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Old September 29, 2012, 02:05 AM   #1
Gargamel6
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newbie- Loading .308, and soon .223- recommendations

As so many, I am new to this (aside from helping my dad as a kid and inevitably smashing my finger in the press!). I absolutely love it thus far though. I inherited a RCBS JR3(?), a RCBS uniflow, and other various reloading equipment...not to mention a ton of .38 special brass and wad cutters! It's all as old as I am, and seems to be in great condition. Things were meant to last back then! Well, it kinda seems like RCBS is still making good solid equipment. Lots of USA made stuff in the reloading industry...it's refreshing!!! I have loaded about 80 .308 bullets so far, and shot 40. I have learned a lot form this forum, but there is a lot of information out there. Enough to make your head spin! I ventured into reloading to make shooting .308 a little more affordable. What I used was Sierra STBT bullets, IMR 3031, and CCI 200 primers. Based on what I read in the (old) RCBS manual, and other mfgr websites, and mfgr references on the web it seemed like a good safe starting point. I have found that the 3031 doesn't exactly flow that great through the old crank uniflow. I didn't measure each load individually, but weighed my fair share of what the uniflow dumped until I was satisfied that it would be safe and relatively uniform. Then gun didn't blow up, and everything cycled perfectly- with no indication of over pressure. I guess I'm off to a good start! A little levity...sorry...Believe me though, I researched and cross referenced information for safe loads with genuine OCD until I was certain I was making safe rounds!

My intent is to continue reloading .308 and to start .223 eventually. I still need to get the dies for .223, and have learned from this forum it might be a little more tricky to reload than other rounds. Eventually I will tackle it though. I have a Remington 700 varmint .308, and a bushmaster AR15 (bushmaster lower and government surplus upper- if I'm not mistaken). It was a kit my dad got about 20 years ago. Anyway, what I'm after is simplicity, safety, repeatability, and affordability. I don't need a tack driving recipe at this point. I just need something I can repeat easily and grow with. I haven't sat on the 500 yd line (USMC) in a lot of years, so I can use as much trigger time as possible developing my own skills again. Once I get back in form, I can start working on more accurate loads. Baby steps...

My specific questions are:

1) Is there a powder that will work relatively well for both .308, and .223 that will meter accurately through my old crank Uniflow? Simplicity, and repeatability. I want to use what I have for the time being rather than buying new equipment. Affordability. Does IMR 8208 XBR sound like a good powder for this? I read it was the shortest extruded powder (may meter better in uniflow), worked in .223 and .308, and was consistent in differing temperatures. What is a moderately accurate/ versatile bullet (could work for hunting deer sized game or target shooting) that would work in conjunction with any suggested powder? I'm not shooting any farther than 100 yds right now, but would like the ability to stretch it out as I progress...and as I find the venues to shoot farther.

2) What is a good comprehensive reloading manual to invest in? They all seem to be produced by manufacturers that obviously have some vested interest in their own brand. Thats okay. I'm sure everybody has an opinion too, also fine by me. As a newbie, I just want to make sure any powder/ bullet/ primer configurations suggested in the previous question would be covered in the manual suggested. With my experience and knowledge at this point I want something that will be easy to understand and give me a solid jumping off point. Obviously, the easier to comprehend the better. I ain't dumb , but there is a lot to absorb, and I don't want to make any mistakes. Seems to me like that would make for a bad day!!!

3) While at the range the other day I got some once fired .223. After starting to pick it up I noticed there was a ding in the body of nearly all of the brass. My first instinct was that it probably wasn't good so I stopped picking it up. Is it a no-no to reload brass with such anomalies? Is it just the nature of the beast when running through an AR? Or, is it a defect in the rifle cycling, or the rifle/ bullet combo? I haven't looked into it yet...but figured I might as well ask while here. To this point my only experience with spent brass was the unpleasant end to a day at the rifle range- the inevitable police call! Maybe I blocked it out, haha. I know I never really paid attention to it. Back then it was troublesome....now I see it as opportunity!

Thank you in advance for your insightful responses!
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Old September 29, 2012, 08:17 AM   #2
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Semper Fi. Lots of old Marines on this forum. And lots of opinions, so I'm thinking that you'll get many responses. Because of that, I'll keep mine short.

I'd recommend the Lyman 49th manual. Over the years it's become my go-to info source for powder charges and bullets.

Varget will probably work just fine for you as a powder for both calibers, though I use different powders for both and Varget for neither.

Case dents, once you have reloaded and fired the case, will 'iron' out. Still, you can buy a bunch of once fired cases for not a whole lot of money.
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Old September 29, 2012, 09:11 AM   #3
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The Lyman Manual is a good start, I say start as you can never have to many manuals.

223/308 easy metering powder = Ramshot TAC, or the new CFE 223.

Used 223/5.56 range pick up brass may have a crimped primer pocket. Make sure you remove it before seating a new primer.

Here is a good read on handloading for the AR.

http://www.exteriorballistics.com/re...sgunreload.cfm
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Old September 29, 2012, 11:17 AM   #4
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I use Benchmark in both 308 and 223. I have yet to find a rifle power that flows as evenly thru my powder measure. I use Varget for 308, but thru the powder measure, it can be a pain.
The Lyman manual is a good one, I use that and loaddata.com more than other sources.
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Old September 29, 2012, 12:56 PM   #5
oldpapps
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Welcome

" Gargamel6

newbie- Loading .308, and soon .223- recommendations
As so many, ... inherited a RCBS JR3(?),... continue reloading .308 and to start .223 eventually....

My specific questions are:

1) Is there a powder that will work relatively well for both .308, and .223 that will meter accurately ....

2) What is a good comprehensive reloading manual to invest in? ...

3) While at the range the other day ...noticed there was a ding in the body of nearly all of the brass. ..."


Your questions in order, by number.

1) There are many good powders that work very well in both the .223/5.56 and the .308/7.62. I personally use 748 a lot but H4895 sneaks in from time to time. The point is there are so many that are good.

2) As listed earlier, Lyman 49th manual is very good. More is better, look at Modern Reloading by Richard Lee.

3) Dents are not good. As the brass is worked, it gets harder. Don't dis-pare, it irons out on the next firing and still will last several loading. I have found that auto-loaders that are improperly gassed/wrong buffer/overly strong ejector/weak extractor/some other items, can dent brass. Of the many AR/M4s that I have owned/shot, only one bounces brass off of the deflector hard enough to dent the case mouth (but only with some loads). So it is not a general occurrence.

Also, you stated that you wanted to save some cash. Yea right. If the bug gets you, you will only shoot more for less but more.

Enjoy and be safe,

OSOK
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Old September 29, 2012, 01:31 PM   #6
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1. sure there are powders that will work for both, and depending on your guns and bullet weights, one might be ideal for both, but why limit yourself over $25? A lb of powder is cheap. so dont do it to save money. different powers work better for specific bullet weights in each caliber. so if you want to shoot heavy .223 bullets and light .308 bullets, one powder isnt ideal. It will work, but you will be compromising on one caliber.... for $25, I would go for the best in both. If one powder happens to work well for both, great, but dont do it to save money, do it for performance. On the other hand, it also depends on what you are doing with your guns. If you are hunting with .308 and plinking with ,223, you would obviously want to choose a GREAT .308 powder that also works with .223. If its the other way around, you want a GREAT .223 powder that also works with .308.

2. any manual will work, I use mostly hornady bullets, so i bought the hornady manual (its also the most recently published currently) but I am not limited to hornady bullets. If I want to use another brand of bullet, I just start low and work up, like always..... I also have a few of those "one book one caliber" paperback dealies for backup.

3. Dents. If they are smooth, use them and it will iron out when you shoot, if there is any kind of crease or corner, toss them.
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Old September 29, 2012, 11:27 PM   #7
Gargamel6
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Thanks for the responses. I guess I should have presumed there would be no "magic bullet." A lot to digest. Causing a bit of "analysis paralysis." Might be a good thing so I dont break anything, or myself! I think my next course of action is to get a real reloading book and read, read, read (before I reload anymore bullets).

Thanks for the link to service rifle reloading. All I can say is at least my AR isn't an M-14. From the read it appears they are more finicky..and more prone to slamfires. That scares me! What a surprise that would be! The AR still seems a little more daunting than doing .308 bolt action loads. I'm not in too much of a hurry to get going on that. I need to invest in some gear, and get up to snuff before I commit. Is there any manual that is better than another when it comes to reloading AR rounds? I will be using commercial brass at this point. I don't have the capability to work with the crimped primers yet, and I don't see it as being the first in line of equipment to acquire. It's just an extra step...and requires a brass expense, when I can shoot my own, or once fired commercial brass without the added expense. I will probably end up there at some point if I really get into it.

As far as affordability is concerned...yeah, I know. Initially that was the intent, but I see that I will probably shoot more. If I'm lucky it'll balance out, I guess! If that's the case I still have won! Maybe I should have cited "forgiving" as a criteria for the powder. Being new that would certainly be a concern for safety reasons. It would also be good in that small anomalies might not affect accuracy as much. Still have to read up a lot more on the subject! I am going to research 748 now...and will continue to consider varget. I haven't looked at 748 yet, but like that it is ball powder. Seems like it would be easier to meter. I heard that varget is good, and versatile. I like that. Also think I read it is a little tougher to meter because of being longer extruded powder. That tends to make me shy away a little. Seems like it wouldn't be as easily repeatable given my current gear. I can't say I'm going to be reloading 100's of rounds at a time, but who knows. Shooting an AR might force my hand ! If I do run into that situation, I don't want to "weigh and flick" (I think that was the terminology) every powder drop.

gonna get in there and do some more research....

Thanks for all the posts!
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Old September 29, 2012, 11:30 PM   #8
Gargamel6
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...need to look into benchmark also.

Thanks!
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Old September 30, 2012, 11:43 AM   #9
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And some more babble....

As stated above and I agree, one powder may work but one (or more) may work better for differing chambering/bullet combinations. You were asking if one powder would work and meter well. Yes, several. As for the long tube powders, I use 4831 (slow burn and long grain) in my .375 H&H. I like the results of the powder (combination with other components) but when I do my powder measure dump from my old Lyman 55, the crunching of the powder grains is unnerving. (I do a powder dump from the measure into the scale pan, then use a trickler to bring the charge up with what I want.)

Varget is touted as being great stuff for .223/5.56 and it does get velocity. BUT, I don't like it. It dumps well, is consistent and give suitable everything except, to me (subjective view) it produces way too much concussion. I shoot for pleasure from my asphalt driveway (hard), just in front of an aluminum car port (I learned not to shoot under that echoing cover on hard asphalt early on) and every load, light or heavy, just rattles my bones. On paper, the burn rate isn't that far from my other powders. One powder and my view.

H4895 is tubular, it doesn't meter as well as 'ball' types. But, I get great velocity/consistencies/accuracy with it in .223/5.56 and .308/7.62 and 30.06. I like it.

748 (H335 or BLC2 and other) are 'ball' powder and 'ball' powder meters like water. I also have read that 748 has a cooler flame temperature. I don't know if thsi is true or how it would be checked or if it is a benefit. I use it in my .223/5.56 and 308/7.62 and from time to time 30.06 loads.

As you can see, there are many powders and for the most part all of them could be used in all loads. Most just don't work well and some would be down right stupid, but they could be used.

Get a book or two and study them. Then see what is available in your area. remember most can be found on-line but that stupid 'HAZMAT' fee can eat you up on small orders. Oh, for the most part, those velocities listed in the loading books will be high. Velocity is a must but function and accuracy follow safety and safety is first.

Enjoy and be safe,

OSOK
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Old September 30, 2012, 06:51 PM   #10
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I couldn't help but smile when oldpapps said that he didn't like Varget. I agree. It's Ok, but I have other powders that work better in my various rifles. For instance, IMR4064 and Varget have similar burn rates, but I seem to have better luck with the 4064. My opinion, at least in this instance, has absolutely no scientific data to support it. It's just an opinion, and I still have plenty of Varget, so sooner or later maybe I'll find the magic load with it in one of the rifles. It did show some promise in the 223, behind some 55 grain Nosler BT's. I'll try again.
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Old September 30, 2012, 09:49 PM   #11
Gargamel6
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I don't mind babble! Interesting points, all of it. It is helpful for me to hear all this. I will have my Lyman manual soon...and can't wait to start reading. did I just say that? yikes.
Anyway, I looked at 748, and some of the others. Maybe it's silly, but the idea the temperature has a big impact on performance sort of puts me off. Maybe that is the case, no matter what. Pressure, humidity, temperature, and all that good stuff is going to affect performance on most things- especially when it is something that is burning. I get that. Maybe I'll never be satisfied! Maybe I'm splitting hairs. Maybe the differences aren't enough for me to really get excited over. I'm not benchrest shooting- or competition shooting at all for that matter. I guess my concern would be a round that works in one environment, and is over pressure in another- just from a safety perspective. I guess what I mean is I'd rather have a load that I can rely on to be safe in both extremes (that I might experience here in the mid atlantic region). Maybe the answer is just not running near the ragged edge of max loads. Heck, I dunno. Still trying to sift my way through it all!

I'm sure I will figure this out when I start reading my manual, but just for arguments sake...what if I said I wanted to mimic M855 rounds? Seems to me like I remember them being accurate enough- for my purposes at least (I'm still shooting aperture sights on the AR). Maybe that's a bad idea...I don't know. Just thought, from a logical standpoint, a military type round should be fairly accurate, safe, and relatively consistent in lots of different environments. Obviously it won't be match grade, but isn't it a good general purpose load? Not to mention the fact that it would probably cycle good through my AR. Just pondering.....
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Old October 1, 2012, 07:32 AM   #12
Bart B.
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I think either IMR4895 or Varget is excellent for both cartridges, at least from a best accuracy objective. Ball powders have never been successful for those capable of producing no worse than 1/4 MOA at 100 yards, 1/3 MOA at 300, 1/2 MOA at 600 or 3/4 MOA at 1000 yards regarless of the cartridge used.

Even with the smallest spreads of powder charge weight, muzzle velocity and peak pressure, ball powders produce worse accuracy than average spreads of these three elements with tubular/extruded powders in the .308 Win. case. Lake City Army Ammo Plant tried Winchester ball powders in their 7.62 NATO M118 match ammo when Winchester replaced Remington as the company running it and folks used to the great accuracy from IMR4895 were highly disappointed with the ball powder performance.
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Old October 1, 2012, 05:06 PM   #13
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To the original poster-pick up all brass. Can always ell if you have to-or swap for something you need-brass, prehaps.

I suspect your questions were answered so I wont go on.
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Old October 1, 2012, 06:02 PM   #14
LSnSC
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RL 15 works well in both for me.
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Old October 1, 2012, 10:14 PM   #15
Gargamel6
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It's fine...please go on!! I find all the experiences and knowledge extremely helpful. I can't say all my questions have been answered, or will ever be answered for sure until I start applying what I am reading...just keeping my mind open and absorbing it all!

I like what I'm reading about H4895. It seems like what I'm after. But, at the same time so does varget and RL15. I'll probably just need to get to testing them! Soon enough. Not rushing in just yet. I had been using IMR 3031 on the few loads that I have done. I can't speak to any accuracy with my limited experience...but I can say that I wasn't a big fan of how it metered through my RCBS Uniflow. It wasn't terribly off with regard to uniformity. I suppose maybe .2 grains when I got my rhythm consistent. I ran a lot through it before I started filling brass to be sure I was getting good drops. But, I found the fairly frequent crunching a little disturbing. Being new I was wondering if I was going to have a big problem! I guess that is a fairly common thing with this powder. Does anybody have any input on how varget, H4895, or RL15 meter through the Uniflow?

Once again, thanks for all the input!
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Old October 2, 2012, 06:37 AM   #16
Bart B.
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Regarding metering of powders, I've metered a lot of Varget and IMR4895 (almost the same as H4895) and a small amount of RL15. Varget had the smallest spread in weight, IMR4895 was a close second and RL15 was a close third. They all would meter to no worse than a 3/10th spread in charge weight.

Some folks believe that best accuracy happens only with powder charges having the smallest spread in weight, they're either ignoring or not aware of the fact that benchresters meter all their powders for ranges up to 300 yards ('tis a waste of time to weigh each charge for ranges up to 400 yards if you use the right powder for your bullets in .308 cases). With the right powder and charge weight, accuracy of 5/8 MOA at 600 yards is easily attainable with metered charges dumping weight spreads as much as 3/10ths grain. Federal's Gold Medal .308 Win. match ammo is made that way and it performs as such in well built rifles. Military match ammo loaded on high speed metering of IMR4895 powder under Sierra's match bullets shoots that well or better in good bolt guns; at 100 yards no worse than 1/3 MOA.

For bullets 160 to 190 grains in the .308 Win. IMR4064 and one of the VV powders (I now forget, but it's got close to the same burn rate as 4064, maybe N140 or N540??) has the best track records for accuracy, but they don't meter too accurate from measures. You've got to weigh them to no worse than a 2/10ths grain spread.

Here's a link to a power burn rate table, one of the extruded ones between H4895 and IMR4064 is the best for .308 Win. use:

http://www.reloadbench.com/burn.html

Last edited by Bart B.; October 2, 2012 at 06:44 AM.
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Old October 2, 2012, 01:18 PM   #17
oldpapps
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OK, one more series of babbling.

Powder metering:
748 - excellent.
H4895 - not the best but seems to not suffer from the crunching.
IMR4895 - the same as H4895, also very close to H4895 in use.
IMR4350 (for .308) - maybe a little less crunch than H4895/IMR4895.
Varget - very good.

I have found two loads for the .223/5.56 using X4895 powders that I like. It takes many, many test round before I will accept a suitable load combination with a single weapon.
.223/5.56 - H4895 - 75gr Hornady AMax - 20inch with 1 in 8 twist - 2677fps - two to three touching out of five, all within two inches at 100 yards over bags.
.223/5.56 - IMR4895 - 50gr Dogtown HP - 18 1/2 inch with 1 in 14 twist - 3017fps - many times two touching, all five within two inches at 100 yards over bags.

Varget hasn't made in with me and as I don't care for the perceived concussion, most likely never will be tested.

308/7.62
IMR4350 - 150gr JSPBT - 18 1/2 inch with 1 on 10 twist - 2531fps - hard ball size any time.

Most of my 223/5.56 and 308/7.62 loads are with 748. I have preferred loads for the 223/5.56 in 50gr, 55gr, 63gr bullet weights and for 308/7.62s, in 147gr and 150gr.

The point is each weapon/shooter and combination of components will act differently. As near to being the exact same loadings fired in duplicate weapons will give differing results, sometimes a big difference. Try several and determine what you and your weapon/s like. That is to me the fun of shooting.

Enjoy and be safe,

OSOK
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:04 PM   #18
Bart B.
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oldlpapps claims:
Quote:
The point is each weapon/shooter and combination of components will act differently. As near to being the exact same loadings fired in duplicate weapons will give differing results, sometimes a big difference.
I disagree.

With decent primers and decent new cases, 41 to 42 grains of 4895 or 43 to 44 grains of IMR4064 under a 168 or 175 grain Sierra bullet, if the rifle doesn't shoot 1/2 MOA or better at 100 yards, it's not the ammo's fault. National Match 7.62 NATO and .30-06 loads had the exact same loadings for the entire lot in a given year production. They would shoot much better than 1/2 MOA at 100 yards in thousands of rifles with all sorts of good barrels in them when properly tested by competent shooters.
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:38 PM   #19
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I have run a lot of Varget and H4895 through my Uniflow measure. It does crunch occasionally but not as bad as 3031 or 4064.

In ball powders for both cartridges you might consider BL-C2 (originally used in 7.62x51), H335, RL15, and Ramshot TAC.

I would recommend the Sierra or Hornady manual depending on which bullet brand you use. Both have specific sections for service rifle loads of 60-80 gr. Most manuals stop at 60 gr.

For target and hunting you might consider the 65 gr Sierra SPBT gameking. Reasonable cost, pretty accurate and suitable for. game. I really like the 62 gr Barnes TSX. It is very accurate and tough enough for game. Others like the 70 gr TSX. They are pricey for much target use though. A good bullet is 68-69 gr BTHP by Hornady and Sierra.
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Old October 2, 2012, 10:12 PM   #20
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Bart I stand by my 'claim' that weapons are different.

Example number one:

Two M1 Garands, both made in the same year (one by Springfield and one by IHC). 48 rounds (6 clips) of the same ammunition, all loaded the same [150gr JSPBT/CCI LR/48gr of 748]. All fired over the Chronograph at 10 feet. I also shot another 48 rounds out of a 1903A3. An average of all 48 shots from each weapon:
Spfd - 2597.867 FPS
IHC - 2650.563 FPS
and the 03 - 2531.333

OK, the bolt really doesn't count and the amount of use each Garands has seen can make the difference.

Example number two:

Three 1911A1s, all 5 inch barrels, same manufacture. 6 seven round mags/42 rounds of the same loads [200gr lead/CCI LP/5.6gr 231]. All fired over the Chronograph at 10 feet. An average of all 42 shots from each weapon:
A45 - 867.2 FPS
A19 - 894.45 FPS
A16 - 869.0167 FPS

OK, but again...

Example number three:

Two Smith&Wesson Model 29s, 6 1/2 inch barrels. 36 round of the same loads [240gr lead {I'm cheap}/CCI LP/5.6gr 231]. All fired over the the Chronograph at 10 feet. An average of all 36 shots from each weapon:
TE - 633.7833 FPS
TT - 651.9722 FPS

3 comparisons, 53 FPS difference, 27 FPS difference and 18 FPS difference.
This may not be definitive proof of anything more than an oddity but.
All loads were loaded the same and indiscriminately pulled from a baggie to be fired. Yep, I still think that each weapon is a inanity unto it's self.

What value does all of this shooting have? I enjoyed the loading and shooting, what more does it need to do.

Enjoy,

OSOK
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Old October 3, 2012, 06:13 AM   #21
Bart B.
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OSOK, you're comparing velocity across different barrels. Of course that's going to happen with different amounts of throat erosion plus bore and groove dimensions as well as firing pin impact on primers. Even with the same rifle and ammo used by 3 or 4 different people holding the rifle, there can easily be 70 fps difference in velocity. Changing powder and primer lots for a given load will also cause that much spread in velocity in the same barrel. The 53 fps spread your observed across three barrels is normal for service rifles. It happens with match and sporting rifles, too, I've seen it with mine shooting the same load in a dozen or so barrels for the same cartridge, but accuracy was the same.

I was referring to accuracy; that's independent of average muzzle velocity.

Last edited by Bart B.; October 3, 2012 at 06:46 AM.
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Old October 3, 2012, 07:54 AM   #22
oldpapps
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Bart, I think we are agreeing in substance. Is it not your opinion that the best accuracy for a given weapon is achieved by fine tuning the load for that weapon?
I do.
What is great for one weapon, may not be crap in another.
How well or poorly I, as the shooter, do my job may effect the overall experience but that's part of it.
I have a Remington 600 in .308. No matter what I do, it will not shoot a grouping smaller than maybe 6 inches at 100 yards, it also beats me to death so that may be part of it. Yet the same loads out of my M1A (selected ones mind you) can make nice little clumps of holes. Different weapons for sure, but the same old fat guy with smudged glasses squeezing the trigger.
What the heck, I enjoy shooting both. And that little 600 was my 'go to' hunting rifle until of late.
I enjoy the conversations. Time for a new subject.

So to the subject of this threat, try many powders, bullets, primers. Don't get discouraged if several combinations don't work out. Many will and some can be very good. The quest is the fun and finding 'that' load is the joy.
I think way too many arm chair experts have babbled (that's me) way too much and offered many opinions. Now it is up to you to skim what you like and go from there. Good luck and good shooting.

Enjoy,

OSOK
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Old October 3, 2012, 08:14 AM   #23
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Follow up, Bart, do you live around Sibley? You speak with authority about LC.

Be safe,

OSOK
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Old October 3, 2012, 09:02 PM   #24
Gargamel6
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Thanks, I think I got some pretty good information. I was afraid there would be a lot more conflicting opinions, but it really wasn't bad or confusing for me. I feel like I have a pretty good direction to go in. So.. thank you, thank you, thank you!
Hopefully I'll be reloading this weekend....so I can shoot on wednesday!
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Old October 3, 2012, 11:47 PM   #25
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Reloader 15

I use Reloader 15 for .556, 55 grain, .308, 130 or 150 grain and 30-06 150 grain.

I can get varget to work the .556 as well as RL 15, but the .308 doesn't like varget. The most accurate load my 06 ever found throws 150 Barnes ttsx boat tails out at 2950 with RL15. That load is good for anything I hunt.

If only my .338 liked that powder I wouldn't need another rifle powder for what I'm reloading now.
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