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Old June 17, 2011, 03:45 PM   #1
axxxel
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First handload for m14. Need tips for RL-15/norma 203-b recipe

Hello,

I'm a 22y.o. Swede who spent almost five years longing for an m14 type rifle and finally managed to get a license for one about a year ago. I've shot match FMJs and surplus with it so far and I've been moderately satisfied with the accuracy. My dad handloads for his BAR light (.30-06) and I got myself an RCBS kit for .308 so that I can borrow his bench to make some nice accuracy optimized hunting loads.

Obviously the best way to do this would be to get ten different kinds of bullets and three different powders but I've already bought a box of bullets and I'm going to use the powder my dad keeps in stock.

Rifle: Norinco m14s, w/ bassett mount, Nikon Monarch 1.5-6x scope and shimmed gas system

Powder: Norma 203-b, which is allegedly the same or very similar to Reloader 15

Bullet: Hornady 165gr BTSP Interlock

Do you have any recommendations regarding COAL, amount of powder or anything else m14-specific under these circumstances?


We will be following Normas tables for .308 winchester for infornation regarding every variable except for what you can help me with.

On one forum a shooter recommended 40.0 grains of RL-15, on another I read a recommendation for 45.5 grains of RL-15 (producing 2600fps with a 168grain bullet).

Thank you!
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Old June 17, 2011, 04:24 PM   #2
edward5759
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I have run RL15 in a m14 before My records show that I had 42 grains behind a 165 gave me good results with not too much secondary pressure on the gas system.
"It did not beat the Operation rod to death'
that's important !
Good luck you have a fun and real rifle to shoot there.
Some shooters here in the U.S. will not shoot the 180 grain bullets, I am one of them also, it's too hard on the M14 action. let me know how you do.

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Old June 17, 2011, 04:31 PM   #3
edward5759
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I do have a load for Norma 203B
with the Hornaday 165 grain
I was shooting 42.5 grains behind the 165.
It gave me here in Arizona, 2660 FPS
I have here it was a hot day at 110 degrees "Fahrenheit"
which shooed be around what 50 to 52 degrees.
I used a standard primer.
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Old June 17, 2011, 10:20 PM   #4
Kevin Rohrer
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Axxxel:

Are you on the M14 forum? If not, here is the link. It is an excellent resource for us M1A owners.

http://m14forum.com/
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Old June 17, 2011, 10:23 PM   #5
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Axxxel,

Welcome to the forum.

Hornady recommends 2.750" COL (69.85 mm) for that bullet in .308 Winchester. The soft points bang up easily, though, so don't be surprised if the bullet lengths vary by .2 or .3 mm, causing your COL to vary. If you cover 2/3 of the crimp cannelure with the mouth of a case trimmed to 2.005" (50.93 mm), then the COL will be correct.

Hornady shows RL-15 never below 35.3 grains (2.29 g) and not above 44.3 grains (2.87 g). However, this is in the Hornady/Frontier brand case. .308 cases vary a lot from brand to brand, and I don't know the volume of your Norma cases. If you can provide the weight of one, we can estimate. It is best to take one that has been fired in your gun and weigh it and fill it with water level with top of the case (no meniscus) and weigh it again to see how much water it actually holds. That is what loads should be based on.

Anyway, in the M1A/M14 action, I would not use less than 40 grains (2.59 g) to start in the Hornady/Frontier case. If your case turns out to be similar, then we can adjust that.

QuickLOAD does show the RL-15 and 203B to be very similar and having the same starting burn rate.
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Old June 18, 2011, 01:29 AM   #6
bfoosh006
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Glen Zedikers famous download link....http://www.zediker.com/downloads/m14.html.... read / save to your computer the first two articles.

And a +1 on joining http://m14forum.com/... great site for the M1A / M14.
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Old June 18, 2011, 09:28 AM   #7
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Thanks for the link. I've got Zediker's book and had read that information awhile back, but it's good to have something to refer others to when they can't get to a copy of the book. I'm glad Zediker put that up to share.

I should point out that one difference I've found from Zediker's data is that the IMI Match brass I have is around 186 grains, which is about six grains heavier than the LC match brass I have. The rule of thumb I use in the .308 is to divide the case weight difference by 14 to get the approximate number of grains powder charge difference I am likely to end up with for a given barrel time. So, about 0.5 grains less powder in the IMI Match than in my LC for the cases I have. That would be with Reloader 15, which is what the military puts in M118LR these days.

BTW, that formula assumes the head diameters are the same so that weight difference equals water capacity difference times 8.53. If they don't match, you have to weigh the filled water capacity of the two .308 cases you are trying to compare, and divide the difference by 1.7 to get an estimate of the change in charge that will keep barrel time constant.
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Last edited by Unclenick; June 18, 2011 at 11:56 AM.
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Old June 18, 2011, 10:10 AM   #8
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I just read that Zediker article

Now I've been shooting and loading for the M14/M1As since 1977. Shooting for the Guard, got my distinguished badge with one.

I also read (or thought I have) just about everything about loading the 308s for the M14.

I got to tell you, Zediker's article is about the best thing I've read on the subject.

As a side note: The most accurate M1A loads I've loaded was 41.5 grns of 4895, Remington Special Brass (with Small Rifle Primer Pockets) and SR BR Primers. I used 168 SMKs at 200 & 300 and 180 SMKs at 600 & 1000. (Note: this is the older 180 SMKs not todays 180s, the older 180s are the same as todays 175 SMKs).

Problem is I can't find any more of Remington's special brass.

I haven't done much with Bergers, I heard they are good, but I've went to ARs for High Power Service Rifle shooting and just haven't gotten around to playing with the Bergers in 308.
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Old June 18, 2011, 12:00 PM   #9
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Lapua's new Palma brass has a small primer pocket. Sinclair has it. Not cheap, but top notch stuff.
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Old June 19, 2011, 03:48 PM   #10
axxxel
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Thank you all for your input! As you can see in the OP we started out with some very basic experimenting for an inexpensive load for my first hunting season with the rifle (I've had it for a year but missed last season due to studies and parties). We went from 43.0 to 45.0 grains of 203-b with 0.5 grain increments.

This way we stuck to Normas recommendations for loading their .308w brass while passing by some of the powder charges recommended here and elsewhere.

With an almost stock rifle and a not-too-magnifying scope operated by a relatively inexperienced shot using good but not perfect support the best 5-shot group measured 34.2mm @ 80m. This translates to just a little bit worse than 1.5 MOA, which is just what I need for all my hunting. Good enough for our smallish roe deer out to 200-250, in good to perfect conditions. Might extend that figure if I improve my shooting, the load or the rifle.

We only shot one 5-shot group with each load, but there will no doubt be more experimenting down the road.

Oh, I almost forgot: The winning load used 44.0 grains of norma 203-b in once fired norma brass, necksized and loaded with a winchester large rifle primer.

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Old June 19, 2011, 04:43 PM   #11
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Axxxel,

I don't recommend neck sizing for the M14 style actions. The usual rule of thumb is to use a full-length resizing die adjusted to set the case shoulder back a minimum of 0.002" (0.05 mm). This is mainly for reliable feeding from the magazine, but with the floating firing pin you also have the potential for slam firing if a case doesn't chamber easily enough, and there is some potential hazard associated with that as well as the possibility of doubling (a second shot following the first in fully automatic fashion). Especially when you are not using military specification primers.

Your groups sound quite reasonable. I have an M1A that will shoot 0.7 moa, but it is match accurized. For a gun that has not been worked on by a gunsmith, anything under 2 moa is a gift.

In changing powder charge by 0.5 grains, your steps are a little large and can possibly skip over a sweet spot load. I recommend 0.3 grains steps in the .308. You might like to take a look at this site for a systematic means of finding best loads.

I found that for load testing with the M1A, the B-Square telescopic site adapter was useful. The gun shot best off the bench for me when I rested it on a bag just ahead of the magazine and not out forward on the stock. For non-bench, prone position with a military sling shot best. I found that with single-loaded rounds, having low bullet runout with respect to the case is helpful and can reduce groups by up to 1/2 moa with some bullets. For that reason I use a Redding Competition Seater Die when I load for mine.
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Old June 20, 2011, 04:01 AM   #12
axxxel
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I'll keep your recommendation in mind! I'll stick to the neck-sizing for now(as I've read opinions that say it's fine to just neck-size) and try not to reload the cases too many times before discarding.

Your reasoning seems coherent though, I might pick up another tool if I come by one for cheap.

I'll try using finer increments next time, the 44.0 load will do for now. I should also shoot 3-4 5-round groups with each charge rather than one 4-5 round group with each charge.
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Old June 20, 2011, 11:00 AM   #13
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The safety issue depends on the gun's tolerances being right. I would not personally load an M14 with neck-sized-only ammo. Neck-sized cases grow a little with each firing, getting tighter and tighter, so the risk of a slam-fire increases with each loading and firing cycle.

At large matches (several hundred competitors) I've been present for a number of slam-fires over the years. There is also member on this board whose username is Slamfire, who has had two out-of-battery slam-fires that destroyed the guns he was using and that caused him a degree of injury. These were in M1 Garands, but the Garand action is the parent mechanism to the M14/M1A mechanism and the slam-fire sensitivity is similar. You can look up Slamfire's posts on the subject.

I'm sure there are people who get away with neck sizing in these rifles because random probability says there have to be some. Probably, it works out most of the time. Just not all the time. So you need to be aware you are taking an added safety risk as compared to someone who sizes to set the case shoulders back. I don't personally consider it good practice to incur a risk that can be so easily avoided.

More than the above, benchrest shooters using body dies to "bump" shoulders back about 0.001" have found it allows some self-alignment of the case that actually shoots more accurately than neck sizing alone. So you may have some benefit to light resizing that also improves your safety margin.
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