yards. Most people don't have access to such ranges for practice. So he gets reduce targets and practice at 100 yards. Why go to the expense of making match ammo to shoot 1000 when cheaper, reduced velocity ammo will work quite well for 100 yard practice. Easier on the shooter, rifle and pocket book.

There are many reasons for reduced loads.
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