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Old March 17, 2007, 01:09 AM   #1
Mr Beta
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Finding That Special Load

What methods do you use to find that special load for your particular application.
i.e. load 10 @ 20gr and another 10 at 20.5 gr.
Are there any trick on finding that "pet" load?
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Old March 17, 2007, 02:07 AM   #2
moose fat
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I'm at that point too. just starting to reload and searching for that just right load(s).

Keep researching the internet, books and manuals and talk to other reloaders in your area.

Shoot more
Develop patience
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Old March 17, 2007, 02:26 AM   #3
Mr Beta
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Yeah, been doing both of those.
I've been reloading for several years but was wondering if there were any trick or tips to speed up the process.
Does anybody have any links to similar subjects?
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Old March 17, 2007, 04:24 AM   #4
rwilson452
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I'm mostly into rifles. This is the way I do it.

Select a bullet that meets my needs. like a target or hunting bullet.

Check around and find a favorite powder that other like in that cartridge. At some poin tthis gets to be a coin flip or pick one that should work from stocks on hand.

I load up 5 rounds going up in graduated steps. the steps vary by cartridge. for instance a .223 I will advance in .2 gr steps. for a 30-06 I use .5 gr steps. I also make 5 extras of the starting load.

You need a good rest and bag set, a spotting scope and a record book.

At the range I use those extra rounds to dirty the bore.



Fire your first 5 to dirty the bore

let it cool

Fire a slow thre round group. use the spotting scope. If the group looks good fire the other two. If it's not good place the other two rounds aside to use to dirty the bore after cleaning. record the group

I repeat this for three or 4 groups depending. At no more than 20 rounds. I clean the bore.

When you find the best group for that bullet/powder combination. start adjusting your OAL. I use the same 3-5 shot group process.

in the end you either find a load that works for you or you don't if you don't you change powder or bullet but not both. Trickle charge ever load. When you start getting close you want to sort bullets, cases and just plain pay close attention to every last detail. For my varmint rifles I trim cases evey time.

I don't use 10 shot groups until the very last stages and when I chronograph the load.

If a powder or bullet just doesn't show improvement after 4 or 5 groups, stop.
time to change.

you will find that and OAL will be close regardless of the bullet so when you find that distance off the lands, use it for your starting oal for other development. I usually start by putting the bullet .020 off the the lands. somewhere between .030 and .015 is usually where the sweet spot is. YMMV

I vary OAL in .005 steps.


Sorry there are no real shortcuts
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Old March 17, 2007, 07:59 AM   #5
boltgun71
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My process is very similar to rwilson452. Just remember to only change one component or measurement at a time when adjusting your loads. When its comes to me choosing the right powder, I consult reloading manuals to see which powders provided the most accurate and most uniform velocity. Then I ask other reloaders that load for the same caliber, which powder they have had the best results with. Then I find a powder that they recommended that matches my criteria from the manual and use that one as my starting point. I use .5gr increments in working up my loads. My firing sequence is the same as rwilson452's. If the first three rounds dont look good I wont fire the last two and save them for fouling shots later. Accuracy is more important to me than velocity, and I find that "pet" load when I have found the most accurate load for my given bullet choice. I normally try to experiment with at least two or three different powders unless I come across a load that just makes one little hole in the target. Once a load does that I will only tinker a little more if it all. I once put together a load for my 700 .300 Win. Mag. that shot a single 1/2" group on the first starting load. The next few loads I tried the groups just continued to open up so I quit and stuck with the 5 shot one-ragged hole starting load as the one to use. Sometimes your just lucky in finding a load like that.
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Old March 17, 2007, 09:22 AM   #6
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Here's some reading material for you:

http://home.snafu.de/l.moeller/Englisch/Laddertest.htm

I've just started using a variation of the "ladder test". I haven't used it enough to see how well it works though. In my version, I pick the powder, bullet, primer I want to test and load 20 of them. Each with a different charge weight. I'll decide what is the maximum charge I should load with my combination, and add 1.0gr to that for my heaviest charge. I load them in .2gr increments. When I load them, I write on the case with a Sharpie what the powder charge is, and what number in the string they need to be fired. I fire them in order from lightest to heaviest over my chronograph carefully watching for pressure signs. In the link above, they recommend shooting at 300 yds to make the target easier to read. I only have access to a 100 yd range, so I made a target with 20 seperate 1/2" bullseyes, and shoot at a different bullseye for each shot. After I'm done, I find the "sweet spot(s)" where the bullets hit close to the same place in orientation to the bullseye I was shooting at. When I've found the "sweet spot(s)", I'll load 10 of each for the next trip to the range to see what kind of group I get and what the velocity is. Hopefully it will be a tight group with a low SD.

Here's a scan of my last target. The charge weight is written above the dot I was shooting at, velocity is below, and the line is drawn to the bullet hole. I have loaded 26.5gr, and 27.5gr to try, but I have not been to the range to test them yet.

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Old March 17, 2007, 09:29 AM   #7
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RWILSON:: very good logic, I've learned something very useful today, THANKS for your input!! FM12
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Old March 17, 2007, 09:37 AM   #8
rwilson452
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One thing I didn't say that to me doesn't need to be said. It's not how close to the bullseye you holes are, it's how close they group.
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Old March 17, 2007, 11:19 AM   #9
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RWILSON: Yep thats true...I once had a remington m700 in .223 that would shoot .30/.40 groups all day, and I thought "I can do better that that, lets sell this one and get a Ruger heavy varmint in 22-250". Well, I guess you can see where that one went!
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Old March 17, 2007, 12:41 PM   #10
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FM12,

You shoulda got a Savage.
LOL
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Old March 17, 2007, 01:52 PM   #11
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Many of the reloading maunals have 'most accurate load' designations. Have found these a good place to start working. Especially the old Lyman books. Then the methods already mentioned are good. Remember that a new gun can't be counted on to be as accurate as it can be for several hundred rounds. When on the bench I wipe the bore every 5 - 10 rounds. Once a gun is broken in I have not found 'fouling shots' to be necessay. When you are hunting and it is cold/wet you have to use what you have in the conditions you have! Same at a shoot on a crummy day. Get as accurate as you can (or want) and then it is up to you.
I was once a fanatic bench rester aand proved you can go to extremes!!
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Old March 17, 2007, 03:01 PM   #12
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RWILson: You know, I've thought about that, I no longer have a bolt gun in .223, and one of my best friends owns the local pawn shop...could get into a Savage for about $200-250, might be worth a try...any yes or no on models? I;m not that familar with them..
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Old March 17, 2007, 04:20 PM   #13
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Thanks, everyone.
I'll try your method FC.
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Old March 17, 2007, 06:23 PM   #14
rwilson452
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FM12

Around here the Savage 12BVSS in .223 has been doing very well.
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Old March 17, 2007, 06:37 PM   #15
roy reali
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Re:firechicken

Maybe I am misreading your post here, so pleae correct me if i am wrong.

You state that you decide what the maximum charge is and add one grain of powder to that. Then you increase the loads by .2 grains. Unless I didn't understand your post here, it sounds like you are advocating a dangerous practice.

Also, if you decide what the maximum is, what criteria are you using. Haven't the guys at Nosler, Accurate, etc. already figured that out for us?

Again, I apologize if I didn't fully understand this. If I did understand it correctly, you should not be giving out instructions that could harm someone.
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Old March 17, 2007, 10:17 PM   #16
firechicken
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In deciding what my maximum charge will be for my "ladder test", I take what should be the maximum load according to different resources, and add approximately 1.0 grain to it. That will be my maximum charge for that specific test. The rest of the charges in that test decrease from that max in 0.2gr increments. Sometimes what I think should be my max charge is less than a published max in some manuals. More often than not, my manuals don't agree on what the max charge is even with a specific powder and bullet combo. Reloading guides are just that......guides, and if someone doesn't know how to watch for pressure signs, then they should stay well within those published loads and not even approach the listed maximum loads. None of the companies that publish reloading data have performed tests in my rifle, with my bullets, with my powder, with my primers, in my neck-sized cases.

When I shoot these loads, I start with the lightest charge (of course) which is 3.8gr lighter than my maximum load for a 20-round test. Each shot is fired over my chronograph, and each case is carefully inspected for pressure signs. If I see any pressure signs, I stop the test.
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Old March 17, 2007, 10:36 PM   #17
roy reali
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Re:firechicken

I was under the impression that you look for pressure signs by starting low and working up.

Would you mind if I take out a life insurance policy for you?
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Old March 17, 2007, 10:46 PM   #18
firechicken
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Quote:
I was under the impression that you look for pressure signs by starting low and working up.
Isn't that the only way to do it? I always start well below listed maximums.
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Old March 17, 2007, 10:51 PM   #19
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I've used the Audettes Ladder to tune loads. It is suppose to cut down on the trial loads and get to the sweet spot faster. After reading some of the articles in some of the manuals I don't use it anymore. I look at the velocity that I want out of a particular weapon using a specific bullet weight. Then I find a powder that at that velocity has better than 80% loading density. I load that combo and vary the seating depth by .010 from maximum length and shorten it. Usually, I will only load four different lengths and usually one load combo will shoot in a hole. It has worked for me for the last 5 years and a bunch of calibers. Your mileage may vary.
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Old March 18, 2007, 12:07 AM   #20
Mr Beta
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Forgive my ignorance but how do you figure the loading density?

-Firechicken
Quote:
When I shoot these loads, I start with the lightest charge (of course) which is 3.8gr lighter than my maximum load for a 20-round test.
Do you shoot 20 per specific load? or total?
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Old March 18, 2007, 08:01 AM   #21
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I load 5 rounds of each load to start. I start with selecting a powder that has a good history with that caliber.
Here's what I did for my 111FL Savage chambered in 250 Sav (250-3000). The bullet was a Speer 87 gr. TNT. My manual listed W760 and 4350 powders, I had both so I loaded the 2 powders at 3 levels each, 5 rounds per load (30 rounds total). I started with the 5 light IMR powder rounds and worked my way up the ladder with the other 2 IMR loads, shooting for group and checking for pressure signs. I then did the same with the Winchester powder.

I don't care where the first bullet lands when trying a load. I care about where the next 4 land, and adjust sights or scope later. The above method allows for trending. I found that as I drove the bullet faster, the groups tightened for both powders (FOR THIS RIFLE AND BULLET COMBO, FASTER DOESN'T ALWAYS MEAN ACCURACY). The Winchester loads largest group (lightest load) started at the IMR powders best group (1-1/2") and tightened to 3/8" at published max. I don't push past a max load. If I need / want more umph, I'll get a different caliber designed to handle it.

I'll then play with seating depth if needed. My Rem 7400 semi-auto shoots best with the bullet seated > max oal. Again by loading 5 shots of each adjustment to improve on the load.
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Old March 18, 2007, 12:07 PM   #22
firechicken
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Quote:
Do you shoot 20 per specific load? or total?
I load 20 rounds, each with a different charge weight. After I shoot them, I look for the impact "trend". In the target I posted above, if the 26.3gr, 26.5gr, and 26.7gr loads were all fired at the same bullseye, they would have made a nice group even though they have a 0.4gr difference in charge weight and over 100fps difference in velocity. In theory, this is one of the "sweet spots" for this specific set of components in this rifle. If I'm lucky, the 26.5gr load will give me sub 1/2" groups. We'll see on my next trip to the range.
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Old March 20, 2007, 01:44 PM   #23
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Do you let your barrel cool between shots or do any cleaning before you finish the 20 shot string?
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Old March 20, 2007, 02:22 PM   #24
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One interesting theory says that as you are working up a load, and the groups all of a sudden become bad or different, then you are just about to the optimal charge weight for that load.

In other words if the groups suddenly go from real bad to real good, you are there.

The theory is explained in detail and is very good reading here...

http://home.earthlink.net/~dannewber...addevelopment/
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Old March 20, 2007, 03:09 PM   #25
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Cold vs hot barrel

If this is a hunting gun that will be shot cold I test cold. If it's a target gun that will be shot hot I test hot. nominally for a cold barrel I will not shoot more than three shots before allowing the barrel to get back to "room" temperature. On those hot sunny days I provide shade or the barrel will never get cool. Even hunting woodchucks I bring along a beach umbrella that I drive stakes in the ground to hold it upright. Just sitting in the shade sucking on a cold soda waiting for that pesky critter to show itself. Not the same as out west where you can set and shoot at some whistle dog town all day and never run out of targets unless you spook them.
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